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Open Twin Cruisers '98

The Definition of Cruising

By Staff , May. 01, 1998, Photography by Billy Bartels
Page 3

Helen Rossiter, Pillion Tester and Gratuitous Babe

For the first time at MO we asked a pillion passenger for comments since it seems as often as not cruisers have passengers on them. For the record, Ms. Rossiter has been pillioning for about ten years. Her votes did not affect the outcome of the test, since most owners of these bikes will make modifications, but we feel she has valuable input as to how these stock bikes fair with a pillion passenger. Besides, she graciously posed on the bikes.

"The Harley and the Honda are close."

The Harley had a decent seat, and the sissy bar made it easy to relax my lower back. The seating position on the Honda was the best though, and the bike felt smooth. At first I wasn't wild about the forward pegs, but in the end it was more comfortable over long distances. The seating position on the BMW Cruiser was nice, too, (with the pegs a bit forward), but the tiny pillion made me feel like I was on a bicycle, dropping it to the back of the pack. The Kawasaki had a nice, wide, soft seat, but I caught a lot of wind at higher speeds. I rank it third behind the Honda and the Harley. The Intruder had a really wide seat, so big I got lost in it and slid around. Also, the rear seat is set so high, it really hangs you out in the wind. That, along with the the stiff shocks that made me feel every bump and dip, had it fighting for last place with the BMW.

BMW R1200C Cruiser
The R1200C attracted attention wherever we went. Its impeccable detail and gorgeous styling turned heads and won friends.
Due to the long wheelbase, BMW chose their old Monolever single-sided swingarm for this model. Unlike the modern Paralever, the Mono does not stop the bike from experiencing "shaft-effect."
The award for best high-speed handling goes to the Beemer. Its wide tires and advanced suspension allowed us to rail it through the corners.
You can see right through the R1200C. Pretty cool, huh?, Every piece is finished like a part on the Space Shuttle.
The rider seat is firm and comfy, especially with the backrest up. However, passenger seat is a bit Spartan, although our pillion tester liked the seating position.
The BMW's large tank allowed for a long cruising range. The bike averaged 38 miles per gallon.
The well-presented instrument cluster is attractive and easy to read. The key is a work of art.
The R1200C isn't as quick off the line as the competition, but once underway it leaves the rest behind.


Manufacturer: BMW          
Model: R1200C Cruiser                 
Price: $12,990 (w/ ABS $14,290)                 
Engine: Opposed four-valve boxer twin                
Bore and Stroke: 101 mm x 73 mm       
Displacement: 1700cc          
Carburetion: Motronic 2.4 Fuel Injection          
Transmission: Five Speed           
Wheelbase: 64.96 in (1650 mm)            
Seat Height: 29.1 in (739 mm)          
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal, w/.1 gal reserve (17 L, w/.4 L reserve)        
Claimed Dry Weight: 528 lbs (239.5 kg)   
Measured Wet Weight: 580 lbs (263.1 kg) 
Peak Measured Torque: 64.4 ft-lbs @ 2750  
Peak Measured HP: 56.7 @ 5000      


Suzuki Intruder 1500LC
The LC was not a big hit with our pillion tester.
Stylistically, the Intruder got lost in the crowd. Suzuki might become Japan's biggest importer of Chromium with the LC.
The LC has an absurdly torquey motor, but then it's a very big boy and needs that extra kick in the ass.
The seat is even bigger than it looks.
Some liked the Suzuki's handling while others didn't like the effort required to lean the big boy over. At 5'8", Heather is an average-sized rider, yet look at the reach the Intruder required.



Manufacturer: Suzuki          
Model: VL1500LC Intruder                 
Price: $9,899                 
Engine: air-cooled SOHC twin                
Bore and Stroke: 96 mm x 101 mm       
Displacement: 1462cc          
Carburetion: Mikuni BSDR 36mm          
Transmission: five-speed constant mesh           
Wheelbase: 66.9 in (1699 mm)            
Seat Height: 27.6 in (683 mm)          
Fuel Capacity: 4.1 gal (15.5 L)        
Claimed Dry Weight: 644 lbs (292 kg)   
Measured Wet Weight: 700 lbs (318 kg)  
Peak Measured Torque: 78.8 ft-lbs @ 2000 rpm 
Peak Measured HP: 57.8 @ 4500 rpm      


Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic
Black is a good color for a cruiser. And retro-American looks sell bikes, right? You bet!
Wide bars and an aggressive rake made the big Vulcan easy to handle.
The flared seat, rear fender, and staggered pipes complement each other in a nice, if not exactly ground-breaking style.
Even though it weighs as much as the Suzuki Intruder, a low seat height, comfortable ergonomics and rider-friendly handling make the Vulcan a hit with our smaller testers.
The chrome pinstripe along the fender is a nice touch.
Formerly the biggest and torquiest engine in its class, it now takes a back seat to the Suzuki.
Last year's Open Cruiser champ is still a tough contender, and finished only two points out of first place.



