cruiser motorcycles

What are the Pros and Cons of Cruiser Motorcycles?

What are the Pros and Cons of Cruiser Motorcycles?

There are different types of motorcycles available that are built for specific purposes. If you are looking to buy a new motorcycle, you have to decide first what kind of motorcycle you need.

Motorcycles are either suited for city travel, off-roading, cruising, touring, and racing. Motorcycles may also be divided into different categories, including cruisers, tourers, sport bikes, adventure bikes, enduros, and dirt bikes. Dirt bikes and enduros are built for off-road trails; adventure bikes are dual-purpose motorcycles built for on- and off-roading; sports bikes are mostly for track racing, and tourers are built for motorcycle touring.

Cruisers are the most popular and widely used motorcycles. They are built for comfort when traveling long distances and cruising on highways or open roads. They are bulky, comfortable, and aesthetically appealing with classic looks and modern features. However, despite their advantage, cruisers come with their share of disadvantages as well. This article discusses the pros and cons of cruisers.

1. What is a Cruiser Motorcycle?

What is a Cruiser Motorcycle?

Cruisers were first introduced in the 1930s by American motorcycle manufacturers, including Harley Davidson, Excelsior, Indian, and Henderson. An ideal cruiser has comfortable ergonomics with forward-mounted foot controls, mid-mounted swept-back handlebars, and a low seat height ensuring adequate legroom, an upright spine, and a relaxed riding position.

2. Pros and Cons of Cruiser Motorcycles

Pros of Cruiser Motorcycles Cons of Cruiser Motorcycles
Aesthetically appealing Slow acceleration
Classic looks Slow throttle response
Comfortable ergonomics Heavyweight
Upright or relaxed riding position Difficult to handle and maneuver
Adequate legroom Difficult to maneuver while turning corners
Customizable Unsuitable to ride through traffic
Can be transformed into touring bikes Expensive
Good for long-distance rides Less fuel efficient
Large-displacement engines Expensive to maintain
Torquey engines Engine produces excess vibrations
Suitable for carrying loads Low ground clearance
Good storage capacity Smaller lean angles
Good for beginners Uncomfortable on damaged and bumpy roads
Equipped with modern technology  
Low seat height  
Low center of gravity  
Better linear performance  
Good for straight and open roads  

3. Pros of Cruiser Motorcycles

3.1 Style


Photo Credit: @totalmotorcycle

Most bikers would agree that cruisers are the most stylish motorcycles with their chrome parts and vintage-style appearances. Depending on the individuals, riders may prefer cruisers with old-school, modern, or futuristic looks.

Cruisers have a planted design and an extended wheelbase, ensuring a low center of gravity and low ground clearance. They have heavier parts than naked or street bikes, including their classic round headlamps enclosed in nacelles, chopped/long skirt fenders, and beefier front forks.

3.2 Comfort

Cruisers offer plenty of comfort on long-distance rides and cruising on open roads. They have laid-back ergonomics with forward-mounted foot controls that provide adequate legroom and mid-mounted, pulled-back handlebars that provide a comfortable rider triangle. Cruisers have a low seat height to ensure good balance, handling, and a low center of gravity. The handlebars position and the low seat height provide an upright back and a relaxed riding position. Most cruisers are also fitted with stock floorboards for riders that allow them to rest their feet while cruising.

Cruisers are most popular among older and expert riders. Meanwhile, young riders are more attracted to fast and agile motorcycles with a quick throttle response, plenty of horsepower, and an aggressive riding style. This is why the latest cruisers are built to be lightweight and have a slightly sportier stance with mid-mounted foot controls and semi-sweptback handlebars.

3.3 Customization

Cruisers have a simple design and easily detachable parts that make them customizable. Cruisers are the most popular among custom builders. Most motorcycle companies produce aftermarket parts and accessories that allow riders to adjust the styling and ergonomics. A rider can easily modify a cruiser as per his/her preferences and comfort level. If a tall rider finds the mid-mounted foot controls on a cruiser uncomfortable, he/she can easily replace them with forward-mounted foot controls. There are plenty of choices if you want to replace an uncomfortable stock seat with a more cushioned aftermarket seat.

For a more laid-back riding experience, there are cruiser sissy bars and backrests available at Viking Bags. You can also add different luggage options, including sissy bar bags, saddlebags, and tank bags that improve storage capacity. For your motorcycle’s safety, you can also install crash bars to protect your legs and the engine. To block incoming wind, a cruiser can also be fitted with a large windshield and a fairing for a comfortable cruising experience. By adding these aftermarket parts, a cruiser can be transformed into an ideal touring bike suited for comfortable long-distance rides.

3.4 Torquey Engines

Cruisers are mostly powered by large displacement V-Twin engines capable of producing low- and high-end torque for a smooth riding experience across all gear levels. They are ideal for long-distance two-up riding on even inclined and sloping roads thanks to their torquey engines. You may not enjoy a fast throttle response while riding a cruiser, but as soon as it gets into a high gear level, it picks up a good pace.

