Off-road adventure bikes take on the DNA of a touring bike, mixed with mountain biking.

There are no set rules for these bikes. They come in many shapes and sizes. The main idea behind these bikes is to allow you to explore the roads less traveled, off-road.

With all that you need to take you where you need to go. From braze-ons for attaching all the gear, strong frame materials, and relaxed and comfortable geometry for riding for days on end.

Different from a more traditional touring bike which is really only good for road riding with full pannier setups.

Off-road adventure bikes excel when it comes to utility and their capabilities, you can pretty much ride them anywhere. They offer ample tire clearances for that extra suppleness over rough terrain.

Ideally, an adventure touring bike will have a low climbing gear say around 18″ which is perfect for riding slowly up steep hills with all your gear.

Some of the bikes in this list have as high as 25″ climbing gears which is not ideal but the bikes are still worth mentioning if you wish to alter the gearing later on.

They still make great adventure touring bikes.

These bikes are your ultimate bikepacking bike. I have covered many different types of bikes on this blog in the past. These bikes are some of your best options for that ultimate bike adventure.

Trek 1120

A bikepackers dream! Built to explore extreme backcountry destinations in the farthest reaches of the world. Offering unlimited off-road capability. 1120 is built around a rugged all-terrain frame, 29 x 3″ tires, an included rack system, and a mountain-ready spec with a dropper post and a 1×12 drive train.

The Aluminum frame and carbon fork build weighs 14.1 kg and is priced at $2,929. With the stock gearing setup, you can achieve a 17.99″ climbing gear and 91.46″ highest gear.

Kona Sutra LTD

The all-new Sutra LTD takes over from last year’s ULTD. Which is pretty much the same bike but going back to the original name. I personally own an LTD. With some changes from stock, like wider rubber and smaller front crank for easier climbing. It is a really capable bikepacking bike for your off-road adventures.

It’s that bike for just about everyone. Maybe you’re a mountain biker loving the idea of drop bars or a roadie secretly shredding the single track when no one is looking.

The Sutra LTD weighs around 13 kg, a full steel build, with 29 x 2.25″ tires and a 1×11 drivetrain. Priced at around $2,599 you get a bike with a ‘limited’ climbing gear at 24.93″ and 94.79″ downhill gear. You also get a dropper post and all the mounting options you could possibly need for your camping gear.

Surly Grappler

For years, off-road biking enthusiasts have been adapting their trail bikes by fitting them with drop bars. The Ghost Grappler emerges from this trend, presenting a more sophisticated approach. The bike’s architecture is crafted keeping in mind a stable and ergonomic grip on drop bars, yet it doesn’t compromise on agility, making it apt for varied terrains.

One of the standout features of the Ghost Grappler is Surly’s adaptive Gnot-Boost spacing. This is compatible with both 142mm and the Boost 148mm rear hubs. Additionally, there are provisions for a stealth dropper post and adjustments that don’t rely on suspension. This versatility is further highlighted by the custom dropouts designed to accommodate both single-speed and internally geared hub systems.

There are strategically placed bottle holders on the seat stay and extra mounts on the down tube, making hydration and storage convenient. Furthermore, its design generously caters to a range of tire sizes. Whether you prefer them thick or with fenders, they can comfortably house sizes like 27.5 x 2.8” or 29 x 2.1”.

Tumbleweed Prospector

The Prospector is a result of meticulous engineering, aiming to stand out as a top-tier mountain touring bike. Rather than chasing fleeting trends or opting for materials solely for weight reduction, it prioritizes quality and dependability, especially in challenging environments.

Interestingly, the Prospector is versatile when it comes to gear compatibility. While it does support full derailleur systems, it shines when paired with the Rohloff SPEEDHUB. This 14-speed internally geared drivetrain is renowned for its reliability. What sets it apart is its fully enclosed gear mechanism, a consistent chain line that enhances tire clearance, and the absence of external components that might be vulnerable to the elements or misalignments. Drawing from our own experience, we’ve journeyed with Rohloff hubs across various terrains and conditions — be it sandy deserts, muddy trails, snowy landscapes, or soaring up to altitudes of 18,000 feet — and the hubs haven’t missed a beat.

