I wrote an article on May 23, 2000 about “Life in the Slow Lane”, or the need for a bold design move by the manufacturers in the cruiser category. Here are some of the responses I received from MD readers (unedited).
“The only problem with cruisers now is that everyone is trying to
“out-Harley” their competitors. You are correct in that we need more
designs like the MT-01, but like Buell’s, these will not sell to the
cruiser crowd, who are looking to “rebel” by fitting in with a certain,
pre-defined image. There is nothing innately wrong with this, but it
tends to limit innovation to internal (like to the engine or
drivetrain), ergonomic concerns, or more chrome.
I have written to you before, bemoaning the lack of “standard” bikes
available here in the US, and see the MT-01 as being closer to a
standard (or a Buell, for that matter, whatever category you would place
them in) than to a cruiser.
Does being a “cruiser” require the feet-forwards style (forward
controls) and/or floorboards? If so, then an HD Dyna would not be a
cruiser–but I would consider it a “cruiser”, as well as the Sportster
group. Bottom line is that I would never put my feet out in front of
me; I prefer riding to lounging.”
“It seems the future of cruisers in the U.S. is to make them longer and
lower like drag racing bikes. I see this at Sturgis every year. This is
where I wish Yamaha would jump in with a new longer, lower and more
futuristic looking Vmax.”
“Ever since I first read of the Triumph Thunderbird being referred to as a “cruiser” in the media, I wondered if everyone in the press had decided “acid trips” had something to offer after all. Anyone who’s been around long enough even to remember the ’70s knows that it’s a “standard”, albeit a “retro” standard. The word “cruiser”( as applied to bikes) first came to my attention in the mid “90s. All of a sudden we had “cruisers”. Fair enough. The only common denominator that I could garner between these bikes was that they forced a ” feet in front of you” sitting position and relegated “performance” to the nasty word category. With all due respect my dear amigo, the MT01 is no cruiser. It’s a “standard” that has no visual right to exist! Why does “new” have to mean “ugly” to so many? The thing looks like a mutant insect. And you think this might be a good direction to go in???(..in which to go???[for you literary types]). The basic problem with your premise is that you are trying to modernize an “old classic” idea. The very essence of this class is to “hang on to the past”; even if assisted by modern technology. The “look” will have to stay “old”. Coming up with something other than this is to create something other than a “cruiser”. I’m not drawn to the cruiser style but I am to the “standard” and other styles. I can appreciate the beauty and place of their differences. Please don’t call a “standard” a “cruiser”. You like others to recognize and respect your identity, I would guess?”
“I have been riding for 30 years and have owned 7 bikes during that time,
from enduro to street. I’ve been a cruiser rider for the past 10 years,
first on a Suzuki Intruder 700 and now on a Suzuki Intruder 1400 since 1993.
I love the cruiser, because of the riding position, seat height, torquey
“naked” motor, slim chassis, and overall relaxed, low tension, laid-back
style of riding. The Yamaha MT-01 doesn’t seem to embody these qualities.
Granted, it’s called a “power” cruiser, but it still looks like a high-tech
Buell. I like to sit IN the bike and not ON it, sitting back on my butt and
not leaned forward. I suppose cruisers are retro, because riders like me
enjoy that comfortable, easy-going type of ride. On the other hand, two of
the reasons I settled on the Intruder is because of the hydraulic lifters
and shaft drive… i.e. low maintenance. This year, they’ve added computer
controlled digital ignition, making maintenance easier than ever. In short,
if cruiser design is to move forward, the manufacturers need to keep in mind
the design of the bike (low seat, lots of torque, laid back seating
position) as defined by cruiser riders. I’d only like to see technology
make the bike easier to fix/maintain and produce better gas mileage.”
“I couldn’t agree more. I love high performance motorcycles of all kinds, however, I really believe I would be much happier riding a comfortable muscle cruiser than an R-1 or a 929. The problem, as you have pointed out, is that there is nothing exciting available. Currently, if you want a sport bike, a Harley look-alike (gag) or a standard classic (CB750), about your only option is the very dated VMAX.”
