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Thread: What is the most popular touring motorcycle?

  1. #1
    P Monk
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Orange, Texas

    What is the most popular touring motorcycle?

    Just back from a trip through California, Oregon, Washington volcanos. Covered 6,174 miles from Orange Texas. This is just an observation, but by far most of the motorcycles I saw on the trip were HD touring bikes.
    I saw a few BMW's and a very few Honda Goldwings. Especially absent were the new GW with their limited luggage capacity. I thoroughly enjoyed my R1200RT on the trip, and I know the number of HD's might be skewed some because Sturgis Rally is about to get underway, but there are a lot of HD riders out there enjoying the roads.
    P. Monk
    74 R90/6 (the Black Hole), 2011 R1200RT.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Lansing, Kansas
    I believe your impression is about spot on, regardless of the Sturgis Rally. Harleys do seem to be far and away the most common bikes on the open road. I have been observing that for about the past 40-50 years. One thing to consider though, are the variants of Japanese touring-cruisers that mimic a Harley with batwing fairings and such; if you are not watching very closely on the road, you can sometimes mistake one of the Harley-wannabees for the real deal.

    I've never owned a Harley, but have ridden quite a few over the years. They are comfortable, carry a fair amount of stuff, have good noise (music) makers, and are dead-reliable. Plus, no matter where in the USA you happen to be on a motorcycle road trip, you can always find someone to work on one if something happens. These are all points that help make them popular to the majority of two-wheel travelers. Now, on the other hand a lesser number of two-wheel travelers will opt for something "exotic" and less main-stream, like Goldwings, BMWs and such.
    On the coast of Kansas
    2012 F800ST

  3. #3
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    SW Iowa
    When we're on trips the touring bikes we see most often are Full Dress Harleys.
    Seems like the Goldwing market dried up a long time ago.
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Fargo, ND
    Definitely Harley.
    I talk to a few different dealers and they all say the same thing. They sell way more Harley baggers than all the rest of the line up. If you can assume that goes across the nation there are maybe 100,000 new Harley baggers out there every year. If you took all the other brands that build a touring rig I doubt their total sales of touring bikes would add up to what HD puts on the street.

    Harley is an alright bike, I have been running HD baggers for 15 years. Compared to what else is out there they are under powered, and ride rough. They don't do high speed interstate very well. A good headwind will really make one struggle. A bit anemic in high elevations. Great for back roads, flower sniffing type rides.

    I have a '16 Limited in my garage along with my '18 RT. Since I bought the RT the Harley does move much. The performance and ride comfort of the RT is miles ahead of the Harley if you can adjust to the sportbike style seating position. You can not even begin to compare the suspension differences. It is like comparing an old farm truck to a Cadillac.
    Last edited by PoorUB; 08-04-2019 at 01:25 PM.
    From the only real Fargo, ND!

  5. #5
    We live 25 miles north of the west entrance to Big Bend National Park in the Texas Big Bend. We do see, and hear the racket of, a lot of HD bikes. But given that they outsell BMW 20 to 1 that is not surprising. What we also see are a whole lot of big dual-sport bikes. Big metal top boxes, metal panniers, etc. We see folks riding Old Ore Road, or West River Road, or Glenn Springs Road with big GSs where I wouldn't take my 250 Sherpa. We also see large numbers of small dual sport bikes - many trailered south and then back north after a romp in the National Park or Big Bend Ranch State Park.

    We also travel mostly the west most of the summer and there we also see big dual sport bikes and HD bikes. Also a number of BMW and metric sport touring bikes that as I meet them with a 140 mph speed differential I am hard pressed to identify. But I agree Goldwing bikes are getting more scarce.

    As a bit of an aside but interesting, it is 80 miles from Alpine, Texas south to the park. There is a roadside park 25 miles south of Alpine. That becomes rest stop one for many HD riders. Our driveway, another 28 miles south, is a long horseshoe drive, over 600 feet long. That becomes rest stop two for many of them.

    When I see a big group smokin' and jokin' I sometimes go out to welcome them to the Big Bend. They are nervous as the "owner" approaches, but a few bits of conversation soon make everything OK. I offer water, coffee, tea etc. It becomes all just fine. I do laugh at doo rags and assless chaps and high-rise handlebars and the pap smear leg position, but all in all my experiences with riders in the big bend in positive. The guy who needed a board to keep his head studs from backing out is another story, but his wife who has probably been charged for a serious crime by now since she missed work and probably got fired because his HD was failing him ...

    Life where we life is interesting. I keep gas, tools, a lift, coffee, water beer, and other things on hand just in case. My favorite was the F250 van of bicycle racers that had a blowout, and a jack that was junk. We tried two of my jacks before they could mount a bald spare. But when I went out to retrieve my jack I found a complimentary quart of good Irish Whiskey as my reward for being a helpful guy who let them use my jack. Yes!! Karma!
    Last edited by PGlaves; 08-04-2019 at 07:10 PM.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  6. #6
    I have ridden several brands. Most H/D riding was [city] as per my job. I have traveled quite-a-bit on BMW , and some on Jap bikes of different designs. Standard, sport-touring ? and one cruiser.

    Another more recent purchase was of a Victory Crossroads .... and i have to say it is pretty damn comfortable, plenty of power, [for me anyway] and carries a good amount of luggage . Recent bouts of arthritis have taken me from riding lately, but that aside & even considering [the Vic] has by far the most comfortable [stock] seat in the biz.

    If my bones/joints would cooperate [and get me back out there] it would be my ride of choice .... particularly for travel.

    I do wish it weighed less but that is minor.

    Am seriously thinking about selling both my BMW's & keeping the Vic.....just in case i get some relief from Arther ....
    Ron Prior {AMA member ,MOA member}
    2002 KLT
    2004 Roadster

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