“I NEED A MOTORCYCLE THAT CAN HANDLE BIG-ROAD TRAFFIC.”
A reader asked me the above question (in the subject line). She has already been riding two other bikes, so this wouldn’t be her first. My answer comprises the rest of this post, but I’d be more interested in your views of how to select a “highway motorcycle.” (Please add to comments below where it says “Leave a Reply”).
You ask an apt question and I believe there are many decent highway motorcycles. And in fact, your own personal interpretation of what best represents a highway motorcycle would be the primary determining factor since many modern midsize (and above) motorcycles operate quite well on highways.
Some folks might want a big bike with lots of luggage space, such as a Honda Goldwing, BMW GTL or one of Harley’s bigger touring bikes. However, for others, those machines are way too big, heavy and expensive.
A lighter and more agile type of machine would be a sports-tourer. These bikes take riders long-distances with luggage, quite comfortably. They also weigh less and cost less than the biggest touring machines. However, sport tourers are still big bikes, compared to most.
Some folks like the look and experience of cruisers, which have a tremendous variety of ways they can be customized, and they come in many different weights and engine sizes. They also generally sit lower to the ground, which, especially for shorter riders, is an important consideration.
If you ride a lot in all kinds of weather, you might want to consider a bike with a windshield, or adding a windshield to an existing motorcycle.
If you don’t mind a little extra weight and spending a little extra money, you might want to consider a motorcycle with a shaft drive, which is low maintenance.
Frankly, the above comments are merely a generalized overview, since every motorcycle represents a compromise of many factors, including:
- Design (tourer, sport-tourer, cruiser, adventure-tourer, standard….)
- Seat height
- Engine size
- Drive train (chain, belt, shaft)
- Available accessories (windshield, luggage, etc)
- And more
That’s a lot of stuff to contemplate and the reality is, any person might need to gain some years of experience riding on different bikes to develop enough personal perspective to determine what’s best for him/her.
Having said all that, if I were to answer your question as briefly as possible, I would boil it down to the following:
I would not suggest getting a bike that you, personally, consider too big or heavy, which can lower your confidence if you don’t feel you are always fully in control of it.
Any bike should be comfortable for you. Whether you prefer leaning forward, or leaning backward or sitting upright, there are different bikes that accommodate such positions. How easily it is to place your feet on the ground is important. You need to get on the bikes and experience them. Ideally, you should ride any specific bike before you pay for it, but that’s not easy to arrange with many dealers (at least in the United States), particularly if you are purchasing a new bike.
Finally, for many persons, price is as important a factor as any and you’re the only person who can evaluate that. Of course, buying a used motorcycle can save money and there are many great opportunities in buying a used bike, but other riders are comforted by a brand-new machine which, in most cases, shouldn’t have many hidden problems. (New bikes also have a warranty to handle certain problems that might present themselves, and in my experience, I’ve saved a lot of money with warranties).
Wishing you safe riding!
114 thoughts on ““What’s a Decent Highway Motorcycle?””
That is a pretty specific question, though the answer isn’t quite as clear cut.
The presumption here is that the person who wishes to have this sort of bike has a good idea of what they want to do with it. However, the author posed the question about a “highway touring bike,” when there are so many variations on that theme.
As others have opined, this can be a mostly straight line cruiser or heavy tourer, such as most Harleys and Victorys. These are going to be comfortable and convenient, but unwieldy when it comes to going around corners on backroad highways.
Others have expressed their preferences for the Honda ST11 and ST13, the Yamaha FJR13, and various BMWs. These would be those of a possibly more sporting bent, more willing to get off the interstate system and go to the mountains for those vistas.
Still more folks like so-called “adventure” bikes typified by the V-Strom, BMW GS, Triumph Tiger, and KTM Adventure. These folks want to be able to travel over rougher off-road terrain occasionally, and they are going to be taller people with enough inseam and strength to be able to ride these bikes.
Matter of fact, it seems to me after nearly 30 years riding that generally the people that ride any of these bike styles are going to be well experienced as well as possessed of average to above average height to be able to safety ride them.
I think it begins with an honest appraisal of what wants to do with this bike, one’s riding style, perhaps even the travel attitude they have. Sometimes I have wanted to get somewhere quickly, and this means using interstates almost exclusively. BIkes like the old GL1500 Wing, or 1100RT would devour the miles in comfort when the road itself is not very demanding technically, just kind of “boring.”
I have ridden with people who want nothing to do with the interstate, and have lots of time to go explore, so they have gravitated to the sport tourer. Their greater handiness (though still usually fairly heavy at 550lbs+) means they can be ridden on mountain roads and this “fun” aspect to their ride governs the choice of this type of bike.
