Best handling cruiser?

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by davevv, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

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    Yes, I know it sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but it's a serious question.

    The thing is, I like cruisers. I like the look, feel, and comfort of a well sorted Harley and plenty of other cruisers as well. My problem is that I come closer to getting myself in trouble when riding a twisty road on a cruiser than any other bike I've ever owned. When I found myself sliding the front wheel of my Road King in a curve in the Ozarks, it bothered me enough that I sold the bike. I didn't think I was pushing it all that hard, but evidently I was pretty near it's limits. I've had a similar experience with an FXDXT I once owned, and it is arguably one of the best handling big twins Harley ever built. Ditto an 1100 Honda Shadow some years ago.

    I've never considered myself a particularly fast rider and there are worlds of people that would run away from me when we're riding identical bikes because I'm just not in that big a hurry most of the time. But, I do have over 50 years experience riding on the street, so I kind of know what I'm doing.

    Handling is the only reason there is no cruiser in my garage right now. So the question is, if I give cruisers another shot, which one provides the best handling of the bunch? I know none of them will approach my Norge or Tigers, but which is the best for what they are? I'm thinking the Moto Guzzi California may be it, but I haven't ridden one yet.

    So, in your experience, what's your pick? Brand doesn't really matter. Aesthetics and comfort do, but only after handling.
    #1
  2. CZP01

    CZP01 Been here awhile

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    Triumph America/Speedmaster (basically 2 versions of the same bike).

    Bear in mind that even the best-handling cruiser will feel like a tractor in comparison to something like a sportbike.
    #2
  3. elementalg20

    elementalg20 Been here awhile

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    I certainly don't know, but I'd look into the triumph t-bird as well, guzzi was also my first thought. Does the ducati diavel count? Hehe.
    #3
  4. Birdmove

    Birdmove Long timer

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    XR1200X?? I know it's not a "cruiser", but is is a Harley-Davidson. Or any Sportster with standard length suspension, so it has good cornering clearance--XL883R, XL1200R, XL883 standard (like mine). Again, I don't consider these models of Sportsters cruisers. Don't think you'll find a cruiser with very good handling and cornering clearance.
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  5. CZP01

    CZP01 Been here awhile

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    With regards to the T-Bird... personally, I love the styling of it, especially the new Thunderbird Storm, but I like my Speedmaster waaaaaaaay better. The Thunderbird has a really wide tank that stretches your legs way out to the sides and it is one HEAVY son of a gun. I got some seat time on a Thunderbird and I felt that my Speedmaster was far more nimble and light.
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  6. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

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    Yeah, I've done a "follow the leader" demo ride on the new Thunderbird. Lovely motor and great gearbox. Low speed handling was worse than either of the Harleys I mentioned and never got a chance to see what it was like at higher speeds on twisty roads.

    I've ridden the Speedmaster as well. Decent bike, but not what I'm after.

    I wouldn't mind having a Sporty with a little taller suspension, but I don't really put them in the cruiser class either. And I wouldn't give up my 800 Tiger for one.
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  7. rhys

    rhys Long timer

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    If the Kawasaki Mean Streak (& Suzuki counterpart) were available with mid-controls instead of the stupid wannabe cowboy forward controls......

    I'd like to have taken advantage of the OEM inverse forks up front, and the OEM wheels/brakes from off their sport bikes, by replacing the low (& back jarring) factory air mono-shock with a quality shock absorber.

    Now THAT'S a bike that had potential!
    -----

    But I gotta say,
    there have been a couple well ridden Harley Dyna Glides that I was simply UNABLE to pass while navigating some twistie roads in the foothills of Central California (!?!?).

    -----

    And that Triumph parallel twin in a low-slung cruiser (the "Speedmaster") with it's drag bars, cast wheels, tubeless tires, and triple disc brakes should NOT be overlooked!
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  8. CZP01

    CZP01 Been here awhile

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    I'm tellin ya man, the Speedmaster is the shit. :D
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  9. PalePhase

    PalePhase Humour Noir

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    That's neither here nor there
    I guess the logical question is what are you after? There's going to be a general trade-off between the stronger engines of the bigger twins and better agility of the smaller ones.

