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What Makes a Motorcycle a Bagger?

What Makes a Motorcycle a Bagger?

If you own a bagger, you are considered one of the coolest American motorcyclists. Americans have specific tastes and like when it comes to motorcycles. They prefer large and bulky motorcycles capable of going long distances while ensuring a comfortable riding experience. In the modern world, sports bikes and performance motorcycles are the most popular motorbikes that grab the attention of both experienced and young riders. Meanwhile, the U.S. market trends show the opposite nature of American riders who prefer cruisers, touring bikes, and baggers due to their love for riding on open roads and highways. Out of all the touring-oriented motorcycles, baggers are the most favorite of American riders. However, most people are confused and unsure about what a bagger is. This article will help you clear the confusion between baggers and touring bikes and what makes a motorcycle a bagger.

1. Baggers - How it Started?

Almost a hundred and twenty years ago, motorcycles were merely motorized bicycles or bicycles with clip-on engines. Over time, motorcycles became more advanced and their engine displacement started to increase. Motorcycle manufacturers started adding more features and parts, along with the tons of aftermarket parts produced at the same time for consumers to customize their motorcycles as per their preferences. Later, motorcycle customization became a norm and motorcyclists started transforming their motorcycles to make them perform better. Some riders preferred tuning their motorcycle engines and suspensions for a boost in horsepower and quick rides. While some riders prepared their motorcycles to make them look as good and big as cars. With further improvements in technology and infrastructure, riders were able to travel cross-country on their motorcycles. In the meantime, touring motorcycles were introduced. Motorcycle manufacturers took advantage of this trend and started producing touring bikes which later became a huge market. Meanwhile, in America, motorcycle enthusiasts started experimenting with heavyweight touring bikes to cut off some weight and create something unique and aesthetically appealing, and as a result, baggers were born.

2. What Makes a Motorcycle a Bagger?

What Makes a Motorcycle a Bagger
Photo Credit: @Ultimate Motorcycling

A bagger is a type of touring bike, also referred to as an American touring bike, with several high-end features and unique styling. It is one of the most popular motorcycle types among the U.S. riders. Despite being a type of touring bike, it is different from a touring bike. Baggers are large and bulky motorcycles with powerful engines, saddlebags, and large and wide fairings with an integrated small windshield, stereo system, and LCD screen display. These are the key parts that make a motorcycle a bagger.

If you own a cruiser or a standard motorcycle and want to look cool, Viking Bags has the perfect solution for you. Visit the Viking Bags’ online store and click on the motorcycle you own, you will find a wide range of aftermarket parts specially designed for your make and model to help you transform your motorcycle into an ideal touring bike. Viking Bags offer fairings, crash bars, sissy bars, backrests, saddlebags, and tank bags to improve the capabilities of your motorcycle.

3. What is the Difference Between a Bagger and a Touring Bike?

A touring bike is an advanced and well-equipped motorcycle for long-distance rides and tours. Touring bikes are fitted with a powerful and torquey engine to ensure adequate thrust to propel the rider, passenger, and luggage, along with the additional weight of supplementary motorcycle parts through difficult and inclined terrain. They are one of the most comfortable motorcycles, ensuring a relaxed riding position with adequate legroom for riders to stretch their legs during the ride. A touring bike is equipped with several parts to improve its performance, safety, and level of comfort, including sissy bars, backrests, crash bars, fairings, windscreen, pulled-back handlebars, comfortable seats, and a large trunk with an integrated sofa-like passenger seat.

Meanwhile, a bagger can be termed a minimalist touring bike with only a few touring parts installed, including a large fairing, crash bars, infotainment system, and saddlebags. The installation of a few touring parts allows baggers to ensure low overall weight and better performance. The most prominent examples of American baggers are the Harley Davidson Road Glide, the Harley Street Glide, the Indian Challenger, and the Indian Chieftain.

4. The Most Popular Baggers

4.1 Harley Davidson Road Glide

Harley Davidson Road Glide
Photo Credit: @Motorcyclist

One of the most popular flagship American Baggers is the Harley Davidson Road Glide. It is one of the highest-selling and most-loved baggers in the American market. This bagger was introduced in 1998 with a large 1,340 cc engine. The Harley Road Glide received several upgrades from time to time. The Harley Road Glide was inspired by the 1980 Harley Tour Glide as it carried the same frame-mounted wide fairing.

The 2023 Harley Road Glide is available in three single-tone color schemes and a chrome finish. It is an ideal bagger fully-loaded with stock touring parts, including a frame-mounted sharknose fairing with an integrated small windscreen, crash bars, hard saddlebags, rider floorboards, and touring-oriented pulled-back mini-ape handlebars to ensure an upright back position. The Harley Road Glide is fitted with a 1,753 cc Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine capable of a torque of 150.5 Nm and a horsepower of 86 hp.

