Motorcycles are some of the most interesting big boys toys around, there’s no doubt about it. But not all of them are created equal.
There’s a motorcycle out there for every taste and budget, but to choose the right one, you need to know what type of motorcyclist you are. If you dream of long distance travel, but you also want to ride fast, and don’t care for off-road abilities, a sport touring motorcycle is what you should aim for.
A motorcycle like that is ideal for holidays far away from home, but it’s also incredibly fun on the twisties, leaning easily into corners and accelerating fast out of them. If that sounds like your style of riding, you’ve come to the right spot. In this article, we’ll talk about sport touring motorcycles, and we’ll give you some of the best examples that you could find on the market.
But first, let’s find out what makes a motorcycle a sport touring one.
What is a Sport Touring Motorcycle?
Sport touring motorcycles offer a superb mix of power and comfort, as they blend the speed and power of sports bikes with the ability to comfortably ride long distances that tourers offer. Put simply, it means you’ll have both a sports bike and a touring bike in one motorcycle.
They usually take the same powerful engines from high end sports bikes, but tuned for smoother operation and long distance travel. The aesthetic is similar to sports models, but the riding position is less aggressive and more upright and neutral, which makes long days in the saddle much more comfortable, similar to pure touring machines.
The pillion seat is also a lot more comfortable than on a sports bike, making riding two up a breeze both for the rider and the passenger.
These bikes are also equipped with luggage racks and systems, so you can easily carry your trip’s essentials with ease.
Wind protection is another important aspect, and sport touring motorcycles come with higher windscreens, adding a lot to the comfort of the ride.
Having said that, let’s take a closer look at our picks for the best sport touring motorcycles out there.
20. Honda ST 1300 (Pan-European)
Though older and out of production for a few years now, the Honda ST 1300 Pan-European is a great bike that can still be found on the used market. It’s a large tourer, but a very capable one, and came equipped with that great DOHC V4, giving it a very smooth operation, incredible turbine-like power, and excellent power delivery anytime, in any gear.
It’s well mannered on the road, despite its size and capacity, and the steering is unexpectedly light. It also features a low seat height, and both the rider and the passenger seats are very comfy, making this bike a joy to ride, both single and two-up. Breaking abilities match its power, making it a well balanced bike.
The engine is legendary in terms of reliability, so you shouldn’t have any issue even after many, many fun miles.
19. Suzuki GSX 1300 R Hayabusa
If you’ve been in this space for a while, you’ve surely hear about the Hayabusa. It’s a legendary bike. Though not a conventional sports tourer, the Suzuki GSX 1300 R Hayabusa can do both very well. It’s sportiness is almost unmatched, and its long distance touring capabilities are good as well.
The bike is huge, and longer than your average bike, but that’s something you’ll want when twisting the throttle like a maniac. Though it’s better to behave, as Hayabusa has made itself a reputation for making victims in its early days. If there’s one conclusion you should take from this, it’s that this bike is incredibly capable and powerful.
On the touring side of things, it’s not as rosy as other sport tourers, but it’s comfortable enough to get you and your pillion to where you want to go. The advantage is that it will eat those road miles fast. Very fast.
18. Honda CBR 1100 XX Blackbird
The Honda CBR 1100 XX Blackbird used to hold the Guinness World Record for the fastest production motorcycle, but that only until the Hayabusa was unleashed on the road. And this is enough for you to understand the sporty side of the iconic Blackbird.
It’s big, it’s spacious, and it’s comfortable. The bike features large fairings and windscreen, creating a very comfortable space for the rider and the pillion, well protected from the elements. The engine is big, resulting in the bike being able to carry both the rider and his passenger plus luggage with ease. Also important to note here is the legendary Honda reliability for the engine.
This is one of the cheapest sport touring motorcycles on the used market, which is a great thing if you want something tried and tested and without spending a fortune. There’s still a high demand for Blackbirds even today, so take your time.
17. Yamaha FJR 1300
Yamaha couldn’t stand aside and watch Honda and Suzuki have their way with powerful sport tourers, so they created the FJR 1300. Though a lot more recent, the Yamaha FJR 1300 nailed the right characteristics and managed to sell a lot of these machines.
The bike is lighter on steering than the Blackbird, and handles surprisingly well in corners, and riding comfort is excellent – the FJR 1300 is well known for that.
