This week’s Church feature is yet another example of the early MO crew’s writing chops. The topic this time? Cruisers! The 2001 Power Cruisers, to be exact. We’re talking the Honda VTX, Yamaha V-Max, Harley-Davidson V-Rod, and Kawasaki Mean Streak, ridden by a bunch of mad men and speed junkies. Big, powerful engines stuffed into cruiser frames, this should be a slam dunk for the Harley. The results, however, might surprise you. Read on to see who won.  


2001 Power Cruiser Comparo

In search of enlightenment and two-wheeled bliss.

By MO Staff Nov. 01, 2001

Torrance, California, November 1, 2001

We haven’t picked a rational winner for a major shootout so far this year. What fun is that? If you just want to read the OEM’s marketing hype, draw up a spreadsheet and pick a new bike without any real-world input — for instance, actually riding and living with the bikes — well, what are you doing here? We like to keep shootout bikes for a couple months, letting their features and flaws seep into our collective consciousness over time, and it’s amazing what one can discern from actually riding a group of motorcycles back-to-back, especially so with a bunch of cruisers, where evaluating is almost purely subjective.

Mind you, this is a bit of a tangent, but bear with us a while longer, it’s important: We have, many times in the past, pontificated that we pick bikes based on the ones we would realistically own. This basically melds the fun factor in with price, and we go from there. But (and this is the point) we do so independently: without influence from OEMs, advertisers or even — and this tends to be quite unpopular at times — you, the not-so-gentle, often-brand-loyal reader.

Feeling pretty smug with ourselves after Kawasaki’s ZX-6R won the AMA’s 600cc Championship this year — the same bike you’all hammered us for selecting to win our 600cc test this year because it was the most comfortable and offered excellent performance (Vindication!), we entered this test thinking it’d be an easy, popular win. Sadly, considering the brutal flaming we’ll soon be subjected to and the heated arguments over the outcome of this test, that just wasn’t to be. Nothing, it seems of late, is ever easy.

Here’s what happened: After our first ride on Harley-Davidson’s awesome new V-Rod, we all thought it would walk away with this test.”

We decided to include this incredibly crappy shot just to keep your expectations in line. Don’t gripe unless you’ve donated..

Editor Plummer has always voted for Harleys to win cruiser tests, Minime thrived on the attention the bike generated, and Calvin fell in love with the wickedly fast power of the bike. Things started turning sour when Plummer found out that we’d ordered up a V-Max, the bike he has listed as his favorite sportbike for the past five years. Seemingly not a big deal, but then we got wind of the horrid price gouging going on for V-Rods, and were dismayed. Still, everything looked on track  Minime and Plummer split the V-Rod/V-Max debates with first and third place votes, respectively, both really liking Kawasaki’s Mean Streak, which we all felt was the most polished, easiest-to-ride bike in the test. Then, as he did in the aforementioned 2001 600cc Shoutout when he picked the ZX-6R over the bike we all thought would win (Honda’s F4i), Calvin threw in a curveball: He voted the Mean Streak first. As did several Guest Testers.

Don’t move! Wild Greaseballs approaching the bait, shiny motorcycles. Moments later MO staffers leapt out, netted and tranquilized them. Hey, we’ve gotta eat somehow …

“It’s a great bike,” we all quipped. “Truly astounding, does everything well and looks great, too.”

Then, the votes were tallied.

“It effing won?” stammered Plummer, incredulous that the Mean Streak could win.

“This can’t be,” cried Minime, despairing. “The Beef Steak (as the Kawasaki is commonly referred to around MO) can’t beat the V-Rod, it’s lame. We’ll be tarred, feathered and outcast! Possibly beaten!”

A debate raged — we considering changing the rules so it won’t win. People wanted to change their votes after casting them. Al Gore got robbed! In the end, we resolved to hold to our ideals, and not bow to our pathetic egos — being motojournalists, the “coolness” of the job is really all there is; if you saw our paystubs, believe us, you’d understand that. And probably cry a little on payday.

