The best touring motorcycles are ready for any adventure that comes your way on the open road.
Every motorcycle has its own purpose. Some are made for the city, while others can take on more challenging terrains. If you’re looking forward to your next motorcycle tour, then you need to invest in the right motorcycle. The right choice will keep you safe and comfortable on your next adventure.
While the category of touring motorcycles only gets wider as years pass, that only leaves us a lot of bikes to choose from. Let’s take a look at the 20 best touring motorcycles and the features that set them apart from each other. Be it a classic sports bike to a laid-back cruiser, here are the top 6 bikes you need for your next adventure this 2021.
1. Honda Gold Wing
The 1970s weren’t only iconic for various cultures. It’s also the very decade that gave birth to the juggernaut that is the Honda Gold Wing.
Since its launch in 1975, it has become the quintessential touring bike. Many riders loved the comfort of riding this bike. It’s also one of the bikes that keep rides smooth no matter the terrain. Thanks to a great Honda engineering. Decades later, it’s still the best tourer.
The Honda Gold Wing saw many improvements through the years. For instance, at its inception, it used a 999cc flat-four engine. It also used a shaft-driven power train.
Today, it uses a huge 1,833cc liquid-cooled, horizontally-opposed, six-cylinder engine. It also has 24 valves, allowing four different riding modes.
Sure, it comes with a heavy engine. However, this is a lot lighter than previous versions of the bike. So, we can only see the Gold Wing become lighter in the following years. This also helps keep the center of gravity of the bike low. The Gold Wing is the ultimate bike for slow-speed maneuvers and a steady highway-speed ride.
The Honda Gold Wing produces 188 horsepower tops and 123 pound-foot of torque. That’s a powerful bike that perfectly matches even better features.
This bike comes with a premium infotainment system. You can expect it to have an integrated Apple car play, Bluetooth functions, a smart key, and a 7-inch navigation display.
It also has a slipper clutch as well as a walking mode. Moreover, you get a cruise control option and dual-combined braking that steps up safety. For comfort, it has heated seats as well as grips. The Gold Wing also comes with an electronic windshield.
What’s more, is that it has an optional Dual Clutch Transmission. No wonder it’s a top-of-mind touring bike for many riders!
2. Indian Roadmaster
It’s hard to deny Indian the name it made for itself. People say that it’s the better Harley-Davidson. Harley’s American rival has been manufacturing top-of-the-line bikes.
The Indian Roadmaster is just one of Indian’s offers that prove its place in the industry. It’s a big and powerful touring motorcycle. With its features and premium pricing, there’s no denying that it’s one great investment you can’t go wrong with.
This full-dress tourer is a lot bigger than, say, a Harley ElectraGlide. It also comes with even better features and, unsurprisingly, is more expensive.
By design alone, it’s a large bike. Given that, you can expect great handling from this bike. It’s like you’re not riding a big tourer at all. It also comes with impressive luggage space.
Plus, the leather seats are stunning. They’re comfortable and incredibly easy to wiggle in. Now, let’s look at the heart of this bike.
The Indian Roadmaster has a 1,890cc V-Twin engine. It pushes a whopping 100bhp. That is 10bhp more than a Harley ElectraGlide. That said, it’s a comfortable bike for long rides. You can rely on individual heat controls for the plush seats. It’s generally a classy bike with a vintage look to it.
As for other features, it offers a keyless start for convenience. It also has a windshield that works at a push of a button. The hard bags and trunk lock via a remote.
You can navigate easily with the bike’s integrated GPS. To boost its safety features, you can also monitor tire pressure with a system set up for this.
For its stunning infotainment, you get a Bluetooth system and a Pandora® Internet Radio integration. It’s a luxury bike you can’t ever go wrong with. A classy act for a classy ride, they might say.
3. BMW K1600GTL
If you liked the Indian Roadmaster, you’d love another full-dress touring bike on the list. This time, we’re taking a much-talked-about touring bike from BMW. Launched in 2011, BMW took its precious time in launching the K1600GTL.
We all already know that it’s a luxury tourer, but there’s a lot of reason for that. From its precision engineering to its extra features, it’s a bike you’d never want to get off.
