Bicycle touring can be an extremely inexpensive means of transportation, holiday, fun and more! But purchasing all the gear you need in order to conduct a long-distance bicycle tour can be a major drain on your bank account.
The question is: How much does all this bicycle touring gear really cost?
Well, I never really knew the answer… until I sat down a couple days ago and figured it all out (and the answer might surprise you)!
What I’ve done with this article is written out the basic equipment you might need to purchase for a long-distance bicycle tour. Next to each item listed I’ve recorded an estimated price (in US Dollars) for that particular item and displayed a sample photo of that piece of gear underneath its price.
For example: The first item you are going to need to purchase for your bike trip is a touring bicycle. There are hundreds of touring bicycles to choose from, but for the purpose of this article, I chose one of the most popular and least expensive touring bikes available (the Surly Long Haul Trucker) and displayed it for you below with it’s average estimated price of $1,095 USD.
Now, as you continue down the list, you will see a number of additional bicycle touring items you will likely need for your travels – everything from racks and panniers, to tents and sleeping bags, to camp stoves and sporks, and everything in between. Each item is displayed with its average estimated price and a photo of one such piece of gear.
While you could certainly go on a bicycle tour without every single one of the items listed on this page, the items displayed here are what your average long-distance bicycle tourist (who plans to camp and cook his or her own food) might be carrying. Additional items, like a camera, underwear, off-the-bike clothing, food, toiletries, and pretty much everything else, has not been included. Only the basics/essentials have been covered.
Finally, at the bottom of this article, the cost of all these items has been totaled up for you. The purpose of which is to give you a good estimate as to how much all of this gear would cost you if you were to purchase it all at its full retail price (minus additional taxes, shipping costs, etc).
Touring Bicycle – $1,095 USD
Shown here: The Surly Long Haul Trucker
Rear Rack – $40 USD
Shown here: Axiom Journey Tubular Rear Rack
Front Rack – $85 USD
Shown here: Arkel AC Lowrider Front Rack
2 Rear Panniers – $165 USD
Shown here: Ortlieb Back Roller Classic Panniers
2 Front Panniers – $143 USD
Shown here: Ortlieb Front Roller Classic Panniers
2 Water Bottle Cages – $12 USD
Shown here: Planet Bike Stainless Steel Bicycle Waterbottle Cage
2 Insulated Water Bottles – $22 USD
Shown here: Polar Bottle 24 oz Insulated Water Bottle
Front & Rear Fenders – $32 USD
Shown here: Planet Bike Hardcore Road Fenders
Handlebar Bag (+ Map Case) – $40 USD
Shown here: Avenir Excursion QR Handlebar Bag
2 Bungee Cords – $12 USD
Shown here: Nashbar Rack Strap
Tent & Tent Footprint – $ 261 USD
Shown here: MSR Hubba 1-Person Tent
Sleeping Bag – $189 USD
Shown here: REI Radiant Down +20 Sleeping Bag
Sleeping Pad – $80 USD
Shown here: Pacific Outdoor Equipment Peak Oyl Mountain Sleeping Pad
Bicycle Computer – $50 USD
Shown here: Cateye CC-RD300W Strada Wireless Bicycle Computer
Rear Bicycle Light – $15 USD
Shown here: Planet Bike Blinky 7-Led Rear Bicycle Light
Headlamp – $38 USD
Shown here: Petzl E97 PM Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp
Helmet – $89 USD
Shown here: Giro Xen Bicycle Helmet
Mirror – $15 USD
Shown here: CycleAware Reflex Bicycle Mirror
Bike Lock – $20 USD
Shown here: Kryptonite Kryptoflex 1218 Key Cable Bicycle Lock
Camp Stove & Fuel Bottle – $110 USD
Shown here: MSR Whisperlite International Stove
Cook Pot – $70 USD
Shown here: 1.3 Liter Titanium Non-Stick Pot
Knife -$50 USD
Shown here: SOG Specialty Knives & Tools TWI-12 Twitch II
Spork – $9 USD
Shown here: Vargo Titanium Spork
Jersey – $40 USD
Shown here: Fox Racing 2011 Men’s Baseline Short Sleeve Bike Jersey
Bicycle Shorts – $70 USD
Shown here: Fox Ranger Mountain Bike Shorts
2 Pairs of Cycling Socks – $18 USD
Shown here: SmartWool PHD Cycling Ultra Light Mini Socks
SPD Cycling Shoes – $75 USD
Shown here: Shimano SH-MT33L Mountain Bike Shoes
Rain Jacket – $150 USD
Shown here: Showers Pass Touring Jacket
Camp Towel – $13 USD
Shown here: REI MultiTowel Lite Medium Towel
Bicycle Pump – $22 USD
Shown here: Topeak Harpoon S2 Master Blaster Bike Pump
Patch Kit – $3 USD
Shown here: Novara Bicycle Tube Patch Kit
2 Tire Levers -$6 USD
Shown here: SKS Tire Levers
Spare Tube – $6 USD
Shown here: Avenir Premium Tube Presta Valve 700c Tube
Chain Lube – $12 USD
Shown here: White Lightning Chain Lubricant
Multi-Tool -$26 USD
Shown here: Topeak Alien II 26-Function Bicycle Tool
GRAND TOTAL: $3,083 USD
If you were to purchase every single one of the items on this page, your grand total would be right around the $3,000 mark (plus any additional taxes and shipping charges, etc).