Others want a more elemental experience but at a slower pace, hence the traditional cruiser. The feel of the wind and the sound of the bike allows them to simply ride, so while they may not be as comfortable as a true “touring bike” may let them be, or not as capable as a dual sport/adventure, or as good around corners as a sport tourer, this large segment of the riding public gravitates toward these bikes, especially because manufacturers of them tend to emphasize the social engagement of the cruise riders.
Finally, even a relatively light “standard” type bike with a fork mounted windshield, throw-over soft saddlebags and a decent seat, such as one of the Honda CB1100s, BMW R1200R, Triumph Bonneville T100 make for a much lighter bike for those smaller in stature that allow some comfort in almost any riding situation. These bikes will be the lightest, handiest, and easiest to deal with around towns and cities, slow speed riding, parking lots, and they are elemental without all the ’emotional baggage’ of other types of bikes. You don’t buy these to join a group, as much as you ride one because I might surmise you go your own way.
Any of these bikes will do in a pinch. Where is your bias? .Mostly the question posed here I think will determine a lot. Given physical fitness, adequate inseam and strength, and maybe three years of daily riding experience beforehand, any of these types of bikes will get the job done, but the personality of the rider and his or her desire for a particular kind of “highway” “riding” is going to be the main determinant.
Sorry if that sounds like a lot of gibberish. While I have spent most of my life riding the sport tourers, as I get a bit older I find myself wanting either something different from what I’ve ridden before, or something with more comfort and convenience, or something significantly lighter. I still haven’t made up my mind, but the distinct marketing and functional groups of bikes available mean that “there’s a seat for every butt.”
Don’t have time to read all the great posts. Therefore, I would look at some of th
New offerings from Yamaha, Kawasaki, FJ-09 Versys 1000LT etc. I ride
a Super Tenere and love it for the road. BMW RT is one of the
Obvious choices is it’s within your budget? Today you can certainly
get more for less.
Have had motorcycles since I was 18. Now I’m 68. Riding a Honda CBR125R. Great for two-lane roads where the max speed is 80km/h. I do take it on the superslab on early Sunday mornings when the wind is behind me.
Yes, INDIAN MOUNTAIN ROADS are indeed without pavements.
Also to add to this thrill, most are without proper banking, most are filled with blind curves often with more than 45 degree gradient & more than 180 degree turns, most remote mountain roads are without ashphalt (or better still broken ashphalt with rutted hole lines created by Tractors or Indian Jeeps), most in the Southern parts pass through Tiger & Elephant habitats & most in the northern parts (Himalayas) are home to frequent land-slides, cloud-bursts during rainy season, flash floods over streams that overflow make shift bridges & in the higher altitudes pass through some of the highest mountain passes that are most of the times blocked by snow. Also, not to add the physical (& mental) taxation all over these !
“Absent pavements” do really sound like an understatement ! We in our complete sense (& one which we share with many of our brethren throughout this world) believe we live in the motorcycling NIRVANA ! And you are welcome to experience this ! MC in India is much much above high speed highway cruising. It will be an opportunity to test YOUR METTLE (& your machine’s off-course).
From my experience in these roads (& I have ridden in 3 other continents frequently during my business travels), I will any-day & every-day vouch for a MC that gives me just-enough power but also, superb manuverity & personal control ! And, with literally unbreakable parts ! Having used from 300cc to 1000cc’s, over years I have come to appreciate the 500 ~ 700 cc range much more than the heavier motorcycles.
Age & experience in riding is indeed a very crucial factor in making a MC choice.
Take care. Ride safe.
Depends on what a person likes.
I have been riding for about 9 years now (not much 🙂 ) but I have ridden in very diverse and sometimes, bad conditions like the mountains in India where there’s no pavement and 5000 ft drop on one side of the ride. USA has great roads but negligent drivers.
In my opinion, the bike should have enough capacity to pull you out of trouble on the freeway. If you are going 70 mph, it must be about 60-70% of the capacity so that you can quickly accelerate to 100 if needed to get out of a tight spot.
For sport bikes, I think 500-600cc is the minimum you should look at.
I am looking forward to buying a royal Venture in the next 2 months as I am tired of loud wind noise and the buffeting from trucks when I am on my sport bike.
Happy and safe riding!
i have been riding for 10 years and have mostly ridden cruisers, Honda Shadow, Kawasaki Vulcan, Harley Vrod…and now a Vulcan Voyager…I’m a big guy and am very comfortable with the big bikes, the Jap bikes are very balanced and haven’t given me any problems…with that said my recomendation is to get something with the power to pull away from trouble, and handle buffeting from trucks, trailers and weather…you’ll also need a windshield to block flying road junk, fairing is good for long distance because its true that the wind will wear you out…other than that try as many bikes as you can, talk to as many people as possible and take you time
Have fun see you on the road!!!
For a lady (or guy) I recommend a Honda ST1300.
If you like a particular brand, go with the lower slung types at the saddle. There are so many different types and styles, so in that you have to decide for yourself.
