Touring motorcycles are engineered for long-distance, cross-country, either on or off-road.
Tourers come in packages, including true tourers (or full-dressers), adventure tourers, sport-tourers, and American cruiser-styled Baggers.
While any motorcycle can technically be converted and accessorized for touring, this article considers touring motorcycles to be bikes that leave the dealership ready for a long-distance trip—stocked with luggage, comfort, and safety amenities like handbags, windscreens, and Anti-Lock Brakes.
This article investigates whether touring motorcycles can make good first bikes for entry-level riders.
Here’s the Answer to Whether Touring Motorcycles Are Good for Beginners:
While some of the safety and comfort features of touring motorcycles can make riding more relaxed for beginners, they often result in extra weight and a more costly price tag, which adds variables to the already challenging endeavor of learning to ride a motorcycle.
That said, there are some lightweight baggers, adventure tourers, and sports tourers that are ideal for beginners.
Furthermore, touring motorcycles are considered by many to be the most comfortable and safest bikes on the market, including special features like ABS, wheelie control, rain riding modes, and traction control programs.
These features are ideal for riders mastering the mechanics and physics of motorcycle riding, provided they’re on a lightweight tourer with a modest engine.
Touring motorcycles also include comfort-enhancing features like seats designed to be cushy even during long days of riding and fairings and windshields to block rain, dirt, and wind, adding stability when riding in harsh climates.
This equipment can help new riders focus on traffic and riding conditions without being bogged down by fatigue or discomfort.
Finally, many bagger-style touring bikes have highway bars that double as crash bars, which hoist the bike up and at an angle when it falls, protecting the rider’s leg from getting pinned and keeping the engine off the ground to prevent any damage or hazards.
In short, while a lightweight bagger, adventure bike, or sport tourer may be acceptable to learn on, that’s not the case with most of the large-displacement touring motorcycles.
You should also read our article about whether cruiser motorcycles are good for beginners.
Are Touring Motorcycles Easier or Harder to Ride?
The short answer is that touring motorcycles are hard to ride because the extra amenities, electronics, and safety features add weight. Furthermore, tourers come with lots of extra storage space, making them bulky and, when loaded with luggage, tools, and a passenger, top-heavy.
Most touring motorcycles are engineered for long stretches of highway roasting and are, therefore, harder to ride in tight spaces, like crowded city streets and narrow back roads.
Unfortunately, these crowded commuting corridors are the routes new riders want to take while still learning to ride.
Touring motorcycles are harder to ride through parking lots, where there’s often congested traffic, slow-moving pedestrians, and frequent starts and stops requiring you to power walk to the motorcycle or ride it at exceptionally slow speeds.
A heavy and bulky full-dressed bagger or a tall adventure bike with a high center of gravity is more challenging to ride than a lightweight street bike or a low-sitting cruiser, especially on crowded city streets and narrow and windy backroads.
That said, a touring motorcycle’s extra weight and wind resistance make them easier to ride at highway speeds and on wide open roads.
Once I got used to riding heavy bikes at high speeds, I eventually found them easier to ride in the corners and on wet roads, too, as the added weight provided extra support and stability once you learned how to maneuver it.
And the fact that they provide more comfort and, therefore, more endurance makes it easier to focus on the road and your environment while riding.
That said, until leaning, balancing, and controlling a motorcycle become second nature, touring motorcycles are harder to ride for beginners.
Make sure to also check out whether Indian Motorcycles are good for beginners.
How Well Do Touring Motorcycles Handle?
Full-sized, large-displacement baggers and fully dressed true tourers are generally large, heavy, expensive, and hard to ride when walking, parking, and riding at slow speeds. They’re better suited for experienced riders already used to the physics of riding on two wheels.
- Full-sized touring motorcycles handle poorly at slow speeds while power walking or riding at less than 20 MPH and still learning how to park.
- Touring motorcycles are typically heavy, requiring high-powered 1200-2000cc engines much bigger than the engines we suggest new riders start with.
