Usually when deciding on a motorcycle that we plan on holding onto for the long-term there are two choices: cruisers and touring bikes. While cruisers have more variety and styles to choose from, it's the touring models that end up the victor. That shouldn't suggest that touring bikes are in any way superior to cruisers. Cruisers are fun, lighter in weight, more maneuverable, and multi-functional. It is merely a reflection of the market and why more cruiser riders find themselves graduating up to joining the touring class. If you visit any motorcycle dealership in the country, you may notice that there is a considerably larger demand for touring bikes than cruisers.

Touring bikes tend to be much more comfortable, they are perfectly designed to handle long rides on the highway, they are comfortable, so the rider doesn't feel fatigued after a few hours, and they come equipped with the latest in riding technology. While many riders can attest to owning a cruiser for long periods of time, they will admit that their taste will eventually change once they begin seeing the value that a touring bike offers. So let's take a deeper dive into why more cruiser riders are trading in their softails for the mightiest masters of the road.

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Touring Motorcycles Are More Comfortable

2022 Harley-Davidson Road King Special
Shot of a green 2022 Harley-Davidson Road King Special cruising on the highway

It should go without saying that comfort is a core value of the touring class. When compared to cruisers, a touring bike's frame is noticeably larger. Think of it as the linebacker of motorcycles. Bigger bones mean more support. This allows a wider distribution of weight across the entire motorcycle than that of a cruiser's medium-size frame, which means more comfort being provided for the rider. And more comfort means less fatigue, as well as less pain in the back, joints, shoulders, neck, and so on.

The larger saddle is one of the main features that provide optimal comfort on a touring bike. Bigger seats provide more room and cushiness to a rider and a passenger. Because if there is one thing motorcycle riders don't want, it's a grumpy passenger. Thanks to a touring bike's size, it is able to comfortably seat two people for long stretches of time without causing either one to feel fatigued. While there are many cruisers that are able to accommodate a passenger, the experience will be very different. Too much weight on a bike that is better suited for one rider may end up sacrificing some of its performance in order to take on an additional person.

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Another reason why touring bikes land a higher comfort score is that they all come equipped with floorboards and forward controls. These are two perks in one because the floorboards allow the rider to rest his/her entire foot on a large surface while a majority of cruisers only have foot pegs, which have the rider rest the entire weight of their foot on a smaller surface. The forward controls of a touring bike also encourage the rider to stretch their legs out in front of them, allowing them to relax their muscles. Not all cruisers come equipped with this luxury as stock, as many of them start with mid-controls. While mid-controls are ideal for shorter riders, those that are tall and average height prefer not bunching their legs underneath them, which creates discomfort from tense muscles and an awkward riding position where the knees are high enough to be touching the elbows.

Touring Motorcycles Have More Riding Features

A red 2022 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
Action shot of a 2022 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

Technology continues to evolve at such a rapid pace and many riders need their motorcycle to have the latest riding technology. That includes things like radio, Bluetooth, smartphone compatibility, turn-by-turn navigation, and much more. Pretty much every high-tech feature you would find in your car is available on a touring bike. While many newer cruiser models have some tech installed in them too, their approach is a little more minimalist. Features like wireless key fobs, LED headlamps, and cruise control are fairly commonplace, that is really about as far as the list goes. Meanwhile, if you take a look at a touring bike like a Harley-Davidson Street Glide, you will notice a touch-screen infotainment system, a full stereo speaker system, improved traction control, GPS, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, in-depth data on the bike's status, ride data, searchable points of interest, etc. It's because of features like these that make a touring bike a tough motorcycle to resist.

Touring Motorcycles Provide More Storage

An action shot of a 2023 CVO Road Glide Limited Anniversary Edition riding two up on the road
A 2023 Anniversary Edition CVO Road Glide Limited riding on the road

Saddlebags are such a selling point for touring bikes that many cannot see themselves riding a motorcycle without them. Every touring bike has a pair of large saddlebags equipped to provide a space for a rider to store jackets, gloves, documents, snacks, groceries, and nearly anything else that will fit inside.

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Full dresser motorcycles have a third touring pack behind the passenger for even more storage enough for two riders. On some rides, the saddlebags are not used at all. But many see them as a feature that they'd rather have and not need instead of need and not have. For cruisers, only a few models have saddlebags equipped as stock, though not nearly as big and spacious as a touring bike's saddlebags. Because if you plan on embarking on a cross-country road trip on a cruiser, you better pack very light. Meanwhile, on a touring bike, you can afford to bring a few more items that can really make or break this big adventure you were looking forward to.