I too have been riding over 40 years. I now ride a HD SE Ultra Classic. For me, it is great around town and on the highway. We do at least one 3-4k trip every year. I see an ST1300 as the bike to have if you want the best compromise between a city bike and touring cruiser.
They are the choice for many police departments due to their handling and reasonable maintenance. Check one out and decide for yourself.
Good luck and see ya on the road!
Having read all the comments I find enough wisdom & good advice here.
After some 40+ years of riding and also owning and riding more than 20 bikes/scooters over the years, in all terrains and conditions. even after Goldwings and Suzuki Bergman 650cc Super Scoots, I have concluded that ‘Comfort’ is subjective, it changes substantially over the years with your age.
So…. For true comfort, a comfort that does not make you ache or become sore, a comfort that riding is ‘NOT’ an effort, the answer is the largest cruiser you feel able to manage.
Being able to keep up with traffic, good mileagle, almost no Maint, effortless rides, its a cruiser, hands down.
I recomment the Suzuki Boulevard Series, as comfortable and capable low maint as you are ever going to get. But NOT the 800cc model (Short Stroke/Horrible tiring vibration),
I recommend finally the Suzuki Boulevard MR109,
Cheap enough, superbly comfy, bulletproof, cheap to run. No vibration. Sure they are heavy, BUT so very well balanced you will never feel or realize the weight. (Shaft Drive too).
I’m 83 and been riding since the 50’s. My best ride is my current Burgman 650. It’s a Maxi scooter. It has many virtues. For instance top speed is over a hundred MPH. Extremely comfortable with lots of storage, electrically adjusted windshield no clutch handle or gear shift, automatic tranny made by Suzuki, ABS brakes, very capable for going cross country many more items I’m sure I have forgot. Don’t laugh because you think it’s only a scooter It will run all day at 80 with no strain. To get on you step through it in stead of throwing your foot over like a motorcycle.
The HONDA ST 1300 with ABS is my favorite long distance bike. 7 year unlimited mileage FACTORY warranty. Large gas tank (7.6 gallons). Nice electric shield. If you drop the bike it lands on engine guard protectors and none of the bike touches the pavement.
Very smooth running. Extremely dependable. Unfortunately for some weird reason Honda stopped importing them in 1212 altho one can still get the police model. The bike may still be available in Europe as the PAN EUROPEAN. Not sure.
A very dependable second bike is the Suzuki DL650 VSTROM. Great buy for the $$$.
I have owned and ridden many types of bikes during my life. I have been riding, all be it illegally at first, since I was 14. Three years ago I bought another Goldwing, a 1985 GL1200 Aspencade. I absolutely love my bike. I am only 5ft. 6 inches tall and weigh, depending upon the season, between 160 and 180 so I am not a big man by any stretch of the imagination. Yes the bike is big and yes it is heavy. However, if you take the time to learn how even a weakling can right this bike if it should ever be laid down. It is just a matter of learning the leverage points and knowing how to “lift” it. I love the ride and the quiet. It handles just as well as my 650 Yamaha did. I live and ride the mountain roads of North Carolina year round. I would be comfortable riding this bike to absolutely anywhere the road may ever lead me. The maintenance is easy even for the mechanically challenged – ME. The most difficult thing I have encountered is changing the tires, especially the rear and I have chosen to do all sorts of upgrades and/or other mechanical/electrical work on this bike. I don’t know if this will be the last bike I ever own , I am no 61, but I do know that I will always own a Goldwing!
I too ride a Burgman 650 Executive and at 75 years young I agree 100% with what you say. I ride with the Legion Riders regularly and most of them have Harleys with a bunch of trikes thrown in, they don’t have too much trouble keeping up with me.
I’m 82 maybe a little long in the tooth to ride but my ride is unbelievable. I ride a Burgman 650 maxi scooter. Many will scoff at my ride but consider the following. It will cruise at 85 all day on the interstate with a top speed of about 110! They are a step thru motorcycle (you don’t have to lift your foot over the bike to get on). They have a flawless transmission that’s automatic or 6 speed manual. There is no clutch handle.The new ones come with a electric windshield and ABS brakes. It is not like a Harley that you have to wash every time it rains.In fact I wash mine twice a year even if it doesn’t need it. Seat height is about 29.” With a top box I can store 5 bags of groceries. Plus it has ample room for storage under the seat. I go on group rides of 100 to 200 miles each week. Check them out at the Suzuki dealerships around the country.
Well choosing a bike for the higway shouldn’t be too complicated since all street legal bikes can be ridden out on the open road.
However, I will mention the following:
Even for a lady or a person of small stature, if you know you will be on the highway a lot I can assume your two wheeled machine is probably not going to be a tall, wind catching dual purpose or street legal dirt bike with street knobbie tires! Now with that said, stay away from the mopeds and scooters unless it’s 600 cc or something. So basically I’m suggesting a midsize bike in the 600 range for two reasons:
– you need a bike with some power (as mentioned below), getting out of the way can be very important. Don’t get a 250 or 300 or something.
