2011 World Cruiser Shootout [Video]

Harley-Davidson Super Glide Custom vs. Honda Sabre vs. Moto Guzzi California vs. Triumph Thunderbird

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We set out on this cruiser adventure to see what the motoworld thinks a cruiser is supposed to look, feel, sound and act like, using the mother of all cruisers, a Harley, as our measuring stick. To our delight what we discovered was how much we enjoyed the diversity of cruiser interpretation.

We couldn’t deny the practicality or raw engine power of some of the brands represented in this shootout, but having the original gangsta, the Harley, gave us the feeling like we were tied to undeniable motorcycling history, as well as trend-setting traits and character. For my taste, I can work around its shortcomings of poor lean angle clearance or limited rear suspension travel, but I needn’t do anything to help the Super Glide Custom retain what will likely be a solid resale value.

2011 World Cruiser Shootout

Kevin and Tom were charmed by the peculiar Moto Guzzi and its days-gone-by design that can still keep pace with today’s machines in this class. And as we read on the previous page, Troy’s performance-driven heart found the Triumph’s modern cruiser platform most appealing. Certainly the Thunderbird suffers a bloated waistline, and its footpegs touch down all too easily. But then again, most large-displacement cruisers contend with these ills.

Faves aside, an objective perspective says the Thunderbird emerges as the motorcycle that best encapsulates what makes up a cruiser while keeping to a minimum negatives stemming from basic cruiser design edicts. The Triumph brings to the table grin-inducing power, a prominent big-bike appearance and chassis performance to back it all up. Finally, it does all of this, including supply ABS, with an MSRP that screams, “Best deal here!”

Tom sums up the big British cruiser in a single but poignant thought: “The T-Bird oozes its own brand of personality equal in significance to any Harley.”

2011 World Cruiser Shootout

By the Numbers
  2011 Moto Guzzi California Black Eagle 2012 Harley-Davidson Super Glide Custom 2011 Honda Sabre 2011 Triumph Thunderbird
Engine Type 90-degree air-cooled pushrod V-Twin 45-degree air-cooled pushrod V-Twin 52-degree liquid-cooled SOHC V-Twin Liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel-Twin
Displacement 1064cc 1584cc 1312cc 1597cc
Bore x Stroke 92 x 80mm 95.3 x 111.3mm 89.5 x 104.3mm 103.8 x 94.3mm
Compression 9.8:1 9.2:1 9.2:1
Frame Steel tube Steel tube Steel tube Steel tube
Front Suspension 45mm fork 49mm fork 41mm fork 47mm fork
Rear Suspension Twin coil over spring shocks w/preload & rebound Twin coil over spring shocks w/preload Single hidden shock Dual Showa coil over spring shocks w/preload
Rake, Trail, Wheelbase 29.0°, 4.5 inches, 61.4 inches 29.0°, 4.6 inches, 64.2 inches 33.0°, 4.5 inches, 70.0 inches 32.0°, 5.9 inches, 63.5 inches
Front/Rear Wheels 18" chrome spoke/17" chrome spoke 19" chrome spoke/17" chrome spoke 21" cast aluminum/15" cast aluminum 19" cast aluminum/17" cast aluminum
Tires 110/90 x 18 Front, 140/70 x 17 Rear 100/90 x 19 Front, 160/70 x 17 Rear 90/90 x 21 Front, 170/80 x 15 Rear 120/70 x 19 Front, 200/50 x 17 Rear
Front Brakes Dual Brembo 4-piston calipers w/320mm disc Single 4-piston caliper and single disc Single 2-piston caliper w/336mm disc Dual 4-piston calipers w/310mm disc
Rear Brakes Single Brembo 2-piston caliper w/282mm disc Single 2-piston caliper and single dis Single 1-piston caliper w/296mm disc Single 2-piston caliper w/310mm disc
Seat Height 30.7 inches 26.5 inches 26.9 inches 27.5 inches
Curb Weight 590 lbs 679 lbs 659 lbs 746 lbs

Related Reading
2012 Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide Custom Review
2011 Honda Sabre Review
2011 Moto Guzzi California Black Eagle Review
2010 Triumph Thunderbird Review
2010 Honda Sabre Review
2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Classic vs. 2010 Triumph Thunderbird
All Things Harley-Davidson on Motorcycle.com
All Things Honda on Motorcycle.com
All Things Moto Guzzi on Motorcycle.com
All Things Triumph on Motorcycle.com
All Things Cruiser on Motorcycle.com

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