cruiser motorcycles

Five Best Used Cruisers Under $3,000

Five Best Used Cruisers Under $3,000

When one thinks of a motorcycle that makes a deep rumbling sound, has classic styling, and features a torquey engine, a cruiser often is the first to come to mind. Over the years, cruisers have gained immense popularity as riders now have a wide range of options to choose from. Whether you are looking for an entry-level bike or a top-notch, powerful, and customized two-wheeler, you can easily find a cruiser that suits your riding style and needs.

Most cruisers are designed for a casual riding style and are capable of short and medium-distance travel. Some riders can transform their cruisers into high-performance tourers suited for long hauls and remote camping trips. Besides their styling, customizability, and exhaust note, cruisers are popular among most motorcyclists for their padded seats and wide tires that offer optimal stability and control under all riding conditions.

Moreover, a typical medium-sized cruiser is powered by a carbureted four-stroke engine that can be later upgraded with an electronic fuel injection system. The engine displacement, size, and cylinder arrangement varies between cruiser makes and models. The engine configurations and output capacities ensure there are multiple cruisers for riders of all skill levels. Among all the cruiser engine designs, the V-twin engine is the preferred choice among fans of American-made cruisers. Besides Harley Davidson, you will also find V-twin engines installed on Honda, Suzuki, and other non-American models.

A cruiser’s performance and popularity, as well as engine configuration, displacement, and output capacities, can determine a cruiser’s price. The bigger and stronger the motor, the more expensive the cruiser. Other features that can increase a cruiser’s cost include the transmission system, braking setup, the inclusion of ABS, suspension performance, technological features, styling, and accessories.

In 2023, due to ever-increasing inflation, brand-new cruisers are available in the $3,000-$5,000 price range. But if you are looking for a cruiser under $3,000, then you are left with second-hand options only. Here are the used cruisers under $3,000 in 2023.

1. Benefits of Buying a Used Cruiser in 2023

Besides being less expensive, used cruisers have other advantages that make them worth buying:

  1. No Initial Depreciation: A used motorcycle does not suffer initial depreciation. Many riders find premium bikes with only a mileage of 5-10 miles on the odometer available at half price. 
  2. Resale Value: Due to the lack of initial depreciation, used bikes retain their resale values better. It is not uncommon for riders to sell their used bikes for more than what they paid for. Though the profit margin is not high, the potential to earn a lot of money by selling a used motorcycle is a popular practice among riders. 
  3. Add-Ons & Restoration: Instead of buying a brand new bike with few features, riders can buy a well-equipped used bike for less and use the remaining budget to restore the bike. Plus, you can also add accessories. 
  4. Larger Selection: In 2023, none of the leading cruiser brands launched a $3,000 cruiser. On a tight budget, you may have difficulty finding an affordable new bike. But if you check the second-hand market, you will find plenty of options even in this time of inflation. 
  5. Cheaper Insurance: Though not required, many insurance companies will consider reducing the insurance costs of second-hand motorcycles. When insurance costs are calculated, the motorcycle’s age/model year is also considered.   

2. Five Best Cruisers Under $3,000 You Can Buy in 2023

2.1 Honda Shadow VLX Deluxe

Honda Shadow VLX Deluxe
Photo Credit: @motorcyclecruiser

Estimated Price: $2,500-$3,000

The Honda Shadow VLX Deluxe has remained one of the best-selling cruisers past its production years between 1988-2008. The Honda Shadow VLX Deluxe has a 600 cc V-twin engine suited for long highway rides but generates moderate power that even a beginner can handle. The VLX Deluxe’s V-twin engine can generate a torque of 511 Nm and a horsepower of 41 hp that can make leisurely rides fun. The Honda Shadow VLX Deluxe’s low seat height improves rideability by ensuring optimal stability and control. The bike has enough legroom that tall and short riders can ride comfortably. Though the bike can easily cover long distances, its four-speed transmission does not offer much high-speed travel. The chrome highlights complement the paint scheme, creating a unique design that holds up against sophisticated finishes of the latest cruisers. While many riders consider the Shadow VLX Deluxe to be lacking in terms of its transmission, power output, and braking setup. But the ergonomics and low-end torque make it a good entry-level bike that you can get for less than $2,500. 

2.2 Suzuki Marauder 800

Suzuki Marauder 800
Photo Credit: @monsterpowersport

Estimated Price: $1,800 - $3,000

Though it is normally difficult to find an 800 cc bike, even in the second hand market, the Suzuki Marauder 800 is readily available. This bike is powered by a 805 cc V-twin engine that generates a torque of 65 Nm and a horsepower of 50 hp. This used Suzuki cruiser comes with a five-speed transmission that offers adequate power for highway rides. The fuel mileage of 38 mpg might seem slightly less suitable for highway rides, but this is hardly an issue if you plan to travels the quickest route. For commutes and everyday city travel, this vehicle has adequate fuel economy. A second-hand Suzuki Marauder 800 can be your introduction to medium-sized cruisers that can help you hone your riding skills. It also can cost half of what the latest 2023 cruisers are priced at.

2.3 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Drifter

Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Drifter
Photo Credit: @wikipedia

Estimated Price: $2,995 - $3,000

The Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Drifter offers optimal power and riding comfort. It comes with a 1450 cc liquid-cooled V-twin engine and a digital fuel injection system. The bike performs exceptionally well at high speed on open roads. The five-gallon fuel tank, braking setup, and engine allow this bike to reach speeds between 80-115 mph on highways. You can easily ride this bike for more than 100,000 miles before you need to start worrying about looking for a replacement. Besides being a budget-friendly purchase, the bike has a low-maintenance engine and shaft final drive. The Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Drifter’s fuel economy of 50 mpg is another feature that attracts many riders.

