The BMW K1600GTL has owned the Best Touring category since its introduction, and as of yet no OEM has been able to dethrone the amazingly capable Beemer. To make room for newly introduced models in other categories and because the GT and GTL are largely the same bike, we combined the two into the same category. The GT took last year’s Best Sport-Touring honors.
No matter which model, GT or GTL, a person purchases, you’ll be riding the best two-wheel touring motorcycle money can buy. In our shootout with Honda’s venerable Gold Wing the GTL’s combination of lightweight handling, a stellar inline-Six powerplant (one of motorcycling’s greatest engines) and modern luxuries left the GL breathing heavy and licking its wounds. With Honda currently focusing on more practical bikes such as its CB500 Twins, don’t look for the sexy and technology-abundant BMW K1600 to be usurped anytime soon.
2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B Review
2012 BMW K1600GT Review
2012 BMW K1600GT Vs. 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS [Video]
2012 BMW K1600GTL Review
2010 Kawasaki Concours 14 Review
2012 BMW K1600GTL Vs. 2012 Honda Gold Wing Shootout [Video]
Best Touring Honorable Mention Star V Star 1300 Deluxe
Perhaps we’re stretching the touring category in our Best Ofs this year by including a straight-up bagger, but Star’s V Star 1300 Deluxe stretched that segment so effectively, so completely, that it deserves props as a relatively inexpensive long-haul tourer.
The VeeDee is the first production bagger to enter the light-heavyweight touring cruiser class, and it’s the best overall motorcycle in the segment by far. In our initial review after its debut launch, we marveled at its amenities, including the paint-matched fairing and immense saddlebags (7.5-gallons of capacity each), as well as its accessibility to practically every rider, particularly females and relative newbies.
Its 1304cc V-Twin helps make it much lighter (717 pounds) than any of the large-displacement baggers on the market, despite comparable size dimensions, and combined with its 27.2-inch seat height, most any motorcyclist can mount, balance and control this bike easily, as well as push it around the interstate or even parking lot with a modicum of effort.
But it was in our Light-Heavyweight Cruising Tourer Shootout that the V Star Deluxe truly earned its spot on this list. We put the Baby Strat up against the most comparable bikes we could find, including Honda’s Interstate and the new Boulevard B.O.S.S. from Suzuki. While the other bikes had numerous highs and sighs, the V Star D flat-out dominated, performing solidly in every category up and down the Motorcycle.com scorecard and winning that shootout handily, in no small part due to its batwing-style fairing.
The baby bagger’s finest feature, the hard-molded fairing features a (relatively) excellent audio system with iPod jack. But it truly shines via its deployment of a Bluetooth-equipped, satellite radio-ready Garmin Zumo GPS that’s mounted high just under its windscreen as standard equipment. This is a phenomenal perk on any long-haul touring motorcycle.
The V Star 1300 Deluxe bakes in a lot of over-the-road comfort and features for its $13,790 MSRP. It won’t appeal to all touring aficionados, but many of those are not full-grown baby-boomer males or gadget-happy, performance-minded European touring riders. Rather, it’s a touring cruiser for everyone else, and that’s why it’s the runner-up in our Best Tourer of 2013 category.
2013 Star V Star 1300 Deluxe Review
2013 Star V-Star 1300 Deluxe Unveiled
2012 Yamaha V Star 1300 Tourer Review
2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero Vs. 2011 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom
2011 Bagger Cruiser Shootout
2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Vs. 2010 Victory Cross Country