Cruiser Needed! / Buddy, Can You Spare A Bike?

Cruiser Needed! / Buddy, Can You Spare A Bike?

I was talking to a friend in Germany who is in the motorcycle industry, and he told me about a ride he and a couple of his colleagues had done on his company’s big cruisers. The Germans call these kinds of bikes “Dickschiffe” which, you may be disappointed to learn, does not mean what it immediately appears to. It means “fat ships”.

They had ridden their Dickschiffe into backcountry Poland, partly to get some idyllic rural photos. He said that the reception from the locals had been outstanding: they all wanted to know just what on Earth these two-wheeled monsters were and what it was like to ride them. Consider that the biggest common old-time motorcycle in the Polish countryside would have been a 125cc two-stroke.

It’s not to everyone’s taste, but this kind of travel has its pleasures. Photo: Indian

That brought back some memories for me, too. Touring on a big cruiser (BC) is quite different from most other kinds of motorcycle travel. You sit there in what feels like an armchair and you drift through the countryside, able to enjoy both the scenery and the reaction of the roadside folk you pass. Queen Elizabeth waves are optional. Prejudice against such bikes is largely restricted to other motorcyclists; the people you meet on your travels are usually fascinated by them.

My past choices for BC cruising have been bikes like the Victory Vision, Indian Springfield, H-D Road King (admittedly not one of the biggest bikes from York PA) or a Triumph Rocket III Touring model. The last of these is not a cruiser as such, but it does much the same thing and gets the same reaction – as well as being lightning fast.

The Better Half, be it he or she, will enjoy the enormous luggage capacity. Photo: Indian

I don’t own a bike like this and I never will. Its purpose can be covered equally well by a lot of other bikes which are also far more versatile. But I do like trying different motorcycles and types of motorcycles and I would suggest that you do the same, if you don’t already. I am not trying to talk you down from your GS A onto, say, a Road Glide but – variety, as they say, is the spice of life. Don’t just say that you do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

Indian recently launched another pair of bikes which fit straight into the BC category for me, the Pursuit/Pursuit Limited. With their sophisticated technology, these are more like one of the BMW 1600s than relatively basic bikes like the Road King and the Springfield, but it’s clear that I‘m going to have to get used to that anyway, given the motorcycles now being released. Old man, take a look at your life… and learn to update.

On the main square in Pilsen. The Czechs do like their decorations and gold statues. Photo: The Bear

Since Indian (and H-D, and BMW, and so on) trust me enough to lend me bikes, I have chosen to be inspired by what my German friend and his buddies did and ride a Dickschiff into one of the ex-Eastern Bloc countries, only in my case it will be Czechia. Apparently, that’s the name the locals prefer to the old ‘Czech Republic’, and I am a great believer in calling people and countries what they want to be called with the exception of names that begin with “The Glorious Fantastic Republic of…”.

Normally I would choose a smaller and handier bike, such as a Scout or Road King, but I want to hit Prague, which I understand is a pretty fancy town, with the most outrageous bike I can think of. Since the Pursuit mates thoroughly modern technology with thoroughly classic cruiser looks, it is my choice. The Czechs are quite outstanding engineers themselves – see the Tatra in the picture – and have been called “as good as the Germans but without the money.”  Indian calls this bike “the next generation of American V-Twin touring” and backs it up by listing “the liquid-cooled PowerPlus engine, seamless ride-enhancing technology, a chassis-mounted fairing, and loads of touring amenities.” Sounds good, right? There is more.

While I don’t actually like a lot of digital info, I must admit it looks impressive on the Pursuit. Photo: Indian

The premium package fitted to the Pursuit and Pursuit Limited includes an all-new electronically adjustable rear suspension preload from Fox. This allows riders to adjust their preload for optimal comfort and handling under varying conditions. Whether riding solo, two-up or carrying more cargo – the adjustable preload is managed from the convenience of the motorcycle’s infotainment system. Incidentally, the new electronic preload is also available as an accessory upgrade for all Indian Challenger models. The Pursuits are also fitted with Intuitive Smart Lean Technology which “keeps riders confidently grounded by utilising a Bosch IMU to add cornering control to the dynamic traction control and ABS.” They have seven-inch touchscreen displays powered by RIDE COMMAND, Bluetooth, navigation, and Apple CarPlay. And just in case you were wondering, they do have heated grips and heated seats.

Management’s heart is certainly in the right place. “Touring bikes are one of the ultimate expressions of freedom,” says Mike Dougherty, President Indian Motorcycle, “enabling unforgettable experiences through longer escapes and epic adventures on the open road.”

On the subject of fat ships, this air-cooled Tatra V8 looks the part too. Photo: The Bear

Yes! Right on, Mike. Now reader, you might be tempted to accuse me of having written this entire piece so Indian will lend me a Pursuit. The usual response to such a slur is to deny it as convincingly as possible, but since it is entirely true, I will not do that. “It’s twue, it’s twue” as Madeline Kahn so memorably cried from behind her bedroom door in ‘Blazing Saddles’.

So stay tuned, and wait for my report on the Dickschiff Invasion of Czechia. It’s going to be a hoot.

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