2.4 Harley Davidson Sportster 883 XLH

Harley Davidson Sportster 883 XLH
Photo Credit:

Estimated Price: $2,400

The Harley Davidson Sportster 883 XLH has a high-compression 883 cc V-twin engine with an air-cooled carbureted system. The Sportster 883 XLH’s engine was designed to generate higher power outputs and better handle touring. Though the bike produces a horsepower of 48 hp and a torque of 85 Nm, many riders consider the Sportster 883 XLH a good bike for various riding styles. The five-speed transmission, belt drive, Showa suspension setup, and tires offer adequate power, traction, and comfort on a long-distance ride. The ergonomic the configuration also contributes to riding comfort. The only thing of concern is the Sportster’s braking setup since it usually works best only at moderate speeds.

2.5 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic

Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic
Photo Credit: @motorcyclecruiser

Estimated Price: $2,999

The Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic is an iconic bike that can handle all kinds of terrain, including backcountry roads, twisties, canyons, interstates, and city streets. The Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic’s capabilities are only limited by the rider’s skill. The 649 cc V-twin engine has an air-cooled carbureted system, capable of generating a horsepower of 40 hp and a torque of 50.9 Nm. The shaft drive and robust engine ensure low annual maintenance costs. The Yamaha V-Star 650 Classisc’s 4.2-gallon fuel tank, suspension and braking setups, and average fuel mileage of 41 mpg make this bike a well-rounded vehicle suited for riders who need to sharpen their skills. 

3. Tips on How to Inspect a Used Motorcycle

  1. Check the motorcycle’s license plate number and vehicle registration number (VIN) to ensure they match the information written on the ownership documents. Moreover, the vehicle registration number engraved on the bike’s chassis should be readable and untampered. If possible, verify the legitimacy of the documents to rule out any liens. Never buy a bike that is not legally registered with the correct State Department. When buying a motorcycle in a different state, make sure to take into account all of the applicable registration charges.
  2. Get the motorcycle checked by a mechanic. Keep in mind that you may have to take the mechanic with you as most owners will not allow you to take the motorcycle without first paying a deposit.
  3. Ask the owner for the motorcycle service history and maintenance receipts. You can also check the history of a bike on Cyclechex and other similar online platforms. Cyclechex can provide important information about a vehicle’s current owner, damage history, number of accidents involved in, mileage, and VIN decoder. You can order a report for motorcycles, with each report costing about $24.95, excluding taxes. 
  4. Check the condition of your bike to determine whether the previous owner provided proper maintenance. Many riders remove dirt and rust, and polish the bike after finding a potential buyer. Check the tank, frame, handlebars, fairings, sissy bar, mirrors, wheels, chain, sprockets, spokes, fender, etc.
  5. Check the following motorcycle parts and systems: 
    • Check the headlight beams, blinkers, turn signals, tail lights, horn, gauges, and brake light. Dim lights while idling may indicate a dying battery.
    • The engine should run smoothly during a cold start. Check the engine oil for any metal flakes indicating internal engine damage. Black oil indicates the owner has not changed the oil for a while. Look out for milky dots in the oil that indicates moisture is trapped inside.
    • Used bikes are expected to have evenly worn tires. However, your bike’s tires should not have punctures or be bent. When doing a test ride, make sure you turn corners to check the traction of the tires. If you feel harsh vibration and loud sounds when turning corners, this may indicate severely damaged tires.
    • Use a flashlight to check the inside of the fuel tank for rust. Some owners apply coatings to hide the rust accumulated on the sides of the fuel tank. These coatings appear milky white, while the fuel tank itself has a metallic shine. However, if the fuel tank has corroded over the years, rust particles may have settled at the bottom. Move the bike gently sideways to try and see if any rust particles move within the fuel. Rust particles that become trapped in the fuel system could reduce the supply of air/fuel mixture into the engine, causing it to heat up faster.
    • Check the suspension fork tubes for bends and bumps caused by rust and collisions.
    • During a test ride, gently apply the front brake. The lever should move easily without resistance and noise. The lever should also return to the original position smoothly after you release it. If the brake calipers drag as you apply the brakes, it means they are worn or damaged and require maintenance.
    • Check the frame for rust, dents, bulges, and other signs of damage. Check for loose bearings in the steering head, handlebars, and levers.

4. Final Thoughts

From local second-hand motorcycle markets to online platforms, there are ways you can find a cruiser under $3,000 in your area. Most available cruisers are older models with mileages of about 2000+ miles. You can check the prices of used bikes on official websites like CX ChopperExchange and Cycle Trader. Some listings on these websites come with a price, while others require calling the owner for details. Moreover, you can check the retail prices of older models at J.D. Power to see if the owner is offering a fair price. By researching price estimates beforehand, you better prepare yourself to negotiate a good deal. When choosing the used bike, it is best to get the bike checked by a mechanic in case of collision damage and to provide maintenance. Don’t choose a motorcycle based on its brand or model; choose based on the features and specs instead. Some motorcycles don’t look flashy but are tough two-wheelers, such as the Honda Rebel 500 or the Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic. Conduct thorough market research to ensure you are paying for a reliable motorcycle.

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