Are You Fit For Cruiser Motorcycle?
When you think of buying a cruiser motorcycle, what does the future look like to you? Are you using it as a daily commuter and a now-and-then long weekend trip? Do you see yourself dressing the part of a leather blue jean cowboy and hooking up with other bikers to go for some brotherly rides together? Do you actually just want to own the bike because it will be beautiful to look at, perhaps even enter it into shows, but not really rack up the miles? Or perhaps you want to dress up like Peter Fonda and cruise your Captain America replica up and down the Oregon Coast? You wouldn’t be the first!
Knowing the answers to these questions will assist you down the path of selection.
If you’re a new rider and you think a cruiser is right for you, it’s important not to go too large from the get-go. Dropping a full dresser with just a few weeks or months under your belt can be expensive and leave a bad taste in your mouth about riding all together. There are those who chose a large bike to start with, dumped it, sold it back to the dealer and said goodbye to their dream of riding almost as quickly as they got started. Don’t let that be the case for you.
Photo: Honda’s Rebel 250 is a popular starter bike new riders can use to graduate to a larger bike once they’ve put a few thousand miles under their belts. Resale values are solid as a rock.
It’s simple enough to start off with a small bike and graduate yourself up to your dream bike over months and miles of experience. We’d like to say putting 3,000-5,000 miles under your belt in the first year of riding is enough to hit the comfort level of moving up to the next size bike, but of course everyone is different, so this is just a rule-of-thumb to work with. In the end only you can know when you’re comfortable to go to the next level.
Another nice thing about starting small is you can buy a used bike and turn around and sell it shortly after getting back as much or more than you paid for it.
Nice starter bikes in the cruiser category include Honda’s Rebel, Suzuki’s TU 250X, Royal Enfield’s Bullet series and Yamaha’s V-Star 250. None of these will achieve your dream of riding a hog just yet, but they will provide the means to hone the skills you need to ride a larger bike later. And they all have a good return on value when it’s time to resell.
And don’t let the Harley salesperson tell you a Sportster 883 is a good starter bike – it is not. Too much bike for the beginning rider. Note all the bikes mentioned here are 500cc’s and below. Let’s be logical.
If you’ve been riding for some time and your skills and agility are at the point you can handle a larger bike, then the world is your oyster. If you’re moving from the under 500cc category, we’d advise you consider a 600-1,000cc bike. Maybe one more buy and sell experience before jumping into a Triumph Rocket III, H-D Fatboy or otherwise.
The type of bike you choose will be considered a statement to others about who you are. If you buy a Harley, it’s like you’re in a special club of Harley enthusiasts wherever you go and many will expect you to have a loyalty to the Bar & Shield and of course America. Yeah – so don’t think you’re gonna be a big hit at the VTX owners group meeting next month – you won’t be. Visa versa if you bought the VTX and think you’re going to pair up with the local HOG chapter. That’s just not gonna happen.
Possibly all this tribal bah-bah means nothing to you and you don’t plan on pairing up with anyone. Then you just get the bike that’s right for you and enjoy the ride!
Typical price on a full size cruiser runs the gamut from $5,000 to $50,000. Know how much you want to spend and why before you have your first meet and greet with the friendly salesman. A word of caution here, many farkled up cruisers that were bought using second mortgages just prior to the great recession wound up back in the used bike corral when many Americans had gone well beyond their means with their bike purchase. Don’t be a victim to that type of thing. Your bank may be happy to give you all the money you want, but what would you do if…
And it’s not just the price of the bike to consider, but you will also want to account for any additional mods you’ll want to add right away. These can come as third party product purchases, or in some cases special packages are available by the model. Practical add-ons include luggage, a wind screen, amped up suspension, a custom fitted seat, bar risers and Kevlar brake lines.
Less practical add-ons might include a revised exhaust that is sooooo noisy you’re mother knows where you are at all times, leather fringe from bar to bar, custom paint and that cute little bell everyone has affixed to the bottom of the frame.
Add-ons and modifications are what makes the bike your bike. Should you go for the dealer offered suspension package, or could you better spend that same money investing in a better suspension setup that’s right for you?
Cruiser motorcycles account for about 40% of the kinds of bikes the North American motorcycling public owns. When the dream of owning one finally becomes a reality, the question may arise – “Did I make the right choice?”
This guide may assist you in making the right choice the first time. Keep in mind, that although there is a category in the market called “Cruisers,” the term covers a variety of motorcycles ranging from small to large, with all intents in between. Typically, a cruiser sports a lean back position, unlike a standard that works best when you’re sitting fully upright.
Photo: Harley-Davidson’s Heritage Softail Classic. To many it’s a dream bike. Toss a little luggage on there and you could ride all weekend to wherever.
There are a number of considerations from practicality, to psychographics, that will help you determine the right one for you.