For many people reading this now, the cost of all these items might be a bit shocking. For others, you might be thinking “That’s not too bad”. Whatever the case, at least you now have a general idea of how much it might cost to fully-equip yourself for a long-distance bicycle touring adventure.
And remember: You can certainly equip yourself for a whole lot less than this. Finding these items used, on sale, or eliminating them all together will save you a lot of money. Plus, if you so choose, you can select other gear that costs a whole lot more than this! The choice (and the price of your bicycle touring gear) is ultimately up to you!
For those of you who have traveled by bike in the past, how much did it cost you to equip yourself for your bicycle touring adventures? Leave a comment below and let me know!
63 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost To Gear Up For A Bicycle Tour?”
Great piece, thanks for the work that went into that!
P.S. it’s amazing the number of people that kit a bike out and don’t buy a repair kit.
That list is quite high end products, i’d be interested to know how much your first tour set costs were.
Also you don’t seem to have any pedals!
Hey John, you are right, my first set of bicycle touring gear looked nothing like this. I started by using a lot of old stuff that I had lying around the house (old tent, old sleeping bag, etc) and then slowly added the essential pieces of gear as I went along. The items I linked to and displayed here as examples are the items I would purchase today if I were to gear up for a bicycle tour. I didn’t want to put an article like this out there and link to pieces of gear I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, so that’s why you see some “high end” stuff on this list (like the Ortlieb panniers, for example).
And you’re right! I forgot the pedals. Whoops. I’ll add those soon. They would add another $50 or so to the total cost.
BUY — USED! I am currently halfway through a bike tour from saskatoon to Vancouver and i purchased almost all of the above items used online and i spent under $1000. You don’t need all the fancy brand name stuff, i’ve been through torrential rains, sweltering heat and below zero temperatures and i’m doing fine.
You are right Noah. If you can get these items used (or at discount) you can save a ton of money! It’s certainly the way to go if you can pull it off!
This is a good, fairly comprehensive list that includes quality gear. The items selected are, for the most part, not “premium” products that demand a premium cost, but they will last through a long tour. The quantity is exceptionally light, though. One shirt? One pair of shorts? And some of the items are prone to spark lots of debate. The stove, for one, is a very personal choice. I would take a Whisperlite International along with me to Asia or Africa, to be sure that I could find fuel. But if I was touring Europe or America, I would opt for a super small canister stove–much easier to deal with, as long as you can get refills and aren’t dealing with temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit. (~ -20C).
Even this list, as minimalist as it is, goes beyond what is truly necessary. Right after college, I rode across Europe on a $600 mountain bike. I wasn’t an accomplished cyclist and I had no idea what I was doing. The term “bicycle touring” would have been foreign to me, but I figured out the concept. I picked up cheap parts over the course of five or six months and cobbled together the ugliest bike in history. My blue bike sported a red rear rack and a pink front rack. My bar ends were purple and my bottle cages didn’t match. The only thing I paid retail for were the tires–I got a pair of Tom Slick 26×1.4s that worked wonderfully. Most of my clothes were cotton. I had toe clips rather than clipless pedals. I had a small sleeping pad, but no bag. My only shelter was a bike poncho. When it rained, I got wet. When it was cold, I shivered. My camera bag was too large, and I still can’t believe I dragged a full-sized tripod over an entire continent. But it was one of the greatest adventures in history.
I probably spent less than $1100 on gear. And the frugality with which I ate and sheltered myself would have commanded the respect of a Spartan warrior. As much fun as it was, I can’t imagine doing it again today. Having now known comfort, I don’t think I could go back to that. But for the young and adventurous, I don’t think they really need to spend this much. If $3k is beyond reach, they shouldn’t give up hope. Some time spent on eBay and Craigslist could net all the gear you need for half this sum. And eating beans out of a can will keep you pedaling down the trails much longer than eating in nice restaurants.
Jeff, thanks for your comments.
