A guide to great tourers
Adventure bikes are great but for the biggest miles you want one of these says Phil West
BMW R1200RT (2014-current)
Definitive tourer had, until this latest version, been somewhat overshadowed by its adventure bike GS brother and still lags behind in terms of sales. But this latest RT is a phenomenal performer and arguably BMW’S best bike. With less weight, more electronics, plusher luxury and the new 125bhp, liquid-cooled version of the boxer twin, the RT is not just sublimely comfortable, effective and classy, as always, it’s now punchy, nimble, intuitive and peerlessly sophisticated.
What you’ll pay today From £10,300 for a used one.
But should you? Forget the early suspension recall, it’ll be fixed now, the latest RT is as good as tourers get.
BMW K1300GT (2009-2013)
Grand tourer based around the K1300’s shaft-drive powertrain was sacrificed prematurely by BMW to make way for its new family of six-cylinder tourers, the K1600GT and GTL. A shame, as it’s a great, grunty bike with immense mile-eating ability plus all the usual BMW goodies such as classy luggage, options including electronic suspension adjustment and a smoothness, speed and presence the twin-cylinder R1200RT just can’t match. What you’ll pay today £4500-£8300. But should you? Mile-eaters still don’t come much better, nor do big, classy BMS come so cheap.
Honda GL1800 Goldwing (2001-current)
Current version of the touring legend that is the Goldwing is now more than a little long in the tooth, especially compared to the ballistic and gizmoladen BM K1600GTL launched in 2011, but it remains the definitive and most recognised full-dresser of all. No electronics or 160bhp, maybe, but otherwise the sumptuous Wing has it all: armchair comfort for two; turbine, sixcylinder drive, a magic carpet ride and a better stereo than most cars. Luxury.
What you’ll pay today £23,499 new. £5600 up for a used ’un. But should you? Still a devoted following and you can see why. A two-wheeled motorhome.
Yamaha FJR1300 (2001-current)
Shaft-drive tourer was intended as a successor to the much-loved FJ1200 but received a slightly lukewarm reception despite great handling and 146bhp. Over the years it’s gone through two significant updates (2007 and 2013) and become far more refined. What you’ll pay today £3000-£9000 for a 2001-12 version; £7900 up for a 2013+ But should you? Now has a deserved following of its own.
Honda ST1300 Pan European (2002-current)
Successor to the ground-breaking ST1100 may have been bigger, slicker and with more power (125bhp) but an early handling scare (since fixed) meant it never garnered the same reputation. Although now aging and from the pre-electronics age, it’s effective, classy, comfortable and durable. What you’ll pay today £14,699 new. From £3300 used. But should you? Solid, decent-value performer.
Kawasaki 1400GTR (2010-current)
With a smooth and grunty 140bhp, good handling, equipment including ABS, TCS, electric screen, heated grips and classy build the GTR deserves to be more popular than it is. Instead it seems to be mostly used by the emergency services and cycle race marshals who know what a steal the GTR is. What you’ll pay today Used from £6000. But should you? A hell of a lot of bike for the money.
Triumph Trophy 1200 SE (2012-current)
Bold, British attempt at out-touring the Bavarian boxer arguably, briefly, succeeded – until BMW brought out the brilliant all-new RT in 2013. Based around a slick and impressive, 132bhp shaft-drive triple, it goes and handles a treat and is well equipped and comfy.
What you’ll pay today £14,299 new, from £7500 used. But should you? Good, but lacks pedigree of latest RT.
You could buy a GS but the RT is king of comfort
That pillion seat is more comfy than anything in DFSÉ
All the big BMW toys and cash left to pay for hotels