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Full List of Rigid Steel Off-Road Touring Bikes (with Plus Tires)

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When it comes to backcountry touring, we’re big fans of fully rigid, steel, plus-tired mountain bikes with flat bars. Not only are these bikes inherently simple, robust, and easy to maintain, but they’re very capable, confidence-inspiring, and comfortable off-road explorers. Additionally, they encourage a state of mind that's conducive to discovery rather than simple mile crunching, which, in many ways, is what bikepacking is all about. Here’s our complete reference list. Find over 20 bikes that fit this category and learn about the criteria we used to select them...

If you’re new to bikepacking and wondering what we’re talking about when we reference plus-size bikes, it’s those that have ample clearance for tires between 2.8 and 3.25″ on suitable rims, whether they’re 26″, 27.5″, or 29″ in diameter. Surly introduced this supersized tire width in 2012 with the wagon wheel, 29+ Krampus. Since then, it’s been championed by a number of manufacturers, in a variety of rim sizes. As for our penchant for ferrous frame materials… whilst we’re fully aware that many riders are perfectly happy touring on aluminum bikes, we’re fans of chromoly (or steel, in common parlance) because it’s capable of surviving the odd ding and knock, whether you’re riding it, boxing it for a flight, or transporting it on the roof of a bus. It’s also less prone to fatigue and easy to repair, making it a perfect material for backcountry exploits.

In our opinion, fully rigid, steel, plus bikes (apologies for the mouthful) have inherited the crown of the first ATBs (All Terrain Bikes), offering sure-footed traction and the latter’s adventurous spirit. They’re the updated essence of the original 80s mountain bikes, and like their forebears, are robust enough to still be around 20 years from now. Rigid plus bikes aren’t the fastest or lightest bikes in the world, but they’re amongst the most fun and capable for the money (though you’ll often pay a premium for the tires themselves).

Lastly, plus size tires lend themselves very well to tubeless setups. The large volume allows you to run lower tire pressures than you might otherwise, adding even more grip and comfort to mixed terrain touring and trail riding. Setting them up without inner tubes eliminates the risk of a pinch flat – but watch out for rim strike.

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Where to ride Rigid Steel Plus Bikes

What kind of bikepacking trip benefits from a plus bike? A large percentage of mixed terrain, backcountry routes are plus bike friendly, especially if you’re running a fully rigid setup and/or you’re new to off-road touring. Whilst these routes may be perfectly rideable on tires with less volume, plus-size tires add undoubted confidence and comfort to your off-road riding. The rougher the riding, the more benefit large volume tires will be. A few sandier bikepacking routes arguably require such setups, like the popular Baja Divide, the Camino del Diablo, or the epic Ruta de Los Seis Miles, whilst areas with extended stints on cobbled surfaces, like the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route, will also benefit greatly, as you can run lower tire pressures than you might be able to to otherwise. Yes, fully fledged fat bikes are even more capable machines when it comes to undiluted off-the-grid exploration. But plus-size rigid bikes strike a more balanced sweet spot between versatility and capability, which will appeal to many, especially for trips that mix a number of different qualities of road surfaces.

Confused about all our talk of plus sizes and wheel diameters? Be sure to scroll below the lineup of fully rigid plus bikes, for our breakdown of which wheel size will work best for your needs.

Plus Tire Clearance

All the bikes in our list can comfortably clear a 2.8”- 3” tire, on rims between 30-50mm width, be it a 26, 27.5, or 29er in diameter. A large volume tire on a wide rim offers excellent traction and confidence, which makes up for its extra weight, especially when touring off road on a fully rigid setup.

Mountain Bikes

Most of these bikes are ‘mountain bikes’ at heart, with geometries designed for flat handlebars. Some are more suited to technical trails than others, which we’ve mentioned in our overviews. Similarly, some have geometries suitable for a suspension fork, whilst others are rigid specific. There are a few models, particularly framesets, that we’ve seen set up with drops or flat bars, (like the Piolet, Fargo, and Evasion), so we’ve added those in too.

Steel is Real

Almost all these bikes use chromoly frames and forks, and feature the kind of mounting points you’d expect from an off-road touring bike, like eyelets on the fork and downtube, or provision for front and rear racks. Yes, you can make do without, but with so many options on the market, it makes sense to hone in on those that are bikepacking-friendly.

