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The Best Motorcycles for Commuting

Updated on September 18, 2010

The 3 Top Picks as Motorcycle Commuters

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The HD Road Glide FLTRURenderings of the new BMW K1600GTThe Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 Meanstreet Edition
The HD Road Glide FLTRU
The HD Road Glide FLTRU
Renderings of the new BMW K1600GT
Renderings of the new BMW K1600GT
The Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 Meanstreet Edition
The Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 Meanstreet Edition

The Best Motorcycles for Commuting

A lot people wonder if it is possible to commute comfortably on a motorcycle. The answer that is, yes. You can save on gas and have a pleasant commute to work on a motorcycle if you consider a few things. The first thing you want to consider is an upright riding position. Commuters have to deal with more traffic than recreational riders; you want to be able to see far ahead so you can ride defensively.  This is key. 

If you are 6 ft. tall, you want to choose a bike that is comfortable to mount. You also want to feel secure when your feet are on the pegs. Grab the handlebars and make sure your shoulders and elbows are not in a bind. Finally, take the bike for spin. This way you can make sure the bike is comfortable as you ride. If you are considering a motorcycle as a method of commuting, we assembled a list of the top three bikes below. These are the best of the best when it comes to safety, comfort, and reliability.

Commuter's Choice 1: Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra FLTRU

The 2011 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra FLTRU takes the number one spot in our most comfortable motorcycles for commuting long distance at highway speeds. Additional comfort from a newly designed seat along with a sculpted rear back section provides additional back support. The front part of the seat is now smaller so your feet set firmly on the ground when you are at a stop.

This is a massive machine. The 103 in. motor has plenty of power. On hot summer days, the fairing has been vented for additional airflow. It has all the amenities. Cruise control, advanced audio system with four speakers, a touring package, and frame mounted intercom with a system just to name a few. The Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra will take you to and from work in comfort while sipping gas.

The only drawback? The size and massive fairings that make this bike so comfortable on the highway can be unwieldy in tight city traffic. If you are going to be commuting in a metro area with tight streets, you might want to opt for a bike that's leaner and meaner.

Commuter's Choice 2: BMW K1600GT

The second most comfortable motorcycle for commuting is BMW's new inline 6-Cylinder, the K1600GT and GTL. These bikes are not out yet, but BMW has a long tradition of designing motorcycles that are comfortable and reliable. The new BMWs should up that tradition. The K1600 GT and GTL will offer some of the best comfort and safety features in the industry. A perfect center of gravity combined with a well-designed seat and handlebars makes the BMW a buyer's choice.

The engine will offer superb low-end torque. Reportedly, 70% of torque will available from as low as 1500 revs. There is also a sophisticated traction control system that has modes for Rain, Road, and Dynamic. The engine is the lightest and most compact 6-cylinder in production. ABS brakes will be standard, and BMW's new adaptive headlight system will be an option.

Commuter's Choice 3: Kawasaki Vulcan 1700

Kawasaki's Vulcan 1700 slides in at No. 3. The engineering team describes their product as " nostalgic muscular and modern". One look at the Vulcan 1700 and we know why. This sleek muscle machine has all the comfort and all the amenities as the first two bikes on our list, plus a safety record that is second-to-none. If you what style, comfort, and safety at a price hard to beat then be sure to check out Kawasaki's Vulcan 1700.

So there you have it, these are the top three commuter bikes of the future. Happy shopping.

Honorable Mentions / Great Urban Commuters

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BMW GS650Kawasaki KLR650Yamaha FZ1
Kawasaki KLR650
Kawasaki KLR650
Yamaha FZ1
Yamaha FZ1

Honorable Mentions for Commuting

Really, the best motorcycle for commuting depends on the nature of your commute.  The bikes we've listed above tend to be more appropriate for longer commutes on the open road.  They are comfortable for long distances, but not so large and bulky as, say, a Honda Goldwing or similar mega-tourer. 

For more tighter urban commuting, such as that experienced by Bay Area riders, or people in larger metro areas, some other bikes to consider include:

  • Yamaha FZ1:  Upright riding position, good torque
  • Kawasaki KLR650:  Upright, dirt-inspired riding position, off and on-road prowess, more affordable pricing. Not as comfortable as some at freeway speeds
  • BMW G650 GS:  nearly 1/3 the power of the K1600GT, and a single cylinder, this bike could be better for tighter urban riding. It is lighter, more agile, and has off-road capability

Motorcycle Commuting Poll

How Often Do You Commute on Your Motorcycle?

See results

BMW's Adaptive Headlight System


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    • michyoung profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Great hub! I wish you could have posted more photos. Everyone love photos. Anyways, this hub is thumbs up.

    • profile image

      topaz blue 

      6 years ago


      Great hub! I must admit Harley's are my favourite although only on lovely sunny days. I know typical harley babe, but I do enjoy all other motorbikes too especially during 'Thunder in the Glen' yearly in August in Badenoch and Strathspey for the motor bike tour.

      Topaz Blue

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • BudCAD Motorcycle profile image

      BudCAD Motorcycle 

      6 years ago from Hellertown, Pa.

      There's also a V-Strom 1000. I don't much like the look of the new 650. They sculpted out the tank and lost 1/2 gallon of fuel capacity. Supposedly it's more economical but it looks small. I'm considering a 1000 or a 2011 650. Here are some pics I took this weekend of the 650 in NY at the Progressive Show.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for the insight budCAD. I currently ride a Kawasaki mean streak Vulcan 1500 so it's obviously pretty close to the #3 pick - the Kawasaki Vulcan. My only complaint is the bike gets 45mpg (low by motorcycle standards) and the tank is 4.5 gallons. Combined with the absence of a windscreen and I am yearning for something different.

      Think I'll take a look at the Suzuki V-Storm 650 more closely.

    • BudCAD Motorcycle profile image

      BudCAD Motorcycle 

      6 years ago from Hellertown, Pa.

      The Suzuki V-Strom 650 is light, can carry a load, has a windscreen and hand guards sufficient for cold weather, gets 58 mpg and is tall enough to give a view at eye level with most SUV's. Of all the bikes I've ridden it's by far the best commuting bike out there. Oh, and the sticker price was under 6k. Hard to beat.

    • profile image

      Mr. Lucky 

      6 years ago

      All Time Best commuter bike is the Honda PC800. Easy to manuever, good fuel economy, low maintainence, clean and quiet, full weather coverage, best luggage system ever produced, this is a no brainer.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      It isn't practical for me with three or four months of the year where the roads are snow covered, and then the eight or nine months of the year that I am having to ferry two or three of my children to their daily activities. Good of you to write this, however, voted up and useful.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The person writing this article has obviously never commuted in the Southern US on a 105 degree day with these machines roasting their legs! Light, narrow, quick, agile, and not a heartbreaker to drop on it's side. That's a commuter bike!


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