BMW, Harley, Honda, Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki, Triumph, Yamaha Flagship…

27 Фев 2015 | Author: | Комментарии к записи BMW, Harley, Honda, Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki, Triumph, Yamaha Flagship… отключены
Moto Guzzi California Classic

Flagships 1998: The Best Motorcycles from BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, Moto Suzuki, Triumph Yamaha

Send us the best, coolest you’ve got.

That was the Motorcycle Cruiser conveyed to the major makers of big street that count cruisers their models. We want flagship cruiser, we told There were some

We wanted unmitigated cruisers, not cruisers. That meant no Road Kings or Kawasaki For some manufacturers, the choice was BMW only makes one cruiser the R1200C.

Nor was there any doubt which model Moto would send. The V11 EV is the Italian solitary cruiser. Suzuki’s new Intruder LC was its obvious choice, and what it selected.

Kawasaki’s was also clear-cut; it sent the 1500 Classic. We wondered Honda would choose the crafted 1100 Aero or the big six-cylinder Valkyrie. We got the six.

makes three versions of its that fit—at least the cruiser category, and it sent the on which the other two are based. We Yamaha would offer up a Star; it offered the new Silverado. are eight renditions of Harley’s twin that would and after ascertaining that the King wasn’t eligible, elected to send the Heritage Springer—its most nostalgic and cruiser.

Obviously, different have very diverse about what makes the cruiser and what sort of should power it. There three tandem V-twins, Guzzi’s across-the-frame V-twin, an twin, one vertical triple, a and an opposed six. We had three front suspension configurations if you count inverted telescopics as a arrangement) and five variations on suspension.

We wanted to make flagship cruisers prove in more than basic duty. So in addition to putting through their paces day and night urban service, we out a five-day ride through and Nevada with a variety of Along the way we threw in special where, for example, each ran them all over the same of curving road, practiced braking on the same piece of or made them all creep in tight quarters in a parking

Before you can ride it, you must it. We don’t miss the days of a bit when we see how easily these come to life. Fuel makes it particularly easy to the BMW and Guzzi, cold. The Honda and provide handlebar-mounted chokes, but the require you to grope around on the side of their engines for the knobs.

There were a of mornings when they had to after sitting overnight in around freezing. It was hard to whether the cold-bloodedness of a few bikes Harley and Suzuki) was due to California standards.

Two bikes, the Moto and to a lesser degree, the BMW, to the right when the throttle is at a stop. You only notice when the engine is allowed to freely (when it’s from the transmission).

When you are to roll, the first thing you experience is the clutch. We liked the on the Silverado, Thunderbird, V11, and Vulcan. We wished for improvement on the and BMW.

Then there is the clutch. I can’t believe a company would make a like this, said one The clutch engages at the very end of its when most fingers very little purchase on it.

the revs are up, it engages abruptly. In traffic on a slippery Las Vegas it had one experienced rider spinning the wheel unexpectedly. After you it in traffic for awhile, the awful taints the entire bike. feature alone probably everyone’s rating down by at one full star. Though you file down some of the to make it engage closer to the we have no fix for the unforgiving engagement.

drivetrains were detriments on the BMW and The BMW in particular has some lash. The transmission got top marks in all areas of performance—shifting, ratio staging and of lash. The Star, T-Bird and also shifted well. The configured heel-toe shifting on the V11 it a solid last choice in of gear changes, though the missed some shifts for riders—was only marginally

The BMW also attracted some about shifting.

Low-speed characteristics varied considerably. The and Triumph have little effect, and the Guzzi has a lot. All the have substantial flywheels, the BMW and Yamaha in the middle.

Flywheel can be good or bad. If the clutch is as on the Intruder, it’s a liability. If the is abrupt, as on the 1200C and Harley, it can smooth it out. Our riders least impressed by the Harley’s response and control, but liked the way the Kawasaki and Triumph behaved the throttle was prodded.

The Honda and got high marks for all areas of performance, save perhaps mileage. In terms of fuel the Harley was clearly king, as the chart shows. It was the only to regularly turn in highway in excess of 50 mpg.

The Valkyrie up the largest amount of the petroleum we pumped into all of the bikes. since it also has the largest tank, the Honda still respectable range. Large also give the 1200C, Star and V11 long legs.

The is the bike most likely to you walk if you have a long between gas stations.

The spec also tells the story full-bore acceleration. Some were surprised that the Triumph dusted all but the Valkyrie at the and—thanks in part to a gearing away from the rest in our roll-on.

