Top 10: Touring Motorbikes

Best Touring Motorbikes

You can tour on almost any motorbike or scooter if you put your mind to it, however some are more suited to touring than others. Touring bikes are all about luggage capacity, range, comfort for two, all the toys you could want and sometimes even camping gear to boot. They aren't about light weight performance or, like sports tourers, a compromise between sportiness and outright touring capability. What is a touring bike?

The Best Touring Bikes:

  1. Honda Goldwing
  2. BMW K1600GTL
  3. BMW K1600B
  4. BMW R1200RT
  5. Yamaha FJR1300
  6. Kawasaki GTR1400
  7. BMW R1200GS
  8. Ducati Multistrada
  9. Yamaha Tracer 900
  10. BMW F800GT

1

Honda Goldwing

The best touring bike money can buy

Honda Goldwing

When you think about touring bikes you inventively think about the Honda Goldwing first and this one is all new for 2018. It has a new chassis, advanced new suspension setup, smaller engine with more power, full LED lighting, smaller overall dimensions and up to 38kg shaved off the weight!

All of the latest tech is there including a few notable systems you might not expect. There's hill start assist, which is useful for a bike weighing in at 365kg, a massive 7" colour TFT dash and if you opt for the automatic DCT gearbox it will even walk itself slowly forwards or backwards to make car parks that much easier.

If you plan on taking a pillion the range topping Tour version includes what can only be described as an armchair with a 50 litre boot behind it and even an airbag fitted on top of the fuel tank, although at a shade under £30,000 that's a serious investment!

  • Licence: A
  • Power: 125 bhp
  • Seat Height: 745 mm
  • Wet Weight: 365 kg

2

BMW K1600GTL

A great touring bike for short riders

BMW K1600GTL

Pretty much the only rival to the Honda Goldwing, the 2017 K1600 is powered by an inline 6 cylinder engine famed for endless amounts of smooth power. It's roughly the same weight as the wing and features masses of advanced tech including a fancy adaptive cornering headlight and a system to quickly start an SOS call from the handlebar or automatically if you crash. Clever stuff!

BMW also do a version without the top box/pillion backrest called the K1600GT, which is 16kg lighter and £1,250 cheaper.

  • Licence: A
  • Power: 160 bhp
  • Seat Height: 750 mm
  • Wet Weight: 350 kg

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3

BMW K1600B

Probably the coolest touring bike

BMW K1600B

The B stands for Bagger, which is usually a US style cruiser bike modified with fixed side panniers to make it more touring friendly. In this case BMW took the 2017 K1600GT, already a great touring bike, then made a few changes to "Baggerise" it; the K1600B appeared later in 2017 with a blacked out engine, lower and straighter exhausts, lower screen, 7cm lower pillion seat and fixed panniers with a more streamlined design.

The end result is a much lower back end and cleaner lines to make it look cooler. Then for 2018 they launched the K1600 Grand America, which is essentially the K1600B with a top box and taller screen.

  • New: £16,750
  • Used: TBC (Rare)
  • Engine: 6 Cylinder
  • Capacity: 1,649 cc
  • Licence: A
  • Power: 158 bhp
  • Seat Height: 780 mm
  • Wet Weight: 336 kg

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4

 

BMW R1200RT

One of the best touring bikes for pillions / two up

BMW R1200RT

First launched in 2014 the latest generation RT is the culmination of a model which has been steadily evolving since 2005. It saw a few small updates in 2017 and 2018 to reduce vibrations, introduce cornering ABS and to make the clever dynamic brake light / SOS system options.

The Police seem to love them as much as the general public, they weigh 100kg less than a Goldwing and with the BMW options catalogue you can spec them up with all the latest tech to suit your needs. It should definitely be on your list of bikes to test ride.

  • Licence: A
  • Power: 125 bhp
  • Seat Height: 825 mm
  • Wet Weight: 274 kg

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5

Yamaha FJR1300

A popular tourer with a great following

Yamaha FJR1300

It has been slowly evolving since 2001, with the latest generation launching in 2013, then a small update in 2016 to add in a new 6 speed gearbox, full LED lighting and a new assist/slipper clutch. The base version doesn't offer that much kit but step up to the £2,200 more expensive AE version and you get the 20 litre panniers, electrically adjustable suspension and cornering headlights. At the very top the £500 more AS adds in a clutchless gearshift system operated by your foot or thumb.

