What is a Touring Motorcycle? [Explained]

As the name suggests, touring motorcycles are designed with long-distance motorcycle tours in mind. Based on their design and features, touring motorcycles can be classed as true tourers, sport-tourers, adventure tourers, or baggers. These popular bikes are known for having innovative safety features, great fuel range, and outstanding comfort.

If you want to find out more about these machines and compare the best models head-to-head, this post is for you.

We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know under one roof!

What is Considered a Touring Motorcycle?

Although virtually any type of motorcycle can be used for touring, many of the major manufacturers offer purpose-built touring models.

These impressive bikes come with many of the bells and whistles that a long-distance motorcycle rider might need. They are powered by large-displacement engines that produce great low-end torque.

However, the key advantage of a touring bike is its comfortable cockpit, which shines on long tours.

But unfortunately, these bikes are often quite heavy, bulky, and very expensive.

In a nutshell, the key specs of touring motorcycles are as follows:

  • Engine: 500-2,000cc (30-120ci)
  • Power: 50-200 HP
  • Top speed: 100-210 mph
  • Fuel capacity: 3.5-6 gal.
  • Weight: 440-900 lbs.
  • Length: 87-105 in.
  • Width: 30-40 in.
  • Height: 55-60 in.
  • Seat height: 25-35 in.

Also, tourers come with a wide range of safety and convenience features, including:

  • Fairings
  • Windshield
  • Heated grips and seat
  • Advanced gauges
  • Navigation system
  • ABS
  • Traction control
  • Airbag
  • Audio system
  • Storage boxes
  • Integrated compressor
  • Passenger handles
  • And many others

Beyond the standard features, touring motorcycles can be customized with many useful added accessories.

What are the Various Types of Touring Motorcycles?

When it comes to subcategories, we can divide touring motorcycles into four categories:

  1. True tourers
  2. Sport tourers
  3. Adventure tourers
  4. Baggers

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about these in detail!

True Tourers

“Real” touring motorcycles are known by many different names including true tourers, full-size tourers, full-dress tourers, and just full-dressers.

These bikes are exclusively designed from scratch for touring purposes, with no compromises. They are built on a massive frame and feature large fairings for optimum aerodynamics and protection.

Hard storage boxes and smaller storage units are often integrated into the body as well.

Depending on the make and model, touring motorcycles can be powered by inline 4/6 cylinder, flat, or V engines. You can expect to get the smoothest possible operation from inline 6-cylinder engines while V configurations provide more torque and a nice engine sound.

Regarding engine size, the displacement of these bikes ranges from 500cc up to 2000cc, but most models have 1000-1800cc engines.

Thanks to their features, tourers provide the best mix of handling, comfort, and engine power, supported by the most advanced technology.

Based on their weight, we can distinguish between lightweight, middleweight, and heavy touring motorcycles. The dry weight of touring motorcycles starts at 450 pounds and goes up to a whopping 900+ pounds.

The key advantage of lighter touring bikes is their smaller dimensions, easy handling, and lower price tags. They are powered by smaller-displacement engines, which also provide great fuel economy.

What’s more, certain models come with removable storage boxes and windscreens, which offer great flexibility.

Luxury-touring motorcycles also represent a pure class that includes the high-quality, richly-equipped flagship models.

It’s safe to say that the best true touring motorcycles (excluding baggers) are as follows:

  • Honda Gold Wing Tour
  • BMW K 1600 Grand America
  • BMW R1200RT
  • Triumph Trophy SE
  • Honda NT1100

Sport Tourers

Sport tourers uniquely blend the features of touring with sport motorcycles. They borrow their high-performance engines from sport bikes but are just as comfortable as touring bikes.

Therefore, with a sport tourer you can have the best of both worlds!

A sport touring motorcycle offers a sporty riding position and better handling, which allows for a more aggressive riding style. They are also faster and come with different gearing than conventional touring bikes.

While most motorcycle manufacturers keep only one sport tourer in their fleet, certain companies like BMW and Honda offer no less than 3-4 models in this class.

Some of these machines like the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Performance Tourer and the Suzuki GSX-S1000 GT look like a sport bike, while others inherit more features and design elements from the touring line.

