The Origins of the Sport-Touring Motorcycle

One of the most basic aspects of motorcycle touring is what kind of bike is best. Motorcycles come in several different styles, and each style is designed to excel at a certain type of riding. Touring bikes are big and have lots of options to make long distance travel more enjoyable. Sport bikes are all about speed and acceleration. Recent years have seen the emergence of sport-touring bikes, which attempt to operate well in both worlds. How can you recognize each type, and which should you choose when you’re just getting started?

First of all, you should understand that touring motorcycles are big and heavy. They are expensive to buy, ranging up to $20,000-plus, or even more. They also require some pretty good handling skills to operate. In short, a touring motorcycle is not something you should buy as a beginner. To get used to riding, you should start out with a standard bike, which tends to be more upright, moderately powered, moderately priced, and a great deal easier to ride. Once you’ve spent some time at this level, then you’ll be ready to move on to different types.

Sport bikes are incredibly popular, especially if you let YouTube be your guide to popularity. Often called “crotch rockets,” these motorcycles pack a lot of power into a relatively light frame. This results in unbelievable acceleration times, like zero to 60 miles per hour in around three seconds! When you consider their agility and speed, sport bikes are not necessarily a great choice for beginners either. It’s too easy to let your riding quickly move beyond your skills.

The relatively new sport-touring motorcycle brings together aspects of both touring and sport bikes. I suppose you could say that a sport-touring bike is touring motorcycle made sporty. However, most agree that things go the other way: these bikes started out as sport bikes and have been modified to make them more suitable for touring. This usually involves modifying the engine to maximize torque instead of horsepower, lengthening the wheelbase and leaving ground clearance high. The result is a touring motorcycle with power to spare. Unless, of course, you want to think of it as a civilized sport bike.

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