There are a few things to note about our list of rigid steel plus bikes. The factors that we found particularly important to consider are listed in the highlights (in red). These include the maximum tire size (and to the best of our knowledge, its wide trail equivalent), and the dropout width specs. In addition, note the bottom bracket spec. Bottom bracket drop is relevant to pedal clearance, but don’t forget to account for wheels and tires of different diameters when you compare them. Also, we reference whether it’s threaded or PressFit (PF)—an important factor for many. Click each list item to expand the details and see a larger photo. Lists are displayed in alphabetical order, with bikes we’ve tested grouped at top (represented with a hexagonal “T” icon):

  • Bombtrack Beyond+1 & +2

    Bombtrack Beyond+1 & +2

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel & Carbon
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3 / 29 x 2.3"
    • Bottom bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 110 / 12 x 148mm
    • BB drop: 65mm

    We tested the Beyond+ 2 and were impressed; it’s a light, sharp handling, fully rigid hardtail with all the bikepacking touches you’d expect from a company that’s passionate about exploration. Take away the carbon fork and GX drivetrain and you get the Beyond +1, which sports the same frame and geo, albeit with a different finish, a rigid steel fork, and a cheaper price tag. Like all good bikepacking rigs, provision for fork bags and rear racks are all accounted for. And, should you want to run front suspension, a 120mm fork with 25% sag keeps the geometry the same. Or, slot in a 130mm fork with 30%, slackening it out a touch for big trail descents. Both the carbon fork and the steel for have eyelets for water bottles and cargo cages.

    Certain North Americans will need to prepare themselves for disappointment, however, as the Beyond+ 2 (2,599 €) isn’t currently available in the US market (though you can get them in Canada). The Beyond+ 1, which is available in the States for 1,999 USD.

    You can also see more images of the Beyond +1 in Franzi Wernsing’s Rider and Rig.

    • Price: $1999 (Complete)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Brother Big Bro

    Brother Big Bro

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3”
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 100/135 QR
    • BB Drop: 60mm

    We’re big fans of the Brother Cycles Big Bro, as tested over the summer. It’s simple, classic, and sensibly specced. With front and rear QR hubs, the Big Bro like an old school MTB with a plus-sized twist. And it’s a good looker, as expected of the bikes from this small, UK based company. All this said, the 2018 model has recently been heavily discounted, so it seems an updated model is due out soon, which will likely see some changes with the model we tried. Watch this space as we’ll update our photo and bike description when we find out more.

    • Price: £1700
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Jones Plus LWB

    Jones Plus LWB

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel (or ti Truss)
    • Max Tire Size: 29 x 3.25"
    • Bottom Bracket: 68mm Threaded Eccentric
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 150mm / 12 x 148mm
    • BB drop: 88mm

    When we tested the rigid-specific Jones Plus (now rebranded LWB), we were blown away by its trail manners; we never expected a bike that was so upright and comfortable to ride could also be so capable on technical singletrack. The latest iteration features some tweaks; there’s now provision for a rear rack and the rear hub is Boost-spaced (rather than 135QR), which helps clearances with 1x drivetrains and wider plus tires. As per all of Jones’ bikes, all forks can be shod with 26 x 4.3” fat tires, if you want some extra ‘suspension’ to your ride. And, in addition to the steel and Ti truss options, there’s now a more user-friendly steel unicrown fork, with the exact same offset and dimensions. Note that the BB drop is offset by the ability to rotate the eccentric bottom bracket by as much as 12mm, and the fact that all Jones bikes are specced with cranks 5mm shorter than usual. There are two sizes to choose from and a number of colors. We tested the steel diamond frame, but there’s a space frame available as well, as well as titanium options too.

    Priced below with truss fork. You can also purchase a frameset for $1100 with a Steel Diamond frame with unicrown fork (most economical build) or with a steel truss fork for £1350. Top of the line is the ti spaceframe and truss fork, which goes for $4,550.