Of course, by the time we got to the the Triumph’s top-gear acceleration was no longer a secret. We had conducted side-by-side roll-on races, some at high altitude. we were more than a up, the Triumph continued to shine. the Honda and particularly the Yamaha

When we did roll-ons on a steep at 7000 feet above sea starting from 30 mph, the fell flat on its face. It had to be to fourth before it would at all. The others were all to pull in top-gear, and the fuel of the BMW and Moto Guzzi gave an edge, since they able to correct the mixture for the

Closer to sea level, the Yamaha was to recover enough to pull from the Harley in roll-ons as one tester noted, It’s wimpy for a four-cylinder. The Kawasaki was in all-out acceleration, but bested the Suzuki, and Yamaha in top-gear The Guzzi also did well, third-quickest through the quarter-mile and in top-gear-only acceleration.

After days on the bikes, everyone had opinions about which were comfortable and which Not that we all agreed. Size matter here.

Bigger were more likely to the Intruder’s roomy ergonomics marks, while shorter were apt to find it too big for comfort and the Thunderbird’s seat-bar-peg relationship. there were some of agreement. Everyone liked the of the Valkyrie and Vulcan Classic.

The rider’s stance on the Valkyrie is standard bike-like, since the are back behind the cylinders. The has a more traditional feet-forward position. The BMW has a similar footpeg and the Thunderbird is definitely arranged the pegs rearward, almost the rider. For all but the biggest riders, the floorboards were too far forward. The bent most riders the least comfortable riding of these eight bikes.

one rider liked the posture on the Guzzi.

Some riders also surprised by differences in and reality on the bikes. I always that Hogs were reflected one rider, but it seems after riding the others. said they expected the to be intimidating but discovered a bike was a good fit and easy to manage.

bend was emphasized during into a headwind. In those the low, comparatively narrow of the Triumph was favored because you lean into the wind and the pressure on your arms and The Kawasaki and Yamaha were comfortable than the others in situation, but the Harley and Moto got low marks.

We’d make a a must-have item for long on those bikes or the BMW.

The of the Guzzi’s saddle contributes to its riding position, because it a somewhat cramped position. The seat foam—which feels like wood 100 miles the road—prompted testers to rank saddle … last, even the BMW and Harley seats also amassed low rankings, one rider liked them The rail running around the the rider saddle rubbed riders uncomfortably.

Taller were likely to give the saddle low marks, both for and foam comfort. On the other they were particularly by the Suzuki’s flat, roomy which remains comfortable a heavy rider for many Shorter riders were likely to rank the Honda as their favorite, and it ranked the Intruder saddle as the best seat here.

Kawasaki’s was rated third, ahead of the

One feature of the BMW which drew was its fold-up passenger pad. inadequate for a passenger for more a brief ride, it folds up to act as a backrest. Not everyone found it useful, but those who did liked it a deal.

The Valkyrie racked up top for suspension comfort, giving the ride over all sorts of The Triumph had the second most ride while the Guzzi third. The revised suspension of the Star put it ahead of the Kawasaki and both of which were satisfactory.

However, our testers low marks to the bump-stopping qualities of The BMW and Both bikes suffer limited travel and harsh at the rear more than the

While you can replace a bad seat, harsh suspension, and adjust or handlebars and saddle to modify there isn’t much you can do a bike that vibrates too Every rider regarded the as exceptionally smooth. Although one complained about vibration on the the others gave it top marks, it with the smooth Triumph and of the Suzuki.

There were reports for the Moto Guzzi and which some riders smooth and others found Most riders said the BMW was and the Harley got universally low marks of its heavy vibration.

Size makes a difference in hands. hands were uncomfortable on the grips of most of the bikes, and one complained that they mostly too small. However, the leather grip covers of the BMW criticism because they you to squeeze harder to hold on to the particularly when gripping the handlebar against strong pressure.

Every ride indeed start in first and the ease of handling at creeping influences how confident you feel a bike. There is more to manageability than steering however. Ergonomics play a big

If one handlebar end is in your gut and the other end is an arm-and-a-half’s reach away, a full-lock turn at a creeping is sure to be difficult. The drivetrain plays a role, because low-speed throttle response or engagement can make tight, maneuvers tenuous as well.

factors, rather than mass, are what prompted marks for the Suzuki in low-speed Smaller riders especially had with the long reach to the but the abrupt clutch engagement everyone’s opinion down and it the nickname, Water Buffalo. weight, responsive steering and handlebars made the BMW and Triumph the mounts when tight at a crawling speed were on the

Everyone also felt on the Honda and Kawasaki, and the rest of the were judged adequately when barely moving.

We time on a variety of winding ranging from fast, desert highways to tight, bumpy, mountain roads. But no what the road threw at us, the was the favorite when the map got squiggly. the best suspension, predictable and steering, great stability, those who wanted to corner cornering clearance, it was the bike of on meandering roads.

You’re in complete control on the Valkyrie, one rider.

How can such a big bike so surefooted? someone else to know.

