Top 10 tourers under £3,000

Big miles for small money

CHECK out the pricier end of most firms’ ranges and you’ll usually find that full-fat tourers feature heavily in the “how much!” end of the spectrum.

Usually packed with the latest technology along with luxury add-ons like heated grips, stereos and whatever other gadgets are flavour of the month, it’s no surprise they’re more expensive than more back-to-basics machines.

Fast forward a few years, though, and those high-end tourers are often to be found languishing at the cheap end of the market. OK, their very essence means that mileages tend to be high, but most of these bikes are designed with that in mind, and on the used market a tourer can make masses of sense, particularly if you’re looking for an all-weather workhorse that will shrug off the worst you can hurl at it.

Here’s our rundown of 10 top tourers for a £3k budget.

10: Honda Deauville

Right, let’s get this out of the way first; nobody’s pulse ever quickened at the sight of a Honda Deauville. Even the name carries overtones of dreariness. But the Deauville has been around for 15 years now and there must be a reason that buyers still flock to it. That reason is that they’re virtually unbreakable, relatively cheap and capable of doing 90% of the touring duties of a bigger bike without really missing the extra capacity. These days our budget will just about get you the latest 700cc version, or pretty much any of the earlier 650cc bikes. In fact, shop around and you could be a Deauville rider for around a grand. Boring? Yes, but look at it as a tool, not a trinket, and it makes sense.

9: Honda CBF1000

We will come to some bikes that aren’t Hondas eventually, we promise, but we couldn’t leave the CBF1000 out in the cold. Our budget will find a 2007 model, complete with luggage, if you search hard enough. That’s a pretty new bike, really, particularly since its mileage should be south of 30,000. Just as with the Deauville, it’s unlikely to thrill you, but it should be a perfect workhorse for years to come.

8: Kawasaki GTR1000

In at the cheap end here. Kawasaki’s current GTR1400 might be a technological tour-de-force but its predecessor was an anachronism by the time it was replaced in 2007 – it’s a 1980s design and looks every inch of it. But it still ticks a lot of touring boxes, from the shaft drive to the towering screen and fixed panniers. Find a good one – and with 20 years of production to choose from, a bit of patience should turn one up – and it will still take you from one end of the earth to the other without a hiccup.

7: FJ1100/1200

The Yamaha FJ1100 and its 1200cc successor were officially ‘sports tourers’ rather than all-out tourers, but the definition of ‘sports’ has changed a bit between 1984 and today, so we’re calling them full-on tourers. The chain drive might put some riders off – shafts are more usually associated with ‘proper’ tourers – but you only have to look at the number of FJs that have survived, usually thrashed within an inch of their lives as winter hacks or courier bikes, to see they tick the longevity box. You could well be looking at spending just a few hundred pounds here, although later 1200s can still reach towards £2k. You’ll get stuff like ABS on later ones, too.

6: Trophy 1200/900

Hinckley Triumph’s first take on the Trophy was a pretty convincing tourer, hampered slightly by its chain final drive – although in reality that was more a marketing problem than a real-world longevity issue. The handy eccentric chain adjuster means that even though it’s not quite as maintenance-free as a shaft, keeping the tension isn’t exactly a chore. There are loads to choose from, both 900cc triples and the 1200cc fours, and our budget will easily get the facelifted version, complete with ‘Dame Edna’ headlights, from near the end of the bike’s production run.

5: Goldwing GL1500

Yes, you can get a Goldwing in our £3k budget! Most of the bikes you see advertised at under £3,000 will be the old flat-four-powered GL1100s or GL1200s, but the reality is that the 1500cc six-cylinder ’Wings can be found this cheap – usually via Ebay auctions. Bear in mind they won’t be perfect examples, though, and if they’re rough enough to be unreliable it makes the whole ‘tourer’ thing a bit pointless. If you must have a Goldwing, it might be worth finding a nice 1100 or 1200 four instead.

4: K1100LT/K1200LT

You knew there would be BMWs in this list, didn’t you? Shaft drive, Germanic reliability and staid styling all says ‘tourer’ like nothing else. The K1100LT, powered by the old flat-on-its-side straight-four, is a bargain choice in the BMW line. Around half our £3k budget gets you a decent 20-year-old one. The later K1200LT is a much more modern-looking, higher-spec machine, but we found a 1999 version bang on our £3,000 limit.

3: R1100RT/R1150RT

The K1100LT/K1200LT is nice, but if you’re having a BMW, wouldn’t you really prefer a boxer twin for the full BMW experience? Our budget gets most R1100RTs and might find you a later 1150 if you search hard enough. 

2: ST1100/ST1300 Pan European

We couldn’t have a list of tourers without the Pan European in there, and the ST1100 version is well within reach at our budget. It's a reflection of how awesome Pans are at ‘real’ touring that even examples over 10 years old rarely drop below £3,000. We did find a couple, though, albeit machines that had been used the way Honda originally intended – and hence had inter-galactic mileages on the clocks.

1: Yamaha FJR1300

Yamaha's FJR1300 is one of those bikes that has often tended to come second in tourer group tests – nearly hitting perfection but usually being marked down in one or two areas and pipped to the win by a BMW or other rival. But that fact plays into our hands on the used market, and the £3,000 budget is enough to get one much more easily than a similarly young Pan European or BMW. Shaft drive and all the usual tourer gadgets mean the Yamaha is perfect for the job, and while they were expensive when new, at this money they’re a bargain. Most £3k machines will be early ones – 2001, 2002 or 2003 – but you might find an ex-police bike as late as a 2007 or 2008 model within reach. And unlike the similarly cheap ST1300 Pan Europeans, the Yamahas in our price range usually have sensible, sub 40k mileages.

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