If you think some of the motorcycle classes we’ve discussed in our previous best-of lists these past few months are confusing, just have a look at what a mess touring bikes are, and everything else will seem like a breeze.
What is a touring motorcycle? Forcing things a bit, because that’s how some bike makers have come to describe the genre, touring bikes are motorcycles that are meant to travel long distances, on the road, while carrying all the gear a rider needs to get by.
These two-wheelers are generally big and come with large engines, they can carry luggage in various ways, and if need be can accommodate a passenger. They are not necessarily built for speed, but for comfort. That doesn’t translate solely in a suitable rider position and road behavior, but also a certain styling: fairings, windshields, and big fuel tanks.
Depending where you are on this planet, touring bikes go by a variety of other names too, the most used of which being baggers or dressers.
Today’s world has a lot of these things to offer to riders in search of two-wheeled travels on the open road, so putting together a list of the best of them is not an easy task. We managed to pick 15 of them, using criteria such as availability, pricing, or even notoriety, and they are all listed below.
15. Aprilia Tuono V4
I know, I know, you probably cringed a bit when reading this. How can a hyper naked produced by one of the world’s largest builders of sport bikes can be a touring?
Well, it can, and for two reasons. We’ve already told you the first one at the beginning of this piece, and it has to do with any bike’s ability to be a touring machine, provided some conditions are met. The second is the fact Aprilia itself calls the Tuono V4 “the perfect companion for touring and adventures.”
Moreover, the Italians don’t have a problem with others calling the ride “the sporty touring machine that all the standard sport touring bikes wish they could be when they grow up.”
With that out of the way we’ll remind you the bike is powered by a massive four-cylinder engine rated at 175 horsepower and 121 Nm of torque, more than enough to turn sporty every time road conditions allow it. Or, alternatively, perfect for a day out on the track, something not many touring bikes can brag about. Especially when the starting price is set at just $16,199 for the regular version, or $19,599 for the Factory trim.
14. CFMoto 800MT Touring
CFMoto is one of the younger names in motorcycling. Although founded in 1989, the company is only now becoming the talk of international customers and markets, thanks to its widely diverse portfolio of products, which includes engines, wheeled vehicles, and even yachts.
On the motorcycle front the company makes quite a lot of machines already, playing in the naked, racing, and classic segments. As far as touring is concerned there are no less than six bikes on the table. We chose the 800MT Touring for our list because it seems to be the one best suited to take on the giants it is meant to fight.
Taking its power from a 799cc engine in a twin-cylinder design and capable of delivering 90 hp, the bike may not look like a proper bagger, but more like an adventure bike. Even so, CFMoto has designed it specifically for “advanced explorers and those considering a long trek for the first time.”
The bike is one of the most affordable rides on our list, but it does come with the disadvantage of not being a machine from a mainstream producer. At around $15,000 without many of the accessories, though, it can prove the right choice for riders in the market for a more exotic tourer.
13. MV Agusta Turismo Veloce
Photo: MV Agusta
Perhaps just as surprising in this list as the Aprilia Tuono V4, but perhaps more natural to the segment, the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce has been around for about a decade now. It officially plays in the sport touring class, where it offers two choices at the time of writing, namely the Lusso SCS and RC SCS.
At the core of both machines is a 798cc engine with three inline cylinders, capable of delivering 110 hp and a top speed of 230 kph (143 mph). These numbers are the ones that support the bike’s entry in the sport class.
For touring uses the bike can be equipped with side bags, but a kind styled in such a manner that they don’t spoil the look of the beautiful Italian machine, as we’ve seen happen in so many cases with bikes made by others.
Being such an exotic entry in the segment the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce does not come cheap. In fact, it’s the most expensive of the bikes we’ve discussed so far, coming in at around $20,000. Then again, you can’t really place a price on this twist on touring machines.
12. Energica Experia
When it was unveiled back in 2022, the Energica Experia was advertised as the bike with the “longest range of any electric motorcycle.” And for a touring bike, especially one powered by electricity, range is essential.