And so it came to pass that, on this first day of November, 2001, the slowest bike in our Power Cruiser shootout won. People are going to file nasty complaints. We’re starting to wonder what’s wrong with us. But, as much as it pains us, we’re sticking by the Kwacker for this one. Ruffle the feathers, we say. Buck the system, down with the man, we fought the law and the law won. Read along and find out why.

Fourth Place: Honda VTX

Quicklook: {MSRP $12,499 || 88.3 bhp || 96.5 lbs/ft}

It’s a pretty motor anyway, big, ultra-torquey and throbbing, shiny and hot to the touch as it quivers powerfully between your legs while you straddle it, riding it, you nasty bi… um. Hm.

Plebians have been clamoring for something that has, well, ‘nads, but also brakes and goes around corners pretty well, too. Disappearing are the slow, clunky chrome things of yore, replaced with models that actually go forward with a respectable degree of rapidity. And so begins a new era of enlightment for the masses.

Honda’s VTX is what Big Red believes to be the epitome of this new metric cruiser ideal. It boasts class-leading power numbers and tonnage, though it also comes standard with back-of-the-pack brakes. If you’re willing to overlook some things in favor of the sort of gargantuan torque that leaves chunks of pavement behind, there’s always the VTX to satiate you. With nearly 100 foot-pounds of torque at the rear wheel, and a size that makes it a Hummer in a group of economy cars, the Honda just begs for sixth gear from of 30 mph right on up into the triple digits.

Veer left Cap’n! She’s on the reef! You don’t so much turn the VTX as you change course. It’s a big bike that demands a lot of respect — and room.

Huge numbers aside, some people just couldn’t come to terms with the Honda. A number of riders who have thrown a leg over the VTX mention that it seems as if Honda engineers built one of the all-time great cruiser motors, neutered it with an all too eager rev-limiter and installed it in anything that would keep costs down. This is unfortunate, really, as the VTX deserves a chassis with componentry more befitting its awesome oomph. The brakes, for instance, feature a non-adjustable front lever (only one in this test) and are linked rear-to-front (we hate linked braking, by the way), and, compounding the braking peculiarities, overall stopping power is lacking. A big bike needs big brakes. Maybe Kawasaki will have some spare binders laying around someday. Honda ought to do some e-Bay bidding for them.

On the highway, the motor thrums along nicely, providing a constant though mellow reminder as to the severity of the explosions and the rotation of the mass occurring beneath you. On smooth highways, the VTX does things as well as any other. Once the road turns less than perfect, however, the thing begins to wallow about, and the rev limiter seems to be constantly kicking in: “every time you feel like it’s just starting to really get up and go, it bounces off the limiter, leaving you jerking for another gear,” commented Plummer of the VTX’s engine. “It’s frustrating in the extreme, and the icing on its demise — there was nothing I really like about the VTX, and a lot of things that just don’t seem to work well, the big three being the engine, chassis and brakes.” The front end and the rear both seem undersprung, though the rear is most in need of some loving.

Flowing through a series of long sweepers, the bike behaves most admirably, relying on its huge wheelbase and raked out front end to keep stress levels down. It’s only when the pace escalates and the road tightens up a bit that the big VTX starts meandering about, searching for lines through corners that differ from what the pilot had initially planned. The Honda touched down its pegs quicker than any other bike here, sometimes dragging them even in parking lots. Thankfully, there is a lot of peg to drag before any hard parts grind, eventually touching down about the same time as the Mean Streak.

Third Place: Yamaha V-Max

Quicklook: {MSRP $10,899 || 117.9 bhp || 82.0 lbs/ft}

Up to this point, the closest thing we had to something like this new crop of performance cruisers is the Yamaha V-Max. The mighty ‘Max is still around and features no real changes from that first iteration that sent shockwaves through the industry nearly a decade ago, unless you consider a healthy dose of faux carbon fiber a significant update.

