The Best Touring Motorcycles to Buy in 2020 - The Magnificent 7
The best touring motorcycles for 2020 are plenty. There is a ride to fit every rider out there. In the article, I will tell you all about the top touring motorcycles that you can buy this year. If you are a serious rider, all the bikes in the list are serious choices. Each one of them has its own style and characteristics, but they are all great machines. They can provide countless hours, even a lifetime of open road fun in the right hands. Read on and find out which are the best touring motorcycles in 2020. Also, I will tell you about a couple of surprising accessories I came upon testing and are definitely worthwhile.
#1 German Touring Bestseller – BMW R1200GS
Undoubtedly, this is one of the best touring motorcycles ever created and has been BMW´s best-selling model for many years. In Europe alone, the R1200GS sold 35,000 units in 2017. It is not a new BMW creation since the model line was initially introduced in 1980. Of course, the motorcycle sold nowadays is a very different machine that went through many revamps since its creation. The last major makeover was in 2017 and, according to specialised media and fans, it was better than ever.
For 2019, BMW faced the almost impossible challenge to revamp its best-selling bike. A model so revered by fans, riders and media that sold on its own with little marketing effort. For that, the company introduced some significant changes.
The first significant change is the new ShiftCam technology which turns the engine into a two-headed beast. When the throttle valve is slightly open, it turns into a smooth ride capable of relaxed cruising. At a twist of the wrist, the valve becomes wide open, and the bike delivers top-notch response and performance. It feels almost as if the 136 horsepower suddenly became alive and started pushing you forward. Also, the brake callipers and the software went through an update with positive results.
Finally, the 1254cc engine might just be 50cc over the last one but feels much more powerful than before. Oh, and the included audio system is also a plus on long trips.
If you are looking for the ultimate comfort on a best-seller, fantastic bike, this is precisely it.
#2 Touring Motorcycles from Italy – Ducati Multistrada
Whichever version of the new Ducati Multistrada 1260 you choose will be a blast. The Testastretta DVT 1262cc, 158hp engine pushing them forward is big, powerful and smooth. The motto of the company for this model is “extend your comfort zone”, and I think it is very adequate. Sitting on most Ducati bikes feels as if the bike is an extension of your body. This touring model is no exception, you immediately feel like home.
You can definitely go for long distances in the safest way. Ducati dedicated most of the money on this vehicle to safety. The base model comes with the entire Ducati safety measures combo. This safety equipment includes:
- VHC (Vehicle Hold Control)
- Ducati Safety Pack (DTC + Bosch cornering ABS)
- DWC (Ducati Wheelie Control)
- Riding Modes
- Power Modes
Also, the suspension enhancement through the Ducati Skyhook Suspension really makes a huge difference. Together with the cornering ABS, driving this bike over a closed curve on a high cliff feels like nothing else.
Finally, the electronics command centre is clear and shows all the information about the bike. This is, perhaps, my only complaint about this awesome motorbike. It can become a little daunting to have all that info while you are riding and have to look forward. More when it is all on a digital display. When you have old-school lights that come on and off, it is easier to see if something is on or off with just a glimpse.
The Ducati Multistrada is the best for those who want to ride fast, safe and comfortable. Plus, Ducati is a brand that has an excellent reputation for high performance.
#3 Austrian adventure – KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
This motorcycle, especially in the 2020 version is what most people call a do-it-all superbike. It is a one-third sports bike, one-third touring and one-third urban. The new 1290cc engine features power and torque that is otherworldly. Most of it is thanks to drawing some specs from The Beast, a race-track ready motorcycle.
At lower speeds, the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT is a great ride that can go smoothly through beautiful landscapes. Although it is a little too much for it, it also makes for a great high-class commuter. It is ideal for those weekend trips that start on Friday right at the office sidewalk. As a touring bike, it outperforms some of the other bikes in the category, but where it really stands out is in speed. KTM hired Michael Rutter to test it at the Isle of Man Mountain Course, and the result was breath-taking. If you are after a bike that can give you the chills for being the fastest ride you ever opened the throttle on; this is the one.
I didn’t ride alone
My KTM 1290 Super Duke GT also came with an amazing motorcycle add-on, of which I think every motorbike rider should have on his bike. This gadget will keep a history log of all of your fantastic adventures with your motorcycle and save them in the app. I’m talking about the Vigo Smart Track. Not only it saves your rides, but it also tells you how you ride – based on this a score is established, and it even encourages you to ride safer. By that, you can improve your score. I only managed to reach 8.75 out of 10 😉
Beside ride tracking, the Vigo Smart Track also comes with advanced theft and accident notification. Meaning, if someone is planning on stealing your bike, you’ll get a notification, that it’s being moved. By that, you’ll be able to prevent the theft of your beauty.
And the second amazing feature is the SOS notification. I love riding solo in the countryside, but if I’d have a crash – who knows how long it would take for someone to call for help. Well, the Vigo Smart Track does it for you. Namely, it senses when you had an accident. It checks if you’re okay, and if not, your emergency contact listed in the app gets the notification and the exact crash location information. With this, I’d definitely feel safe on my adventures 🙂
#4 Touring Motorcycles with legacy – Honda Gold Wing
Let me take you back for four decades. Yes, it´s the great seventies, a time in which everything had to be bigger. That is precisely when this mother-of-all-touring motorcycle was forged. The first Honda Gold Wing model dates back to 1974. More than 640,000 units sold later; here is the 2019 incarnation, still a fantastic bike.
