10 Bikes That Are Actually Comfortable

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You know the score. You want to ride a fun bike, but man, they just aren’t comfortable. Some hurt your wrists, some vibrate so much your hands go numb. Others cramp your legs or send road shocks straight up your spine. Some riding positions feel like you’re holding a constant row and, engaging your lats for days at a time just doesn’t work. Here’s 10 bikes that don’t do any of that.

BMW R 1200 GS
This right here is what makes the GS so damn popular. For people aging out of sport bikes or dual sports or cruisers or whatever, the GS asks you to give up very little in the way of performance, handling or on-road fun and, in return delivers both armchair-like comfortable and a commanding, dynamic riding position complete with excellent control and vision. If you want to sit on a bike in comfort all day, but don’t want to put up with a luxobarge, this is the best way to do it.

Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX
Like an R 1200 GS with more character, telescopic forks and an enormous 8.5 gallon tank. You can use all that fuel capacity too, because the Stelvio’s gigantic seat is one of the most comfortable perches in motorcycling. Wes did a 700 mile day through the Italian and Swiss Alps a while back and, aside from a very sore wallet from the Euro price fuel bills, emerged at dinner as fresh as when he’d left breakfast.

Triumph Tiger 800 XC
Starting to get a sense of what the Adventure Touring class is actually about? The Tiger is a fast, fun, nimble, practical bike that also just so happens to be all day comfortable. The XC spec nets you taller suspension which is also considerably more plush, hand guards to keep the wind off and a larger screen. Plenty of room to spread out, despite the mid-size capacity.

Honda Gold Wing F6B
Why the F6B over the regular Gold Wing? Well, not only is it a useful 62lbs lighter (improving agility and handling), but that little chopped screen does a great job of air management. The RideApart Staff strongly prefers looking over a screen as opposed to looking through one and that little strip of plastic direct air blast over the shoulders while leaving your helmet in clean, undisturbed air. The regular Gold Wing remains the better choice for all-day passenger comfort though.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventure
Spec’ing up to the Adventure model nets you bag so wide that they make lane splitting an utter impossibility, but also a large, adjustable screen and what we think is the most comfortable seat in motorcycling. Like the other ADV bikes here you sit upright, with your feet under you and your hands stretched out to wide bars. A perfect riding position for both comfort and control.

Honda NC700X
There’s a reason we include this humble little Honda in virtually every list we make. Regardless of price, it’s one of the most broadly capable bikes out there. That it’s accessible to new riders is a huge bonus, as is its very affordable $7,500 price tag. Spacious ergonomics are comfy over distance, the slim, relatively low seat means nearly anyone can manage one and excellent fuel economy carries you a long way between stops. The tiny screen does a better job than it looks like it should, directing air onto the top of your shoulders and leaving your helmet buffet free.

Yamaha FJR1300
It’s easy to forget about the FJR1300. Not only is it now 12 years old, but it’s specs no longer grab any sort of headlines. But, what’s now a relatively humble, simple package just so also happens to be completely comfy over long distances. The torquey motor makes progress easy and the excellent handling requires very little attention even on tight mountain roads, leaving you free to soak in the views.

Kawasaki ZX-14R
Despite being co-opted by the poseur market, these bike weren’t meant to parade slowly through Daytona Beach, they were made to cross continents at high speeds. Sorta an Aston Martin on two wheels, just with the world’s most hideous headlights and graphics. A great option if you’ve got a long trip to good roads, then want to seriously enjoy those good roads once you’re there. Also a great step up from an uncomfortable sport bike to something with a forward leaning, sport riding position that’s actually humane.

Ducati Multistrada 1200
Rather than try and chase a faux off-road image in its Adventure Tourer, Ducati instead decided to pack superbike performance into a bike that’s comfortable. That’s probably more revolutionary than it sounds, on the road you’ll be faster on this than you will be on an 1199 and you’ll be that fast without instantaneous aches, pains and numbness.

BMW K 1600 GTL
A greater sense of urgency makes this big BMW a little less relaxing than Honda’s Gold Wing, but the payoff is greater rider involvement and an overwhelming amount of tech features. The rotating headlight is our favorite part, making night riding nearly as confident as doing so during the day. Like the 7-series on two wheels.

  • MrDefo

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Hayabusa as well. I’ve been looking at getting one for touring duties as I understand their power delivery is smooth and they’re pretty comfy. I guess the ZX-14 just beat it out?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Yeah, it’s just a little newer design.

  • Brian

    Comfort comes down to ergonomics and quite frankly, ends up being a VERY personal thing. My bike is comfortable to me, and I didn’t have to modify it really to be there. 2010 KTM 990 SM-T. My previous bikes all had to be modified in some way to get the most comfort for me personally, which can be the fun part of ownership-modifying your bike.

    I also think on a general note, due to how sublime and plush they are, the CB1100 and the Triumph Bonneville are very comfy bikes.

    • Piglet2010

      I do not consider the Bonnie (I have a 2013 base model with the optional gel seat) to be particularly comfortable. The rear shocks could really use an upgrade; I ended up standing on a section of road (IL 251 from US 30 to Rochelle) with severe reflection cracking due to the annoyance of the bumps, but a week later I rode the same section seated in reasonable comfort on my Honda Dullsville (aka NT700V). And even the gel seat is not comfortable compared to the Dullsville; since I also have the stock seat, I may have that re-contoured by a custom seat builder.

