For the cruiser category of Motorcycle.com’s Best Of awards, we have two new motorcycles representing different arenas of the cruiser spectrum. These bikes will help to bring new motorcyclists into the fold for different reasons. They aren’t the most technologically advanced or most powerful, nor would they be the best pick for riding across the country. However, they represent some new thinking about desirable aspects to what makes a cruiser cool.

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The Triumph Bobber is the British manufacturer’s salute to those soldiers of days gone by who came home from war, chopped and bobbed their bikes, and used them as a kind of therapy and brotherhood in the days of less pharmaceutically driven remedies. Triumph has done an outstanding job by going all in on the bobber styling for the 2017 Bonneville-derived cruiser. Rather than putting fat tires on a motorcycle, blacking everything out, and maybe chopping a fender or two, Triumph’s design department took the time to bring a technologically advanced motorcycle to the market with style reminiscent of the 1940s.

2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber First Ride Review

Under the visually pleasing exterior sits a modern motorcycle befitting of the 2017 model year. The Triumph Bobber is outfitted with a torquey and powerful 1200cc parallel-Twin, rather than a V-Twin that is typical of this class, although its 270-degree crankshaft gives it a V-Twin-esque exhaust sound. A host of electronics are hidden away under the bobbed exterior, including ride-by-wire throttle, standard ABS, traction control, and two ride modes while also allowing options such as cruise control and heated grips from the factory. The folks at the Hinckley HQ have also done a great job at making what is generally a spine-compacting motorcycle-style comfortable enough with a nicely sculpted seat and 3 inches of suspension travel in the rear.

The Bobber takes the cake this year due to the technologically advanced motorcycle Triumph has managed to cram and sculpt into a period-looking, sexy bike, that pleases the eyes of our staffers and, apparently, the general public.

Triumph tells us the Bobber has been the most successful model in the English manufacturer’s history in terms of sales, a distinction previously held by the recent Street Twin. More customers took delivery of Triumph Bobbers in the first 30 days than any new Triumph. Ever. While that is certainly important in terms of sales to an OEM, it is also important to motorcycling as a whole when we see such huge interest in something so different. Kudos to Triumph for going all in with the Bobber design and not leaving out any of the modern niceties.

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Like the MOBO-winning British sexpot above, the Honda Rebel 500 is another motorcycle that represents more than the sum of its parts. We bestow our honorable mention on the new-for-2017 Honda Rebel 500. With an engine borrowed from the CB500 line, the mid-sized cruiser comes with fuel injection and liquid-cooling, not before seen in the Rebel line-up which previously, had only a 250cc option. The Rebel now comes in two capacities: a 286cc Single and the 471cc Twin. The two models are identical besides engine size. We chose the larger of the two because it allows a motorcycle you can live with around town and on the freeway without feverishly flipping through the gears.

2017 Honda Rebel 500 Review

Also, like the motorcycle above, the Honda is about bringing new riders to the land of motorcycle-dom. Honda’s Rebel 250 of past years was the quintessential beginner motorcycle and a staple at MSF courses for decades, boasting light weight, modest power, low seat height, and maneuverability that will have you getting your class M license in no time. The new Rebel 300 fills that role.

Thankfully, Honda now offers the bigger brother at 500cc which stretches the boundaries where a beginner motorcycle ends and a decently powered, easily customizable motorcycle begins. Honda has painted the picture, which we have seen at launches and motorcycle shows, that the new Rebel line is easily customizable so new riders can feel comfortable on their bike not only in terms of learning to ride, but also with the thought that they can make it their own.

While some old-school riders have scoffed at the style of the new Rebels, it seems to be a hit for Honda’s intended demographic. Dealer surveys reveal that the Rebel’s style is the #1 reason for purchasing the bike. Honda reps tell us that dealers wish they could get a greater supply of Rebel inventory, always a signal of success.

It is essential to motorcycling’s future that manufacturers continue to produce intriguing options to bring interested parties into the sport, and we are happy Honda has made a bike that will make you feel cool while doing so.

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  • Joe

    The Bobber is a nice looking machine, and this is coming from a sport-bike riding guy.

    I’d love to test ride one.

  • movado

    Anytime I walk into a Triumph dealership, I’m drawn to this bike. I know it doesn’t check all my boxes so I’ll never likely own one, but it’s a darn good lookin’ bike. Even non-cruiser fans loves the way this motorcycle looks and the reviews across the board have been overwhelmingly positive. They just need to up the fuel tank capacity and it’ll be perfect.

  • JMDGT

    It is amazing to me that they have sold like they have. Good for Triumph.

  • Gabriel Owens

    Very interesting choices. I was expecting an Indian/Harley love fest.

    • Old MOron

      Yes, how refreshing to have a different perspective.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Bobbers need to get their own category instead of usurping cruiser space.

        • JoJo

          Bobbers are cruisers, just cut up, no frills cruisers.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Cruisers mean laid back feet forward cruising (whether bobbed or not). These are just standard motorcycles with bobbed fenders. Nothing to do with cruisers. They are in the wrong category.

