Best Touring Motorcycle of 2019

John Burns
by John Burns

Best Touring Motorcycle of 2019: BMW R1250RT

Well, the new-for ’19 RT has put on 20 pounds compared to the R1200 RT that preceded it, but one good thing about that weight gain is it makes it that much easier for us to justify calling it Best Touring Bike – an award that’s traditionally gone to your Gold Wings and your Harley-Davidson FLs.

2019 BMW R1250RT Review

Six-hundred and thirty-seven ell-bees (with 6.6 gallons of fuel on board) is still a lot of motorcycle, but it’s at least 150 pounds less than a Gold Wing or a ’Glide. And now that the new 1254 cc boxer Twin, with Shift Cam tech, has been inserted below decks, the new RT seems just as eager to move two people and their stuff just as spiritedly as those two do. Maybe more. Seems you don’t really need 1800 cc to produce 121 horsepower and 94 pound-feet of torque, an amount of each that seems like more than enough. Furthermore, BMW made the new engine even more fuel-efficient while they were at it: We saw mpg figures around 45 on our dearly departed long-term test RT.

2019 BMW R1250 RT vs Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT SE+

It’s not like you’re giving up big touring-bike amenities, either. Electronic suspension, with a new self-levelling feature, means you’ll never have to fiddle with preload again. That big electric windshield lets you dial in your preferred airflow, and central locking with remote fob makes getting in and out of the bags first-world. We’ve got heated seats as well as grips, a stereo… What’s missing is the big TFT screen BMW has been bestowing upon its GS line; once you get past being slighted, you don’t really miss it. OK, maybe a little.

What you gain with the RT’s reduced mass compared to a full-on tourer is increased sporting performance (not to mention less harrowing driveway and parking lot experiences). Granted, Gold Wings and `Glides can also tear down backroads, but the physics of the thing mean a much lighter bike can go even better, with a greatly increased safety margin thanks to lean-sensitive ABS and TC electronics. For 2019, less touring bike is more. This year we’re blowing up the boxes!

Best Touring Motorcycle of 2019 Runner-Up: Honda Gold Wing Tour

Nothing has changed since last year when the Honda Gold Wing Tour won last year’s touring MOBO. When a manufacturer produces a whole-cloth update to a flagship motorcycle, we don’t really expect big changes the next year. So, Honda didn’t surprise us by sticking with the status-quo this year. Still, there’s a lot to love about the Wing.

2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour Review

Power is still derived from the same 24 valve 1,833cc SOHC flat-six with two transmission options, 6-speed manual and 7-speed DCT. We still love the dive-reducing double-wishbone front suspension. Watching the linkage do its job over all kinds of different qualities of pavement is a great way to while away the miles on a long day in the saddle. Additionally, the cool front end enabled the engine to be mounted further forward for better handling. So, when the road gets serpentine, the Gold Wing is equally as comfortable as it is gobbling up great swaths of interstate highway.

Still, there’s always room for improvement. Two key reductions garnered lots of criticism when this iteration of Wing was released. We’re less concerned about the smaller gas tank since the range can reach over 200 miles – though a little more would be nice. However, the 27% reduction in cargo capacity does leave some people short on space for their gear. We’ll be interested to see if/how Honda addresses this issue in the future.

The Wing’s full infotainment system centers around a nicely appointed 7-inch TFT display screen, housing the menus for the rider aids, audio system, and most importantly, the navigation system. Including 10 years of GPS map updates with the system is a nice gesture. Additionally, Apple CarPlay gives iPhone users access to their favorite entertainment and navigation apps. Standard Bluetooth also allows riders to listen to music, navigation, and phone calls privately in their helmets, if they choose.

For these reasons and more, the 2019 Honda Gold Wing Tour is the Best Tourer Runner-Up of 2019. Best of 2019 Categories

John Burns
John Burns

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  • Rick McCalla Rick McCalla on Sep 17, 2019

    I can't believe you said the following about the new Goldwing "The Wing’s full infotainment system centers around a nicely appointed 7-inch TFT display screen, housing the menus for the rider aids, audio system, and most importantly, the navigation system. Including 10 years of GPS map updates with the system is a nice gesture. "

    The new Goldwing has some great features to it, handles superbly and it is a pleasure to ride. But I feel that Honda has shamed themselves with the infotainment system they have provided forcing many owners to add on their own aftermarket systems. The GPS system crashes frequently, the sound system is vastly inferior to the previous generation GL1800 and there have been no map updates in 2 years. I am sure that Honda is aware of these issues but as an owner we have no news that they are addressing them.

    I am surprised you gave them 2nd place.

  • Bubba Blue Bubba Blue on Nov 05, 2019

    Does that mean my 2015 R1200RT is still a great tourer? I think so. A little less low rpm torque on demand perhaps - you do have to spin it up from down low some - but still 20 lbs lighter and all the electronics.