The 2023 Harley Road Glide also features a Boom!™ Box 4.3 infotainment system, including a 5.25-inch two speakers and color screen display integrated into the fairing. Being the basic model, the ABS, traction control system, electronically linked braking, and Reflex™ defensive rider system (RDRS) are optional features. However, the 2023 Harley Road Glide comes at a base price of $21,999. If you want a more powerful and high-end version of the Harley Road Glide, you can also consider buying the Road Glide Special and the Road Glide ST. The Special version is fitted with a 114 cu in engine and the ST version offers 117 cu in of engine displacement. Meanwhile, if you want a perfect touring bike for two-up riding, the Harley Road Glide limited is the most exclusive version that comes with an additional luggage rack and a large trunk with an integrated passenger seat.

Harley Davidson Road Glide
Year Model 2023
Displacement 1,753 cc (107 cu in)
Engine Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine V-Twin Engine
Horsepower 86 hp
Torque 150.5 Nm
Wet Weight 855 lbs
Seat Height 25.9 in
Base Price $21,999

4.2 Harley Davidson Street Glide

Harley Davidson Street Glide
Photo Credit: @Ultimate Motorcycling

Another top-of-the-line bagger in the Harley lineup is the Harley Street Glide which is almost similar to the Harley Road Glide. Both motorcycles share a close resemblance, including the same fuel tank, engine displacement, seat, floorboards, and saddlebags. However, the only difference is the fork-mounted batwing fairing with an integrated small windscreen.

The Boom!™ Box 4.3 infotainment system, along with a 4.3-inch color screen display and 5.25-inch two-speakers, four analog gauges, and side mirrors are mounted to the fairing. Similarly, if you want a more powerful and exclusive version of the Harley Street Glide, you can choose between the Harley Street Glide Special and the Harley Street Glide ST.

Harley Davidson Street Glide
Year Model 2023
Displacement 1,753 cc (107 cu in)
Engine Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine V-Twin Engine
Horsepower 86 hp
Torque 150.5 Nm
Wet Weight 829 lbs
Seat Height 26.1 in
Base Price $21,999

4.3 Indian Challenger

Indian Challenger
Photo Credit: @Cycle World

The Indian Challenger is another American-made premium bagger that starts at $24,999. This motorcycle comes with everything that makes it a bagger, including saddlebags, floorboards, a large sharknose-style chassis-mounted fairing with integrated speakers, a 7-inch touchscreen display, adjustable air vents, and a power windshield. The 2023 Indian Challenger is powered by a 1,768 cc (108 cu in) liquid-cooled, PowerPlus engine capable of a horsepower of 122 hp and a torque of 173.54 Nm. It is one of the most heavyweight baggers in the market with a wet weight of 831 lbs (377 kg). Being an expensive motorcycle, the Indian Challenger comes with several standard features, including cruise control, ABS, Brembo brakes, and selectable riding modes.

Indian Challenger
Model Year 2023
Displacement 1,768 cc (108 cu in)
Engine Liquid-Cooled, PowerPlus Engine
Horsepower 122 hp
Torque 173.54 Nm
Wet Weight 831 lbs (377 kg)
Seat Height 26.5 in
Base Price $24,999

4.4 Indian Chieftain

Indian Chieftain
Photo Credit: @Ultimate Motorcycling

The Indian Chieftain is another sophisticated bagger in the Indian lineup with a fork-mounted batwing-style wide fairing and hard saddlebags. Despite being sophisticated, this motorcycle starts at $22,999 and the most premium and powerful trim, the Indian Chieftain Elite is available for $35,499.

The Indian Chieftain comes with a hefty 111 cu in (1,811 cc) air-cooled, Thunderstroke 111 engine capable of a horsepower of 100 hp and a torque of 161.34 Nm. Being a pure bagger, the 100-watt audio system, 7-inch touchscreen display, and analog gauges are mounted to the fairing. The Indian Chieftain offers a range of standard rider aids, including ABS, cruise control, rear-cylinder deactivation system, and selectable riding modes.