If we set out to even number the specs available for 2019, it will take ages. So, let´s just talk about some of the main. First, the engine is a beast of 1833cc and 24 valves that can be set on four riding modes. The engine itself has lost weight, and the bike is narrower and lighter (90 pounds lighter) than previous models. It really does feel faster in your hands. The model with the automatic seven-gear gearbox includes reverse and walking speed. These are all innovations that mean the world for touring motorcycles like this. Imagine walking with this beast in your hands at a traffic jam.
Of course, it also has some fancier electronics like Apple car play, smart key, Bluetooth capability, and a 7-inch navigation screen. Finally, this fantastic ride has heated seats and grips, electronic windshield and a sound system to dream of.
The list goes on and on. If you are looking for a six-cylinder couch that can take you around the world, this is definitely your bike.
#5 Touring Motorcycles – Kawasaki Versys 1000
Compared to the Honda Gold Wing, this bike looks like a naked street motorcycle. Indeed, it is one of the lightest and most comfortable touring motorcycles in the list. It has a smaller engine than most at 1000cc, but this should not fool you, because this bike has plenty of power. I was lucky enough to jump on a 2019 model and ride it for an entire day. The result was great, it is an amazing bike for touring, commuting longer distances and having fun.
My bike came in an emerald green colour that was absolutely beautiful. The 2020 model features the KECS, which is the electronically-controlled suspension by Kawasaki. This great feature makes the bike adapt to any kind of road and riding conditions. It is a hybrid between the latest mechanical innovations and controlling software. It really makes riding smoother and safer. Also by Kawasaki, my bike featured the KQS (Kawasaki Quick Shifter). It is incredible how you can up and downshift your gears without even touching the clutch. I do this all the time, especially in the open road.
My test bike came with some aftermarket add-ons
It was with this bike that I discovered the SBM, the Smart Brake Module. This little device engages the brake light whenever you are decreasing speed. This means that even if you don´t press the brakes, your brake light will tell other riders and drivers of your decreasing speed. I thought it was the perfect match for the KQS. I now have it on other bikes too.
The model I tested had one more feature that was an after-market accessory and made turns easier and safer. It is called STS, the Smart Turn System, and is made by the same company as the SBM.
What it does is to disengage the directional indicators when you have completed the turn. It is very similar to the technology cars have been using for decades. For touring motorcycles like this, with all the technologic enhancements, adding this amazing system is a no-brainer. I had it installed on my other bikes too.
Check if it is compatible with your motorcycle as well, just enter your motorcycle details and submit your email address in the form below.
The Kawasaki Versys 2019 is a great touring bike that even features Electronic Cruise Control so your wrist can take a break. If you want a beautiful, technologic, light and powerful bike, this is your best choice.
#6 Cruising in style – Harley Davidson Electra Glide
No touring motorcycles post could be complete if I didn´t include at least one Harley Davidson in it. I mean, I have set my feet and hand on most bikes, but my heart always goes back to the choppers. First of all, when you start the Electra Glide, you get that low-key roar that makes you smile. But why did I choose the Electra Glide from all their amazing line of motorcycles? Because it is the perfect technologically-updated touring chopper for us, the old-school road lovers.
The first thing to notice is the big screen in the middle of your control panel. The Electra Glide, as many touring motorcycles, comes with an infotainment system. Harley called it Boom Box and it operates navigation, as well as music and your phone. It features a touch screen and easy-to-use commands on each hand.
This along with the LED head and fog lamps (round and old school but LED-powered) and the ABS braking system bring the Electra Glide to the present. It features the Milwaukee Eight engine with its entire and beautiful roar, and an adjustable, improved suspension. The ride on the Harley Davidson Electra Glide is as smooth as it gets.
Improvements on a classic ride blending technology while keeping the classic look are a big challenge. Harley did it in style and if you are a chopper-lover like I am, touring on one of these is priceless.
#7 Touring Motorcycles – Triumph Tiger 1200
The Triumph Tiger really lives up to its name, and it really is a beast of the roads with a 139hp engine. Just to put you into the picture, this bike holds the most powerful shaft-driven engine in its class. It is a 1200cc triple engine that will give you countless hours of fun on and off the road.
Of all the touring motorcycles reviewed so far, the Triumph Tiger 1200 is the one that is better prepared for off-road adventures. The triple engine weights less than its predecessors and delivers more power on lower as well as higher speeds. This engine coupled with the six riding modes makes every terrain an easy excursion on this bike. If you really want to test the boundaries, just put it into “off-road pro” and hold on tight.
The LED lighting system in this bike is amazing. Triumph included adaptive cornering system and the bike progressively reacts to cornering movements. This is crucial for night-time riding, enhancing your ability to take turns even when roads aren´t illuminated.
If you are a rider who likes to cover distances and have some fun off the road too, the Triumph tiger 1200 is the absolutely best choice. However, if you like to stick to the road, you should also consider another beast from Triumph, the Triumph Rocket 3.
Buying one of the many touring motorcycles in this list is a safe bet for the future. However, touring motorcycles aren´t exactly cheap, so you are looking at an investment. If you follow these tips and choose the one that comes closest to your desires, you can´t go wrong.
Did you ride any of these already? We would love to hear from you. Also, if you thought this article was useful and you want to help others looking for touring motorcycles, share it.