You are right: the items I’ve shown as examples here are not all necessary, nor are the items I displayed (like the stove that you mentioned) the only option available. For the purpose of this list, however, I just picked one item (like the Whisperlite) stove as an example of the type of stove that you might want to use. I wasn’t trying to say that the Whisperlite is the one and only stove that you should purchase for your bicycle tour. I’m sorry if it came across that way. That wasn’t what I was trying to say. I was just trying to say that for those traveling by bike, who plan to cook, the Whisperlite is a popular stove and it costs approximately $110 USD. You can, of course, save a lot of money on gear by choosing not to carry a stove, carry a different stove, etc.
Again, this is just an example of what a “traditional long-distance bicycle tourist” might carry. There are a multitude of different ways that a bicycle tourist MIGHT choose to equip him or herself. in the end, the gear you choose to carry depends very much on a number of different factors: how long you are going to be traveling, how comfortable you want to be, how light you want to travel, how fast you want to travel, what kind of roads you plan to travel on, what the goals of your tour happen to be, how much money you’ve got, etc.
First, let me say that I’ve never done any distance touring. The longest ‘tours’ that took were perhaps a couple of night. I’m a commuter cyclist who rides extensively locally (in the Desert Southwest.) Since it’s so dry here, I carry three bottles of water in the summer. Beyond that and you’ll probably need a hydration system (e.g. a CamelBak). Anyway, I think you’re right about the quantity being extremely light.
Hello, I’m planning to ride my recumbent trike through Canada to Alaska. Are there any restrictions to human powered vehicles on Canadian roads? In addition, are we required to wear helmits in Canada? Thank you for your reply.
Hi Rich, as far as I know, there are no restrictions for bicycles in Canada. On the major freeways you probably won’t be able to ride, but on the highways and smaller side-roads you should be fine. If there is snow/ice on the road, then there may certainly be restrictions, but otherwise you should be fine. Where in Canada do you plan on riding? From Alaska to Vancouver? If so, this is a popular bicycle touring route and people are used to seeing cyclists on the road now and then.
As for helmets in Canada, I don’t think they are required. I have ridden my bicycle in Canada without a helmet and have friends who do so as well, but that doesn’t mean the law doesn’t exist. I hate the fact that helmets are REQUIRED anywhere in the world (I think it should be people’s choice if they want to wear a helmet or not while riding a bicycle), so I hope that Canada doesn’t have a requirement like that. But I don’t think they do! See this perhaps? https://www.cycle-helmets.com/canada_helmets.html
I started with equipment that cost much less then the stuff you show. When I found that I was using the stuff a lot, I upgraded.
I did the same thing Keith. I started with the bare essentials, used a lot of the stuff I already owned, and then as I got further into the bicycle touring world I upgraded my gear purchases. If you don’t have much money to start with, it’s a fine way to go about acquiring all the gear you need.
This is a very useful article and I’m glade that my partner and I got all of the items on your basics/essentials list.
Personally, I’m not lucky finding the above items with your prices, but I bought them with good quality in mind.
For safety You need to add to the essentials a Mini first aid kit. You have to fix yourself incase something happen.
We are planning to go on 2 weeks bike tour to Netherlands soon. Its good to feel we are on the right track 🙂
Ah! A First aid kit. That might be a good thing to add to the list. You are right.
To be honest, I think the reason I forgot the first aid kit on this list is because I don’t carry a first aid kit myself. In my 11 years of long-distance bicycle touring, I’ve never needed one. But I guess it is one of those things, like a helmet, that you rarely use but are happy to have when you do need it.
From Steve in New York City
Two items which can add a couple of hundred dollars, although technically not gear, but for people who live in big cities are shipping your bike to a starting point, and the cost of yourself to get there. In May of 2011 I sent my bike via UPS to San Diego from New York with camping gear and flew to San Diego to start the ride back, adding almost $ 500.00.
You are right Steve, there are a number of other expenses, besides the items listed on this page. For this list, I decided to stick with the “equipment” only, as things like shipping the bike and the cost of getting yourself to the start of a tour depend on where exactly you are going and whether or not you are starting in a far off location or leaving from the front door or your home. But you are right… these two expenses can certainly add up and are usually one of the largest bicycle touring expenses.
A great list for a newbie to get a general idea of the cost of touring. There are so many variables. For instance, I use an Ortlieb handlebar bag at around $100. I always carry a camera, have never found a need for fenders.
You are right Burt. There are a lot of variables. That’s why a question like “how much does it cost to gear up for a bicycle tour?” is so difficult. It depends on so many things… but this is one such example at least.
Riding without a helmet is to me foolhardy. My partner recently came off at about 28kph and she said the crack as she hit her head on the cycle path still stays with her. She ended up with a shoulder injury which she is getting over but no damage to skull thanks to helmet.
Don’t risk it folks!!!!
Great article and informative.
