3 Considerations for Selecting the Best Bicycle for Touring Battlefields

What is the best bicycle for touring battlefields? It’s easy to over-complicate not only the question but the answer. In today’s post, we outline how simple it is to select a bicycle for day rides through U.S. military parks.

What is the Best Bicycle for Touring Battlefields?

Recently, I blogged about packing and carrying food for day-long bicycling adventures touring U.S. military parks. I offered a few basic tips and explained how it’s actually fairly easy to plan what you will need to eat and drink for a day ride.

The same principle applies to selecting a bicycle. There are many different types of bicycles, but only a couple types that you may want to avoid. Even if you select poorly, however, there’s always a path forward — especially if the you are healthy and fit.

Consider 3 criteria to select the “best” bicycle for touring battlefields:

1 – Pick a Bicycle That Fits Your Body

First of all, the best bicycle for touring battlefields is one that fits your body. This is important for safety reasons, but also for overall enjoyment of your historical tour.

It’s common sense: Make sure your bicycle is designed for your body weight and that it can be adjusted for your height. If you rent a bicycle for your tour, any good rental shop will know how to help you to select a bicycle that fits. On the other hand, if you want to buy a bicycle, go to a reputable bicycle shop and they will help you more than this blog post possibly can.


2 – Pick a Bicycle That Is In Good Repair

Second, the best bicycle for touring battlefields is one that isn’t broken or about to break. This is obvious, of course, but it advances my point that selecting a bicycle for a day-ride is not complicated.

You don’t need to be a bicycle mechanic to know whether your bicycle changes gears smoothly; whether the pedals rotate and the tires roll; or whether the steering column works. And common sense applies if the chain looks rusty, spokes are broken, or someone put duct tape on the tires.

Even so, if you are renting a bicycle from a reputable dealer, the staff will have inspected the bicycle before renting it to you. And if you own your bicycle, hopefully you have existing maintenance habits that keep your bicycle in good repair. (If not, you can always bring your bicycle to a shop for an inspection and “tune up.”)


3 – Pick a Bicycle Suitable for Park Roadways

Finally, our third consideration is specific to bicycling U.S. military parks, where the roads have similar construction, traffic, and geography. U.S. national military park roads are typically paved, and they are designed for slow moving (25 mph) motor vehicle traffic. The roads can be hilly but flat stretches may be more the norm.

With that description in mind, I recommend that you avoid two types of bicycles, which I describe below.

Avoid Cruisers

First, “cruiser” bicycles work well for leisurely, recreational rides on mostly flat surfaces. They tend to require you to sit upright for a comfortable, single-speed ride over relatively short distances. This is why “cruiser” bicycles have the alternative name, “beach” bikes. You can safely enjoy touring a U.S. military park on a well-maintained and properly fitting “cruiser” bicycle, but please know that such a setup is more physically challenging. If you are not in great athletic shape, you will probably need to walk your bicycle up several hills. The extra work required to pedal a cruiser for long distances and up and down hills is why I do not recommend them for bicycling through U.S. military parks.

Avoid Old, Heavy Mountain Bikes

Second, old “mountain” bicycles that do not have modern gearing systems tend to be heavy and therefore more of a challenge to climb hills. If you are up for the challenge, there is nothing unsafe or wrong about selecting an old, heavy “mountain” bicycle. It’s all a matter of knowing what you want out of a ride and whether your body can handle it. Again, because the weight of these bicycles may introduce unnecessary physical challenges to your battlefield tour, I do not recommend them.

Just Pick Something and Ride!

With cruisers and old mountain bicycles off the list, you don’t need to know the finer points on the differences between road, hybrid, touring, and lightweight mountain bicycles. Just pick something that you like and ride. It’s hard to imagine that you will have any regrets.

Of course, you can do more research if you want. For example, if you will be renting a bicycle, you might want to let the sales associate know how many hours you anticipate riding; this may influence their recommendation. In any case, the sales associate will know the park terrain and likely will only offer a bicycle rental that makes sense for a day-ride.


Hopefully, this post took some of the mystery out of selecting the best bicycle for touring battlefields. The “best” bicycle is simply one that:

  1. Fits your body
  2. Is in good repair
  3. Is designed for day-rides on paved but possibly hilly roads


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