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2008 V-twin Touring Cruiser Motorcycle Comparison

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, Honda VTX1800T, Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT, Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S, Suzuki C109RT

the bikes you see here start at 96 cubic inches and go up to an earth-shaking 125 cubes (2,053cc), which means they are the largest-displacement standard-production V-twin touring cruisers on the planet!

Photo Credit: Rich Cox

Bill Stermer
September 15, 2008
Filed under Cruiser + Touring Motorcycle Reviews, Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on Harley Motorcycles, Honda Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on Honda Motorcycles, Kawasaki Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on Kawasaki Motorcycles & Sportbikes, Other Motorycle Reviews, Road Tests, Suzuki Motorcycle Reviews

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[This V-twin touring cruiser motorcycle comparison review features the 2008 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, 2008 Honda VTX1800T, 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT, 2008 Star Stratoliner S and 2008 Suzuki Boulevard C109RT was originally published in the September 2008 issue of Rider magazine]

Cruisers are known as unruffled, laid-back bikes with slow-revving engines and a certain presence. And the greater engine displacement they have, the more laid-back and slow turning they can be, and the greater presence they can command. Well, the bikes you see here start at 96 cubic inches and go up to an earth-shaking 125 cubes (2,053cc), which means they are the largest-displacement standard-production V-twin touring cruisers on the planet!

To test them, five of us saddled up at Rider magazine’s glassy and cubicled offices in Ventura, California, and headed north on Highway 101 along the Pacific Coast. Our destination was Hollister, birthplace of the American biker culture spawned by events there in 1947 and immortalized in the 1953 movie, The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando.

This cold, overcast, blustery day immediately gave us an impression of each bike’s highway comfort and wind protection. The Suzuki Boulevard C109RT has a firm seat and its wide tank spreads the riders’ knees, but the seating position is otherwise comfortable and the bike offers lots of good V-twin shudder at low rpm. Wind protection is superior as it’s equipped not only with a large windscreen, but also with wind deflectors mounted to its fork legs.

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, Honda VTX1800T, Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT, Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S, Suzuki C109RT

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, Honda VTX1800T, Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT, Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S, Suzuki C109RT

The Star Stratoliner S is provided with a large windscreen that leaves the rider’s knees in the breeze where they’re beaten by the wind. Its suspension quality is second only to that of the Honda, and we found that its grips are placed lower and farther forward than we prefer.

The roomy Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT offers a natural seating position, but if you stretch back too far, the rise at the back of its roomy seat may put the rear of your rear to sleep. Its ‘screen is mounted so high that the wind comes up from underneath, hits the tank and is directed at the rider’s chest, exactly where you don’t want it; helmet buffeting is also prominent. We had to look through the ‘screen, which is a detriment in rain, fog or at night. The ‘screen’s 2 inches of downward adjustment helped, but only a little.

After the Vulcan, the Honda VTX1800T feels shorter, lighter and more responsive, though the bikes are similar in specifications. With its male-slider fork and dual rear shocks, the Honda’s suspension is plush and well controlled, and its relatively small, low windscreen is tilted at an effective angle that delivers good protection while allowing the rider to look over it.

Our classically styled “little” Harley excelled in lightness and agility.

Our classically styled “little” Harley excelled in lightness and agility.

The lightest and easiest-handling bike in our test is the Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic. Our riders remarked that its handlebar is a bit higher than we wished, but otherwise its seat is comfortable and its ‘screen provides good upper-body protection. At 746 pounds wet, the Harley is 72 pounds lighter than the Stratoliner, and more than 100 pounds lighter than the other three bikes, which translates to noticeably easier handling.

If it’s hot and you want to cool off, the Harley’s windscreen is easily detachable by simply grasping it from the front of the bike and pulling it toward you. It goes on just as easily with a push, and snugs in place. The Star Stratoliner’s ‘screen is also easily removable, and locks on with the ignition key. Tools are required to remove or adjust the ‘screens on the other three bikes.

Upright and smooth, the Honda’s seating position is first-rate.

Upright and smooth, the Honda’s seating position is first-rate.

