I know it's exhausting to find the best bikes for distance riding because it'll be exhausting if you don't. That's why I waded through the obscurity for you.
The vast amount of bike options on the market is genuinely disorientating: endurance, touring, road, hybrid, mountain, and so the story trudges on. On top of that, you've got to consider the groupsets, and wheelsets, who set this up?
- Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3L
- Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1
- Trek Domane SL 6 eTap
- Cervélo Caledonia 5 Force ETap
- Specialized S-Works Roubaix – SRAM Red eTap AXS
- Genesis Tour De Fer 30
- Trek 920
- Surly Disc Trucker
If you've made it past the scintillating list above, you must know that the actual nutrition of the suggestions is in the pudding. The pudding is the in-depth review that meticulously went into each bike consideration. Read on to weigh your future companion's pros and cons adequately.
I've taken the greatest care with each suggestion; I cross-checked all the bikes I considered relevant for distance riding, made a long list, and then cut it down to these eight, using reviews and expert suggestions from sites like road.cc, cyclist, bikeradar and the likes.
5 Best Endurance bikes For Distance Riding
You only get an endurance bike if you know that you'll clock hundreds of miles a week. They have the speed of a road bike while pulling in all the amassable comfort that bicycle engineering offers. You should be able to ride a good endurance bike for hours on end without needing a chiro appointment afterward.
1. Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3L
The Synapse Carbon 3L is meant to be taken on long cycling rendezvous, and the all-around comfort, well-balanced design, and specs help achieve that. Cannondale has designed this bike for road performance that lets you just focus on the task at hand.
Equipped with Shimano's more-affordable, performance-driven 105 groupsets, the bike is meant to last and be reliable for those long pushes. The bike also has generous 11-speed shifters and a 2x11 drivetrain, providing a lovely 22-speed gear spread.
The Synapse Carbon 3L has a Synapse carbon frame that does a swell job of lessening road vibrations; the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Reflective 700x30c tires are thin enough not to reduce speed and performance and adequately capable of enduring bigger punches on the road.
However, for a bike that's meant to be a solid mid-level steed, the tires might not seep out too much speed, but they are known to roll a bit slower than their rivals, and they don't play the feedback game as great as I'd like.
Their puncture resistance and durability do win me back over. Unfortunately, I found myself not in want of areas where the bike needs some further TLC. The internal cabling is beautiful down the frame, but the integration by the stem is a clutter show, unlike the Trek Domane SL 6.
Cannondale also throws in their SmartSense radar technology with lights that keep you safer while riding. The fitness tracker wheel sensor also doesn't add too much to the 21.1-pound weight of this performance machine.
All in all, Cannondale continues to push its boundaries with its endurance Synapse line, and warm reviews from Cyclist and other sources prove that the company is improving all the right stuff for plush distance riding.
2. Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1
The Defy Advanced Pro 1 might not be at the same level as the Pro 3, but it is almost two times cheaper. Giant has designed the bike for a painless endurance riding experience to keep you connected to the almost unfelt road beneath your tires.
The mid-level performance Shimano Ultegra Di2 (Digital Integrated Intelligence) groupset might be quite a lot heavier than the more advanced Dura-Ace. Still, Giant's valiant effort in producing competitive electronic shifting comes through a much smoother ride than Synapse 3L.
The 2x11 drivetrain provides swift electronic shifting, and the integrated power meter and Ultegra Di2, hydraulic disc brakes on the Shimano RT-MT800 160mm\ 140mm rotors, are a bonus. The 32 mm tire clearance is generous enough for aftermarket tire modification.
Although some riders and reviewers report that the Giant Fleet SL saddle isn't as comfortable as they would've liked, I found it better than similarly priced or more expensive aftermarket saddles. It has a little give when sat on, and it also only adds around 221g to the 18.2-pound ride.
The Giant SLR 1 36 carbon disc rims come tubeless ready, necessary for distance riding. This jargon-fraught wheel system simply means that the bike is longevity, lightweight, and generous with rim space.
