Cruiser Motorcycle: Travelling In Style
If you’re thinking about buying a motorcycle, you may be considering what you’d call a cruiser, a bike designed for long distance travel.
There’s a lot to consider when making this decision. You may have heard a cruiser called a bagger or touring bike. Typically the word ‘cruiser’ refers to a motorcycle with a lower profile, where the rider sits up straight with legs out in front and arms up, that’s more comfortable for traveling.
The build design of a cruiser tends to be more complicated, with six-cylinder engines common and more elaborate suspension systems. They are much heavier than other types of bikes, and so may be more difficult to handle for shorter and lighter people, especially when coming into or out of a stop.
Cruisers are now very customizable, with lots of aftermarket options available. You won’t usually see cruisers with raked-out front ends like you do with choppers, their appearance tends to be more compact and sturdy-looking. The fenders are bigger, the tanks are bigger (or modified to look bigger), and the seats are larger. They allow for a lot of storage space to carry cargo or add saddlebags.
Pros and Cons of Cruiser Bikes
Photo by KayVee.INC
There are real positives to operating a cruiser:
These bikes are designed for long distance riding. Note they are also definitely the most comfortable type of bike when you are carrying a passenger.
They’re easier on your back, easier on your hands, and easier on your passenger.
‘Baggers’ – Cruisers can be customized to carry whatever you need on long trips. Clothes, beer, food, all the essentials. A cruiser can make a cross-country trip on a bike possible.
Cruisers have more available paint surface than more stripped down bikes. If you want murals and crazy flames, this is your bike. Some of the most famous memorial bikes have been cruisers or baggers because they offer so much space for the mural.
V twins are out there, but you’ll find high-torque six cylinders at the same price point. The engines just tend to be bigger.
They may be bigger, but you can find yourself a real decent cruiser in a similar price range as a lighter bike. It doesn’t cost more to jump in the pool if that’s what you want.
You can go crazy with a cruiser, make it a bagger if you want, there are a lot of options. We’ll talk more about that in a few.
Photo by Nathan Bittinger
There are also some downsides that need to be considered before purchase:
They just won’t corner like a crotch rocket.
If you need more performance agility, you’ll need to customize to enhance lean angle, or start with a power cruiser performance model.
They are heavy. They are hard to keep standing, so shorter and lighter people may find it too difficult to control. Try it before you buy it. Less experienced riders may have more trouble in this area.
Cost to own
The builds are more complicated, so they are more expensive to repair. Parts cost more, labor costs more, and things can break more often.
Difficulty to repair
Being more complicated, they are harder to repair yourself if you’re not mechanically experienced. This ties in with a higher cost to own, as well.
Some people just don’t like the stocky, square appearance of a cruiser type motorcycle. This is more about personal preferences than any pros or cons, just be aware of what you like and what you’re looking for when you go out shopping.
Photo by Daniel Levy
Now let’s talk about the custom aspect of cruisers. What’s available for motorcycles ranges from cookie-cutter low price boats to full custom home-built bikes.
There are factory custom motorcycles available that, while not a one-off custom, still offer a wide range of options like engine size, accessories, and paint styles. Doing a ‘factory custom’ bike can also offer all the financing options and support and warranty options that a larger brand or dealership would offer.
If you like a big-brand factory bike and just want to make a few changes to make it your own, there are many aftermarket parts, pieces and accessories available to do that.
Virtually every part of a mainstream bike has a custom aftermarket option, and if there isn’t something you like, someone will know how to make it. You want horns? Someone makes those for your bike.
Why choose a cruiser?
Photo by Eric
A cruiser is like the Cadillac of motorcycles. Smooth, big, and comfortable.
Want to split for California? Your cruiser will take you there in comfort and style. Of course, check the weather forecast, it is still a motorcycle.
Got a passenger? They will likely still be there behind you on the bike when you arrive! They really are the best for two-person travel, there isn’t much competition in that arena.
If you use the available storage options, you can bring most, if not all, of the supplies you might typically bring on a road trip and not have to go without.
The benefits of a cruiser are all in the comfort and power. Style is personal and definitely doable with the bigger bikes. So go ahead and find your bike and cruise in style.