I must be getting older. It wasn’t that long ago I remember telling myself that cruisers weren’t my thing. Heavy and slow with limited cornering clearance, 20-something me really didn’t get the appeal. “If I wanted to go slowly,” I would say to myself, “then I’d just drive my truck.” And for the record, yes, I do drive my truck like a grandma. Mainly because gas is expensive around these parts, but also because I’ve learned to mentally compartmentalize my different modes of transportation. Two wheels means I’m free to be a little aggressive and wick it up a little (within reason, of course), four wheels means I’m either driving my truck or my wife’s Acura. And while the latter can be fun when the revs climb, my better half isn’t exactly impressed when I show her when the V-TEC kicks in, yo!

Now that I’ve entered my fourth decade of existence, my stance isn’t quite the same as it used to be. During our recent photo shoot with the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 LT and Star V Star 950 Tourer, John Burns and I were the main riders, but photographer extraordinaire Evans Brasfield was also on hand to snap pics, riding the Suzuki Bandit 1250 S and swapping bikes with us on occasion. A highly underrated motorcycle in my opinion, the Bandito is a great everyday commuter bike. But when I found myself hopping off the Vulcan and onto the Bandit, a strange thing happened… I wanted back on the Kawi!

My arms and legs are usually splayed out when I ride cruisers, especially mid- to large-displacement varieties, but the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 LT proved to me that not all cruisers have to be ridden by giants to be comfortable.

My arms and legs are usually splayed out when I ride cruisers, especially mid- to large-displacement varieties, but the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 LT proved to me that not all cruisers have to be ridden by giants to be comfortable.

No dig against the Bandit, but I was really enjoying my time with the (mostly) analog Vulcan. I think it comes down to a couple things. First, the simplicity. No computers are interpreting the amount my wrist is twisting, or how much braking power I’m trying to summon. With less than 50 horses and over 660 pounds, the algorithm for power and brakes is simple: give me all of it!

Second, the ergos – the Vulcan simply “fits” me, which isn’t something I can say about most cruisers, big or small, including the Star we had alongside it. I loved the huge windscreen, especially as we were riding on a chilly day, the ride was comfy, and the V-Twin pulses were pleasing to my ears. And in the odd event there was someone traveling even slower than I was, twisting the throttle was met with linear acceleration, not neck-snapping power.

Cruisers may not be my favorite genre of motorcycling, but smokey burnouts on them never get old.

Cruisers may not be my favorite genre of motorcycling, but smokey burnouts on them never get old.

You know, the more I think about it, the more I realize the Vulcan is a lot like the two-wheeled version of my 10-year-old Toyota Tundra; wholly competent if not a little underwhelming. The Tundra is a little smaller than its competition, it isn’t the fastest, nor does it have the biggest payload, but I didn’t buy it because of its spec sheet. I bought it because it fits me and it fits my lifestyle. And it has a V-8 engine. I love V-8 engines…

As a whole, it’s safe to say cruisers are the slice of the motorcycling pie I least look forward to riding, but maybe that’s because I haven’t taken a moment to enjoy what cruisers have to offer. I’ve always liked the torquey nature of V-Twin engines, but cruiser dimensions have rarely been comfortable to me. When decked out with the right amenities and favorable proportions, cruiserdom is no longer about enjoying the virtues of V-Twin engines, but really enjoying the experience as well. There’s a certain calmness about riding a notch slower than normal and soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells the open road has to offer. And there’s no denying that riding a cruiser still beats being stuck in traffic in a car.

Ok, cruisers are fun and all, but it doesn’t quite compare to dragging a knee aboard a Yamaha FJR1300...

Okay, cruisers are fun and all, but it doesn’t quite compare to dragging a knee aboard a Yamaha FJR1300…

That’s one of the little surprises I like about this job. I’ve spent time aboard a variety of bikes, but every now and again a motorcycle will come into my hands that I expected little from, and then it comes around and surprises the hell out of me. Sure there are faster, lighter, and all-around better motorcycles, and no, I don’t actually want to own this Vulcan, but could this be a sign I’m becoming more, gulp, mature?