    • Kenneth

      I’ve owned a 2011 Bonnie for 2 yrs and 15,000 mi. and it is not “comfy” by any stretch. I’ve upgraded the seat and rear shocks, but it’s only slightly less crude and harsh. I’m thinking, daily, about getting a more comfortable bike.
      Thanks, rideapart, for this topic.

      • Piglet2010

        I am keeping my Bonnie for sure, but will also be keeping my Dullsville for longer rides. Hey, a middleweight touring bike is more comfortable than a retro standard – go figure.

    • Campisi

      I had a 2013 Bonneville, right up until a Volvo pulled a leftie on me a couple weeks ago. A 1,300-mile trip to Boise and back revealed the seat to be atrociously uncomfortable for any stretch of riding longer than ninety miles or so. Also, the bars have way too much pull-back; at any speed over seventy five or so, the wind blast forces you to constantly hold yourself in place, leading to a sore neck and exhausted arms. With a flyscreen, flat bars, and a seat not made from the finest Hinkley Hickory, the Bonneville would be a plush mount, indeed.

    • brianjedwards

      I would think a KTM 990 is just as comfortable as a V-Strom and a much more capable machine.

  • John Chavez

    Seems that you consistently leave off KTM SMT from these lists. I also own one and the ergos are great for us taller fellas.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Is the SMT even available anymore?

      • Stunk Horowitz

        Yup. And it’s still awesome, not to mention prettier than anything else on this list. I was surprised to see it left off as well.

        • Brian

          and the 2013 with the orange frame and multicolor on black graphics package looks stunning!!!

      • motorock

        Yes it is! Can we have more thorough reviews of the new KTM street bikes including the brilliant SMT and the Duke 690? Thanks!

      • John Chavez

        Yes. 2013 KTM models are out. Looking forward to the SMT with the bigger engine soon!

    • dinoSnake

      As I’ve noticed (and stated) before, regretfully the motorcycle media consistently leaves middleweight and lightweight bikes off most ‘best’ lists.

      Only 3 out of the 10 bikes presented are under 1200cc, many are over 600-650 pounds. I am quite sure there are more bikes that are not quite so large or heavy out there that can qualify as “comfortable” – I know the list is limited to only 10, but as this SMT comment notes, many people seek different options.

      But, anyway, thank you RideApart for the excellent story.

  • di0genes

    Love all these 10 best series, excellent work guys.

  • C.Stevens

    “Sorta an Aston Martin on two wheels, just with the world’s most hideous headlights and graphics.”

    Got a good laugh out of that. Seriously, what was Kawasaki thinking?

  • Tuscan Foodie

    Well, I am really really surprised you didn’t include the harley xr1200x.


    • motoguru.

      Cuz those have fwd controls which are not comfortable.

  • Doug Erickson

    Why the NC700X over the CTX700 — aka the “baby” Goldwing?

  • Tessier

    My KTM 990 adventure is actually surprising how comfortable it is. I did a 700 mile day in 20 degree weather in January and was very surprised how pleasant the ride was!

  • Piglet2010

    Noticed that there are no true dual-sport bikes on this list, but a lot of people have done very long rides on the plodding Kawasaki KLR 650.

    How comfortable would the Husq…, oh never mind. ;)

  • eviladrian

    Search your feelings, you know it to be true…

    • Paul Elliot

      I rode a Honda Silver Wing for about a year and found that the ergonomics just did not work for me. The bike was very capable in all other respects. Just goes to show that we are all different, thank God!

      • eviladrian

        I’m not a fan of the “feet flat” scooter stance, but anything that lets you sit “feet forward” and has a nice flat seat makes me happy.

        One thing that never seems to get a mention is that by having the motor and transmission on the swingarm, the rest of the frame is isolated from vibrations. After a few months commuting on a Honda PCX, two hours on a CB250 left my hands tingling!

  • Phil Ammendolia

    I ride a Guzzi Stelvio. They speak of the 100 pound weight difference between it and the GS. First, it’s 75 pounds, second, that is a fully equipped Stelvio vs. a GS with no accessories, no bags, no added protection, and no additional lights. They mention that the Stelvio gets an edge due to great forks, ABS and traction control, but give it a 6 and the GS an 8. Hmmm.

    Neither are feather weights. The KTM is much better off road. But for serious touring and an occasional fire road, I’m really enjoying the Guzzi. The motor is big time fun. It handles well in the real world and is all-day comfortable. When it’s windy, I appreciate the extra weight, and I didn’t buy it as a Dakar racer.

    No Guz, No Glory!

  • Phil Ammendolia

    By the way, in my opinion, overall, this is a pretty good list.

  • brianjedwards

    I have a 1995 GPz1100 that is incredibly comfortable and fun. Kawi has known how to make comfortable bikes for a long time. One of these days, I might have to upgrade to the ZX-14, but the GPz keeps on ticking (knock on wood).

  • Dan Hammack

    If this is about comfort, the ST1300 is more comfortable than the FJR1300. And the ZX 14? Comfortable for anyone under 40 maybe. The Concours 14 would be a better choice.

  • Timothy Gray

    The BMW decimates the goldwing in every way IF you are not short or fat. The BMW is a tall bike so shorties with less than a 30 inch inseam should not own one. Although the FJR1300 is a current favorite of the iron butt guys, with only slight changes you can ride 1000 miles in a day without a problem. Mostly because BMW stopped making the LT class bike that was the top of the line in long distance comfort.