The motor is still as strong as ever and managed to propel the Yamaha to an even quicker 0-60 time than even Harley’s new V-Rod. In this group, it’s the original power cruiser, and still has the meanest motor. Long live V-boost! But, as we all know, motor alone does not make a winning cruiser. “Yes, the Max has an ass-kicking motor,” spouts Minime, “but its chassis is a little bit too easy to fault. The ‘Max isn’t really a cruiser, and not much of a sport bike either.

The V-Max caught in a rare burn-out shot … All right, but why should we be any different? We tried to think of what else the V-Max did, but this really says it all, the good, the bad…

It’s been overlooked by quite a few buyers who thought it was just too different, and I tend to agree with them — the riding position and styling are just too weird for me to like. I’ll grant you the fact that it is ringer of a boulevard bike that’ll smoke any 600cc sportbike and almost all of the 750s and 1000s out there, but if I want speed, I’ll get it wrapped in a more-sporting package.” Heck, it even looks different than the rest. It’s not a traditional cruiser by any means, though the ‘Max has a lot of cruiser-esque traits. If it ain’t black, it’s chromed or carbon-fibered, and there’s a very boulevard bruiser look to it that the angry people in black leather seem to dig. So you should too, presumably. In this bunch, it stood out as the odd ball while parked, making a number of testers prefer something more traditional in style.

Once on board the ‘Max, however, a rider was blown away by the power, but most were less than overjoyed by the seating position — this seems to be the caveat with the Max, either the seating position fits you and you dig the styling, in which case you’re fiercely loyal to the machine and its strange identity, or you absolutely hate it. The placement of the bars and pegs in relationship to the seat makes the Yamaha’s pilot feel a bit, well, cramped and geeky. Beyond the typical sit-up-and-beg riding position some cruisers and standards place you in, the V-Max wants you to keep your feet rather high and not neither forward nor back, placing a 90-degree bend of schoolhouse chair nature into your aging knees.

…and the ugly. Burned-out rear tire, burned-out styling. Come on, Yamaha. Sure it’s a classic, but so’s Liz Taylor and you don’t see anybody riding her lately.

In the twisty bits, the bike’s suspension is rather soft, though it does a good job of keeping the bumpies at bay on the superslab. In the twisty bits, larger or more aggressive riders wished for a bit more spring front and rear and had trouble managing shaft-driven squatting/lurching in the rear. But twisties are, of course, not the forte’ of any of these bikes, and the smaller, lighter and smoother style of other riders worked surprisingly well on the Max. Of special consideration to our married/cohabitating readers is that the V-Max was, by far, the best ride with a passenger on the back.

Second Place: Harley V-Rod

Quicklook: {MSRP $16,695 || 107.8 bhp || 74.0 lbs/ft}

The V-Rod. Harley’s freshest design in — well, perhaps ever, a smoking hot bike, full of firepower, sex appeal … and we still managed to place it second, by one point. Thank you, Calvin. Oh, and it only gets one photo in the main story. Did we do it just to piss you off? Ah, the mystery ….

Earlier this year, Harley-Davidson did the unthinkable and unleased on the world a water-cooled sledgehammer they called the V-Rod. And, aside from the odd-ball V-Max, about the only bike here that has any hopes of beating the VTX in the power game is the new Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod. Yes, a Harley. Who thought we’d ever say that?

With a wheelbase as long as its name and a water-cooled motor that has Motor Company die-hards running scared, the Harley is the only bike here that had sportbike guys falling over themselves.With the most distinctive look since Tiny Tim, the Man-Rod draws stares everwhere. People want to know what it is. Hell, we want to know what it is, too. It’s not really a cruiser, though it sure looks like one. It really is, as some disgruntled manufacturers have accused, a sportbike motor in acruiser chassis. Pulling away from a light, there’s definitely no sign of the lumps of torque that squirt the VTX around.