– this size bike can still be more easily maneuvered and yet has some weight to it.
I also suggest wind protection!! a windshield is good but also pick a bike with a fairing to help direct the wind around you. Naked bikes can wear you out and beat you up. One reason I don’t like cruisers plus cruisers and harley’s are ugly to me. I like sport touring and adventure touring which are much more of a practical ride and handle best, all while having upright ergonomics (ergos).
If you don’t like maintaining a chain and sprocket then I would suggest a belt or shaft. Belts are best and lighter but if you go with a drive shaft then check for leaks often (but shouldn’t be a problem). Not a lot bikes have belts but the BMW F 800 GT does and is a good highway bike. P twins and V twins are good choices for highway motors too. I also like the Suzuki V Strom but it does have a chain. The V Strom 650 is also low to the ground and good for all road conditions too. Interestingly I don’t see a lot of these bikes on the road, everybody wants an ugly heavy noisy cruiser. Loud pipes saves egos’s, but I will say being able to hear your bike over the traffic can aid you in your riding.
While I’m at it, also pick a bike with fuel injection and a hydraulic clutch lever and possibly a fuel gauge. Okay happy motorcycling, and nice to see more female riders!
Wondering why a string over a month old is just now hitting my mailbox?
Even so, some good and helpful information in the above comments.
I’ve been riding since I was 17 years old. At 63, my needs have changed greatly over the years, but also how I use the bikes as well.
When young, it was mostly cheap transportation. So a 69 BSA 650 Thunderbolt and next a 74 Kawasaki KZ400 filled the bill. Both were excellent transportation, but mostly used for commuting. Not exactly touring bikes. So, as in the above comments, go 750+ if you’re planning on taking any trips.
In one of the prior comments, it was said Harley’s are high maintenance. I call BS on that one. I’ve had had many makes of bikes and they all require similar maintenance, depending on how they are set up. Carbureted, vs Electronic Fuel Injection, chain vs shaft or belt drive, etc. They all will have something that will need to be done, no matter who makes them.
In the larger displacement bikes I’ve owned, the Goldwings needed as much work at the Harleys I’ve had. I now have had a 2007 CVO Ultra Classic the last three years and it has been one of the best bikes I’ve ever owned, with “0” issues. But, I check the oil, tires and fluids regularly and change them when needed. Not a big deal.
With the needs of a woman in mind, Harley has come up with a few smaller bikes that can hang with the big boys any day. They have a Sportster called the Super Low that might work well for you. But there are a few others in that price range of $8 – 11,000. Keeping in mind, any bike you buy will have to be adapted to your riding taste, so you may end up spending a few hard earned bucks extra to make it just right for you.
Don’t forget your riding gear. Helmets, protective gear such as jackets, pants, and boots are a necessity if you’re to have a safer riding experience.
The other thing many don’t think about is rider training. The MSF type classes generally help you obtain a riding endorsement on your license, but only gives you a start on rider safety skills development. There are some great skills development classes out there. One of the best being “Ride like a Pro”, both Florida and California have classes. I’m talking slow speed turning maneuvers, that most bikers I’ve seen have trouble with, therefore causing them to have to do the duck walk in tight turns. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to just whip your bike around, feet on the pegs, while others are doing the walk?
There are most likely classes in your area, just Google motorcycle rider safety or skills courses and you’ll get a few in your area.
Most of the major bike makers have bikes that will work for you. Don’t be shy about going in and talking with them. I’d look at them all and make my decision based on what you believe is the best for you. Not based on what we think.
Good luck and I hope to see ya on the road!
When ever the subject comes up about a motorcycle for a woman rider I always tell them to check out one of the great unsung bikes made. The Honda PC800, Pacific Coast. Mind you, this bike is not just for women.
The Pacific Coast, built in 89 – 90, 94 – 98, has shaft drive, no maintenance hydraulic lifters, low profile for short legged riders, inclosed 24 liter saddle bags for carrying just about all you need to do a weekend 1000 mile ride. They are comfortable for long distances, easy to handle in traffic, powerful enough to get out of harms way.
The engines are near bullet proof; 319,000 is the recorded record for longevity without overhaul.
There are dedicated loyal riders who have been riding theirs since they bought new off the dealers floor. There are riders who sold theirs, lament the decision and pitifully tell others of their loss, and either wish they had them back or go out and find another to buy.
This is a motorcycle that you just check and change the fluids. The get on and ride efficiency of the PC, makes me consider it to be one of the most beautiful designed bikes made. It has a simple but luxurious Acura design brought to the efficiency of a Honda motorcycle drive train. While some think its butt ugly, others appreciate the simple beauty of its clean looks and styling. With it’s enclosed trunk, that holds most helmets and riding gear, it was, and still is, the perfect commuter motorcycle. And commuting means riding in heavy traffic.