Quick! I think it’s time to rocket a literbike around a trackday to get me back to my senses!

  • john phyyt

    Precisely! If you love it ; take it out and enjoy it; I can’t understand the various prejudices. I sat on a new R1 in the showroom ; No need for a test ride; to tell me it wasn’t for me. But doesn’t mean others can’t have a ball on one.
    Also: Kudos to those who ride in winter; and if you use heated seat,gloves,vest but still stay on the road. Well “respect”

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I ride all year round, even in the rain. Use heated gloves on my Harley Softail Custom and have heated grips on the KTM 1190 R. Nothing else is heated (except engine heat of course) but plenty of thick leathers, neck warmer, thick socks, flannel shirts and thermal underwear. As comfortable as being in the living room.

      • Will

        I, too, compartmentalize my driving/riding. It’s kind of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mindset. I have enough trouble staying out of the long arm of the law on a motorcycle to get rowdy on four wheels.

        • TroySiahaan

          Granted, if I owned a sports car I’d probably rack up my share of tickets. So I’m fine with my slow truck. :)

  • JMDonald

    If a person likes cruisers good for them. Some of my friends have Road Kings that they love dearly. All you need to now is what you like. Winter riding in Comancheria is a lot different than Orange County. Base layer,jeans, overpants, neck gaiter, gloves, lined adventure jacket, touring boots, heated grips and seat are barely enough here. I will more than likely need to go with a heated vest or some other electric heating device. WTFO?

    • Alan G

      tuono 1100 commuter bike #31 riding since 1968.

  • http://happymonday.biz/ Danilo Vargas

    Troy, great to see any biker move away from dogmatist views about what’s “better”. Heck, it’s all good! All bikes are awesome is my view and each offers up something viscerally different. Personally, that’s why I keep three: 750 cruiser, 1800 cruiser and 1100 CBR. Variety is the spice of life.

  • 12er

    All ergo’s for me. Too tall for low seat heights.

  • Mahatma

    Took some gymnastics to get the knee down on that FJR I see;) Later in life you realise that going knee down on public roads on a regular basis will earn you a stay with those white clad people.And you’re right about TC and such shit on those behemoths:D

    • TroySiahaan

      Only slightly more exaggerated than I would be on a sportbike, mostly so the pegs don’t scrape. And don’t worry, that pic was taken at a racetrack, not on public roads.

  • SteveSweetz

    Troy, have you ridden a Kawi Vulcan s?

    As a sport/standard rider, I find I still don’t like traditional V-twin cruisers; too vibey, clunky gearboxes, too heavy. However, I found I rather like a Kawi Vulcan S – which not all that surprising since it’s basically a Ninja 650 wearing cruiser drag. If I wanted a cruiser, that’s the one I’d get. I think it’s very much the sport bike rider’s cruiser.

    That said, when I get too old for a sporty bike, I think I’d fancy myself a maxi scooter instead of a cruiser. At that age hopefully I shouldn’t care what people think about my scoot.

    • TroySiahaan

      I have. Like you said, it’s basically a Ninja 650 in costume, so it’s a little apples/oranges. It’s a fine bike, and I agree it’s a good choice for the sporty rider looking at a cruiser-ish bike. Lately I’m finding myself appreciating the slower pace of traditional V-Twins. It’s really in the canyons or the track where I’m wishing for speedy shifts and all that. On the street a slow shift doesn’t bother me as much, as long as it engages smoothly. The Vulcan 900 does that.

  • Fausto Carello

    Ya Troy I am like you, getting hold (68), i was lucky enough to own many different bikes, at present I ride a Gold Wing, but, as i said i am getting hold and i planning to add a sidecar to my goldy😕, dont laugh, at list I am on 3 wheels and not on 4. Regards.

    • TroySiahaan

      Gold Wings and sidecars make a great combination! As long as you enjoy it!

  • Jim Greer

    Give yourself another decade or two and you won’t believe you could ever have ridden anything else.