Indian Chieftain
Year Model 2023
Displacement 111 cu in (1,811 cc)
Engine Air-Cooled, Thunderstroke 111 Engine
Horsepower 100 hp
Torque 161.34 Nm
Wet Weight 823 lbs (373 kg)
Seat Height 25.6 in
Base Price $22,999

4.5 Honda Gold Wing

Honda Gold Wing
Photo Credit: @Ultimate Motorcycling

One of the oldest and most popular baggers of all time that gave tough competition to Harley Davidson in the baggers category is the Honda Gold Wing. Introduced in 1974, the Honda Gold Wing has received several upgrades from time to time and is currently one of the most well-equipped and modern-style baggers in the global market. It is the first and the only motorcycle that comes with an airbag. The automatic dual-clutch transmission (DCT), upright ergonomics, and cushioned seat make the Honda Gold Wing one of the most comfortable touring bikes. The base variant of the Honda Gold Wing is available for $25,600. Like most baggers, the Honda Gold Wing is also fitted with a 1,833 cc liquid-cooled, horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine capable of a horsepower of 125 hp and an impressive torque of 176.25 Nm. It also offers a variety of modern features, including an audio system, 55-watt speakers, a 7-inch color screen, a double-wishbone front suspension, and an electronically adjustable windscreen. The good thing about the Honda Gold Wing is that it does not lose its value due to being one of the most reliable motorcycles with the longest production run.

Honda Gold Wing
Year Model 2023
Displacement 1,833 cc
Engine Liquid-Cooled, Horizontally-Opposed Six-Cylinder Engine
Horsepower 125 hp
Torque 176.25 Nm
Wet Weight 804 lbs
Seat Height 29.3 in
Base Price $25,600

4.6 BMW K1600 B

BMW K1600 B
Photo Credit: @Ultimate Motorcycling

Another uniquely designed German bagger that was introduced in 2011 to compete with the Honda Gold Wing in the global market. Like the Honda Gold Wing, the BMW K1600 B also has a separate class with sports-style fairing. Despite being bulky, the BMW K1600 B is one of the fastest baggers in the market with unmatched handling and cornering performance in its class. The BMW K1600 B also has a six-cylinder engine but has a displacement of 1,649 cc. The BMW K1600 B is capable of producing an impressive horsepower of 160 hp and a torque of 179.9 Nm. This bagger comes fully equipped with several standard features, including a heated seat and grips, hill start control, dynamic traction control, three ride modes, ABS, and a 10.25-inch color screen display. Due to being equipped with several premium features, the BMW K1600 B comes at a base price of $22,945

BMW K1600 B
Year Model 2024
Displacement 1,649 cc
Engine Oil/Water-Cooled, Six-Cylinder, In-Line Engine
Horsepower 160 hp
Torque 179.9 Nm
Wet Weight 758.4 lbs
Seat Height 29.5 in
Base Price $22,945

4.7 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress

Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress
Photo Credit: @Outside Online

The most unconventional and good-looking European bagger in the market is the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress. Despite a short production period of 4 years, this motorcycle achieved a lot of recognition and praise thanks to its unique and unorthodox style and unmatched performance. The Moto Guzzi Flying Fortress was introduced in 2017 in the bagger category. This motorcycle is fitted with a modified batwing-style fairing, semicircle-shape saddlebags, and a 1,380 cc 90° transverse V-Twin engine capable of a horsepower of 96.6 hp and a torque of 121 Nm. The V-Twin engine has red cylinder head covers and is installed perpendicular to the wheelbase. The Moto Guzzi Flying Fortress came with standard cruise control, traction control, ABS, ride-by-wire throttle, and three riding modes. Another notable feature of this motorcycle is the carbon fiber top cases and panniers to reduce the overall weight and performance. Due to being fitted with several high-end features, the Moto Guzzi Flying Fortress came at a base price of $21,990. It was discontinued in 2020.

Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress
Year Model 2020
Availability Discontinued
Discontinued in 2020
Displacement 1,380 cc
Engine 90° Transverse V-Twin Engine
Horsepower 96.6 hp
Torque 121 Nm
Wet Weight 341 Kg
Seat Height 740 mm
Base Price $21,990

5. The Bottom Line

Baggers are the most popular touring bike category, particularly in the U.S. market. It can also be termed as the American version of a touring bike. Baggers are ideal for comfortable long-distance rides and can carry luggage and a passenger easily on a motorcycle tour. Baggers can be distinguished by their large and wide front fairings, saddlebags, and stereo system mounted to the fairing. Additionally they have enough space to install tank bag, tour pack, and baggers bags. The engines powering baggers are large and powerful to make them capable of cross-country rides while carrying loads of luggage and a passenger. Harley Davidson produces the most popular baggers, including the Harley Road Glide and the Street Glide. Meanwhile, Honda and BMW produce the most unique sports-style baggers, including the Honda Gold Wing and the BMW K1600 B. Baggers are expensive motorcycles due to being equipped with a variety of modern features, exclusive gadgets, and riding aids.

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