“MT01 Yamaha new style cruser looks a lot like a ’79 or ’80 standard bike, not the laid back style of what cruser bikes usually put the rider position in, those people will probably not want to change a single thing and will still insist on wearing no helmet or those risky half versons. I own a suz bandit1200 and like its not so racy riding layout. The best bang for the buck in all of motorcycling!”
“I sure hope cruisers do evolve from what they are today – just Harley clones. Some day when I get “too old” (I’m now 57) to ride my Suzuki TL1000S, I’d love to step up (down?) to that Yamaha MT-01 or a reasonable facsimile. Kudos to Yamaha for “thinking out of the box” just like DiamlerChrysler did with their PT Cruiser – they’ve created a whole new genre. I hope it reaches production!”
“Actually, some prototype cruisers may appear innovative, but actually they
are retro–to the extent of returning to the eighties. The best power
cruiser has been already designed.
I spent two years looking for a bike that was fast enough to wake up my
rotator cuffs, yet comfortable enough to coddle my 230 lb. 6ft. build. Also,
it had to handle well–not well enough to scratch half of SoCal–why should
it? I live in Ontario. But well enough to keep me continent (as in opposite
of “incontinent”) in Toronto traffic. Toronto traffic, by the way, is a
multicultural mix of New York and Milano, with the mindlessness of Boston
drivers in the nineteen-sixties. You know, like New York drivers, except
that Toronto drivers haven’t learned yet that accidents cost time and money.
New Yorkers learned that decades ago, so their traffic is actually a series
of beautifully choreographed accident avoidance manoeuvers. Toronto’s
traffic isn’t yet.
I rode BMW’s, a Blackbird, a CBR900, a VFR, and some cruiser-type stuff. And
a V65 Magna. I bought the Magna. It’s as quick as any street bike needs to
be. It corners as well as any street bike needs to corner. It looks like a
monster without looking like a cartoon. It’s comfortable. It’s planted. With
Cobras, it sounds magnificent at any RPM. It’s thirteen years old. It looks
magnificent in black. And buying a pristine used bike saved me ten-thousand
Honda! Bring it back!
BTW, I don’t mean to ignore the V-Max. It’s just that for me the V65 Magna
is much more comfortable.”
“I have just read the article “Life in the slow Lane” on your excellent
web site. Being from the UK I find the articles you write a very interesting
insight to biking life over the pond but on this particular matter I felt I
The bike you are looking for, it appears, is the Yamaha XJR1300 or Kawasaki
ZRX1100. Both these bikes are ‘retro’ (especially with the twin suspension
struts on the Kawasaki!) but they both handle and stop far better than any
cruiser. The XJR is also available with ohlins shock’s as standard on the
‘SP’ version. They are far more practical and look much better than any over
chromed cruiser ! The Honda X-11 is horrible (linked brakes, heavy, ugly and
not a big seller) and the Bandit 1200 is too old despite it’s recent update.
I am aware that perhaps you don’t have these bikes in America (see article
‘Jet Lag’) – but from your article it appears that they are just what you
are looking for.
(The MT-01 concept looks horrendous by the way – what a mess!)”
“Give me a 180 mile touring range on the MT-01 and I think my checkbook is in
my hand! That’s what I think!”
“I think the major manufacturers should go towards the street fighter look.
My first street bike was a Kaw CSR650 back in ’83 and I’ve always liked the
‘naked bike’ look. I know a street fighter isn’t a cruiser but it seems a
lot of cruiser owners are wanting more get up an go from their cruisers and
the only way to get it is to spend mega bucks for add ons or for a custom. I
own a ’79 CBX and the majority of my riding happens either in town or to
work. But those wonderful times when several of my friends get together we
like to do some fast twisty roads and today’s cruiser just won’t get it! I
know I sound negative about cruisers but I rode a GL1200 for 10yrs before I
bought my CBX so I’m more than familiar with the slow lane.”
“YES!!! Although I like seeing all the retro bikes, Classic Harley and
Indian styling and Excelsior Henderson and others, I’m tiring of it. I own a
Honda Valkyrie which is NOT a retro and is different, but STILL uses some of
those styling cues. Something like the MT-01 would be refreshing!!!”