Four fat dykes, not one of them with balls. Oops, wait — did we say that out loud? We meant, four phat bikes, up against a wall …

The Harley needs a few more revs before things start to happen, but once the tach clears three thousand, it’s a whole new ballgame. As revs spring through five thousand, only the V-Max can reel the silver bullet in. The riding position is very clearly from Milwaukee, placing the rider low in the bike, reclining a bit in the saddle, reaching forward and up a bit to the bars. Around town, the bike’s long wheelbase and raked-out forks make it a bit of a chore to weave about, but once traffic clears up, the bike is dead-nuts stable and the chassis design makes sense. It’s sprung and damped like a sportbike, making it a bit more jarring on neglected local roads, but the trade-off is unparalleled confidence in the corners. Sure, things will drag (the lower muffler on the right side, for instance) but no sooner than on the other bikes here.

Though the brakes are Harley’s best effort, they still fall behind the Kawasaki’s binders. The transmission could use a bit of work too, since it’s occasionally notchy, though it never caused us to miss a shift. Still, when it was time to ride, the V-rod was the one that everybody was pining for. Calvin says he even saw Minime checking out the latest Harley parts catalog looking for leather and fringe.

First Place: Kawasaki Mean Streak

Quicklook: {MSRP $10,999 || 64.3 bhp || 74.3 lbs/ft}

The Mean Streak, mean and streaking, all 64.3 whopping horses of it. Jeez. Later on we turned Calvin into his favorite bike. We slapped him around, pissed him off and made him run naked down the street.

Brent and Minime to Calvin:

“Dude, you’ve ruined every test this year!

What is wrong with you?”

Kawasaki’s Mean Streak took us by surprise when it showed up. On paper, it doesn’t come across as anything special, but after a ride you begin to notice that it does a most admirable job of impersonating a sporty bike in the canyons. Couple this excellent chassis balance with the best brakes of any cruiser ever produced, great looks and ergonomics, and you’ve got a near-perfect powercruiser. The only thing it’s missing is the power.

All 64.3 horses flow to the rear meat as you snick through the clean-shifting transmission, and with every trip through the revs you’re left wanting more. The bike has neither the most torque nor is it in possession of the most horsepower here. It’s good, yes, and we’ve heard there’s loads of potential inside the mill, but in an otherwise super package, a lack of balls is a glaring omission. What power is available, however, comes on smooth, right from idle. It pulls seamlessly, without any hiccup or spike in the power. It’s just the good, smooth sort of acceleration so many cruiserenthusiasts look for.

The only fault with the drivetrain is the shaft-drive. Though aesthetically pleasing, the Streak’s mechanicals could use a once-over. In on-off throttle situations, the shaft drive has a bit more slack than we tend to like, though it is rather smooth compared to the VTX. This takes some enjoyment out of a bike, especially while lane-splitting during daily commutes, though once in full cruise mode, everything settles into a perfectly harmonious cadence.. Ergonomically, the riding position is definitely more traditional cruiser than the V-Max and right in line with the VTX, though the Kawasaki has a sportier sit-on-top-of-it feel. In all, it’s just about the easiest bike of the bunch to ride.

How We Voted
Voting Booth Blip Minime Hackfu Total
Mean Streak 2(3) 2(3) 1(5) 11
V-Rod 3(2) 1(5) 2(3) 10
V Max 1(5) 4(1) 3(2) 8
VTX1800 4(1) 3(2) 4(1) 4

… and what of the Warrior?

I just rode one at the intro and can safely tell that it would’ve fared excellently. Featuring suspension that resides somewhere between supersoft and supersport, the Warrior glides over pavement irregularities without fuss. When the road begins to look like an EKG diagram, however, I thought the damping was a tad too soft.

The brakes compare favorably to the stoppers found on the other bikes here, and after riding so many shaft-driven motorcycles, to get on a belt-driven machine (like the V-Rod) is a true blessing.

