Nothing squanders time as exquisitely as cruising on a motorcycle. By definition, cruising is languid and pointless, absent of destination or deadline. You simply cruise, at one with your bike, taking in the sights and smells, the cool air washing over, cleansing the soul. Though present in the moment, your untethered imagination wanders, the sensation of primal ferocity reverberating with every flick of the wrist, hurling you into the future. It may be the closest thing to flying without leaving the ground. If you’ve lusted for a motorcycle—or just need to get back in the saddle—the following ten cruisers are calling to you. And for more great ways to cruise to your mind’s content, try driving one of the 10 sexiest droptops on the road.
At $13,499 Victory’s Gunner is a solid choice for new riders on a budget. Built in Iowa since 1997, upstart Victory defied all expectations with traction in a market virtually owned by Harley-Davidson. They’ve succeeded by building well-engineered, boldly-designed bikes in the best American tradition. With the Gunner, Victory evokes old-school, anti-authoritarian Bobbers like those made popular in the classic period film The Wild Ones. A Gunner’s style replicates the repurposed military bikes that returning G.I.s brought back following the Second World War, stripped to its minimalist essentials, typically with chopped—or ‘bobbed’—fenders. Powered by a robust, air-cooled 1731cc fuel-injected V-twin engine with dual, staggered slash cut side pipes, the Gunner is all you need to release your inner Brando.
017 Suzuki Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S.
If this bruise cruiser were a dude, its balls would clang as it strode the landscape. That 109 in the name, by the way? It stands for cubic-inches. A subtle but important distinction anywhere ‘metric cruisers’ are derisively considered un-American. Perhaps that explains the Boulevard’s tendency toward over-compensation. It’s got aggressive, muscular bodywork with massive slash-cut pipes and drag-style bars, powered by a strapping 1783cc liquid-cooled V-twin linked to a shaft-drive, 5-speed transmission. And equipped with the fattest rear tire in the segment, there are loads of grip. You’ll appreciate its responsive handling and impeccably-designed saddle on long-distance rides. Dripping with attitude and the muscle to back it up, the B.O.S.S. starts at $14,999. If you’re craving a vehicle to show off your status, though, try driving one of the 10 prestige sedans that show who’s boss.
Indian Scout/Scout Sixty
Long moribund, the legendary Indian was revived as recently as 2011 by the same company that brings us Victory bikes. The original Springfield, Massachusetts company, once the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world, were the very definition—along with Harley-Davidson—of American cycles until sputtering into oblivion in 1953. Enter the visionary folks at Polaris who recognized the value of that heritage and the growing appeal of retro-inspired machines. Kudos to them for faithfully rendering contemporary Indians into contention with up-to-date engineering and technology matched to the brand’s iconic style. But while the dramatic fender skirts, fairings, and bags typical of classic Indians can seem excessive to some, the basic, bare-knuckled Scout and Scout Sixty appeal to less flamboyant tastes, like others on this list. The least expensive bikes in the Indian lineup, these hooligans can rumble with the best, their responsive, high-revving engines laying it down through a fine six-speed slushbox. The smaller displacement Sixty starts at $8,999 while the brawnier Scout goes for $11,299, both available with ABS for another grand.
Harley-Davidson V-Rod Muscle
According to Harley’s promotional copy: “Some worry about the corrupting influence of absolute power. We say hit the gas and give it a try.” Now that’s a mantra we can embrace. The Muscle line is a new iteration on the Porsche-engineered V-Rod, an outlier among the H-D family with its stout, precise 1250cc Revolution, V-twin liquid-cooled engine, Harley’s first non-air-cooled unit. The low-slung, dragster-inspired long wheelbase encourages a slouchy, stretched-out riding position in the best cruiser tradition. Its styling is not everyone’s bag, but for those who get it, trust me, it will turn heads. Like all Harleys, options for individualizing are endless. Get one starting at $17,449. You will thank me. When you want some power behind the wheel, however, try one of the 10 most powerful cars on the road.
Talk about culture mining. Honda, maker of conformist Civics, Accords, and Pilots, along with outboard motors and prosaic generators, has the cojones to co-opt outlaw American chopper culture of the 1960s and ’70s! What’s more, they pulled it off. That big, skinny, 21-inch front hoop wheel and 32-degree forks flows beautifully into that swoopy tank, channeling Easy Rider. It’s an awesome, custom chopper look on a production motorcycle. If you prefer something a bit less rad and without the ape-hangers, the nearly identical Stateline may be the ticket. A bargain at $9,999, with ABS a thousand-buck option, either model is about eight grand less than a similarly-styled Harley Softtail Breakout. Both Hondas come strapped to a brawny, torquey 1300cc V-twin. Killer looks, standard. And if that doesn’t turn you on to Honda, check out the Ridgeline, one of the 10 most baller, high performing trucks of the year.
Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic
As the name implies, Kawasaki would have you believe the Vulcan Classic is a thumping American cruiser. And despite its Japanese lineage, they make a compelling case. Its tested fuel-injected 903cc V-twin delivers smooth roll-on power with excellent fuel economy. Sporting a comfortable, laid-back riding position paired with classic touches like floorboards and a heel/toe shifter, you’ll rack up the miles. Big, burly, and planted, there will always be a place for a motorcycle like the Vulcan 900. Starting at $7,999, low enough on the cost spectrum to save you some dough for one of the 17 most luxury analog bikes on the planet.
Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom
Eclipsed by its more glam compatriots Aprilia and Ducati, idiosynchratic Moto Guzzi has been forging is own path since since 1921 from the small Italian town of Mandello del Lario in the foothills of the Alps. Though not the prettiest bikes, these hand-built luxury machines possess a certain charm and soulfulness. The 1400 Custom is the cruiser edition of the California motorcycle line, dropping the hardbags and windshield of the Touring model in favor of a sport saddle and drag bars, providing an appropriately low-slung, insouciant riding posture. From an exceptionally long 38-degree telescopic fork rake to its unusual transverse-mounted V-twin engine with cylinder heads that cut into the tank, the California is the outcome of motorheads tuned into their own frequency. The ride-by-wire throttle replaces mechanical connectivity with software for precision engine mapping. Targeted to varying road conditions, elevation, and traction control, it helps keep its 96 horses and 89 lb-ft of torque optimized. Equipped with a 6 speed, shaft-drive transmission and a wide array of accessories, the 2017 1400 Custom has an MSRP of $18,490.
Triumph Bonneville Bobber
One of the world’s premiere motorcycle names, Triumphs radiate with uncompromising passion from a legacy built on more than 100 years of expertise. And if the 1200cc Bonnie Bobber looks like it rolled off a Spielberg WWII movie set it’s because Triumph actually participated in the Big One. The Bobber is free of artifice and stripped to its fundamental essence, just like it was back in the day when fenders got chopped for that ‘bobbed’ look. Since a bobber by definition is what one does to a stock bike, the inverted reality that this is a production model may be tough to explain to your riding cohort. Chances are it won’t matter, though, once they feast their eyes on this gorgeous piece of art, three years in development. Built expressly for the American market, it’s at once modern and classic, refined and badass. The word awesome applies here. A bargain at nearly any price, the Bobber starts at an attainable $11,900. If you’re looking for something just as beastly, check out the 10 SUVs to drive today.
BMW K 1600 B
For those compelled by the Bavarian roundel, the newly released K 1600 B, officially designated a touring bike, is the closest you’ll get to a Beemer cruiser. But with its long, low silhouette, crazy-cool styling, unbelievable ride dynamics, and jaw-dropping 6-cylinder power, this motorcycle a category all its own. A brief list of its extraordinary features include Dynamic, Road, and Rain riding modes, incorporating power and traction control. Dynamic electronic suspension offers Road or Cruise modes to constantly adjust for driving conditions. Electronically adjusted seat and windscreen height, heated seats and grip . . . and the list goes on, including a clutchless shifter, electric reverse gear, hill start control, and keyless ignition. The 1600cc motor delivers 160 horsepower for effortless thrust at a flick of the wrist. If you’re not hemmed in by tradition and love new tech, this machine will amaze. Prices start at $19,995, fully loaded topping out north of $25 grand.
The XDiavel cuts the low-slung profile of a cruiser with the beating heart of a superbike befitting Ducati’s racing heritage. Light, nimble, and extremely powerful, the XDiavel is a delicious brew, blending classic cues with future tech: Power and riding modes, cornering ABS and dynamic traction control, Ducati Power Launch, ride-by-wire, cruise control, hands-free keyless ignition, LED lighting, and backlit handlebar switches. The $19,995 XDiavel packs a 1262cc Testastretta gem of an engine. At $22,995 the XDiavel S upgrade include glossy black engine surfacing, premium seat, and more. Molto bella! The Italians really know how to do it.
This little bespoke Southern California company was founded by Keanu Reeves, the actor and gearhead, and his business partner Gard Hollinger, a revered custom motorcycle designer. Based on a prototype Hollinger had made under Reeves’ direction, Arch bikes, despite their understated appearance, appeal to fiercely individualistic riders for whom no expense is too great in the pursuit of exclusivity. Hand-built from parts fabricated on-site, and others sourced from around the globe, each motorcycle is a one-off, with only about 30 built on-demand each year. Pedals, handlebars, and seat angles are custom measured to each rider and the proprietary suspension system gets dialed in to your preferred riding style. Unique paint, engravings, and metal finishes complete the process prior to Reeve’s final test-ride and sign off. The ultimate affirmation of cool, yours for $78 grand. And for more awesome moment from Reeves, check out the 20 best high-octane car chases of all time. (Spoiler alert: John Wick makes an appearance.)
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