There are many different types, or better to say, different categories of motorcycles. There is not a strict system to classify all these different types or categories, and often many features interweave between those categories. However, manufacturers often tend to sort them according to what use are they going to be put to and which type of riders are they going after with a particular model. From standard and touring motorcycles to sports bikes, all these motorcycles differ in its general purpose. But there is one category that stands out in popularity – the cruiser motorcycles. They are big, massive two-wheelers designed to cruise around and grabbing attention. Read more about them and check some lovely eyecatchers in the images below.
Why are they so popular? Cruiser motorcycles have a unique look, a recognisable upright riding position with feet facing forward, usually big engine displacement with a lot of torque in low RPM and not necessarily a lot of horsepowers. The style was born from the early American built motorcycles from the 1930’s onward and the popularity grew fast. Soon after, riders themselves developed a specific style that defines the real »bad boy« biker. Black leather jackets, jeans, rugged posture, all this complements the image around the cruiser motorcycles. It is no surprise that cruiser motorcycles represent approximately 40% of bikes in the USA and we could easily say, a cruiser motorcycle with a »badass« biker is the one image most people imagine when thinking about motorcycles.
The style and the template for the design of cruiser motorcycles originate from the USA. The first American manufacturers that presented cruiser motorcycles were Harley Davidson, Indian, Excelsior, and Henderson, from which the first two are still dominating the American cruiser motorcycle market. But the popularity of the cruiser motorcycle didn’t stay limited to the American market. Quite the opposite. From the mid-1980s, cruiser motorcycles became very popular all around the world. That was when the Japanese manufacturers introduced several new models that very much resembled the concept of the American cruiser motorcycles, filling in the gap in their range of different motorcycle models.
Did you know that cruiser motorcycles are the most modified and customised motorcycle category? From Choppers, Bobbers and Scramblers, you can find some amazing custom categories made from cruisers. Not only are they the most popular type of bikes, but they are also the most used artwork platform for people that use motorcycles to express their creativity.
It is also the most modified category, many times equipped with several add-ons that improve the bike in every way possible. That is from performance, visual appearance, added features and increased comfort and usability. It is not surprising that we get the most compatibility searches for our Smart Turn System and the Smart Brake Module from riders that ride a cruiser. Take a short break and check, if you can upgrade your motorcycle with our smart add-ons if it is a cruiser or not 😉
Nowadays, the cruiser motorcycle segment offers much more variety than back in the days. Practically every manufacturer offers a cruiser motorcycle, and when speaking about production numbers, the American brands aren’t leading in that matter anymore. However, Harley Davidson still appears to be the brand that is most often associated with the image of the cruiser motorcycle, due to their rich history and a strong legacy but there are many other brands with their cruiser models that gained in the popularity in the recent years.
The Japanese brands Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and the European Triumph, came out strong with certain cruiser motorcycles. Gaining in popularity each year, mainly due to beautiful and unique design and high-performance production masterpieces with excellent reliability record. Here are some of the most popular non-American models for the season 2018:
The primary factor for the success of the above-listed motorcycles is an affordable price range compared to the American brands that seem to come at a higher average cost. The Japanese brands have an outstanding reliability record. In fact, Japanese brands have the lowest percentage of failures or severe problems in the first four years of life. A survey made among over 11.000 riders that bought a new motorcycle between 2008 and 2014 revealed some interesting points.
Only 11% of Yamaha’s encountered serious problems in the first four years of »motorcycle life«. Other Japanese manufacturers have an excellent record as well, all ranking below the 15% rate. On the other hand, Harley Davidson performed almost twice as bad with the 26% of their bikes having serious issues in the first four years. Still, they are far from being the worst in that manner. Triumph, Ducati and BMW have an even worse record in that period of observation with 30%-40% motorcycles needing special attention in the first four years of life. Well, a low maintenance cost of Japanese brands only adds to the equation.