“Thank you. Yes, the whole concept of ‘retro’ is getting to be just too
much. When will people realize that old doesn’t mean equate
automatically into better? I think it all started with Ronald Reagan
selling people on a past that didn’t exist. An oddly reversed pie in the
sky concept, that if thought about clearly, isn’t the answer to anything.
Cruisers were, and are, clumsy machines that don’t provide anything but
an image. That is the attraction. Even when they are tricked out with
new advancements in electronics or mechanics they are designed to appeal
to people who (I think) have more money than sense. As an example, I
recently met a couple in a MSF beginners riding course who, on the
advice of a friend, had both gone out and purchased 1200 Harleys before
even knowing how to ride. She was 5’3″ and he was no more than 5’8″.
Neither one was in the least bit familar with bikes. The third morning
of the class the wife announced that she had a Harley for sale if anyone
was interested. She had learned about her limitations. More importantly,
and to the point she learned that what she wanted in a motorcycle didn’t
require a large payout for a large machine. Motorcycles in the U.S. are
about freedom and you shouldn’t have to spend upwards of 20 grand for a
bike that, if you read most reviews and riding impressions in the media,
only come close to a good riding and handling experience.
Reviews are favorable or become raves when the writer talks about the
fact that you can actually go around curves without having to fear your
footrests and brake peddles aren’t going to scrape off. So much time and
design dollars spent on a ride that is considered exceptional because it
is adequate. So much money to spend on an overornamented time machine
that goes backwards.
Lets move ahead. Yea, Yamaha!”
“I agree with a large part of what you’re saying regarding cruisers and
their design. I’d wanted a Harley since college in ’84, but by the time I
could afford one (’93) I was bored. I don’t know whay they wouldn’t
market a street version of their XR-750 and take some design cases
from there. Buells are talked about as nice rides, but I can’t stand to
look at them. I’d seen a photo in Cycle World about a year ago of a
French manufacturer’s Buell custom which was just gorgeous. I
couldn’t believe that 80% of the original bikes design could be made to
look so good. Keep up the good work. The pursuit of the perfect
“Motorcycles I’d buy in a heartbeat:
- High performance super-lightweight street singles. You’ve been right
on the money here. I used to have my KTM RXC 620 set up for street duty
(using some KTM Duke parts and some DIY), but there were too many
compromises having to stick with the original frame. Even so, it was a
total blast on the street, and even did OK on the track (at least until an
unfortunate incident at Willow’s turn 5.)
- If we’ve got to have retro V-twins, how about a Vincent revival? I
love these machines and have been trying to buy a series B or C Rapide for
a few years now.
- Small-bore repli-racers. I get tired of seeing these terrific 250 to
400 cc bikes for sale only overseas. My wife wants a sport bike (she rides
a V-Star on the street), but not something too intimidating. Pretty much
all we’ve got to choose from here is the old Ninja 250 or nothing. I’d
even like one for track use – if there was a corresponding race category.
- Bring on the MT-01, provided Yamaha can make that engine burn. I
find it kind of lackluster in the Road Star.
- Hard-core extra-lightweight dual-sport, say 30 to 35 RWHP, 230
pounds, with electric start. With the ongoing and pending public land
closures (a travesty), dual-sports are making more and more sense for
off-road riders. Problem is, present dual-sports are just way too heavy,
incorrectly geared for dirt riding, and inadequately suspended for hard use
Features our new bikes ought to have:
- Wide-angle headlights. I added a pair of Saeng wide-angle lights to
my Bandit 1200, which enormously improved night riding. Out where I live,
the roads are twisty and there are no streetlights to speak of. I got
tired of the road disappearing from view every time I banked over in the
- Higher charging current output at lower rpms.
- Standardized power receptacles and mounts for radar detectors, GPS
units, video cameras, electric vests, 2-way radios, etc.
- Stock seats that don’t suck.
- Paint or plating that endures use and abuse better.
- BMW-grade detachable luggage for non-BMWs.
- Brighter rear ends.
- Better maintainability design, including tip-up gas-prop-supported
fuel tanks, direct-access air filters, oil filter locations that don’t
necessitate oil dripping onto exhaust pipes or engine case crevices, and so
And some odds and ends I’d like to see:
- Helmets that truly eliminate wind noise, like electronic shooting ear
- Cheap exhaust gas analyzers.