To put those words in numbers, longest range means 261 miles (420 km). That’s impressive, considering electron juice comes from a 22.5 kW battery (the largest currently on the market in the motorcycle world) that feeds an electric motor capable of developing up to 100 hp and an impressive 900 Nm of torque.
Officially described as a Green Tourer (a class name only the Italians from Energica use for now), the bike draws from the experience the bike maker gained in MotoE, where for several years it was the supplier of bikes raced there (the Ego Corsa).
Fully equipped with a fairing, a windscreen, and more than enough space to install bags for luggage transport, the Experia is presently the most solid choice for an electric touring bike. Pricing is one to match the performance levels and the expectations the bike maker has set for the two-wheeler: $23,750.
11. Buell Supertouring
Although small compared with most of the other names playing the game in the moto industry, the Americans from Buell sure are a feisty bunch. I mean, how else can you explain the fact that despite its rather limited portfolio Buell is present in a lot of lists such as this?
For the purposes of this particular best-of Buell throws into the fight the Supertouring. A variant of the bike maker’s 1190 model, the two-wheeler is not yet out and about, but Buell is taking pre-orders for it, pending a market release in 2025.
The motorcycle uses the same engine as the 1190, a beast that’s capable of unleashing the power of 185 horsepower onto the road. And it does so while equipped with rather bulky side bags on its tail.
The company already knows how much it will ask for the Supertouring, and we’re talking about a hefty price. Although one only needs $50 to express interest in the ride, if the deposit turns into an actual purchase the amount of money to be paid for the bike quickly jumps to $21,995.
10. Ducati Multistrada V4 S
It’s been 20 years since Italian bike maker Ducati introduced the Multistrada range, and it’s been so successful that it eventually grew to include four models for the U.S. market: V2 S, V4 S, V4 Rally, and the V4 Pikes Peak. Of interest to us today is the V4 variant of the fourth generation.
Ducati says about this two-wheeler it’s sportier and more touring than ever before, but also packed with technology meant to make long rides easier to run: a navigation system, radar-based rider assistance, and an engine meant to dwarf most other bikes in the segment.
It’s the Granturismo V4 engine I’m talking about, a 170-hp behemoth that’s capable of going 1.5 times around the Earth (60,000 km/37,200 miles) before needing valve cleaning.
The V4 was the star of major news earlier in July, when the carmaker announced the availability of the Easy Lift function. It allows for the bike’s front and rear suspension systems to soften up after ignition so that the rider can lift the 240 kg (529 pounds) bike off its stand. And while that may not be a must-have feature, it sure is interesting considering few other bikes offer such assistance.
In its purest form the Ducati Multistrada V4 S has a starting price of $27,195.
9. Can-Am Spyder RT Sea-to-Sky
You may be wondering how a reverse trike fits in our 15 Best Touring Bikes list. That’s simple, really: despite the Spyder RT having three wheels instead of two, Can-Am considers it a three-wheeled motorcycle. So we’ll let this one slide.
The Spyder range of three-wheeled bikes presently includes three models, namely the RT, RT Limited, and RT Sea-to-Sky. The entire range is described by Can-Am as the “pinnacle of luxury touring,” and that’s probably not far from the truth. Just think about the riding position and handling during long trips on the country’s roads.
The RT moves about under the power of a Rotax engine big enough to animate a small European car: 1,300cc. In fact, the entire build is like a combination between a car and a motorcycle, as it can even tow a trailer behind it if need be.
The pleasure of riding around on the back of one of these beauties does not come cheap, of course. The Can-Am Spyder RT Sea-to-Sky is the most expensive touring machine we’ve discussed yet, with a sticker reading no less than $30,999.
8. BMW K 1600 Grand America
In the very extensive lineup of bikes it sells, BMW Motorrad officially calls the touring segment tour. Yet the line-up of two-wheelers that could be assimilated by it is extremely extensive and includes everything from the K 1600 GTL to the mighty and new R 1250.