Some of the best sport touring motorcycles are as follows:

  • Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX
  • Kawasaki Concours 14
  • Yamaha FJR1300
  • BMW F900XR
  • BMW R 1250 RS
  • Ducati Supersport 950
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
  • Ducati Multistrada V4 S
  • Suzuki GSX-S1000 GT
  • Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer
  • MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso 800
  • Yamaha Tracer 7 GT
  • Triumph Sprint ST

Adventure Tourers

Adventure tourers are the result of a marriage between adventure and sport motorcycle classes. Compared to conventional touring bikes, adventure tourers have a narrower body, higher ground clearance, and lighter weight.

They often feature skid plates, knobby tires, navigation systems, and other useful features.

Therefore, adventure tourers have great off-road capabilities but they also do a good job on long-range tours.

So, it’s no surprise that adventure tourers are commonly used in Dakar and other gruelling rally events.

Some of the most well-known adventure tourer bikes are as follows:

  • BMW R1200GS
  • KTM 990 Adventure
  • KTM 1290 Super Adventure R
  • Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere
  • Triumph Tiger 800 XCx
  • Suzuki V-Strom 1000


Although full-size tourers and baggers are often classed together, the latter represents a unique class. Baggers are basically big-inch V-twin cruiser motorcycles equipped with side bags, fairings, and windshields.

They come in a more classic style with fewer fairings than purpose-built touring bikes, but they offer almost the same level of safety and comfort.

Many Harley riders claim that the term “bagger” is reserved exclusively for touring Harley-Davidsons. Others argue that any V-twin touring motorcycle is considered a bagger, regardless of the brand.

If we accept the latter definition, then all of the bikes below can be considered baggers:

  • Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager
  • Indian Pursuit
  • Indian Roadmaster
  • Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring
  • Suzuki Boulevard C50T
  • Yamaha V Star 1300 Tourer
  • Yamaha Star Venture
  • Harley-Davidson Road King
  • Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard

Touring Motorcycle Specs

What CC are Touring Motorcycles?

The displacement of touring motorcycles varies between 500cc and 2000cc, but most models are powered by 1000-1800cc engines. The most common engine configurations in the touring class are the inline 4/6, V2, V4, and flat (boxer) layout.


  • Honda CB500X: 471ccPHPHP
  • Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer: 649cc
  • MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso 800: 798cc
  • Yamaha Tracer 7 GT: 689cc
  • BMW R 1250 RT: 1254cc
  • Yamaha FJR1300: 1298cc
  • Kawasaki Concours 14: 1352cc
  • BMW K 1600 Grand America: 1649cc
  • Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager: 1700cc
  • Harley-Davidson Road King 1753cc
  • Honda Gold Wing Tour: 1833cc
  • Yamaha Star Venture: 1854cc
  • Indian Roadmaster: 1890cc

How Much HP Does a Touring Motorcycle Have?

The engine power of touring motorcycles varies between 45 and 200 HP depending on the engine’s features.

You can expect the performance of V-twin baggers and entry-level touring bikes to be in the ballpark of 45-110 HP. In contrast, large-displacement tourers with inline 4/6, flat, and V4 engines crank out about 120-160 HP.

Only one model stands out from the crowd, the supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE with a claimed performance of 200 HP.


  • Honda CB500X: 47 HP PHPHP
  • Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer: 66 HP
  • MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso 800: 110 HP
  • Yamaha Tracer 7 GT: 72 HP
  • BMW R 1250 RT: 136 HP
  • Yamaha FJR1300: 142 HP
  • Kawasaki Concours 14: 158 HP
  • BMW K 1600 Grand America: 160 HP
  • Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager: 73 HP
  • Harley-Davidson Road King: 93 HP
  • Honda Gold Wing Tour: 126 HP
  • Indian Roadmaster: 92 HP
  • Kawasaki Ninja H2® SX SE: 200 HP

Which Touring Motorcycle is the Most Powerful?

The most powerful touring motorcycle right now is the Kawasaki NINJA H2 SX SE. This bike is powered by a supercharged, liquid-cooled, 998cc in-line 4-cylinder engine that cranks out no less than 200 HP.

At present, this is the only supercharged touring motorcycle available off-the-shelf.

How Fast Do Touring Motorcycles Go?

You can expect the top speed of a touring motorcycle to be in the ballpark of 100-210 mph.

The slowest models are the V-twin baggers, which top out at 100-150 mph, while import full-dress tourers can reach a top speed of 140-160 mph.