3. Trek Domane SL 6 eTap
Trek's Domane SL 6 eTap is a powerhouse of comfort and versatility. The 500 Series OCLV Carbon frame might weigh a bit more than the SLR model's 700 series, but it undoubtedly remains a frame that provides some incredibly smooth riding.
The chassis still comes equipped with quality tech, with the front and rear IsoSpeed being first and foremost. The IsoSpeed is Trek's premium engineering that allows the seat tube and headset to decouple and flex without disrupting the geometry of the frameset.
The IsoSpeed system is Trek's suspension on the Domane that the company has designed to make your distance riding buttery smooth while reducing rider fatigue.
The Bontrager R3 700x32c tires might be heavier than even a 28 mm tire you'd find on a road bike built for speed, but they provide additional comfort and the ability to dabble in some light gravel tracks.
Like the quality tires from Trek's brand partner, the tubeless-ready Bontrager Paradigm Comp 25 rims sit securely on the bike's 100x12mm thru-axle. The Bontrager Switch thru-axle sits in a removable lever on the front and rear skewer to not encumber tending to punctures.
Trek fully kitted the Domane SL 6 eTap with Bontrager, everything from the amply cushioned saddle to the duly taped drop bars. Unfortunately, the innovation stopped with the massive 38 mm tire clearance because the SRAM Rival groupset isn't all that.
Although groupset is saved by being fully electronic and making long rides a very strainless ordeal. The SRAM Rival 46/33t crank pairs sublimely with the 12-speed 10-36t SRAM XG-1250 cassette.
The gears are pitched perfectly for this bike. You can pick up some speed going downhill on the bike's bottom 46/10 gearing while effortlessly pushing uphill with the 33/36 top gearing.
With the raved silky shifting, I'm not too bothered by Trek's decision to use a more affordable groupset, even though it doesn't seem to have lowered the bike's 20.16 pounds and $4,999.99 asking price.
4. Cervélo Caledonia 5 Force ETap
Like Domane SL6, the Cervelo Caledonia 5 Force eTap is a bike that can dabble in different categories. The Caledonia 5's frame is engineered with a tire clearance of 34 mm, meaning that you can swap out the Vittoria Rubino Pro TLR G2.0 700x28c tires for some wider feet that can handle light gravel.
The fitted Vittoria Rubino tires shine over rough roads and long distances but compromise a bit on speed. On speed, it isn't much of an issue, especially on the 28s, and when you are going for mileage in a non-competitive capacity, comfort becomes more sort after.
These tires provide a decent level of comfort and performance throughout the year. You don't have to worry much about riding through wet roads or cobbly streets because these have proven themselves for many.
The carbon frameset has not only proven itself light enough at a combined weight of 2.88 pounds, but it retains all the stiffness you'll need while taking on the vibrations and bumps you'll most probably encounter.
All the cables trying to steal away from the cable-free SRAM Force eTap are snuggly integrated within the frame. Although this makes DIY mechanics a challenge, it produces a beautifully premium look that prices the bike more than its $7,300 price.
Before I lose you because of that price, the Caledonia 5 isn't a bike only suited to a single cycling category. This means you can enjoy everything it offers, from aero to gravel, without having to do much else.
The 12-speed 10-36 cassettes with the 48/35 crankset make it a contender in climbing, flat riding, and even descents. The Quarq power meter with the SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset is a bonus you'll thoroughly enjoy, especially with the free AXS app.
The hydraulic brakes match the flawless quality of the rest of the SRAM system.
5. Specialized S-Works Roubaix – SRAM Red eTap AXS
You can't have a list of the best distance riding bikes without mentioning S-Works Roubaix in whatever setup. Specialized has been dominating the endurance market for more than a decade. The company has built a product that's become synonymous with unmet comfort and performance, which is quite something in the cycling world.
However, before I go any further, I have to fess up that this is a mischievously expensive bike. The blistering $12,500 price tag is well within the downpayment of an average mortgage here in the US.
