Whats Up With Cruiser Motorcycles?

Cruiser is a name used for bikes that imitate the Americanmachine design from 1930s to early 1960s. These motorbikes include the onesmanufactured by Indian, Harley Davidson, Henderson, Excelsior etc. Cruiserbikes make up about 60% of the US market and youll see all the big namesin the motorcycle manufacturing industry, like Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki, etc. makingvaried cruiser models.

The bikes in movies like Wild Hogs, The Wild One, Born to ride, etc., aregreat examples of the style of motorcycle Im talking about. Thesecruiser motorbikes; allow outstretched legs, have their handlebars higher, thefork extended and a large comfortable seat. Such bikes are ideal forlong-distance riding. Most bike enthusiasts, as they get older, develop afascination for cruiser bikes because the call of the road, the long distancetouring opportunities and the desire for comfort, demands it.

Most cruisers have limited turning ability and performance because of their lowdesign style. Therefore, if you are a rider that likes high speeds, yourcruiser motorcycle may call for customization to improve its leaning angle andengine performance. If speedy touring is your thing you might want toconsider a crossover bike or a sporty cruiser like the Honda Goldwing.

Choppers are also included in the cruiser motorcycle category. These bikes havea huge fan following, especially companieslike Jesse G. James' West Coast Choppers and Orange County Choppers run bythe Teutuls. These companies as well asothers have been successful in producing extremely expensive traditionalchopper-style bikes and a wide range of chopper-themed brands of merchandisesuch as clothing, automobile accessories and stickers.

Now that you have a fair idea about cruiser bikes, lets take a look at howthese bikes are different from sports bikes.

Cruisers generally have a longer wheelbase, a very low-slung design, anextended (raked) fork and accessories like saddlebags. They have a softersuspension, wider tires and are very stable. But these particular features takeaway the flexibility of the motorbike by restricting its performance and itsturning ability. The weight is distributed towards the rear, especially withthe rider sitting in an upright position so far away from the frontwheel. This is great for rear wheel traction and rider comfort but canmake cornering a little awkward. Therefore, you will not be able toweight shift or muscle these massive machines through corners at a high speedand should thoroughly understand the art of counter steering before tacklingone of these big boys. Sports bikes, unlike the cruisers, have a smallerwheelbase, higher centre of gravity, and the front wheel closer to the engineand the rider. The rider lies over the gas tank and almost becomes part of thebike. The process of weight shifts happens very quickly on these bikesand powerful brakes make the bike stop on a dime. A short wheelbase helps inquick turning and because of their higher center of gravity, they are lessstable and hence are able to response quickly to actions. Being lighter thanthe cruisers they are much more manageable but their one main drawback iscomfort, there isnt any.

There is something about cruising the American byways at a relaxed, constantpace with a massive V-twin chugging away smoothly between your thighs and thewind caressing your hair, which no frantic, high speed, buzz saw sports bikecan ever match. With a cruiser, you can kick back, relax and take in the sightsand the sounds as you munch miles effortlessly away. To put it simply, cruisersare for those for whom the journey matters more than the destination and forthose who, when they arrive, arrive in style!


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