The ideal bike for these trips is known these days as a “hybrid” bicycle; loosely meaning not a full suspension mountain bike and not a strict road bike. Simply put, a reasonably durable bike with tires at least 28mm wide. I ride a heavy, steel touring bike known as the Surly Disc Trucker with 32mm tires named Eleanor. She has ridden the GAP and Canal at least 6 times since we have been together.
The bicycle industry is constantly inventing new categories of bicycles; Gravel, Fat, Tricross etc. Any of these are great for these Trails, but the primary consideration is; are you going to be comfortable on the bike for long periods of time?
Probably the only big no-no is a classic, skinny tired road bike. These tires will betray you and bog you down, especially if it rains. Although, I had a customer with a $12,000 custom-made titanium tiny-tire road bike and somehow, he did the Canal.
Finally, feel free to bring any weird bikes! You will see all kinds of cool stuff out there: trikes, tandems, fat-bikes, recumbents etc. I have personally been spotted on the GAP riding my High-Wheel penny farthing!
More important than any specific bike is to have a bike of reasonable quality, tuned up and maintained for the rigors of a multi-day journey. If you are not a skilled bicycle mechanic, take it to a reputable bike shop for a check-up before the trip. This is your vacation, a catastrophic bicycle failure, 10 miles from nowhere, will make it a lot less fun! I am a reasonable bicycle mechanic and will have a repair stand and tools as part of our travel ensemble, I also bring at least one extra bike for emergencies.
You must have at least one spare tube, and the tools necessary to change a tire on your bike, including a pump. Even if you don’t know how to change a flat, bring a tube so that the Good Samaritan who comes by will be able to help you.
Finally, it is a good idea to have some type of rack and bag on the bike to carry rain gear and snacks. Some folks wear backpacks and get away with it, but backpacks and bicycles are a recipe for neck and back pain!
E-BIKE RIDERS: We have several strategies for providing enough outlets at the campgrounds where we are staying to ensure enough capacity to charge e-bike batteries, however, riders are ultimately responsible for using the batteries as efficiently as possible to ensure they can cover the distance each day.