|Helmet: Icon Airframe||Helmet: Bell Revolver||Helmet: Arai Corsair V||Helmet: Vemar Jiano Evo TC|
|Jacket: Alpinestars Grease Monkey||Jacket: TourMaster Raven||Jacket: Tourmaster Centurion||Jacket: AGV Sport Tempest|
|Gloves: Dainese Tracker||Gloves: Icon Sub Stealth||Gloves: Alpinestars SPS Leather||Gloves: Dianese Blaster|
|Boots: Joe Rocket||Boots: Timberland||Boots: Alpinestars Soho||Boots: Sidi Laguna Gore-Tex|
Welcome to Long Distance Touring. It’s an odd niche made up of bikes whose manufacturers think are the best way to cover big miles in style. Obviously there are a bunch of factors to weigh when choosing the right rig, and a balance to achieve in weight vs. amenities vs. price; power vs. fuel economy and range; and comfort vs. handling. But for the most part, big miles equal big bikes with tons of space and amenities. While custom baggers are in the very popular sweet spot right now, heavy tourers are also getting their share of love, and new models are coming out yearly. With this test being about touring, we narrowed the bikes’ required amenities to: a top box, a radio, and a propensity for laying down miles.
2011 H-D Road Glide Ultra...
2011 H-D Road Glide Ultra
New on the scene is Victory’s Cross Country Tour, a scaled-up version of their hit Cross Country model. While the Tour might seem to infringe on territory reserved for the Vision, its more traditional styling is made to appeal to those turned off by the space-agey Vision. It’s also now their de-facto flagship model, priced even higher than the Vision, but just as fully loaded. It features a more retro fork-mounted fairing, but since it’s a brand new bike, we couldn’t resist including it over the Vision (which won our big touring test two years ago).
While not brand new, Honda’s Gold Wing has been re-designed for 2012, with mostly cosmetic changes. It’s not even remotely a cruiser, but the Gold Wing is popular with lots of you who write in to the magazine, so here it is. We know we’re opening up a can of worms by including the ‘Wing and not a BMW of some sort, but hey, you have to draw a line somewhere. That said, the Gold Wing is viewed by many as the pinnacle of long distance touring machines, so it’s a good chance to see what it would do versus more traditionally-styled bikes.
Under the heading of refined traditionalism, you’ve got Harley-Davidson’s Road Glide Ultra. A direct descendant of 1980’s Tour Glide, the Road Glide Ultra finally brings the “Sharknose” back to its full-on touring roots by adding a box and actual suspension travel to the Road Glide Custom. The unit we tested is actually a 2011 model (which is when it was introduced), but it’s unchanged other than paint. As the spiritual granddaddy of the whole Touring Cruiser thing, it’s good to have it here.
The oldest unchanged model in our queue is Kawasaki’s two-year-old Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS. Based on the do-it-all Vulcan 1700 platform, the Voyager is the pinnacle of Kawasaki’s touring know-how, and the only one in this test that comes in south of $20k. It’s also the only one based on a true cruiser platform, not a hybrid like the Victory and Harley.
2012 Victory Cross Country Tour