- Newly-engineered protective riding gear using best available
combinations of material.
- Bug-deflecting helmet visors (in my dreams).”
- High performance super-lightweight street singles. You’ve been right
“I agree with your article. I would like to see something new. I have an
R1 and really love the bike but wouldn’t mind retiring from the “faster,
quicker, lighter” wars. I do not feel compelled to replace the R1 just
because the other guys have come up with newer models. I will hang on to
the R1 and continue to enjoy it.
I would however, like to see the same innovation and enthusiasm that is
now applied to the sport bike category spill over into sport touring. I
don’t care much for cruisers but I know that market is huge and I
suppose it could stand a little innovation too.
As we all have noticed, motorcycle sales are tracking a group of us born
in the fifties who learned to ride in the sixties. There are obviously
other but I bet I have described and important segment. I would guess
that the market for big bore sport bikes may be reaching its peak. The
thrill of cutting edge performance is going give way to a more relaxed
form of riding but I think riders will still demand a good measure of
high performance capability. For instance, I have read a net article
about an alleged “S1″ from Yamaha. This would be a sport touring bike
that stills holds on to the R1 motor, brakes and chassis but has a half
fairing that is higher and broader and higher bars. I hope it also comes
with matching sport bags and a more finished “interior” to the fairing.
I would gladly trade 20 pounds or so for these features.
Bike development tends to go in cycles (no pun intended). Manufacturers
tend to go after the elusive until it is an easily achievable commodity,
then they turn their attention elsewhere. For example, first we wanted
horsepower: Kawasaki Mach III. Then we wanted smokeless, reliable smooth
horsepower: Honda CB 750, Kawasaki Z1. Then we wanted handling to go
along with smooth reliable horsepower: Suzuki GS 1000. Then we wanted
lighter weight: Suzuki GSXR 750. Then we wanted great brakes, better
suspension….and on and on. Now we have a very diverse selection of
supremely competent, light weight, high horsepower, great handling
sportbikes. And we have functionally compromised, nice to look at, nice
sounding cruisers that handle like crap and are ridiculously heavy.
Achieved “commodities” of braking power, horsepower, light weight and
good suspension are available to be applied to any style of machine. If
the market demands it. Sometimes the manufacturers must lead the market,
not just react to it.
Now I am a Yamaha guy. I like the MT-01 but I would also like to see a
bike with about a 1200cc R1 based motor making about 135 crank horses
and 100 ft. lbs. torque. The bike shouldn’t have to weigh more than
about 485 lbs wet. It should have higher bars and a real sport touring
fairing with a little storage. It should keep the light wheels, great
suspension and great brakes. It should have the tail trunk enlarged to a
useful size with a hinge mechanism. It should have matching, light,
sporty saddlebags and a tank bag. It should have better passenger
accommodations but also have a “monoposto” mode, built in cruise control
and heated grips on slightly higher bars. Add about 1 to 1.5 more
gallons fuel capacity and you’d have yourself one hell of a nice sport
touring bike that could be built for $12,000US or less. I’d buy one.
Build it Yamaha.”
“Retro is not that limited because a lot has been done that can be redone.
Kawasaki has given us some new perspective on retro, most recently and notably with the W650, but also with the ZRX1100, the ZR-7 and the Drifters. Thanks to Kawasaki, we can go back to the Britbike, the UJM and Indian. If they want to give us a new BSA Gold Star, they have the KLR650 on which they can base it.
One particular piece of attention to historic detail with the Drifters is the fact that the 1500 has twin shocks (like the Chief, Indian’s big bike) while the 800 has a softail setup (similar in look to the hardtail Scout, Indian’s small bike).
Not many people seem to notice it (including Honda and Yamaha) but the midsize standard/naked sportbike market is the booming area at the moment. Witness the ZR-7, the W-650, the Bandit 600, the SV650, and the Buell Blast (even H-D has got in on the act!). Being a conservative sort I would probably prefer the tried & true Suzuki GS500E, but I seem to be in the minority on this.
What do these bikes have in common? They’re relatively small, versatile, user friendly, and unintimidating (except maybe the SV650 which might seduce a rider into the brown shorts zone without him noticing until it’s too late). That may be the new direction for motorcycling.”
