Motorcycle touring involves riding a motorcycle over longer distances to visit several locations; this is usually done as a leisure activity or vacation, and the motorcyclist will generally carry all of his or her necessary belongings on specially designed panniers or containers mounted on the motorcycle. The rider will need to have a valid motorcycle license to participate in motorcycle touring, as well as a motorcycle that can handle the extra weight of the rider's belongings. Touring is usually done on paved roads, though many riders do choose to do touring off-road with specially designed motorcycles.
The type of motorcycle required for motorcycle touring can vary. Some vehicles are specifically designed for touring activities, while others can be retrofitted to fit the rider's needs. Generally, an on-road touring motorcycle will feature a relaxed riding position, ample suspension that is sometimes adjustable, hard shell panniers in which the rider's belongings can be stowed, and a sizable gas tank that allows the rider to ride for long hours. The tires are generally smooth, though some tread may exist, especially if the rider will be doing any motorcycle touring off road throughout the duration of the trip.
An off-road touring motorcycle will feature aggressive tires, ample suspension, and a higher ground clearance to allow for traversing rocky or otherwise treacherous terrain. These motorcycles will also often feature hard shell panniers and other storage capabilities to allow the rider to stow his or her belongings. As is the case with an on-road motorcycle, the size of the off-road motorcycle can vary depending on the rider's weight, riding ability, and riding needs. Larger engines are generally better prepared to haul more of the rider's belongings, and larger engines usually also offer higher speeds, assuming the motorcycle is not too loaded down with additional weight.
Some riders choose a specific region in which to do their motorcycle touring. It is therefore necessary to map out the trip ahead of time and do some research into the various local sights to see along the way. Some tourers decide to camp along the way, toting a tent and other camping gear on the motorcycle. Others may prefer to sleep in hostels, bed and breakfast establishments, or hotels. The comfort level of the motorcycle touring trip will generally depend on the desires of the rider or riders along on the trip, and the trip itinerary can be changed or customized along the way.