I quickly identified the principal culprit to be the Future Shock 2.0 and the Future Stem. This revamped cornerstone of the Roubaix is Specialized's very own suspension system. Unlike a traditional suspension, all the smoothening and dampening happens in your bike's head tube.
The bike has 20 mm of vertical travel under the stem while the wheels remain locked within the bike's frameset. This suspension setup ensures you don't lose any momentum when the bike encounters turbulence in the form of acned paths.
Now the most noticeable upgrade from the 1.5 to the 2.0 is the ability to lock out the suspension. To be clear, you can't fully lock it out. But, the dial on the top of the headtube lets you adjust the stiffness on the fly, which helps to reorient the bike to be race-focused as you switch from cobbled to smoother terrain.
Specialized has revamped the spring on the 2.0 to make it more respectable, responsive, and lighter. However, some attractive but humbler options, like the $2,900 Shimano 105 bevy 2020 Roubaix Sport, are still equipped with Future Shock 1.5 and are more feasible.
Besides the components that ensure that the Roubaix boasts unmet comfort, the 12-speed SRAM Red XG-1290 10-33t coupled with the 46/33t SRAM chainring. This combination will give you amazingly low gear ratios to keep you effortlessly spinning even with the most challenging gradations.
You already know that the entire bike runs electronically on that SRAM RED eTap AXS groupset. Folks, it's smooth, it's effortless, it's silent but deadly, it's pretty much instantaneous, and always dependable. This groupset is one of SRAM's best offerings to date and the most expensive.
The bike's Turbo Cotton 700x28c tires also sit at just the right level, but if you are about wider tires, the 33 mm clearance will have you keyed up even more. Finally, the frameset also uses the best carbon fiber, FACT 11R.
3 Best Touring Bikes For Distance Riding
Similar to endurance road bikes, touring bikes are designed to have an unmet luxury as you cover hundreds of miles at a time as you explore the wonderful world around you. Everything from the groupsets, wheelsets, accessories, and the finishing kit is carefully considered and balanced.
Touring bikes are traditionally heavier and more robust than endurance bikes to accommodate all the racks and panniers they carry.
6. Genesis Tour De Fer 30
The Genesis Tour De Der 30 is built for distance; touring is literary in its DNA. Sitting shyly over two grand, the only dirt I could find on this beast of a tourer was the dirt on the paint job. Literally.
The muted color options combined with the racks and panniers make the bike look a tad too aggressive. Besides that, everything on this bike deserves to be seen and appreciated.
The steel frame is sturdy and is purposefully chosen to be repairable by any mechanic shop if Murphy's Law gives your little escape a visit. The frameset is completed with a robust Chromoly steel fork that provides all the security that you can need hurtling down some beaten road.
The frameset also does a decent job at reducing your fatigue by absorbing some of the vibrations because of steel's inherent ability to have a bit more flex than aluminum.
The only fun-dampener on the bike is quick-release dropouts on the frameset instead of thru-axles. The compromise does save a bit of money. However, even if I'm not going to be hitting slopes or doing anything rigorous, I still appreciate the safety and security of some thru-axles.
Whenever I see a bike still using quick-release dropouts, I immediately assume that it's still stuck in the past using rim brakes.
Fortunately, the Tour De Fer 30 uses some TRP Spyre-C mechanical disc brakes. The brakes take up very little space and probably weigh even less. They are also incredibly affordable and a snap to fit if you need to replace them at any time.
The beautiful design gives the practical aesthetics of the bike a modern feel, but it doesn't do much for its longevity in wet conditions. You also can't adjust the spring tension, which is a significant blow.
The Shimano Tiagra ST-4700 3x10 speed levers elevate the controls to the premium quality we've all come to know Shimano for, not to mention that the 11-32t freewheel Shimano CS-HG500-10 cassette is pretty generous for a tourer.