First, understand that GTL is a model under the brand’s K1600 range. All the bikes from this range use a 1,649cc flat-six liquid-cooled engine. This engine can provide a whopping 160 horsepower and 129 pound-foot of torque.
Despite it being in the heavyweight class, it’s incredibly nimble when it comes to handling. It can handle twists on the road as it easily eats up miles on the highway.
The BMW K1600GTL also comes with an electronically adjustable suspension. This easily glides through bumps in the road.
You can also easily adjust the pilot’s preference for the bike according to your needs and wants. It’s done through the wheel interface by the left-hand switchgear.
That said, the BMW K1600GTL has all the great things you love from a tourer. Among those include heated seats, ABS Pro, and Xenon headlights. You also get clutchless shifting, and you get to enjoy a reverse-assist maneuver. Made for long rides, the K1600GTL has a lot of space for storage that every good touring bike requires.
4. Harley-Davidson Road Glide
It’s not a list of the best touring bikes without a Harley-Davidson. It was a tough choice between the Road Glide and the Street Glide. However, there’s nothing like the icon that is the Road Glide.
Firstly, let’s look at the main difference between the two models. Compared to Street Glides, Road Glides have shard-nosed fairings that are frame-mounted. It also has dual headlights compared to the single headlight of the Street Glide.
The Harley Road Glide has more features perfect for touring, such as lower fairings and even more storage space. While the two are very identical, the Road Glide is preferred for touring.
If you prefer a more traditional look, Street Glide is for you. The more modern design of the Road Glide is a preferential choice.
The Road Glide is an evolution of the Harley Tour Glide from 1979. It uses Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine. Specified, it’s a 1,753cc air-cooled V-twin engine. It produces about 76 horsepower and 111 pound-foot torque.
If you’re looking for the classic Harley sound, this engine gives you just that. Moreover, it provides the right power at the right time. From open roads to congested city traffic, it’s a great bike.
The Harley-Davidson Road Glide also has all the features you need from a touring motorcycle. Firstly, it has a large front fairing to protect you during rides. It also has an upright riding position, so you remain comfortable. Moreover, you get floorboards on the bike.
It also comes with an excellent passenger seat and saddlebags for extra space to put your kit on. Furthermore, you get to enjoy cruise control, ABS, great electronics, and a lot of room for storage. Plus, there’s no beating Harley’s infotainment system for a convenient and enjoyable overall ride.
5. Kawasaki Versys 1000
Compared to the other entries on our list, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 looks a lot more like a street bike. That said, it’s a more modern take on the design.
The Versys 1000 wasn’t a crowd favorite when it launched. Generally, because of its unconventional look, it’s truly an unusual bike. However, many riders found the good in what they thought was bad.
When it launched in 2012, the Versys 1000 had a four-cylinder Z1000SX-based machine. However, as the years passed, it is now a preferred choice for a touring motorcycle.
It’s a lightweight bike that provides all the comfort necessary when touring. Looking at its engine, it’s smaller than other bikes at 1,000cc. However, this is not at all a downside to the bike. It’s still a powerful engine that allows 116 horsepower for performance.
The Versys 1000 is also great for long rides with an upright seat. Generally, the bike wouldn’t appeal to those who prefer classic looks. However, it’s a cool-looking vehicle in general.
Newer models feature KECS or the Kawasaki Electronically-Controlled Suspension. This allows for a smooth ride, no matter the terrain. It helps the bike adapt to different roads and riding conditions. It’s also a combination of the latest mechanical advancements and controlling software.
With such a feature, you can only expect a smooth and safe ride with this bike. New models also feature the Kawasaki Quick Shifter or KQS. It can help with clutchless shifts. This bike is truly made for the open road and what awaits you.
6. KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
For years, the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT has been proving itself a great contender in this category. It’s a reliable and safe bike that’s also fast and smooth.
With its cost, it’s one of the best sports touring motorcycles. Having high-quality components, it’s one bike worth the money you put into it.
The bike has a 1,301cc V-twin engine that can go at 173 horsepower tops. It also has a large fuel tank measuring 6.1 gallons or 23 liters. This will ensure that you don’t have to make a lot of stops along the way.
Made for long-distance rides, it also has titanium inlet valves. The semi-active electronic suspension has a quick shifter and a stable chassis. This makes it easier to traverse just about any terrain. From highways to canyon roads, it’s only smooth rides along the way.