Handles like a said another (who has ridden a Dream, obviously). a 700-pound dream, but a dream

It kicks … in the corners, a third.

Winding roads brought out the strengths of the Moto and Triumph. The V11 got to show off its great good clearance, predictable response and solid chassis, ergonomics and discomfort with the brakes kept most from being comfortable to be as aggressive as they were on of the other bikes. The Triumph from slightly soft up front and a shortness of damping in the

But precise, very responsive good cornering clearance and a chassis still offered of fun on winding roads. It feels a 600 sportbike compared to some of read one tester’s notes.

The of these would be the Harley and neither of which feels while cornering. The Harley lowest in overall handling of its harsh suspension, heavy and limited cornering clearance. though you have to approach more slowly than on the bikes, you really have to put shoulder into it to make it one member of the party noted.

The while requiring a bit less to turn, never lets you its bulk. Its suspension feels and the bike never feels planted in corners. It’s big and was the way a smaller rider summed it up.

neither the Heritage Springer nor the 1500 is a suitable choice for with an even modest in brisking through a corner.

The also suffers because of its suspension and tendency to wallow in However, it feels much responsive and offers greater than the Suzuki. Overall, it was on par the Yamaha, which has better and feels more stable cornering, but provides less clearance and requires slightly effort.

Great brakes may not many cruisers, but pay attention to Every now and again, your and your ability to use them to full extent can make the between an adrenaline rush and a to the hospital.

Two of our flagships possess very brakes. One of them is the Valkyrie, offers excellent power and coupled with better-than-average and a stable chassis. Although its were a bit abrupt, the 1200C up for that with its optional braking system (ABS).

On ultra-slick section of interstate had other riders sweating traffic suddenly stopped, the BMW could brake hard confidence, knowing his tires slide. Yes, you can stop if you brake just short of the tires lock up than you can if the ABS the brake pressure for a nano-second, but requires plenty of practice and a appraisal of pavement traction. The of ABS is that it allows you to guess without penalty.

It can also instantly to changing pavement Is that oil on the pavement, or just a No worries, just hold the on and let ABS sort it out.

Close to two bikes are the Royal Star and the Good power and traction undermined by a mushy front on our Triumph. The Star, the heaviest here, takes a stronger up front and most of us felt the brake pedal’s position, to the floorboard, was slightly awkward.

the power is there and control is The front brake lever a screw to adjust its engagement

The Vulcan also has an adjustable brake lever, though it a cam-type adjustment. The Vulcan delivers less power the Yamaha, but offers the most brake-pedal arrangement of any other bike in our experience. Higher for the front brake and a slightly awkward floorboard/ pedal places the Heritage Springer just ahead of the Suzuki.

riders found the Intruder’s brake slightly mushy or And the rear brake pedal better than the Harley—was less convenient and controllable that of the Vulcan’s pedal. its cam-type adjuster, the Intruder lever was a long reach for hands.

What the clutch is to the brakes are to the Moto Guzzi. The of integrated braking is that you can get stops braking using the foot pedal, which both front and rear Aside from the fact you must lift your off the floorboard and put it on the mini-peg (or nubbin) to the pedal, the system can work in normal stops, when the stops smoothly with a of dive.

But nobody liked it in stops or even hard The triple four-piston caliper are quite powerful, and modulating and front and rear with foot is no mean feat on a surface. Those of us who dared to hard stops found it difficult to get any sense of how much handlebar-lever pressure to apply, on good dry pavement. This might indeed be superior for who have never bothered to to use front brakes.

But experienced will have a few months, at the least, before they can get the they would with brake circuits.

Furthermore, in the of one rider, Guzzi took a bad and screwed it up with that arrangement. To have any control of pressure at all, your must rest on the nubbin, places your right leg and uncomfortably high. But in order to a halfway reasonable reaction to what is your primary control, your foot has to be so you ride around in traffic your foot stuck up on the peg.

God help the rider foot is on the floorboard when a turns in front of him.

The also made it hard to the Guzzi’s suspension and steering on a road, since no one wanted to to use the brakes hard in a corner. the corner was familiar, most slowed the V11 down significantly entering. The V11’s brakes are one of major flaws that the entire bike for everyone.

and Finish

Three bikes the majority of the covetous glances and from folks who encountered our Some liked the Heritage because it was a Harley. A few people it was an older bike, but the retro of the Triumph suckered even of the uninitiated.

The Thunderbird’s looks positive commentary, in part it was unique and in part because its color popped out of the field.

The that won the most plaudits was the Despite its reserved paint the Yamaha’s quality and detailing out to everyone who saw them all. The Stars have set the standard for quality since their but the Silverado hits to an even level with its tasteful use of sculpted billet.