    • Price: $1375 (Frame/Truss Fork)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Jones Plus SWB + SWB Complete

    Jones Plus SWB + SWB Complete

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel (or ti truss)
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3.25”
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 100 / 12 x 148mm

    Replacing the classic Jones mountain bike of old, the rigid specific SWB offers full 27.5+ clearances (with ample room for 29 x 2.6” too) and a slightly rejigged, longer rear end. Note then that Short Wheel Base is a relative term – the stays are still some 449mm in length. The premium-priced, custom specced version and the newer, more affordable SWB Complete have the exact same geometry and are both made in Taiwan, though the latter uses non-heat-treated tubing and loses the eccentric bottom bracket, which is useful for in-the-field drivetrain repairs and adjusting BB height. Still, at $1,800, we can’t fault the SWB Complete for price. It has all the Jones magic for a much more inclusive cost than we’ve seen before, even if the gearing (22-83in) is a little on the low side for loaded, mountainous bikepacking and the tires aren’t tubeless ready. There’s room for a 27.5 x 3.8” tire if you want extra volume up front, whether you’re running the truss fork (available in steel or Ti) or the SWB Complete’s unicrown version. And, there’s plenty of space for 3.25” tires in the back. Read our full release with specs here and stay tuned for a full review.

    • Price: $1800 (Complete)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Salsa Fargo

    Salsa Fargo

    • Frame/fork: Steel/Carbon
    • Max Tire Size: 29 x 3.0" / 27.5 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 110 x 15mm / 12 x 148mm

    The Fargo is the bike that started it all. Built for long rides like the Tour divide, it’s a dirt-drop 29er at heart. Since then, Salsa has refined it to be a versatile machine. 29 x 2.6″ (or 27.5+ tires) are its sweet spot, although with a 70mm BB-drop, it can run just about anything, including 27.5 x 2.1″. While we haven’t reviewed the Fargo directly, we’ve spent plenty of time on the 29+ Deadwood, which is essentially the same bike with a color and graphics change. Here’s details about Gin’s 29 x 2.6″ Deadwood set up.

    • Price: $2600 (Apex 1 Build)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Surly Bridge Club

    Surly Bridge Club

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 2.8”
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 100QR/10 x 138mm "Gnot Boost" for 135 or 142mm
    • BB drop : 60mm

    It’s perhaps no surprise to see so many Surlys in this list, as the plus size tire was their crazy (good) idea in the first place! The Bridge Club, however, is a little different. It comes specced with 2.4s on 29mm rims. But, there’s ample clearance for 2.8s (which mount up nicely on the rims provided). The price point is very inclusive too; $1200 gets you a simple and well considered spec list that will suit newby bikepackers or those who carry extra payloads, given the low gearing and double chainring. Granted, there’s not as many fork barnacles as the likes of the Ogre, Troll, and ECR. But that doesn’t mean Surly have skimped out either, as there still provision for rack mounts and triple-boss cages. A Gnot-boost-style dropout means you can run a number of QR hub standards too, which could come in handy when travelling into the reaches of the globe. Stay tuned for the full review.

    • Price: $1200 (Complete)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Surly ECR

    Surly ECR

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 29 x 3.0
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts: 100mm QR / 12 x 142/148mm
    • BB drop: 80mm

    The magic of 29+ is that it provides a large rolling diameter as well as significant floatation and suspension qualities due to a wider footprint. And, all of this is at its disposal without the same penalties that 4″ fatbike tires possess. In essence, 29+ provides added cushion and confidence while not being as sluggish at a fatbike. The Surly ECR was one of the first few 29+ bikes, and the first to repurpose 29+ specifically for bikepacking. Many have followed in its wide footsteps, but it remains the archetype of its own niche.

    • Price: $1900 (Complete)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Surly Karate Monkey

    Surly Karate Monkey

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3”
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 110mm / “Gnot Boost” 135, 142, or 148mm
    • BB drop: 55mm

    The Surly Karate Monkey is a classic hardtail, reborn in its latest incarnation to take a longer fork (up to 140mm) and plus tires as standard. A favorite of both Miles Arbour and Michael Dammer (see our Rider and Rig from the Colorado Trail), the KM is famous for being a tough-as-nails hardail that makes up for it’s relatively heavy frame weight with its fun, confident, and cheeky disposition. In fully rigid form, the Surly Karate Monkey promises a great blend of low maintenance components and invigorating handling at a reasonable price tag.

