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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.

2013 Honda F6B – Rider Test

Honda’s goal for the F6B is to attract more riders to the GL1800 with less weight, lower cost, more style and plenty of performance.

Mark Tuttle
May 3, 2013

Last year, more new touring motorcycles were sold than bikes in any other individual street bike category, even cruisers. Touring includes luxury performers such as the Honda Gold Wing, BMW K 1600 GTL and the like, but the vast majority of those top-selling machines were “baggers,” large V-twin touring... Read more »

Ridden & Rated: 2013 Harley-Davidson Breakout

Toss on a backpack and “urban prowler” Breakout shifts into weekend tripper.

Paul Garson
April 29, 2013

Once upon a time, wide 240-series rear tires were only found on $50,000 custom motorcycles, or bikes heading for the drag strip that needed a big footprint to maximize traction. Today, they’re pretty common on cruisers, many of which handle poorly because of them. Not so for the new Harley-Davidson... Read more »

Ridden & Rated: 2014 Star Bolt

Star’s new Bolt offers upright seating with stellar urban manners.

Bill Stermer
April 29, 2013

It’s a smart company that studies the market, conducts research and builds its products based upon what the data indicate will be successful. In the case of Yamaha, its Star Motorcycles division (which builds its cruisers) is a very smart company indeed. While noting that cruisers compose about 49... Read more »

2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS Road Test

The Voyager has ample wind protection, with a tall, non-adjustable windscreen that you must look through rather than over.

Greg Drevenstedt
April 2, 2013

My fiancée loves spontaneous adventure, but she’s had it with me proposing last-minute weekend getaways and showing up on a test bike she’s never ridden on before. I figured the 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS, with its ample wind protection, cushy seating and generous luggage capacity, would... Read more »

Indian Motorcycle Unveils the Thunder Stroke 111 Engine

Indian Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin

Greg Drevenstedt
March 11, 2013

The reborn-yet-again Indian Motorcycle, this time under the auspices of Polaris Industries, which acquired the legendary company in 2011, reached a significant milestone over the weekend. At Daytona Beach Bike Week, where Indian was a powerhouse in motorcycle racing in the first half of the 20th century,... Read more »

2014 Star Bolt and Bolt R-Spec – First Look

2014 Star Bolt R-Spec in Matte Grey

Greg Drevenstedt
March 9, 2013

Fully embracing the popularity of stripped-down, back-to-basics customization as well as the need to offer cool, affordable motorcycles to attract new and young buyers, Star Motorcycles has introduced the all-new Bolt and Bolt R-Spec cruisers. Based on the V Star 950 platform, the Bolt is powered by... Read more »

2013 Harley-Davidson Breakout – First Look

2013 Harley-Davidson Breakout

Rider Staff
March 8, 2013

Custom Vehicle Operations is Harley-Davidson’s skunkworks, the division where new designs, features, paint schemes and accessories are conceived and implemented on limited-edition models. Each year, H-D unveils four CVO models about a month before it pulls the covers off the rest of its model-year... Read more »

All New V Star 1300 Deluxe Headlines the Most Diverse Star Motorcycles Lineup Ever

2013 V Star 1300 Deluxe

Press Release
September 28, 2012

Star Motorcycles introduced the all new V Star 1300 Deluxe. Built around a 1304cc (80 cubic inch) V-Twin engine with a 9.5:1 compression ratio, aggressive cam timing and fuel injection, the V Star 1300 Deluxe with its 2 into 1 exhaust has the sound and power you need to get up and go. With the V Star... Read more »

2012 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Custom Road Test

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Greg Drevenstedt
August 9, 2012

From the menacing, brushed-nickel skulls on its prow and tank, to the smoky graphics swirling around its sharknose fairing, Harley-Davidson’s 2012 FLTRXSE CVO Road Glide Custom means business. Even the names of its high-end accessories—Agitator wheels, Rumble Collection components and Heavy Breather... Read more »

2012 Triumph Speedmaster vs. Triumph Thruxton

Triumph’s Speedmaster cruiser and Thruxton café racer are two distinctly different retro motorcycles based upon the same engine.

Mark Tuttle
August 8, 2012

Retro is in; retro is cool. If a motorcycle looks old and works like a modern one, you can have the best of both worlds. A nostalgic appearance is pleasing to young and old, and the rider enjoys classic style, sound and feel, with brakes that stop and no oil puddles on the ground. Among the U.S. manufacturers,... 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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