“I’ve already told my Yamaha dealer that I will be first in line for the MT-01 if and when it’s released. I think the bike rocks. Hopefully they won’t change it too much from the prototype, because I think it looks perfect the way it is. Yamaha could call it the “Max Star”, as it’s a reasonable replacement for the V-Max…”
“”Yer dad-burn tootin’ Duke. Let’s take ‘um to Daytona.” This is puzzling.
Redesigning a cruiser is like re-doing a pickup truck. You would have to do
something but not too much something. A SUV is just a pickup with a
different body wrenched on. How do you change a cruiser? How do you change
a mindset? A Valkyrie? I have no earthly idea how I would go about this.
Indian and Norton tried the body style a long time ago. It’s the looks
stupid (I say to myself). I know that most pickup trucks don’t haul hay and
cows and hardly any SUVs sport except for soccer in the afternoon. How do
you change a mindset? Jezzzzzz.”
“Well I think motorcycles are about ego, fun, and emotion. Example: It’s
pretty hard to get “attached” to a GSXR. Oh sure, you might like it, it may
be a lot of fun and for a while it may be the fastest but it’s pretty hard to
get emotional over. Not to say that sportbikes can evoke emotional response
( like Ducati ).
Cruisers are more emotional than sportbikes. They are about ego too but more
in an image or emotional sense. Style, intangeables, and subjectives govern
success here. Progress has a harder time in this realm. It’s more like
fashion. Cruisers are very male. In that vein, look at how much men’s
fashion changes ie. not really very much!
I think it’s always harder for the motor press to write about cruisers too
since these bikes are more of a ” gotta see it for yourself ” sort of thing.
Personally, I like standards and sportbikes but my Dad has an old Virago and
it is kind of fun to ride something that different. Sportsters are not very
nice bikes but the 1340s I have to admit do evoke a certian magic that only
comes from actually riding one IHMO. Not something that can really be easily
put to words.
I really like the MT-01, in fact if Suzuki would just make an SV1000 out of
my SV650 that would do the trick ( I really like this little bike ). I think
the MT-01 is more of a roadster and is not much different in genre to a
Monster or a Buell (namely not really a cruiser direction). I think the
direction that HD is taking their cruisers is really the future in a strange
sense, namely, refining the design. Retro is not bad, think of it more in
line with fashion and thats where the cruisers are coming from.”
“How about a stock cruiser with the straight-line performance of some of
these sporty machines? H-D probably couldn’t build it, Yamaha seems
obessed with twins that run like tractors – perhaps Honda or Kawasaki?”
“I just bought a road star, as a road racer (former pro-twins) I love the torque.
I drag the sh*t out of the floorboards and frame. 8^( If the MT01 (or other
v-max replacement with that beautiful 1600cc air-cooled pushrod twin motor) was
out now I’d buy it in a heartbeat.”
“Let’s get naked. When the ducati monster came out in ’94 (was it?) i had to buy one – to date
the funniest bike i ever had. Back the styling was fab, especially with the original ‘long’ plate holder
cut off and lots of carbon on it. That was a while ago, but already then a replacement was mentioned –
something like pro-arm rear suspension, under seat exhausts, de-tuned
(accelleration oriented) 916 engine and what have we. Quite a few monster spin-offs have appeared lately, but even today none of
them comes even close to the original. What will it be? that’s gonna be the most interesting bike development.”
“I agree with the need of some new designs in the cruiser market. The BMW
1200C and the Honda Valk are the exceptions to the rule. If someone could
combine the best of both into one bike I would be standing in line to buy
one. They do prove that a cruiser does not have to look like a retro to be
cool. The only problems I see with the Yamaha prototype (besides the muffler
location) are the location of the footpegs and a cruiser needs a bigger
saddle (cause sometimes you don’t want to cruise alone :^)”
“I am definitely in agreement that the cruiser segment is currently resting on its laurels in the design area. I am disappointed when people gush over the Harley FXSTD, a nice looking bike but hardly revolutionary. Since I’m a Harley stockholder, I would like to see them get more aggressive in the design department so they could really kill the competition. Their limited edition FXR’s have been a nice step over the past couple of years, but I’d like to see them really go out on a limb for once. My guess is that they are still gun shy after the AMF years, and the sales failure of Willie G’s XLCR cafe racer way back. Perhaps they feel they don’t need to be revolutionary in the design department as long as they can’t build enough retro-cruisers for the market as it is. Will the Japanese ever market something totally new in a cruiser package? Well, history certainly says no. I really like the look of many of Confederate’s bikes, but can’t touch their ridiculous prices. Hell, I can’t even afford a new Buell M2, which is what I’d really like to ride right now.”