    • TroySiahaan

      Oh lordy…let’s hope I don’t get to that point!

    • Michael Mccormick

      Riding for 50 years and at age 66 don’t want a cruiser, and I’ve owned 3. How many decades is that? No offense but…

      • Jim Greer

        Don’t get your panties in a wad, just my fucking opinion, total offense intended

        • Michael Mccormick

          Thanks for the personal attack. I guess you have to be right and anyone who rides non cruisers is missing it

          • Jim Greer


  • Michael Mccormick

    I’ve owned 42 bikes and three of them were cruisers: a Triumph America, a Honda CTX700, and a Moto Guzzi Jackal. All were decent bikes and fun. Unfortunately, you need to be able to afford another bike at the same time if you want something that is enjoyable when the rode gets curvy. Scooters handle better and are more fun in an urban setting

  • Mike Johnson

    This is what I would like to do as an example. If you pull out the Dyno charts you see the power characteristics of cruiser engines which is exactly where almost all street riding is done. This comes from data logging BTW from riders and their bikes not personal reports.
    So what could be really cool? If you look at a Yamaha 1300 Stryker you see an incredible SOHC power plant and I would really like to get a lightly used one and try to take the maximum weight of it while getting the wheelbase down to just under 60 inches. These things weigh about 650 and if you could get this down to 475 or so you would have a very relaxed sport cruiser.
    You just need to pick the engine that appeals the most. I like the 1300 Y because it is belt drive and the advantage of shaft escapes me for transversely mounted engines but it might work out with a shaft bike and is worth considering. Wheel base might be challenging though you would have a Helluva drift bike. :-)
    Later a cam upgrade to a slightly higher RPM band could be considered. The Bandit 1200-1250 is a monster mill but a 1000cc inline 4 with smaller valve, cams, ports, and throttle bodies or carbs would work great but how to swap the head to a lower RPM config?
    Does anyone have a solution on here or remembers such an engine?

    • spiff

      Kind of what Beull was doing, and what I think Victory will do for 2017.

      • spiff

        Not exactly what you are talking about, but wait for the 800cc KTM.

      • Mike Johnson

        Thanks and I owned 2 Buells and the engines moved in an over tuned direction and these engines cannot take that for long. It was a valiant effort. Shaky reliability to say the least and this spoils the fun too often. The idea was great though and my White Lightning was really thrilling ride but so short on w-base.
        So start with a powerful but reliable powerful engine and with 80 cubic inches and SOHC this mill should deliver 90 lbs of torque for years with that peaking at 3500-4500 it would be fun and stealthy for those not into fines and jail time or impounding. If it has to have a 60 inch wbase to get enough weight on the front wheel without jacking the tail very high then so be it. Any V engine other than Guzzi tends to rear weight bias- bad for sharp handling.
        I have been studying the late Buell aircooled mills and a 2008 and later might be much better though with a 3.625 bore. 78 inches and less RPMs – that was the killer, RPM

  • Old MOron

    Troy, you seem like a nice kid. Please consider these famous last words:
    I didn’t start riding a cruiser because I got old.
    I got old because I started riding a cruiser.

  • Ducati Kid


    A Cruiser you can’t purchase – BMW R1200R, R Nine T plus options based R1200GC (Gentleman Cruiser) Concept.

    Saddle up!

    Guzzi devotees –

    A revised ‘Audace’ Concept at bottom ….

  • Zentradi

    Truth. As I get older, too, I find myself more about just enjoying the ride than anything else. For me, I’m looking hard at the upcoming SV650, and look forward to your review of it. Sure the supersports are sexy as hell, but for my daily riding dollar, and where I am skill-wise and the limitations of the public streets, I think something like that suits me better. Relaxed, peppy, and with plenty of go to give me smiles for miles.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Funny, had an ’02 Tundra SR5, loved that truck. Like Troy said, it was not a spec sheet winner, but I liked it’s size. The point is, vehicles are not really rational things, they are emotional. We all connect differently.

