The Best Touring Motorcycles of 2020

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The Best Way To Cover Long Distances


Touring on a motorcycle is one of the best things you can do. Traveling hundreds of miles each day to get to a specific destination or nowhere at all can be an absolutely transformative experience.

While I’m of the opinion that you can tour on any motorcycle, I do understand that it’s much more enjoyable on the right machine. You want to be comfortable while you ride and that means you’ll need a bike that was built to eat the miles with aplomb. Don’t simply hop on your hardcore sportbike and expect to cover hundreds of miles comfortably. You need a touring machine, and these are some of the best out there.

2020 Harley-Davidson Road King​


Harley-Davidson road King

The Harley-Davidson Road King has to be on this list. It was designed for touring, and many riders who own one do just that. They take their classic-looking machines on epic road trips all across the country. The Road King really is the king of the road. It comes packed with features and offers some top-quality comfort while you ride.

Powering the bike is the Milwaukee Eight 107 engine which is 1,753cc. It makes 111 lb-ft of torque. The motorcycle has plenty of power for any touring duties and it is a fantastic touring machine with its large windscreen and hard bags that are ready to tote your stuff around. There’s also plenty of accessories.

2020 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited​


Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited

If I was going to ride cross country and I had around $30,000 to spend, then I would seriously consider the Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited. It’s one of the most touring-ready Harleys out there and has all of the farkles and features you’re going to need. It’s also not as expensive as some of the CVO models, which is important to me and should be important to you.

The bike features the big Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine, which makes an even more impressive 114 lb-ft of torque. This is the bike that will gobble up miles with ease and you’ll get to ride along in pure Americana bliss while it does.

2021 Indian Roadmaster Limited​


Indian Motorcycle roadmaster

When you think of American V-twins you think of Harley-Davidson, but lately, Indian Motorcycle has been beating HD at its own game. When it comes to touring models, the Indian Roadmaster takes the cake, and the Roadmaster Limited is the best version of the bike to buy. I cheated a little here this is technically a 2021 model-year bike. However, if you have to get a 2020 model-year bike, the standard Roadmaster is nearly just as good.

The Roadmaster Limited is powered by Indian’s Thunderstoke 116 engine that manages to churn out 92 hp and 126 lb-ft of torque. Pair that with plenty of features and some generous storage as well as some of the comfiest seating in the business, and you have a touring machine that’s hard to find a fault with.

2020 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard​


Harley-Davidson electra glide standard

I know some folks will disagree with me on this one and say I should have picked some other Harley-Davidson model here, but they’re wrong. The Electra Glide Standard is the only motorcycle in Harley’s lineup I’d pay the asking price for. It’s a good simple touring motorcycle. Harley stripped it of a bunch of crap to leave, wait for it, just the important parts.

The engine, lights, comfortable saddle, hard bags are all here and not much else. It’s the best of what makes a Harley. You get the strong 1,753cc Milwaukee Eight 107 V-twin engine that chugs out 111 lb-ft of torque. Power is sorted via a six-speed transmission, and you have a nice fairing to keep the wind from blasting you 24/7.

2020 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager​


Kawasaki vulcan voyager

Kawasaki can’t be left off this list. The Vulcan 1700 Voyager is a fantastic touring motorcycle that brings metric cruiser charms to a vehicle that’s in it for the long haul. The bike is comfortable, big, and equipped with some fantastic luggage and power.

The bike comes with a 52-degree 1,700cc four-stroke, a V-twin engine that’s liquid-cooled. It makes 72.5 hp and 100 lb-ft of torque. Out there on the open road, you’ll benefit from the large windscreen and fairing as well as the comfy saddle and the various electronic systems like cruise control, ABS, satellite radio, and so much more. It’s not the most advanced machine on sale today, but it does offer some great features.

2020 Honda Gold Wing Tour​


2020 Honda Gold Wing Tour


Long thought of as the quintessential touring motorcycle, the Honda Gold Wing has a cult following and for good reason. It’s one of the most comfortable, easy-to-ride for long distances, and feature-packed motorcycles on sale today.

