A touring motorcycle is a type of motorcycle designed for touring. Although any motorcycle can be used for this purpose, manufacturers have developed specific models designed to address the particular needs of these riders. Touring motorcycles commonly have large displacement fairings and windshields that offer a high degree of weather and wind protection, large-capacity fuel tanks for long ranges between fill-ups, engines with a great deal of low-end horsepower, and a more relaxed, upright seating position than sport bikes. These motorcycles can be further divided into multiple sub-categories, which are commonly used terms within the motorcycle industry.
Full-dress touring motorcycles are generally characterized by extremely large fairings and ample bodywork compared to other types of tourers. Hard luggage, e.g. panniers and a top box, are integrated into the design of the motorcycle which usually has a very large displacement, torquey engine with a very upright, comfortable riding position.
Additionally, optional amenities for full-dress tourers might include equipment not normally offered on other motorcycles such as complete stereos (AM/FM radios with CD players or MP3 connections), satellite radio, heated seats and hand-grips, GPS navigation systems, custom windshields, integrated air compressors, and air bags. Beyond what manufacturers supply, 'full dressers' are often customized by owners with additional accessories.
Full-dress tourers are designed specifically for riding on pavement. Common current examples of full-dress tourers include the Yamaha Royal Star Venture, the Honda Goldwing, the BMW R1200RT and K1600GTL, the Victory Vision Tour and Cross Country, as well as the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide.
The adventure touring motorcycle concept encompasses dual-sport motorcycles designed specifically to provide long range touring capabilities both on roads and off roads with the intent of making virtually any destination reachable. Motorcycles in this category share a unique combination of traits that provide them very high ground clearance (for off-road purposes), large fuel reserves, large displacement, under stressed engines for high reliability and heavy torque output but good high-speed highway behavior and handling. These combinations, along with their weight and large size, separates them from traditional off-road, enduro, and motocross motorcycles.
It is common for a large selection of purpose-driven options to be available for global tourers, including skid plates (to protect the engine and transmission during off-road use), larger and additional fuel tanks than stock, metal-formed hard luggage for extreme condition use, hardened GPS navigation systems designed to handle off-road abuse, etc. These bikes do not necessarily ship with hard luggage, but usually offer them as optional extras either from the manufacturer or via third-party suppliers. These motorcycles are often used as the basis for competitions in extreme rally events, including the grueling Dakar Rally. Examples include the BMW BMW R1200GS, the KTM 990 Adventure series, and Suzuki V-Strom 1000.
Sport tourers are a hybrid form between superbikes and tourers, allowing long-distance riding at higher speeds but with more emphasis on sport-like performance (in both handling and speed) than full-dress tourers. These bikes offer a trade-off between comfort and performance, and the difficulty of finding the right balance keeps sport-tourers as a small market niche. Most companies manufacture only one sport touring model, such as the Triumph Sprint ST, the Yamaha FJR1300, the Kawasaki 1400GTR (Concours). Notable exceptions are the Honda ST1300 and VFR1200F, as well as many BMW GT, ST, RS, and RT models. These bikes sometimes ship with hard luggage, but some manufacturers offer them as optional extras, either from the manufacturers themselves (e.g., Honda VFR1200F) or via third-party suppliers.
- The Harley-Davidson Reader. Michael Dregni, Hunter S. Thompson, Sonny Barger, Evel Knievel, Jean Davidson, Arlen Ness. MotorBooks International, 7 Feb 2010
- American Motorcyclist Apr 2007. P. 52
- "2009 Sport-Touring Shootout IV". Motorcycle USA. 9 November 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2013. "This is Motorcycle USA’s fourth sport-touring comparison review. The one constant throughout has been the strong showing of the Yamaha FJR, winning twice (2004 and 2008) and finishing second once (2006). The BMW K1200GT claimed the top spot in 2006, dropping to third in 2008. The all new Concours made its ST shootout debut in 2008 where it finished second overall."