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Go the Distance! The Best Touring Motorcycles 2016


Before we get into this post, I have a confession to make. There was a time when I didn't understand touring bikes. I was a sportbike guy all the way. And touring bikes? Well, they're large and awkward and how can they beat the horsepower of my beloved R6? 

But then one day, a few years back, my friends (who worked for a BMW dealership) invited me for a trip up the California coast. I borrowed my buddy's R1200RT for the trip, and holy crap, I was hooked. Maybe I'm older and can appreciate a sturdy, reliable bike like a tourer now, or maybe I'm craving adventures beyond the racetrack, but I'm been drooling for a touring bike ever since.

Unfortunately, it's still just a dream for now (these bikes are expensive!). But in the meantime, I've gathered up our favorite touring bikes this year. 

Here we go!

Long Range Touring Bikes

Touring bikes are built for covering the miles. Yes, they're big and awkward, but they're also sturdy and reliable. I also appreciate how comfortable they are, even when you've been riding for hours. And all the luxury features they come with are a huge plus.

Triumph Trophy SE ABS


Boasting a 1215cc inline 3-cylinder engine, the Triumph Trophy offers comfort and performance in a luxury package. It's surprisingly agile for a bike of its class, handling well like a small, more typically maneuverable motorcycle.

On the technical end, the Trophy is the most advanced of Triumph bikes. The Trophy SE is upgraded with an electronic suspension with three damping settings (sport, normal, or comfort), a Bluetooth audio system, and a 12v power socket. Other luxury features include an electronically adjustable windscreen, adjustable seat height, and tire pressure monitoring.

MSRP: Starting from $19,500

Honda Gold Wing


The Honda Gold Wing has ranked among the best touring motorcycles for over 4 decades! It's the standard in long-distance riding comfort. Though not the most technically superior model, dependability has garnered the Honda Gold Wing the distinction of being called "unrivaled" and "revitalized" with a focus on accommodations.

For 2016, the Honda Gold Wing comes in 4 performance packages depending on what special features you want. MSRP starts from $23,999 for the lowest tier model, the Gold Wing Audio Comfort. The features are impressive with this one, including heated grips and foot warmer, surround sound, and cruise control.  The highest tier package - the Gold Wing Airbag (at a whopping $30,599) - is the ultimate in luxury touring with navigation, audio system, anti-lock brakes, and the first motorcycle airbag!

BMW K1600 GT/GTL



The K1600GT is BMW's premier touring motorcycle featuring a 1649cc inline 6-cylinder engine. This is an exceptional engine that delivers smooth acceleration throughout the RPM range

The new version is now more compact; in fact, it's the most compact 6-cylinder inline production bike. The emphasis has been put on shedding weight - the bike even has a magnesium front panel carrier and aluminum rear frame.

The K1600GT is slightlier more sportier in feel compared to the GTL. The GTL has a lower seat height and more of an upright riding position, while the GT is more aggressive. 

MSRP starting at $21,995.

Sport Touring

Looking for more speed? Sport touring is a relatively niche market. It combines the performance and high speeds of a sportbike and the long distance comfort of a touring bike. 

BMW R1200RT


The BMW R1200RT is a legendary bike that defined this segment. This is the bike where I got my introduction to touring, and it set the standard quite high! 

The 2016 version conveniently handles easier than predecessors and has an added focus on comfort for long hauls. Riders will get more the superior technology they expect with a semi-active electronic suspension, ASC traction control system, rain/road weather options, on board computer pro, and heated grips.

MSRP starting at $18,145.

Yamaha FJR1300



This 15 year vet has seen a few major upgrades and improvements in 2016. For starters, there are now two separate editions of the Yamaha FJR1300 available to buyers.

The FJR1300A (MSRP from $16,390) features a traditional suspension with hard/soft levers to adjust the amount of shock and maintain comfort for any potential luggage or passengers that may be accompanying you. And the FJR1300ES (MSRP $17,990) sports a more advanced electronic suspension that allows you to adjust it yourself at will. It allows a choice of hard, standard, or even soft for the amount of shock/comfort you'd like to maintain. 

Kawasaki Versys 650 LT


The Kawasaki Versys 650 has gotten a lot of backlash in the past for its rather... ahem, interesting... design. But the redesign nicely showcases the classic Kawasaki styling. And looking past that, this insanely affordable bike has a lot to offer.

Kawasaki took care to make advancements in Versys 650's rear power & increased ergonomic stability for riders. The new version has a higher windscreen, lower footpegs for comfort, and a wider tank. Its 649cc parallel twin engine is fun and torque in the low-mid RPM range and the small size makes the bike a nimble little machine.

At only a MSRP starting price of $8,899, this makes a great versatile bike for long weekend rides or daily commutes. 

Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring


The Ducati Multistrada 1200S revolutionized the moto world by offering a bike that performs as well on the track as it does covering long-distances. 

The 2016 version is powered by the brand new Ducati Testastretta DVT (desmodromic valve timing) engine (a first on both the intake and exhaust camshaft), which allows the engine to deliver optimized performance. 

Some say it is like having multiple motorcycles in one package since it can switch between 4 riding modes automatically (maybe this argument will justify that $20,095 price tag for you!). This beauty also comes with semi-active suspension for self-adjusting, traction control, ABS cornering, and wheelie control.

Which of these touring bikes do you have your eyes on?

*all photos courtesy of manufacturers

By Daniel Relich

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