CHOOSING THE RIGHT BIKING / CYCLING TOUR

We want you to have the best possible time during your biking tour in Japan with us, and matching your experience level, and current physical conditioning to an appropriate adventure is the most important part of ensuring you have a truly enjoyable trip.  With that said, it is incredibly hard to create a one-size-fits-all system that accurately portrays the difficulty and challenges of each unique bike trip within the context of its particular environment, trail conditions, technical aspects, distance, duration and elevation gain.  Perhaps this is why there is no universal standard for rating the difficulty of biking trails.

We have drawn heavily, and sometimes verbatim, from the difficulty rating scale developed by the Adventure Cycling Association that we feel does an excellent job of boiling all the variables down into a relatively simple, accurate and easily understandable ranking, but have slightly modified it in places to apply more specifically to the trails we will be riding during our tours in Japan.  The end result is a two-part system that assigns a 6-level number scale to describe the necessary level of fitness, and combines it with a 3-letter scale to grade the technical difficulty of the surface.  Please see the detailed explanation of each system below.

When choosing a tour, be honest when evaluating yourself - and if you are unsure whether you could realistically handle the demands of a particular biking trip on offer, just ask!  Send us a message or give us a call and we will be happy to talk you through it.

 

FITNESS LEVELS: 1 through 6

Multi-day tours will most often be ranked a level higher than their single-day stats might suggest, since we must not only take into account the average daily distances and elevation, but also the physical ramifications of maintaining a load over several consecutive days, as well as the increased effort necessary to pedal a bicycle loaded with gear for a lengthy tour. 

  • LEVEL 1

    ​Easy

    • CHARACTERIZED BY:

    Mostly flat terrain and relatively shorter distances with minimal hill climbing.

    • SUITABLE FOR:

    Newer or easy-going cyclists, or those traveling with friends or family members unaccustomed to cycling.

    • DURATION

    Cycling time can vary greatly depending on the terrain and road conditions, but you should be able to comfortably cycle between 2~3 hours per day.

    • DISTANCE・ELEVATION

    Typical daily distance is between 30~45 kilometers with elevation gains of up to 100 meters.

  • LEVEL 2

    MODERATE

    • CHARACTERIZED BY:

    Some climbing over short to medium distances, mostly in the form of rolling hills.

    • SUITABLE FOR:

    Newer or easy-going cyclists looking to challenge themselves.

    • DURATION

    Cycling time can vary greatly depending on the terrain and road conditions, but you should be able to comfortably cycle between 3~4 hours per day.

    • DISTANCE・ELEVATION

    Typical daily distance is between 45~60 kilometers with elevation gains of up to 250 meters.

  • LEVEL 3

    ​HARD

    • CHARACTERIZED BY:

    Rolling terrain over medium distances with some short extended climbs, usually on gradients not exceeding 6%.

    • SUITABLE FOR:

    Regular or semi-regular cyclists.

    • DURATION

    Cycling time can vary greatly depending on the terrain and road conditions, but you should be able to comfortably cycle between 4~5 hours per day.

    • DISTANCE・ELEVATION

    Typical daily distance is between 60~75 kilometers with elevation gains of up to 400 meters.

  • LEVEL 4

    CHALLENGING

    • CHARACTERIZED BY:

    Frequent rolling terrain over medium to long distances with some longer extended climbs, usually on gradients not exceeding 6%.

    • SUITABLE FOR:

    Regular or semi-regular cyclists.

    • DURATION

    Cycling time can vary greatly depending on the terrain and road conditions, but you should be able to comfortably cycle between 5~6 hours per day.

    • DISTANCE・ELEVATION

    Typical daily distances could reach 75~90 kilometers for single day tours, and could consistently average up to 75km on multi-day tours with daily elevation gains of up to 600 meters.

  • LEVEL 5

    STRENUOUS

    • CHARACTERIZED BY:

    Consistently undulating terrain over relatively longer distances, often with long extended climbs on grades that could exceed 7%.

    • SUITABLE FOR:

    Regular, experienced cyclists.

    • DURATION

    Cycling time can vary greatly depending on the terrain and road conditions, but you should be able to comfortably cycle between 6~8 hours per day.

    • DISTANCE・ELEVATION

    Typical daily distances could reach 90~120 kilometers for single day tours, and could consistently average up to 90km on multi-day tours with daily elevation gains of up to 800 meters.

  • LEVEL 6

    EXTREME

    • CHARACTERIZED BY:

    Terrain that may be exceptionally hilly at times, featuring longer, harder climbs more often and/or possible stretches at altitude. Grades could consistently could exceed 7%.

    • SUITABLE FOR:

    Regular, experienced cyclists.

    • DURATION

    Cycling time can vary greatly depending on the terrain and road conditions, but you should be able to comfortably cycle up to 10 hours per day.

    • DISTANCE・ELEVATION

    Typical daily distances could reach 160 kilometers for single day tours, and could consistently average up to 120km on multi-day tours with daily elevation gains of up to 1,000 meters.

TECHNICAL LEVELS: A to C

Scenic Road Bike

LEVEL A

Paved Roads

Cycling is done entirely on paved roads and no special or technical bike handling skills are necessary.  If you are comfortable on a bicycle in general, you will be ok on the tour. Road bikes or cross bikes are sufficient.

Bicycling in the Woods

LEVEL B

Moderate Dirt Roads,

Trails & Doubletrack

Cycling may include some sections of travel on hard-packed dirt roads or trails and/or mixed surfaces, but technical difficult is still easy to moderate. Rigid bikes with a tire width of 35 to 42mm are typically recommended.

Mountain Biking

LEVEL C

Technical Dirt Roads, 

Trails & Singletrack 

Cycling is done largely or entirely on unpaved surfaces and could include extended sections of loose gravel, soft dirt, mud and/or ruts. These trails are of moderate technical difficulty and are best-suited to those with at least some mountain biking experience. Mountain bikes with front suspension are appropriate.

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