They say there is no better way to experience a new country than on a motorcycle. And to all intents and purposes, I have to agree.
I’ll even agree that a little discomfort on a bike is all part of the experience. Because it is!
Discomfort lets you know that this isn’t easy. It reminds you that you’re privileged to be in such a position.
But there comes a point when the discomfort outweighs the enjoyment. And that’s when you know that you and your bike are ultimately incompatible.
The Most Un-Comfortable Touring Motorcycles
Aching legs, sore back, hyper flexed knees, numb fingers, and worst of all, the dreaded arse ache.
I hate arse ache! It’s my worse enemy. And whilst I can power through most discomforts, arse ache makes me feel like I’ve been forced into a stress position by a Special Forces interrogation team.
Actually, prolonged stress positions are likely preferable to the arse ache inflicted by a bike.
The Most Un-Comfortable Touring Motorcycles: My VFR 800 Journey
A few years back, I decided to buy a Honda VFR 800.
Not content with the reviews I read on the internet, I asked the opinions of a group of old boys that I used to ride with.
In general, they had exceptional high praise for the VFR 800.
Pretty much all of them conceded that the VFR 800 was one of the most comfortable bikes they’d ever owned, with all-day rideability.
So after counting my pennies, I took myself off for a test ride and ended up buying one from Brighton.
The Ride Home
And this is where the problems started.
As I began the 270-mile ride home, the first hour was great. But then again, the first hour of picking up any bike usually is.
Not long after, my legs started to ache.
Ten minutes after that, my arse was in agony. In fact, it was bordering on unbearable.
By the time I’d made it home, the realisation had hit me that I’d made a big mistake.
And within 8 hours of ownership, the thought of selling it had already entered my mind.
My Quest For The Most Comfortable Tourer Motorcycles
Since that day, my bike shopping has always consisted of in-depth research into the comfort of my new prospects.
And you’d think that out of all the variables that come with bikes, comfort would be a constant.
How far from the truth this is!
You see, comfort is subjective.
I learned this the hard way with the VFR. Every single one of my riding buddies said it was one of the most comfortable bikes they’d ever ridden.
Yet it used to bring me to the point of tears. I genuinely found it to be unrideable.
So how reliable does that make reviews on the internet then?
Well, not very.
The Subjective Nature Of Comfort
I can’t sit here with a clear conscience and tell you that the bikes listed in this post are the most comfortable touring motorcycles you’ve ever sat on.
Because if you’ve ridden them, you may disagree.
And that’s fine!
So with that in mind, these are (in my opinion) the most comfortable tourer bikes available for long-distance touring.
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As we rocket into 2022, my Africa Twin is up for renewal, and the Honda NT1100 is one of only a handful of bikes on my list.
Because I tour a lot, and the comfort level on the NT1100 is second to none. Best of all? It includes everything you need as standard in what is a reasonable, inclusive price.
The standard seat that comes with the bike is comfortable enough. But for an extra hundred-or-so Great British Pounds, you can get the comfort seat which, in my view, is well worth the money. I don’t know what it’s made of, but it feels a bit like a memory-foam mattress that moulds to your individual shape.
The riding position is ergonomically superb – it feels similar to the upright riding position of an adventure bike, only a touch lower. It’s actually a very comfortable place to be.
Cruise control as standard makes light work of long-distance motorway days where covering miles is your priority. As does the adjustable screen.
OEM heated grips make a big difference on those colder days, and the wings which deflect wind around your feet do a fantastic job of keeping your feet warm.
The 50-litre top box and roomy panniers mean both you and your kit can travel comfortably. And Apple Car Play as standard gives you technological comfort along with physical cushiness.
Finally, the NT1100 comes with a centre stand – a true rarity these days! It doesn’t sound like much, but if you’ve ever tried to oil the chain on a fully-ladened bike without a centre stand, you’ll know it’s not much fun!
If you’re after a dedicated sport touring motorcycle with room aplenty and comfort in abundance, you’d be hard-pushed to find a more complete, affordable option than the NT1100.
BMW R 1250 RT
From a comfort perspective, the R 1250 RT has some of the best ergonomics we’ve seen.
BMW has thought about every detail when it comes to rider comfort. And this makes the 1250 RT one of the most comfortable touring motorcycles on the market.
The riding position feels natural. A variety of seat choices, seat heights, and an electronically adjustable windscreen contribute to making your touring experience as comfortable as possible.
But it’s not just in riding comfort where the RT excels. Heated grips, cruise control, and HSCP (Hill Start Control Pro) also add to rider comfort.
Honda Goldwing (And Bagger)
The Goldwing has always been the gold standard when it comes to the most comfortable touring motorcycles.
Then, just as it was starting to lose its edge to modern competitors, Honda came along with a root-and-branch revamp in 2018.
