Touring bike recommendations


New Member
Hi all, I'm looking for some recommendations. I want to buy a touring bike at some point in the near future for between £700 and £1000. It will actually mainly be used for wet weather (and winter) commuting, carrying heavy shopping as well as camping expeditions etc. I would also like to take it on tracks that aren't strictly road (which I used to do on my old Claude butler with no worries).

I want to equip the bike with both rear and front racks. I want drops but I'm not sure whether to go for bar end shifters or sti shifters (which I have on my road bike) and would appreciate knowing the pros and cons.

I've been eyeing up a Thorn 26" Sherpa or a Dawes Galaxy but would appreciate some advice. What are the pros and cons of using a 26" wheel rather than the standard 700C for a touring bike. Are there any?


New Member
I can only offer you my own experience as a beginner to touring so take it at that level.

I bought a Dawes Galaxy 2007 earlier this year and it cost me £650 including some front blackburn low rider racks a couple of spare inner tubes and a couple of 'free' services an dtwo water bottle cages.

I intend to use it for touring and have already done the shopping on it. I am a big guy so I got the largest frame size at 64 but it comes in a range of frame sizes. I got the racing green colour. I changed a few things on it:

1) The supplied Sella Italia saddle had to was painful and caused numb nuts syndrome. I replaced it with a voltaire 'sofa' with a blood supply groove but that was just as i took advice from the chaps on this board and bought myself a Brooks Champion B17 which is wonderfully comfortable even though it is still being broken in. The Dawes super Galaxy are supplied with a B17 I believe...but do your own cost calculations.

2) The pedals...came supplied with toe clips...but the pedal was to narrow for my feet and caused numb feet...I replaced them with some basic flat peddles which were ok, but were un balanced when I added the toe I took the plunge and added some double side shimano clipless cleated pedals or spd's and bought myself some nike walkable roadshoes....this combination is perfect for touring and walking aroung ASDA...the extra power in my legs is measurable and I wouldnt go back to clips now ever.

Other than that the bike is stock.

It is a solid bike, heavier than road bikes but it comes into its own when fully loaded. In fact I much prefer riding it when loaded. The 27 speed cassette is standard but easily adequate for what I need it for and even when loaded I rarely need to go onto th esmaller cog except in a strong headwind up a hill.

I am told that the schwalbe marathon tyres are some of th ebest touring tyres out there. I have had two puncture in my 1300km since purchase...both of which were as a result of the valves on the inner tube parting from the tube when I was pumping up the tyres with a cheaper hand pump (so no probs with the actual tyres). I have now ordered a Topeak mini morph which has a flexi tube between pump and valve to alleviate the problem.

I found wheel removal on both puncture a piece of cake.

The bar end gear shifters were new to me (coming from a mtb) and took some getting used to...however they are ideal and I would not change them if I could. All I need remember is ...'to go up a hill, pull the lever up'... and all is well.

The supplied rear rack has been steady when heavily loaded. The mudguards are plastic and can on occassion bend slightly, but all it takes is a light bend back again...nothing serious and they never touch the tyres.

I am much slower than the lycra Roadies on this bike...but it's heavier...I am not as fit...and th etyres are thicker most likely. So dont get this bike if you are looking to do fast TT's etc.

OK thats all I can offer...I hope it helps. In conclusion I would say that it is a beast of burden and a dam fine beast as well. You can see a pic of my bike in th elink in my signature below.

Good luck.


I’ve been using a Thorn Nomad for the last 3+ years. It’s used for commuting, shopping and touring. I purchased it with a Schmidt hub. I find it an excellent machine for the above uses. The 26in wheels I find are robust and with a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres, puncture proof. Bar end shifters are recommended as they have a friction mode should the derailleur go out of synch. I see also that SJSC are selling them at a lower price to clear the stock.



New Member
cheers for the advice guys. I'd love to get a Nomad to be honest, but by the time I'll be able to pay the money, I'm guessing they'll be out of stock :-(


Über Member
The Hewitt Cheviot is within your price range at £850. It’s a semi custom build, the frames are imported then finished and painted in the UK to order. Then built up to your specification by Paul Hewitt. If you could get down to Leyland he also offers a first rate fitting service. All this ensures you get exactly what you want. It will cost you about £200 more than a Galaxy, for a bike that’s not radically different, frame made from the same tubing, same quality of components. If you buy an off the peg bike and make a few changes that difference soon shrinks. I’ve had mine, Cheviot SE, for three years. It gets used most weeks and I’ve made no changes other than replace stuff as it’s worn out.

I also have a Thorn Raven, equally happy with the bike and service from SJSC, but it’s different to what you’re looking at so not a relevant comparison.

26” Vs 700c
Some people get passionate about this, here’s my hopefully unbiased summery of the arguments.
Tyres – More choice in fast road tyres in the 700c size, more choice of chunky tyres in 26”. Every touring tyre I’ve seen has it’s equivalent in the other size. 26” is more common in some other parts of the world.
Strength – 26” is marginally stronger, very marginally. A well built wheel in either size will stand up to rough treatment.
Rolling and speed – Smaller wheels accelerate faster, larger wheels even out the bumps more, higher pressures reduce contact patch therefore resistance, narrower tyres are more aerodynamic…there’s probably more, they’re all minor differences. On a touring bike I doubt you’d notice, I don’t.



New Member
SJSC might hold one back for you if you put down a deposit. I think you have to put down a deposit anyway, and wait a few weeks.


New Member
There is about an 8 week wait for Thorn bikes so you might have the readies by then (and if you want to visit the shop you need to make an appointment!).


New Member
After trying a Dawes and a few others, I opted for a Hewitt Cheviot SE last year and am very happy with it. As well as day rides we've toured fully loaded with camping equipment and its always been comfortable. The gearing is great - see Hewitt website for SE spec - I've never had to push up a hill yet and I'm not the slimmest or fittest of cyclists (in fact Paul Hewitt said my body was too long and my legs too short to be cyclist)! The only change I've made was the seat as the one Mr Hewitt recommended was too hard for my soft arse!


New Member
aberdeenian said:
I got a Dawes Ultra Galaxy from Evans for £800. Much reduced because it is a 2005 model. Very happy with it (apart from some initial problems with it coming with the wrong wheels).
I have read elsewhere about Evans re-speccing (de-speccing) the wheels, did you resolve this?


Über Member
alfablue;33331I have read elsewhere about Evans re-speccing (de-speccing) the wheels said:
I think this was Dawes rather than Evans. I've seen some of the heavily discounted older models that differ in several ways to the original spec, from various shops. At those prices they're still worth considering, just be sure you know what you're getting and are happy with it.

Andy in Sig

Vice President in Exile
If you can save the extra cash there is one thing which IMO no touring bike should be without: Rohloff hub gear. It costs a small fortune but it's got 14 true gears and apart from an oil change every few years it is bomb proof and maintenance free. The manufacturer claims that since they were introduced (late 90s) there hasn't been a failure reported yet.
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