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Everything You Need to Plan a Bike Ride!
Planning a bike tour: With these tips, nothing stands in the way of your bike adventure!
You feel the sun on your face and hear the murmur of the small creek meandering a path through the pristine landscape of the small valley next to you. With every step on the pedals of your bike, your perspective changes and you get to know the nature around you from a completely new perspective. Civilization is just as far away as your sense of time and your adventurous heart beats to the beat of your pedal strokes!
It doesn't matter whether you're leaving for a few hours or for several days on the bike paths of this world, the feeling of infinite freedom that only exists on the saddle of your bike is addictive! So that you can quench your thirst for freedom, you will find lots of tips and information in this article for the perfect preparation for your next bike trip.
A bike tour is basically a road trip by bike: You are usually alone or with a small group in nature. So that your adventure does not come to a premature end, it is important that you equip yourself correctly, from the right bike to practical clothing and a tool set. You will now find out what you really need!
The right bike for your bike trip
Not every bike is suitable for every tour. City bikes, trekking bikes and mountain bikes each have different properties that are perfectly tailored to specific circumstances, such as road surfaces or inclines. In addition, of course, every bicycle variant is now available as an e-bike, which has its own advantages and disadvantages.
1. The city bike
As the name suggests, a city bike is perfect for everyday use in the city or in the country. This is ensured by the ergonomic frame with an often very low entry and the wide saddle: You sit a lot more upright and comfortably on it than on a mountain bike, for example . City bikes are braked with a rim brake on the front wheel and often with the good old coaster brake.
To support you in everyday life, your city bike is usually equipped with a stand, luggage rack, chain guard and mudguards as standard. In addition, the city bikes are equipped with a bell, lights and reflectors in accordance and take you safely from your home to the office, to your friends or to the shops! A hub gear with up to 7 gears is perfectly adequate for the mostly flat stretches that you cover – your advantage: Longevity compared to derailleur gears!
List of city bikes:
- Applicable to: daily driving on the road
- Advantages: practical equipment, durable components, comfort
- Cons: Heavy, not suitable for unpaved roads
2. The trekking bike
The trekking bike is a super flexible bike that accompanies you in many different situations. On the one hand it has the road safety and comfort of a city bike with its bell, reflectors and lights and a wide saddle, but on the other hand it is a lot sportier with a lighter frame, derailleur gears with mostly 21 gears, wider tires and disc and rim brakes!
It's particularly cool that you don't have to do without a luggage rack with a trekking bike. In combination with the right panniers, the bike is ideal for longer bike tours. Also practical: trekking bikes are available in different versions as far as the frame is concerned. You have the choice between a low entry, a trapezoidal frame or the classic diamond frame! If you often ride on uneven terrain, it is worth investing in a full-suspension frame.
List of trekking bikes:
- Suitable for: everyday driving in the city, leisure tours in the country, asphalt, forest roads & gravel
- Advantages: roadworthy & practical equipment, high comfort, sporty gear shift and brake, suitable for many different surfaces
- Disadvantages: Not suitable for extreme single trails or trips through the countryside
3. Mountain bikes
The term mountain bike summarizes a group of different types of sporty bicycles that have some properties in common, above all their off-road capability. A special small, light frame in combination with wide, large tires ensures driving stability on unpaved surfaces and at high speeds. You sit in a bent, aerodynamic position on the hard, narrow saddle. Thanks to front or full suspension, rides through bumpy terrain and jumps are no problem.
In general, a mountain bike is not considered a means of transport, but rather a piece of sports equipment. That means: no lights, no reflectors and no bell. You also have to do without a chain guard, luggage rack, mudguards and a stand. The sporty off-road bike uses disc brakes and derailleur gears for this!
The different types of mountain bikes include:
- Touring bikes: high-performance bikes for cross-country routes
- Enduro bikes: For steep and particularly uneven paths
- Freerider: Pure sports bike for competitions and shows
- Downhill Bike: For steep, fast descents
- Fatbike: Perfect on sand, mud or snow
List of mountain bikes:
- Suitable for: Leisure tours and sports
- Advantages: High driving stability off-road, light frame, suspension, aerodynamic position for maximum speed
- Disadvantages: Not safe on the road, driving on asphalt is rather tedious, no possibility to transport luggage
4. The E-bike
Strictly speaking, the e-bike as a separate type of bicycle does not exist. Instead, an e-bike is a variant that is available from almost all types of bicycles. Regardless of whether you decide on a city bike, a trekking bike or a mountain bike, all of these bikes are now also available in electric versions.
