“There’s no better way to experience a country than on a motorcycle!”, they say.
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.
It’s almost like paying a toll for being able to do what you’re doing.
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
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.
Thinking about it, 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 it 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 some of you might know, I live in the Manchester area. So from Brighton, that meant I had a 270-mile ride home.
The first hour was great. (But then again, the first hour of picking up any bike usually is.)
But then 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, I was under the realisation that I’d made a big mistake. Within 8 hours of ownership, the thought of selling it had already entered my mind.
A Subsequent Quest For The Most Comfortable Touring Motorcycles
Since that day, 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 touring motorcycles available for long-distance touring today.
BMW R 1250 RT
From a perspective of comfort, the R 1250 RT has some of the best ergonomics we’ve seen. It really does look as though BMW has thought of every detail when it comes to rider comfort and making 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 all 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. And not just in the physical sense, but in terms of peace-of-mind that you won’t drop it on a gradient.
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 to remind the world that the Goldwing was still going strong.
In 2021, we have another updated Goldwing that will cement its place as the touring kingpin.
For a start, the new version sees a suede/synthetic leather compound added to both seats which boosts comfort for both rider and passenger.
Not only this, but 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 once again to a combined 121-litres. Plenty of room to store all your stuff!
Indian Chieftain Dark Horse
Okay okay, so cruisers might not be your cup of tea.
And whilst they’re nowhere near as popular in Europe as they are 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, providing lots of ancillaries which also add to rider comfort.
If you like gadgets, you’ll love the electric windscreen, cruise control, keyless ignition, touchscreen display, sound system, sat-nav with live weather and traffic updates, and a whole host of other rider conveniences.
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 seem to be 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.
The new 900 is more powerful, more agile, and more stable. Superb equipment comes as standard, and it’s easy to ride.
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 bottom.
All-in-all, 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 Manchester traffic on the M61.
Despite the screen being a little on the ‘thin’ side of things, it does a perfectly good job of staving away the wind on motorway journeys.
In an age where bikes are getting heavier, Triumph has done a great job of creating a light bike which is also 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 an adjustable seat that is heated, and an ingenious luggage solution that also 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 isn’t 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 (as with the Indian), why shouldn’t the Burgman be on the list?
When it comes down 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!
As of this year, the 650 version is discontinued to make way for more town-friendly options to keep up with the market.
The Most Comfortable Touring Motorcycles: 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. If there’s something you want to add to the list, head on over to our Instagram feed and leave your comments!