On August 30, 2000, I wrote an editorial speculating whether or not cruiser riders were switching to higher performance motorcycles. At the end of the article I asked our readers to e-mail their thoughts on the subject. Here are some of the many responses (unedited) we received. Thanks to all who took the time to respond.
I’ve been riding for about 8 years and have had four bikes. It’s been
one bike at a time: honda cx500, virago 700, intruder 1400, (and when I
finally realized the intruder couldn’t turn) sv650. So I guess I
crossed over. And I never looked back….
I think you are correct about a cruiser crossover. People are crossing over as they mature. They are leaving dirt bikes & crotch rockets for cruisers
I live in Canada, Ontario. I have always ridden sportbikes but last year bought a cruiser. I have a 97 YZF1000 and a Suzuki VZ800 now. I find that the cruiser crowd I ride with, is surprised to find that I have such a ‘spread ‘ in the types of bikes I ride, This usally leads to an interest in the Sportbike, some ride it, some are afraid of it. Those that do ride it, are amazed, and impressed with it. Nobody has made the transition from cruiser to sportbike yet, but it has shaken them up a bit:-)
I’m a Harley rider who moved to Japan. For me, a Harley wasn’t practical for my Tokyo lifestyle: lane splitting, no garage, no mechanics in remote places, lots of rain for the chrome. I started with a CB750, but didn’t care for the high CG and low torque. I’d read many articles on the VFR and happened upon one at my local shop. What a long way I’ve come…from putt-putting on my Harley to scraping pegs on a VFR. So what’s next? I still miss the ergo’s of the Harley, or those of the BMW I rented in California last year. I seem to be looking for upright ergo’s, the grunt of a good twin, lots of attitude like a Harley, the chrome quotient of the Beemer, and optional hard bags. I envision a cross breeding of the TL motor, Monster styling and R1100R practicality. There’s a continuum between cruiser and street racer…the crossover for me seems to be at practical, naked twin.
yes, cruiser riders are crossing over. I currently ride a Harley and am
looking at buying a Suzuki SV650 for a second bike or just selling the HD
outright to purchase a BMW to sport-tour with…..
as I am working in the motorcycle-industry in Belgium, I can confirm you
that in the top 10 of best selling models in Belgium only appear one or 2
cruisers and more and more sport / touring models. 2 or 3 Years ago, this
used to be the other way around. I think by driving a chopper/cruiser people
get to know the inconveniences of this kind of bikes. Also current
sportmodels are much more accessible and the choice has become very
elaborate. Personnally I also drove a Intruder 5 years ago and coming from a Zephyr 750
to driving an excellent SV650S right now. I notice it to with my friends
that they all used to ride on cruisers (choppers) and are now getting more
intrested in machines such as; GSX-F, BMW R1150GS, Triumph, … a.s.o.
I know of many crossovers in the harley buell world. Buell takes their bike to the next level when it comes to switching people over. They let you ride their bikes! You go in for an oil change on a sporty or a bagger an whamo you are riding a buell around for a little while. Once they ride one they are hooked. Also buell puts on events BattleTrax….a closed coarse cone race and lets people try their bikes…people love them. Buell has never been beat at this event. You are allowed to run any type of bike…r1’s, tlr’s cbr,etc..Buells handle well and then when the buells go faster people just can’t believe it. One other reason people cross over to buells is the fun factor. BUELLS HAVE TORQUE. That is fun on the street. It pulls your arms. No it won’t do 170mph but it will yank your arms. Anyway I do think that there is a trend to CROSSOVER these days.
It’s true in my case. I went from a HD FXRS Lowrider to a Buell S3T. I don’t plan on going back! Motorcycling is FUN again – and I no longer sweat the image.
Yes, I started with a HD sporty in 94, then a HD 94 Road king in 96.
I then kept the Road king and added a 98 VFR in 99. Then traded
the 94 road king for a 99 road king. (at that time (3/99) I had in the
garage 99 Road King and 98 VFR). in February 2000 I added a 99 ST1100
to the garage. Yes I have three bikes and enjoy riding them all. Thinking
about tradeing the RK for a Fat Boy or Soft Tail to get a true cruiser all
though the ride and comfort of the RK is hard to give up. Yes I am a true
In response to your posting yesterday: I am a “re-entry rider”. I rode for 10 years on street and dirt machines and took 17 years off. With the kids well on their way and a little money in the bank I recently bought a Honda Shadow Sabre. I love the look, the sound, the feel, the whole Cruiser package. This is a very, very nice bike. However, I am hoping to trade it in on what I hope will be an improved 2001 Honda ST1100 Sport Tourer. Why? As someone who wants to ride every day to work I need something more practical. The Shadow Sabre is too one-dimensional. I need good bags. I need weather protection. I would also like passenger comfort for my wife who is warming up to the idea of going for a ride. I also found that I’m not as old and laid back as my kids might think and the Cruiser just isn’t made for the twisties.
