Touring Bikes Comparison - Long Rangers

Four Philosophies, One Purpose

Photography by Kevin Wing

Hi-ho, Silver away!
Just after dark I make the most calamitous wrong turn yet, but I can't admit it, even though I know Wild Rose Canyon-an infamous "shortcut" into Death Valley-could eat us alive. This steep, winding, mostly dirt donkey trail has just enough aged chunks of roadbed to bounce your bike around like a pinball off the bumpers.

These tourers are undeniably out of their element, but they get us over the pass nonetheless, and we arrive at the highway feeling like kids lighting firecrackers in June. How long has it been since we've felt so thrilled? Certainly these touring bikes flaunt four different intentions, but they serve only one purpose, and it's not really about getting us where we want to go, but rather about getting us back to what's important.

Choosing the device to carry you to that place of excitement and satisfaction is completely subjective. If you want rumbling, old-school tradition and an instant family, the Harley will get you there faster. Want to feel like it's just you and the road, with nothing but the basics in between (and a sh*tload of torque)? The Triumph might be your cup of tea.

However, for us nerdy, tech-minded touring enthusiasts-riders who want to make time, eat a side of corners for lunch, listen to our "Highway 50/Nevada/Sunset" playlist and ride until the deer get thick-it comes down to the Victory and the Honda. From our first ride on it, we were totally impressed by the Vision. In fact, this whole comparison was born from the realization that people would misunderstand Victory's bold, new market entry and assume it's a touring cruiser and not a luxury tourer. Aside from its V-twin engine, there's nothing "cruiser" about it. And man, is it comfortable!

Stylistically the Vision is a take-all winner, too. It's a rolling sculpture, and while some people don't like certain elements, it's a creative statement that can't be denied.

Yet despite all that specialness, the Victory's comfort and drama can't quite conquer the beloved practicality and silky pleasantness offered by the benchmark Honda. The Gold Wing may not be the most stylish bike on the road, but it's always a joy, never a job. To be brutally honest, we were each counting the miles until it was our turn to ride the Honda again.

Plenty of bikes can get you where you want to go, but only one will get you there in everything but style.

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