We turned off on Highway 154, the shortcut from Santa Barbara to north of Solvang, where springtime’s rolling green hills were dotted with oak trees and slathered in patches of blue and yellow wildflowers. At a scenic overlook we switched bikes for the first of many times during our ride; all five of us would ride each bike at least twice. Then we were back on Highway 101. Later, we noticed that one of the turn signal/ passing lamp assemblies from the Suzuki was dangling by its wires; a weld had fractured and the assembly had fallen off. It went into the saddlebag, but was retrieved periodically for photos.

Ride and Handling
At San Lucas we turned east on backroad Highway 198, then picked up quiet, two-lane Highway 25 north, which meanders through a long valley that was like riding through a park. Several of us were soon lounging beside the road near a farm as Rich Cox snapped action photos of the others riding by. An old black tomcat with a chewed-on ear came out to greet us, followed by an old-timer in a pickup. He told us (the old-timer, not the cat) that right across the way, where this field now peacefully lies, was the little town of Peach Tree about a century ago, and across those hills had been the least used road in California. As for his farm, “It’s been in the family 105 years.” That led us to the Harley, which carries 105th Anniversary badges on its tank; the company’s first bike appeared in 1903.

Seating position on the Kawasaki is more compact than the bike’s size would indicate.

Seating position on the Kawasaki is more compact than the bike’s size would indicate.

It was time to saddle up, and once we had bid goodbye to the farmer and his cat we had the chance to experience the bikes in the curves. We noted that as cruisers all of these bikes have cornering clearance issues. Lean them over much, and soon something is going to drag. As we headed north on twisty Highway 25 we found that with its relatively short 64.5-inch wheelbase, 32 degrees of rake and 5.8 inches of trail the Harley Heritage Softail feels comparatively light and easy to handle. It is the easiest bike to turn around in the width of the road and to push around in a parking lot. Its counterbalanced engine is very smooth, and its rubber-mounted footboards damp out what the counterbalancer misses. It generates the least power of the bikes in our group, and offers minimal cornering clearance. It is the only bike here with a six-speed transmission, and shifts easily and cleanly. It is also the only bike here with a single front disc brake, and braking force from its four-piston front caliper is less than that of the other bikes with their dual-disc brake systems.

Jump onto the Honda and note that it has a plush, more luxurious feel brought about by its suspension, a male-slider fork and twin shocks. With its 67.5-inch wheelbase and rake/trail figures of 32 degrees/6.4 inches, combined with its 180/70-16 rear tire, the Honda feels lighter and quicker in the steering department than the Suzuki and Kawasaki, though it stops far short of the Harley’s nimbleness. Take it up through the gears and it has a nice high-end hit in its rev range; Honda claims it produces peak horsepower and torque at 5,000 rpm.

Despite its weight, the Stratoliner S is easily controllable at low speeds.

Despite its weight, the Stratoliner S is easily controllable at low speeds.

The biggest bull moose in our test in terms of displacement is the 125-cubic-inch Kawasaki Vulcan 2000. Power is smooth, and comes on strong, right from idle. Despite this, the bike is overall muted and subdued, though with a pleasant exhaust note. With a wheelbase of 68.3 inches and rake/trail of 32 degrees/7.2 inches, the Kawi has a long, solid feel, but is softly sprung. Its power is a kick in a straight line, but start flogging it in the turns and its soft suspension soon has it bouncing around, as its 200-series rear tire slows its steering.

Climb aboard the Star Stratoliner S and you’re struck by how low the bike feels and how easily it handles at low speeds. It’s utterly predictable on the road, too, with its 67.5-inch wheelbase, 31.3 degrees of rake and 6.0 inches of trail. Power is mellow and suspension refined, making the bike a relaxing and comfortable ride.

The Suzuki rider is spread out and finds that turning the bike requires a lot of effort.

The Suzuki rider is spread out and finds that turning the bike requires a lot of effort.