The only supercharged sport tourer, the Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE, can go as fast as 209 mph under ideal conditions. (On a closed course, of course.)


  • Harley-Davidson Road King: 100 mph
  • Indian Roadmaster: 115 mph
  • Honda CB500X: 115 mph
  • Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer: 125 mph
  • BMW R 1250 RT: 125 mph
  • Honda Gold Wing Tour: 140 mph
  • MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso 800: 143 mph
  • Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager: 149 mph
  • Yamaha FJR1300: 154 mph
  • Kawasaki Concours 14: 155 mph
  • BMW K 1600 Grand America: 160 HP
  • Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE: 209 mph

Which Touring Motorcycle is the Fastest?

The fastest touring motorcycle is arguably the Kawasaki Ninja H2® SX SE with a claimed top speed of 209 mph. But let’s face it, this machine is a modified supercharged sport bike rather than a purpose-built tourer!

How Much Do Touring Motorcycles Weigh?

Touring motorcycles are known for their massive curb weight, varying between 440 and 900+ pounds.

The lightest tourers with 500-800cc engines “only” weigh 440-600 pounds. Their full-size brothers with 1000-2000cc power mills weigh about 600-850 pounds.

As one might expect, the heaviest tourers are the baggers with a curb weight of 800-900+ pounds.

Examples (curb weight):

  • Honda CB500X: 439 lbs
  • Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer: 483 lbs
  • Yamaha Tracer 7 GT: 485 lbs
  • Kawasaki Ninja H2® SX SE: 591 lbs
  • BMW R 1250 RT: 615 lbs
  • Yamaha FJR1300: 642 lbs
  • Kawasaki Concours 14: 690 lbs
  • BMW K 1600 Grand America: 816 lbs
  • Harley-Davidson Road King: 828 lbs
  • Honda Gold Wing Tour: 843 lbs
  • Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager: 895 lbs
  • Indian Roadmaster: 909 lbs

Why are touring motorcycles so heavy?

There are many reasons why touring motorcycles are so heavy, but the most important ones are as follows:

  • They are built on large massive metal frames
  • Most tourers feature big-inch engines and large transmissions
  • Windshields, fairings, and storage boxes also significantly increase their weight
  • They are equipped with a plethora of safety and convenience features
  • For the best fuel range, tourers are designed with large capacity fuel tanks

Heavier tourers are great for covering long distances since they are virtually glued to the road and offer more stability.

Which touring bike has the lightest weight?

The lightest touring bikes are the small Japanese and European tourers with 500-800cc engines. One of the lightest models in this breed is the Honda CB500X with a curb weight of 439 pounds.

Other examples:

  • Honda CB500X: 439 lbs (curb)
  • Honda NC750X weight: 472 lbs (curb)
  • Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer: 483 lbs (curb)
  • MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso 800: 438 lbs (dry)
  • Yamaha Tracer 7 GT: 485 lbs

What is the Load Capacity of Touring Motorcycles?

Despite its importance, the load capacity of tourers is often overlooked, but this spec can be a key factor especially when it comes to touring with a passenger.

The largest touring bikes like the Honda Gold Wing or the BMW K 1600 Grand America have a weight capacity of about 400-450 pounds, while baggers can carry 400-500 pounds depending on the make and model.

What are the Dimensions of Touring Motorcycles?

Touring motorcycles measure about 87-105 inches in length, 30-40 inches in width, and 55-60 inches in height, while their ground clearance is about 5-8 inches.

Examples (LxWxH):

  • BMW R 1250 RT: 87.5” x 38.8” x 55.3”
  • Yamaha FJR1300: 87.8” x 29.5” x 52.2 – 57.3”
  • Kawasaki Concours 14: 87.8” x 31.1” (39.4”) x 52.9” (57.7”)
  • Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager: 100.8” x 39.2” x 61”
  • BMW K 1600 Grand America: 100.8” x 39.4” x 56.7-62.2”
  • Indian Roadmaster: 104.6” x 40.2” x 55.7”

What is the seat height of a touring motorcycle?

The seat height of touring motorcycles varies between 25 and 35 inches.

You can expect the smallest (25-28”) seat height on baggers while the same measurement on full-size tourers is about 31-33 inches. On the other end of the spectrum, you can find adventure tourers with an average seat height of 32-35 inches.

Why are touring motorcycles so big?