Now that is a cruiser should look exalted one fellow motor-cyclist we met on our

The love-it-or-hate-it reception for the BMW hasn’t Sidewalk stylists and our testers split on whether the bike is a of genius or an eyesore. The Valkyrie a similarly split reaction, but more muted.

In general, tend to pick on pieces of the that annoy them—that hose, for example. Most like the lines, detailing and of the Vulcan Classic, though a few it as a Harley clone. Like a but better done, isn’t it? one observer.

They just get that rough-but-solid look of a concluded another.

Despite its style, few liked the looks of the citing its bulbous lines, the look of details like the or the beige, brown and boring scheme. Then there was the Most onlookers regarded the paint scheme as an unfortunate

The use of gratuitous chrome in the form of the chrome plates on the steering-head the covers over the passenger peg areas, and the overstated front rails, also drew Italians make gorgeous but they haven’t got a clue American styling, said one

Another aspect of cruiser is sound. Different people different ideas about how a should sound, so each of the got praise from some However, when we sat and listened to all ride past, there was agreement that the Heritage was the best sounding motorcycle in the

Our eight riders deemed the second best, but even the BMW only had a couple of riders who enamored of its exhaust note.

The thing you notice when you sit on a is the instrumentation. However, when eyes are on the road, those are easier to check if they are up the headlight rather than on the fuel tank. Though are pretty and nostalgic, the tank-top of the Harley, Kawasaki, Suzuki and require you to take your off the road to check them.

the warning lights of the three bikes are located at the bottom of speedometers, a low-oil warning or turn signal light is likely to catch your Though their warning were up closer to your the lights on the Guzzi, Harley, and the Triumph, are pretty dim as is the Honda light. In fact, the Triumph are virtually useless in sunlight.

BMW has the best warning lights, a high position with

The other three bikes high-mounted instruments—the Guzzi, and Triumph—have tachometers, a feature many riders found Once you get to know it, the Kawasaki’s gauge is welcome too.

In switches—especially for the turn signals—can become an issue. Six of the bikes straightforward, single-switch arrangements a push-to-cancel feature. Harley’s arrangement annoyed some, in because it self-cancels in a hard-to-predict

However, the BMW signals, which use switches to operate, were unpopular. Because of our frequent stops, the four-way flashers of the Harley (push both buttons at once) and Triumph got positive comments.

Since we had no truck, we needed to carry with us. The Harley is the only one of bikes with saddlebags as equipment. However, the fringed and bags hold substantially than their appearance

Our BMW had the new leather-covered, detachable hard offered for the 1200C. These bags are the handiest ever for a cruiser. They remove by a lever inside and releasing a on the back; then snap into place when time to travel.

They as roomy as some of the throw-over we brought, but they were the elegant bags on our ride.

The BMW includes a small luggage revealed when the passenger pad is up. The Guzzi has a standard luggage The Vulcan has bungee cord making it easy to strap to the passenger seat.

You get a choice of steering/ignition locks (BMW, Triumph), separate locks the same key (Honda, Kawasaki, separate locks with keys (Suzuki) or lugs at the head to add your own padlock and Yamaha, giving you two options). A lock means a thief has one lock to defeat, so we prefer the arrangement.

Of the bikes without locks (which always end up in a spot atop the front the Harley has the best ignition setup. Not only does it use a key, it’s on top of the tank and the key to be removed. The Royal Star’s key to the rear and top of the right side was unpopular.

We had a number of minor with the bikes on our 1500-mile The Moto Guzzi’s speedometer was when we first got it, but it worked after a few hundred miles. The sometimes indicated neutral it was in first, leading to surprises you pushed the starter.

The left of its two bulbs was also intermittent, and it a nut that retains the left peg bracket. The Royal Star one of its handlebar end weights.

The Harley the lower nut and bolt for the front damper loose. We noticed absence not because the ride or quality deteriorated, but because of the of the damper hitting the springs. can’t be counted as a normal however, because the fork was just before we received the after a previous rider had to remove a disc lock and one of the arms. It was hurriedly replaced before we picked the bike up.

a couple of days riding in the after the main ride, the right turn signal got requiring you to hold it on.

The most failure we experienced was the Intruder’s which began to slip after our outing at the dragstrip. It enough friction to get us home, Since this was the same we tested earlier this with the same clutch, was its second thrashing at the dragstrip—though of the other bikes were their second dragstrip as well.

Some, like the which kept going every run, were to many more launches on go-round. None of the bikes oil to be added in our almost 2000 of testing, although the Guzzi a little oil.

The problem you are likely to experience on the road is a tire. Tubeless tires are to repair temporarily than tires (used on the Harley, and Triumph) and are also less to blow out rapidly and cause control problems.