You’ll notice that the 891-pound Suzuki Boulevard C109RT is the heaviest bike in our test as soon as you muscle it off its sidestand; by comparison, when we last tested a six-cylinder Honda Gold Wing dresser tourer in 2006, it dented the scales at 900 pounds. The Suzuki also has the longest wheelbase at 69.1 inches, though at 31.8 degrees/5.2 inches in rake/trail it begins to drop into turns acceptably. Then its huge 240-series rear tire comes into play and the bike requires a lot of effort to turn. The Boulevard’s motor produces a whining, whistling sound, its transmission requires high effort and the bike shudders when it’s shifted. The Suzuki is so high geared that it seems to be lugging at 70 mph in fifth gear, and isn’t in its happy place. Despite these negatives, we really like the motor’s character and power. It has better cornering clearance and better wind protection than most of the bikes here, and it’s the only one with a standard luggage rack.

Luggage

That evening we obtained lodging in Hollister, and were soon unloading our saddlebags. All the bags are made of leather, either bare or applied over a hard shell. What appear to be standard buckles are all fakes (thank goodness), as each manufacturer has conveniently provided quick-release buckles hidden behind them. The Suzuki and Honda bags are similar in size and style, relatively small, and the Kawasaki’s are slightly larger.

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic: Saddlebags

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic: Saddlebags

As for our favorites, the Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic’s bags are more voluminous, but with their smaller openings and the way they flare toward the bottom they are more difficult to pack when utilizing a separate drop-in luggage bag. The Star Stratoliner S’s hard-sided, leather-covered bags are long, nicely but not uniformly shaped, hold a lot, open with the push of a button and are the only lockable bags in our test. Because of its capacity we began calling the bike the “Freightliner,” and its bags were the pick of our testers.

That night we visited the pizza parlor across the street from our motel, but failed to get into a fight with a rival club as Brando’s “Johnny” character did in the movie. Then we swaggered to the counter and, when the clerk asked what we wanted to drink, we mimicked Johnny’s response to “What are you rebelling against?” and responded, “What’ve you got?”

Honda VTX1800T: Saddlebags

Honda VTX1800T: Saddlebags

Fuel Mileage
These are all big, heavy bikes with full saddlebags that push a lot of air with their windscreens. Consider that for our test they were ridden by big guys, often at extra-legal speeds, often aggressively back and forth repeatedly for photo purposes, and they’re not going to produce sterling mileage figures. Our figures are generally consistent with displacement, and not surprisingly our largest-displacement bike, the 125-cubic-inch Kawasaki, turned just 35.1 miles for every gallon of premium. The heaviest, the 109-cubic-inch and 891-pound Suzuki Boulevard, was incrementally better at 35.8 mpg, while the 113-inch Star got 36.7 mpg. The Honda VTX1800T (109 cubic inches) delivered 38.7 mpg, but our champion was the “little” 96-inch Harley at 39.8 mpg. If ridden more conventionally in a touring fashion, we expect that each of these bikes would likely best these figures by 5 mpg. Please note that in Rider‘s May issue, when we similarly tested middleweight V-twin touring cruisers ranging from 805cc-1,300cc (49 to 79 cubic inches), mileage ranged from 38.9 to 43.7 mpg.

Passenger Comfort

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT: Saddlebags

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT: Saddlebags

I jumped on the back of each bike and had Editor Mark Tuttle run me up and down the road to sample the passenger accommodations. Here I was evaluating seat-to-peg configuration, engine and suspension smoothness, and backrest/seat comfort. On the smallest bike in our test the Harley passenger sits on a firm seat and feels cramped up against the rider with knees jutting to the sides. Moderate vibration reaches the passenger through the backrest.
The Kawasaki’s high seat made it more difficult to board but once seated, the Vulcan passenger enjoys a plush, cushy seat with good support. It is roomy, and the vibrations coming through the backrest are pleasant. The passenger sits higher and can see over and around the rider.

Climb aboard the Suzuki Boulevard and the passenger enjoys a backrest that is not only wide and cushy, but also pivots to adjust to the angle of the back. Aboard the Honda VTX1800 the passenger enjoys a good amount of room and luxurious suspension, but the seat and backrest are relatively narrow, which detracts from comfort. And as for the passenger on the Star Stratoliner, it’s all firm: the seat, the backrest and the ride–though in a supportive sense. Suspension is well damped and taut rather than plush, but still comfortable.

Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S: Saddlebags

Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S: Saddlebags

Provided I were long-legged and could mount the Kawasaki easily enough, it would be my choice for passenger comfort. Next in order I’d choose the Suzuki to spend miles upon, then the Star and Honda. The Harley rates last for its relatively cramped accommodations.

