The tricky thing about the concept of touring is, it means a lot of things to a lot of riders. Do you want to take a pillion out with you, or would you rather ride by yourself? Are we talking about flawlessly planned and executed stops at predetermined hotels and restaurants along the way, or are we motocamping whenever and wherever we feel like it? Most of all, will this trip be on-road, off-road, or some combination?
There’s clearly a lot to consider, and all those factors mean your perfect workhorse may be the total antithesis of anyone else’s. For our purposes, we’re contemplating new bikes available for sale in 2019. If you’d rather grab a used Caponord for your upcoming trip through Canada on your way to ride the Denali Highway, we will a) not blame you in the slightest, and b) certainly not stop you.
The best touring bike for you, no matter who you are, is the bike you’ll actually tour on. It doesn’t have to cost as much or more than a car, either—although it also totally can, if that’s what you want. Finally, your perfect tourer may not be on this list—but you might want to check anyway, just in case it is.
Original article published October 7, 2013; updated December 3, 2019.