The motor not only supports you when you run out of air on long and mountainous routes, but also ensures that the pedals are particularly easy on the joints. However, due to the battery and the electronic operating parts, an e-bike is very heavy compared to a conventional bicycle, so riding without a motor is more strenuous. In addition, you have to reckon with higher acquisition costs and of course always think about your charger.
When preparing for your trip, you should also make sure to plan your route in such a way that you have enough opportunity to charge the battery. In the meantime, however, there are plenty of e-bike-friendly cycle routes - especially in Austria, many of the cycle paths have been developed accordingly!
Depending on the type of bike, most e-bikes are safely equipped for road traffic and, thanks to the extra power, packing large bike bags is no problem.
For an e-bike that only supports you with an electronic auxiliary motor when cycling - a so-called pedelec - you do not need a driver's license and no insurance. The situation is different with electric bicycles, which can also be ridden without pedalling. You need an operating permit or a category M driving license and insurance.
List of E-bikes:
- Suitable for: Everyday rides and leisure tours
- Advantages: Long & demanding tours are easier, heavy luggage is no problem, cycling is easy on the joints
- Disadvantages: Difficult, high costs, high effort (battery charging, take chargers with you), depending on the e-bike type, a driving license and insurance required
EXTRA: Rent a bike!
If you don't want to commit to a bike or would like to try out a longer bike tour without investing in your own bike right away, a rental bike is perfect for you: In addition to the handy self-service rental stations that are now available in many larger cities, you will find at least one rental shop in every cycling region.
In addition to an easier and less complicated journey, you also have the chance to test different types of bikes on different routes, so that you know exactly what works best for you when you buy later!
The right equipment for your bike tour
As soon as you have found the right bike for you and your cycling adventures, there are a few other things that should not be missing on your cycling trips. In addition to practical and necessary equipment for your bike, this also includes the right clothing!
1. These things belong on your bike during your bike tour
- Bike bags: Which bike bags make the most sense for you and your bike depends primarily on your planned bike tour and the amount of luggage: While you have enough storage space on a day tour with a small frame bag or possibly a small backpack on your back. Handlebar and saddle bags as well as a spacious bike pack offer plenty of space for bicycles without a luggage rack.
- Air pump: A bicycle pump is part of the basic equipment on your tour. In addition to a conventional hand pump, which is attached to the frame of your bike, you have the choice between different models, from small foot pumps to electric pumps.
- Drinking bottle and holder: So that you can drink enough on the go, you should opt for a light drinking bottle. The holder for this should be attached to the bike in an easily accessible place for you.
- Speedometer/bike computer: Your bike computer provides you with a lot of important data such as your speed, the kilometers covered and the differences in altitude. A device with an integrated GPS is particularly useful on long tours in remote regions or in the Alps.
- Tool set: Which tools you should have with you in case of an emergency depends on the type and duration of your bike trip. While a repair kit, spare inner tube, a multitool and cable ties are sufficient for smaller trips, your set includes chain grease, insulating tape and spare brake pads on longer tours.
- Bicycle lock: A good lock is not only a must for nights outside a secure bicycle cellar, but also for breaks on the road. A hardened steel padlock is the most secure.
- Charger for e-bikes: When you are out and about with your e-bike, your charger always belongs in your pocket. With older models or very long tours, it is also worth packing a second battery.
- Extra tip: In order to quickly and easily remove chain grease and oil from your hands after a repair, it is worth having a small tube of hand cleaner with you.
2. The right clothing for your bike tour
As for many other adventures in nature, it is best to dress in breathable functional clothing on your bike tour. Since weight matters when cycling, you should choose light clothing and dress in an onion look - so you are perfectly prepared for all weather conditions!
You should think about these things when packing for your bike tour:
Cycling clothing: Choose breathable and weatherproof clothing depending on the season. On longer tours, padded pants provide more comfort on the saddle. Garments in bright and eye-catching colors or with special reflective prints are best, so that you can be seen on your bike even when visibility is poor.