But this beauty will still get out and give you the ride you need and want. The PC will perform well at sea level or 11,000 feet. It will keep up and maneuver in Atlanta I 95 traffic, handle the canyon carving curves of US 89 along the Snake River with ease, be comfortable for that long distance ride across I 70 in Kansas, or just taking it out for the leisurly Sunday afternoon ride.
Hope this helps with you choice. skye
I ride either a Suzuki GS500E or, for decidedly longer trips, the Honda ST1300. They are both good highway bikes. My favorite mods include: the right windshield and a comfortable seat. I agree that hearing protection should be worn as most people underestimate the damage done by sustained wind noise at 65-75 mph. I also usually stop every 100-150 miles to stretch. Riding-touring is such a great adventure. I plan to keep doing it until my eyes quit working.
Three main things would be critical to “what makes a good highway bike”, IMHO.
1) What are the ergonomics like? Can you ride it for 500 miles and get off it feeling fresh as a daisy?
2) What is the vibration factor? Does the motor want to rattle the teeth out of your head, or is it smooth as silk?
3) Does it have enough Juice to GET OUT OF THE WAY when you need to, and will it stop on a dime, fully loaded. (This applies to any bike, really)
My 1992 BMW K75 fills all these requirements beautifully.
We do meet so-many different types of personalities on the ride, don’t we ? The veterans, the ever enthusiasts, the crass newbies, the rocksters, the speedsters, the snobbies (like the guy mentioned in the previous post) ! In fact a vital element of motorcycling is interacting with unknown people & their culture for sure. Its the single reason other than the freedom that attracts me to motorcycling.
However, over years one understanding I have developed is to be careful & not to expect a positive response every time. Some type of people are inherently abhorent of external contacts & while motorcycling solo (that I do most often), personal safety is definitely my top criterion. Infact I feel more at ease while riding through desolate terrain than while stopping for the day at an unknown locale. I try to be as much defensive as possible & give opportunity to the people opposite to reach out. Being the old foggy that I am, most folk have a word or two to share, sometimes a story over a bottle of beer. Some people are visibly enamoured by the life on 2 wheels & when they see one close, they soak in all the aura. Most country folk are extremely hospitable & wont mind me camping on their backyards for the night or inviting me over the dinner for stories. City people are less mingling & will leave you to your own device. The persona of a motorcyclist (a dedicated one at that) is still so romanticised all over the world, it makes me continue riding even after all these years.
However not all responses are hospitable. Young folk are particularly drawn to newer things (like we used to in our days) & look up to us as if from an ancient era. Their bikes (& cages) are jazzy and speedy and they have the cash (unlike we used to in our hey days) to enjoy in other ways. You can see the jeer in their glances when you walk past them in the parking lot or overtake their cage on the highway. Also people from certain regions or groups are known to be infamously hostile. Not that all will be such, but once known, the level of security in one’s mind automatically increases. I dont let these affect my overall experience of the ride though.
You live only once. So take care. Ride safe.
I’ve been riding for well over 25 years, and I have never had any problems with any one that I met on the road, I have met some very nice/good folks, but this summer while riding I stopped at a gas station where several HD rider were at. I greeted a couple of them and one rider out of the blue made a extremely racial comment at me….I couldn’t believe what I heard.. it was something I was not expected, his bubbys sort of laughted… I tried to ignore it, but I had to say something to him…As he was the last one to be gassing up I appraoched him and asked him, to explain himself, and why he needed to make that comment at me someeone he had never met… The funny thing was that he wouldn’t look at me …he got his gas and rode off…I dont know what I would have done if his buddys would have came back. but that incident could have ruin my day, I’m glad I asked him….It was a weird incident..I think they renrted the bikes and their outfits, I guess they werent real riders…
@ Buddy : +1
Particularly if you are here in India ( or, visit INDIA ) ! You may be tempted to ride a MC here but be careful, cause, nobody, read NOBODY (not even LAW ENFORCEMENT), follows lane discipline here. And traffic is really heavy inside any metro city !
It’s will be a real test of your reflex & road temperament when you wanna maintain that little gap with the cab ahead of you while a biker swerves beside you from another lane with no indication whatever to utilise that USEFUL space !
Or, while in a turn & being on your safest corner, you suddenly see that school bus (yeah ! read right) advancing TOWARDS YOU to enter an apartment on the wrong side !
To people who ride / drive every single day on these roads, it SHOULD & DOES become second nature to respond correctly !
Otherwise, one just drops out.
The Bike doesn’t make or break traffic use, the rider and what he or she can handle makes a traffic rider. A new rider I suggest stay out of heavy traffic till you have the riding experence to deal with heavy traffic.
