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.
Before you begin wondering if you’ve taken your medication this morning, let me preface this review of the new 2017 Honda Rebel 300 with the fact that it will share a lot of thoughts and observations with last week’s review of the Rebel 500 that was introduced simultaneously. These two bikes share everything in common, except for the sewing machine some little old lady left inside the chassis of the 300.
I’m not sure if it’s my naturally rebellious nature, being a man who microwaves his food still in the tupperware and even known to occasionally fill water cups up with soda (that’s right, bitch), that got me the chance to head up to Venice Beach, California, for the launch of the new Honda Rebel 500, but I think it might be because the rest of the Motorcycle.com staff (except Troy) is in the tin-foil reusing, cabbage-scented stage of life.
Recently, our own John Burns traveled to Daytona to hitch a ride aboard the alphabet soup that is the 2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special FLHRXS. In his story, JB noted the Road King made it’s debut in 1994 – the same year the very site you’re reading right now was born. With that in mind, this week’s Church feature goes back in the vault to 1996 and the earliest story we could find about the Harley Road King in the MO archives. In reading Tom Fortune’s review of the Road King, the bike sounds antiquated even when it was brand new. Though some might scoff that today’s Harley’s haven’t changed, if Tom Fortune could ride the 2017 Road King, he’d be blown away by its fit and finish. It’s definitely interesting to see where we’ve come in the last two decades. Read on to take yourself back in time.
You know what’s funny? Calvin Kim posits, in his 2003 First Ride review of the BMW R1200CL, that people would end up buying this bike. Nevermind the, uh, ugly aesthetics, the R1200 backbone of BMW’s cruiser would be sure to persuade unorthodox cruiser riders that it was the way forward. Well, as history has taught us, there aren’t as many unorthodox cruiser riders as BMW hoped, and the R1200CL is remembered as a flop. Ugliness aside, read on to find out Kim’s overall positive view of the CL. And if you’re looking for a few more pictures, you can check out the photo gallery.
When it comes to lightweight cruisers, Harley’s 883 Sportster has been the staple of the category. Around, in one form or another, since the 1950s, it has earned the term OG for the class. Fast forward to 2002 and here we have the 883R Sportster going head-to-head with the Honda Shadow Spirit 750. With 50 years to study the venerable Harley-Davidson, Honda’s Shadow presents a bare-bones, lightweight cruiser that isn’t intimidating to the (relatively) new cruiser rider – traits it shares with the Harley. So who does it better? America or Japan? Read on to find out.
This week’s Church feature is yet another example of the early MO crew’s writing chops. The topic this time? Cruisers! The 2001 Power Cruisers, to be exact. We’re talking the Honda VTX, Yamaha V-Max, Harley-Davidson V-Rod, and Kawasaki Mean Streak, ridden by a bunch of mad men and speed junkies. Big, powerful engines stuffed into cruiser frames, this should be a slam dunk for the Harley. The results, however, might surprise you. Read on to see who won.
The Honda Shadow has been around forever (well, 1983 if we’re being technical). How many other manufacturers, save for Harley-Davidson, can claim such lineage with one model line? Not many. Heck, the Shadow is still around today! But for this Church feature we’re going back to 2007, since that was the year the Shadow got a refresh and Pete Brissette was there to review it. After reading Pete’s take on the bike you get the sense the Shadow is showing it’s age, but it’s character, charm, and user-friendly rideability make it a perennial winner in Honda’s lineup. For more pics of the Shadow, visit the photo gallery.
Bridgestone knows a thing or two about motorcycle tires. After all, the company supplied control tires to MotoGP for seven seasons. Another thing most riders should know but may not is that Bridgestone manufactures tires across every niche in the motorcycle industry, from state-of-the-art race tires to scooter rubber. However, the product development folks realized that, while metric cruisers were covered with the Exedra Max line, the Japanese tire manufacturer had not developed tires specifically for the American-made V-Twin cruiser market. So, Bridgestone’s engineers set out to remedy this situation, and the result is: “The Battlecruise H50 tire, the first of its kind from Bridgestone, expands the company’s motorcycle tire portfolio with a performance tire offering that is specially designed for large-displacement, cruiser-style bikes, which account for 50% of motorcycles on U.S. roadways.”
If American, European or Japanese cruisers don’t hit the mark for you, there aren’t very many avenues left to turn down. However, one can still look towards Korea. As Gabe Ets-Hokin notes in his review of the 2007 Hyosung Avitar, the 650cc V-Twin borrowed from the company’s GT650 sporty bike sees some minor changes and is housed in a twin-spar frame that looks to be inspired by the Harley V-Rod. If you’re interested in the Hyosung, the bike is still around today, only its name has been changed to GV650/Aquila Pro. And it’ll set you back a reasonable $7000. As for the riding impressions, see Gabe’s take below. To see more pictures, be sure to visit the photo gallery.
Okay, get out your pitchforks! Indian’s won Best Cruiser for the second year in a row with a Scout. This year, however, the kid brother, the Scout Sixty, takes home the prize. How could that be? The Sixty is only a sleeved down version of the bigger Scout with less shiny parts, right? Well, that would be half right. The other half is that, for a MSRP of $8,999 (or $300 more for white and red color options), Scout Sixty riders get a motorcycle that twists out 95% of big brother’s torque at a 20% discount. The horsepower curves are quite close to each other up until about 5,000 rpm, in the meat of the torque curve where cruisers spend nearly all of their time.
By 2005 Victory had been around for slightly less than a decade and in that time the company knew it had (and continues to have) a big mountain to climb in order to upseat Harley-Davidson, the king of the cruiser market. From the start, however, the company has put out strong challengers centered around a 92 cubic inch V-Twin we’ve long enjoyed. By 2005, though, the muscle cruiser craze had taken shape and Victory already had an engine to bring to the table – the same one it’s always had. And in these reviews of the 2005 Victory Hammer and 8-Ball, Big Dirty Sean Alexander explains what made (and continues to make) Victory viable alternatives for those who want more performance and attitude in their cruisers. To see more pictures of both models, be sure to visit the photo gallery.
Peace, love and understanding is what we’re all about here at MO, man, and on this excellent junket to the great Midwest, we made some serious inroads. One dinner, after a day spent rolling along the east bank of the Mississippi through springtime Illinois and Wisconsin, Editorial Director Sean Alexander (who thinks the Aprilia Tuono is the perfect casual traveling bike) actually admitted that the bikes we were on were ideally suited to our ride. Well, hello. He also admitted it was his first time riding in “flyover country.”