I ride a Surley LHT. There are substitutions possible that could shave a little out of the price. For instance, ignoring the controversy about running with FRONT PANNIERS or not, I run with a handlebar bag, rear panniers and a trunk bag. That saves Approximately $90 subtracting the front rack and panniers. Meeting a rainstorm in the summer, I wear a poncho leaving room for air circulation. I have found the raingear too hot, but cooling summer rain showers so refreshing on a long haul. Ahhhhhhhhh! That saves more than $100 on the rain jacket.
Accounting for all the gear I tour with, I arrived at a bottom line of $2,692. I did not accumulate all my gear overnight. Rather, I worked with the gear I had at the time then added through the years of touring.
This year I added Continental Touring Plus Tires — $80 a pair.
Thanks again for the great article and I find all the articles very interesting and helpful.
I’m sure you can bike all the way from Montana to Canada (or vice versa) from Sweet Grass (the border crossing at the northern end of I-15). That’s the only route I have driven and can therefore attest to, but I would imagine that almost all of the routes would allow for bikes–though some would be less enjoyable. You may have to ride some busy roads at times, or deviate to side roads and just keep it headed north. Once you get past Calgary, the real adventure begins. Don’t continue north on the big roads to link up with the Alcan. Head west through Banff. It is one of the most beautiful places you will ever see. After crossing through Banff and Jasper, there are a few different paths to take that will eventually lead you to the Alcan. From the start of the Alcan, you will have made your last turn for a long, long time. Just point the wheel norhtwest and keep pedaling forever.
Find a recent copy of the Milepost. It is an annual periodical that covers the Alcan and will provide you with loads of information. I don’t think you’ll find a bike shop between Calgary/Edmonton and Whitehorse. And I’m certain that you won’t find another bike shop in Canada north of Whitehorse. Skagway is pretty well equipped. Otherwise, you won’t see a real bike shop before Fairbanks or Palmer, Alaska. You can find tubes (26″ definitely, and probably 700C) in some of the small stores along the way. And you can find plenty of camping supplies enroute (like fuel canisters for a stove). But you are unlikely to find a replacement chain or brake/shifter cables.
You’ll also have to plan for things that other tours don’t worry about–like how to store your food so as not to entice bears. But that is a fabulous ride. I’ve only done part of it, but it was great. I hope you make it happen. Good luck.
I didn’t take the stove suggestion as the only option. I realize that there isn’t enough space to list all the available choices. The stove choice, in particular, is just one that I think a lot of people get wrong. There are dozens of multi-tools to choose from, and it isn’t difficult to find a good one. But stoves fall into two basic categories: the white gas stoves (like the Whisperlite) and canister stoves. White gas stoves work better in extreme cold (canister stoves often won’t work at all below zero), and you can use kerosene, gasoline or other fuels in a pinch. (Any of the MSR Whisperlite stoves will do this, though the International is the only one they advertise as doing so.) But canister stoves are much cleaner, smaller, lighter, and easier to use. I think most people would be better served with a canister stove, but many pick the big white gas stoves simply because they look so serious. Up here in Alaska, we get several cases each year where people end up in trouble because they burned their tent up trying to use a white gas stove inside it. That’s a no-no. If they’d had a canister stove, they probably wouldn’t have ended up tentless in the wilderness.
But I realize the limitations inherent in trying to address the topic in a single paragraph. All in all, I think you compiled a fine list. And I think people realize that they don’t have to buy the exact product you selected. Some, though, probably will just treat it as a shopping list.
Hi Darren & Rich, As far as I know Helmets are required in every province in Canada. Most certainly in BC if Rich is riding to Alaska from Vancouver. As for enforcement it seems to be on/off depending on where you are and you may just get a warning but is it worth the risk or hassle?
This list is pretty solid. Good start. Need price ranges in each categories with a few alternate choices. (Going to write an extensive follow-up on this article later.)
Also factor in first aid (basic), repair kit, & toiletries. Bike gloves, sunglasses & sunscreen are essential! Upgraded tires (i.e. Schwalbe or good quality touring tires) is a great investment. Trailer is another substitute option.
What do you do with your bicycle durng the night? when on tour
Gerhard, when touring with your bicycle, you simply lock your bicycle up at night. If camping, you lock it to a tree, fence post, picnic table or any nearby object. Or you can do this: http://bicycletouringpro.com/how-to-lock-up-your-bicycle-when-there-is-nothing-to-lock-it-to/
If staying in a hotel, I usually just ask the people at the hotel if I can bring the bike into my room or if they have a storage locker/closet where they can keep the bicycle overnight.
Your list is a good starting point. However, here in Australia I can only gape at the prices for stuff in USA. As a rough guide, any aspiring cycle tourist in this country should expect to pay twice as much!… this is how we are ripped off in the so-called ‘Lucky Country’. Thank God for eBay and the Internet.
