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Cruiser + Touring Motorcycles

Cruiser + Touring Motorcycles includes two of the most popular motorcycle categories, accounting for nearly three out of every four on-highway motorcycles sold in the United States. According to sales data from the Motorcycle Industry Council for 2012, motorcycles classified as “Cruiser” accounted for 32.3% and those classified as “Touring” accounted for 41.9% of total on-highway units sold. As discussed in Cruiser motorcycle guides, most cruisers are classically styled motorcycles that highlight the exposed engine–usually an air-cooled V–twin–and metalwork such as chrome exhaust pipes or heavy fenders. They typically offer a relaxed, feet-forward riding position favored by riders who, as the name implies, enjoy cruising down Main Street or their favorite back road. Touring motorcycles, which includes some cruisers as well as other types of bikes, are designed for long-distance travel. Touring motorcycle reviews look for typical details like a windshield (and sometimes a fairing) to protect the rider from wind, a comfortable seat and attached luggage, such as hard or soft saddlebags and possibly a trunk. Baggers, a nickname for motorcycles equipped with saddlebags, straddle the cruiser and touring categories and they’re very popular today.

2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited—Rider Test

2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited-

Greg Drevenstedt
December 3, 2013

Familiar but different. Iconic Batwing fairing has been restyled and now has a slipstream vent, the headlight and fog lights are LEDs, and the fairing lowers now conceal twin radiators for the Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103 engine (filling the space previously occupied by storage compartments). In... Read more »

2014 BMW K 1600 GTL Exclusive First Look Review

2014 BMW K1600GTL Exclusive

Mark Tuttle
November 20, 2013

Special paint on the Exclusive blends four coats of Mineral white metallic high-gloss with Magnesium silver matte. One complaint you almost never hear about BMW’s top-line K 1600 GTL touring bike is that it’s not luxurious enough. With cushy heated seating for the rider and passenger, an electric... Read more »

2014 Honda Gold Wing Valkyrie First Look Review

2014 Honda Gold Wing Valkyrie

Greg Drevenstedt
November 20, 2013

The 2014 Honda Gold Wing Valkyrie has more modern styling than the traditional cruiser look of its predecessor. Instead of a single large radiator in front of the engine, twin rads were left on the sides (as on the Gold Wing) to help keep the bike’s wheelbase shorter and improve handling. Eight... Read more »

2014 Triumph Motorcycles First Look Review

2014-Triumph-Thunderbird-LT-featured

Greg Drevenstedt
November 7, 2013

2014 Triumph Thunderbird LT in Lava Red/Phantom Black On the heels of announced updates to the Bonneville, Thruxton and Scrambler for 2014, at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy, Triumph Motorcycles introduced three new cruiser models (Thunderbird LT, Thunderbird Commander and America LT) and a special edition... Read more »

2014 Honda CTX1300 First Look

2014 Honda CTX1300 Right Side

Mark Tuttle
November 4, 2013

With a 200-series rear tire, low 29.1-inch seat height and relaxed seating, the CTX1300 is a new-think cruiser-tourer. Honda has adroitly filled a niche in the entry-level motorcycle genre with its two twin-cylinder CTX models, which are based upon the 670cc parallel twin first introduced in the NC700X.... Read more »

2014 Triumph Rocket III Touring Road Test

2014 triumph rocket III touring

Mark Tuttle
October 9, 2013

Bigger is better. Go big or go home. There’s no replacement for displacement. Super size me! We were using those phrases a lot about 10 years ago. Back then, a gallon of gas cost about a buck-fifty and the players in the cruiser market were battling to see who could build the biggest and baddest. Hot... Read more »

Moto Guzzi’s California 1400 Touring in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains

Lone Pine and the almost-dry Owens Lake

Clement Salvadori
October 4, 2013

Back roads make me happy. Two lanes, little traffic, preferably with lots of curves and undulations, rather like the better parts of California Routes 58, 120 and 178. Lots of gear changes, lots of lean, maybe a little braking on occasion when the yellow and black warning sign says 30 mph and the speedo... Read more »

Popular Honda Motorcycles Return for 2014: Shadow, 1300 Custom and Rebel Cruisers, XR650L

2014 Honda Interstate

Greg Drevenstedt
September 6, 2013

In addition to the nearly two-dozen all-new or improved models that Honda has released since 2012, Big Red is bringing back other popular bikes in its lineup with new colors and prices. Returning for 2014 are the Shadow and 1300 Custom lines of cruisers, as well as the Rebel cruiser and XR650L dual-sport. “These... Read more »

2014 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring Road Test

The California 1400 Touring offers a classic style.

Greg Drevenstedt
September 4, 2013

Flashback to 1970. Richard Nixon is in the White House, American troops are in Vietnam and the AMC Gremlin is in dealerships. Little known in the U.S. at the time, Moto Guzzi captures a slice of the lucrative police market with a full-dress version of the Eldorado 850, which was more powerful, more maneuverable,... Read more »

2014 Honda CTX700 Road Test

The 2014 Honda CTX700.

Mark Tuttle
September 3, 2013

If you’re an experienced motorcycle enthusiast, you’ve probably pigeonholed these new Honda CTXs as just beginner’s bikes and are about turn the page. Not so fast. That’s what any number of us old-timers thought when the NC700X/DCT was introduced, too. After testing it thoroughly (Rider, November... Read more »

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Cruiser + Touring Motorcycles, Who Uses Them?

Because America is renowned for its wide-open spaces and we love the open road, Cruiser + Touring Motorcycles are very popular in road tests. The cruiser style was invented in the U.S. in the early 1900s by companies such as Harley-Davidson, Indian and many others. Even today, the three major U.S. motorcycle manufacturers–Harley-Davidson, Victory and Indian–build cruisers and touring motorcycles exclusively. In an attempt to capture some of the American cruiser market, all four major Japanese manufacturers–Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha–as well as European manufacturers such as Triumph and Moto Guzzi, build cruisers. Most motorcycle guides suggest that Cruisers appeal to motorcyclists who place a lot of importance on style and, due to their limited cornering clearance and laidback riding position, less importance on performance. Cruisers often have low seat heights, allowing riders of all sizes to put both feet firmly on the ground when stopped. According to the reviews and road tests, Touring motorcycles appeal to anyone who wants to ride comfortably all day or for days on end.


Cruiser + Touring Motorcycle Standouts

The brand most associated with cruisers is Harley-Davidson, a company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that has been building motorcycles since 1903. Harley-Davidson has several model families, including Sportster, Dyna, Softail, V-Rod, CVO and Touring. Victory Motorcycles and Indian Motorcycle, the other two major American motorcycle manufacturers, are both owned by Minnesota-based Polaris Industries. Victory builds cruisers (Boardwalk, Judge), baggers (Cross Roads) and touring bikes (Cross Country Tour, Vision), and Indian builds very classically styled cruisers (Chief Classic) and touring bikes (Chief Vintage). Cruisers are also manufactured by Honda (Fury, Shadow), Ducati (Diavel), Kawasaki (Vulcan), Moto Guzzi (California), Suzuki (Boulevard), Triumph (Speedmaster, Thunderbird) and Yamaha/Star (V Star, Raider). Road tests can be found for most Touring motorcycles, including variations on the models listed above with windshields and saddlebags, as well as more performance-oriented models like the Honda Gold Wing GL1800 and BMW K 1600 GTL.

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