All Good Replies and Really No Wrong Answers .. Without being more specific will just say Check them all out and find what stands out for you .. I have logged 300,000 Miles since I retired 10 years ago and Done it all from Backroads to SuperSlabs in Major Cities .. I assume by Big Road Traffic you mean Traffic like Semi Trucks and the like and for this reason I would say make 650 cc the Lower Limit for speed and weight both .. i have seen the High Winds of the Dakotas literally Blow Smaller weight Motorcycles right off the road .. I have laso had to use speed to get of trouble many times, much more so than having the best ABS Brakes available which were useless in some situations .. Putting it simply .. If want to run with the Big Dogs Have enough Weight and Power to do so and still be in control of what you are Riding ..
John, that is very good advice, very straightforward.
I’ve ridden a number of bikes, and currently have a bmwr1150gs. I believe any large, 1000+cc bike is likely to be too heavy. She should visit a few dealers and with help see what kind of weight she can pick up. No one should ride a bike they cannot pick back up. I’ve helped a number of people pick up their 800 lb bikes. Ridiculous.
Look at the new honda nc700 – very low center of gravity, good torque, fine at most highway speeds and a comfortable upright position. Ditto earlier recommendations for the Suzuki vstrom 650. Borgman or BMW scoters. Bonneville t100 maybe.
Best advice is to try riding different types – buy used and maintain them vigorously and most will do well. A key note is distance and time. Commuting 30 minutes on a highway is very different from going on a few long trips each year with 400+miles/day.
Last note – wear ear plugs at highway speeds.
Hi…i am a relatively new rider and ride a Ridley Autoglide 2006 750cc. It is only 460 pounds so i am not too hip on riding on the freeway. i would like more power and a little extra weight as well as more luggage room if i was riding long distances. There is no back support so really not suited for long distances. But great starter bike.
I’ve had three BMW’s and prefer my Yamaha FJR1300. Have been a member of BMWMOA for 15 years and can see the same problems over and over with the bikes. Rear end failure still an issue as are other problems with a so-called “reliable” bike. Like the H-D, it is high-priced and high-maintenance. Now BMW has caught on and going to the inline four with water cooling and wet clutch.
I do mostly cross country and don’t want problems on the road with dealers so few and far between for BMW. I’ve had my FJR for ten years and 68K miles and only one repair as such—replaced the cam chain tensioner, otherwise, the usual wear replacements. A user-friendly bike. Also the splines and rear end gears are still sharp-edged like new. \
Of course, there are other models to fill the bill.
I have the BMW F800ST version with belt drive and love it, but have also experienced some trouble with the front belt drive sprocket working loose then drilling its way through the plastic cover and my boot. Only mention this because it could be dangerous in my opinion and a very expensive fix.
BMW however arrogantly refuse to accept there could be a problem.
My next bike will be a Triumph…
Try the BMW f800st or gt. It gets over 50mpg, has a belt drive, can carry a fair amount of stuff, handles well, and you can ride all day.
I also recommend the Suzuki V-Strom. I ride a 2012 650DL ABS, and it is not only reliable, but comfortable. True, one needs long legs for this bike, but it handles well, is nimble, gets 50-55 mpg and can go the distance.
A BMW R1200r. Shaft drive naked bike that can be panniered and topcased for touring and commuting. Smooth, unflappable on the highway, ABS and traction control. Bulletproof boxer twin and 50plus mpg at 60+mph. Mine handles Chicago’s gusts, heat and underwater highway runs effortlessly.
If you think the GS is too tall and top heavy, this is the same bike at a far more user friendly form factor.
What type of bike?
I on average do 84,000 Km a year travelling and commuting to work , After many bikes, I now ride a Storm (Suzuki Dual Purpose)
The road conditions in South Africa, including the congestion and sometimes the dirt tracks, bush roads, make sure that a person needs something more fit for every condition. For me its the comfortable seating and position, power and agility to manoeuvre when needed. Fitted with heated grips, extended raised screen, road tyres , means I have everything under one bike for any condition and type of road.
I remember the Cushman Eagle scooter. I’ve had three BMW’s but prefer my Yam FJR 1300 with its excellent engine and reliability. Also low maintenance cost as is user friendly with 26,000 mile valve check interval. One repair in 66,000 miles–cam chain tensioner. Drive shaft splines are like new. And all on 87 octane. I have done 1,000 and 2,000 mile Iron Butt runs with it. Long cross country runs are a snap with it.
The best bike was a Cushman,Eagle…top speed was about 45 with the wind at your back… but a better bike is BMW R 1100, handles long distances well (600 to 700 miles a day) depending on my condition, handles all the gear needed for long distances,speeds at 75 gives me approx. 45 to 50 miles per gallon(depending on road conditions) speeds at 85 to 90 my MPG drops to about 41/42…. its a very basic bike, no extras on my bike..just good tires and a positive attitude..Enjoy the open road.