I commenced cycle touring in 1996. My steed was (and still is) an Apollo road bike which I bought in 1978 for $365; to set it up for touring I spent about $2000 on it and have not stopped spending since. But I have a magnificent touring machine.
Just a few examples: Softride Suspension Stem, to compensate for shoulder injuries ($365); Sachs 2-spd Hub w/drum brake (around $300); set of 4 Arkel Pannier Bags ($800); Brooks B17 Saddle ($150); recently, a Tubus rear rack and a Surly front rack ($500 in all); and so on…
So friends, if coming to Australia, don’t wait until you get here to buy your gear – BRING IT WITH YOU!
The cost does look a little high for those who live on a tight budget and there are many of us like that out there. Now that I am retiring I have a lump sum to assist with all future rides and a replacement bike [LHT]. Now to my point, Noah on August 15th, 2011 wrote buy second hand. And why not to start with? A new rider might change their mind about bikes and riding long distances after the first 50 or so miles. So spend what you can until you know if you like it or not.
However, a first great ride can open up a new world and not just about riding bikes. Meeting like minded people who are happy to spend time chatting or helping with a problem is common place out there. I know, I have both helped and been helped and their names and addresses fill my address book. To add to this riding bikes regularly is one of the healthiest ways of keeping fit and reducing medical problems I know of. I am one of the fittest 59 year olds where I live and I can assure you
I like your list.
I like the fact you have touched “all the basics”.
It helps to have pictures, to help visualize what you will need.
My bicycle touring is a folding bicycle I purchased on sale.
I have had no problems with the bike.
I put on a more comfortable seat, I selected out of the used box at a bicycle store. I did have a friend tune the spokes before I started out.
I purchased the top bag and one pannier on sale. The handlebar bag was in a sale box at a motorcycle store.
I used camping gear, I had purchased for hiking.
I did purchase cyclists raingear, including raingear for my feet.
That’s a nice set of touring gear. My main touring bike is a chrome moly mountain bike which I bought second hand for $365 Aussie Dollars. My panniers cost more than that. However as I have done more and more touring I find I take less and less. I have taken that bike a few times overseas but I always worry about it getting lost or crushed so I have for a few times bought bikes while overseas to do the job. My last couple of rides I stopped off in Cambodia before touring in China and Burma. Each time I visited the massive bike sheds that they have in Phnom Penh. The bikes are stacked like pancakes 3 or more metres high. If you dig around you can find some great bikes and also get the guys to swap parts from one to another. My first fold up was $25US. The second one $35US. However the last time I visited in 2010 I ended up buying a brand new small wheeled Ultra compact fold up bike which set me back $90. My friend bought a really nice second hand, full suspension aluminium framed 20inch fold up which was well worth the $125US.
The main problem we have found with buying the bikes and then touring straight away is that you don’t have anytime to iron out the bugs. For example we took 2 front panniers to use as rear panniers on the small wheeled bikes and found out our heels would clip them. We had already culled a fair amount of gear and had to cull again so as to fit everything into the 15litre replacement day pack $3US at Psar Thmey Market. We also managed to get some matching quick dry tops at the market too. $4US.
So I think my first major ride I spent around $2000AU on setting up my bike and the last one on a new bike. $100US.
I second the need for more than one set of clothes. At least two tee-shirts and two riding shorts.
And some additional clothes like, oh, underwear, a long sleeved shirt, pant/shorts combo and an insulated layer (depending on the temperatures you expect to encounter). But it does really depend on the length of trip and the temperatures.
You can certainly get some of this stuff cheaper and second-hand or on sale. However, part of what you are paying for is lightness (ironic that the lighter the stuff the more it costs).
This is a good list of quality products for the beginner or average tourer. The cost realy starts to spiral upwards when you customise your LHT, (4 panniers and a BOB trailer), and gear requirements, for self supported tours into extreme and very remote wilderness areas, in order to ensure that you get where your going, return safely, and don,t need rescuing!
Been using the same $700 mtn bike for every tour. It’s getting pretty long in the tooth however. Next bike must have disc brakes! 1st & 2nd tours, I used borrowed LP rear panniers, bar bag. No front bags. $30 Giant rear rack. Kelty 2-man tent & 30deg bag ($200 for both!) $12 cheap cell-foam pad. 4-5 cotton t-shirts & 3 lycra shorts! Bought windbreaker along the way. No stove. Outfitted for only a few hundred bucks. It’s def possible. Been since using a BoB trailer, but had some issues with it. I wish I’d bought better quality gear earlier, at it last much longer. Last long tour, I used a $20 Nashbar bar-bag, but it barely lasted 1,500 miles. Zippers broke. Flimsy bag. Got an Arkel big bar-bag for $130 on CL…like new! Rock-solid. Never need to worry about it. Been upgrading gear piece-by-piece. Pricey but worth it. I hate it when gears breaks on the road, and would rather pay more upfront to avoid breakdowns later. Easy to find good deals on Internet, esp off-season.