Now, this is a topic where you will find different and often opposite opinions. Well, as it is with most things in life, experiencing something will probably give you the most accurate answer to your question. You might experience the same motorcycle in an entirely different way than any other rider. So, give it a try and get your own perspective. As a beginner rider, there are several things you need to take into consideration. I have covered this topic in more detail in one of my previous blogs, the Ultimate beginner motorcycle guide 2017/2018. In my personal opinion, there is no universal or perfect motorcycle to start. If you realise that a cruiser is a type of bike that will keep you going and bring a smile to your face anytime you sit on it, then there is plenty to choose from.
As I wrote in the ultimate beginner guide, there is a long way to becoming a real »badass« biker. The process involves getting to know your bike, to master handling, to improve your riding skills and to develop your own identity. Cruiser motorcycles by definition don’t seem to be a good choice to start your two-wheeled romance. They are heavy, powerful and hard to handle motorcycles. The good news is, many manufacturers recognised the popularity of this particular segment of riders who love the style but still have to build up their skills. You can find many awesome looking cruisers with small engine displacements. They weight much less than their »big brothers« and come with a significantly lower price tag. You wouldn’t want to spend a fortune, to, later on, discover that you don’t really like this kind of motorcycles or the way you ride them.
Recently, there is a lot of debate going on about the future of motorcycling in general. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on how the battle between gas powered and electric powered engines started in the late 1800s and how internal combustion engines won the race for supremacy for over 100 years. But this seems to change as well, and it might happen sooner than you would expect.
How is this connected with cruiser motorcycles? Well, it was in this particular piece that I wrote, where I showed you the Brutus V9. Yes, it is a cruiser, electricity powers it and it comes with some amazing specs. It looks fantastic with clear and distinctive cruiser features, and if you ask me, an electric future looks just as amazing. But you might be missing a few things when switching to an electric cruiser motorcycle. That is the engine vibration, providing a unique sensation of taming a mighty beast, roaring exhaust sound when you even slightly touch the throttle and the lovely scent of gasoline.
For many riders, these are one of the most attractive features on a motorcycle. But let me tell you something. When you will twist the throttle and see how the torque of the electric engine wants to rip your hands away from the handlebar, you will soon find ways to forget about vibrations, loud noise and gasoline smell. Things will change, but I’m sure these changes won’t take away the appeal of riding a motorcycle. Changes will only make you love motorcycles for different new things. However, some will indeed lose interest in motorcycles, but also new riders and motorcycle enthusiasts will emerge. This is how things turn in life and change with technology.
Cruiser motorcycles are the one category of motorcycles, which speak pure definition of the motorcycle lifestyle as we know it today. Most people will associate cruiser motorcycles with an image of the real, true and genuine biker. Cruisers are amazingly beautiful motorcycles that will catch any eye that likes to see an engine on two wheels. Maybe bikes in this category aren’t the easiest to handle and the most comfortable to ride longer distances.
However, they have the strongest potential to fulfil your motorcycle dreams. Some of you might be more adventure orientated. Some of you are adrenaline junkies that wouldn’t consider any other kind, except a sports bike. But as I heard from riders that I met recently on few motorcycle shows that I attended, most agreed that it is the lack of experience with cruiser motorcycles that keeps them stuck with sports bikes.
You want to ride a cruiser to get the experience which convinced approximately 40% of riders. Because you like heads turning after yourself and your bike. Maybe you enjoy taming a big, massive, loud beast. You like to feel like a »badass.« when you are cruising through the streets. Well, then you want to ride a cruiser.
Regardless of the reason why you would give it a try, I believe it is essential to get the experience and broaden your horizons. Every motorcycle gives you a different experience. If you are open-minded enough, then you just might find that extra little piece that will round up your perfect motorcycle experience. Riders of cruiser motorcycles are very protagonistic in this matter. They often claim to be »the real thing« on two wheels… Well, maybe they know something the rest of us don’t.
Well, it is time to stop swirling around and get some real feedback from you. What do you think? Is a cruiser motorcycle the ultimate choice for real bikers? Or are real bikers defined with other things, rather than the category of the motorcycle they ride? Share with me your thoughts and tell me, why would you choose a cruiser. Or, why do you think any other motorcycle category suits better to the real biker image.