What are Sport Touring Motorcycles?

A sport-touring motorcycle is any motorcycle capable of high speed touring with good handling characteristics and weather protection. These characteristics are usually found in motorcycles under 600cc on up to a 1200cc engine. A sport-touring motorcycle must have all of the following features:

Weather Protection

It is a motorcycle that offers good protection from bad weather, including rain, wind, and cold temperatures. By providing good wind protection, it can significantly reduce rider fatigue on long trips by eliminating arm and shoulder strain. This is an advantage that most sports bikes do not have.

Rider Position

A sports touring motorcycle must provide a comfortable riding position for long-distance travel with good ergonomics so as not to cause aches and pains in the hands, neck, shoulder, and lower back over time. Adjustable handlebar risers with an adjustable windshield are critical to achieving comfort on long rides.

Comfort

Suspension is firm enough for reasonable control but soft enough to absorb bumps in the road without jarring the rider or causing physical discomfort. The seat is comfortable for over 3 hours and offers an upright riding position rather than an aggressive sportbike crouch.

Power

A sport-touring motorcycle must have enough power to maintain highway speeds for long periods, accelerate well in passing situations and climb most mountain roads without engine overheating or running out of rpm range. Look for a motorcycle with an engine displacement of 600cc or greater. If you are looking at a smaller displacement engine such as a 400cc, you may run into trouble on long trips due to high speeds for sustained periods.

Weight

A sport-touring motorcycle must be not too heavy where it sacrifices handling at all speeds and not too light to cause problems with stability or suspension issues when fully loaded for touring. Look for an overall weight of around 450lbs or less, depending on engine size.

Evolution of Sport Touring Motorcycle Ridings

The sport-touring motorcycle riding culture has evolved over the last five years. It used to be quite popular in Europe, but, the USA is now catching up with the Sport Touring sub-culture that has expanded into all aspects of motorcycling. Motorcycle racing teams are taking to sport touring motorcycles for their personal transportation needs.

Motorcycle Aftermarket

Makers of aftermarket motorcycle parts have come out with loads of great functional add-ons to customize sport touring motorcycles for touring and commuting needs, such as luggage systems, heated grips, GPS, alarms & immobilizers, etc. Touratech and SW-Motech are two excellent examples of companies that have done business out of supporting the sport-touring sub-culture.

Endurance Racing

In 2006, for the first time, a long-distance endurance race was contested using sport touring motorcycles rather than traditional sports motorcycles. Several more sport-tourers joined the race the following year.
It’s still a young sport touring the motorcycle scene in the USA. Still, we’re gaining traction among American motorcyclists who are looking to purchase sport touring motorcycles as their personal transportation needs, not to mention many sport-tourers are customizing sport touring motorcycles into race track focused track-only machines.
The sport-touring motorcycle scene is thriving in America. We can expect to see more and more sport-tourers coming out of the woodwork joining existing and new endurance race teams using sport touring motorcycles for their personal transportation needs.
Sport Touring motorcycles offer a good compromise between the spirited and nimble handling of sports motorcycles and the comfort and carrying capacity that’s more suited to long distance riding.
Endurance racers such as those competing in the Iron Butt Challenge (IBC) use sport touring motorcycles as their personal transportation to travel around the country for each race event which is usually 100+ miles. The Iron Butt Challenge (IBC) is the first ever long distance endurance race that was held on public roads with sport touring motorcycles rather than sports motorcycles.

Conclusion

Sport touring motorcycles are evolving into highly specialized machines for the fast-paced rider looking to squeeze every ounce of performance out of their bikes. Sport Touring motorcycles in recent years have evolved from a lesser form full-on sports motorcycles to be competitive with sports motorcycles in terms of engine power and dynamics while offering more weather protection and luggage carrying capacity that’s usually very important.