IMHO, the 3 best (and most important) places to spend your gear budget:
1) Bike! (esp wheels & tires. Can’t stress how important having strong wheels & rugged tires are.) Upgrade seat. It’s directly affects your comfort!
2) Panniers/racks (or trailer)
3) freestanding, light 2-man tent. (distant 3rd from #1 & 2)
Not sure if this is gonig off topic but I guess it’s a cost..
Do you ever purchase insurance when touring? If so have you ever needed it. and what was the cost /cover provided.
I hate fenders! When you go somewhere with a lot of mud and weight on the bike its terrible!
Hi Darren, we are to women planning to cycle from Cairo to Cape Town with no support vechiles or backup support.
We have done many other mountain bike tours but never more than 3 days. I would like to find out the better option between a trailor or panniers attached to the bikes?
I would also like to ask if any of the contributors have done a trip through Africa?
I only discovered this website tonight!
Compliments with the content and valuable info. Thumbs up!
Silna, contact my friend Alastair Humphreys. He rode his bicycle across Africa in 2001, wrote a book about the experience (called “Moods of Future Joy“), and I think he can help you the most.
Here is his website: https://www.alastairhumphreys.com/
And here’s the page where you can get more advice: https://www.alastairhumphreys.com/expedition-planning-advice/
you guys really inspire me
i need a bic. pls, pls. pls. send this bic. to me if u want to hellp me god will hellp u pls. am larking of traning am larking of bicycle. pls. pls. pls. hellp me i have no monney to buy it
I wish I were in the business of giving out free bicycles, but I don’t have any free bicycles to give away at the moment. Sorry 🙁
Awesome article, Darren! Love the breakdown of individual items. I’ve yet to bicycle tour but you are giving me the bug 😉
God’s peace, my friend.
Lovley as shiny new kit is, it shouldnt put you off a trip. I recently cycled 450 miles, the length of South Korea on a $40 bike equipped with a bbq rack for a flat platform on the back of a rack and a backpack for gear storage. Yes the rack had to get rewelded, but this was done free of charge at a friendly garage. With only 5 gears and mountain bike tires the trip could have certainly been done faster and more efficiently but nevertheless it was completed and more importantly enjoyed.
The gist of my point is, money and the ‘right gear’ shouldnt be the be all and end all of a trip. Leaving the front door and pedalling away is what is all about, whatever your budget
I agree with you Simon! Very good point. Many people let not having “the right gear” prevent them from taking the bicycle tour they want to make. Sometimes, however, you just gotta use the gear you’ve got and go for it!
Good article,I’ve toured approx. 120,000km on various bikes. I think I have finally found the ultimate set-up,and ya it cost 2 arms(couldn’t afford to lose a leg),is it worth it..Yes! Get the best YOU can afford. I use A Surly Karate Monkey,”Arkel” Bags(made in Canada),”Old Man Mountain” racks(made in USA,$300/pair),I finally upgraded to the “Rohloff hub,14 speed internally geared work of beauty. Schawlbe tires,MSR Hubba tent,Jetboil stove. Oh and I suggest 4 pairs of socks and three pair of shorts.
I’ve done a bike tour on half of this. For example Use a Hybrid bike – $450-600, headlamp for 2 bucks at the hardware store (works great) Tent and sleeping bag were 100 each, got my front rack on ebay for 15 bucks, is any rainjacket worth over 40 bucks? cycling shirts (breathable, wicking fabric) not branded for cycling can be found at department stores. shoes were 40 bucks as were the pedals, waterproof panniers front and back could be found for under 100 bucks.
I recommend that you spend money on a good sturdy rack (I’ve had cheapies that broke) but should not be more than 50-60 bucks. I’m not sure If i’m allowed to advertise a website in here but if you do a webbsearch for “nash” and “bike” (this is where i find most of my stuff) you’ll find a site where you can purchase all of these items that are way cheaper than what is listed here AND they often have special sales; read the reviews for quality and save money!
You are right Bill, you can gear up for a bike tour and spend a whole lot less than this. I just wanted to show how much it would cost to gear up using good, quality items (paid for at full retail price). Of course, shopping around will save you some $$$.
