Best Motorcycle for a Road Trip?

It may not be a touring bike, but my 2004 Harley-Davidson Sportster carried me across 24 states and almost 8,000 miles on a recent cross-country trip.

“I’d need a better bike,” said my friend. “I don’t think I could make a cross-country trip on a 2010 Dyna with almost 20,000 miles on it. Maybe I’d go if I could swing buying a new Road Glide or something.”

It’s a conversation I had recently when I was planning to take a cross-country motorcycle trip and a few of my riding friends expressed interest in coming along. Our discussion started down the usual path of “we can do this, stop here, and see that!” but soon turned to the more practical “we don’t have enough time, or money, to fit in everything, but we can still manage to do something cool.”

As the departure date grew closer, there was less and less interest from most parties involved. This is expected on any excursion, as a lot of people are initially excited about the adventure, but are later hit with real-world issues of work, time off, money, and family responsibilities. By the time I started on my adventure, I was on my own.

I thought a lot during the ride of my friend who was unsure of riding his 10-year-old Dyna on a long road trip. Hey, I’m all for buying a new motorcycle and would be happy to use a big trip as an excuse, but would his Dyna have been able to make the trip? I figure as long as it’s well maintained, there should be no reason it couldn’t.

Come to think of it, I was on a 2004 Sportster with just over 30,000 miles. Maintenance is always a high priority with me, the bike has no issues, and I don’t consider 30,000 miles to be a lot. The Sportster is not a touring bike by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s what I have. I’ve taken plenty of trips on lesser bikes with more miles on the odometer. I bought a Suzuki Marauder new back in 1997 and have ridden it up and down the East Coast several times, and been on many other longer rides with it. It’s also not a touring bike, but it’s served me well over the years and even with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer, I still ride it plenty.

Do you have to pony up and get a new Gold Wing or Road Glide to take a long trip? Do you need a bike that’s bigger than some cars and has all the creature-comforts you can imagine? If you can afford it, do it, but you don’t need a top-of-the-line touring machine to have an epic road adventure. There are some who tour the country on what would make even the most adventurous rider question the sanity of such an endeavor.

So, what is the best bike for a cross-country road trip? I say it’s the one you already have!

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