For decades, cruiser motorcycles dominated the motorcycle landscape in North America, today that has changed to some extent, but there is most certainly still a hard core following.
While the time-honored cruiser manufacturer, Harley-Davidson dominated sales for decades, the other pretenders all had a fair crack at the market, some good, some bad and a fair few ugly examples came and went. Harley themselves remained unchanged for the most part, but still managed to produce a few of their very own duds. Cruisers have gotten just as advanced as any other type of motorcycle today, but that didn’t happen overnight and along the way, mistakes were made.
10 Honda CTX1300
This should have been better, built to take on the Street Glide, this V4 engine had already built a solid reputation in the ST1300, but the way they reworked it to produce more mid-range grunt didn’t win any fans.
Although their engine re-tuning trick worked a treat on the CTX700 it fell flat on its face with the big bore 1300. The rev ceiling came all the way down to 7000 rpm, not strange for a cruiser, but downright weird for a Honda, and then there was the fact that it just felt like riding an appliance. Oh, and they forgot to add cruise control…
9 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883
Believe it or not, back in the 80s, these came with a four speed transmission. Which we suppose wouldn’t be the worst thing for a cruiser if it were geared right; shock, horror, it wasn’t.
“Cruising” down the highway at around the legal speed limit would actually be a pretty awful experience. The vibrations from that all-American V-twin necessitate several stops, which is convenient, considering you would be stopping for gas every 80 miles or so anyway, so you would likely run out of gas long before cramp set in, thankfully.
8 Victory V92C
For a motorcycle made in the late 90s, it is to say the least a little under engineered. In a desperate attempt to take some of that Harley pie, Victory launched something that looked like it came straight out of the 60s.
It also felt like something from that era, with fairly crude gear changes and not very much in the way of speed.
7 Yamaha Bolt
Although they are one of the best motorcycle manufacturers in the world, they haven’t really been able to make a semi-decent cruiser just yet.
The Virago was average at best, then the more recent effort is actually, in our opinion, well, worse. On paper, it has heaps of power, but one look at the thing, and you will know what we are talking about.
6 Honda DN-01
Dream New concept 1, that is indeed what the name stands for, what is even stranger is the fact that this actually did make it into production.
Nobody, including Honda, even really knows what class of motorcycle this belongs to, but there is at least some cruiser in there. It was a fairly short lived experiment, with sales low for obvious reasons, not least of which the $15,000 price tag in 00s money.
5 Kawasaki Vulcan 2000
Once again, there is a Japanese manufacturer doing their best to break into the lucrative cruiser market.
In an effort to outdo the excess of their rivals, we think Kawasaki just took this too far. At 820 pounds this is just a ridiculous thing to lug about, no matter how huge and powerful the engine, it will just always feel awkward.
4 Honda Rebel 300
There is a beginner bike in every class these days, while many beginner class bikes are actually better than most people give them credit for, this one isn’t.
It is quite frankly impossible to encapsulate the torquey nature of a proper cruiser in a small displacement bike, but the Rebel 500 actually does a fine job. The 300 is just Honda taking it too far, it is a pointless addition to their lineup. If budget is the biggest issue, get a used 500, not this.
3 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
The entry level Harley is dead, long live the entry level Harley. Unfortunately this one just wasn’t good enough, as much as it had a whole heap of potential, it certainly could have been better.
A Harley is supposed to be comfortable, it wasn’t, a Harley is supposed to be powerful, it wasn’t, but mostly a Harley is supposed to be American, which it was not. It doesn’t come as a surprise that this one got cut, we do hope with their next effort, they will learn from this one.
2 Ducati Diavel
We have already given the Japanese a fair bit of grief for their less than spectacular efforts at cruisers, but the Italian’s first effort was that much worse.
Although the new Diavel has come a long way, the first gen bikes were hopelessly unreliable. Electronic gremlins came standard in these bikes right up until they launched the second, altogether better Diavel.
1 Harley-Davidson Dyna
For many this is the staple Harley, it is also one of the most dangerous motorcycles still on the road.
The Dyna Death Wobble affects pretty much all Dyna motorcycles, speed wobbles happen all the time but with the Dyna there is no recovery, only tarmac, tree, pain, and maybe death.
Few bikes are as capable of eating miles as cruiser bikes. They offer, power, comfort, and in some cases, even handling. Here are the best for 2020.
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