TRIUMPH ROCKET 1600 or even Bonneville America 865 (UK)
Great all-round cruisers, good on twisties, easy and comfortable to ride and handle like no other.
I too at 74 ride a Burgman 650. I believe it’s just the thing for us old geezers. It’ll keep up with anything at highway speeds and as Ron says, it will do it all day long at 50+ MPG. Plus carry all the gear you need without saddle bags or top bags.
I’m just a bit older than you, Ron, but still riding my FJR, but have been looking at the Burgman Executive and comparing to BMW scooter. Not sure if I am ready to give up on the FJR as it is a great bike. Tentative plans to go to Americade then to BMW meet in Oregon–I’ve had three BMW’s the last one a 2005 RT. Still prefer the FJR, although still belong to BMWMOA.
I have put on over 100k on a couple Goldwings over the years, and they were a great ride. However at 75 I don’t take many long rides, so I switched to a Suzuki Bergman 650. I can tell you this is the best all around bike I have owned. Not the comfort of a Gold Wing, but will run all day at freeway speeds, and with a little air cushion, the back side still feels good, and fifty miles per gal. don’t bother me either. I rode four days in the Ozarks a couple of years ago, and the only bikes that were faster, were 250cc Scooters.
PS. The Bergman handles side winds almost as well as the Goldwing did.
My comment will not really help at all Because i stopped riding on the street i spend all my riding on the Race track
I would say the most important points will be is don’t get a Sport bike anything where you
get source music
Nothing to heavy or big for your size very important ( you want to pick it up your self if it falls down )
Your decision on having wind screen or having bugs in your mouth that is a personal thing
And do not wear any yellow vest when trailing it makes people look at you and not focus on where they are going
Hop this helps Good Luck
I have ridden my 750 Shadow Phantom in all kinds of weather for 60,000 miles in the last 2 years. Am looking at $80 handlebar risers and having my seat re-done. Otherwise I can ride the interstate’s no problem. Suggest a good windshield for comfort and good footpegs. I have also learned that adjusting my shocks for the ride and any weight increases always makes the ride better. She handles the twisties real well, better than I can I believe and is easy in the parking lot. When you and th bike become one, riding is just so much nicer. May upgrade to the new Yamaha 1300 tourer.
I have owned 10 bikes and by far the BMW R1200GS is the best road bike I have ever owned. I bought it thinking it was good for dirt and gravel forest roads and was surprised how superior it was on the highway. Handles like a dream, carries everything you could imagine taking with you, smooth and plenty of power, tons of accessories made for it and great innovations make this the best in my humble opinion.
I rode my Kawasaki VN2000-A from Baltimore MD to Vancouver BC and back the summer before last. 8000 miles in 4 weeks, though 2 weeks were spent not riding. Very comfortable, got good gas mileage out of it. It was great on the straight roads in the plains, and the twisties in the mountains. Though when I got to Hwy 2 in Grand Falls ND and my GPS said next right turn 525 miles, I was a little concerned… 😉
Asking what motorcycle will handle “Big Road” traffic infers that this rider is not yet experienced enough to be in heavy traffic yet. Motorcycles do not handle traffic, the rider handles traffic.
What type of heavy traffic; high speed like I-5 through California’ crowded like L.A. freeway rush hour; downtown L.A. traffic? Downtown Las Vegas where drivers can be distracted by the casinos and people? If the question is which motorcycle is good for long distance; I suggest getting a motorcycle that has or can accommodate carrying your needs. One that has a reasonable fuel capacity and is equipped to keep bugs and road debris off your teeth, and does not vibrate to the extent you become numb in a few hours.
Everybody has their personal favorite. I have found the Honda Shadow Aero 750 is an ideal bike for the ladies. It has enough power to keep up with the big boys and run at interstate speeds. It has a low center of gravity and a low seat, so even the shortest people can plant their feet firmly on the ground at a stop. It’s light weight compared to other cruisers. A wide variety of aftermarket accessories are available for this bike to equip it nicely for highway cruising and long road trips. The Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT is another good choice. It comes already equipped with accessories such as a windshield and saddlebags that the Honda does not come with. All of the Japanese cruisers and touring bikes would be a good choice. The bottom line is what you are comfortable with and what you can afford.
I have ridden bikes all my life, that saying, it would really not matter a lot to me what I am riding for my next long distance tour, provided I have ridden it at-a-stretch for a whole day (read 16 hours) & come back with no / minimal back pains & no handling woes.
Off-course I have my preferences; a relaxed sitting posture, a seat & footrest on which one can shift positions while riding & a comfortably agile handling. Also, a good ground clearance incase the route travels through mild to heavy gravel paths.
Another non-riding but decisive factor that applies in my case (may not be for others) is, IT should be something I can PUSH over to the side or in the worst case, for the last few kms on a really unlucky day (mechanical off-course & I have faced a number of those).