The End of the Trail
After two full days and more than 600 miles on the road, we five discussed and rated the bikes. Our criterion was, “Which bike would you like to own?” I assigned a point scale with five points for first place down to one for last. Our conclusions were unanimous at the bottom, near unanimous at the top and divided in the middle.

At the top, four of the five rated the Star Stratoliner S as the one we’d like to keep, with the other rider voting it in second place for a total of 24 points. Granted, we all noted that its windscreen was improperly placed and we wished the grips were a little farther back (Rivco, at 888-801-8222, www.rivcoproducts.com, makes a riser kit that brings the handlebar up an inch and back 2.25 inches). We really liked the bike’s subdued rumble; its power characteristics; the wide, flat seat; its retro styling and dashboard; and those voluminous, hard-sided, leather-covered locking bags.

Suzuki C109RT: Saddlebags

Suzuki C109RT: Saddlebags

In the middle, one of us voted the Honda VTX1800T as his favorite for its comfort, suspension and overall power characteristics, while others gave it mostly third-place votes, for a total of 16 points. In third place was the Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, which garnered two seconds, a third, a fourth and a tie for third for 15.5 points. Right up there was the Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT, which scored two second-place votes, two fourth, and one rider listed it as a tie with the Harley for third, for 14.5 points.

All five of us rated the Suzuki last, citing the way it shudders with each shift, the inappropriate high gearing and how, in the twisties, that huge 240-series rear tire requires not only a lot of concentration but also a lot of effort to ride at a pace with the other bikes. The high gearing not only did not allow the engine to utilize its torque, but also did not pay any discernible benefit in fuel mileage. Throw in one broken light bar and we were pretty disappointed. Keep in mind that what we did not like about the other bikes (bar or grip position, seat, wind protection) can be easily changed. What we did not like about the Boulevard (rough shifting, gearing, rear wheel size) is inherent to the machine and would be difficult to change. But we loved its power and wind protection.

At one point in The Wild One, Johnny tells a guy in the bar, “…the idea is to have a ball. Now if you gonna stay cool, you got to wail. You got to put somethin’ down. You got to make some jive. Don’t you know what I’m talkin’ about?”
I’m talkin’ about everybody wantin’ a big touring cruiser, but I’ve got to put somethin’ down. I believe we’re reaching the limits of “big.” In my opinion, too big is a cruiser approaching 900 pounds. Too big is a rear tire that negatively impacts the bike’s ability to take the corners. Too big is a bike that, for older or smaller riders, becomes a real handful with luggage and a passenger aboard. What am I rebelling against? Too big!

SIDEBARS
Modern Classic: Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic (scroll down for detailed specs)

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic

I recall the days when people would say, “He rode a big, ol’ Harley 74.” While the “big” sentiment was certainly true at the time, after many years of displacement inflation today’s 96-cubic-inch Heritage Softail Classic is now not only the smallest bike in our comparison test, but also the lightest by far, which makes it more agile and maneuverable.

The 1,584cc Softail is powered by an air-cooled, 45-degree V-twin engine, with a bore and stroke of 95.25 x 111.25mm and a compression ratio of 9.2:1. With hydraulic valve adjusters its valves never need adjustment. While the other Big Twin Harleys have rubber-mounted engines, the Softails utilize counterbalancing to smooth out the power pulses from their single-pin crankshafts, thus nipping vibration in the bud. By concealing the twin shock absorbers under the engine, the rear of the bike has a classic hard-tail look while the rider enjoys a full suspension. Because of its air-cooled, two-valve-per-cylinder motor, some may be tempted to dismiss the Harley as technologically challenged, but that would be short sighted. It features fuel injection, is the only bike in our test with a six-speed transmission and turned the best fuel economy at 39.8 mpg. The power reaches the rear wheel via belt final drive, which requires no lubrication and infrequent adjustment.

This year Harley-Davidson celebrates its 105th anniversary, and if you want your Heritage Softail Classic in this special Anniversary Copper Pearl/Vivid Black with special 105th badging it’ll cost you $19,270 rather than the $17,945 for the Vivid Black one. Our test bike also carried the optional Security System with key fob and laced-wheel option, boosting its price to $20,065.