    • Price: $1550 (1550)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Surly Krampus

    Surly Krampus

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 29 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 110 / 12 x 142/148mm
    • BB drop : 55mm

    The Surly Krampus started it all. The first plus tire bike, the first 29+ bike, and arguably the first bike that drew the term “bikepacking bike.” Why? Although the comparable bikepacking-specific Surly ECR can do it all, between the two, the Krampus dominates steep rooty singletrack, rock gardens, and technical conditions. It’s a trail bike at heart. The high bottom bracket and slack geometry make it a thrill ride, and honestly one of the most fun, confidence inspiring bikes you’ll come across. The best analogy is that it’s comparable to being a big kid on a grown up BMX bike, one that can plow over anything. Even loaded with a frame bag, seat bag, and handlebar luggage, it performs well and feels solid and confident. If you are waffling over other bikes, and enjoy trail riding as much as you do bikepacking, the Krampus is a must-ride.

    • Price: $1550 (Complete)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Surly Ogre

    Surly Ogre

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3” or 29 x 2.5”
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 100QR/145mm "Gnot-Boost"
    • BB drop: 68mm

    The Surly Ogre is one of our favourite do-it-all framesets, though note that as a complete bike, it comes with 29 x 2.5” tires, so it’s not a plus bike out of the box. There’s a lot to like: the Ogre is rigid specific so sports a large framebag, the dropout is compatible with a Rohloff hub of you so choose, and aside from a full complement of rack mounts, there are no less than four sets of triple-pack mounts on the fork, facing both forward and aft. We should point out that the bike featured in our review isn’t quite current; new frames no longer feature canti studs, making the bike disc-specific and more plus-size friendly, as it’s easier to install and remove wheels. Also note that the complete build, down to $1,450 from its original price of $1,750, now has a more limiting, single chainring gear range (32T x 11-42T), which could be restrictive for heavy duty off-road touring, without modifying it with a smaller front chainring or larger rear cassette.

    • Price: $1450 (Complete)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Surly Troll

    Surly Troll

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 26 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 100QR/145mm "Gnot-Boost"
    • BB drop: 40mm

    The little brother to Surly’s Ogre, the Troll has long been an excellent choice for those headed to lands where 26” tires still reign supreme, or for those of a smaller stature, for whom front and rear bag clearance can be an issue. Smaller tires means more space. The Troll doesn’t come set up as a plus bike. Rather, it comes stock with Surly’s touring-friendly 2.5” ETs tires, but in typical Fatties Fit Fine fashion, there’s plenty of room for 26 x 3” tires. Just remember that you’ll want to build up a set of wheels with wider rims, as the standard ones are rather narrow. The Troll is rigid specific, the rear dropout is compatible with a Rohloff hub, and aside from a full complement of rack mounts, there’s no less than four sets of triple-pack mounts on the fork, facing both forward and aft. The Troll is available as both a complete build and a frameset, and has a BB drop of 40mm, so take that into account when swapping out wheels.

    • Price: $1700 (Complete)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Tout Terrain Outback

    Tout Terrain Outback

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Carbon
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5x3”/ 29x2.3”
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 110 / 12 x 142mm
    • BB drop: 65mm

    Hailing from Germany, Tout Terrain’s frames are made in Taiwan but painted and assembled in Germany. Veterans of the traditional bike touring world and well versed in a variety of enclosed drivetrains, Tout Terrain have embraced the long distance durability of the Pinion C12 system for the Outback, their first foray into the bikepacking realm. Having had some time with this bike in the French Alps, we can vouch for its singletrack prowess and its build quality. We love the geometry too; it’s a little slacker than some, so suits big mountain descents, and sports a steepish seat angle that really helps with climbing. Each bike is built to spec, from a choice of high end components. As such, it can be purchased with both a rigid carbon fork (complete with triple boss cargo/water bottle eyelets) or with a 120mm suspension fork for more dedicated trail use. Yes, technically this isn’t a fully rigid steel bike, but it’s close! Basic spec and stock colour starts at 3890€.

    • Price: €3890
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan/Germany
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Tumbleweed Prospector

    Tumbleweed Prospector

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 26 x 4.0" / 29 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Custom EBB
    • Dropouts (F/R): 100 QR or 110 thru / 135mm QR
    • BB drop: 58mm

    The Tumbleweed Prospector is a unique do-it-all expedition bike made specifically for bikepacking and dirt-road touring. The Prospector’s headline feature is a custom yoke designed to allow its steel, symmetrical frame accommodate fat tires up to 4″ wide with a standard-width, über reliable Rohloff Speedhub. Translation? Without need for an extra-wide bottom bracket shell, there’s no increase in the distance between the pedals and the resulting Q Factor, a fat bike trait that’s irksome to many.

