Which Touring Motorcycles Have the Best Fuel Economy?

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You know, I very nearly had a breakdown writing this post. When you sit down and try to decipher the fuel efficiency of riders and their bikes, none of it makes any sense. At all.

For a start, we have manufacturers’ claims to contend with. And as we all know, the claims of ANY motorcycle manufacturer aren’t worth the air into which they are uttered.

So to counteract this, we decided to use Fuelly to ascertain real-world fuel economy across a range of bikes. But somehow, there are riders across the globe who are bettering even the manufacturers exaggerated MPG claims.

Maybe they’re super careful riders. Or perhaps they’ve got the numbers mixed up. Either way, it becomes incredibly difficult to gauge fuel economy with any real accuracy when the numbers vary so wildly.

riders in asian mountains

Touring Motorcycles & Fuel Economy: How Did We Choose Our Bikes?

After four weeks of pulling our hair out, we made a humongous list across the spectrum of motorcycling genres. This included sports tourers, cruisers, adventure bikes, sports bikes (because people do tour on them), retro classics, street bikes, dirt bikes, and ‘city’ bikes, such as the Honda Grom.

We then compared the claimed MPG from manufacturers with review notes from our own rides, the numbers quoted by real-world riders on Fuelly, and reviews on reputable websites like Bennett’s, Ride Apart, Motorcyclist Online, Rider Mag, and Cycle World.

On top of this, our rule of thumb is to subtract 10-15% from the manufacturer’s claimed MPG to ascertain an approximate real-world efficiency. So we added another column to our spreadsheet that deducted this percentage from the manufacturer’s claims and compared this with our notes, Fuelly, and the above publications.

triumph tiger 900 - touring motorcycles fuel economy

Touring Motorcycles & MPG

But it didn’t end there – because we’re a touring site. So this meant any motorcycles we featured had to be capable of touring AND have good fuel economy. And whilst a Honda Grom may achieve over 100 MPG, the chances of anybody touring on one are pretty slim.

So once we’d whittled out the outliers, we narrowed the remaining list down to 9 bikes that spanned the touring motorcycle spectrum. 

We also decided that for the purposes of this piece, 50mpg (and above) would be a fair number to represent that a motorcycle was ‘efficient.’ This threw many popular bikes out of the list – including cruisers and even the ever-popular BMW R 1250 GS.

For the purpose of fairness, we did include the most efficient ‘big’ adventure bike (the Honda Africa Twin), as well as a popular all-rounder (the Yamaha Tracer 9), as these were better than their competitors but not quite as efficient as the rest on the list.

bmw r 1250 gs

These Aren’t The Most Efficient Bikes In The World Ever

It would be impossible to present you with the top 9 touring motorcycles with the best fuel economy because there are just too many variables.

And with bikes spanning almost two centuries now, we can’t find out the fuel economy of all of them. Plus, much of the information out there could be wrong when you account for user error, rider type, environment, tyres, fuel quality etc.

As mentioned above, more fuel-efficient bikes are available (Honda Grom, almost all dirt bikes etc.) But we felt it was important to include only bikes you would tour on – and only bikes you could easily buy right now from a dealership.

So with all that out of the way, let’s look at 9 touring motorcycles you can buy right now with excellent fuel economy.

Related: How Fuel Prices Could Affect Your Motorcycle Tour

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT - touring motorcycles fuel economy

Originally, we began down the V-Strom route by looking at the new 1050 XT. But we quickly noticed that whilst the 1050 and 650 shares the same 20L fuel tank, the baby V-Strom gets far more miles to the tank than its bigger brother.

When we look at the figures, we see Suzuki’s claims that the 650 achieves 62.26mpg. However, when we take an average of the real-world data (from Fuelly and other motorcycle publications), we see a real-world figure of 66.75mpg – which is 7.2% better than the manufacturer’s claims. The Suzuki 650 XT was the only bike on this list to outperform the manufacturer’s claims.

Based on Suzuki’s claims, the XT 650 should achieve 273.9 theoretical miles from its 20L tank when maintaining 62.26mpg. However, from real-world values, you could expect to see up to 293.66 miles from a tank.