The Smoother Cruiser: Honday VTX1800T (scroll down for detailed specs)

Honda VTX1800T

Honda VTX1800T

Honda’s biggest cruiser line is the VTX1800, which is powered by a liquid-cooled, 1,795cc (109.5 cubic inches), 52-degree V-twin engine with single overhead cams, three valves and two spark plugs per cylinder. Its bore and stroke of 101 x 112mm indicate a torquey motor; compression ratio is 9.0:1. Honda has taken pains to make the bike smooth, starting with utilizing staggered crankpins, then rubber mounting the engine to the tube-steel, double-cradle frame; the other bikes here have single-pin cranks. It utilizes programmed fuel injection, and its screw-and-locknut valves require adjustment every 8,000 miles. The dry-sump lubrication system places the oil tank inside the transmission case, resulting in a lower engine and seat height. Final drive is a low-maintenance driveshaft.

The Honda offers linked brakes in which applying the rear pedal actuates the rear brake, and one of the three pistons in each front caliper. This helps shorten stopping distances for those who tend to mostly apply the rear brake. The front brake lever has no effect on the rear brake.

The “T” version features fully valanced fenders, and includes 24-liter leather bags, a windscreen, passenger backrest and “Tourer” badging on the front fender. Tourers are available in two build specs, and our test model’s Spec 2 includes such style items as chrome steel fork tube covers, chrome-plated aluminum handlebar mounts, polished levers and triple clamps, and a satin-brushed finish on the switch housings. This particular bike is $16,499, but models with the Spec 1 build are priced about $1,200 less. Colors in either build spec include Black, Black/Candy Black Cherry, and the Black/Metallic Blue shown.

Mr. Big: Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT (scroll down for detailed specs)

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT

There’s a school of thought that says “bigger is better,” and Kawasaki has taken that message to heart by producing the largest-displacement V-twin cruiser from a major manufacturer. With a bore and stroke of 103 x 123.2mm the Vulcan displaces 2,053cc, which translates to a whopping 125 cubic inches! It features forged pistons, alloy steel connecting rods, dual cams, and its pushrods actuate four valves per cylinder. Compression ratio is 9.5:1. The top quarter of the engine utilizes water jackets for cooling, while the bottom three-quarters of this 52-degree V-twin is air cooled. Hydraulic valve lash adjusters automatically maintain adjustment.

Kawasaki utilizes a pair of 46mm throttle-body injectors with sub-throttle valves to help the Vulcan’s engine spread and smooth its powerband. To tame the vibes the engine not only has dual counterbalancers, but is also rubber mounted so the vibes never reach the riders. Power reaches the rear wheel by means of belt final drive.
The engine is a stressed member in the double-cradle steel frame with its box-section, single-tube backbone and tube-steel swingarm. Stopping the Vulcan very adequately is a pair of 300mm discs up front with four-piston calipers, and a single 320mm rear disc with a two-piston caliper.

In addition to the Metallic Ocean Blue/Neutron Silver color shown, the big Kawasaki is also available in Candy Cardinal Red/ Atomic Silver. Either version will set you back $14,599.

Mondo Jewelry: Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S (scroll down for detailed specs)

Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S

Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S

Some folks’ school of thought contends that motorcycles are high-end male jewelry, and the Stratoliner S certainly plays to that concept. To build the Stratoliner, Yamaha’s Star Motorcycles Division started with the Roadliner, which has an aluminum frame and swingarm and is powered by the big air-cooled, 113-cubic-inch (1,854cc) 48-degree pushrod V-twin engine with a bore and stroke of 100 x 118mm, and a compression ratio of 9.5:1. It features two spark plugs and four valves per cylinder with twin-bore, downdraft electronic fuel injection, and twin counterbalancers to keep it smooth. Custom machining on the cooling fin edges gives them a jewel-like appearance. The “Exhaust Ultimate Powervalve” (EXUP) inside the two-into-one exhaust system is designed to boost midrange torque. Power gets to the ground through belt final drive.