Bike Peugeot 103 Carbolite (bought new in 1986) = IR£285
Front Rack, €10
Rear Racks, pedals, saddle, metal mudguards included in bike cost
Tools (multitools, levers, puncture repair kit, pump all unbranded) c€20
Tubes €6-8 each
Lights, unbranded (1xfront, 2xrear, 2xpannier front, 2xpannoier rear, 2xarm bands, 2x leg bands, reflective jacket , headlamp, c€100
Tyres €15-20 each
Total = €473
MSX Rear Panniers bought 2006 c €60
2xdrybags (Crane Sports bought in Aldi) @ €12 each
insulated food flask (aldi) €6
2×10 litre water containers €15
Mini hot water bottles €2
Bottle cages made from large drink bottle & duct tape €0.60
Water bottles – reuse 500ml drink bottles €0
2locks and cable (Argos) €40
8 Bungee set (4 pairs various sizes) €2
Trailer (bought in car boot sale last year €30
Total = €179.60
1 fleece €8
3 leggings €15
3 pairs socks €1.50
Underwear 3xsets €9
3 Tee shirts €7.50
1 army surplus waistcoat (loads of pockets) €12
2 pairs ski trousers (padded), showerproof bought in Aldi at half price (winter) €20 or
2 pairs hiking trousers (slightly padded), showerproof bought in Aldi €32
1 pair boots bought 2010 unbranded (worn in winter) €20 or
1 pair sandals bought 2007 unbranded (worn in summer) €6
1 pair flipflops unbranded €0.50
2 kameez bought secondhand about 10 years ago €4
2 headscarf €2
2 hairbands and clips c€4.00
1 kanga/large scarf €1
1 fleece hat and tube (Aldi) €5
1 cycle gloves waterproof (Aldi) €7
1 Waterproof breathable trousers (Millets) €28
1 waterproof poncho Aldi €12
1 neck purse for documents and money €2
Total = €196.50
2 man double wall tent end of line reduced in Argos €14
2 lightweight 3 season sleeping (put one inside the other in winter, or use one for pillow in summer) Millets – got 2 for the price of 1 in sale €35
Foam matress Argos €6
Trangia type aluminium stove with 2 pots(use for rainwater collection at night), frying pan, kettle & handle Aldi €15
Headlamp Aldi €12
Trek towel extra large c€30
Microfibre cloths (for facecloth, drying off tent in morning, drying dishes etc) pack of 10 for €2
1 metal scourer pack of 10 for €2
1 washing up bowl Aldi €6
2 stainless steel mugs (1 pint) – always good to share a cup of tea or soup with fellow travellers €5.00
1 cutlery set Aldi €2.99
1 proper soup spoon (second hand shop €0.20
1 wooden spatula €0.50
1 plastic ladle (break of handle to cut down size €0.50
1 plastic slotted spoon €0.50
1 sharp vegetable knife, & peeler €10.00
1 swiss army knife (so old I dont know cost)
1 Mini first aid kit – basic stuff
Normal food rice/pasta/oatmeal/flour etc so no additional cost
Total = 153.85
1 bag fragranced nappy sacks (100) Tesco for rubbish disposal c€0.75
Variey of sizes of ziplock bags and plastic bags c€3.00
A few sheets of newspaper for scouring stubborn stains from pots and wrapping food peelings
Mini ziplock bags 100 for c €5 to hold spices – kept in plastic food container 10 for €2 Total cost c€1.50
Normal toothbrush and paste
Soap nuts for clothes and hair/body wash and washing up €12.00
olive oil or coconut oil from kitchen supplies used as moisturiser and hair conditioner
Mobile camera phone got on freecycle €0
Spare phone batteries got on freecycle €0
CD player got on freecycle €0
Spare rechargable batteries for lights & Cd player c€30
Phone charger got on freecycle €0
Small Battery charger got on freecycle €0
1 tube kajal, 1 lipstick
1 roll duct tape €2
Various sizes and strengths of cableties €2 and some free from bike shop
Total = €51.25
The clothes listed are what I would wear normally so are not really an extra cost, even though I have included them as such, likewise CDs are from my normal collection.
Cash €1-2 per day
Emergency money €50
This is for touring in Ireland – hence the emphasis on rain protection!
I have found Aldi & Lidl products very good and also Argos, Millets and Tesco, especially end of line items.
Most regular clothing is from Penneys (Primark) & Dunnes stores or second hand shops.
Freecycle.org is an invaluable asset
As are local second hand and charity shops
And the €2 chain shops.
And a friendly local bike shop with welding facilities to create items like my front rack (aka my “bull bars”) which, having survived a head on crash with a car which wrecked the front wheel, escaped totally unscathed!
If you are travelling in Ireland, focus on the waterproofing items and good locks if you intend to spend any time in the bigger towns like Dublin, Cork, Limerick or Galway.
The fancy items may be nice to have, but as long as you can stay upright, warm, dry and well fed, the rest is an extra. Better to travel with the stuff you can find around the house than blow your money on fancy stuff and then decide cycle touring is not really for you. or worse still, keep putting it off until it is too late!
For those really long tours into the outback, we took a tube of Araldite Epoxy Resin (two part epoxy). Very strong adhesive for snapped metal items.
