by Doug Quigley
Seriously- I started riding only about 5 years ago and have put on 35,000 miles in that time- lots of runs from Denver to Seattle, Denver to Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona.
I love riding alone, but it's nice that when you stop at any rest-stop or campsite, you get to meet a handful of other riders each time.
My first bike was a 2006 650gs BMW. After that first ride to Seattle and back I decided that I had the 'bug, but needed something bigger, with more packing options (had to ditch the 650's side bags in Sequim, WA when a replacement after-market muffler meant that they no longer fit).
On my latest long ride (Denver to Mono Lake CA) I talked to a LOT of other distance riders, guys and ladies on HD's and Hondas, Beemers and Zukies. Almost had me convinced that I needed to trade in the GS for a more street-oriented bike. But during the remaining 1000 miles home, thru rain and freezing temps going over the Rockies, I decided that all I had to do was put the AeroFlow windshield back on the bike for a little more comfort.
The after-market arena for bikes is incredible. It seems like no matter what bike you have, there is a million dollars worth of STUFF you can buy to personalize it, make it more into YOUR best touring ride!
So, in the end, I say pick the one you like the looks of, get on it, and so long as it's comfortable enough that after 600 miles in a day you still have that stupid grin on your face- That is the best touring bike (or, at least the base of it, you really might want those extra lights, custom seat)- just remember and be happy- air conditioning is always free!!!
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