    If you're willing to ride a cruiser the size of the Speedmaster/America but want more top end and can live with a four-cylinder engine, check out a 1994-2003 Magna. You will run out of ground clearance before you run out of traction, even with the stock Dunlop tires.

    Personally, though, I'd second CZP01's recommendation of the Speedmaster or America. I followed behind a septuagenarian on one in a poker run, and it was faster off the line than my Magna (which is no slowpoke itself) and I had to work at it to keep up with older rider. It wasn't until we got on a four-lane highway that my bike's horsepower advantage came into play. Oh, and his friend on one of the Japanese big twins was left wallowing in the turns behind us.
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  10. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

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    Okay, I'll clarify a little. Let's say 1100cc or larger and preferably no more than two cylinders. I'm not looking for a middleweight.
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  11. jersey jim

    jersey jim Long timer

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    Star (Yamaha) Road Star Warrior. They don't make it anymore, but there are still new ones about for nice prices, used is even more reasonable.
    Midnights are dead sexy (all blacked out).

    Stiff aluminum frame.
    Inverted R1 style fork (but with only preload adjust, I have Racetech (I think) springs and heavier fluid, but I'm a fat bastard.
    A decent monoshock, with preload and rebound adjust. Racetech spring on that too, for same reason as above.
    1st gen R1 4 piston brakes.
    Real sport touring radial tire sizes, rear is a 200 so it's not stupid huge. Liking the Roadsmarts this time around.
    Belt drive (no shaft monkey motion)
    Big torquey 102" air cooled pushrod counter balanced twin. 4 valves per cylinder. Dual throttle bodies with a nice shot into the ports, instead of a right angle turn like many big twins.

    Check 'em out.

    http://www.rswarrior.com
    #11
  12. SGrider

    SGrider 376 miles to Chicago

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    Yamaha Roadstar Warrior is supposed to handle pretty well for a cruiser.
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  13. cabanza

    cabanza Smooth Operator

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    That would be the BMW R1200C. Not in production anymore but worth a look. It handles like a proper motorcycle.
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  14. WEE4ME

    WEE4ME Adventurer

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    Victory Cross Country, test drove and was quite surprised. I currently ride a Weestrom.
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  15. Drummer

    Drummer BMW/Sonor

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    Best handling would be a result of fork rake angle and handlebar placement. Handlebars that are more straight across and at a 90 degree angle to the fork will provide the best control (from what I have read). Believe it or not, ape hangers suck at controlling a bike, go figure. The reach of the fork also directly affects the turning radius and the ability to maneuver. If you find a cruiser that meets this criteria, I think you will have a pick up truck instead of a semi.
    #15
  16. Juggernot

    Juggernot Land Locked Sailor

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    I know it is smaller than what you are talking about, but I bought my M50 because it handled so well. It isn't going to win too many drags, but 90 mph 2 up isn't out of the question. Very sporty bike, quite a looker (IMHO), and handles extremely well. Plus everyone thinks it is a much bigger bike than it is.
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  17. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    Its gotta be the Dieval or XR1200 I'd think.

    In general look for a narrow bike with decent clearance as that's usually the limiting factor. You can always upgrade brakes etc without too much work. I really don't like anything about cruisers, but did ride a VF500C for a while and it handled better than most cruisers (and sadly even at 500cc made more power than almost all other cruisers of that era as well).
    #17
  18. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard I have no soul

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    But it looks like an R1200c. :cry
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  19. BUZZARD II

    BUZZARD II Old Geezer

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    What year was your RK? The newer frames of '09 and up are better than the older. The other thing is a front wheel slide mostly comes from bad tire pressure or hitting sand etc.

    I had a '88 FLHTP, ground the footboards all the time. Now pushing a '11 FLHTC the footboards are spark free. Of course nobody buys a Harley to go fast.
    #19
  20. Sir Not Appearing

    Sir Not Appearing That's no ordinary rabbit

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    Not quite 1100cc, but I would think any of the Tonti-framed Guzzi cruisers would be tough to beat in the handling category.
    #20