Choosing a Touring Motorcycle

All motorcycles are the same, just as all motorcycles are different. The bike is the single most important part of Motorbike Trips Thailand, you want to make sure you get what you want and need.

Does it GRAB you? I really like having a motorcycle that I look back at. I mean, I park it, walk away and look back. Just to look at it again.

All motorcycles have some things in common. Two wheels, a frame, a motor, handlebars and controls. How these are done and mesh with each other is what makes the bike your own.

All the touring motorcycles have some major things in common.

Windscreen and wind protection, for the most part. Basically, the bigger the tourer, the bigger the protection. Why is that important? When it’s 40ยบ and raining it can be really critical to your ride.

Lights. Lights on a motorcycle not only help you see, they help you be seen. Which is very important when you are dealing with people in cars and trucks.

Luggage. Never enough and often too much. It’s one of the balances you have to strike in the choice of motorcycles.

Seat. Not all seats are created equal. It’s really nice to have one you can sit on all day, then get back on the next day.

Wheels. The ‘spoke’ wheels look so cool, and are part of my dreaming motorcycle. But I really like the convenience of cast wheels and tubeless tires. You can plug a tubeless tire and be back on your way in minutes, rather than losing a whole day patching a tube.

Drive. Most of the ‘touring’ class are shaft driven, some use chains. The shaft is, without question, easier to maintain but when it fails, it’s major. The chain needs some routine maintenance, but is very efficient, and easy to change/repair.

Riding Position. Upright, laid back, leaned forward. Surprisingly, the slight forward lean seems to be the position of choice for long distance riders. Upright is good for long term comfort, and laid back can be best for a bad back (with backrest).

All these factors are important when choosing a ride, often a compromise of several factors comes into play. What gives YOU the most comfort is the primary concern.

I’m going to limit my discussion to three major types of motorcycles. Super tourers, sport tourers, adventure tourers.

Generally, the super tourers are BIG. Big wind protection and windscreens, big luggage, big stuff. Typically, you sit fairly upright and really ‘in’ the bike rather than on it. Big seats are generally very comfortable. These are long term cruisers, and they look it. Capable of huge miles day after day.

Sport tourers tend to be lighter, faster and more agile than their big brothers. Can be as much at home on a twisty road as on the interstate. Smaller luggage, less room, less comfort. Typically have a ‘forward’ seating position, usually with an adjustable windscreen. Good (not great) weather protection.

Adventure tourers are built for gravel roads and less. Typically heavier frame and running gear, a lot of the ‘niceties’ are left off, making them smaller and more maneuverable. These are the ‘around the world’ class, and they give up some creature comforts. Less or no wind protection, afterthought windscreens, upright seating position. You are definitely ‘on’ this bike, not in it.


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