1975 - 1979 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing
The D-Type “Dream” of 1949 may have put Honda on the map, but it was the U.S. release of the Gold Wing in 1975 that eventually made the marque a power in the American touring market. Originally built as a power-cruiser, the domestic consumers had a different purpose in mind — long-distance touring — and with that a legend was born. The basic parameters had been established that would go on to create a family of bikes that, to this day, serve as a staunch competitor to American manufacturers Indian and Harley-Davidson, and enjoy a reputation for speed and agility as well as comfort.
2020 BMW F 900 XR
BMW buffed its mid-size adventure-bike range with the new-for-2020 F 900 XR model that builds on the equally new F 900 R roadster. The XR is built as an on-road tourbike/commuter on a new chassis with a new plastic-welded gas tank and a handful of top-drawer electronic safety and ride-quality control features to polish off the package. A new parallel-twin engine drives the XR with nearly 100 ponies on tap to drive your asphalt adventures.
2019 - 2020 Yamaha Tracer 900 / Tracer 900 GT
Yamaha was busy last year adding a brand-new name and refurbished looks to its lineup with the Tracer 900 and a slightly more tour-tastic Tracer 900 GT. Fans of the FJ models — and indeed the FZ/MT-09 range — will recognize the 113-horsepower, 847 cc triple and adventuresome flavor of this new sport-touring family. The base model landed somewhere near the “sport” end of the sport-tour spectrum, though it wasn’t carried forward to 2020 in our market. The GT model is a bit more balanced with a set of hard-side panniers that provides some secure dry storage and a host of features that long-distance riders will certainly appreciate.
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
Kawasaki steps up its game ahead of the 2020 model year with new body components, updated electronics, and a smoother-running engine for its Ninja 1000SX. The factory also tuned up the ergonomics in an effort to improve long-range comfort and even chucked on an adjustable clutch lever for a little bit of lagniappe. Improvements in rideability, control, and aesthetics join the liter-plus engine and Ninja pedigree to deliver a refined product to the masses.
2015 - 2020 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS
Kawasaki delivered the 2015 Concours 14 ABS with a whole slew of improvements over the prior year — some cosmetic and some for performance — and carried that over to 2020. At the core, the Kawasaki kept the 1,352 cc engine derived from the Ninja® ZX™-14R in a chassis tuned for touring. The sportbike DNA is quite evident in the overall styling, so whether you love it or hate it, you don’t ignore the Concours 14 ABS.
2019 - 2020 BMW R 1250 R / RS
BMW’s R 1250 base serves as a platform for a number of variants, including the more streetwise pair of models: the R 1250 R roadster and the sport-touring R 1250 RS. As their names suggest, the “R” is a sport-naked with minimal body cladding and an essential layout that wastes nothing on superfluous equipment, but like the yin to the R’s yang, the “RS” is more about long-range comfort. Toward that end, it sports a fullish front fairing complete with screen. Both ride on a common chassis and suspension system with a few color choices per model plus BMW’s Option 719 Spezial and a host of dedicated accessories across the board. A liter-plus engine delivers the goods with ride-quality features as standard equipment and a whole lot more as part of the optional ex werke gear.
2019 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
KTM has proven itself capable of producing competitive dirtbikes and popular streetbikes, and 2019 sees a next-gen Gran Turismo that targets the sport-tour genre for domination. Sure, the previous model set a pretty high standard, especially if you like your sport-tour Super Duke GT. Comfort and convenience were buffed along with the instrumentation, all with even more race-tacular tendencies due to the revised V-Twin powerplant and improved electronic aids
2015 - 2019 Yamaha FJR1300
The biggest sport-tourer in Yamaha’s lineup are better than ever. In 2016, the FJR1300A and its stablemate the FJR1300ES saw some evolutionary changes that brought just enough tweaks to make them smoother, more comfortable rides. Probably the biggest change in that update was in the transmission with the addition of a sixth gear and adding a slipper clutch to reduce hand fatigue at the clutch lever. Both of these tourers run a 1,298 cc liquid-cooled four-banger and come on a sportbike frame for a bit more thrill than just a tourbike.