Gloves: Gloves not only protect your fingers from the cold at lower temperatures, they also improve your grip, absorb shock and protect your palms and fingers in the event of a fall.
Shoes: As with clothing, you should also pay attention to the weight of your shoes: light shoes with firm soles are perfect for tours of all kinds.
- Helmet: A helmet is mandatory on your bike tour! For maximum protection, you choose your helmet according to the type of your bike tour. In general, when you buy it, you should make sure that the helmet has a TÜV/GS test seal and was manufactured using the so-called in-mold process, which ensures particularly high stability. In addition, your helmet should fit perfectly and provide sufficient ventilation. In summer it is worth having an additional hat with you as sun protection for longer breaks.
Important: Your helmet must be replaced after EVERY fall, even if it has not suffered any external damage!
3. In the backpack and in the bike bag
If you stay overnight in accommodation such as hotels or guesthouses on tours lasting several days, you only have to think of your clothes and the aforementioned equipment, a first aid kit for the road, your toiletry bag and personal items such as medication or contact lenses. If you prefer to spend your nights outdoors in tents or bivouacs, you will of course need additional equipment - this includes:
You need this equipment for a bike tour with a tent:
- Lightweight and compact tent (or bivy sack)
- sleeping pad
- Sleeping bag
- Gas cooker & cooking utensils
- lighter or matches
- Food in rations: You should have enough drinking water and food, but still be lightly packed.
This is how you plan your bike tour correctly
1. Choose the right route
As soon as you have decided in which country or through which region your bike tour should take you, you start planning the detailed route. Your physical fitness, your cycling experience and the characteristics of your bike should always be the focus. The following applies: Be honest with yourself and plan realistically!
If you are preparing for your first multi-day bike tour, opt for an easy-to-drive route on paved paths. If you are one of the more experienced cyclists, you are looking for a route that gives you a thrill with inclines and maybe even some downhill trails.
There is a lot of information on the internet for most cycle routes. Especially for cycling regions and countries, such as Austria, you have the opportunity to find out exact details of the route as early as the planning phase. Pay particular attention to the following route characteristics:
length and height difference
How long your route should be depends on your condition on the one hand, but also on the time you have available. In general, it is a good idea to plan several buffer days, especially for longer tours. This way you won't be under time pressure in the event of breakdowns, bad weather or other incidents!
The differences in altitude that await you on a bike tour are in most cases a good indicator of the required level of fitness. The more vertical meters you have to cover, the steeper the climbs and descents and the more skill, endurance and experience you need to ride the route safely.
toppings and texture
The surface and condition of a cycle path gives your tour its character. While you drive comfortably on paved and well-developed paths and enjoy the landscape in peace, it is a lot faster on narrow gravel or dirt roads. The latter requires more experience and skill, as well as greater concentration.
Make sure that the rideable surface and the condition of your route not only suits you and your skills as a cyclist, but also your bike: You should only ride a mountain bike on challenging gravel routes. On better developed and mostly paved roads, however, you are well equipped with a trekking bike and sometimes even with a city bike.
For many cycle paths, especially in the mountains, the season plays a major role in the choice of your route: For example, some routes through the Alps are either completely closed or only partially passable in winter due to snowfall.
The best travel time for a bike tour is generally between spring and autumn. However, if you are traveling in summer, you should plan several breaks when the temperatures are high. The most fun is a cycle tour in summer, when you pass streams, rivers and lakes where you can cool off in between.
Other special features
Also think about how to get to the start of your cycle route: circular tours where you can freely choose your starting point are particularly practical. Many cycle paths can also be easily reached by public transport, so there is no need to search for and pay for a parking space.
Tip: If this is your first time on a longer route in an unfamiliar area, check in advance which stations are connected to the local train or bus network in case of an emergency.
2. Find the right accommodation
First, think about how and where you want to spend your nights while travelling. While you are usually more flexible when camping and experience nature not only during the day but also at night, you have to carry a lot of luggage with you.
The advantage of staying overnight in accommodation along your route is that you can not only do without a tent and sleeping bag, but also without cookware and ingredients for cooking.
We recommend that you book your accommodation in advance if possible. Otherwise, the spontaneous search for a free hotel room quickly becomes stressful, especially in the high season.