We chose the K 1600 Grand America to be part of our list because of the amount of luxury and style it offers. Part of a breed that’s been around since 2011, it’s at the top of the food chain and it can easily take on the giants of touring, the Americans from Harley and Indian.
Many things contribute to making the America the monster that it is, but first and foremost is the thing’s engine. That would be a massive 1,649cc six-cylinder mammoth that has no problem delivering 160 hp and 132.7 lb-ft of torque.
Of all the bikes we’ve discussed so far the Grand America is perhaps the truest touring machine yet. It comes with footboards, a top case complete with a backrest, and a sizeable windscreen. Navigation, sound profiles, and even hidden antennas are also part of the deal.
Such a solid package can’t come cheap, so the sum you’re likely to spend if you decide to go for one of these kicks off at $28,130.
7. Yamaha Tracer 9 GT
Just like they did in the cruiser segment, Japanese bike makers were quick to follow their American peers and launch their own versions of touring motorcycles. And there are some worthwhile examples to consider.
First on the list is the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT. Officially described as a sport touring, it does look more like an adventure bike than its Japanese peers you’ll read about further on, but still a ride that can’t be absent from our list.
The bike is a relative newcomer. It is based on the Tracer 900 that’s been around since 2015, but it was only introduced in 2021 as a completely new design that has become the flagship of the range since.
The bike gets most of its mojo thanks to the 890cc three-cylinder engine sitting in the aluminum frame and controlled by means of a 6-speed transmission.
In naked form the bike may not be much to look at (at least compared to what comes next), but a series of accessories for long trips, including a windshield, a mount for the fog light, or the gravel guard makes it a bit more appealing. And they also make it a tad more expensive than the $20,699 starting price.
6. Suzuki Boulevard C50T
The second Japanese touring bike worth considering is the Suzuki Boulevard C50T. Like its cruiser sibling, the M109R B.O.S.S., it plays in the big boys league, being meant to take on the leaders of the segment, Harley and Indian.
Derived from the C50 cruiser, the C50T was meant as an “old-school swagger with the chops for putting distance between you and the rest of the world.” It does so thanks to the 805cc V-twin engine sitting in the frame, working with a 5-speed transmission.
The bike is fully prepped for long rides and ships equipped with a windshield (and a very large one at that), old-school leather saddlebags with studs, and buckhorn-style handlebars.
All in all, the Suzuki Boulevard C50T does look like a proper American-styled touring bike, but by no means is it priced like one. The Japanese are asking just $10,359 for one of these babies, and all things considered, that seems like a real bargain.
5. Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager
In the world of touring bike lovers there are few names as well known as the Vulcan. It was born in the Kawasaki stables all the way back in 1984, and is still around.
The current representative of the Vulcan pack is the 1700 Voyager, the “king of Kawasaki touring cruisers.” As you’ve probably guessed, the 1700 in the name stands for the engine’s displacement in cubic centimeters. The unit is a 4-stroke V-twin that develops 107.6 lb-ft of torque and runs a 6-speed transmission.
Just like the Suzuki Boulevard C50T, the Vulcan packs all that’s required to make it stand out in a pack of similar touring bikes, from the large fairing to hold the round headlight to the rear bags and crash bars fitted to either side.
There is one major thing that separates the two, though, and that’s the price. Whereas the Suzuki barely starts at $10k, Kawasaki’s beast retail for nearly double that, $19,299. I guess the fact the Vulcan predates the Boulevard by a few decades, thus having a more solid image and a lot more experience in the segment, factors in somehow.
4. Honda Gold Wing
Whenever the words “Japanese touring bikes” appear in a conversation, our minds immediately link that to the Honda Gold Wing, the oldest bike with these three attributes in existence.
Honda gave birth to the line in 1974, years before the same idea got into the heads of its local competition. Since then, the model has become one of the best-selling ones in the world, but more specifically on the U.S. market, where over 640,000 of them found new owners over the decades.
In its present incarnation the Gold Wing is a pure delight that comes in four distinct flavors of color and appeal. All of them though draw power from the same 1,833cc six-cylinder engine ran through a seven-speed transmission.