Routine is simplified by the Guzzi’s standard There is an optional stand slips into lugs on the BMW too. The need to check the oil through a sight window the bike upright is an aggravating of the Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph and none of which have

Harley’s willingness to sell a motorcycle without a toolkit is aggravation.

As the personal ratings one bike received all top-level from all riders. To be sure, were influenced by the fact had to ride long and hard for days in a row, making value function at least as as appearance. A pretty fender and a billet treatment quickly their appeal if you are uncomfortable, or a frightens you when you’re to stop on a slick road in the

The Guzzi ended up at the bottom of the The poorly designed controls for the brake system made for riders. But the least comfortable crowded ergo-nomics, and poor also pushed its ratings

A great chassis and respectable didn’t make up for those flaws. If the V11 appeals to you, one of other, non-cruiser models many of the benefits without as disadvantages.

Our crew might have been happier on a Harley. Some of the Heritage nostalgia gets in the way of function. unexciting engine performance, a ride, and uninspired handling the gleam out of the Harley’s unique and great sound.

The Heritage is for who need logos on their remarked one rider. Other here, as well as other less expensive Harley are better if you intend to ride

Handling complaints also enthusiasm for the Suzuki, as did its wretched and tepid styling. Oversized might be willing to deal those things in return for the layout here, a low price, and a saddle. Otherwise, we’d and see if Suzuki at least fixes the

BMW‘s styling treatment a major deciding factor for 1200C buyers. If it grabs you and you can the price, make sure you can also live with the vibration and suspension compliance; the that caused some to push its score down. You can have the security of anti-lock

The Silverado is the nicest-riding Royal we have ridden to date, and to eyes, the best-looking bike Improved handling and ride and—at least to the seats of our performance where it counts, in the make this a motorcycle we liked to ride as well as be on. The beautifully detailed billet makes it easier than to justify the price.

It’s a bike, said one rider of the but it’s not really a cruiser. not, but for someone who doesn’t to fit into the approved mold, the offers performance, responsive and its own unique nostalgic style—all for the price here.

Kawasaki, on the hand, has a mainstream Main cruiser in the Vulcan Classic. An version of the classic V-twin troller, the machine offers comfort, good looks and manageable handling, with V-twin performance, style, and feel—albeit with the vibration It’s also more than most of the bikes

Not for those who demand convention or every visible piece of polished, Honda’s Valkyrie is the cruiser of choice for riders who function the first priority. yet docile, supremely comfortable, to manhandle, ready to romp on roads, equipped with brakes, and nicely detailed, it was by every one of the eight riders who eight of the best cruisers on for five days straight. No, still not for everyone, but for those who long and hard and want a that will turn any condition into fun, the is the King of the Cruisers.

Because it is so than other cruiser some people don’t that the 1200C actually into the cruiser phylum. only true if you believe a cruiser must have a engine and traditional American However, if you believe a cruiser requires a certain attitude, position and nostalgic styling, the BMW fits the bill perfectly.

The incorporates classic BMW styling starting with the opposed-twin Despite its modern mid-cam actuation, oil-cooled heads, valves per cylinder and electronic injection, the 1170cc engine a close family resemblance to its ancestors.

Viewers with a scope also take with the Telelever front but BMW’s use of telescopic forks is new. The Earles fork, to this has a vague resemblance, was a BMW The Telelever also permitted BMW to the aluminum frame and make the a primary chassis component. The of the design reduces dive braking. At the rear, the single and one-sided swingarm impede the of the wire-spoked rear wheel than a hardtail.

The wheels may be the example of BMW‘s ability to tradition (wire spokes) modern technology (tubeless Stopping comes from disc brakes with braking (ABS), a $1300 and one that we highly recommend.

The handlebar here and the small pad (which hinges up to become a backrest and reveal a luggage give the bike a chopperesque The lines of the tank, the rear shape and the black-with-white-pinstripes finish BMW models from even back in time than the model recalled by Harley’s Springer.

Everything considered, the couldn’t be anything but a cruiser.


Anti-lock braking


Anti-dive front design

Handy at low speeds


Poor passenger saddle


First Changes:


Lower handlebar

rear shock


reached back 50 years to the inspiration for its most nostalgic ever. With its Springer suspension, hardtail-like rear 16-inch whitewall tires, headlight arrangement, fringed seat and saddlebags, split fuel tank design dual filler caps, and fishtail mufflers, the FLSTS the flavor of a 1948 Harley 74. it does it with modern

The bike does have a suspension system, Harley’s configuration with the dampers horizontally out of sight beneath the The front suspension includes a (something lacking a half-century and the brakes are hydraulically actuated instead of the drum-style brakes of

The engine remains the same configuration as that Harley-Davidson of 50 years ago. It is still an 45-degree, single-carb V-twin, pushrods and hydraulic lifters to the two valves per cylinder. However, now six cubic inches bigger at 80 inches and has modern alloy five speeds, electronic operation, and other modern

It hasn’t become too new-fangled there is no counterbalancer, and the engine to the frame without rubber dampers.