    However, there’s more to the Prospector than that. For those plus-tires, the prospector has a custom eccentric Bottom Bracket allowing a half an inch of bottom bracket height adjustability (12mm), in turn making it equally as suitable for 29+ and 27.5+ tires. The frame is built around a standard 135mm dropout for easy-to-source hubs as well as a 100mm QR fork (or 110mm with an optional thru-axle fork). The frame also features a suspension-corrected geometry. And, it has as all the necessary braze-ons for racks, panniers, and a myriad of water bottles. All of which makes for a very versatile bike, one that Tumbleweed promotes as a rugged, adaptable, backcountry explorer, as well as a fun rig to spin around the local trails.

    To learn more, find two Rider and Rigs on this site featuring the Prospector, one with filmmaker Jay Ritchey set up 27.5+, and one with world traveller Pepper Cook. Also, read the pre-launch QA with founder Daniel Malloy.

    • Price: $2700 (Frameset/Rohloff Kit)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Velo Orange Piolet

    Velo Orange Piolet

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 29 x 2.4" / 27.5 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 100mm QR/135mm QR

    While not shown with drop-bars, the Velo Orange Piolet is designed for either drops or flat bars. From our review by Lee Vilinsky: “Velo Orange’s Piolet is truly a modern classic: though 26” wheels and rim brakes still win for being the most widely available component choices, the benefits of larger wheels and discs are an overwhelming advantage. With more of a touring-oriented geometry, the Piolet is a fantastic interpretation of what a rough stuff touring bike should be. The frame handles bikepacking loads quite well and it should also take a classic 4-pannier, loaded-to-the-gills setup without issue. Even unloaded the frame handles great and feels agile, though its touring geometry means a bit more effort is required when navigating more technical singletrack. Velo Orange obviously did their homework in designing this classy machine which will certainly stand out from the rest of the herd. Given the opportunity to do another round-the-world journey by bike, there is no question that this is the one I would take.” Also, be sure to check out Pao’s Piolet (shown here).

    • Price: $725 (Frameset)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Bombtrack Beyond+ ADV

    Bombtrack Beyond+ ADV

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Carbon
    • Max Tire Size: 29 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 110mm / 12 x 148mm
    • BB drop: 70mm

    The ADV is the bigger sibling of the Beyond+. Technically, it shouldn’t really be in our listing, as it’s not a fully rigid steel bike. But, the carbon fork comes with triple eyelets for cargo cages and you could also swap it out for an aftermarket rigid fork if you prefer the idea of travelling with steel over carbon. This aside, it fits the criteria of an overland explorer perfectly. With its 1×12 Eagle GX cassette, it boasts a wide gear range, along with WTB tubeless ready rims and our favourite Ranger Tough tires. It also comes included with the ultra comfortable Jones Loop H-Bar. This is a bike you could get rowdy on, too; it’s suspension corrected for a 120mm fork, set up with 25% sage, or you can even push it to 130mm, with 30%.

    Note that the Beyond+ Adv isn’t available in the US.

    • Price: €2699
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Brodie Torque

    Brodie Torque

    • Frame/Fork: steel/steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5x2.8"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 100mm/135mm QR
    • BB drop: Not listed

    Brodie’s Torque is designed to do a bit of everything – be it city riding or trail riding, at a price that will appeal to many. Note that the spec is good for the price but a bit limited for bikepacking, given its 1x drivetrain with a modest 11-36T cassette, matted to a 32T crankset. Still, there’s eyelets on the downtube and the fork, as well as rack eyelets, so it’s definitely a frameset that has bikepacking potential. Rims are 30mm wide, offering a good middle ground. Moto-X tires are fast rolling and comfy, and the stock build includes fenders for city riding, as well as Shimano hydros for powerful braking. QR hubs front and rear keep things simple and affordable, with three sizes to choose from.