Double wishbone suspension is on deck to ensure ride comfort, rider aid tech the likes of the Hill Start Assist make the experience of traveling on the Gold Wing easier to handle, and a trunk large enough to hold 61 liters of cargo (16 gallons) is available to take care of the rider’s belongings.
With such a pedigree in tow, the Gold Wing is also the most expensive of Japanese touring bikes, selling from $25,600.
3. Indian Roadmaster
Just like when it comes to cruisers, the heavyweights of the touring segment are the two very old American bike makers, Indian and Harley-Davidson. In the case of the former, there are two very solid offers on the table, the Roadmaster and the Pursuit.
The Roadmaster is the more expensive one (not by much, though), and it was designed as per its maker to be the perfect tool for “ultimate road-tripping.” That’s because it’s loaded to the teeth with features meant to make the riders’ job easier while on the open road.
The bike offers pretty much everything you can think of in terms of creature comforts, from the fork-mounted fairing and push-button windscreen to the 36 gallons (136 liters) of storage capacity. In between we’ve got heated seats and grips, generous floorboards, and the mighty Thunderstroke V-twin in the frame.
The Roadmaster is also packed full of technology, offering stuff like cruise control, Apple CarPlay compatibility, and Bluetooth, among other things.
Indian offers the Roadmaster at the time of writing in three variants: Roadmaster, Roadmaster Dark Horse, and Roadmaster Limited. The cheapest you can get one for is $31,499.
2. Harley-Davidson Road King Special
Without a doubt the biggest player in the touring motorcycle segment is Harley-Davidson. Not only does it seem the bike maker has been producing these things since forever, but it also has one of the most extensive lineups of such bikes: 13 grand American touring two-wheelers, and two adventure touring (the Pan Americas).
Technically, one of the most affordable grand American bikes is the Road King. Born in the mid-1990s, the model is one of the longest-running ones in the current lineup, and is highly appreciated by riders in the U.S.
Officially selling as the Road King Special, it is powered by a Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine rated at 93 hp and 158 Nm of torque.
The styling of the bike is impressive, with a large fender up front pulled over almost half the wheel, and stretched saddlebags to the rear so fitting the bike is more than worthy of the bagger name.
Given its lineage and what it has to offer riders in the market for a touring, the $23,999 asking price does not seem all that prohibitive.
1. Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Limited Anniversary Edition
If you want a beefed-up yet factory-made Harley-Davidson you can’t get a better choice than CVO models. The bike maker’s custom division has been modifying production models to incredible levels of performance and styling for a long time, any many incredible machines have made it into the world over the years. Arguably, the Road Glide Limited Anniversary Edition is one of the best that ever was.
The bike was introduced at the beginning of the year as part of a series of seven special bikes, all of them meant to honor Harley’s 120th anniversary.
Equipped with a Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine rated at 102 hp in the frame, this version of the Road Glide comes with “one of the most intricate paint schemes ever offered,” a combination of Heirloom Red, black, and art deco styling on the fuel tank.
As its name says, the bagger “loaded with exclusive details, power and styling” will be made in limited numbers, 1,500 of them to be precise. Each of them sells for almost the price of a Ford F-150 in Lariat trim, $51,999, and there’s probably not much time left until all of them are spoken for.
So there you have it, autoevolution’s list of 15 touring bikes that are worth your money in 2023. Before going out to get yourself one, try to remember though that there are ups and downs to owning touring motorcycles.
On the upside, such machines are perhaps the most complex, complete and luxurious the market has to offer. They pack enough power to get you out of any situation, they are incredibly comfortable to ride on the long stretch, and are packed with features that cover pretty much all needs.
But for one to be able to properly enjoy a touring motorcycle, some experience and a level of sophistication are needed. You can’t just for such a bike as your first ride, because you’ll have to know how to handle all that power, and how to properly enjoy the ride. These bikes are also significantly more expensive than other kinds of two-wheelers.