3.5 Suitable for Carrying Loads

Due to being built with torquey engines, cruisers can comfortably carry heavy loads, including a passenger, saddlebags, aftermarket parts, and different luggage options. Most cruisers come with comfortable seats capable of two-up riding. Cruisers can also be fitted with backrests to improve comfortability for riders and passengers on long-distance rides.

3.6 Good for Beginners

Cruisers are mostly underpowered and not specifically designed for speed and agility. However, some cruisers have a quick throttle response and are just as fast as sports and naked bikes. A cruiser with an engine size between 250-900 cc is suited for beginners if they have a basic knowledge of motorcycle operation. There are many popular beginner-friendly cruisers by Harley Davidson, Honda, and other reliable motorcycle brands like:

Good for Beginners

3.7 A Perfect Blend of Classic Look and Modern Technology

Most modern cruisers have a vintage/classic look and have modern features, including an ABS, traction control, cruise control, riding modes, assist & slipper clutch, heated grips, and a TFT display screen. The modern features not only improve performance but also improve rider safety. Modern Harley Davidson cruisers, including the Harley Heritage Classic, Harley Fat Boy, and Harley Forty-Eight are great examples of a perfect blend of an old-school look and modern technology. They have plenty of chrome bits, a vintage paint job, large fenders, round headlamps, and leather seats, and fitted with several modern features to ensure a fun and safe riding experience.

4. Cons of Cruiser Motorcycles

4.1 Slower Acceleration

Cruisers are heavyweight vehicles due to their large engines and bulky parts which improve their classic look and carrying capacity. Most cruisers are designed to have aesthetic appeal and provide extra comfort for riders. They are not built for high speeds or for riding through traffic. Cruiser engines are built to produce more torque to ensure better comfort even when carrying a passenger and luggage. Cruisers are not as fast and agile as sports bikes or naked bikes. They do not have aggressive riding styles or aerodynamic shapes. However, there are a few modern cruisers with lightweight frames and parts, along with powerful engines that allow them to travel as fast as sports bikes. Listed below are the fastest cruisers to jump from 0 to 60 mph in less than 3.5 sec.

Slower Acceleration

4.2 Difficult to Handle and Maneuver

Due to being bigger and heavier, cruisers are more difficult to handle and maneuver when riding through traffic, making U-turns, turning tight corners, and navigating twists and turns. They also do not reliably lean while turning corners compared to sports or street bikes due to their bulky builds and low ground clearance. The footrests and bottom of the engine will scrape if you try to turn a tight corner or lean the motorcycle too far. However, cruisers are ideal for straight roads, open roads, and highways.

4.3 Heavyweight

Most cruisers are heavyweight vehicles due to being fitted with bulky parts and a strong frame. This makes cruisers more difficult to handle and maneuver, especially for beginner riders.

4.4 Less Fuel Mileage

Cruisers consume a lot of fuel due to being powered by large-sized engines and fitted with aggressive tires and bulky wheels. A heavy motorcycle designed for carrying extra loads, including a passenger and luggage, puts more pressure on the engine and consumes more fuel than a street or naked bike.

4.5 Engine Produces Excess Vibrations

The most bothersome disadvantage of cruisers and their two-cylinder engines is that they produce excess vibrations. Several features have been implemented to reduce engines’ vibrations, including rubber-mounted engines, counterbalancers, and modified engine designs. Counterbalancers help reduces engine vibrations to an extent but not entirely.

4.6 Low Ground Clearance

For better performance, handling, and stability, cruisers are lower to the ground and have a planted design and a low seat height. Due to being lower to the ground, cruisers have low ground clearance, which is not ideal for operating on bumpy and even roads. A damaged road or an obstacle can also cause damage to the engine.

4.7 Expensive

Cruisers are the most expensive motorcycles due to their being comfortable and lavish. The high prices are mainly due to their large-displacement engines, metal parts, accessories, and modern features. The two most popular American motorcycle brands, Harley Davidson and Indian Motorcycles produce the most expensive cruisers. The cruisers manufactured by Japanese motorcycle brands, including Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki are still available at an affordable price range. However, if you are looking for a cruiser under $4,000, you can only find a used model.

5. Takeaway

Every motorcycle type has its unique design and purpose. Some motorcycles are designed for off-road trails; some perform better on paved roads; some are only built for racing tracks and are not street-legal, while others can handle on- and off-roading. Cruisers are heavyweight motorbikes fitted with large-displacement and torquey engines for comfortable cruising on highways and open roads. They are aesthetically appealing and come with several stylish parts, including large or long-skirt fenders, swept-back handlebars, raked-out front end, comfortable seats, and chrome mufflers. Cruisers also have the most comfortable ergonomics and are loaded with modern features.

If you are looking for a motorcycle suited for daily commutes and maneuvering through busy traffic, then a cruiser is usually not the best option. However, if you are looking for a classic motorcycle with modern features that ensure comfortable and safe rides, then cruisers are the best category.

Cruisers can be made more attractive and suitable for long-distance rides if modified with a few aftermarket parts including fairings, windscreen, crash bars, backrests, sissy bars, and comfortable handlebars. Also, to improve the storage capacity, Viking Bags offer different luggage options for your cruiser including saddlebags and sissy bar bags.

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