A retro 1930’s streamlined style includes a seamless 4.5-gallon fuel tank with three chrome strips, a multireflector headlight, sculpted fenders, an LED taillight and amber turn-signal bulbs behind clear lenses with a pointy “Madonna’s bra” look. Classic clock-style instrumentation is really cool and retro, and it’s the only bike here with a tachometer, tiny though it is. The front brake consists of a pair of 298mm discs squeezed by four-piston mono-block calipers, and the 320mm rear disc is pinched by a two-piston caliper.

The Midnight model is blacked out, but the Stratoliner S we test here features chromed switches, front brake and clutch master cylinder covers and levers, a chromed belt guard, fork and fork covers, polished wheels and more. Colors include the Black Cherry/Charcoal Silver shown or Pearl White, for $16,580.

The New Guy: Suzuki Boulevard C109RT (scroll down for detailed specs)

Suzuki C109RT

Suzuki C109RT

Suzuki added the crown jewel to its Boulevard line, the M109R, in 2006. The “M” is for “Muscle” and the “109” refers to the fact that its engine displaces 1,783cc (109 cubic inches) by means of a bore and stroke of 112.0 x 90.5mm. It is a big, hulking power cruiser with very modern, modular styling highlighted by its distinctive sloping mini fairing, a big, ol’ 240-series rear tire and very entertaining power.

It also features a multireflector headlight, male-slider fork, spiral-cast wheels and the largest-displacement engine Suzuki has ever put in a motorcycle. After a couple model years, Suzuki decided to expand its Boulevard line by offering this same basic engine package wrapped in more classic styling. Now for 2008 it has built the C109R (the “C” is for “Custom”) that, stylewise, features a pull-back handlebar, slash-cut mufflers and floorboards.
Still, the custom version is built around a liquid-cooled, 54-degree V-twin engine that inhales through a fuel-injection system with dual 52mm throttle bodies and four valves and two spark plugs per cylinder. Suzuki boasts that its double-overhead-cam design traces its technological heritage to its GSX-R supersport racers, and its big-bore/short-stroke design indicates that the engine is going to rev rather freely; compression ratio is 10.5:1. The C109s get the pound to the ground by means of a driveshaft.

The C109R is available in two versions, the base model and the dressed version we test here, the C109RT (the “T” is for “Touring”) with a windscreen, leather bags, studded seats, backrest and luggage rack. The RT is the only new-for-2008 model in our test.

Unlike the M109R, both versions of the C109R feature linked brakes. Each front caliper on the triple-disc system has three pistons, and when the rider steps on the rear pedal it actuates not only the rear caliper, but also one piston on each front brake caliper. Pulling the front brake lever actuates the other two pistons in the front calipers, but the front brake is not linked to the rear. The effect is that riders who tend to primarily use the foot brake will now experience greater braking force, and more forward weight transfer.

The base-model C109R is $13,799, but our T-model here with touring equipment is $14,999 in the blue/white version shown, or black/gray.

SPEC CHARTS

 

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic: The Harley features a basic speedometer and a fuel gauge in the left cap.

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic: The Harley features a basic speedometer and a fuel gauge in the left cap.

2008 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic Specs

Base Price: $17,945
Price as Tested: $20,065 105th Anniversary Copper Pearl/Vivid Black, Wheel Option, Security System
Warranty: 24 mos., unltd. miles
Website: www.harley-davidson.com
ENGINE
Type: Air-cooled, transverse 45-degree V-twin
Displacement: 1,584cc
Bore x Stroke: 95.25 x 111.25mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Valve Train: OHV, 2 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: NA
Fuel Delivery: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection
Lubrication System: Dry sump, 3.0-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
ELECTRICAL
Ignition: Electronic
Charging Output: 489 watts max.
Battery: 12V 19AH

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic: With rubber mounting and counterbalancing, the Harley’s motor is extremely smooth.

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic: With rubber mounting and counterbalancing, the Harley’s motor is extremely smooth.