Manufacturer: Kawasaki          
Model: Vulcan 1500 Classic                 
Price: $11,590                 
Engine: 4-stroke V-Twin, SOHC, 8-valve                
Bore and Stroke: 102 mm x90 mm       
Displacement: 1470cc          
Carburetion: Keihin CVK40mm w/K-TRIC tps         
Transmission: 5-speed           
Wheelbase: 65.4 inches (1662 mm)             
Seat Height: 27.6 inches (701 mm)          
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gal (15.9 L)        
Claimed Dry Weight: 644 lbs (292 kg) 
Measured Wet Weight: 700 lbs (318 kg)  
Peak Measured Torque: 77.4 ft-lbs @ 2750 rpm  
Peak Measured HP: 53.6 @ 4500 rpm      


Honda Shadow Aero
Why is she smiling? It's either the Aero's good passenger ergonomics or the vibrations of its single-pin crank V-Twin engine.
The 1100cc powerplant of the Aero was the smallest and wimpiest in the test, but since the Aero tied the Intruder for least-expensive bike in the test, all was forgiven.
Clean lines and finish rival the BMW. What you are not seeing is the speedo, which is mounted on the headlight. If you wear a full face helmet (yea, right) you will appreciate this.
Upright seating and easy handling are appreciated, but a few thought it rides like being on "auto-pilot."
A Hummel. Possibly Honda's inspiration for the Art Deco-styled Aero.
Wire-spoked wheels and fat whitewalls impressed everyone.
Kerry Ward illustrates just how well the Aero "drives itself".
A gigantic collector muffler and chrome-covered shocks add to the Aero's distinctive lines.



Manufacturer: Honda          
Model: Shadow Aero                 
Price: $9,699 Black,  $9,995 Two-Tone                
Engine: Liquid-cooled 45 degree V-twin                
Bore and Stroke: 87.5 mm x 91.4 mm       
Displacement: 1099cc          
Carburetion: 2 36mm CV          
Transmission: 5-Speed           
Wheelbase: 66.1 in (1679 mm)             
Seat Height: 28.5 in (724 mm)          
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gal w/.6 reserve (15.9 L w/2.2 L reserve)        
Claimed Dry Weight: 622 lbs (282 kg)   
Measured Wet Weight: 660 lbs (299 kg)  
Peak Measured Torque: 65.9 ft-lbs @ 2750 rpm  
Peak Measured HP: 47.1 @ 4750 rpm      


Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide
Not as flashy, bold, or self-consciously nostalgic as the others, but the Wide Glide is still the epitome of cool.
Comfort was good for both passenger and pilot.
H-D's standard compliment of controls was enhanced for '98 with a check-engine light.
Several testers agreed that the stock seat, with the built-in back rest, was most kind to your hind.
Somebody should tell Harley that if they hide the reflectors under the fender rails, cars can't see them. Get real.
Harley does with real air-cooling fins, a real air cleaner, real rocker covers, real pushrods and a real cloisonne 95th-Anniversary emblem.
We cheated. In 1996, after riding the Wide Glide to Sturgis and back, we said, "Why didn't we have this for the Open Cruiser Shootout? It would have won!" Guess what? Here it is at the top.



Manufacturer: Harley-Davidson          
Model: FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide                 
Price: $14,775 ($14,990 pearl, $15,300 two-tone,
$15,675 95th Anniversary Edition)
Engine: 45 degree V-twin air-cooled                
Bore and Stroke: 3.50 in x 4.25 in (88.9 mm x 108.0 mm)      
Displacement: 1340cc (80 cubic inches)          
Carburetion: 40mm CV          
Transmission: 5-Speed           
Wheelbase: 66.1 in (1679 mm)             
Seat Height: 26.8 in (681 mm)          
Fuel Capacity: 5.2 gal (19.7 L)         
Claimed Dry Weight: 598 lbs (271 kg)   
Measured Wet Weight: 640 lbs (290 kg)  
Peak Measured Torque: 68.7 ft-lbs @ 3000 rpm  
Peak Measured HP: 51.8 @ 4750 rpm      

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