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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.

2015 Ducati Diavel Carbon – First Ride Review

The 2015 Ducati Diavel Carbon offers more performance, comfort and style.

Jon Langston
April 7, 2014

For 2015, the Ducati Diavel Carbon offers more performance, comfort and style. (Photos by Milagro) “You are the luckiest man in the world.” When those words came over the phone telling me I’d be road testing a new bike in Europe, I certainly couldn’t disagree. But it wasn’t until weeks later... Read more »

2014 Harley-Davidson Low Rider and SuperLow 1200T—First Ride Review

Harley-Davidson 2014

Jon Langston
March 27, 2014

The Low Rider (left) returns for 2014 with an adjustable seat, handlebar and more forward footpegs. New SuperLow 1200T (right) brings more power and touring goodies to the ultra-low Sportster platform. (Photos by Riles & Nelson) Despite the traditional stereotypes, younger riders and women make up... Read more »

2014 Harley-Davidson Low Rider and SuperLow 1200T – First Look Review

2014 Harley-Davidson Low Rider in Amber Whiskey/Vivid Black

Greg Drevenstedt
March 6, 2014

2014 Harley-Davidson Low Rider in Amber Whiskey/Vivid Black On the eve of Daytona Bike Week, an event that traditionally kicks off the riding season, Harley-Davidson has announced two new models for 2014: the Low Rider and the Sportster SuperLow 1200T. When the FXS Low Rider debuted back in 1977, it... Read more »

2015 Ducati Diavel – First Look Review

2015 Ducati Diavel

Greg Drevenstedt
March 5, 2014

2015 Ducati Diavel Carbon in Red (left) and Star White (right) When the Ducati Diavel debuted for 2011, it made a splash. It was the most over-the-top power cruiser since the Yamaha/Star Vmax, making a claimed 162 horsepower from its 1,198cc Testastretta 11˚ L-twin, a rowdy engine derived from the 1198... Read more »

2014 Ducati Diavel Strada vs. 2014 Star Vmax Comparison Road Test

2014 Ducati Diavel Strada and Star Vmax

Greg Drevenstedt
March 3, 2014

Power tripping on the 2014 Ducati Diavel Strada and Star Vmax. Without a doubt, the Ducati Diavel and Star Vmax are two of the meanest, most rambunctious motorcycles in production. Sure, most liter-class sportbikes send as much or more horsepower to the rear wheel (though only one—Kawasaki’s Ninja... Read more »

2014 Triumph Thunderbird LT and Commander—Road Test

2014 Triumph Thunderbird LT

Jon Langston
February 27, 2014

The 2014 Triumph Thunderbird Commander is a streetwise power cruiser. Designed to appeal to the American cruiser market, both new Thunderbird models combine big-inch power with plush appointments. Triumph’s return has succeeded because the company is producing excellent motorcycles, from eager sportbikes... Read more »

American Baggers Comparison: Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special vs Indian Chieftain vs Victory Cross Country

Harley, Indian and Victory

Bill Stermer
February 3, 2014

The 2014 Indian Chieftain (left), Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special (center) and Victory Cross Country provide upper-body wind protection and luggage capacity for the long road. (Photos by Kevin Wing) Functional, big-inch V-twin baggers are all the rage these days. In addition to lots of style, these... Read more »

2014 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

2014 H-D Street Glide Special

Bill Stermer
February 3, 2014

Through Project Rushmore, the Street Glide Special gets a new 49mm fork, 103ci high-output motor and Reflex Linked ABS. (Photos by Kevin Wing) A four-year effort by Harley-Davidson called Project Rushmore has culminated in a number of features and improvements to the 2014 touring models, including the... Read more »

2014 Indian Chieftain

2014 Indian Chieftain

Bill Stermer
February 3, 2014

For 2014, Indian gets its third recent reincarnation, and Polaris Industries gets it right. (Photos by Kevin Wing) This proud, old name in American motorcycling began production in 1901, eventually became the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, and then went bankrupt in 1953. Two attempted revivals... Read more »

2014 Victory Cross Country

2014 Victory Cross Country

Bill Stermer
February 3, 2014

Victory gives its Cross Country a more youthful style, and it’s the best handler of our three cruisers. (Photos by Kevin Wing) Now in its 15th year, this Medina, Minnesota, based company is (like the newly reborn Indian) a division of Polaris Industries, and the bikes are assembled in Spirit Lake,... 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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