Power is available everywhere except for in the upper revs. A noticeable drop occurred about 500 rpms before redline. In all honesty though, we need to remember what this motor is: a big, push-rod, air-cooled, V-twin. Consider that fact, and then the numbers and performance of the motor (79.9 bhp, list) look very good.

Where would’ve I ranked the Warrior in this lineup? Probably the top. However, I’ll reserve comment until we can park it next to the current winner. Stay tuned for a first ride report!

Hackfu

Enlightenment and Justification

When the votes were tallied for this shootout, a few unexpected things happened. For starters, we thought the V-Rod would clean up and garner top spot on everybody’s ballot sheet. After all the hype that has been generated by the press (ourselves included), how could it not win?

It was not in The Motor Company’s cards however, as a few people on staff had conclusions that differed wildly from their preconceptions. Brent Plummer still loves his V-Max and voted it first. Even though he insists “real men ride V-Maxes,” his beloved Yamaha fails to come out on top yet again. It was the Kawasaki Mean Streak that ended up taking the win by virtue of the fact that it finished either first or second on everybody’s ballot card. The V-Rod was close behind, though it managed to finish out of the top two on Blip’s tally, nudging the Kawasaki into the winner’s circle by a single point.

In conclusion, it’s not just an abundance of either horsepower or torque that make a proper performance cruiser. The Mean Streak has the least power of any bike here, but it has more attributes than it has faults, making it a solid choice for the crown. It looks sharp, it has the best brakes, chassis, a low price, a great-sounding stock exhaust system and you’ll actually be able to find one at your local dealer.

If you want extremes like power, heft or a high price tag, there are certainly other bikes here that are just what you’re looking for. For the majority of people however, the Mean Streak is just about perfect.

Opinions

Brent Plummer:

Here we are, five years since the awesome V-Max lost our MuscleBikes shootout — where I voted it first — and I’m flamin’ angry (again) that it didn’t win (again). So, I’m gonna rant.

Once upon a time, I built my own 500cc two-stroke racer out of an H1R engine, GSX-R chassis components and a GPz550 frame. I won races on it, and believed that I was enlightened — at the time I new, to the core of my being, that two-strokes were clearly superior to all four-strokes. Light and powerful with God-I-Love-It doubling of the power in 1,000 rpms, I was forced to learn how to carry massive corner speed, brake like a demon, and you better believe big-time throttle control was part of the game. What more could you want? Later, I wedged a 140 bhp, 800cc H2 engine in my racebike, ran mid-nine-second quarter miles, gave up on winning in (and out of) turns, and wheelied my way to victory. Nothing like winning on the straights to usher in a new era of enlightenment. Man, I was 21, and I surely knew everything.

At that time, I hated all four-strokes, especially BMWs, because Beemer owners thought they had great-handling, fast bikes. They lived in the glory years of Reg Pridmore. But I respected Harleys. That they were clunky and leaked oil and reminded me of my two-stroke (which had similar clunky-looking air-cooled fins and, while it didn’t leak oil and ran on the death’s edge of leanness, it did smoke at warm-up like only a cold, piston-port two-stroke with 201 degrees of exhaust timing can). More than that affinity, I went to West Virginia University which, in the late 1980s, was the undisputed King of American party schools. There’s probably never been, nor — in this litigious society — ever will be a no-holds-barred, four-year party such as the likes of WVU at that time.

A big part of life there, for me at least, was hanging in the biker “scene” with “real” working-class bikers. Most of them rode Harleys, they all knew how to rebuild every aspect of them, they respected that I could give them a 200-yard head start in the quarter mile and still beat them, and not even a ZX-10 could best me down the Grafton Road. I was accepted, and they gave me free beer when they had it (which was, like, all the time). I, in turn, would pick spare tires out of the junk heap at the race track, fit them on my racer, and pop them for yucks. I guess I had sideshow value. At that time, I was unaware that sportbike weenies, such as me, were supposed to look down at Harleys, or that Harley guys didn’t care what you rode, they accepted all bikers as brothers, although with the ephemeral “if you have to ask, you don’t understand” ideology of _knowing_ that Harley riders were superior.