  • Licence: A
  • Power: 144 bhp
  • Seat Height: 805 mm
  • Wet Weight: 289 kg

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6

Kawasaki GTR1400

One of the best used touring bikes

Kawasaki GTR1400

This is one of those tourers derived from an existing sports bike in the range, in this case the near 200bhp ZZR1400. Kawasaki de-tuned the engine slightly, added an electrically adjustable screen, panniers, a more relaxed riding position and more reliable shaft drive to get power down to the rear wheel. Unfortunately all those additions make it really heavy and it hasn't changed much since the second generation launched in 2010. For those reasons many actually go for the ZZR1400 instead, with a few mods to make it more touring friendly.

  • Licence: A
  • Power: 153 bhp
  • Seat Height: 815 mm
  • Wet Weight: 300 kg

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7

BMW R1200GS

One of the best touring bikes for tall riders

BMW R1200GS

It's an adventure bike but just as good when it comes to touring. Thanks to a major 2017 update the BMW R1200GS received shiny new looks, reduced vibration and plenty of new high tech options like hill start control and self levelling suspension; both incredibly useful on a bike which weighs a quarter of a ton before two people and a full luggage accompaniment are added into the mix.

The model continually tops the UK best sellers chart, has a massive following around the world and can be totally customised using the BMW parts catalogue. There is a downside though, in that it may end up costing the best part of £20,000 by the time you are finished!

  • Licence: A
  • Power: 123 bhp
  • Seat Height: 850 mm
  • Wet Weight: 244 kg

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8

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S

The best looking touring bike

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S

Another adventure bike that's equally good at touring. Brand new for 2018 the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S is a shiny new update to the previous 1200cc range and is also available in a £14,300 base version without the Sachs electric suspension, TFT dash or LED headlight, while at the top of the range is the £20,800 Pikes Peak version with Ohlins suspension, Termignoni exhaust and forged wheels. Compared to the BMW R1200GS it's lighter, more sports oriented and definitely wins on the looks front.

  • New: £17,200
  • Used: TBC
  • Engine: V-Twin
  • Capacity: 1,262 cc
  • Licence: A
  • Power: 156 bhp
  • Seat Height: 825 mm
  • Wet Weight: 235 kg

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9

Yamaha Tracer 900 GT

The best mid-capacity touring bike

Yamaha Tracer 900 GT

There are a lot of reasons to recommend the Tracer 900 GT. Firstly it's based on the awesome naked MT-09, one of Yamaha's best selling bikes with a lauded engine. Secondly it ups the game by adding a few upgrades to the £1,400 cheaper second generation standard Tracer 900. You get the 22 litre panniers, a quickshifter, cruise control, better fully adjustable suspension and heated grips. That's a lot of extra kit for the money.

  • New: £10,650
  • Used: TBC
  • Engine: Triple
  • Capacity: 847 cc
  • Licence: A
  • Power: 114 bhp
  • Seat Height: 850 mm
  • Wet Weight: 227 kg

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10

BMW F800GT

The best touring bike for beginners

BMW F800GT

It's unique on this list because power reaches the rear wheel via belt drive and the fuel tank is under the seat but fully spec'd up it could make a great first tourer. Electrically adjustable suspension, traction control, heated grips, tyre pressure monitoring and the 55 litre panniers can all be added from the BMW options catalogue and there are plenty of used examples around to choose from. It's also pretty light and has a friendly low seat height.

  • New: £8,500
  • Used: £7,650-£4,100
  • Engine: Parallel Twin
  • Capacity: 798 cc
  • Licence: A2 (Restricted)
  • Power: 90 bhp
  • Seat Height: 800 mm
  • Wet Weight: 213 kg

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What Is A Touring Motorbike?

What is a touring motorbike?

Touring bikes are all about luggage capacity, range, comfort for two, all the toys you could want and sometimes even camping gear to boot. They aren't about light weight performance or, like sports tourers, a compromise between sportiness and outright touring capability. Unfortunately there is a down side to all that capability; they tend to be some of the heaviest bikes on the road.

Some are built specifically for the job, like the Honda Goldwing, while others are based around sports tourers or adventure bikes like the Yamaha Tracer 900 GT. They often feature fixed panniers or a fancy system to remove the luggage quickly without ruining the looks of the bike.

Cruiser derived tourers are sometimes referred to as "baggers" or "fully dressed", such as the Indian Roadmaster.

Check out the other types of motorbikes.

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