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What is the best motorcycle for traveling across the US?

I’m planning a trip around the country to visit some friends. I’ve been wanting to get a motorcycle, and I think it would be cheaper and more fun to travel with it. I would take some time to learn how to ride before I went on the trip.

So, I’m looking for something a beginner can grow into. I’m 6 foot, 180.
The bike should be powerful enough for highways, able to go long distances and comfortable with some space for storage.

Any ideas?

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18 Responses to “What is the best motorcycle for traveling across the US?”

  1. GibsonEssGee said :

    A BMW R900 or R1000 or a Honda Goldwing should be comfortable enough and will cruise all day without any problems.

  2. ShalloWhale said :

    I can’t offer any suggestions about the models available. But for the sake of people like me who have to endure the insanely loud exhausts that most bikers install (illegally) on their bikes, I suggest keeping the original factory installed exhaust on the bike so that we can enjoy some quality of life and not have our vacations ruined by all the noise. I wish you well.

  3. Candid Chris said :

    The Suzuki V-Strom 650.
    Enough said.

  4. Dimo J said :

    The three Japs produce rather nice touring cruisers that would suit you just fine:

    Suzuki Boulevard C50T, Yamaha V Star 950 Tourer, Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT, and the lilttle Honda Shadow Aero VT750C (after you add saddlebags and a windshield.)

  5. Castle said :

    Visions are good.

  6. Ric F said :

    Love those already posted suggestions…about exhaust, and models to consider. (If it is too loud, you won’t like it, and you will fatigue faster, get headaches, etc.) Look for an old Goldwing, or Aspencade, for your first trip…in case you ‘damage’ it. But do take that time to learn to ride it properly…and make sure that you can handle the weight of the bike as well. Ride safely.

  7. Jonathan said :

    Victory – Vision, Cross Roads, Cross Country
    honda, 1800, Goldwing,
    Harley Road King, Electra Glide,
    BMW K1200GT, K1200S

    I recommend any of the Victory’s, but I will be doing it on a K1200s in a month, we’ll see how that goes!

  8. BikerBob said :

    Take a riding course and learn to ride the correct way. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers classes. They provide the bike. Look them up on line and find a class near you. A Harley Road King or Harley Electra Glide would be my suggestion. You may want to consider a used one to save some bucks.

  9. Scooter said :

    Any of the touring bikes, will do. While a Harley, is the best choice for major long miles. A Honda Goldwing, is a better bike for a newer rider.

    Riding across the country, is not a trip to take lightly. It’s also not as cheap, as you may think. Oh it’s not to bad, if you camp out. Unpacking and repacking a motorcycle, can be a pain in the ass. Depending, on how much you want to ruff it. In 1983, I rode from South Carolina, back home to Wisconsin, the long way though California. I only had my gear, from the Army and a pair of tarps. I spent most nights, under a tarp. Tied to some trees, draped over the bike, then staked to the ground. A picnic table, if the rest stop had no trees. Most rest stops, are a good place to spend the night. I was 20 at the time, with a months leave from the Army.

    Spending a night in a motel, however can add up. Even camp grounds, are getting expensive.

  10. csburridge said :

    At 6 foot, and given what you want to do, your in Goldwing territory.
    Ride Safe

  11. Cable T said :

    I’ve gave some thought to what bike I’d choose to do exactly what you want to do and decided that if you’re traveling alone I’d look into some of the sport tourers that are out there. They have plenty of power, fairings for protection, a comfortable riding position, less weight than a full dresser thus easier to ride and maneuver, and enough storage for one person’s gear. I’ve noticed that all the really serious iron butt competitors choose this type of bike for the long haul. They do it for a reason.

  12. Tim D said :

    Goldwings and equivalent Harleys are insanely expensive unless you plan on doing a lot of touring and little else they are not much fun for simple commutes. And cost a small fortune for major servicing.

    I would look at BMW R1100 and 1200s, Triumph Sprints, Honda VFR750s (they seem to be praised over the 800), Honda ST1100 (Pan-European).

    However I would not recommend any of these to a beginner.

    For that I would suggest after a series of training and some experience of riding on the road, an SV650, Bandit 600, Fazer 600, ER6n perhaps.

  13. bikinkawboy said :

    I’m partial to Kawasakis, but for your situation I’d consider an ’84-86 1200cc Gold Wing or preferably a ’86-05 Kawasaki ZG 1200 Voyager.

    The GWs are good bikes and for their age, parts are still fairly accessible. They are reasonably priced, smooth, quiet with stock exhaust, comfortable, have a low center of gravity and have plenty of storage space should you want to take along the kitchen sink. However, the notorious alternator failure can be a $1500-$2000 repair and requires removing the engine. Should that happen on a trip, that would sure take the fun out of it and make the trip expensive. The later GW 1500 and 1800 6 cylinders are wonderful bikes but are much bigger, heavier and more expensive. And on the 1800, there’s a lot of expensive plastic bodywork that can be busted should you dump it.

    The ZG 1200 is a good, dependable bike. While there are lots of ’86s, personally I’d steer clear of them for two reasons. They had an igniter-starter chain problem which “should” have been fixed years ago under warranty, but to be sure that requires comparing igniter ID#s. Also, the ’87 and later fairings had an extra lip on the fairing that greatly improved wind protection. Electronic cruise control was also available on the ’87 and up, but not the ’86. The Voyager XII (as they’re called) are actually quite lightweight compared to other full dress touring bikes. They made them more or less unchanged for 19 years, meaning they were less expensive when new, are less expensive now and dealers still stock all kinds of parts for them no matter where you go. It doesn’t matter whether you have a 5 year old or a 24 year old XII, the same part will fit. They have lots of luggage space, good stereo and get great gas mileage, often as good as bikes with half the displacement. About the only problem is that some people report the front wheel wanting to wiggle a bit when riding. This seems to vary from bike to bike and person to person and is probably a combination of tire make and wear, road surface, suspension loading, bearing wear and so on. It’s not something dangerous, just noticable to some people.

    For $3,500-$4,500, you can get a good XII that you could gas up and ride across country without any worries. That’s about the same as what an ’84-86 GW would cost but the part situation is completely different. I ride an ’84 Voyager XIII (a totally different bike) and I carry vital spare parts with me when I travel out of state. Not the most comforting feeling I must say.

  14. Blondebaerde said :

    Not sure how much money you have, or your plans for said-motorcycle after the trip is over. Buying a bike for a specific trip isn’t long-range planning, no pun intended. Be that as it may, the answer is probably “whatever appeals to you most.” Motorcycles are more about the heart than head, in the end. There are dozens of possible specific answers, most of which are “opinions” with no relation to what turns YOU on.

  15. clasqm said :

    The key word is “beginner”. Beginners have no business riding 1800cc land yachts. The Honda Deaville NT700 and the BMW F800ST would be good machines for you. Or the Suzuki V-Strom 650, once you add some panniers.

  16. Mitchell Pelkowski said :
  17. Robbyn Tullison said :

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  18. Josefine Gjeltema said :

    I feel that’s an intriguing point, it made me feel a bit. Thanks for sparking my thinking cap. In some cases I get so considerably in a rut that I just feel like a record.


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