Honda NC750X

Honda NC750X

When the Honda NC700X made its way onto the scene over a decade ago, Honda claimed its creation would give you 64mpg. Yet testers found that in the real world, aggressive riding would see this drop to the mid 50’s. However, for those who tried, 70-80mpg was common – and 80+ wasn’t at all impossible.

This dropped a little more when Honda updated to the NC750X in 2018. The manufacturer claims a fuel efficiency of 67.2mpg. And when we compared that to our averages, they aren’t too far off at 66.21 – just 1.2% lower than Honda’s claim.

Based on the manufacturer’s claims of 67.2mpg, you could expect a return of 208.43 miles from the NC750X’s 14.4L tank. This drops slightly to 205.35 (3.08%) when we account for real-world averages.

Honda CB500X

Honda CB500X - touring motorcycles fuel economy

We’re big fans of this small-capacity adventure offering from Honda. The CB500 does an excellent all-round job of giving you a bike you can commute on, tour with, and even take off-road.

Honda claims the CB500X churns out 67.2mpg – so that should give you a theoretical range of 261.62 miles from the 17.7L tank. Our real-world findings are pretty much the same, with an average of 65.42mpg – just 2.7% lower than claimed. At this fuel consumption, you could expect to see 254.7 miles from a full tank (6.94% lower than claimed.)

Triumph Bonneville T120

Triumph Bonneville T120

Okay, so the Bonneville isn’t necessarily the world’s most popular touring bike. But there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be! It looks great, is quintessentially British, oozes old-school charm, and gives you the best opportunity to soak up your tour.

Thanks to its lazy rider approach, you’ll also see decent efficiency on your tour – and Triumph isn’t too far off with their claims. The manufacturer claims an mpg of 60.1, giving you a theoretical return of 191.69 miles from the 14.5L tank. Real-world figures are similar, averaging 58.3mpg (3% lower than claimed) and 185.93 miles of range (5.74% lower than claimed.)

Yamaha Ténéré 700

Yamaha Ténéré 700 - touring motorcycles fuel economy

Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 was an instant success when it came onto the scene. It’s not much to look at, but it’s a supremely capable bike – provided it’s in the hands of a supremely capable rider! No matter the terrain, this bike will get you there.

The manufacturer claims an efficiency of 54.7mpg – not quite as good as Suzuki’s 650 XT, but still pretty good for a mid-sized machine and within our 50mpg threshold. At this mpg, the theoretical range from the 16L tank would be 192.59 miles.

In the real world, figures appear to show an average of 50.13mpg (9.6% lower than claimed) and a range of 176.43 (16.16% lower than claimed.)

Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro

Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro

I often feel sorry for the Tiger 900 – it always had such big boots to fill when it came time to replace the illustrious 800. That said, this completely new bike from Triumph is excellent in its own right.

It’s not quite as efficient as its predecessor (with many claiming 300 miles to the tank), but it’s still better than most.

Triumph claim the Tiger 900 will give you 55.4mpg. And with a tank size of 20L, that would give you a theoretical range of 243.72 miles. Our real-world findings are 51.6mpg (6.86% lower than claimed) which could result in a range of 227 miles (16.7% lower than claimed.) 

Yamaha R7

Yamaha R7 - touring motorcycles fuel economy

The Yamaha R7 was the only bike on this list where we had to make an assumption based on the averages – simply because it’s new, and there is no historical data to go off.

To estimate real-world fuel economy, we looked at differences (in percentages) of all the claimed manufacturer mpg figures and then calculated the percentage difference between this figure and the real-world numbers. We found that manufacturers’ claims were (on average) 8% higher than real-world values. So we deducted 8% from Yamaha’s claims and came to our reasoning.

Yamaha claims the R7 should give you 55mpg – which works out at a theoretical range of 157.27 miles from a tank. When we deduct 8% from the economy, it gives us an estimated real-world value of 50.6mpg – which could give you around 144.69 miles from a tank.

Yamaha Tracer 9

Yamaha Tracer 9

We’ve always been fans of the Tracer 9 – and the MT-09 before it. Although as time has gone on, the Tracer 9 has arguably been overtaken by other bikes on many levels. But it’s still an excellent all-rounder that will keep you smiling for a long time.