Retro touches They include the front-mounted, horn, spotlights bracketing the chrome rails around the of the rider’s portion of the two-piece a white fender light up a tombstone-style taillight/license light in the plenty of fringe, and a basket-weave in the upholstery. Our test machine was in 95th-anniversary livery, which a few dollars to the price and, cachet to the machine.

As Harley’s nostalgic and—with a suggested in excess of $17,000—most expensive the Heritage Springer is a natural as its flagship. Certainly, its nostalgia and combination of 16-inch wheels and fork give it a style and of elegance beyond other

High Points:


Unique styling

The kind of mileage motorcycles should get


Heavy vibration


High price

No tool kit or lock

Limited saddlebag

First Change:


Distinguished visually and functionally by its flat-six engine, the Valkyrie is but a me-too motorcycle, as the briefest will confirm. The engine from the indestructible Gold liquid-cooled motor, with six (instead of the Gold Wing’s hotter cams, and screw-type adjustment (in place of the Wing’s adjusters) to give an edge in and character. Redline jumped to

With chrome and polish for highlights and its own six-outlet exhaust to please the beholder aurally, the convincingly makes the jump mild-mannered highway hummer to with an attitude. However, the motor retains plenty of cutting-edge technology, such as the alternator to offset the tendency of the crankshaft engine to pull the to one side the way the BMW and Moto Guzzi do the throttle is blipped. Because it into the space that be used by floorboards, the engine dictates the use of footpegs.

A series of completed the transition to cruiser. The got its own chassis stretched out on a 66.5-inch fat inverted fork with shields for the sliders, chrome-covered shocks in back, wide cast wheels, full a big 5.3-gallon fuel tank the frame, and countless styling the molded-in visor for the reflector-type headlight, and bullet turn

The hot-rod character originating the big, potent, in-your-face is more than an affectation, You can see the emphasis on performance in the inclusion of a the wide radial tires, and disc brakes up front dual-piston calipers all around.

its unconventional appearance may not turn head, the Valkyrie’s beauty is than skin deep. Its distinctive style, performance and Honda character clearly it Honda’s flagship cruiser.


Terrific power a broad range


Superb comfort


Ultra smooth

Low Points:

fuel mileage

Engine limits footpeg location


Aftermarket radiator

With its round chrome 50-degree V-twin engine, and American profile, the Vulcan is the bike most likely to be a Harley imitator. However, to its ranks of adherents, the 1500 is more often regarded as an on the original.

Though they through a single carb and in a V almost as tight as Harley’s, big finned cylinders are (mostly) and displace 10 percent more current Harleys. The radiator unobtrusively between the down with a small electric fan it. The valves get their orders chains and overhead cams than pushrods, and there are as many of them—two intake and two used in Evolution Harleys.

Down in the bottom end, the of the single-pin crankshaft is stifled by a counterbalancer, which also to the engine’s flywheel inertia. neutral is simplified by a system halts upshifts from gear at the neutral detent the bike is stopped. And, of the transmission—which now has five speeds—couples to the wheel via shaft drive.

steel fenders wrap wire-spoke, 16-inch wheels and tires, each stopped by a disc with a twin-piston The speedometer, fuel gauge and lights sit atop the 4.2-gallon and a wide two-piece saddle and floorboards speak of an easy Suspension is unremarkable: chrome-covered legs up front and dual damper-spring units in back.

locks and bungee-cord hooks on the rear fender rails solve common predicaments.

mainstream looks, popular the draw of that big engine, accessory support from and the aftermarket, and an attractive $10,699 have made Kawasaki’s cruiser its best-selling street

High Points:

Classic cadence without vibration


Best floorboard

Low Points:

Unimpressive power

in fast corners

Dumb check arrangement


Aftermarket suspension

A Mustang is even better than

There is more than one way to a V-twin. Moto Guzzi has put its big V-twins across the frame so the cylinders jut out into wind and the doesn’t have to turn a to mesh with the final shaft. The 1064cc engine’s V-angle allows the engine to smoothly without balancers or mounts.

Despite a general this year, the V11 still its two overhead valves per cylinder pushrods. However, electronic injection is now standard. Five and a dry clutch direct power to the shaft.

Though the chassis unexceptional, the Guzzi actually the most advanced suspension The stout 45mm Marzocchi may not look fashionably fat, but it adjustments for damping. It also has a steering damper. Dual WP units in the rear also you to tailor the ride to your

Triple, four-piston caliper stop special wire-spoke with tubeless Pirelli Though recently used on other bikes, integrated the brake pedal operates front and rear brakes—was by Guzzi decades ago. brakes are used on this too.

