A popular cycling activity is touring, or traveling long distances over consecutive days. Touring enthusiasts usually carry special bags called panniers on their bikes. Panniers hold repair tools, clothing, a sleeping bag, and other personal items. National parks and rural roads are favorite riding areas. This rider is traveling through Yosemite National Park in California.
Touring bicycles are designed for riding on relatively smooth pavement. They are used for carrying panniers (saddlebags with an interior frame) and equipment over long distances, and for some commuting and recreational riding. Touring bicycles are generally made with lightweight chromium-molybdenum (chromoly) steel, aluminum, or composite frames that are designed for maximum strength and comfort. They commonly weigh between 9 and 11 kg (20 and 25 lb) and have a medium-length wheelbase (distance between the front and back wheel hubs) for stability. Handlebars on touring bicycles may be dropped or upright. Wheels usually have aluminum alloy rims, relatively heavy-gauge (thick) spokes to resist breaking under the extra weight of a load, and medium-width tires for secure handling and puncture resistance. Saddles may be of any design comfortable to the individual rider. Touring bicycles are usually equipped with toe clips and cleats or clipless pedals to maximize the riderís hill-climbing force. They commonly have triple chain rings and 21 to 27 speeds with gear ratios low enough to enable riders to pedal up mountains even while carrying clothes and camping equipment. The frames of touring bicycles commonly come equipped with fittings for two or three water bottles and for a tire pump, and with dropouts (strong metal tabs perforated with a threaded hole) near the front and rear hubs that can hold racks for carrying panniers filled with clothes and other equipment for the tour.