Compared to other bikes, touring motorcycles are quite big machines, but with good reason. Tourers are built with large capacities, so they can carry plenty of luggage plus a passenger with ease.

They are equipped with large fairings and many features, which also give them a bigger look.

Are Touring Motorcycles Easy to Ride?

Generally speaking, touring motorcycles are hard to ride at lower speeds and in tight spaces.

Therefore, riding a full-size tourer can be a challenge in a crowded city or a parking lot since they are tough to turn at slow speeds.

On the other hand, tourers are fairly easy to ride on the highways and open roads, for which they are actually designed.

Buying a Touring Motorcycle

Which Motorcycle is Best for Touring?

The best motorcycles for long tours are the heavyweight, purpose-built tourers like the Honda Goldwing, and the BMW K1600. These bikes come with high-performance engines, large fairing kits, and countless bells and whistles that you would need on a longer tour.

Besides full-size touring motorcycles, big-inch baggers are also great choices for longer trips.

Which Small Touring Motorcycle is the Best?

Based on our research, some of the best small touring motorcycles are as follows:

  • Honda CB500X
  • Honda NC750X
  • Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer
  • MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso 800
  • Yamaha Tracer 7 GT

Which Touring Motorcycle is the Most Comfortable?

Many riders agree that the most comfortable touring motorcycle is the Honda Gold Wing. This machine utilizes a smooth, 6-cylinder inline engine, automatic transmission, and an extremely comfortable cockpit.

If you are considering other brands, here are some features that characterize the most comfortable tourers:

  • Smooth engine (inline 4- or 6-cylinder)
  • Full fairing kit
  • High windshield
  • Heavy weight
  • Low center of gravity
  • Luxury features

Which Touring Motorcycle is the Most Reliable?

There’s no question that the most reliable touring motorcycles are the Japanese bikes manufactured by Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki.

You can find many exciting models in the offerings of these companies, including:

  • Honda CB500X
  • Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer
  • Yamaha Tracer 7 GT
  • Yamaha FJR1300
  • Kawasaki Concours 14
  • Honda Gold Wing Tour
  • Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager

Are Touring Motorcycles Good for Beginners?

General wisdom says that touring bikes are not recommended for beginner riders.


In a nutshell, beginners should stay away from tourers because they are heavy bikes, which makes them hard to corner and handle at slow speeds. What’s more, carrying a passenger and luggage can also make them quite top heavy.

Besides, tourers are usually powered by big-inch, high-performance engines, which are also not recommended for first-time riders.

If you are a beginner and looking for your first bike, you may want to instead start with a lightweight street motorcycle.

If you are want to stick with this category, by all means you should look at lightweight tourers with 500-800cc engines. One of the most recommended models in this breed is the automatic Honda NC750X.

Your other option could be converting a small 500-1000cc cruiser into a bagger with a windshield and a seat bag.

Again, don’t purchase a full-size tourer or bagger as your first bike!

Are Touring Motorcycles Safer?

Touring motorcycles are considered the safest and most comfortable bikes available. These models feature the most safety features including ABS, traction control, wheelie control, and even airbags.

Another reason why touring motorcycles are so safe is the comfort they provide. Convenience features and comfortable seats reduce fatigue, which helps riders focus better on the road and the traffic.

On top of that, touring motorcycles riders are less prone to doing reckless tricks or speeding, which is also reflected in accident statistics.

Are Harleys Good Touring Bikes?

Harley-Davidson markets many great touring bikes, which are virtually modified cruisers with fairings, saddle bags, and windshields.

These machines are often referred to as “baggers” and manufactured with large shark-nose or batwing fairing.

The list of the most well-known touring Harleys includes:

  • H-D Heritage Classic
  • H-D Road King
  • H-D CVO Street Glide
  • H-D Road Glide Special
  • H-D Ultra Limited

Conclusion – What is a Touring Motorcycle?

Touring motorcycles are just like their name, they are bikes designed and equipped for long-distance rides. Tourers are safe comfortable machines with large-displacement engines and fairing kits.

Based on their design, we can categorize them into four classes including baggers, adventure tourers, sport tourers, and true tourers.

The smallest models feature 500-900cc engines while flagship tourers displace around 1200-2000cc.

Touring motorcycles are easy to ride fast on open roads but they are hard to corner and operate at slower speeds. Therefore, they are not recommended for beginner riders.



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