american motorcycles

Why Are American Motorcycles So Big?

Why Are American Motorcycles So Big?

Have you ever seen a giant motorbike with several chrome parts and an extra loud sound? This is what an American motorcycle is like. They are known as the true highway kings.

Most American motorcycles are usually bigger than other motorcycles. You need to have a strong physique to handle such heavyweight motorbikes.

Let’s explore what makes American motorcycles so big. Continue reading this article to learn the reasons behind their large size. This article also highlights their superior comfort level and powerful performance.

1. Designed for Open Roads and Highway Cruising

Designed for Open Roads and Highway Cruising

1.1 Purpose

The major reason behind the big size of American motorcycles is their purpose. American riders love to cruise on open roads and highways. Picture yourself riding on highways and there is a long straight road ahead. American motorcycles are perfect to support such riding.

Due to being heavier, American motorcycles love to stay stable as you ride them on highways. They can easily battle strong winds to avoid getting destabilized.

1.2 Seat Comfort

If you choose to ride a smaller motorcycle, they will more likely cause fatigue afterward. Seats installed on American motorcycles are usually large, wide, well-cushioned, and comfortable.

They are also equipped with backrests for the rider and the passenger. Due to being wider, riders don’t need to keep changing positions on the seat. It helps riders avoid getting a sore posterior so they can enjoy the ride more.

1.3 Wind Protection

Another huge advantage of big American motorcycles is the installation of large windshields. These bulky cruisers can easily support installing large windshields for superior wind protection. It not only makes the ride more comfortable but also safe.

Windscreens also protect riders from flying insects when riding at high speeds on the highway or a countryside road. The presence of a windscreen is especially beneficial for riders on long trips as constant air drag can cause fatigue.

1.4 Better Control and Ride Feel

Superior comfort is not only limited to a plush seat and wind protection alone. American motorcycles also ensure better control and ride feel. This is because they are bigger and can accommodate larger engines and frames.

The solid frame and weight factor also contribute to reducing vibrations caused by road imperfections. This helps ensure a more comfortable riding experience.

2. Power to Take You Long Miles

Power to Take You Long Miles
Photo Credit: Total Motorcycle

2.1 Power and Torque

Comfort is not all that it takes to make a motorcycle a perfect cruiser or tourer. To be able to cover long miles and difficult roads, your motorcycle’s engine must provide adequate power. Also, to enjoy riding comfortably on freeways, your bike must not lack torque-producing capability.

Torque can be termed as the pulling force that effortlessly sets a motorcycle into motion. A high torque figure means that a motorcycle can easily go long miles. You can also carry more luggage on your bike for multi-day trips.

American riders appreciate high torque figures as they do not have to downshift and accelerate frequently. Having an American motorbike means that you possess a highly effective engine that takes care of most of the work for you. All you have to do is to steer and focus more on the road and journey.

2.2 A Legacy of V-Twin

American bikes have large engines, mainly V-twins that are popularly associated with American brands. These engines are not the same as the inline engines that you find on most non-American brands. The V-twin engines have two cylinders in a V-shape formation. They are incredibly effective at producing torque.

The V-twin engines are part of the American bike heritage. Some of the early American motorcycles were designed around these engines, and the design aspect remained consistent ever since.

The V-twin engines are different. They are strong and make a deep sound that is sure to draw attention. The soul-satisfying rumble of the Big American V-Twin engines has become a part of the American motorcycling tradition. They have a deep connection with motorcycling history.

3. Supports Customization Culture

Supports Customization Culture

Individualization is one of the most prominent aspects of American motorcycling culture. People are emotional about their bikes and enjoy modifying them to give them a personal and customized look. This customization can include:

  • A variety of custom paint jobs
  • Painting a favorite fictional character on motorcycle parts
  • Writing a motto or a message that riders would like on their bike
  • Installing chrome items to give a vintage look to the bike

A bigger motorbike provides more surface area for riders to show their creativity. It can also support more aftermarket and custom parts to give it a completely new look. Having a bigger American motorcycle allows riders to go wild with what they want.

They can include features such as saddlebags , sissy bars , backrests , crash bars , fairings , tank bags , and more. These add-ons can help riders carry items and improve their riding posture.

4. Not All Big Bikes Are American

It is important to note that not all big motorcycles are American products. Touring bikes made in different parts of the world by different manufacturers are also bigger. They also provide a similar comfort level and features as well.

However, the American take on big motorcycles is often synonymous with the V-twin engine and the typical cruiser style. Both these characteristics make them impressive and unique.

5. The Most Popular American-Made Big Motorcycles

Let's take a look at five of the most popular big bikes made in the U.S. Also, let’s explore what makes them so popular among American riders:

5.1 Harley-Davidson Road Glide

Harley-Davidson Road Glide
Photo Credit: Harley-Davidson

The Harley-Davidson Road Glide is a legendary touring machine. Carefully-designed seating ensures a comfortable experience during long trips. The powerful engine ensures an exciting ride experience.

The Road Glide also boasts a unique styling with a wide large fairing. It also comes with an integrated windscreen that minimizes air drag. It is also equipped with taller ape hangers to make the rider sit in an upright posture. Besides being big, the H-D Road Glide is also one of the most luxurious and expensive American tourers.

