Go the Distance
THE 60,000-MEMBER-STRONG Iron Butt Association requires a certified 1,000-mile ride within 24 hours for entry into the club. Most of these riders plan meticulously for success, whether for a 1,000-mile day or the 11-day, 11,000-plus-mile Iron Butt Rally. Choosing the right machine is a priority.
Peruse the list of rally finishers and you’ll see a variety of makes and models. Closer attention reveals trends, a few specific bikes favored for these demanding feats of endurance. The good news is that you can score most of these bikes for less than $10,000 on the used market and give yourself a leg up when you take on your own long haul.
BMW stands out prominently, with its pure-touring R1200RT and R1200GS adventure bikes making frequent appearances on the finisher list. Clean 2005–2013 R1200RTS can be found for around $6,000, while the R1200GS, introduced in 2004, might list for $1,000 more on average. These used bikes often have more miles than the average motorcycle, but BMW owners also tend to load up their rides with very useful and expensive accessories. Some owners report occasional issues with the final drive and oil leaks toward the back of the engine, especially on the left side where the rear drive attaches to the crankcase, so check these areas carefully.
The iconic six-cylinder Honda Gold Wing ’s long-range credentials are impeccable, but many people don’t realize how capable this bike is for sport-style riding on a twisty road. With a new-for-2018 Wing on the way, the pressure to upgrade might put more of these machines on the used market. Careful shopping might net you an earlier 1800 for $8,000 to $10,000 with acceptable miles on the clock. Otherwise renowned for their reliability, bikes from 2002 did suffer a recall for a chassis defect, so check carefully if you find one from that year.
If that’s too much money, the similarly excellent Gold Wing 1500 can be found for thousands less, alongside Honda’s V-4-powered ST1300 and older ST1100 sport-touring bikes.
Harley-davidsons abound on the Iron Butt listings, with the Road Glide and Road King featuring prominently.
These are long, heavy machines, but a low seat height boosts popularity. Sticking to the big V-twin equation is a given for Harley-davidson, but engine specifics have changed frequently, with displacement growing steadily. Both models from the 2004–2006 era sell for $8,000 and up, sometimes with shockingly low miles on the odometer.
Yamaha’s FJR1300 has likewise evolved through a number of iterations since its introduction in the US in 2002. Look for second-generation bikes released from 2006–2012, which will set you back $5,000 to $8,000. The AE models offer a semiautomatic transmission. Another popular IBA choice from Yamaha is the adventure-ready Super Ténéré. It launched in 2010, and that comparative newness pushes its used price up a bit. Expect to spend $8,000 to $10,000 for a nicely equipped bike.
The Kawasaki Concours 14 delivers big power and long-ranger credentials, making it a standout since its introduction in late 2007. And they’re a bargain. The stingy and speedy can have one of these big, brilliant bikes for as cheap as $5,500. For smaller riders or smaller wallets, the Kawasaki Versys 650 has gained an enthusiastic following, along with the Suzuki V-strom 650. Both can be easily located for well under $5,000. With so many long-legged bikes available for cheap, there’s no excuse to not get out and ride.
Yamaha’s FJR1300 is an attractive option with attractive options.
Relatively unfiddled with since 2007, the Kawasaki Concours 14 is a
The list of Iron Butt Rally finishers reads like a Who’s Who of