At 34.39 pounds, this Genesis entry might not be light by any means, but the extra carriage mounts are well-placed, and you'll only regret the weight if you don't use all of the attachments.
7. Trek 920
I'm yet to be disappointed by anything Trek churns out. The Trek 920 is another instant favorite. It's not just a tourer but a daily commuter and even ranks among some of my favorite laid-back road bikes.
The 100 Series Alpha aluminum frame looks smashing in brown and looks like a steed you'd be riding to tour a lonely world as the last human ambassador. This 920 is built for convenience and safety with a responsive 920 alloy disc adventure fork sitting securely in a 15 mm thru-axle.
The rear frame also sits on a thru-axle, as all modern bikes should. Although I usually make an uneducated joke that ProWheel components shouldn't be on serious bikes, the 2-piece ProWheel forged alloy 42/28 crankset is a solid pairing for the 10-speed SRAM PG-1030 11-36t cassette.
It seems that Trek made a performance to spot-light lower gearing with this drivetrain while not compromising the hauling abilities of the bike. Bikeradar reports that you can load up to 88 pounds on the combined racks, no clue why you'd need that much, but I'm all for it.
While stalking the 920, I didn't hear or experience a peep concerning the ride's comfort. The Bontrager XR1, 29x2.00 inch tires, march right over towpaths and rough roads effortlessly, and the adventure-ready geometry is commendable.
Although a few people might want a more premium saddle specially designed for comfort, the quality Bontrager Evoke saddle is amply solid and plush. Even the 920's slightly longer-than-desired Bontrager Elite Basic stem brings everything together to harmonize for an unbroken joyride.
The Trek 920 comes almost fully prepared for an immediate adventure and only falters a little bit when you realize that it doesn't come with mudguards. Fortunately, it's not because the racks and panniers left no space for some.
There's plenty of clearance to install mudguards, and there are also additional bottle mounts. You really won't be in want for mounts on the 920. The stem is also Blendr compatible, which is very helpful for mounting your phone or Garmin cycling computer without having to go DIY.
8. Surly Disc Trucker
If you aren't put off by the two color options: Hi-Viz Black and Pea Lime Soup, you'll retain your jolly mood with the Surly Disc Trucker. Surly hasn't shied away from packing their Disc Trucker with as much value on a long hauler as is possible.
If you lean the slightest the way I do, you might have been at first put off with the near bottom-of-the-barrel Shimano Alivio/Sora groupset on a bike curving $1999 out of your pockets. I almost relented to giving this spot to the cheaper Cinelli Hobootleg Easy Travel, which doesn't have the best specs but is much cheaper.
Once my blood pressure settled, I realized that the Disc Trucker was the much better deal if I'm planning on knocking out plus 300 miles a week as the Cinelli quickly faltered under the status change from being mainly a formidable cruiser.
Although the Surly DT doesn't have the lowest gearing with its Shimano Alivio 48/36/26t crankset and brand-matching 9-speed 11-34t cog, it is still lower than the Cinelli (50/39/30t crank and 11-34t cog).
I was also quite impressed by the feedback from the 4130 CroMoly steel frameset, which impressively suppresses most of the pavement vibrations. Surly does say that the bike is made mainly for the pavement, but the Surly ExtraTerrestrial, 26x46 inch tires, could float a bit of gravel reasonably well.
The bike's shorter chainstay also got some due love as it improved the Disc Trucker's steering and cornering from the previous Surly offering. Surly also increased the stack height, which has contributed majorly to the all-day-comfort gospel as you can now sit more upright even with the drop bars.
The WTB Volt Sport saddle and 27.2 mm ProMax seatpost also show proper consideration towards the bike's finish and elevate the overall comfort. However, for such an expensive purchase, it would be great if all those bosses and mounts came equipped.
If I squint and blur out the 28.66 pounds of meat before adding carriers, forget the lackluster groupset, and stomach the gut-punch-price, this becomes one of my favorite comfort tourers that I know you'll enjoy for many years.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson