As temperatures to continue to climb, dreams of cross-country trips are beginning to invade the sleep of bikers everywhere. The thrill of the open road seems to affect motorcycle riders most when the weather is warm and the roads are dry. Once the conditions are right, the comfort, handling, and long-distance readiness of bike are what make road trips memorable.
To that end, bike manufacturers have produced motorcycles in recent years built for touring across the country in high style. The bikes on this list have been tested on long-distance outings to show their worth for epic summer road trips. Here are six motorcycles made for warm-weather touring at its best.
1. 2014 Indian Chief Vintage ($20,999)
The return of Indian Chief bikes (courtesy of Victory) has been a major win for riders who crave old-school style in a touring machine. For the ultimate cross-country trip, the Indian Chief Vintage packs a new Thunder Stroke engine capable of maximum 119 lb-ft of torque, houses a gas tank capable of 186 miles of range, and gets about 34 mpg on the average. In a Motorcycle USA review, testers preferred the slow-building muscle of the Vintage over the ride of a Harley Heritage Softail Classic, saying, “Polaris has done an admirable job of combining the classic and contemporary,” in the Chief Vintage.
Buyers won’t have to upgrade much in the base Indian Chief Vintage, considering the quick-release windshield is on the menu, as is keyless startup with the standard fob. While you’re on the road, nothing projects vintage style quite like the distressed leather seat, saddlebags, and optional fringe accents. For an even cozier trip, go for the beach cruiser handlebars.
2. 2014 Honda Gold Wing ($23,990)
Riders looking for a modern look in a cross-country tourer may consider the 2014 Honda Gold Wing. Sporting an 1832cc liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine, the 2014 Gold Wing offers riders increased protection from wind through innovative bodywork. For a trip that goes the distance, the Gold Wing holds 6.6 gallons in the tank while averaging around 35 mpg.
Distance rides must also factor in connectivity options. Honda’s 2014 Gold Wing offers iPod connectivity, XM programming and advanced navigation technology. GPS may go against a purist’s sensibility, but the modern biker will find a lot to love in Honda’s upgrades for long-distance trips.
3. Triumph Thunderbird LT ($16,699)
Another first-class luxury tourer worthy of long summer rides, the Triumph Thunderbird LT slots in as the most affordable bike on the list at a base price below $17K. The 2013 production model features a redesigned seat with added foam padding and lumber support as well as low positioning from the ground. The 1699cc engine offers smooth rides as it builds toward a max 111 lb-ft of torque.
In terms of pure riding comfort, the Thunderbird LT delivers with 47mm Showa forks and adjustable rear shocks to maintain control on the bumpiest patches of highway or back road. It’s the affordable way to a smooth long-distance journey.
4. Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic ($23,249)
Any selection of touring cruisers must include a bike from the venerable line of Harley Davidson offerings. As a result of the testing that went into its Project RUSHMORE bikes, Harley sought to deliver more low-end torque with its Twin Cam 103 engine. Then the bike maker went after the comfort factor.
To add more pleasure to long-distance rides, Harley improved its 2014 line by controlling airflow, upping the comfort level in back rests and seat materials, and redoing the fairing lowers. For added fun during a trip, Harley added another 25 percent to the volume in the bike stereo as well as a 6.5-inch touch screen and iPod dock.
5. Victory Cross Country ($18,999)
Featuring the Freedom 106/6 V-Twin engine capable of 106 lb-ft of torque, the Victory Cross Country motorcycle offers riders a smooth six-speed transmission to make any ride enjoyable. For improving the comfort factor on long trips, this Victory model has cruise control, roomy low seating, and 5.8 gallons of capacity in the gas tank.
Fairing that protects against nasty weather is in place should a country drive take a turn for the worse, while the KICKER speakers and multiple windshield options give riders ways to keep the tour going longer.
6. Royal Star Venture S ($20,590)
A look at Yamaha’s line of bikes will reveal a focus on sporty rides, but the company’s Royal Star line delivers on the cruising quotient for anyone seeking comfort on longer distances in nice weather. The Royal Star Venture S features a 1295cc liquid-cooled V4 engine that produces up to 97 horsepower on 89 lb-ft of torque.
Bucket seats for bikers are matched by a wraparound backrest for passengers to make any trip a cozy two-person ride. The compact size of the Venture S offers long-range riders more opportunity to stay on the road. Larger floorboards help minimize the impact of road vibrations while its link-style rear suspension and vertical shock can shift 4.1 inches. In terms of pure practicality, the Royal Star Venture S packs a fuel tank that can hold 6.1 gallons of gas with 39 mpg efficiency.