“Other than the bizarre gas tank treatment I like the MT-01 a lot. This
would be the only cruiser type bike I would consider- if the performance
matched the looks. Right now Confederate makes the only performance
cruiser and they are too pricey for the average consumer.”
“Cruisers are what they are and those that ride them are what they are. The
sport bike is NOT for them. Cruiser riders very much dioslike the crotch
rocket riding position or variations even close to it. Ever follow a pack of
cruisers? They brake for all the turns or at least slow up considerably. The
cruiser market will be here for a long time to come. The British bikes of the
60′s sold well because they were sporty while not overpowered and the seatig
position did not cause a back ache. Sure, they had problems such as
reliability, oil leaks, vibration, etc. Owners of these machines don’t seem
to want to part with them. Rare to see any in the classifieds.
As for the Yamaha MT 01, it is available in the Ducati and the Buell. Maybe
yamaha should break out with something of their own design, you know, a new
idea. Maybe they just don’t want to take any risk. Maybe they don’t have any
ideas, only the ability to imitate.”
“I totally agree with you. This aging market is doomed, well maybe not doomed
but at least b-o-r-i-n-g.
My g/f likes the cruiser mentality: enjoy the sun and just take an easy
sunday ride. Whereas I love the R6! Light and full of quick zip, it’s a
total joy to ride. Thinking of a cruiser’s bulk makes me a bit ill. So I
just shake my head when she talks about wanting a cruiser motorcycle.
Now, should Yamaha come out with that concept bike, well hell! >>> Ok
sweety, let’s get a deposit down cause those are going to be hot! And not
that I could afford it, but it would be nice to add that to my stable for
those “slow lane” rides.”
“Did someone say new direction? How about the Honda Valkyrie and that
gorgeous yellow concept Valkyrie that we’ve seen in all the rags? That’s no
clone and it sure isn’t slow.
The Yamaha MT-01 mentioned in your article hardly resembles a “cruiser” to
me. I would say its more like a reinterpretation of a hooligan bike like the
Triumph Speed Triple. It certainly isn’t what I would consider a cruiser.”
“Bold new move? The MT-01? For Yamaha, maybe, the way the V-Stars are bold and new. I have a ’00 V-Star 1100, by the way. And a ’00 V-Max.
The MT-01 is no different in it’s retro look-alike-ness to a Buell than the V-Star (that you loosely refer to with others) is to a SofTail. Except that Buells haven’t been around as long.
Bold for Yamaha? Sure. But we’ve already seen an air-cooled push-rod twin ‘sport’ bike. And the Buell actually hold a bit of gas. Sitting on the exhaust is a new trick, though.
The Alligator is bold. Honda’s copy of it is, well, boring in a Honda-Perfect sort of way. But neither are likely to attract much attention as they look like slammed Vespas.
How a bout a REAL sport-cruiser category? Forget the FXDX joke. Victory 92SC? No. Magna? Almost, but how about some real power? Maybe for bold and new we need a V-Max motor in a V-Star frame. Power, speed and handling, all in a bike that is comfortable to ride.
How about a diesel? Weight is already a non-issue with cruisers, so why not a thumping diesel single? Just some thoughts.”
“Well, you, I, and a lot of the enthusiast public is
certainly ready for a different cruiser. But I’m not so sure about the
Joe-averages who are fueling a lot of that market now. I
don’t care for all the retro (my personal two retros to go
along with my modern bikes are a cream ’65 R60/2 and an Eldorado project)
things being manufactured today, but a lot of folks
Its about style rather than performance. What little perf
that market seems to desire, is apparently being catered to
adequately, albeit mediocrely. BMW came as close as any (as far as
production models go — no credit for unrealized styling
exercizes) but no one else that isn’t a cloner has done much. I lament that too.
