Road Bike or Trailblazer? Discovering the Best Bike for Bikepacking

Yes, road bikes can be used for bikepacking. Road bikes are lightweight and offer efficient handling on roads and smooth tracks, making them perfect for riders who prioritize speed over comfort.

When planning a bikepacking trip, the type of bike you choose is crucial. Besides determining the routes you can take, your choice affects your ride’s safety, comfort, and speed. While the popular perception is that mountain bikes are the go-to for bikepacking adventures, many cyclists have found a way to use road bikes for the same purpose, albeit with some challenges.

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about using a road bike for bikepacking. We explore the reasons why you should consider a road bike, the ideal terrains for road bikes during bikepacking, some gear considerations, and the limitations of using road bikes for bikepacking.

Road Bike or Trailblazer? Discovering the Best Bike for Bikepacking


Road Bike Vs. Trailblazer: Key Differences And Considerations

Understanding The Purpose And Terrain Of Your Bikepacking Trip

Before deciding whether you can use a road bike for bikepacking, it’s crucial to understand the purpose and terrain of your biking trip. Some factors to consider include:

  • Distance: How far and for how long will the trip be?
  • Weight: How much gear will you be carrying?
  • Terrain: Will the route be mostly on paved paths or off-road trails?
  • Climate: What are the weather conditions like during the planned trip?

The Pros And Cons Of Road Bikes For Bikepacking

Using a road bike for bikepacking has its benefits and drawbacks. Here are the main pros and cons to consider:


  • Faster: Road bikes, with their lightweight frames and narrow tires, are designed for speed, making them an excellent option for covering long distances quickly.
  • Efficient: They are also more efficient for riding on smooth and flat roads, which is better for longer distances.
  • Comfort: Road bikes are designed for comfortable and aerodynamic riding positions, which can make longer journeys more comfortable.


  • Not suited for off-road: Conventional road bikes are not suitable for off-road trails, as their thin tires can puncture, and road brakes are not as powerful.
  • Limited cargo space: Due to the streamlined frame, there is limited space for carrying gear.
  • Uncomfortable on rough terrain: Road bikes can be uncomfortable to ride on rough terrain, as they lack suspension and thick tires.

The Pros And Cons Of Trailblazers For Bikepacking

Trailblazers, also known as mountain bikes, are built for off-road riding and can handle rough terrain and steep inclines. Like road bikes, they have their advantages and disadvantages:


  • Off-road abilities: Mountain bikes provide exceptional off-road ability with thicker tires and suspension systems.
  • Versatility: Designed for different terrains such as hills, rocky paths, and forest floors, making them more versatile.
  • Ample space for gear: Trailblazers have room for cargo bags and alternative storage options.


  • Heavy to handle: The extra weight comes with the thicker tires and suspension system, making them harder to handle on paved roads.
  • Slow on smooth roads: Mountain bikes have heavier frames, making them slower on smooth and level roads.
  • High maintenance: Thick tires need regular maintenance.

Whether to opt for a road bike or trailblazer for bikepacking depends on various factors such as distance, terrain, and personal preference. Hopefully, the pros and cons provided have given you more clarity on what bike is best for you and your biking adventure.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Bike For Bikepacking

Can You Use Road Bike For Bikepacking?

Bikepacking is an exciting adventure that involves off-road cycling while carrying all necessary gear and supplies on your bike. It’s vital to choose the right bike for this kind of journey. As a road bike owner, you may be wondering if a road bike can be used for bikepacking.

The answer is yes! With the proper considerations, a road bike can be suitable for bikepacking. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing a bike for bikepacking.

Frame Material And Construction: Aluminum, Carbon Fiber, Or Steel?

  • Aluminum: Lightweight and durable, ideal for touring bikes. It provides excellent power transfer, but it can be harsh on rough terrains.
  • Carbon fiber: Lightweight and comfortable, perfect for endurance riders. It absorbs vibrations well and offers excellent power transfer. However, it can be fragile and expensive to repair.
  • Steel: Rugged and durable, ideal for heavy loads. It offers a comfortable ride, absorbs vibrations well, but it is heavier than other materials.

Suspension System: Front Suspension, Full Suspension, Or Rigid?

  • Front suspension: Provides a smooth ride on rough terrains, but it can add weight to the bike.
  • Full suspension: Ideal for rough terrains, it offers a comfortable ride, but it’s pricey and adds significant weight to the bike.
  • Rigid: Lightweight and simple, it’s ideal for smooth terrains, but it lacks suspension and can be tough on the rider.

Brakes: Disc Brakes Or Rim Brakes?

  • Disc brakes: Most reliable and powerful, perfect for off-road and wet conditions. However, they can be expensive to maintain.
  • Rim brakes: Affordable and reliable, lightweight, and easy to maintain. However, they can be less powerful under wet conditions.

Gearing And Drivetrain: Single Speed, Double, Or Triple Chainring?

  • Single speed: Simple and lightweight, excellent for flat terrain, pack light trips. However, it can be tough on hills.
  • Double chainring: Suitable for hilly terrain, lightweight, and simple. Offer sufficient gear range.
  • Triple chainring: Ideal for challenging terrain, heavy loads. Offer a wide range of gears, but it can be heavy.

Wheel Size And Width: 700C Or 29Er?

  • 700c: Fast, efficient, lightweight, and ideal for long distances on well-maintained roads. Suitable for road, gravel, or light off-road terrain.
  • 29er: Offers better traction, stability, and comfort, ideal for technical and rough terrain. However, it can be slower and heavier than 700c.

Accessories And Features: Bikepacking Bags, Fenders, And Lights

  • Bikepacking bags: Essential for carrying gear and supplies, they come in frame bags, handlebar bags, saddlebags.
  • Fenders: Offer protection against mud and water, suitable for wet conditions, but they can add weight.
  • Lights: Essential for visibility and safety when riding at night, rechargeable or battery-powered.

A road bike can be used for bikepacking, but it’s essential to consider all the factors before choosing the right bike. Frame material and construction, suspension system, brakes, gearing and drivetrain, wheel size and width, and accessories and features are vital elements to take into account when selecting a bike for bikepacking.

With the proper considerations, you can turn any road bike into a suitable bikepacking machine!

Frequently Asked Questions For Can You Use Road Bike For Bikepacking

Can A Road Bike Be Used For Bikepacking?

Yes, but the bike needs to have specific features such as clearance for wider tires, and attachment points for racks and bags.

Is A Road Bike Good For Long Bike Trips?

It depends on the terrain and load. Inconsistencies such as rough dirt roads and heavy loads can be challenging on a road bike.

What Is The Difference Between Road And Touring Bikes?

Touring bikes are specifically designed for long-distance trips with heavy loads while road bikes are designed for speed and performance.

Do I Need To Buy A New Bike For Bikepacking?

Not necessarily. With a few modifications, you can adapt your current bike for bikepacking, but it needs to meet specific requirements.


All in all, using a road bike for bikepacking can present a unique set of challenges. However, with the right planning and modifications, it can be a viable option for those who are willing to prioritize speed and efficiency over comfort and versatility.

Keep in mind that the suitability of a road bike for bikepacking largely depends on the specific terrain and conditions of your trip. In general, smoother and flatter surfaces are better suited for road bikes, while rougher and more technical routes may require a more rugged and versatile bike.

Regardless of the type of bike you choose, always prioritize safety, comfort, and enjoyment on your bikepacking adventures. With this in mind, you can embark on a thrilling and rewarding journey on two wheels, no matter what type of bike you have.

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