The V11 EV has a unique combination of influences. With the shortest and highest seat here, it subscribe to the long, low look. The holds five gallons looking fat.

On the other it has floorboards and a heel-toe shifter, there is a mini footpeg on the to help you operate the brake easily. The saddle is a one-piece with a small passenger It also has the only luggage and centerstand in this collection.

For the to whom rugged individualist more than buying the machine the guy down the block the Guzzi, at $11,690, is truly

High Points:

Great and suspension

Respectable power


Unmanageable floorboard/ brake makes integrated braking

Shifting is also clumsy

seat in the bunch

Awkward position

Bungled styling


Any other seat be an improvement

Replace floorboards and controls

Suzuki’s entry is the machine in this party of But like the rest of the bikes, it an engine derived from an model. Starting with the Intruder mill—with its single camshafts, three valves per offset crankpins, and shaft drive—the engineers increased bore and … to bump up to 1462cc, added flywheel and put both carburetors between the

The deeply finned cylinders, use air-cooling only up front and in the rear cylinder, appear and beefier than the 1400.

Two and their requisite airbox (the triangular airbox on the side of the engine actually emissions components) left room for fuel above the As a result, the fuel tank was under the saddle, with its under a cover on the dummy tank behind the speedometer. you might otherwise find the saddle, such as the battery, relocated. The battery hangs in of the crankcase, under the big oil cooler.

The and tool kit reside under the covers on the left side of the and driveshaft.

Partially because of the of the under-seat fuel tank, the LC is the widest in a class that to strut its corpulent style. The of the saddle and fenders draw wherever you ride it. Fat tubeless on cast wheels hulk covered 41mm fork up front.

The rear suspension a clean single-shock system. ends rely on a single and twin-piston caliper for braking. In with fat fashion, the Intruder LC floorboards and a heel-toe shifting

With its $9899 price Suzuki’s flagship cruiser is the affordable of the big-inch cruisers, the much smaller Triumph manages to undercut it in this

High Points:


Roomy layout for big riders


Low Points:

Very clutch control

Difficult handling

Uninspired handling


Dumb oil-level arrangement

First Changes:

on the clutch

Aftermarket brakes and

The original Thunderbird was Triumph’s big bike, a 650 derived from its vertical twin. Created World War II for a push into the market, it was the first British that many American ever saw. The 1998 has little in common with motorcycle other than a few elements.

The new bike is powered by a liquid-cooled, dual-overhead-cam, 885cc, vertical triple with carbs, four valves per and five speeds. It’s too, with a 62.2-inch and a wet weight of more than 500 makes it comparatively light in crowd. Its chain final is lighter than the shafts of of the other bikes, as well.

The is a stressed component of the frame, has no cradle tubes.

The three-into-two system terminates in a pair of (the right and middle use the right muffler) similar to of 1960s-era Triumph twins. the triple’s sound is very than the sound of the old twins.

the T-Bird’s style evokes British rather than American styling, its nostalgic include a one-piece dual with a passenger grab footpegs instead of floorboards, and the tank’s shape, badges and scheme. The Bird also classic wire-spoked wheels, these have radial this case Michelin 89X running tubes. Like the twins, the 900 Thunderbird wears a and tach above the headlight.

Its style makes the T-Bird a machine rather than a for some riders. All of Triumph’s models, which include the and the more muscular Thunderbird share the T-Bird’s basic and chassis design, and $8995 price.

High Points:


Strong acceleration


Nice rendition of Brit-bike

Comfortable for small to average

Lowest price here

Not a cruiser

Mushy front

Small for bigger riders

oil-level check arrangement


Aftermarket seat

Moto Guzzi California Classic

on front brake

With our of no windshields, there was only one among Yamaha’s seven-bike Star lineup that fit the for our flagship cruiser. To what to be the basic Royal Star the Silverado adds a long of gleaming billet pieces, pretty hub caps on both brake caliper trim, cover, motor-mount covers, an billet choke knob, covers and a pleasing selection of nut and caps.

In addition, the liquid-cooled get black-and-chrome fins. In all, the package would set you back $1250, though the Silverado, at fetches just $250 than last year’s Star.

The bike under the is almost the same Royal as before. The 1294cc dual-overhead-cam, V-four engine descends the potent mill used in the touring bikes, but has been for the cruiser with smaller carbs, milder cams and changes. To provide more feel, Yamaha disposed of the system.

The engine was styled for its new with new case shapes and polish and chrome, and finned were added to the cylinders. The exhales through a four-into-four system. (It’s a four-into-two on the equipped with saddlebags.)

