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What is a Good Size Motorcycle for Travel

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Question:

What kind and size of motorcycle do you recommend for a long distance ride through a diversity of terrains and various riding conditions? Is there a certain type of bike that is renown for long distance travel?

Bob’s Answer:

This was an excellent bike for the well maintained paved and very curvy roads of Northern Thailand.

As to the question of “What kind and size of motorcycle do you recommend for a long distance ride through a diversity of terrains and various riding conditions? Is there a certain type of bike that is renown for long distance travel?”

Well, that is a more open question. People travel on everything from 50CC Scooters to large ultra luxury Touring bikes. To simplify some, most people opt for an Adventure Touring motorcycle, also referred to as a Dual Sport, or an Enduro. These are bikes that look a lot like true dirt bikes, but are street legal and most are more like street bikes, adapted to off road. These bikes are quite good on the pavement as well as dirt roads. They may not be the best for single track, goat trails, depending on the bike.


There are many popular bikes, but the most popular seem to be bikes that are around 650 CC. These are big enough to carry a lot of gear, and handle highway speeds. They are small enough to be maneuverable and easy to handle. Brands and models, well, that is not an easy one. Again, the KLR650 and the VeeStrom 650 are pretty popular. Many people opt for the more expensive large BMW’s. These are great, but are more than most people really need.

But, realistically, you can choose any bike you like. You need to think about what kind of rider you are. Do you want to ride a lot of dirt and single track? Then you might want a bit more of a dirt bike. Do you want to stick to paved or good dirt roads, then maybe you would be better off with a road bike. Whatever you have right now will work well I suppose. I spent a month riding in Argentina on a 1983 Honda GL650. This is a small touring bike, but it worked great on Route 40, much of which is gravel road. This is a bike for which a small number of were imported into the US, and NONE were imported into Argentina. I had some spare parts, but the expected outcome to any real breakdown was abandonment. Which, pretty much was the outcome. Leaving the bike at a mechanic did not work, as my not being there meant that the mechanic had no drive to fix it.

So, as with any travel decision, you get as much info as you can, and you make your decisions partly with your gut, partly with the information you gathered, and mostly with your emotions.

Bob L.

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Filed under: Motorcycle Travel

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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