Having said this, I definitely would not take a bike for a long ride, whose working philosophy I don’t know or can’t check / repair MYSELF alone, incase of a failure.
Also, I usually travel very light with just a saddle bag catering to all my needs for months end. Somehow it’s my motorcycling philosophy; that the less I carry, the more FREE I can feel into the ride.
Apart from the above factors, it really doesn’t matter what I ride (and I have ridden a good number of different types of machines). What matters most in almost all cases is where I ride & how the roads / scenery / people will be.
If your legs are long enough, I’d recommend the Suzuki V-Strom, either the DL650 or DL1000. Many riders do 2-up on the 650, but others prefer the extra power of the 1000. The ergonomics are such that all day riding is not much of a problem. Sidebags and topcases can be added at reasonable cost to provide adequate luggage space. Mileage will be around 50 for the 650 and around 40 for the 1000. My only complaint is a relatively high center of gravity. If you put your foot down and it starts to slide on sand or mud, you will have to fight the bike to keep it upright. Otherwise, the V-Stroms, especially the 650, are considered by many owners as the most versatile combination of performance/handling and riding comfort at just about any price. As close to a perfect compromise as possible.
First of all, my comments come from 60 years of riding (I am 78) and putting on at least 20,000 a year 24/7/365 as I am in Florida and most of it is on open roads (not Xways they kill bikers). So riding back roads you will mostly be averaging around 45 mph if it is curvy and 55-60 if it is straight. The main purpose of road riding is rubbernecking so get a bike with laid back ergonomics, no crotch rocket as they are hard on the hands. A cruiser is the most comfortable with the exception of the world benchmark Gold Wing which is really a cruiser and a tourerer. You can add bags and windshield to a cruiser to make it a tourerer for far less total money. At today’s gas prices, most top quality cruisers get 45-50 mpg and cost a shade under $15000. That makes your insurance less too. My own steed is the perfect example of a perfect cruiser. It’s a Suzuki Intruder 1500 LC with all the toys including the most important feature for my butt, Mustang Seats. It has the required shaft drive, the smooth engine, the reliability and low maintenance of a metric, uses Regular grade fuel and will return 45 mpg consistently. We used to ride 2-up and it was comfortable for my 68 YO wife, but now she is back on her own loaded cruiser (75 mpg), a Honda Rebel Trike (bad knees). We are planning another 3500 mile month long trip in July from Florida to Oswego NY to Mich to Iowa to Indy and home and both bikes will handle the long days and long miles just fine. I am a big guy and she is a small woman, so it is important that both bikes fit our statures as we will ride 3-400 miles each day playing tourists. Nobody needs 1000cc’s to travel leisurely, so why pay for it? I bought mine used or I would have opted for around 800cc if buying new. Some years ago we two Floridians rode to Dallas and back then to Oswego and back with many Smokie mountain trips inbetween, all on single cylinder 250cc full size Yamaha road bikes, so a big engine is not required. What is required is comfort for the rider in both safe handling, weight (you should be able to pick it up solo) and economical (no Premium). Cost?? Don’t take any more out of your interest paying savings account than is necessary to pay cash. Forget image, those guys just like to huff and puff while paying out the nose. There are many many better choices out there for the long haul from Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, BMW and Triumph that won’t break the bank or your butt. Finally, it is not important WHAT you ride, but THAT you ride. Always wear a helmet so you don’t look stupid, and remember when on the highways and byways, Low five the other bikers and High five the LEO’s who protect you. Just the view from my saddle…..
First of all you need to define what will be the main use of the bike as you just can’t have something sitting unused for weeks/months at a time.
So then you need somehing that’s good for commuting plus the long haul touring rides. Do you want to carry extra and maybe a trailer, one up or two up. The choices slowly dwindle and then you come down to the maintenance side. do you want to adjust your drive chain every so often while on tour? No, is my answer, so shaft drive is the go, or maybe belt (???).
In Australia I had to consider remote fuel locations, will the bikes range allow you to do 300kms minimum (with trailer) before reserve. The choices reduce to less than a handful over here. We ended up with the 1999 Honda ST1100ABS. Nothing came close except maybe the BMW R1200RT or similar.
I ride two up 75% of the time and tow a trailer 50% of the time and the 1100 fits that role perfectly for us.
Six years and 138,000kms (we bought used) later it’s been trouble free except for the usual maintenance items.
By definition highway travel is mid to long distance. Here in South Africa the bike of choice for this (by an overwhelming margin) is BMW’s 1200GS. If the lady is a shorty look at something else but if average in height the lower saddle will suffice. For the long distance and mucho luggage application this bike has so much in the way of accessories available its a delight. It is responsive and handles great – surprisingly so. I have owned a number a bikes and still do (all Superbikes) but if I had to settle for a single bike it would be one of these. Full fairing bikes are not an essential issue but if this is what pushes her buttons take the 1200RT. You cant go wrong and resale values are pretty solid.