The Gold Wing Tour features plenty of luggage space, a 1833cc liquid-cooled SOHC six-cylinder engine that mates to a six-speed or Honda’s DCT, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on its extensive infotainment system that has a slew of other features. If you want to ride to the end of where pavement can take you, this is the bike to do it on. It’s just plain lovely.

2020 Yamaha Star Venture

2020 Yamaha Star Venture


Part of the Transcontinental Touring lineup for Yamaha, the Star Venture may seem like it belongs head-to-head with some of Harley’s machines, but in truth, this model looks more modern than the Harley fare. It’s packed with features and it has a massive air-cooled V-twin engine.

Speaking of engines, the Start Venture features a 1,854cc air-cooled OHV V-Twin that makes around 85 hp. It’s not an insane amount of horsepower, but if you’re interested in cruising along at highway speeds, then you have nothing much to worry about. Also, the 120 lb-ft of torque will rocket you around and help get you up to speed quickly. All told, this is a great bike.

2020 BMW K 1600 Grand America​


2020 BMW K 1600 Grand America


Any of BMW’s K 1600 motorcycles would make the cut for “great touring motorcycle,” but the Grand America version is in my mind the one to buy. It’s a motorcycle that’s sporty in the right ways, comfortable in all the right ways, and has some fantastic storage areas and features. The large windscreen and fairing shield you from the wind and the seat keeps your backside comfortable for mile after mile.

Powering this bike is BMW’s six-cylinder inline engine. Its smoothness is something that BMW riders won’t shut up about, and I can’t really blame them. It’s good. The engine has a 1,649cc capacity and it makes 92 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque, so you’re never wanting for power. With a reasonably low seat height of 29.5 inches, it’s a reasonably approachable machine, too for being so large.


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670cc

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The list of “best” included pretty much all of the available large touring bikes.

There is also a grammar problem here. Best is a superlative term. A superlative always refers to one specific thing. There is only one biggest, best or most (adjective) thing. There can be only one best, not a long list of them. The article should be titled, “The Better Touring Motorcycles of 2020”.
 
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hansonb4

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What, no NC750 on the list?
:eek:
I don't need the extra weight, I don't need the big faring and more. Give me a bike that gets back to basics and is sub $10k. Decked out with all bells and whistles (heated grips, quality panniers, center stand, two outlets, cruise control, Denali lights, engine guard, highway pegs at $12k? I'm in...
 

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What, no NC750 on the list?
:eek:
I don't need the extra weight, I don't need the big faring and more. Give me a bike that gets back to basics and is sub $10k. Decked out with all bells and whistles (heated grips, quality panniers, center stand, two outlets, cruise control, Denali lights, engine guard, highway pegs at $12k? I'm in...
I agree that less weight is good. However, the NC has one trait that makes is less suitable as a long distance tourer: chain drive. Be sure to pack chain lube and chain adjusting tools.
 
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LeeInMpls

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I agree that less weight is good. However, the NC has one trait that makes is less suitable as a long distance tourer: chain drive. Be sure to pack chain lube and chain adjusting tools.

Does anyone use an autolube chain kit?

My ideal tourer would be an updated version of my GL650 including: fuel injection, abs, dct and maybe upgrade to 750cc. The retro CB350 upgrade marketed in India gives me a glimmer of hope for the resurrection! ;)
 

hansonb4

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I agree that less weight is good. However, the NC has one trait that makes is less suitable as a long distance tourer: chain drive. Be sure to pack chain lube and chain adjusting tools.
I've taken a 1,500 - 2,000 mile road trip every year the last 10 years (9 of them on a Bonneville) and agree with the chainlube. I order a small travel-sized can and spray it religiously on the trip, especially after a big rain storm. Then degunk and lube on a regular basis. Outside of a yearly oil change and then a week before my trip a quick safety check by my dealer, I've never had to adjust my chain. Maybe I've just been lucky.
 

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I think with the New Concept design philosophy of the NC series, it would have been a perfect candidate for an innovative, light weight, efficient, maintenance free, belt drive system. Honda missed an opportunity there.
 

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This is the stuff for Chains. By now I have even given up on oilers and use dash of this after every ride. It is fine enough to get under the rollers when sprayed and then becomes very tacky. Every now and then I use a good dose of engine oil to let the chain clean itself and then back to the Spray.

 
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