What truly distinguishes the Prospector from other expedition bikes are its unique features. For starters, there’s the Phil Wood eccentric bottom bracket, which provides half an inch of adjustability in bottom bracket height. Then, there are the custom cast dropouts that integrate flawlessly with the Rohloff hub. Add to that, a hollow chainstay yoke designed to maximize mud and tire clearance, and you’ve got a bike ready to accompany you on global adventures, assuring confidence with every pedal.

Ritchey Outback

The updated Outback introduces a range of versatile features designed to enhance riding experiences, especially for those who venture beyond traditional routes and into the twilight hours. It now comes equipped with rack and fender mounts, enhancing its adaptability for those extended bikepacking journeys and ensuring you stay dry during wetter escapades. Additionally, its tire clearance has been optimized for 700c x 48mm or 650b x 2.0in sizes, unlocking new avenues for exploration.

One noteworthy addition is the all-carbon fiber Ritchey Adventure Fork. Apart from being incredibly sturdy, this fork boasts multi-purpose mounts on its legs, handy for those additional supplies or souvenirs you might pick up during a pit stop.

The Outback’s frame showcases the meticulous TIG-welding process and is crafted from Ritchey Logic’s custom triple-butted steel tubing. This ensures not just durability on challenging terrains but also a responsive feel when you’re pushing the pace.

Whether you’re into bikepacking, trail riding, expeditions, or just a mix of road and off-road adventures, the updated Ritchey Outback is crafted with versatility in mind.

Velo Orange Piolet

The Piolet is a standout choice for those who crave adventures on challenging terrains. Designed specifically with bikepacking and rough-road adventures in mind, it thrives on a variety of off-road terrains from dirt and gravel paths to double and single tracks. Its sturdy chromoly steel frame ensures durability, while the unique triple-butted fork offers the right balance between weight and strength.

One interesting feature of the Piolet is its distinctive mono-stay wishbone design at the seatstays, which harmoniously pairs with its segmented fork. This bike is not just about performance; it’s also designed for practicality. With ample mounting points, it allows for easy attachments, be it racks, water bottles, gear cages, or even fenders.

In terms of handling, the Piolet has a feel reminiscent of an XC mountain bike, but with a tilt towards touring. It’s versatile in terms of handlebar compatibility, working seamlessly with both drop bars and flat bars. Moreover, its non-suspension corrected fork ensures stable and consistent handling, irrespective of the load it carries.

Tire compatibility varies based on size. While the Small frame is designed for 26 x 2.4″ tires, the Medium, Large, and Extra Large frames can accommodate 29 x 2.4″ or 27.5 x 2.8″ tires, providing ample options for riders to find their perfect fit.

Bombtrack Beyond

Considered by Bomtrack as their most accessibly-priced adventure touring bike. Weighing at around 12.9 kg and a 2×10 GX, microSHIFT drivetrain with mechanical disc brakes. Options to run either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels. Depending on what size frame you opt for is dependent on the wheel size that comes with your bike. But no matter what you can expect to get 2.0″ wide rubber.

The Bombtrack Beyond is the perfect first bike for someone looking to get into adventure touring! Another full steel bike build, you can’t go rough with the ruggedness of a steel adventure bike in my option. The 2×10 drivetrain offers a 22.22″ climbing gear and 103.70″ highest gear. You also get a rather upright riding position for a drop bar bike with a 1.59 stack/reach ratio for a medium-sized frame.

Salsa Fargo

The Fargo is an adventure touring bike classic. The steel frame and carbon fork build offer a lighter option compared to most other bikes in this category weighing in at around 11.1 kg. Priced at $2,499 for the 1×11 Apex model you get mechanical disc brakes on 29 x 2.2″ tires with the choice to add up to 3.0″ rubber if you want!

Taking a look at the gear inch calculations for the Fargo you can expect a 21.96″ climbing gear and 84.06″ highest gear. You also get different build options when available if that is what you are after, with the choice of titanium for those epic and fast adventures. Could also be considered a drop bar mountain bike.

Salsa Cutthroat

Another Salsa bike makes the list, their bikes are some of the best options for adventure cycling and off-road touring! If you are after a bike that you can travel fast on and go just about anywhere. To cover long distances at speed and in comfort. And ultra-endurance mixed surface bike inspired by the Tour Divide. The Cutthroat is you go too.

Available in a variety of build options. For the base model Apex build with full carbon construction you are looking at around an 11.1 kg bike priced from $2,899. Including all the mounting options you could ever desire, 29 x 2.2″ tires, and clearance for up to 2.4″. Super upright and comfortable riding positioning with a 1.61 stack/reach ratio for the 56cm frame. Taking a look at the apex base Cutthroat model for example you can expect a 24.84″ climbing gear and 94.46″ highest gear.