The 144 hp that the 1298cc inline four engine produces are more than enough to handle everything you might want it to handle, resulting in a bike that’s extremely fast for the comfort it offers. The only downside we see is that, being more recent, it’s also more expensive than other options.
16. Kawasaki Concours 14
When thinking Kawasaki and sport touring, you might be thinking Versys, but you’d be wrong. Well, not entirely wrong, but we’d go all in for a Kawasaki Concours 14.
This bike, also known as Kawasaki 1400 GTR, was introduced back in 2007, and it became one of the most praised sport tourers in the world. But why not a Versys, you might ask. Because the Concours 14 has Ninja blood in its veins, making it a true beast, winning over Versys in almost every chapter.
The Concours 14 is athletic, both on the city streets and through the twisties, and with a more relaxed riding position, larger and wider seats, it’s a very comfortable machine. Add to that all the modern tech and rider aids, and you’ve got yourself one of the best bikes in the world.
15. BMW F 900 XR
Moving on below litre bikes and into the middleweight range, we’ve got the BMW F 900 XR, a well balanced, practical, and very comfortable motorcycle. The most important side of this bike is probably how well behaved and forgiving it is with new riders.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful enough, because it can handle everything you can throw at it, from the urban commuting to twisty mountain roads and long rides. It’s one of the most affordable options in BMW’s sport touring range, so a perfect first bike for many beginner riders out there.
14. MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso SCS
The MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso SCS is among the most beautiful sport tourers on the road today. It’s extremely capable and comes equipped with an 800cc that outputs 110 hp, which is plenty of power for long roads and twisties.
It borrows from the F3 sports platform, so it’s got all the agility you need from a bike like this. It also comes equipped by default with saddle bags, so you’ll get plenty of space for your belongings. A wonderful sport tourer, and a gorgeous one as well.
13. Suzuki V-Strom 650
The Suzuki V-Strom 650 might not have the appeal or the looks of other bikes on this list, but it’s one of the most versatile sport tourers around. It’s also beginner friendly, good for short riders, affordable, reliable, has plenty of torque, and is comfortable for long days away from home.
The only downside might be that it’s so ugly. But you’re not buying this kind of motorcycle for its looks, are you?
12. Ducati Multistrada V4
The Italians at Ducati have done a very good job with the latest Multistrada, the V4. They’ve poured all the technological advancements they could into it and its engine, and they’ve made it look unbelievably well. It’s actually one of, if not the, best looking sport tourers out there right now.
It’s also very comfortable to ride, powerful, and it comes with all the rider aids you have been dreaming of for the past few years. One thing we’re not that sure about is how its reliability compares to the other players on the market, especially the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers.
11. Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX
If you’re already in love with everything Ninja, but you still want to ride far, the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX is a wonderful option, and that because this bike is nothing more than a Ninja with a more comfortable riding position, and slightly smaller in capacity than the H2, which makes it less intimidating.
It comes with all the tech the original Ninja comes with, such as quick shifter, traction control, cornering management, intelligent ABS, electronic throttle valves, rider modes, slipper clutch, among others.
10. Ducati Supersport 950 S
The Ducati Supersport 950 S is more sport bike than sport tourer, but if you look closely, you can place it just on the edge of the sport tourer box. That is, if you’re not bothered by the bike’s slightly less practical nature.
With the Supersport 950 S, it’s more about looks than everything else, so if you care a lot about that, go for it. The range of accessories available for it includes various touring ones, so you’re not left without all the necessary extras that come in handy on long rides.
It’s the most neutral of all Ducati sporty beasts when it comes to riding position, but it does borrow that lovely style from the Panigale range.
9. Kawasaki H2 SX SE+
Despite the H2 designation in the name, the Kawasaki H2 SX SE+ is a proper sport touring machine, offering amazing balance between the power developed by its 988cc engine and the comfort of a real tourer.
The bike is incredibly stable and light in handling, while also eating miles and miles without trouble on both highways and twisties alike. The latest model includes all the newer tech and gadgets, like keyless start, electric semi active suspension, hill hold control, and something called self healing paint.
But it already came with launch control, cornering ABS, adaptive cruise control, and side mirror warnings in case of collision risk. What more could you wish for? Money for the gas to go without looking back, we’d say.
