Long road trips are one of the best parts of being a motorcycle rider. The open road, the wind rushing past you and the thrill of new adventures. The only problem is many bikes aren’t built for long distance comfort and the baggage that comes with a long trip. Touring motorcycles become the best option for long distances but they come in so many options it becomes hard to choose which one is the best touring motorcycle option for you. We’ve put the three styles of touring motorcycles to the test: sport touring vs. adventure touring vs. traditional touring, to show the pros and cons of each and how your current favorite motorcycle may have a touring bike twin that gives you the best of both worlds.
Touring/Bagger: Bike With Added Luxury
When you want a classic biker look with added comfort, a traditional touring motorcycle is your best option.
Touring bagger bikes are the larger, more powerful sibling to your favorite cruiser and they come equipped with extra luxuries like heated hand grips, comfier seats and infotainment systems to keep you alert and connected to your ride.
Touring motorcycles also have modifications to help you ride longer. They have larger windshields to cut down air resistance on the rider and have an upright seated position with space for lumbar support to keep back strain to a minimum. Harley-Davidson touring motorcycle options and the fan favorite Honda Gold Wing even give passengers a luxury leather seat with a body hugging backrest to keep them secure and extra comfortable.
They feature large displacement engines for better fuel efficiency and power with the added bonus of a larger fuel tank to cut down on unwanted pit stops. This gives these touring motorcycles a fuel efficiency of about 43 mpg which is excellent for how large and heavy these bikes are. You won’t have to look far to find your best touring motorcycle options, many of your favorite brands like Harley-Davidson and Indian have tons of options that are loaded with features and comfort mods. Even Kawasaki has some comfortable touring motorcycle options for a slightly lower price tag.
This style of road trip motorcycle is perfect for riders who want the absolute maximum of comfort on highway roads. These bikes were created for style and comfort first, so speed and off-road capabilities are minimal but you’ll feel like a king on your leather throne for the whole ride.
- Maximum comfort
- Large tank
- Extensive infotainment system
- Comfortable passenger seat
- Maximizes packing space with included hard cases
- Not very fast
- Usually most expensive of touring options
Sport Touring: Sport Bike Handling With Added Comfort
Sport touring motorcycles may have slightly less luxury additions than their bagger touring counterparts but they make up for that with extensive customization options from windshield heights, linked brakes, ABS, adjustable headlights and more. Most sport touring engines are modified versions of the brands best-selling sport bikes that are then tweaked for fuel efficiency, power, and size.
Sport touring bikes still have the larger windshields for reduced air resistance, heated grips and comfortable seats that come standard with most touring motorcycles with only a slight tilt forward to keep some of that sport bike feel while still being easy on your spine.
Sport touring bikes like the BMW K series and the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 vary between a fuel efficiency of 35-40 mpg and come equipped with larger fuel tanks to keep fill-ups to a minimum. Despite their sporty front and precision handling these larger bikes have tons of room for luggage and even have a spot for a lumbar support bag to keep fatigue at bay.
Sport touring motorcycles are made for riders who crave sport bike handling and increased speeds without sacrificing comfort. The best sport touring motorcycles have additional features like firmer suspension, removable bags and high-performance engines to make the bike your own. The perfect blend of performance and distance capability.
- Sport bike handling
- Higher speeds than other touring bikes
- Extensive customizable options
- Sacrificing some comfort for handling
- Baggage not included on most models
- Lower fuel efficiency than other touring bikes
Adventure Touring: Comfort Off The Grid
Adventure touring motorcycles are the perfect blend of dirt bike features with touring comforts to extend your adventure longer than ever.
The capabilities of an adventure touring bike is still limited compared to dirt bikes but the skid plates, larger tires and higher clearance make them perfectly capable of taking dirt trails with ease.
The adventure motorcycle’s design is closer to a super-sized dirt bike than a touring motorcycle, but the seating style is upright with the larger windshield and tons of places to attach baggage. Some like the Yamaha Super Ténéré ES adventure touring motorcycle have adjustable suspension and cruise control to stay comfortable on any terrain for any length of time.
Adventure touring motorcycles have the signature large fuel tank of touring bikes with an under-stressed engine to increase their reliability over time. There are tons of options from your favorite dirt bike brands like Honda and Yamaha to more luxury brands like Ducati throwing their hat in the adventure touring ring. All of them have slight variations but the best adventure touring motorcycles all have one thing in common: the thrill of adventure and the capability to get you there.
- Off road capability
- Lightest option
- Least expensive overall than other touring bikes
- Highest fuel capacity on average
- Lowest speed and power of touring bike options
- No baggage included
- No infotainment systems
- Most bare bones on average, least customizable options
Touring Motorcycle Type Comparison
|Attiributes||Bagger Touring||Sport Touring||Adventure Touring|
|Off Road Capability||no||no||yes|
|Average Fuel Efficiency||43 mpg||39 mpg||43 mpg|
|Average Horsepower||105 hp||160 hp||120 hp|
|Average Weight||800 lbs||742 lbs||534 lbs|
|Baggage Space||included, approx. 4 cu ft.||sometimes included, space varies||rarely included, bag purchases required|
|Infotainment Systems||Expected||expected||not usually included|
|Torque||125 lb-ft||125 lb-ft *wider variety from bike to bike||93 lb-ft|
|Fuel capacity||6 gallons||6 gallons||6.5 gallons|