Surly ECR

If you are after a full-fledged adventure touring bike with an ample amount of tire clearance the ECR has you covered. Boarder line fat bike and considered a fat tire touring and bikepacking bike the ECR has room for up to 3″ plus tires.

A full steel build with a truly capable 1×12 drivetrain gives you 17.40″ climbing gear and 79.15″ highest gear. With the Surly Knard 27.5 x 3.0″ tires you can just about explore wherever you want. Featuring the Surly Moloko bars for multiple hand positions and added comfort. Priced at great value for $1,900.

Bombtrack Beyond+

Another truly more capable go-anywhere machine from Bombtrack is their Beyond+ full steel bike weighing 14.4 kg and featuring a 1×12 drivetrain and 650b wheels with 2.8″ wide tires. A 17.16″ climbing gear is comparable to the ECR and 78.06″ highest gear. With all the mounting options you could need and more. And clearance for up to 3.0″ tires.

With the vast sweep of a Jones H-Bar handlebar, you get more comfort and hand positions with the Beyond+ ADV model. While the Beyond+ option comes with your standard flat bar.

Kona Unit X

The Kona Unit X has to be one of the better-value adventure touring bikes you can buy. The all-new 2022 Unit X is priced at $1,599 for a full steel build with hydraulic brakes, the 1×12 setup allows for an 18.70″ climbing gear and a 95″ highest gear.

The Unit is a great base to build out into a truly capable adventure touring rig. I have even tossed up the idea of getting this bike and adding a suspension fork for ultimate adventure comfort.

Surly Karate Monkey

The Surly Karate Monkey is another great bikepacking bike for those looking to explore the less-known trails and singletracks of the world. One of my personal favorite hardtail bikepacking bikes on the market. With up to 140mm trail up front for ultimate comfort. Hydraulic brakes, and dropper post, come with Surly Dirt Wizard 27 x 2.8″ tires with clearance for up to 27.5 x 3” tires.

When it comes to climbing you get 17.94″ gear inches and 83″ highest gear. Prices start from $2,299.

All City Gorilla Monsoon

The All-City Gorilla Monsoon falls into the monster cross bike category which makes it a great adventure touring bike option. Check out what we have to say about it here. All City describe this bike as their dirt do-it-all solution. A sweet beast designed to handle on- or off-road shredding, bike camping, short-duration dirt touring, and the pursuit of good times!

Priced from $2,499 you get the ultimate all-steel adventure bike build, with 650b x 2.4″ tires, hydraulic brakes, and dropper post, with a 1×11 drivetrain, which offers a rather limited 25.01″ climbing gear when compared to other bikes in this list. The all-new Gorilla Monsoon comes in a GRX and Apex build kit.

Bombtrack Hook

The Bombtrack Hook made the list for our best steel gravel bikes and lightest touring bikes depending on which build kit you are after. The Hook features wider 27.5 x 2″ tires to help you roll over the bigger bumps on the trail or fire road ahead. Lightweight Columbus steel frame paired with a carbon fork for performance and reliability.

Despite multiple build options, the Hook ETX weighs 11.2 kg. powered by a 1×11 drivetrain and hydraulic brakes. With a 25.64″ climbing gear and 98.25″ highest gear. You can still expect a rather upright right position with a 1.52 stack/reach ratio which is still great for adventure cycling it is however a little more aggressive than some other drop bar bikes in this list.

Surly Bridge Club

Finally, the Surly Bridge Club is another great adventure touring bike. a completely capable off-road touring bike, that is a steel frame touring bike with upper mid-range components and hydraulic disc brakes. I have met a few tourers who use this bike for touring and bikepacking rides.

Very versatile with the SX Eagle groupset and options for 26″ / 650b / 700c wheels. The bike comes stock with some nice and wide WTB Riddler 27.5 × 2.4″ tires. Making it awesome for some rough touring conditions pretty much anywhere. Priced at a super affordable $1,200.

About The Author



Codey Orgill, a seasoned bicycle adventurer, has been exploring the world on two wheels for over 10 years. Since embarking on his initial cycling journey, Codey Orgill has traversed numerous countries, experiencing a series of epic adventures.