Later, I started MO, and rode a VFR750, the first four-stroke I’d ridden that power-wheeled without dumping the clutch. And I fell in love. Four-strokes finally made sense to me. Then I rode a four-valve Beemer, and I even liked them. I understood that lower maintenance and environmentally friendly emissions are a good thing. Speed ruled, four-stroke sportbikes were acceptable, two-strokes were king of the hill, Harleys were okay — original, if nothing else — and metric cruisers were clones. Although the latter didn’t break down, they were a notch below on my respectability ladder. Truly, in 1996, I knew I was enlightened.

Along comes the V-Max for our now-ancient Five Fat Uglies on Five Fat Bikes test. The V-Max was everything a metric cruiser should be: wicked fast, sporty-for-a-cruiser pegs, and the flip-up seat to refill the gas tank was too cool. I voted it first, and was pissed when it didn’t win. This was the epitome of a metric cruiser, a genre I was now sold on. At that time, I liked everything, but still felt clones were clones, and, in every cruiser test to follow until this day, while I respected metric v-twin cruisers, I always voted Harleys in first place. They rarely won the overall shootouts (which also pissed me off, it sucks when the bikes you want to win rarely win in a magazine that you founded!), but my votes always made sure they placed well. Heck, I even really like Beemers, and rode a scooter with a silver basket bolted to the back.

Enter today. After walking 1700 miles this year on the Pacific Crest Trail, I had a lot of time with my thoughts, and I’ve come to feel that, overall, I know nothing about anything, was never “enlightened of opinion” and value my freedom more than anything else. Freedom, to me, is the ability to do what I want, when I want. Simply put, it’s freedom of time. In today’s society, it means the financial means to just screw off on no notice for months at a time. Keep this in mind as I ramble on.

Now, the point of this diatribe: Harley makes the Man-Rod, and it’s cool. Some of the fit and finish seems cheap and tacky to me, so I wouldn’t have voted it first anyway. But I digress. With four valves and water cooling, it enters the power cruiser market. This means it goes head-to-head with the V-Max, in a niche that the V-Max carved out. At an MSRP of $16,695 and a realistic price of $30,000 plus — coupled with the V-Max being faster with better brakes and (this is a scary thought) better handling, I just can’t justify the expenditure, regardless of how much money is in my bank account. Nor can I recommend that you get fleeced just to own one: I’ll wait a year or two or more for the used bike market to drop out from under Harley (which seems it is starting to do), and the resultant price-gouging and over-MSRP selling to stop, then I’ll consider a ‘Rod.

Beef Steak

“Sadly, I liked it. I only say sadly because, next to the Man-Rod, the Mean Streak has the second worst name of the decade.”

Even worse is that the “Beef Steak” monicker seems to have stuck. Loved the colors, the ride, the shifting, the engine. If Harley had ever made a two-valve bike this good, sportbike squids would probably give them respect.

But the name? Gimme a break. Trust me, I’m as diverse as they come: I’ve hired a gun-toting Korean and Minime, who likes country rap. I figure that, the more “diverse” a person is, the more “different” your lifestyle is, then the higher the fun factor to hang around you (although I really don’t get the country rap thing). So, if I wanted to be a homos-on-bikes, I’d be down with the name, but my own strange socio-sexual identity doesn’t line up in that camp, thus I found myself fibbing to my friends, “Yeah, it’s the new Kawasaki Vulcan cruiser. Pretty cool, eh?” I hated lying to them, and hated being put in the position to fear being heckled for riding a Beef Steak.