The perfect bike tour accommodation offers you, among other things, the opportunity to park your bike in a safe place. In many cases, you will also have the tools you need for minor repairs and a short safety check.
IMPORTANT: If you are on the road with the e-bike, you should plan your stops and accommodations in such a way that you can charge your battery regularly. In many cycling regions you will now also find charging stations that you can use freely.
When planning the exact route, the infrastructure of your destination region also plays a role. Especially if you are traveling self-catering, you should get an overview in advance of where you can find supermarkets and plan your route accordingly - especially because you can only stow a small supply of food on your bike.
The same applies to huts or rest stops on the way: In cycling regions you will usually find a good range of rest stops along the cycle paths, which not only serve delicious dishes and drinks, but often also offer the opportunity to charge your e-bike battery or your bike in the Repairing a breakdown with the right tool.
Rental stations along some well-known cycle paths are also cool: You have a large selection of bikes right there - perfect for longer distances or to do individual stages as day tours!
Also check the signage: If you decide to take an officially signposted route, familiarize yourself with the respective route markings. If you plan your route yourself, you should draw your route on a map and have a bike computer with GPS with you to be on the safe side.
Ensure safety on your bike tour
Similar to before a road trip, a safety check of your bike is part of planning your bike tour. It is worth having this check carried out by a specialist in a bicycle workshop, especially if you are traveling with an e-bike or before longer and demanding routes.
Note: You should also regularly check your bike for road safety and functionality when you are out and about.
1. Make sure you have roadworthy equipment
In order to ride safely on the road and on bike paths, your bike should be equipped with the following items:
- Bright tone working bell
- Two independent brakes
- Red tail light and white front headlight
- White front reflector
- Reflectors on spokes and pedals
- Optional: Red reflector on the saddle
2. Check tires and brakes
On the road you have to be able to rely on your bike. The brakes and the tires are particularly important. Before every bike tour, there is a brake test, in which you not only check whether the brakes work, but also check the condition of the brake pads and replace them if necessary.
After a brief visual inspection of the tires, during which you pay particular attention to cracks and wear on the tire tread, you measure the air pressure in the tires: The ideal tire pressure depends on the tire size, the bike type and the total weight. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions, which you can find on either the tire or the tube.
3. Maintain gear and chain
The bicycle chain is the heart of your bike and needs a lot of care. Before a longer tour, you should use a rag and a brush to remove dirt and old oil from the chain and then apply a layer of fresh oil. Less is more: The oil should mainly lubricate the small joints of your chain!
Derailleur gears require regular maintenance and readjustment. Before you embark on your next cycling adventure, you should first take care of your gears. This includes thorough cleaning and a visual inspection. You should definitely replace bent parts or broken cables.
You can adjust your gear shift perfectly using small screws. Adjust the freedom of movement with the two screws (L and H) on the rear part of the rear derailleur. The following applies here: The gears need enough play, but should not be too loose so that the chain gets caught in the spokes. Just above the H and L screws is the B screw, which you use to adjust the distance between the pulley and the sprockets. This should be around five millimeters.
4. General visual inspection
Finally, you subject your bike to a thorough general visual inspection. Pay particular attention to damage to the rims, frame, fork, handlebars, stem and seat post. Small cracks or inconspicuous breaks in these so-called load-bearing parts quickly lead to falls!
If you notice any defects, you should definitely visit a bicycle repair shop before starting your bike tour.
5. Safety check in the specialist workshop
A trip to the bike workshop is generally worthwhile before longer tours, especially if your bike has not been used for a long period of time.
With an e-bike, regular maintenance appointments with the bicycle mechanic should be on your list, even if there are no upcoming multi-day tours at the beginning and end of the season: This means that minor defects can be quickly identified and rectified before major damage can occur to your pedelec.
Traveling by bike means pure freedom!
There are countless means of transport and methods of discovering the world, and the bicycle is right at the top of this list: on the saddle of a bicycle you are completely independent of timetables, opening hours or pre-made routes. Instead, it's all about you and your travel hunger!
Whether you're discovering your homeland by bike or exploring a new area on unfamiliar paths, with the right planning, you'll experience the landscape around you from a unique perspective with every pedal stroke.
Have you ever been out on a bike for a while? In your opinion, which region is particularly suitable for cycling?
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