I’ve still got (and treasure) my cheap aluminium waterbottle carriers which fractured in Australia and which were repaired using a piece off a “Tinny” (Aussie for beer can) and Araldite!
Here is a cost related question concerning money itself. I plan to travel outside Ireland/England/Wales soon, and will need to be able to access money en route. I understand that using a bank Pass Card will incur charges overseas. Is this the same if I apply for a Debit Card? Any recommendations on banks based in Ireland with lowest charges for these services? Also, is it necessary to have a Credit Card whilst travelling overseas? I’ve never bothered with one before (except for prepaid top-up credit cards like 3V to use online) as I have Post Office accounts in both Ireland and England and have used these when travelling.
The answer to this question varies depending on where you are planning to travel in the world and the way the locals accept money in those parts. For the most part, however, you are going to want to be carrying both a debit and credit card. The debit card will be used to pull cash out of local ATMs (and yes, you will usually have to pay a small bank fee for this). When paying with a credit card is an option, however, you can usually get away without paying any extra fees as long as you have a credit card that allows international purchases! That is the trick though! You want to make sure that the credit card you are carrying doesn’t charge fees for international purchases.
I try to put everything I do on my credit card. Not only is it safer than carrying cash or a debit card, but I can buy things without those bank fees!
And yet a 17 yo kid criss crossed Australia on a $50 BMX from Kmart ,a scrapped rack, school bag panniers and camping gear given away at freecycle.
An actual touring bike will have fenders which aren’t a necessity and maybe also it will have a rear rack if not both. Much of the stuff listed can be bought much cheaper or second hand. Socks etc you have they don’t need to be so called cycling socks. Come on cycling socks, really. Ok if you have a big bank balance you would buy top brand stuff that also has the word cycling in the title. It’s the things that will keep you alive i recommend you you buy brand new and still test before setting of. Cooking equipment and your tent etc. Has your tent got holes in it or can it withstand a storm with high winds. A cheap tent can’t a good one can. Use your common sense when buying but if you spend over £300-$600 not including your bike you have over spent. Remember you need money to take with you.
I think there is a link in those emails where you can unsubscribe. I can’t really unsubscribe you from my end. But you should be able to unsubscribe from updates via those emails.
One thing I will mention, is about the camping stove.
I have decided to purchase a BioLite stove for my bicycle tour, it’s shown here:
It’s a great alternative, instead of liquid-fuel stove. Not necessarily cheaper upfront, but it’s definitely more efficient and will save you money in the long run, as you won’t have to buy fuel for it.
I have a question, how do you avoid bike thieves during your camp?
1. Lock up your bike at night and keep it close to your tent.
2. Camp in an area where there are no people around (see “Wild/Stealth Camping“) so you don’t have to worry about anyone taking your bike or your belongings.
A great general list. Unfortunately, most of the links don’t work for me.
As to specifics, I would avoid the REI down bag as my down bag from REI did not perform and I had to buy a replacement half way through my tour. REI said I missed my 1 year return date (by days) and would not take the bag back, and now gives me a hassle taking anything back.
I would also punt on the Surly, first, they fair trade everything meaning your retailer can’t sell it for under “suggested retail” and suggested retail is way more than the price listed, but second, Surly is the ONLY bike company in the universe that brags about not sponsoring riders on their website. There are a lot of bikes out there, buy used if you are on a budget, but it takes some planning and patience to get the bike you want.
We took the kitchen sink on our first tour GDMBR. What I learned is, buy premium if you know you need it, as touring, and especially out back riding is very hard on things.
I may get jumped for this, but if you can’t afford everything you think you need, don’t let it stop you from going. You will learn to improvise and otherwise make room.
Great read, thanks!
Wao! Good pointers all. Now I wonder my buying all that with my ‘3rd world’ earnings? Truly those are expensive. And that’s in every sense of it. Well, it sure will take a longer time to get all set, but with determination my tour will begin one day.
Getting all this stuff in the third world is possible. And much cheaper if you can shop around, get good deals, etc. I just put this article together to show how much it might cost if you were to buy decent, quality stuff at a brand new price.
I recently flew to San Diego, bought a used Fuji touring bike with racks and panniers for $360 bucks on Craigslist and rode to Santa Barbara. Best thing I found was a folding light backpacking camp chair. Reading, cooking I really used it a lot. I also used AirBnB as in some places it was cheaper than camp grounds. Great list thanks…..just do it!
Darren, It might be time to update this list as you are sending emails linking to it. I realize it is only meant as an example, but the price of the trucker is now $1,275 or more. Some of the other items are no longer available. Others have gone up in price as well.
Yes, I will have to do an updated version of this article. This article was written many years ago… and things definitely change. Even though the prices may have changed, the products themselves are still good, solid, introductory bicycle touring products that you can use to get started on your own bicycle touring adventures – without breaking the bank.
Comments are closed.