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PASSPORTS TO TOURING: 7 of the best touring bikes

Posted on 19 March 2017

It goes without saying that touring on a motorcycle beats going around on all other forms of transportation. Adventure, total freedom, being apart of the scenery, taking in the sights and sounds without barrier. While you could tour on just about any motorcycle, those built specifically for sport and adventure-touring take you there in comfort and safety, besides covering vast distances in relatively short times. Here is a collection of a few of the best ones:

BMW R 1200 GS
This bike requires no introduction, as no other is more synonymous with adventure-touring than the R 1200 GS.

It ticks all the right boxes for being the benchmark: Handling, comfort, reliability, practicality, and the ability to lug loads of any imaginable size. It’ll go anywhere. That explains why it’s the best-selling bike in Europe for so many years.

Go for the Adventure version (popularly known as the GSA) if you like riding for long distances without stopping.


Engine: 1170 cc, Flat-Twin (Boxer)
Power: 125 bhp @ 7,750 RPM
Torque: 125 Nm @ 6,500 RPM
Fuel capacity: 20 litres
Seat height: 850 – 870 mm
Dry weight: 205 kg


BMW S 1000 XR
While the R 1200 GS is for the adventure-touring segment, the S 1000 XR is for road-based sport-touring.

The inline-Four engine is adopted from the super fast S 1000 RR, and uses BMW’s signature Dynamic ESA suspension. It’s skewed pretty much toward speed hence its aggressive looks.

The bike rides pretty well and eats up the kilometres like termites chewing up a wooden house – fast and efficient.


Engine: 999 cc, inline-Four
Power: 160 bhp @ 11,000 RPM
Torque: 112 Nm @ 9,250 RPM
Fuel capacity: 20 litres
Seat height: 840 mm
Dry weight: 228 kg


DUCATI 950 MULTISTRADA
New for 2017, the baby Multistrada aims to provide riders with a simpler (and more affordable) Ducati touring experience.

The 937cc engine is shared with the Hypermotard and new Supersport, and there’s no Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) to allow for Cornering ABS and Cornering Lights, nor is there the Skyhook 2 semi-active suspension. The swingarm is also a conventional double-sided type. There is still traction and ABS, though.

Removing the electronics didn’t make the bike less enjoyable; instead it gives riders more confidence without having to worry about the electron pushers and return the unadulterated pleasure of riding back to the rider.


Engine: 937 cc, 90-degree V-Twin
Power: 113 bhp @ 9,000 RPM
Torque: 96.2 Nm @ 7,750 RPM
Fuel capacity: 20 litres
Seat height: 840 mm
Dry weight: 205.7 kg

KTM 1090 ADVENTURE
The KTM 1050 Adventure was meant to welcome newbies into the Austrian manufacturer’s adventure-touring world, but found its way into the hands of veterans and hence the main complaint was the lack of power. So KTM responded with the 1090 Adventure. The 1090 retains all the fun aspects of its predecessor but the engine (although still 1050cc) has been fed steroids formulated by Arnie and now punches out 125 bhp compared to 95 bhp previously, while losing 7 kg.

Sweet.


Engine: 1050 cc, 75-degree V-Twin
Power: 125 bhp @ 8,500 RPM
Torque: 108.5 Nm @ 6,500 RPM
Fuel capacity: 23 litres
Seat height: 850 mm
Dry weight: 205 kg

KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT
Reading that it’s based on the 1290 Super Duke R would already have you (rightly) guessing about the GT’s character.

The GT was probably conceived by an Austrian who’s had “a few” drinks, deciding it was a great idea to build a 180 bhp motorcycle with panniers to get to the beer factory in record time.

Jokes aside, the GT is the fastest bike in this group. That nuclear powerplant-like engine blasts through everything so fast you’ve already reached your destination even before you realized. It’ll wheelie through the first four gears with traction control off, and turn your knee sliders into molten plastic in corners. Forget sport-touring: This is aggressive-touring.

But that’s just part of the story. The GT is one very well rounded pussycat, with the ability to ride as slow as you want and as fast as you dare. The WP semi-active suspension is well sorted for all rider and luggage loads, besides riding modes. The handling is so acutely tuned you’d be a (much) better rider than you thought you were. Electronic goodies include Cornering Lights, Hill Hold Control, Motorcycle Stability Control, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, et al.

That power, though.


Engine: 1301 cc, 75-degree V-Twin
Power: 173 bhp @ 9,500 RPM
Torque: 144 Nm @ 6,700 RPM
Fuel capacity: 23 litres
Seat height: 835 mm
Dry weight: 228 kg


TRIUMPH TIGER 800
Want a bike with great balance in power, handling, comfort, practicality and utility? A bike that exudes so much confidence you’d feel like a hero?

Then look no further than the Triumph Tiger 800.

Triumph made the Tiger 800 such a great bike by adopting the best features found in their line-up, then equip it with top-notch WP suspension. The electronic rider aid is uncanny suited to any riding condition. As a result, it seems like you can’t do anything wrong. Smooth roads, bad roads, dry roads, wet roads, offroad, no road – the Tiger brushes off adversity like James Bond dispatching the baddies while adjusting his cuff links.

No surprise that there was a six-month waiting list when it was first launched.

Engine: 799 cc, Inline-Triple
Power: 94 bhp @ 9,250 RPM
Torque: 79 Nm @ 7,850 RPM
Fuel capacity: 19 litres
Seat height: 840 – 860 mm (790 – 810 mm with low seat)
Dry weight: 221 kg


YAMAHA MT-09 TRACER (FJ-09)
The MT-09 Tracer (known as the FJ-09 in the US), is Yamaha’s answer to the fast growing middleweight touring market.

Based on the rip roaring MT-09 naked bike, the Tracer is duly fast and quick on its feel, but much more comfortable for long distance hauls. Thickly padded split seats, aerodynamic bodywork, multifunction LCD instrument cluster, longer suspension springs and built-in attachments for hard luggage round off its sport-touring features.


Engine: 847 cc, Inline-Triple
Power: 115 bhp @ 9,250 RPM
Torque: 87.5 Nm @ 7,850 RPM
Fuel capacity: 18 litres
Seat height: 815 mm
Wet weight: 210 kg

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