Now to your issue. For background, I have a sport-tourer and a sport bike,
the models aren’t important. Here is Louisiana, a large proportion of the
riders have opted for a cruiser. I’m a marketing guy and have tried to
assess the trends. In this market there is no tendency to “move up” to a
higher performance bike. Those that get a new or newer bike seem to stay
with a cruiser.
hi , i think most riders want sport bikes but once they get them they
just sit in the garage, like most of my friends…they are caught up in
trying to go to fast! dont we all and most of the rides we go on they
dont even stop to enjoy the view!. Now they are selling there bikes for
a considerable loss…japanese..you no and want cruisers so they can
slow down and enjoy the ride.. i thought that is what this was all about
enjoying the ride..enough said thanks for listening
This question might be misconstrued to imply that cruisers are not “real”
motorcycles – ironically reflecting the sentiment of a certain segment of
cruiser riders. However, this is not the question. The question, more
accurately, is whether or not motorcycling is hooking a lot of people that
get involved simply because of the identity gratifying lifestyle fad. I
believe people are finding a rewarding experience in motorcycling that
commits them to learn more about it and increasingly enjoy it. There’s little doubt that the aesthetics of motorcycling are attractive to
people seeking a way to define their lifestyle. It’s just as true for the
repli-racer as it is for the cruiser. There is strong evidence that this
aesthetic has been fueling the hordes of people buying bikes. Both cruiser
and sport bike sales have been growing phenomenally and first time buyers
power much of the growth. Rolf Jensen, author of “The Dream Society: How
the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform Your
Business,” writes that “…society will place new value on the human ability
that can’t be automated. Emotion, imagination, myth, ritual, will affect
everything [and our] purchasing decisions. Companies will survive on the
basis of their stories and myths – on their ability to create products and
services that evoke emotion. Quality, efficiency, and reliability will no
longer sell products [no longer distinguish them]. Companies will need to
understand that their products are less important than their stories.” Clearly, we see some evidence of this with Harley Davidson as well as Ducati
Corse. Still, it seems unlikely that motorcycling can survive on the basis
of fad. Unlike a phone that we might buy on the basis of its color, a
motorcycle depends on a greater involvement from the owner. Although many
people can afford to have a new motorcycle collecting dust in their garage,
most people not interested in getting involved in motorcycling have clear
alternatives. A magnanimous view of humankind reveals that we are more complex than fad
following lemmings eager to snatch up a Tommy Hilfiger R6 or a wardrobe of
Motor Company clothing. Regardless of what might prompt us to look at
motorcycling, most people discover a reason they love motorcycling or they
quit. Not everyone may be able to articulate their passion for it, but the
discovery of motorcycling can awaken many people’s minds and with that the
mind releases the great energy of life. Life has a way of responding to
something it loves with all its energy. Jensen, Harley, and Corse may be correct that though human ideals are often
abstract and intangible, we desire tangible, physical concretizations of our
widest conceptual abstractions. As individual humans, each of us is a
unique intelligent being with the power to integrate concepts and perform
actions that arrange time and space in the order of choices we make
according to judgments made on the alternatives and our reasoning of what is
productive in achieving a life that we value. The initiation of this power
is fueled by creative discontent. People do the things they love doing, not
because they are struggling for some ideal lifestyle, but because the love,
sensitivity, learning, and meaningful thought gives life value. Although
one particular “style” might be the initial fascination with motorcycling,
it is the essential principles that are the true artistic justification for
I haven’t heard about cruiser riders switching to other styles of bikes in any great numbers but it’s been well publisized that “power cruisers” were to be the next big wave. Aside from the Valkyrie I can’t say I’ve seen too much in that regard though. Even Harley’s improved twin cam motor is hardly a fireball in that regard. I look forward to the advancement of motorcycling in all sizes and shapes. What I miss from the past is the great selection of roadgoing smaller displacement bikes. Looking back on the mid-sixties through the early seventies there were many to choose from. A large bike was perhaps anything 500cc and larger. Today a 500 or 600cc bike is practically at the bottom end of street only bikes. What a change. To me it has always left a large hole in the sport. I believe the cruiser fad will run it course and level off at some point as people leave the past behind (for now) and start once again looking toward the future. The coming of the new millenium had people reaching for more comforting times of the past. Once people settle down and become more focussed on the future I think we’ll see a change. I wonder if Honda may be sensing the same thing as their rumored large V-twin cruiser seems to be a no-show once again this year. Time will tell.
I’ll have to admit, it was a cruiser that first caught my eyes — 1980 Honda CB750 Custom. Once I learned that riding up and down canyons and curves, there was much more fun to be had. I craved a much more stable (read: safer), better performing motorcycle. Then two years later I moved to a Honda CB900F! I’ve never looked back since, nor could I understand why anyone would want something that wasn’t safe around a corner at any faster than 55 mph! Each one to their own opinion, I guess.
In my neck of the woods (Portland, Oregon), I have talked with a large
number of riders who have indeed traded their cruisers for something more
sporty, or just added a sport bike to their stable. I keep hearing a
recurring story: mature cruiser owner takes spin on buddy’s sport bike, and
the performance gap is suddenly a chasm. Goodbye pushrod motor, hello Honda
Superhawk, Suzuki TLS or Aprilia Mille (very popular here). V-Twins still
seem to be the favorite flavor, but with power and grace instead of just
noise. Lets hope the crossover continues.