5.2 Indian Chieftain

Indian Chieftain
Photo Credit: Indian Motorcycle

The Indian Chieftain is another high-powered motorcycle that guarantees to turn heads. It features an elegant and aerodynamic design for smooth performance. Despite the blacked-out finish, a few of the parts are still chrome painted to give it a classic appearance.

The Indian Chieftain is more than just a beautifully designed motorcycle. It is also a powerful machine for experienced riders. The Indian Chieftain is equipped with several tech features such as an advanced infotainment system, cruise control, rear cylinder deactivation, and ride modes. These features provide an unmatched riding experience.

5.3 Victory Vision Tour (Discontinued)

Victory Vision Tour (Discontinued)
Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

The Victory Vision Tour is no longer in production. However, many riders who own the used model find it very appealing. Victory, a former American motorcycle manufacturer, was acquired and discontinued by Polaris, the owner of Indian Motorcycle.

Compared with its rivals, the Victory Vision Tour was comfortable and powerful, which made it perfect for cross-country rides. It is particularly because the seating was spacious and the wind protection was substantial.

The upright riding posture ensures that riders don’t feel fatigued while on the bike. The engine was strong enough to allow riders to comfortably overtake other vehicles.

5.4 Indian Challenger

Indian Challenger
Photo Credit: Cycle World

The Indian Challenger is another beautiful and muscular bagger. It has several elements of a cruiser and hints of sporty performance. The Challenger is sufficiently comfortable in terms of riding position with a slightly upright stance.

Despite being a heavyweight bagger, it is a friendly bike to ride because of its responsive steering. The engine performance is also smooth and better compared to most touring bikes. Such a sporty performance of the Indian Challenger enables riders to lean into corners and at the same time enjoy the comfort of the bike.

5.5 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
Photo Credit: Harley-Davidson

The Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special is a classic H-D bagger with several technological features. It has a very powerful engine, making it perfect for accelerating at high speeds. The seats are designed to provide maximum comfort to the rider and the passenger.

The Street Glide Special also features a top-end infotainment system. It has options like navigation systems and Bluetooth. The Street Glide Special is perfect for the modern generation who desires to have a perfect blend of classic and modern Harley motorbikes.

Being a special model, the Street Glide Special is available in several custom-inspired paint jobs, making it a premium touring bike.

These are just a few of the many big bikes that American motorcycle manufacturers make. Those experienced American bike lovers who want to purchase a big bike will find these options suitable for them.

Do you want to tour in style and comfort or do you wish for a high-level performance that is more sport-touring oriented? There is a wide variety of big American motorcycles available in the market.

6. A Few Drawbacks of Big American Motorcycles

An American motorcycle is a large, powerful mode of transportation. While certain qualities are advantageous, there are some disadvantages to consider before taking these heavyweight motorbikes to the road. Here's a look at some of the things to keep in mind:

6.1 Not Lightweight

Being large and heavy also makes American motorcycles somewhat challenging to control while riding at slow speeds. It may not be a huge problem if you are trained to handle a large cruiser. However, it is a safety concern for newcomers who want to start riding on such giant motorcycles.

It is a nightmare to drop such a heavyweight bike. Firstly because they are expensive and replacing a part can cost you a good amount of money. Secondly, you may not be able to pick up such a heavy motorcycle by yourself if you are not trained.

6.2 Cosume More Gas

Big American motorcycles have big engines and they consume a lot of fuel. For this reason, refueling them may cost you more than a small motorcycle. It is an important feature of a motorcycle to consider if you plan on doing lots of riding.

6.3 Tight Spots Can Be a Challenge

Managing the weight and keeping a big American bike stable at slow speed turns is like balancing a car on two wheels. Large bikes can hardly be expected to maneuver in tight spaces. Riding a motorcycle between traffic lanes may not be possible on a large American motorcycle. Navigating big American bikes through congested parking lots is also very challenging.

6.4 Intimidation Factor

Due to being bigger and more powerful, most American motorcycles can pose a great challenge to novice riders. Adjusting to the size of the bike and getting used to it can take you years of practice if you have just started riding a motorcycle.

6.5 Bigger Isn't Always Better

While some riders consider big American bikes perfect as they love their presence on the road, others may consider them too powerful. Such bikes can make it difficult for many riders to reach the ground; handle the excessive weight, and steer it comfortably.

It is better to go for a test ride before buying a motorcycle to see whether you can manage it.

7. Takeaway

American motorcycles provide comfort and style for those who are looking to go for long road trips in style. First of all, they are large and bulky due to being fitted with engines particularly developed for highway cruising and cross-country rides. They are extremely comfortable for riders and passengers with large spacious seats and wind protection. They also celebrate a rich motorcycling history that incorporates V-Twin engines. These are the main characteristics that make American motorcycles so big.

However, if you desire a bike that enables you to maneuver through the city streets or tight corners, then you may opt for a small or Japanese motorcycle instead. So, whenever you see a large American motorcycle on the road, remember the history, culture, and passion that make these bikes so big.

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