CHASSIS
Frame: Mild steel double-cradle w/ rectangular-section backbone
Wheelbase: 64.5 in.
Rake/Trail: 32 degrees/5.8 in.
Seat Height: 27.4 in.
Suspension, Front: 41.3mm stanchions, no adj., 5.1-in. travel
Rear: Dual shocks, no adj., 4.3-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single disc w/ opposed 4-piston caliper
Rear: Single disc w/ opposed 4-piston caliper
Wheels, Front: Laced, 3.00 x 16 in.
Rear: Laced, 3.00 x 16 in.
Tires, Front: MT90B16
Rear: 150/80-16
Wet Weight: 746 lbs.
Load Capacity: 414 lbs.
GVWR: 1,160 lbs.
PERFORMANCE
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gals.
Average mpg: 39.8
Estimated Range: 199 miles
Indicated rpm at 60 mph: NA

Honda VTX1800T: Modern-styled gauge includes a small LCD panel and warning lights.

Honda VTX1800T: Modern-styled gauge includes a small LCD panel and warning lights.

2008 Honda VTX1800T Specs

Base Price: $14,899
Price as Tested: $16,499 (Build Spec 2, Black Metallic Blue)
Warranty: 12 mos., unltd. miles
Website: www.powersports.honda.com
ENGINE
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 52-degree V-twin
Displacement: 1,795cc
Bore x Stroke: 101.0 x 112.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 3 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: 8,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Lubrication System: Semi-dry sump, 3.9-qt. cap.
Transmission: 5-speed,
hydraulically actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Shaft, 3.09:1
ELECTRICAL
Ignition: Solid-state digital w/ 2 spark plugs per cyl.
Charging Output: 300 watts max.
Battery: 12V 20AH

Honda VTX1800T: Rubber mounting and staggered crankpins make the Honda smooth.

Honda VTX1800T: Rubber mounting and staggered crankpins make the Honda smooth.

CHASSIS
Frame: Tubular-steel, double cradle
Wheelbase: 67.5 in.
Rake/Trail: 32 degrees/6.4 in.
Seat Height: 27.4 in.
Suspension, Front: Male-slider fork w/ 45mm stanchions & 5.1-in. travel
Rear: Dual shocks adj. for spring preload w/ 3.9-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual discs w/ 3-piston pin-slide calipers
Rear: Single disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper, linked w/ front
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 5.00 x 16 in.
Tires, Front: 150/80-HR17
Rear: 180/70-HR16
Wet Weight: 854 lbs.
Load Capacity: 365 lbs.
GVWR: 1,219 lbs.
PERFORMANCE
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals.
Average mpg: 38.7
Estimated Range: 205.1 miles
Indicated rpm at 60 mph: NA

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT: Chromed nacelle on tank is huge, and LCD screen is likewise large.

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT: Chromed nacelle on tank is huge, and LCD screen is likewise large.

2008 Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT Specs

Base Price: $14,599
Warranty: 24 months
Website: www.kawasaki.com
ENGINE
Type: Liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-twin
Displacement: 2,053cc
Bore x Stroke: 103.0 x 123.2mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Valve Train: OHV, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: NA
Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection
Lubrication System: Semi-dry sump, 3.1-qt. cap.
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
ELECTRICAL
Ignition: Electronic digital
Charging Output: 535 watts max.
Battery: 12V 18AH

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT: The Vulcan is heavy, but its 125 cubic inches produce abundant torque.

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT: The Vulcan is heavy, but its 125 cubic inches produce abundant torque.

CHASSIS
Frame: Tubular, cast and box-section steel double-cradle w/ tubular-steel swingarm
Wheelbase: 68.3 in.
Rake/Trail: 32 degrees/7.2 in.
Seat Height: 26.8 in.
Suspension, Front: 49mm stanchions w/ 5.9-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring preload and rebound damping w/ 3.9-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual discs w/ opposed 4-piston calipers
Rear: Single disc w/ 2-piston caliper
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 16 in.
Rear: Cast, 6.00 x 16 in.
Tires, Front: 150/80-R16
Rear: 200/60-R16
Wet Weight: 875 lbs.
Load Capacity: 351 lbs.
GVWR: 1,226 lbs.
PERFORMANCE
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gals.
Average mpg: 35.1
Estimated Range: 192 miles
Indicated rpm at 60 mph: NA

Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S: Gauges look like my grandfather’s old Philco radio from the 1930s, and include a tachometer.

Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S: Gauges look like my grandfather’s old Philco radio from the 1930s, and include a tachometer.

