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12 Best Touring Motorcycles for the Wide Open Road

by Octavia Drughi

Honda Gold Wing F6B Dekyx 13, image credit: motorcyclespecs.co.za

While it’s true that just about any motorcycle can be taken out of the city and into the wide open road, touring bikes do have their perks. They make long road trips much more comfortable and safe, whilst your street bike might leave your muscles cramped and your whole body burned-out.

Most people who own a motorbike use it for road trips, which is one of the main reasons why motorcycle touring has been gaining so much popularity over the past years. There are many choices out there, with plenty of key features that will help you get the most out of your motorcycle tour. From fast and furious sport bikes to classy tourers and laid-back cruisers, there’s something for every free spirit out there looking to embark on a long, adventure-packed journey.

12. BMW R 1200 RS

It might be big, but with its impressive 1170cc DOHC twin-cylinder boxer, air/water cooled, flat twin engine peaking at 125hp the BMW R 1200 RS is more agile and faster than you’d probably expect. With smooth handling, relaxed seating position, wind and weather protection, heated seating and grips, this sport touring bike is a great travel companion. Thanks to its fully active suspension setup, high seat and high clearance, the R 1200 RS is prepared for off-road adventure tours too. Moreover, it features BMW’s Automatic Stability Control as well as selectable power modes. The cost to own this beauty starts at $14,995.

11. Triumph Tiger Explorer XRT

Triumph Tiger Explorer XRT – Photo credit triumph.co.uk

A lightweight adventure touring motorcycle packed with a 1,215cc inline triple engine, the Triumph Tiger Explorer XRT comes with cruise control, cornering ABS, wind protection, WP suspension setup and shaft drive. You can take this baby off the road and into the dirt, and feel comfortable on the highway too. With a price starting at $19,800, it is considered the best middleweight adventure bike you can buy.

10. Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS

A strong adventure sport motorcycle with a 1,037cc 90-degree V-twin engine peaking at 99hp, the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS has comfort and durability written all over it. Featuring fully adjustable suspension, dirt tires and two-stage traction control, it’s ready and willing to go off the road and into the dirt. The V-Strom has an upright seating position, placing the rider is high in the saddle, but it maintains low-ground clearance. This dual-sport motorcycle is a versatile mile-muncher, with a price tag starting at $12,699.

9. Ducati Multistrada

Ducati Multistrada – Photo credit ducatistore.co.uk

Known as the Swiss-army knife of motorcycle touring, there’s little that the Ducati Multistrada can’t do. A modern-day classic, this fully-customizable sports tourer comes with an 1198cc 90-degree V-Twin engine that reaches 160hp. Smaller, great for the open road as well for commuting to work, the Ducati Multistrada is considered by many to be the best combination of sport, touring and commuting bike available today. Highly versatile, it features high-tech gadgetry and sophisticated electronics, semi-active suspension, self-adjusting windshield, standard traction control, top-notch ABS system and integrated cruise control, just to name a few. The starting price is $19,695.

8. Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS

Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS – Photo credit totalmotorcycle.com

With a powerful 1,700cc V-twin engine and a sleek vintage design that will leave you drooling, the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS is a superbike adapted for the long road. Comfortable for both driver and passenger, it offers just about everything you would need on an extended road trip: advanced ABS system, cruise control that can be activated in third gear and an intercom/headset-compatible audio system. Also known as the ‘Big Kawi,’ it offers plenty of storage room in the integrated hard saddlebags, and its top case is large enough to fit two face helmets. Price starts at $17,399.

7. KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT – Photo credit Sebas Romero

If you’re looking for a reliable bike that will get you from point A to point B fast and safe, look no further than the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT. It is considered one of the best sports tourers that money can buy. With a 1301cc V-twin engine peaking at 173hp and large fuel tank for fewer stops along the way, long distances are not a problem. The semi-active electronic suspension with quick shifter and stable chassis will make rough canyon roads and highways seem like a walk in the park. It also features Bosch’s MSC lean-angle-sensitive ABS, electronic cruise control, heated grips and Hill Hold Control, as well as plenty of gadgets. The price ranges around $20,000.