    • Price: $1149
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Chumba URSA 29plus Backcountry

    Chumba URSA 29plus Backcountry

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel (or carbon)
    • Max Tire Size: 29 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 110mm / 12 x 148mm (sliding)
    • BB drop: 56mm

    The Chumba URSA 29plus Backcountry was one of the first production, bikepacking-specific 29+ rigs on the market. Featuring a made-in-the-USA steel frame, sliding dropouts, and plenty of mounts, its a great option to consider when eying bikes such as the Krampus, ECR, and the Tumbleweed Prospector. Check out this report on it.

    • Price: $3495 (BC)
    • Place of Manufacture: Texas, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Crust Evasion

    Crust Evasion

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 2.4" or 26 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 100mm / 12 x 148mm (or 135mm QR)

    The Crust Evasion is designed around 26+ (up to 26 x 3″) tires on 45mm rims, but it’s just as happy on a 650B tire (27.5″) up to x 2.4″ wide. This bike is designed for dirt touring and bikepacking, and touted as “comfortable for the long haul, but fast and nimble, while still being ready for some pretty technical/rough riding…” It’s got plenty of rack mounts and bottle bosses, and Paragon-style dropouts to either run a 148mm thru-axle rear or 135mm QR, single speed or Rolloff. The bi-plane front fork features a 100mm x 15mm thru axle.

    • Price: $975 (Frameset)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Crust Scapegoat

    Crust Scapegoat

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire size: 26 x 4.0 or 29 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 135mm QR
    • BB drop: 71mm

    The Scapegoat is Crust’s expedition bike. 12 years in the making, the ScapeGoat features a low Q-Factor, go-anywhere design that fits about any tire. A tight rear end and longish top tube means its meant for trails, yet is has a lot of traits that are suitable for multi-year explorations. Unlike many fat bikes out there (although its not just a fat bike), the Scapegoat sports a 73mm Bottom Bracket shell, which allows a comfortable 170mm Q-Factor. The sliding rocker dropouts mean you can run 26 × 4,0” tires (on up to 80mm rims), 650b/27.5+ tires, or full 29+ rubber. The frame is 4130 double butted chromoly. But, what makes it most interesting is its non-suspension corrected fork. It features a 135mm spacing so you can run a rear hub (think single-speed) hub in the front for extra-apocalypse proofing. In addition, the bike is loaded with mounts.

    • Price: $825 (Frameset)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Genesis Longitude

    Genesis Longitude

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3” / 29 x 2.4”
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 100QR/130QR
    • BB drop: 77mm

    Over in the UK, Genesis have built up an enviable reputation for putting together very capable bikes that don’t break the bank. The rigid-specific Longitude is no exception. Ringing in at reasonable £1,200, it offers a great spec for the price, including a WTB tubeless-ready wheelset, a sensible, Deore double chainset for a broad spread of gears suited to touring and bikepacking, and reliable if basic Shimano Alivio hydraulic brakes. Genesis even throw in a couple of Gorilla Cages to get you started. If you’re in the UK, this one is hard to beat on price.

    • Price: £1200
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Hunt Bikes 29+

    Hunt Bikes 29+

    • Frame/fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 29 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: PF30 PressFit
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 100mm / 12 x 142mm

    We’ve long admired Hunt’s frame from afar, as elegant as they are. Hunt is based in Australia, but framesets can be shipped worldwide. Designed to accommodate both 29” and 29+ tires, these bikepacking-orientated framesets come in three sizes and two colors: gloss black and brushed chrome. As you’d expect from a company enamoured by bikepacking (see the Hunt 1000) event that they put on across the Australian Alps), there’s no shortage of bag and water bottle mounts. Note though that there’s no provision for racks, as by their own admission, they much prefer soft bags, and the bottom bracket is press fit rather than threaded.

    • Price: $1299 (Frameset)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Kona Unit X

    Kona Unit X

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3”
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 100QR/135QR
    • BB drop: 60mm

    The Unit X is a pretty sweet deal if you’re looking to get into bikepacking. Kona’s geometry is always a hit with trail riders, and the Unit X has a very sensible spec for the price, including a Colorado Trail-friendly 28T/11-42T, 11-speed gear range. $1,300 also gets you WTB 35 rims and 2.8” tires, making for a very capable all-round bike, which will run a 100-120mm suspension fork if you so choose. There’s no triple mounts to be seen, but you can still mount water bottles to the fork and downtube, and the frame includes a sliding dropout, which is useful if you tear up your derailleur in the backcountry, or just like to run a singlespeed setups for local rides.