That said, the touring market has become more diverse in recent years, with many of the staple moto manufacturers offering smaller, easier-to-handle motorcycles with 300-900cc engines in the beginner-friendly range.
Furthermore, some medium baggers are essentially entry-level cruisers stocked with simple windshields and tour bags for “light touring.”
Light tourers aren’t equipped with full amenities, luggage space, and high-performance engines that make full-size baggers ideal for prolonged traveling. But their more agile handling is perfect for the light jaunts of moto-traveling a new rider should be starting with, anyway.
What Is the Best Touring Motorcycle For Beginners?
The best touring motorcycles for beginners are small-displacement sport tourers, adventure bikes, and “light touring” medium cruisers with windshields and touring bags.
Here are a few examples of touring motorcycles ideal for beginners:
Sport Touring for Beginners: Suzuki SV650
The SV650 is a sport-touring motorcycle with mild-mannered engine tuning.
While it’s capable of 75 horsepower, the SV650 stocks a V-Twin engine tuned more like that of a cruiser than the high-power inline engine most sport tourers come with.
The SV650 has a low torque curve that rises slowly up through the RPM range, making it ideal for new riders to master the low end and graduate up through the range as they grow into riding and garner experience.
Adventure Touring for Beginners: Honda CB500X
There are many other great entry-level adventure tourers, like the Yamaha Tenure 700 or the Kawasaki Versys series.
But the Honda CB500x is the most beginner-friendly adventure touring motorcycle because of its safety features, comfortable seat and riding positions, easy handling, mild-engine tuning, and because it’s incredibly affordable, reliable, cheap, and easy to maintain.
The CB500X has a lower seating position and center of gravity than anything in its class, making it ideal for learning to ride on off-road trails and in congested city streets.
Road Touring for Beginners: Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT
The Vulcan 900 classic is Kawasaki’s premier answer to the American cruiser scene, and far far away, it could easily be confused for a Harley.
Its engine may be a 900cc V-Twin, but its horsepower and torque peak at 50HP and 57 foot-pounds, respectively, superior numbers for new riders.
The LT indicates the Light Touring package, as this Vulcan 900 comes with a quick-release windshield and detachable saddlebags, ready to rip the open road at a modest price. Plus, they’re easy to work on and, therefore, pretty cheap to service.
What Defines a Good Starter Motorcycle?
The critical markers of a good beginner motorcycle are middleweight class, with enough engine power to develop without being overpowered while learning. You’ll want a comfortable riding position, a good resale value, and safety features like Traction Control and Anti-Lock Brakes.
One of the most popular sites for used moto shopping, Rumble.com, recently posted this list of characteristics beginner riders should keep in mind when shopping for their first bike:
Here are a few considerations to take into account if you are in the market for your first motorcycle:
- Weight – A bike between 300 – 400 lbs is a good weight and is not too hard to find.
- Engine size – Anywhere from 150 – 600 cc will give you enough power, but not overwhelming
- Price – A good used bike can be purchased for as low as $1,500 but we go up depending on the size, type, and brand.
- Speed – Beginners don’t need more speed than they can handle with their first bike. Look for something between 80 – 130 mph.
- Technology – Anti-Lock Braking System is a must. Newer motorcycles have some upgraded tech such as GPS, digital systems, audio systems, and other mechanics.
- Manufacturer – Most major manufacturers make motorcycles that are a good fit for new riders.
- Community – You will find that different motorcycles come with a different community of riders to engage in.
- Terrain – Motorcycles can handle different types of terrain. You’ll need to know where you want to ride “
Are there Any Touring Motorcycles Beginners Should Avoid?
Beginners should avoid touring motorcycles that are too heavy or tall to balance between their legs and walk around a parking lot without losing footing or feeling unstable. We suggest tourers with engines smaller than 950cc.
Please also read our article about whether Triumph Motorcycles are good for beginners.