In the past nine years we’ve advised thousands of guests and prospective guests about the finer points of selecting the right cycling trip AND the right bike tour company for them! Our main objective is to infect people with a passion for biking. So whether you ride with us, or another company we want you to have a fantastic ride. With this objective in mind, we are dedicating part of our blog, Out for a Spin, to educate you on the finer aspects of selecting the right experience and company for you! Watch for our first edition; Is it all about the bike?
Is it all about the bike?
No, it is not! But the wrong bike could ruin your vacation. When we ask our guests why they choose Trek Travel, the number one response is the bike! It doesn’t really matter which type of rider they are, avid or beginner, when they get on a bike that is lightweight, shifts well, fits them properly and has the ride they want, it just feels right; everything becomes effortless and the cycling vacation begins.
So how do you pick the right bike for your bike tour? The first tip is, decide what type of ride you want and make your selection from there. Are you looking for a comfortable commute or a more athletic ride? Here is the scoop on bikes for cycling holidays.
Generally bike tour companies offer one or two styles of bikes, either a hybrid or a road bike.
A hybrid has an upright position and is great for people who are new to cycling or are interested in leisurely riding. It’s heavier than a road bike, but it has a lower gear ratio, meaning that it is easier to pedal up the hill (phew!). The thicker tires also give you a softer ride, so that even beginners feel confident. Trek Travel has a new fleet of hybrid bikes in North America, Trek’s 7.7 FX. It is one of the lightest hybrids on the market, but so comfortable it’s like riding a Cadillac.
A road bike is appropriate for people who have experience with cycling or mountain biking, or for those who lead an active lifestyle. The weight of a road bike is dependant upon the materials used to make it. Currently carbon fiber is the most lightweight yet durable material on the market and is the material of choice for most race bikes. The weight difference between a hybrid and a road bike is significant. The geometry of the frame maximizes the performance of the bike and the narrow tires decrease road resistance allowing you to roll faster with less energy output. In short, it’s fast! Our guests LOVE the new 5.2 Madone road bike. It’s super light, responsive and climbs like a mountain goat! I clocked myself going up Ventoux last year and improved my time by 4 minutes. Trust me, it was all due to the bike!
In our day of mass choices, the question is, do two bike styles fit all? Actually some companies believe ONE bike can fit all. Some will take the same bike frame and simply change out the handlebars between flat bars (similar to those on a hybrid) and road bars to accommodate the different styles of riding. While this option can work, the downside is that it does not give you the true fit, comfort or sense of security of a hybrid, nor does it give you the performance position of a race bike.
Here at Trek Travel, we find that 85% of our guests are happy with either a hybrid or road bike, however the 15% feel differently need something else. Some need a little extra boost to get up the mountains, others need a power surge to keep up with their more avid partner, and a few are recovering from an injury but still want to ride. These individuals are well suited to Trek’s Ride+ electric assist bike. You still get a workout but with a little help. For avid riders or those seeking to experience the frame used by the pros, they prefer a snappy ultra-lightweight race bike. Trek Travel offers the same bike used by Team RadioShack and LEOPARD TREK—Trek’s 6.5 Carbon Fiber Madone. They can even trick out the bike with Bontrager’s XXX Carbon Clincher Wheel sets.
At the end of the day, you want to pick the bike that will allow you to see the world in the style that is right for you. A bike tour is not all about the bike, but given that it is a cycling vacation, you are better off enjoying the smoothest ride possible. In an upcoming blog, “The Proper Fit” we’ll review the importance of a proper bike fit. Good luck picking your bike and see you out on the road.