Although the cruiser craze of the late 1990s and early 2000s has long since passed, there are still tons of riders who love cruisers. For newer riders or those reentering motorcycling after a hiatus, high prices can be an obstacle for buying a cruiser. It doesn’t have to be. The staff at Motorcycle.com have always been fans of cruisers and what they represent out on the road. So, we decided to go deal shopping to see what new models could be had for less than $10,000. Note that all of these motorcycles are 2019 models. You can find some great deals on leftovers from earlier model years if you look around.
You can be excused for thinking that the Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 is just an Iron 883 with a 1,202 cc V-Twin wedged into its frame. Although the 1200 rides on the same chassis as its littler sibling, it still has some tricks up its sleeve. At a glance, the mini-apes stand out in comparison to the 883’s flatter handlebar. This places the rider in a more upright and relaxed riding position.
The big difference, though, is the big air-cooled V-Twin. The rubber mounts allow the engine to dance at stoplights while keeping excessive vibes from reaching you at speed. The wide power delivery is great for meandering around town, and there’s plenty of grunt to blast up to highway speeds as you row your way through the 5-speed gearbox. However, those mini-apes mean that you’re not in the best position for combating the wind blast, and the bikini fairing doesn’t do much to help. So, most Iron 1200s will be found trolling the boulevard.
The 28.6-inch seat height means that it is easy for almost any rider to reach the ground. Additionally, the 1200 Sportster engine places the claimed 564 lb. weight low in the frame for easy low-speed maneuvers. The bobbed fenders, solo seat, and 19-inch front wheel paired with the 16-inch rear give the Iron 1200 attitude to spare. You can have yours in Vivid Black for just $9,999.
To some people, cruisers are all about leather and chrome. Others prefer a more understated presence. The Honda Shadow Phantom with its blacked out look – save for the exhaust system – will appeal to the latter. Weighing in at a claimed 549 lb. with a 25.8-inch seat height, the Phantom isn’t so big that it’s intimidating but not so small that experienced riders will feel it is underpowered. The 64.5-inch wheelbase assures a full-sized feel.
The engine is a 745cc liquid-cooled 52-degree V-twin fed by three valves per cylinder. Honda’s PGM-FI handles mixing duties while a staggered dual exhaust system handles the spent gasses. Delivering power to the fat 160/80 R15 rear tire is a low-maintenance shaft drive.
The low-slung bobber styling looks subtly cool in either gloss black or white paint options. Honda’s got a 2019 Shadow Phantom waiting for you at its website.
Indian made a smart move when it released the Scout Sixty. The Sixty has just about everything we loved about MO’s 2015 Motorcycle of the Year, the Indian Scout – only with 134 fewer cc’s and one less gear in the transmission. The engine displaces a healthy 999cc thanks to its 93 x 73.6 mm bore and stroke. Our visit to the dyno showed that the Sixty only lost 14 hp and 3.1 lb-ft with the decrease in displacement. Not bad for a $2000 price cut. A fair trade, if you ask us.
Other than the pleasant engine that’s on the sporty side of cruising, the Scout Sixty runs smoothly and has decent handling characteristics – until you run out of ground clearance. That, however, is the nature of the feet-forward riding position of cruisers. While the rear suspension could use a little more travel – or an aftermarket upgrade – the brakes work just fine.
Finally, the Scout Sixty feels like a real bargain since it has the same quality fit and finish of other Indians. It may lack a few shiny bits of its big brother, but we think we prefer it that way. Thunder Black paint and the lack of ABS are what keeps the Sixty’s price under $10k. The Ruby Metallic Red shown in the photo retails for $10,799 and, like all the optional colors, comes with ABS.
The Kawasaki Vulcan S bucks cruiser norms in a couple of ways. First, it eschews the de rigueur V-Twin in favor of a Parallel Twin. Say what?! Then the styling draws more from the twenty-first century than from the Post War era embraced by the majority of cruisers. Clearly, Kawasaki wanted to turn some heads. However, neither of those are the most interesting feature of the Vulcan S. The Ergo-Fit adjustable construction that allows the bike to be adapted to riders of many shapes and sizes is what really makes the Vulcan S stand out.
By offering adjustable handlebar placement, peg location, and seat sizes, Kawasaki has it divided along three size ranges: Reduced Reach (<5-ft 6-in.), Mid-Reach (between 5-ft. 7-in. and 6-ft. 0-in. – also known as the standard shipping form), and Extended Reach (> 6-ft.). The flexibility allows for up to 18 different size combinations. Riders are sure to be able to find the ideal fit for their body size.
Then there’s the lovable 649cc Parallel Twin that was derived from the Ninja 650 and is also used in the Versys 650 and Z650. While it was retuned for cruiser duty, it still loves to rev out into the upper rpm range. The Vulcan S is happy to troll along around town in the lower rpm, but you’ll be surprised when you find an entrance ramp or a winding road to wick up the throttle. This post-modern cruiser has a lot to offer.
When writing this article, we noticed a strange thing, Yamaha doesn’t have any cruiser category listed on its web site. Never you mind though, the Yamaha Bolt R-Spec is still a cruiser – despite its new Sport Heritage listing. Powered by a 60° 942cc air-cooled SOHC V-twin (the same engine that powered the erstwhile V-Star 950 and the 950 Tourer), the Bolt in any of its iterations uses forged pistons with ceramic cylinder liners for better cooling and durability. The two-valves per cylinder are plenty to give this bike an amiable character both around town and on the highway. Shorter inseamed folks will appreciate the 27.2-inch reach to the ground.
While the riding position in the lower body is less cruiser and more standard, with its slightly forward peg location, the upright torso and pulled back handlebar is reminiscent of home-built bobbers of yore. Look no further than the abbreviated fenders – and the solo seat – to add to the bobber impression.
The gearing and power delivery are geared towards use in more urban environments, but that doesn’t mean that the Bolt R-Spec doesn’t have the chops to take the party to the open road.