  • RyYYZ

    I can’t argue with the choices, as I’ve never really gotten cruisers. I’d rather have a stock, basic Street Twin, myself, than the Bobber. By my standards that’s also pretty much a cruiser, but I guess retro standard would probably be a better description. The least retro of the lineup, though, which is why I probably like it best.

    I’m 50, I was born in 1967. The bikes of previous generations don’t really appeal that much to me – they weren’t a presence in my mind growing up.

    But if this is the sort of thing you like, more power to you. It’s great that there are so many good choices out there today. Not that I can find one that’s exactly what I want – I wish I was into cruisers because there’s so much choice these days.

  • Matt O

    Glad to see the Rebel on the list. I love cruisers with sport bike derived engines. I’ve owned magnas of the v45, v65 and super variety as well as have ridden the rebel 500 and Vulcan S. this is a class of bike that stands apart from traditional v-twin and I love that it’s making a comeback. Now if only kawi would make a 1000cc Vulcan R or Honda a rebel 1000. That would get my money.

  • novemberjulius

    Suzuki S40 gets my vote.

    • DreadPhysicist

      Thumpers rule!

  • Dmitrii Kilishek

    I’ve ridden one of those Triumph Bobbers… really fun bike to ride! Good engine, good brakes, stiff suspension. Pure fun! Would I buy it? 99% No! But to ride it time to time… I would not refuse 🙂

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Good thing you didn’t choose the “bad ass” Indian Scout Bobber. “We know that in order to expand in this market we gotta go younger,” said Indian Vice President of Motorcycle Marketing Kevin Reilly. “We gotta go more badass.”

  • Carl Frey

    So the best cruisers are standards!?

    • Old MOron

      Funny thing: when Triumph announced the Bobber, I hated it because I thought of it as a standard with a cruiser look. But now that MO has framed it as a bona fide cruiser, I don’t mind it at all. In fact I think it’s a great cruiser.

  • SRMark

    I guess I just don’t get it. But obviously others do. Hard to beat a Road King. Hard to buy a Road King.

  • RMP52

    Both nice bikes, good choices.
    Personally I’d rather have a Bonnie than the Bobber. There is something about that Rebel that draws me, if it only had a 700cc engine………

  • Jim

    I took the Bobber for a test ride on a long twisty road last week, and I loved it. The fueling is spot-on, the torque is abundant, and the sound from the stock mufflers is perfect. It’s a really fun bike to ride. If I could have two bikes, I might consider it. It’s a little hot rod.

  • Bmwclay

    I don’t see a cruiser in this list.

    • movado

      Good point, even on Triumph’s website, if you click on Cruisers, the Bobber isn’t listed. I’d agree that it looks more like a standard than a cruiser.

  • Scott650

    Dear motorcycle manufacturers, please study the specs of both of these bikes. What do you not see? Weight. What else don’t you see? Weird, heels-in-the-wind foot pegs or gorilla-strangler handlebars. Both these bikes are proof that a cruiser can have some “attitude” without a splayed out riding position and without all that road hugging weight.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Neither of these is a cruiser. They are both standards. Cruisers imply everything you have described.

  • RevD

    Like some others I don’t understand how a bobber can be classed as a cruiser. In my eyes I t has more in common with a cafe racer or a naked standard – like the Bonneville!
    So what makes a cruiser a cruiser? I always equated foot forward seating, somewhat raked out (not chopper style) front end, like the Suzuki Boulevards, Harley Softails etc. The Sportster – definitely standard territory. The Triumph Bobber – well it’s a bobber.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      They already gave an award to Harley in the Touring category so they couldn’t give them another one here. Maybe one of the Indians could have won this category. The Ducati XDiavel S could have made it too, or the Moto Guzzi Freightliner (sorry I mean the Flying Fortress). Or the BMW K1600B or Honda F6B. Now we are getting into bagger territory for which there is no category (just like there is none for a bobber). They need to add a few more categories.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    Both of these are styled differently from the norm; however, the Triumph is pleasing to look upon, while I am not a fan of the Rebel’s broken back, sunken haunches look. I am pretty sure neither meet the technical definition of ‘cruiser’ although people might cruise around on them. I certainly would have thought one big criterion for a top cruiser would be the ability to take a significant other along for a ride, and I’m not sure how you’d do that on the Triumph or the Rebel.

    • Kevin Duke

      Take a passenger by ordering up the accessory pillion seat. Going by your criterion, bikes like a Low Rider S, Indian Scout, Victory Gunner, Sportster 48, 1200C or Iron 883 aren’t cruisers.

      • Mad4TheCrest

        Ok, you’ve got a point, but it begs the question then, what do you consider defines a ‘cruiser’? Where is the dividing line? When thinking of the Triumph Bobber I wouldn’t naturally associate it with those other bikes you just mentioned.

        • Kevin Duke

          Admittedly, the lines are blurry. We might start with wheelbases longer than 60 inches and rake angles higher than 27 degrees…?