    I like riding dirt bikes, even with those, there is the 2 stroke vs. 4 stroke debate. I own both. Sometimes I wanna ride the light and snappy 2 stroke, sometimes I wanna feel the endless pull and hear the growl of the 4 stroke.

    The street bike is a Yamaha FZ1, which is basically a sharper less squishy Bandit. A good all around bike chosen for practicality. I will probably add a used cruiser. I could not have a cruiser as my only bike, but I have enjoyed my borrowed rides on them. A cousin was kind enough to let me ride his Harley Heritage Softail on the Dragon, with my 15 year old daughter. Trusting soul he is – and that was a great ride. The same kid loves riding on the back of the FZ1 though, she finds the power and manic howl from its Akra exhaust thrilling. Would also like to have a 300cc scooter for its hop on it and go usability.

    In the end, I like riding on two wheels and if money was not a concern, could easily “justify” having well over 10 bikes in my garage :)

    • http://about.me/PaulMEdwards Paul M Edwards

      The final formula for the exact amount of motorcycles you need to have:
      n + 1
      where n is the number of motorcycles you currently have.

  • Buzz

    Harley-Davidson has always been warned by the journos and certain message board posters that the gray beards were aging out and they needed a sport bike for the youngsters.

    My answer always was, Father Time is undefeated and they too will one day be older. Oddly enough, Sportsters are way more popular with the younger set than Sportbikes these days.

    I usually have both bases covered. A fast bike and a slow one are always in the garage. There’s also a 2002 Toyota Tundra 4WD Limited V8 in the garage. 83,000 miles. Owned since new.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The Street 500 and Street 750 are ideal for youngsters.

      • Buzz

        Yes and those are small cruisers. Not sport bikes.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Wait till the LiveWire comes out.

  • Big Daddy

    In my 20+ years of riding I’ve always enjoyed performance bikes the best (sport/streetfighter) but I’ve always loved the look of chopper styled bikes. I’ve owned a few chopper styled bikes but the feet forward riding position always put too much weight on my tailbone with no real way to move around and adjust on 1+ hour rides.

    I recently picked up an HD Fatboy as a second bike (but main commuter) and with the floorboards, the riding position actually works for me. It’s started getting to the point where even on the weekends I’ll often grab it for short rides and errands before I jump on my Ducati.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Duc and when I feel the need to hit twisties or just generally want to ride like a hooligan, it’s my go to bike. It’s just that as I approach the big Five Oh, I’ve finally begun to understand the appeal of heavyweight cruisers and how it’s nice sometimes to slow down and smell the roses as they say.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      There is no need to apologize for liking a Harley. I don’t know why all online commenters feel obligated to hate HDs. After all, it is just a bike. 250,000 people who buy Harleys every year must love them, but they would rather ride their bike than waste time online arguing with sport bike fan boys. There is a reason sport bikes are going the way of the dodo. Everyone was hoping HD would disappear with the baby boomers, but the younger generation is embracing the newer models even more than their parents and grand parents. Women especially love Harleys for their power and low seat height. You are never far from a HD dealership anywhere in the country, You cannot say that about any other bike.

  • TalonMech

    I’m 48, and still want nothing to do with cruisers. I’ve ridden several, and found no redeeming qualities other than the fact that they had 2 wheels.
    Nothing against those who enjoy them. I just don’t get the appeal. I hate the feet forward ergos, and the ones I’ve ridden had about 2 inches of suspension travel. I have given up sport bikes, which I rode well into my 30’schedule for similar reasons. The ergos suck. Nakeds, sport tourers, and adventure bikes are now the only bikes I care to ride. They are very versatile for most uses, and comfortable for my aging frame.

    • TalonMech

      Not sure why my phone’s autocorrect put the word schedule behind 30’s. I guess I need to proof read before hitting post.

    • Max Wellian

      I used to be a cruiser critic. Nothing against those who liked them, they just didn’t appeal to me. I had rode a few and came to the same basic conclusions as you. One night after a few too many and a lot of review reading and listening to my former sportbike buddy who loved his Yami Warrior, I clicked the buy it now on Ebay for one.

