Adventure Bikes

Industry responds to a nostalgic trend


It is said that the early two-wheeled hobby horses were designed to deal with a lack of real horses during the early 19th century, though those early contraptions were not much more than a scooter that a cyclist stood on. A true bicycle, powered by a person through pedals, came about later in the Industrial Age, and then more as a sport and social pastime of the landed gentry and the new urban bourgeois rather than a transportation solution.

But soon an era of adventure cycling seized bold Victorians who wanted to explore the wilds beyond the towns or perhaps the furthest reaches of the Empire. They left the roads that were made for them (and back then the roads WERE made for cyclists) to gallivant across the roughness of an older world. Leaping forward about a century, cycling in America experienced a boom in the 1970s, as a solution to petrol prices making the automobile use prohibitive, followed by a period in which sport bicycles were the focal point of design. Perhaps it’s expected that today’s cyclists are finding a wanderlust to explore those routes beyond their daily commute and outside the realms of conventional competition. Noticing this trend, manufacturers are responding with adventure categories and the marketing is way less limiting than calling them “gravel” for grinders (races on gravel roads) and dirt fondos (charity rides on dirt).

These are road bikes with the most room possible for wide tires and mounts for racks. Whether cyclists are riding to compete or camp, we're welcoming more options and better built frames that'll handle the terrain. Like the venerable Trek 520 in steel or the 720 outfitted with a companion dry bag system.

This brought-back category is an homage to the days when riding your bike across America captured imaginations and cargo containers of bikes were imported, in response to the gas crisis. This was before Lemond, “Jock” Boyer, or Phinney taught us about racing in France and what it was like to ride fast.

Bike camping.

Nostalgia for the 70s in this instance — excluding pleated polyester pants or sansablets — is about getting out and riding and that’s wherever the road takes you.


Today Trek unveiled a new adventure line and a “Driven by Adventure” contest.

We’re so excited to have the opportunity to send riders out on cycling adventures with these new bikes,” said David Studner, Assistant Product Manager for the City Bikes category. “Each bike was designed with a particular flavor of adventure riding in mind, and it will be really interesting to meet these riders and hear about the adventures and memories they create on them.

Last year, Issue 04 of our magazine covered adventure. To read it please subscribe: annual subscriptions are $16; individual issues are $4.