Touring motorcycles are the great mile-munchers of the moto-world. Equipped with luggage, comfy saddles and amenities totally unseen on sport bikes, standards, or other street bikes, these guys will help you go wherever you want to go comfortably, in style, and with a lot of convenience. Any more comfort, style and convenience, and you’d be in a car…and that’s just not nearly as much fun. Here are a few machines that can really bring out the fun of touring and put you in touch with the outside world the entire way.
Can-Am Spyder RT Limited
Okay, we’re starting off with a machine that has an extra wheel, but if you take a quick look at it, then you’ll see that it has all the underpinnings of a suitable tourer. Here are only some of the features you get: a fuel-efficient three-cylinder engine, a six-speed transmission (plus reverse), power steering, fully integrated storage, cruise control, a comfortable touring saddle and GPS navigation. This three-wheeler has an electrical system that can handle all the gadgets and gizmos you can throw at it. It also comes with a rolling travel bag, so you can definitely fulfill your travel needs. But there’s more; you can also add a travel trailer for 566 litres of extra storage. That way, you really don’t have to decide what to leave behind. If you don’t quite wish to deal with motorcycle dynamics, but don’t really want to use a car either, then the Spyder RT Limited may just represent the perfect middle ground you are looking for.
We head back to two-wheeled territory with this über-tourer from BMW that was introduced in 2013. A straight six crammed into a motorcycle generally seems excessive and ungainly, but in the K1600GTL, it just seems right at home. The surprisingly compact power plant produces a claimed 160 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque – more than enough to get this big bike really moving. It’s also placed as low and as far forward in the chassis as possible to ensure good handling. The Electronic Suspension Adjustment helps you tailor the smoothest ride possible, while the adaptive headlight provides an extra touch of safety if you’re enjoying that smooth ride at night. A host of electronic features can be controlled by a convenient rotary switchgear on the left grip that allows you to keep your hand on the handlebar. Among those features is a GPS system that can be used on the fly. If you want a refined riding experience along with some cutting edge, user-friendly tech, then the big Beemer is your ticket.
Honda Gold Wing
Although Honda’s Gold Wing hasn’t seen a redesign for a while and has perhaps lost some attention in recent times, it has received some smart upgrades to ensure that it can still perform top-notch touring duties. You can now add a navigation system with lane guidance and Trip Planner. This allows you to plan your routes on your computer, and then upload them into the navigation system. For safety, you get ABS and you can even choose a model equipped with an airbag. You are also treated to one of the plushest motorcycle saddles in the business. The Gold Wing is only 100 lb lighter than the Spyder RT Limited, but carries its weight very well once in motion. The low-slung, 1832cc flat six helps that feeling and gets this big bike going with a swiftness that may surprise the uninitiated. Factor in a host of optional accessories and it’s easy to see why the Gold Wing still makes an absolutely solid choice when it comes to motorcycle touring.
BMW R1200GS Adventure
The GSA isn’t a full-dress touring machine like the ones above, but in terms of terrain coverage and outright versatility, they simply cannot come close. This multi-purpose juggernaut’s hobbies include off-road riding, track days and circumnavigating the globe, so if you have somewhere to go and something to do, it’ll accommodate you. It can be equipped with all the factory or aftermarket accessories and gadgets you need for any application you might have in mind. You can choose from several riding modes and BMW’s Electronic Suspension Adjustment is there for you again. This way, you can have the engine and suspension respond as optimally as possible. It might not be nearly as plush, but check the spec sheets and you’ll find that the R1200GS Adventure is lighter and boasts a larger fuel capacity than the Spyder RT Limited, Gold Wing and K1600GTL. It may be the most expensive bike in the adventure class, but it is considerably less expensive than the above three. Plus, you can be confident that your hard-earned money is buying what is widely considered to be one of the most capable motorcycles built to date.
Your very own motorcycle!
This particular entry might seem like a cop-out, but don’t be too quick to judge. If owning a dedicated touring motorcycle isn’t a distinct possibility, then all it takes is some outside-the-box thinking and an iron will (along with an iron butt, perhaps) to turn your motorcycle into a touring rig. The only caveat is that you probably shouldn’t consider this if your bike is smaller than 500cc because it generally won’t take to the highway for the long-haul as well. Other than that, though, simply accessorize your bike accordingly, accessorize yourself accordingly, and then take pleasure in hitting the open road. If you are not already lucky enough to have a bike geared towards touring, don’t worry. Dutchman Sjaak Lucassen toured the world on a first generation Yamaha YZF-R1, so take heed: you are only limited by your imagination. Your next motorcycle tour may be more of a possibility than you think!
If, however, you are fortunate enough to own any one of the above crowd other than the last “cheat” entry, then go forth and tour yourself silly because you definitely have a touring gem at your disposal.