I think you’re talking about a different category anyway (as
far as your wishes go) The now largely defunct power cruiser.
The Vmax soldiers on as it did in the heydey of the genre,
but unlike then, its not king of the hill ANY category. The Valkyrie
perhaps, though to bulkly for my tastes. Victory’s sportier model is
actually an OK handler, but still has tired styling. Same of many of
HD’s products. They’re just clones too, albeit of themselves,
and of fairly high refinement today. Personally, I miss the old
One of those with a bit less rake and trail, a better fork,
and slighly updated motor would do me fine. Ducati’s Monster
(another bike in my stable) is a sort of power cruiser too – or
perhaps an italo standard. Hard to say.
Anyway, interesting little piece. I’d love to see the
power/drag cruiser market heat up again. I think the spiritual
successor to that 80s trend is probably today’s streetfighters. Just one
man’s opinion. Seems like the Monster and Speed triple are about
the only factory interpretations on the hotted up side, and the R12C
beemer on the less sporty side.
Oh yeah, along with Yams MT, anyone recall the honda V4
excercize of about a year earlier. Made CycleWorlds cover. That
seemed great too but I don’t expect it to happen. Can’t fault Honda for
their tech innovation or quality, but they don’t exactly go out on
a limb anymore. Yamaha, whom I don’t like at all due to the
poorest long term spare parts record of any major manuf, does push things
a bit more.”
“I agree with you whole heartedly! Having riden sportbikes since the
mid-80′s, but I’m reaching the age (recently turned 50) where I can no
longer enjoy the ergonomics of today’s sportbikes. The pegs are too
high, the bars too low, and my gut rests on the tank.
I currently own a ’96 Triumph Trophy 900 and a ’74 BMW R90S. Both are
comfortable bikes, but I miss my old VFR. I’m not quite ready for the
cruiser mode, but would like something that can give me more relaxed
ergonomics and can still “scratch” with sportbikes and still “tool
around” town. Perhaps a Ducati Monster or a Speed Triple. Or even a
750cc to 1000cc version of the Suzuki SV650!”
“The question: What is the direction of cruisers and where they are going with
retro design vs technological breakthroughs?
The history of motorcycles has been the exploitation of speed and handling at a
lower cost than that of any other transportation. What ever the marque at some
point in time they were after the “FASTEST” title on whatever publication at the
time printed such reports. The quote “Win on Sunday and sell on Monday” was true
throughout motorcycling’s history as it is today. (Look at DUCATI – you bet they
want to win races!)
“Fastest SuperSport”, “World Champion”, such titles sell bikes. This is not true
for Harleys and the rest of cruisers. What drives them is the Harley mystique.
This was founded in the bad boy image of a loud miserable machine made of crap
held barely together BUT made in America. Important to note that outlaw groups
were founded by American pilots letting out steam of their post traumatic stress
from bombing Japan and Germany. Brit bikes and Harleys were it. Well the Brit
bike industry fell because they started to run like Harleys and they lost the
advantage that they were a capable bike. (I just sold my ’79 bonni) Originally
choppers where founded by guys trying to lighten there Harleys to run with the
brit bikes. This started the custom craze that now is all about looks rather
than speed. Funny thing is that you see this happening with sport bikes now.
Jewelry of chrome and polished parts are showing up on Ninja’s and GSXR’s now.
I think without the American patriotism founded by outlaw groups Harley would
have gone the way of the other American makers. No one would be looking for
retro for the sake of retro but more like Ducati’s evolution bike the MH900e,
bikes would be sold for speed and handling with a fringe of retro bikes thrown
in. Cars like the VW Beetle and the Plymouth PT-Cruiser show what bikes have
know for a while. People love the past mixed with technology. Cruisers will
continue to get better brakes, suspension and drivetrains, but they will sell it
primarily due to the mystique.
At 37 I ride a RoadKing. I love it’s old look with today’s technology. I still
would love to get a 900 Monster or even an R1 as a second bike. I love to read
about the latest tech and performance of the sport bikes still, even though I
may never own one or get on a race track. So keep up the reports.”
Once again, I’d like to thank all the readers who took the time to write.