      Drove up with the wife to the dealer that was a couple hundred miles away to hand over the money, then rode home. I was miserable. After finding a good windscreen, floorboards, and carving up the seat cushions, it was actually not bad, but I still wasn’t crazy about it. One day riding home from work I stopped by a Victory dealership along the way and got a test ride. Shortly thereafter a new Cross Roads adorned my garage. Due to buffeting, it required a taller windscreen, but aside from that was one of my favorite bikes ever. Comfy as a a sofa, throbbing but smooth engine with plenty of real world power, great ground clearance, plenty of suspension travel. Unfortunately, I planted it in a deer.

      Now I ride a comfy new sport tourer with a smooth enough inline 4 and it’s a great bike, but I do miss that twin engine and even having my feet out a little in front of me. Fortunately, the aftermarket came to my rescue and at least allowed me to put highway pegs on the new ST, but it’s hard to shift and brake when they’re up there…which is almost any time the road isn’t twisting.

      • TroySiahaan

        “Unfortunately, I planted it in a deer.” I assume since you’re writing this and you are still riding that you came away from that deer experience relatively fine. In which case, this sentence gave me a good chuckle.

        Anyway, yeah, those Victory engines are nice and underrated, IMO. And if I’m going to have my feet in front of me, floorboards are the way to go.

        • Max Wellian

          It actually put me in a trauma center for 5 days. Busted the crap out of my right leg, but I hobble around on it good enough to swing it over a bike. Some people never learn.
          On a positive note, I have found a new pastime I enjoy as much as riding,,,massage therapy.
          The Vic engines are simply remarkable. I found they had plenty of oomph and even ground clearance to hang with sport tourers in the mountains until the roads get straight. But there are plenty of guys who pipe and cam those things and get over 120 torque & Hp and the engines don’t have any reliability issues run like that either. Those would likely hang with the STs in the straights too. Shame they’re killing the brand to promote the Indians which aren’t nearly as good a ride and ugly too.
          I’m with you on the floorboards. So much more comfy than dangling heels.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Polaris is not killing Victory, just focusing it on performance while focusing Indian on heritage. It is good to have plenty of brands to play with. Variety is the spice of life.

          • Max Wellian

            And yet the first “performance” bike to come out of Polaris was the Indian Scout. Hmmmm.
            They have killed off most of their variations already. The only marketing seems to be aimed at people who want flashy paint and Big Wheels. The latter trend is likely to play out in the near future as they always do.
            I suspect that you’re right and they will continue to build Vics in small numbers and change the paint every year until their loyal following takes to wheel chairs. But at the very least the buzz of them doing regular test rides to demonstrate how good their bikes are and anticipation of regularly introduced new models is gone.

  • Kevin Polito

    I have been riding since 1974. Until 1999, I had ridden only sport/naked style bikes. While I enjoyed the power, there were a lot of days when I just wanted to relax and enjoy the scenery, and the lack of low-end grunt didn’t lend itself to that. I had ridden a few Harleys and was put off by the vibration. But then in 1999, I tagged along with a friend who was picking up his new bike, and while browsing through the used bike section, I came upon a Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic. The owner of the dealership said, “I’ll get the key. Go take it for a ride.” I bit. Within a few minutes, I was in love with the low-end torque and the loping, staccato character of the V-twin. And it was a lot more refined than the H-Ds I had ridden (pre-counterbalanced days). I was converted. There are times when I wish I had a naked or standard bike as a second bike, but most of the time I just love the relaxing, torque-laden character of the V-twin.

  • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

    Um, you’re in your 4th decade…unless you just turned 20. Which means you would have been about 9 years old when we first met?

    • TroySiahaan

      Well, when I shave I look about 9…

    • Archie Dux

      0-10: first decade — 11-20: second; 21-30 – third; 31- 40; fourth; if he’s had his 40th birthday, he’s in his fifth decade.

      • TroySiahaan

        Gabe had it right. I miscounted how many decades I’ve been on this Earth and snuck in an edit.