An single damper unit up the rear end of the bike, which into the standard wide-bike air adjustable fork tubes with stainless-steel covers, executed speedometer atop the fuel tank, wide saddle, and fat wheels. The Royal ride on cast wheels—a in front and a 15 on the back—and enjoy the power of three disc each with double-action calipers.

The Silverado offered the and quality we were looking for in a cruiser. The billet additions the look of a premium bike, and the RS warranty—which includes roadside confidence to match.


Unmatched finish and detailing

classic style


Strong brakes

Five-year and roadside service

Low Points:


Model/designation: BMW R1200CSuggested base $12,990; $14,290 with ABS

colors: Black, maroon,

Extra cost colors:

Standard warranty: 36 mo. unlimited

Engine type: Air/oil-cooled, opposed twin

Wheelbase: in.

Overall length: 92.1 in.

29.5 degrees/3.38 in.

Wheels: 18 x 2.50 front, 15 x 4.00



base price: $17,145 CA)

Standard color: Black

colors: 95th-anniversary red, (add $375)

Standard 12 mo. unlimited miles

Engine Air-cooled, 45-degree tandem

Wheelbase: 63.1 in.

Overall 94.0 in.

Rake/trail: 31.25 in.

Wheels: Wire-spoke, 16 x 3.00

Front tire: MT90B16 Elite II, tube-type

Rear MT90B16 Dunlop Elite II,

Model/designation: Valkyrie/GL1500C

Suggested price:$12,799

Standard color:

Added-cost colors: Yellow/ivory, red/ivory (add $300)

warranty: 36 mo. unlimited miles

type: Liquid-cooled, horizontally six

Wheelbase: 66.5 in.

Overal 100.2 in.

Rake/trail: 32.3 in.

Wheels: Cast, 17 x 3.50 16 x 5.50 rear

Front 150/80R-17 Dunlop D206F, radial

Rear tire: Dunlop D206F, tubeless

Front brake: 2, single-action calipers, 11.65-in. disc

consumption: 32 to 43 mpg, 36.2 mpg

Average range: 192 miles

RPM at 60 top gear: 2990

200 yard, acceleration from 50 mph, speed: 74.3 mph


Model/designation: Vulcan Classic/VN1500-E

base price: $10,699

colors: Red/red, red/ivory,

Wheelbase: 65.4 in.

Overal 98.4 in.

Rake/trail: 2 degrees/4.84 in.

Wire-spoke, 16 x 3.00 front, 16 x rear

Front tire: Dunlop D404F, tube-type

tire: 150/80-16 Dunlop tube-type

Fuel consumption: 34 to 48 43.0 mpg avg.

Average 181 miles

RPM at 60 mph, top gear:

200 yard, top-gear acceleration 50 mph, terminal speed: mph

Quarter-mile acceleration: 14.67 89.0 mph


Model/designation: V11 EV

Suggested base $11,690

Standard colors: black/gray, gray/black, turquoise/blue,

Extra-cost colors: None

warrantee: 12 mo. unlimited miles

type: Air-cooled, longitudinal-crankshaft, V-twin

Wheelbase: 61.8 in.

length: 92.7 in.

Rake/trail: 28

Wheels: Wire-spoke, 18 x 2.50 17 x 3.50 rear


Model/designation: Intruder 1500

Suggested base price:

Standard colors: Black/green, brown/beige

Extra-cost colors:

Standard warranty: 12 mo. unlimited

Engine type: Air/oil-cooled, tandem V-twin

Wheelbase: in.

Overall length: 99.4 in.

32 degrees/5.43 in.

Wheels: Cast, 16 x front, 15 x 5.00 rear

consumption: 31 to 45 mpg, 39.9 mpg

Average range: 163 miles

RPM at 60 top gear: 2490

200 yard, acceleration from 50 mph, speed: 71.7 mph

Quarter-mile 14.19 sec. 91.9 mph


Model/designation: Thunderbird

base price: $8995

colors: Green/silver, black/red, black

Extra-cost colors:

Standard warranty: 24 mo. unlimited

Engine type: Liquid-cooled, inline triple

Wheelbase: in.

Overall length: 87.1 in.

27 degrees/4.2 in.

Heels: Wire-spoke, 18 x front, 16 x 3.50 rear

tire: 110/80ZR-18 Michelin tube-type radial

Rear 160/80ZR-16 Michelin M89X, radial

Front brake: twin-piston caliper, 12.6-in


Model/designation: Star Silverado/XVZ13AK

Suggested price: $13,949

Standard Black, silver/white, red/red

colors: None

Standard 60 mo. unlimited miles

Engine Liquid-cooled, 70-degree V-four

66.7 in.

Overall length: in.

Rake/trail: 30 degrees/5.0 in.

Wheels: 16 x 3.50 front, 15 x 4.00

Front tire: 150/80-16 D404, tubeless

Rear 150/80-15 Dunlop D404,

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