On paper, the Tracer 9 does better than the Triumph Tiger 900 with its claimed 56.5mpg (vs the Tiger’s 55.4mpg.) This would give you a theoretical range of 236.16 miles from a full tank of fuel (19L.)

However, real-world figures seem to disagree with these claims, and the average return on your cash is 47.86mpg (a hefty 15.2% lower than claimed.) Based on this figure, you should expect to see 200.03 miles from a tank (almost 36 miles fewer than claimed.) 

Honda Africa Twin CRF1100L

Honda Africa Twin CRF1100L - touring motorcycles fuel economy

The data on the Africa Twin caused us a lot of headaches – with figures seemingly completely unrelated across the board. They also seemed to vary wildly across models (L vs Adventure Sport) and again between manual and DCT.

Honda claims 57.6mpg – which would give you 236.99 miles from the 18.7L tank. As someone who has owned an Africa Twin for five years, I find these numbers hard to believe.

To make things worse, a review from Bennett’s claimed a 55.2mpg average over an entire season of riding. I’m not for one second saying they’re wrong. But again, as a former Africa Twin owner, I hardly ever saw such good fuel consumption.

Looking at forums and Fuelly, mpg claims seemed to align more closely with my own experiences. Real-world figures averaged 46.33mpg (a whopping 19.6% lower than claimed.) And this would give you 190.55 miles to the tank – which is 46.44 fewer miles than claimed and more in line with my own experiences.

A Note On Electric Bikes

I totally understand a few of you would have been screaming at the screen whilst reading this post! And yes, you’re right… I haven’t mentioned electric bikes.

But the reason for that is that comparing petrol bikes to electric ones is akin to comparing apples with oranges – they’re both round, and they’re both fruits. But they’re still not the same.

With electric bikes, you’re getting miles per kWh – rather than miles per gallon as you do with petrol bikes. They don’t equate to the same thing. And you can’t really compare them to traditional touring motorcycles and fuel economy.

So for ease, we didn’t add electric bikes into the mix. However, if you would like to read more about them, check out our dedicated post here: Plug-In: Best Electric Motorbikes For Touring.

zero dsr/x

Other Considerations When Looking At Touring Motorcycles & Fuel Economy

  • In almost every scenario, smaller motorcycles are more fuel efficient – likely due to the fact they are lighter.
  • Fuel economy suffers when the bike lacks a 6th (cruising/overdrive) gear.
  • You can swap out sprockets to improve mpg.
  • Ancillaries can affect fuel economy, such as tyre pressures, rider (and/or pillion) weight, luggage, engine mods, and the general well-being of the bike.
  • The one thing more important than the fuel economy (stated or claimed) is your right wrist! The more you twist it, the more your economy will go down.
  • Bike maintenance – maintain the correct tyre pressures, clean your air filter, maintain your chain (not too loose or too tight), and don’t run dirty oil.
  • The smoothness of your riding will make a big difference in your mpg. Riding smoothly rather than accelerating and braking hard will get you a lot further.


This list could never be fully complete – there are just too many bikes and variables. But feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below to help others on their search for economical rides!

Top image: Maarten van den Heuvel

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8 thoughts on “Which Touring Motorcycles Have the Best Fuel Economy?”

  1. Can’t compare electric bike efficiency because ” cost of electricity varies from country to country”??.
    Petrol varies tremendously from country to country!

  2. Why no Kawasaki,my versus 1000 2012 has and still is achieving 50mpg+ riding to speed limits.hard riding many gear changes reduces to 45-50mpg.

  3. I must be riding my 2018 Goldwing wrongly because I get 59 mpg before that I had a BMW 1250 RS and that returned 67 mpg ,
    All figures were made measuring tankful to tankful.
    My brother in law gets 69 mpg from his gs.
    That is keeping to speed limits 😈😂.

  4. I do local uk tours camping on my Enfield 650 Interceptor one up fully loaded it does 70+ mpg it is more than able. You can tour on anything from a Honda 50 to a ZZR 1400 all you need is the will to do it all bikes are tourers if you want 👍👍👍


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