Switchback cyclist in the forest


Choosing The Right Bike For Your Cycling Holiday

We guide you on how to select a rental e-bike, road bike, or gravel bike for your next cycling tour.

By Julian from epico

10 minutes by Julian from epico

Road Bikes, Gravel Bikes, Touring Bikes, E-bikes. All the options but which do I choose?

So you’re about to book your epico tour, and you only have one desire: to make the most of your cycling holiday to experience the joys of cycling and the places it takes you as much as possible.

You’re all set to rent a bicycle right away. However, to avoid any issues and your much-desired rental bike not being the right fit for you, here are some tips for selecting the best bike for your needs.

Choosing the right bike for your cycling holiday is crucial. Renting a bike is similar to renting a car, in that the choice of bike is determined by what you intend to do with it and where you intend to take it. Do you want to be able to catch your breath when you reach the summit of the Col du Tourmalet or do you want to ride the climb as fast and as hard as possible?

Our epico tours offer rentals of specially designed bicycles for your enjoyment. This article will explain how to choose a rental bike objectively.

Road Bikes

Road bikes or race bikes, as some may know them as, are the most popular bikes to use for men and women. They have narrower tyres for faster and more efficient tarmac riding. Road bikes have drop handlebars and a range of gears suited for hills and flats and are generally the lightest type of bike to ride.

They are made from a range of materials like steel, aluminium and titanium, but carbon fibre is the most popular. Our rental prices vary according to the materials, spec and location of the tour, but we always offer the best in class, with the right spec and always in perfect working condition. Brands such as Canyon, BMC, Cannondale, Specialized, Focus, Basso and Giant are part of the rental options just to name a few.

The riding position of a road bike may not suit everyone from the beginning as it is often a more aggressive position than you may have on another type of bike. If you have not ridden a road bike before or are more accustomed to riding a different type of bike, get in touch with us to help guide you to be as comfortable as possible.

A road bike is ideal for cycling routes and tours that include a lot of tarmac and hills. If you plan on cycling many kilometres each day or routes containing a lot of climbing, a road bike will be faster, especially if you’re thinking of choosing one of our French Alps cycling tours.

Basso-Astra-Disc - Eat Sleep Cycle

Touring Bikes

A touring bike is a hybrid bike that combines features of a mountain bike and a road bike. It is suitable for a variety of terrains and uses and is often more comfortable because the riding position is in a more upright, natural position. Hybrids are ideal for leisure cycling and commuting, and the majority of them can be outfitted with pannier racks (bike bags). A bike pack, which straps to the saddle and seat post of a bike, is another great option for carrying gear. This is great if you are doing one of our self-guided leisure tours and want to be more independent. However, luggage transfers are usually included on all tours that have multiple locations for overnight stays.

Hybrid bikes are typically more durable and constructed of heavier materials to be able to handle the variety of terrain they can be used on. You can select tyres ranging from smooth to knobbly to suit on-road or off-road riding. Flat handlebars are more common on hybrid bikes than drop handlebars. They have numerous gears for hills, descents and flats.

However, keep in mind that a hybrid isn’t ideal for really rough trails or going fast on tarmac. Many people prefer hybrid bikes for leisure cycling tours and self-guided tours that include trails, paths, canal towpaths, and roads. They are far more adaptable and comfortable to ride, especially if you are new to cycling vacations and want to test the water.

Adventure & gravel bikes

Gravel bikes have the appearance of a road bike, but they are better suited to off-road cycling as they have better tyre clearance for wider and grippier tyres and a geometry & construction that is designed to soak up the rough stuff. Many can accommodate a bike rack, panniers or bike-packs. If you usually ride a road bike but you plan to join one of our gravel tours, then a gravel bike is perfect for you. 

Gravel tyres range between 38 mm and 50 mm and some bikes even have clearance for 2.5 inch wide mountain bike tyres depending on the brand and model. With a bike like this, you can explore Catalonia off-road. 

If you have questions about gravel bikes then get in touch and we can guide you through them.

Basso Palta Gravel - ESC Rental Bike


Electric bikes (E-Bikes) are fantastic for those that want to experience the high mountains with groups of varying abilities but with all the perks of climbing the roads of the pros. They are also ideal for those who are just wanting a slightly more relaxed cycling tour but with all the perks of climbing the roads of the pros.

These can be road, hybrid and gravel bikes (although they are not available on all tours as this depends on location and availability). It is important to understand that these are not bikes with a throttle such as a motorbike but where a battery powered motor assists you by adding power in relation to how hard you are pedalling. They often have various power modes which can provide more or less assistance based on what you are needing.

E-bikes are a brilliant choice if you want to keep up with a faster and fitter partner or if you are new to cycling and you want to cover greater distances, such as on a cycle tour in the Pyrenees that covers over 21,000 m of elevation in six days.

If you think an e-bike might be right for you on one of our tours, get in touch and we can guide you through them and their availability.

So, which bike is right for you?

As you can see there are quite a few options to choose from, none of them are the wrong choice, but some will suit certain tours better than others. You wouldn’t take a gravel bike up the Alps roads for example, or a touring bike on a mountain bike trail.

If you want to have a more relaxed ride but still join the epic climbs, an e-bike is a fantastic option and one we highly recommend. They are making cycling more accessible and enjoyable to those that don’t want to exert themselves and are allowing people of all levels to ride and tackle the same routes together.  As always, if you have any questions get in touch with one of our epico riders and we will be more than happy to help you out.