What Kind Of Motorcycle Is Best For Touring?

Jan 27, 2008

Sponsored by: http://www.balootisme.com

When it comes to touring motorcycles, we normally think of the big Harleys, Beemers and Gold Wings with their huge fairings, bags and stereos. I've always kinda thought of them as two-wheeled cars but there are a lot of people who wouldn't ride anything else.

At the other end of the scale are the people who wouldn't ride any motorcycle that has a fairing, windshield or mirrors! These are the purists of motorcycling!

So, where does the truth lie? The truth is that any motorcycle can be used for touring! Yeah, I know that sounds pretty outrageous. Who in his right mind would want to travel any distance on a 100cc Honda or Yamaha? It depends on your budget and your ability to tolerate discomfort. There are people who have no other transportation. It can be done!

What do you look for in a motorcycle you want to take on a tour? First, are you riding solo or two-up? If there are two of you, you'll need more power to handle the weight of the riders and their stuff.

How wind-in-the-face are you? Some riders want nothing between them and their surroundings. They want no windshields or visors blocking the wind, rain or bugs. They love their motorcycles bare and raw. A lot of bikes fit this category but you'll probably see more Harley Davidson like this on the open road than any other make.

How many miles do you want to ride in a day? If you're going to ride long distances, you'll be better off with a motorcycle that has a good fairing or, at least, a windshield. As exciting as it can be to ride with the wind in your face, it can also be physically tiring. If you are physically exhausted, your reflexes may not be quick enough to save you in the event that someone does something stupid in front of you.

How much comfort do you want? There's one rule to remember: the more comfort, the more weight. Just realize that you'll have to give up one for the other. The really comfortable touring motorcycles are the big ones mentioned at the beginning of this article. The really small ones will beat you to death if you're riding any distance at all. Your butt will hurt along with other parts of your body. You won't get up the next day looking forward to doing it again!

How well do you want your motorcycle to handle? Some smaller bikes handle extremely well but are "twitchy." That means you can never really relax on them. At the other end of the scale are the "two-wheeled cars." If someone pulls out in front of you, it's very hard to take them through an emergency maneuver. It's almost like driving a truck. You hope your brakes, or luck, will save you.

I personally like the European sport touring bikes. They have enough fairing on them to provide decent protection but they're also designed to handle well in high-speed riding or emergency situations. BMW's and Moto Guzzi's are especially good in this regard.

What kind of seating position do you prefer? There are two major things to consider: do you lean forward or sit back, and where are your feet in relation to your seat? Sport bikes tend to have you lean forward with your feet directly below your seat or a little farther back. The sport touring motorcycles will have your feet directly below your seat or a little forward of that point. Touring bikes will have you sitting as though you were sitting on a chair. Cruisers have you leaning back with your feet farther forward.

What about comfort? Cruisers have your weight on your tail bone which can cause discomfort over a long distance. Sport bikes have you almost crouching over the tank with your upper body weight on your arms and hands. By far the most comfortable are the touring motorcycles with the upright seating.

I, personally, prefer the seating arrangement of the sport touring motorcycles. I'm leaning forward a bit but not enough to put my upper body weight on my hands and arms. My feet are under me where I can stand up on the pegs to maintain control if an emergency situation arises. They give me acceptable comfort while still keeping that level of control.

Which motorcycle is best for you? Whichever one most closely meets your needs and desires is the best one for you. Look at the factors above and decide what is most important to you.

The bottom line is that any motorcycle you enjoy riding any distance you want to go will be, for you, a great machine. They'll all offer a level of freedom and awareness of your surroundings you can't get in a car.

Isn't that what motorcycle touring is all about, anyhow?



Author: Ed Hill bought his first motorcycle back in 1966. Since then, he has ridden thousands of miles in all kinds of weather conditions - on a variety of bikes. Most of his miles were accumulated doing long-distance motorcycle touring. You can read more of his thoughts at http://www.EnjoyMotorcycleTouring.com

What Kind Of Motorcycle Is Best For Touring?


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