Among other features, you get a Bosch MSC lean-angle-sensitive ABS, electronic cruise control, and Hill Hold Control. It also has heated grips.
Another fantastic feature of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT is the integrated Vigo Smart Track. You can keep a log of your rides and even save them all in an app.
The app also provides insights to help you see whether you’re riding safely. With that, you get a score you can improve with every ride.
The Vigo Smart Track also has advanced theft and accident notifications. With that, if you get involved in a crash in the middle of nowhere, the app checks if you’re okay.
If you don’t respond, it will reach out to your emergency contacts on the app. They will receive the exact crash location. With such features, touring is only made safer for many motorcyclists.
Best Touring Motorcycles Guide & FAQs
What are Touring Motorcycles?
Touring bikes see long-distance riding as a piece of cake. It has features and amenities such as storage made just for that.
These bikes are made for the open road. That said, they’re generally big motorcycles. However, it also comes with very powerful engines. It can handle long rides and carry the weight of luggage and even a passenger.
The rule of thumb when it comes to these is simple. The more you carry with you, be it luggage or a person, the stronger the engine and bigger the size should be.
Given that, touring motorcycles aren’t for everyone. New bikers may have a hard time handling such a big bike. But it’s something that takes practice. The more you ride, the better you handle any bike.
Types of Touring Motorcycles
As years passed, the term touring motorcycle became an umbrella of different types of bikes. So, you have various types to look out for. Here are three of the most common types of touring bikes.
Adventure Touring Motorcycle
Since you’re looking for a touring bike, you’re most likely headed for a long-distance ride. An adventure tourer is usually popular among bikers. It can handle both off-road and on-road riding. So, you can traverse just about any terrain with ease.
Sport Touring Motorcycle
If you’re looking to ride fast for long distances, you might want to consider a sport-touring bike. It usually comes with a more aerodynamic design but is still great for comfort.
Full-Dress Touring Motorcycle
Not all adventures require going through rough roads and terrains. If your next tour only has paved roads ahead then a full-dress touring motorcycle is for you. They usually have large windshields and even better accessories and amenities. Such bikes usually have better storage space and even a passenger seat.
What to Look for in Touring Motorcycles
The engine is the most important feature to look for. Lucky for you, there’s not a lot to choose from among these engines. A popular engine type for touring bikes (as seen on the list above) is the V-Twin engine. It’s a large and powerful engine. It allows long-distance travel minus the constant servicing along the way.
If you don’t see ‘V-Twin’ on the specs of the bike you’re eyeing, try checking the cylinder capacity of the bike. Generally, 750cc is a good enough engine for a standard touring bike.
It’s great for daily commutes and occasional long-distance rides. It also allows not only easier maneuver but also highway speeds for long periods. It’s great if you don’t always do long-distance rides.
More than 750cc is common among tourers. It allows cruising at highway speeds and long-distance rides. The V-Twin falls into this category.
Long-distance rides require better fuel economy. Most touring motorcycles offer exactly just this so that you don’t need to make a pitstop every so often to fill up your tank. The average fuel capacity of tourers sits at around 40 miles per gallon.
You should always ride in a comfortable position, especially for long rides. A tourer must have an upright seat and even a backrest. It also has foot pegs so you can rest your feet in a comfortable position.
A lot of tourers get additional features as an added extra. Among those include GPS, so you can easily track where you’re going. Hard luggage help keep your belongings safe. Satellite radios will also help keep you connected practically anywhere, especially in emergencies. More features mean more expensive bikes, however. So, ensure you can use everything you’re getting from the bike.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When should you use touring motorcycles?
A touring motorcycle is made for long-distance travel. It provides comfort and excellent storage capacity and usually has a powerful engine. You can also use it for daily commutes.
Q: Can you use touring motorcycles off-road?
Some touring bikes can be used off-road. It’s usually adventure tourers that allow this. Double-check your bike’s features to see if it can handle off-road courses.
The right touring motorcycle should last you years, if not decades. It’s an excellent investment if you constantly travel long distances and need a comfortable ride every day to work. These bikes will help keep you safe and comfortable throughout your journey.
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