8. Honda GLX 1800 Gold Wing
Since we were on the edge of the sport touring category with the Ducati Supersport 950 S above, we’ll balance it all with the Honda GLX 1800 Gold Wing, which leans on the other side, towards the sport cruiser category.
Make no mistake, this Gold Wing is as powerful and fast as several other bikes on this list, but it offers the most comfort you’ll probably ever get from a motorcycle. It’s designed for the long distance rider, and it does its job fantastically. Honda Gold Wing is king in its category, and it’s got both the style and the power that make the other bikes on this list good choices.
7. Yamaha Tracer 7 GT
The 7 in the Yamaha Tracer 7 GT name means, of course, 700cc, or 689cc to be more precise. It might seem too small for some, but make no mistake, this is one of the best lightweight all-round sport tourers around.
If you need a nimble bike with wonderful handling, amazing agility and plenty of torque, you won’t go wrong with this one. It’s ideal both in the city and on the open road, and it’s also tremendously fun to ride, making it a good choice for both beginner riders and experienced ones alike.
6. BMW R 1250 RT
Nicknamed the king of sport tourers, the BMW R 1250 RT is the quintessential sport touring motorcycle. It’s got that classic aesthetic you’d expect from such a bike, plus the power, the style, and the practicality.
The R 1250 RT is a beast, one that eats both highway miles and curvy mountain roads as well with the same ease, thanks to a smooth and powerful boxer engine that delivers its power consistently.
The bike offers all the modern bells and whistles, has superb wind protection, a good luggage system, and plenty of rider assist technologies to make the ride as easy and safe as possible. It’s not called king for nothing.
5. Honda NT 1100
The iconic Honda NT has made a comeback, and it’s better than ever. Powered by the same engine and using the same frame that the Africa Twin uses, the Honda NT 1100 has hopes of becoming the best sport touring motorcycle on the market.
The new NT is a blend of power, performance, and comfort, and its style is sleek and futuristic. There’s adjustable power delivery, traction and wheelie control, and three riding modes that will come to help the rider make the best out of it in any circumstances.
4. Yamaha Tracer 9 GT
The bigger brother of the Yamaha Tracer 7 GT, the 9 GT, is an even better machine with its redesigned 890cc. Beyond the better power, the Tracer 9 GT comes with electronic suspension that will adjust the setup for optimal riding performance.
What’s interesting is that this bike is ready to go far right from the showroom floor, so there’s no additional money you need to spend to get it ready for the long road.
3. BMW S 1000 XR
Based on the flagship S 1000 RR, the BMW S 1000 XR has the capacity to become one of the best sport touring machines on the market. It doesn’t have the praised boxer engine BMW has used us with, but that doesn’t mean the detuned 999cc inline four of the RR isn’t as capable.
If you believe the guys at BMW, then the S 1000 XR has the widest usable speed range in its class, which is quite a feat. The bike comes equipped with all the technological bells and whistles you can expect from BWM, and there’s plenty of accessories to customize the bike to your own liking. The only issue we see is the high price.
2. KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
KTM knows what a fun sports motorcycle is. And it knows precisely what long distance riders want as well. And then they proceeded to combine this knowledge. The result is the astonishing KTM 1290 Super Duke GT, a light bike with a huge engine, but extremely comfortable.
Some say it’s a rocket on wheels, others name it an adventure bike, but the official category you’ll find it in is the sport touring one. And it proved to be one of the best in that box as well, with plenty of practical features, impressive power delivery and all the tech functions to make it near perfect on the road, no matter what road.
1. Suzuki GSX-S1000 GT
In a market where most manufacturers repackage the same old bikes, Suzuki took a step forward and gave a us a fresh package, the GSX-S1000 GT, a fantastic looking bike that uses the tried and true GSX-R1000 racing platform.
Powered by the same 150hp 999cc engine of the Gixxer, this is no snail. Pair that with a very good hard luggage system, plenty of modern features, and the reliability of Suzuki, and you’ve got everything you want in a sport touring motorcycle.
The base variant comes with everything you need on such a machine, but if you want more, you’ve got more extras to fully customize it to your liking.
The sport touring motorcycle market has been stagnant recently, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good options out there. Just make sure you’ve got the budget, as some can be way more expensive than others.
For those to which the newer bikes feel to similar to the old ones, and that might be true to some extent, there’s the used market, where you can still find very good machines for lower prices, with performances that are very similar to the sport tourers that came out in recent years.