But hey, if I was a lesbian, and as far as you know I just might be one, I’d really dig the name. So it’s all a matter of perspective, and mine is more jaded than most. It’s the easiest to ride, too, so if you’re thinking of moving up to a large bike and fear displacement (despair not! about 70% of bikers I’ve met fear big power, it’s strangely common, and personally baffling. There’s nothing like third-gear, uncontrollable wheelies on a 310-pound, 140bhp two-stroke down Summit Point’s straightaway!), this is the bike for you.

VTXra-large

I just can’t put my finger on it, but I really disliked it. Which is strange, as I like Hondas more than most, certainly more than Calvin. Heck, the VFR800 tops my all-time favorite bike list (R1s second, any current 1000cc UJM bike third), I had my four-stroke epiphany on a Honda. And my uber-hot friend Heather rode a Honda scooter, so I have fond memories of meeting the beautiful people on a Honda. Everything just seems wrong on the VTX — once the power really gets rolling, the rev limiter bumps in. Its heavy. It’s slow for its displacement. I didn’t like the fit and finish and especially the dash layout.

It lacks soul.

The V-iagra

What can I say? It rules. Loved riding it. It’s the cheapest power cruiser and also the fastest — by a lot. So I voted it first.

I like the riding position, which seems to be the killer for the majority of people, so, yes, the majority of people won’t like it. But I’m still voting it first, and the Beef Steak second. I’ll concede that the Beefy is the best all-around bike here for the money, but picking between the two is easy: Sit on a V-Max at a dealer, if you can stomach the riding position, get one. Otherwise, if you’re a stinkin’ rich RUB, get a Man-Rod, you won’t be disappointed. Otherwise, the Beefy is the bike to have.

Brent Avis:

As far as I’m concerned, there are only two (count ’em – two) bikes in this test. Kawasaki’s Mean Streak and Harley’s V-Rod are the only cruisers I’ve ever really enjoyed. And of the two, the V-Rod is a man’s machine. It takes muscle to fling it through the twisties, the suspension is sportbike stiff and the motor will stretch your arms. It’s even got its own unique look to it, though it’s every inch a Harley. So what if they won’t be available for a few months and the price is completely insane? I couldn’t even afford half of the cheapest bike in this test, anyway. If going is more important to you than stopping, and you dig the occasional shot of adrenaline, there’s only one real choice here. Besides, penny-pinchers shouldn’t be worried about procuring a newcruiser anyway.

Calvin Kim:

I voted the Mean Streak first for one, and only one, reason. Price. Thats it. Nothing else. For me, it’s almost as good as the V-Rod except for the power output. Frankly, the price difference more than makes up for the power difference, hence my decision.

The VTX is not bad as a cruiser, and in all honesty, it’s kinda fun to haul it around through corners. But once you have to get on the brakes, you realize that the only thing small on the machines is the brake lever. Get back on the gas, and the shaft lets you know that power is being transfered down to the ground. To its credit, the motor is really strong. Alas the low rev ceiling puts a damper on engine fun.

The V-Max was fun because it’s fast. After all, it’s cool to be able to out accelerate 600s off the line. However, the styling does absolutely nothing for me. The fuel filler hole is in a very stealthy position and the fuel reserve switch is kinda neat. The vented rear brake is trick. But that’s about it.

  • SRMark

    The Mean Streak was the first and only cruiser bike I owned. Wish I still had it. I haven’t ridden any of the other bikes in this test so I don’t have an opinion. But I can understand how it was possible that the Meanie won.

  • Tim Sawatzky

    I love my Mean Streak! It handles great, and with a new air intake, exhaust and PC111, it has lots of power. I just wish it had a 6th gear. I also wish Kawasaki would bring out something like it again, but they seem to have forgotten about cruisers these days. Too bad.

  • Kenneth

    “Veer left Cap’n! She’s on the reef! You don’t so much turn the VTX as you change course.”
    I love it! I owned a couple of cruisers in the early-’00s, but don’t miss the massiveness.