6. Victory Cross Country Tour

Victory Cross Country Tour – Photo credit motorcycle-usa.com

A cruising motorcycle built for long haul rides, the Victory Cross Country Tour has a powerful 1731cc V-twin engine with six-speed transmission. The belt drive makes maintenance a lot easier and reduces operating noise. With a stylish, vintage look, bat-wing fairing and lowers, it also comes with hard saddlebags and top trunk that offer plenty of storage space. In fact, the Victory Cross Country Tour boasts the largest storage capacity among any production motorcycle. This American touring bike has a price starting at $21,999.

5. Yamaha FJR1300

Yamaha FJR1300 – Photo credit httpridermagazine.com

The company’s flagship touring bike, the Yamaha FJR1300 comes with a 1298cc liquid cooled in-line four engine with six-speed transmission that combines speed and comfort for riding long distances in style. There are plenty of features, from heated seats to traction control, ABS, switchable power modes, and cruise control, folding mirrors and quick-release luggage mounts. The sport touring bike also has an electric screen, glove box and electronically adjustable suspensions. Sexy and slick, the price for this beauty starts at $16,390.

4. Triumph Trophy SE

Triumph Trophy SE – Photo credit motorcyclenews.com

A super touring model with a 1,215cc three-cylinder engine, the Triumph Trophy SE is a mile-chewer. A state-of-the-art motorbike that combines luxury, comfort and performance, both driver and passenger enjoy ‘armchair ergonomics’ on this one. This adventure touring motorcycle boasts a complete electronics suite that includes ABS, traction control, cruise control, electrically adjustable windshield and headlights, adjustable seats, ride-by-wire throttle, tire pressure monitor and anti-theft immobilizer. The starting price is $19,500.

3. Harley-Davidson Electra Glide

Harley-Davidson Electra Glide – Photo credit totalmotorcycle.com

When we think of motorcycling, we often imagine badass bikers in leather jackets riding Harley-Davidsons. Indeed, the company has something for all occasions. But when it comes to motorcycle touring, the Electra Glide takes the prize. Guaranteeing a smooth and mellow ride, it is built for extremely long trips. With one-touch saddlebags, GPS, infotainment, Milwaukee-Eight 107 and Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin engines, the Electra Glide is a top of the line touring bike. The price starts at $24,149.

2. Indian Roadmaster

Indian Roadmaster – Photo credit indianmotorcycle.com

With a catchy vintage look, the Indian Roadmaster is the touring bike everyone wants to take out for a ride. With an 1811cc V-twin engine with six-speed transmission, leather seats, a classy dash of chrome and plenty of storage space, it is built for long distances. The Roadmaster is equipped with keyless start, power windshield, remote locking hard bags and trunk, integrated GPS, tire-pressure monitoring system, 200-watt stereo with Bluetooth and Pandora, heated seats and grips. Comfortable for both rider and passenger, it does come at a hefty price, starting at $28,999.

1. Honda Gold Wing

Honda Gold Wing – Photo credit rideapart.com

We cannot make a list of touring bikes without including the legendary motorbike that gave birth to the touring motorcycle category. First introduced in 1975, the Honda Gold Wing is all about riding in style. With a flat-six engine, it delivers all amenities you could ask for from a touring bike, from heated grips and seat to satellite navigation system, passenger’s arm rests, wide seats and low floorboards. Equipped with cutting-edge technology, it is considered an icon in the touring class. It also comes with the first factory production-line airbag in motorcycle history. The Gold Wing is pricey, starting at $23,999, but there are some extras definitely worth having, such as quality hard luggage and aftermarket suspensions.

With the right touring motorcycle and the right mindset, all that’s left for you to do is to hop on your bike, join an adventure motorcycle tour and hit the road!

Octavia Drughi is a travel writer for BookMotorcycleTours.com. She is a passionate mountaineer, rock climber and adventure addict who likes to take it slow and enjoy the view

About Mwaniki Mutugi (371 Articles)
Noel Mutugi is a graduate of tourism management from Moi University, a tourism, travel & conservation enthusiast and a tour consultant at the Nairobi-based Kiboko Kenya Safaris.