As of 2021, we have another updated Goldwing that will cement its place as the touring kingpin.
The new version sees a suede/synthetic leather compound added to both seats which boosts comfort for both rider and passenger.
Not only this, the passenger seat is integrated into the top box, giving it a more relaxed angle to increase passenger comfort.
As you’d expect, the ‘Wing has heated grips and cruise control. But the new model also comes with an upgraded sound system (if you’re into that sort of thing.)
Lastly, having reduced the luggage capacity in 2018, Honda has boosted it up again to a combined 121-litres. Plenty of room to store all your stuff!
Indian Chieftain (And Dark Horse)
Okay, so cruisers might not be your cup of tea.
And whilst nowhere near as popular in Europe as in America and Australia, they still have an undeterred following on this side of the pond.
Love them or loathe them, the cruiser subsection provides some of the most comfortable touring motorcycles on the market.
And who better to start with than America’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer?
The ultra-low seat height of the Dark Horse has been ergonomically designed to give a relaxed ‘riders triangle’ posture. It’s a position that lends itself nicely to sunrise-to-sunset riding.
But the Dark Horse is a techies paradise, too, providing lots of ancillaries that add to rider comfort.
If you like gadgets, you’ll love the electric windscreen, cruise control, keyless ignition, touchscreen display, and sound system. The sat-nav has live weather and traffic updates. And there’s a whole host of other rider conveniences on there, too.
Yamaha FJR 1300
The FJR is a bit of a dinosaur now and won’t be updated from here on in. But that doesn’t mean it’s not one hell of a do-it-all machine that is also one of the most comfortable touring motorcycles available.
With oodles of torque, you have touring smoothness in abundance. An insane amount of horsepower at your right wrist gives you drive whenever you want it.
The riding position is neutral, and the electric screen does an awesome job of preventing wind buffeting. I’ve even ridden on the motorway with the screen in its highest position with my visor up (and sunshades down) because I get zero buffeting.
The seat is comfortable for all-day use. The cruise control is intuitive, and the mirrors are just where you want them.
It doesn’t have the toys listed on the Chieftain above, but for pure riding pleasure, it’s hard to beat the faithful FJR 1300.
Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro
For many, the Tiger 800 was the ideal bike. So when Triumph updated it for 2021, they took a massive risk in building the 900 from scratch.
But the new 900 is more powerful, more agile, and more stable. Superb equipment comes as standard, and it’s easy to ride, too.
You now get better fuel economy, whilst the annual servicing costs have reduced in price. So the new 900 is more comfortable on your wallet as well as your backside.
All told, the suspension is perfect, power is sufficient, and the controls are in all the right places. The 900 is an incredibly comfortable ride, whether you’re belting along the trails or filtering through city traffic on the motorway.
Despite the screen being a little on the thin side, it does its job of staving away the wind on motorway journeys.
In an age where adventure touring motorcycles are getting heavier, Triumph has done a great job of creating a light bike in a heavy category.
And it’s certainly one of the most comfortable touring motorcycles in the adventure-style category.
BMW K 1600 GTL
If you’ve got the cash, BMW has the motorcycle equivalent of a limo waiting for you in their plush showroom.
With its high-quality components (and high-quality price tags) comes the high-quality comfort you would expect from a motorcycle of this class.
Aimed at rider comfort, the 1600 GTL comes with a heated, adjustable seat and an ingenious luggage solution that focuses on ensuring this bike is one of the most comfortable touring motorcycles around.
As with the R 1250 RT above, you can expect heated grips, cruise control, many rider aids, and a comfortable place for your pillion to enjoy the ride.
There’s no getting away from it. This is not a cheap bike. And if you go mad with optional extras, this bike will be easily up there with the Goldwing prices.
Suzuki Burgman 650
I always love to throw in a curveball!
And in the spirit of equal representation, why shouldn’t the Burgman be on the list?
When it comes to it, the Burgman is fast (proportionally), agile, and versatile. It’s cheap to service (or you can do it yourself), and it’s built like a tank.
From a comfort perspective, the one thing Burgman owners can’t wait to tell you about is how comfortable it is to ride. Add to this the decent weather protection and you’ve got yourself one the most comfortable touring motorcycles in pocket size.
The under-seat storage also goes a long way to adding to riding comfort.
It’s a shame it doesn’t have cruise control, but you can’t have everything!
In 2021, the 650 version was discontinued to make way for more town-friendly options to keep up with the market.
The Most Comfortable Touring Motorcycles for 2022: Conclusion
So there we have it, our most comfortable touring motorcycles to suit your choice of biking style.
As mentioned above, the issue of comfort can often be subjective. So if there’s something you want to add to the list, head on over to our Instagram feed and leave your comments!
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Top image: Mehmet Talha Onuk