    • Price: $1299 (Complete)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Marin Pine Mountain

    Marin Pine Mountain

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3”
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 110 QR / 142 QR
    • BB drop: 55mm

    The Marin Pine Mountain includes three models, the base version being fully rigid. It rings in at a killer price, too, just $990 complete. The Pine Mountain’s spec may on the basic side, but still get Shimano hydraulic brakes, tubeless-ready rims, and a Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of water bottle mounts on the stock rigid fork, but at least there’s plenty to be found elsewhere. The frame is compatible with a 120mm suspension fork for some front end squish, as seen on the higher end steel Pine Mountain 2 and 3. Logan had a ton of fun on the Pine Mountain 2 in Spain a couple of years ago; read the review below.

    • Price: $990 (Complete)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • MONē La Roca

    MONē La Roca

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 29 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 15 x 110mm / 12 x 148mm
    • BB drop : 33mm

    Cjell Mon’s signature plus hardtail. The La Roca frame is hand-brazed, custom butted hardened 4130 tubing.La Roca features a unique, tuneable rear-end that allows a wide range of chainstay lengths depending on your wheel choice. 27.5 x 2.5″ minions will tuck right up to 413 mm if you run gears and slam it. Or, bump that number to a 420mm for your 29+ tires.

    As shown here, La Roca is offered with a 120mm suspension-corrected biplane fork with 2x Anything cage mounts (4 total on the frame). La Roca also has fender mounts and low rider rack mounts.

    • Price: $1600 (Frameset (with fork))
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Nordest Sardinha

    Nordest Sardinha

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3.0″ or 29 x 2.6″
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm Threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 110 x 15mm / 148 x 12mm
    • BB drop : 60mm

    The Nordest Sardinha features a Taiwanese-made, double-butted CRMO 4130 frame with clearance for 27.5 x 3.0″ or 29 x 2.6″ tires. It’s available in three sizes, S, M/L, and L, fitting riders from 168-193cm (5’6″-6’4″). The frame gets a threaded bottom bracket, 44mm head tube for a straight or tapered steerer, and a welded plate chainstay yoke to allow for plenty of tire and chainring clearance. It also has triple bottle mounts on both the top and bottom of the down tube, as well as a pair on the seat tube. Nordest sells the Sardinha as a frame only or as a “kit” that includes a matching rigid chromoly fork and headset. Both come in yellow with blue and red fish-themed graphical icons and phrases such as “Base Camp” and “Vital Support.” Read the full release and specs here.

    • Price: €455 (Frame)
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Stooge Mark 4 B+/29er

    Stooge Mark 4 B+/29er

    • Frame/Fork: steel/steel
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5x3 and 29x3
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm EBB
    • Dropouts (F/R): 100x15/142x12
    • BB drop: 60

    Based in the UK and manufactured in small batches in Taiwan, Stooge offers a growing range of rigid-specific, slack geo hardtails, with a mixture of unicrown, truss, and biplane forks. But it’s the Mark 4 that we’re the most excited to see, as it includes eyelets on the fork (and a lovely biplane design), as well as mounts the downtube, making it much more bikepacking friendly than previously. There’s revamped angles too, including a super slack 66 degree HA and an increased fork offset (to 80mm), as well as an EBB that will lend it the capability to run the full gamut of wheel sizes, from 27.5+ to 29+, with 29×2.6 in between.

    Check out the pre-order for the Mark 4 on Stooges site. Pay up front in full for a £50 discount. Note that the image here is a Mk2.

    • Price: £500
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Stooge Speedball

    Stooge Speedball

    • Frame/fork: Steel/steel
    • Tire Clearance: 29 x 3.0"
    • Bottom Bracket: Eccentric
    • Dropouts (F/R): 142 × 12 / 100 × 15mm

    The Speedball is a 29+ bike featuring a Klunkpacker bi-plane fork with triple cage mounts. The speedball is offered in one size only: 23.5″ ETT and 18″ seat tube for anyone between 5’8′ and 6’1″. It has clearance for 3″ rubber on a 45mm rim in the rear and 3.25″ on the front, a 27.2 post, 142 × 12 and 100 × 15 dropouts, and an included eccentric bottom bracket.

