What kind of bike?
Until quite recently I regarded a classic mountain bike as the best solution for long-distance tourism. However, after the last expedition to Corsica and Sardinia I changed my mind. The best bicycle for such purposes is in fact a recumbent bike. As I found out in Corsica, it performs very well in the mountains. Even though climbs tend to be covered at a slower pace, and slopes exceeding a grade over a dozen percent are out of reach, the comfort of riding a recumbent bike is unrivalled. The only aching body part after a whole day of cycling are the legs – other muscles are perfectly relaxed. In the case of a conventional bike, you also suffer pain in your bottom, back, arms and wrists – all in all, you feel more tired. Moreover, if the recumbent bike is fully suspended (which is the only sensible solution), cycling on bumpy roads becomes easy and stress-free. Finally, with less aerodynamic drag you can cover longer distances every day, especially on flat roads, putting less effort in cycling against the wind.
For road cycling, I recommend SWB-type constructions (in which the cranks are placed in front of the front wheel), with 20/26-inch wheels (front/back respectively). Additionally, I would opt for above-seat steering for a number of reasons:
1. the distance between the mirror and the face is considerably shorter (compared with under-seat steering) and the mirror remains constantly in sight,
2. you can easily attach a cyclocomputer, mobile phone or a GPS receiver to the handlebars,
3. with an under-seat steering system, using the handlebars while walking the bike uphill feels very uncomfortable, and if you are forced to walk for a few kilometres, you will be exhausted despite having saved some energy thanks to cycling on a recumbent bike,
4. above-seat steering allows you to take sharper bends – the turning radius is tighter,
5. in the above-seat steering system, the position of your hands on the handlebars creates less aerodynamic drag.

For mixed routes – both road and light off-road cycling – the best solution is an SWB 24/26 construction, i.e. 24-inch wheels in the front, but fitted with a suspension fork for 26-inch wheels and at least 8 cm of travel. Thus you can use thicker tyres that perform better on sand or difficult roads, and the long fork travel will enable cycling even on the bumpiest roads. An ideal system would combine the above with an adjustable travel fork that can be locked out using a lever on the handlebars. This will ensure more comfortable uphill cycling when the climb is particularly steep, as turning the pedals will not activate the fork.

A variety of customised recumbent bikes can be purchased at CYKLOTUR: either based on HP Velotechnik solutions, or on proprietary designs developed by constructors with 20-years' experience in assembling recumbent bicycles.

If you still prefer a conventional bike, when deciding on a tour to mountainous or hilly regions be sure to pick a mountain bicycle.

There are a couple of reasons for doing so.
First and foremost, climbing uphill using a given gear is easier when you do it on 26 inch wheels rather than on 28 inchers. If you have a fair amount of luggage, there will be a noticeable difference. Of course, if the majority of the route is flat, a trekking bike is a better choice – one of the reasons being less air resistance. Double wall rims are a must, and make sure that they are properly aligned before setting off. I would also recommend hubs with sealed bearings.

The bike should be as light as possible. You may think that it is a cliché to say that, but I experienced myself that even 1.5 kg makes a difference. Climbing some pass, I bought a 1.5 l bottle of water in a roadside shop. After some time, I felt as if someone was holding onto my bike. Generally speaking, make sure that the bike and luggage weigh as little as possible. Unfortunately, the weight of the equipment is usually inversely proportional to its price.