2008 Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S Specs

Base Price: $16,580
Warranty: 1 year, unltd. miles
Website: www.starmotorcycles.com
ENGINE
Type: Air-cooled, transverse, 48-degree V-twin
Displacement: 1,854cc
Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 118.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Valve Train: OHV, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: 16,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ twin 43mm throttle bodies & EXUP
Lubrication System: Dry sump, 5.5-qt. cap.
Transmission: 5-speed, hydraulically actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
ELECTRICAL
Ignition: Digital TCI
Charging Output: 448 watts max.
Battery: 12V 12AH

Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S: Lots of chrome and polished fin edges add flash to the motor’s easily controllable power.

Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S: Lots of chrome and polished fin edges add flash to the motor’s easily controllable power.

CHASSIS
Frame: Tubular and box-section aluminum double cradle
Wheelbase: 67.5 in.
Rake/Trail: 31.3 degrees/6.0 in.
Seat Height: 28.9 in.
Suspension, Front: 46mm stanchions w/ 5.1-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring preload w/ 4.3-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual discs w/ 4-piston mono-block calipers
Rear: Single disc w/ 2-piston caliper
Wheels, Front: Cast, 4.50 x 18 in.
Rear: Cast, 5.50 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 130/70-18
Rear: 190/60-17
Wet Weight: 818 lbs.
Load Capacity: 395 lbs.
GVWR: 1,213 lbs.
PERFORMANCE
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gals.
Average mpg: 36.7
Estimated Range: 210 miles
Indicated rpm at 60 mph: 2,350

Suzuki C109RTi: Gauges are simple and direct; as with most bikes here, there’s no tach.

Suzuki C109RTi: Gauges are simple and direct; as with most bikes here, there’s no tach.

2008 Suzuki Boulevard C109RT

Base Price: $14,999
Warranty: 1 year, unltd. miles
Website: www.suzukicycles.com
ENGINE
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse, 54-degree V-twin
Displacement: 1,783cc
Bore x Stroke: 112.0 x 90.5mm
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: 14,500 miles
Fuel Delivery: 52mm throttle body fuel injector x 2
Lubrication System: Semi-dry sump, 5.3-qt. capacity
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Shaft, 2.82:1
ELECTRICAL
Ignition: Electronic transistorized
Charging Output: 400 watts @ 5,000 rpm
Battery: 12V 10AH

Suzuki C109RT: By utilizing sportbike technology, the Suzuki makes great, thumping power.

Suzuki C109RT: By utilizing sportbike technology, the Suzuki makes great, thumping power.

CHASSIS
Frame: Tubular-steel, double cradle
Wheelbase: 69.1 in.
Rake/Trail: 31.8 degrees/5.2 in.
Seat Height: 28.0 in.
Suspension, Front: 49mm stanchions w/ 5.1-in. travel
Rear: Single shock adj. for spring preload w/ 4.6-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual discs w/ 3-piston pin-slide calipers
Rear: Single disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper, linked
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 16 in.
Rear: Cast, 8.00 x 16
Tires, Front: 150/80-16
Rear: 240/55-16
Wet Weight: 891 lbs.
Load Capacity: 419 lbs.
GVWR: 1,310 lbs.
PERFORMANCE
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gals.
Average mpg: 35.8
Estimated Range: 179 miles
Indicated rpm at 60 mph: NA

Suzuki C109RTi: Linked brakes with a pair of three-piston front calipers offer good stopping power.

Suzuki C109RTi: Linked brakes with a pair of three-piston front calipers offer good stopping power.

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic: The single front disc brake offers less stopping power than other bikes here.

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic: The single front disc brake offers less stopping power than other bikes here.

Honda VTX1800T: Brakes are linked, so pressing the rear pedal also actuates the front calipers.

Honda VTX1800T: Brakes are linked, so pressing the rear pedal also actuates the front calipers.

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT: Front dual discs are up to the task of stopping this 875-pounder.

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT: Front dual discs are up to the task of stopping this 875-pounder.

Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S: Brakes are easily modulated and powerful, too.

Star Motorcycles Stratoliner S: Brakes are easily modulated and powerful, too.

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