    Here’s some geo specs: ETT – 597mm, Seat tube – 457mm, head angle – 69, seat angle- 72, BB drop – 75mm, chainstays – 450mm, fork axle to crown – 455mm, head tube – 140mm, fork offset – 55mm truss, 57mm biplane.

    • Price: £599 (Frame/Bi-plane fork)
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Veloheld Iron

    Veloheld Iron

    • Frame/Fork: Steel/Steel (or 130mm suspension)
    • Max Tire Size: 27.5 x 3 and 29 x 2.35
    • Bottom Bracket: 73mm threaded
    • Dropouts (F/R): 110 x 15mm / 148 x 12mm
    • BB Drop: TBC

    We don’t know too much about the Veloheld Iron, but from what we can discern from the German website, it looks like a very capable bikepacking rig. The Iron is available as both a rigid build or with a 130mm fork, with all the provisions we know and love – eyelets for Anything Cages on the chromo fork and provision under the downtube for a water bottle too. The stock build looks good, with a SRAM NX Eagle Boost drivetrain and a choice between a 29er wheelset or 27.5+, both tubeless ready. There are four sizes available.

    • Price: €1999
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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A note on tire and rim widths

Within the ‘plus’ bike category, there’s a broad range of rim and tire width options. Whilst 3″ tyres on 50mm rims offer the very best in traction, comfort, and flotation, there are reasons why a narrower configuration – a 2.8″ tire on a rim that measures 35mm, for instance – may make sense. Such a setup is lighter, offers more options when sourcing replacement tires on the road, and if you’re planning a tour with multi-modal transport, more train and bus friendly. They’re also better in mud, thanks to the larger clearances afforded by your frame and fork, and the fact that they have less of a tendency to plane over surfaces. Again, be aware of the impact that a smaller diameter tire will have on your bottom bracket height; it will likely effect it by a few millimetres, which will increase the chance of pedal strikes. All in all, pairing the right rim with the right tire width makes sense, as it maximises tire stability, avoiding some of the side to side roll that can be associated with plus tires, and protecting the rim too.

26+ vs. 27.5+ vs. 29+ vs. Wide Trail, in brief

There are pros and cons to each wheel size. Generally speaking, the larger the wheel, the smoother the ride. The smaller the wheel, the more nimble the handling. Which plus tire size is best for you will likely boil down to two main factors. The first is the availability of replacement tires in the areas you live or intend to travel. The second is your own stature. The larger diameter the tire, the less clearance you’ll have for a seat pack or front roll, especially if you intend to use suspension at some point (remember to allow for the fork’s compression). At the time of writing, the largest availability of tires is in the 27.5″ size, which will likely suit most riders.

Worth noting too is that bikes with plus-size clearances often overlap with ‘wide trail’ clearances in the next wheel size up. For example, 26+ generally fits 27.5 x 2.4” and 27.5+ often has clearances for 29 x 2.4” tires. This allows you to reinvent your bike and helps futureproof your frame. If you’re planning to experiment with wheel and tire sizes, be aware of the potential impact on bottom bracket height, which will affect pedal clearance. One last factor to consider: the smaller the wheel, the easier it will be bag and box your bike for overseas travel. We’ll be taking a deeper, more granular dive on such matters in a future article.

Parting Thoughts

It’s great to see such a broad variety of fully rigid, steel plus bike on the market. Which particular model works best for you will likely depend on what you intend to do with it. Do you want the possibility of running suspension, or more framebag space? The stopping power of hydraulic brakes, or the backcountry serviceability of mechanical brakes? Do you favour the ability to roll over all manner of terrain, or do you prefer a bike that’s lighter and handles more quickly? Are you tall in stature, or on the shorter end?

And, of course, it will depend on money you have in your back pocket, because there’s a wide spectrum of prices to choose from (and don’t forget to save some cash for the trip!). Whatever you decide upon, we’re confident that a simplicity of a fully rigid steel plus bike will capture your imagination and you lead far and wide, just as it did for us.

As with our other Gear Indexes, we took quite a bit of time to gather a comprehensive selection of rigid steel off-road touring bikes for this list. However, there are probably a few that we missed. After publishing our Indexes of Drop-bar 29ers and 650B Gravel Plus bikes, we’ve added dozens of options; we expect this one will grow as well. If you know of a bike you think will make a solid addition to this list—preferably one you have first-hand experience with and can recommend—please let us know in the comments below.