  • Martin Buck

    I have ridden since 1973, all Japanese or other Asian makes, some small (one 100cc two stroke twin, to learn on, one 108cc scooter much later on), one big (Yamaha TR1 1,000cc Vtwin), but most in the middle. I have ridden three cruisers, and they are perfectly fine for tooling around on in an unaggressive manner, especially on a warm, sunny day. The size depends on how far you are riding. Under 400cc is great for urban or winding road riding, 600 to 800cc is better for riding beyond your county. My favorite is still the TR1, big slabs of torque instantly available, but relaxing and slow revving for hours on end of mind calming travel. I have never ridden a bad bike, just some better equipped for my chosen purpose. Ideally I’d have five. I’m not a fan of nervous quick revving fours or those bikes that cannot transition from closed to open throttle without herky jerky behavior. Chacun a son gout, as they say in France.

  • Bruce Steever

    Troy… Troy… man, what are we going to do about this? Your friends and family love you, don’t forget that. We just don’t like watching you do this to yourself. Please, take some time, get your head on straight. We’re… all… we’re just all here for you, ya know. If you need to talk or anything. We’re not worried. Just, you know… we care, right?

    • TroySiahaan

      Help me, Bruce! I can’t take it anymore! *sob*

    • TroySiahaan

      Help me, Bruce! I can’t take it anymore! *sob*

  • dinoSnake

    What you need to do is get the modern version of the “hybrid”, bikes that the makers market as ‘cruiser’, or ‘retro’, yet are really teetering on the edge of “standard”.

    The BMW R NineT is an example, as is the Moto Guzzi Griso and the Honda Goldwing Valkyrie – bikes with rather a standard rider position yet with torque-y engines that are as comfortable trolling around town at 2,000 RPM as they are burning up that rear tire.

  • Max Wellian

    “But when I found myself hopping off the Vulcan and onto the Bandit, a strange thing happened… I wanted back on the Kawi!”

    I was waiting for the obvious next statement. “If I had to explain it…you wouldn’t understand.”

  • BoxerFanatic

    I figured I was just getting old, too.
    All of the sudden, Indian Scout/Sixty, Moto Guzzi California, and Ducati Diavel XS are really looking pretty good to me. I am still not a big fan of Harleys, or domestic or metric clones of Harleys. But some of these tech-forward alternatives in the cruiser market, and even alternatives like Can Am Spyder F3 are looking interesting.

    I am not so much tied to the traditional looks… I can appreciate a good looking design whether it is retro, modern, or even an innovative alternative. I am not a huge fan of ubiquitous, over-played, over-emphasized tradition for it’s own sake.

    What I am really starting to like is the idea of recumbent seating, and natural ergonomics. Which is probably the main effect of me not being as young as I used to be. I like that idea on two wheels, or even three, with two wheels forward and a suspension that leans and counter-steers. Whether it be a retro Indian Scout, a modern cruiser Diavel XS, or my own idea for a theoretical future combination between Honda’s NeoWing Concept and NM4 Vultus, as an innovative tilting reverse trike with a recumbent seating position, I am getting interested in things I never thought I might.

  • Alexander Guzman

    I’m 26, ridden mostly cruisers for my 7 years of experience on bikes. I’ve ridden a few other bikes as well, standards and sport bikes, a ducati and a GSXR and such when i get the chance. Those bikes are great fun, awesome power, by far superior performance, but when i decided what i wanted to buy it came to the cruiser. I needed, or wanted, the bike for commuting and could not understand how anyone could have the patience to commute on the sport bike in a less comfortable position, stuck in city traffic, and limited by even highway speeds.

    Many of the guys who had the sport or standard bikes I know who used it for commuting have all expressed the same concern. you just cant use it on the road like you want to without always looking over your shoulder, so why not get the cruiser for a smoother more comfortable ride, more creature comforts and better engine for traffic.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Agree with you completely.

  • Gary J Boulanger

    Maturity has its privileges, Troy!

    • TroySiahaan

      You mean like senior discounts?