Okay people, it’s time to have a little talk. I’ve come to realize that, despite my best efforts, I just don’t get the cruiser thing in the way that so many of you (like, millions) do. So I’m going to need to you explain it to me.
To me, cruisers are sort of like the cafes that got me into motorcycling in the first place. Anyone who rides a cafe will tell you the thing is a piece of shit and has terrible components. They’ll admit that they like the simplicity, looks, or even just riding something shitty and cool - because it makes them feel like a badass.
However, when I try and apply this logic to Harley-Davidson, the internet freaks out an asks me why I bash them. I’m not trying to bash them, but I also don’t think they’re very good at much except making people feel cool. Somehow, people decided that isn’t a good enough reason to like, want, or buy a motorcycle - but I think it’s perfectly acceptable. I just also think we should admit it.
It’s okay to bash sportbikes for being uncomfortable or silly for daily riding and okay to bash adventure bikes for being ugly and for dorks - but heaven forbid we bash cruisers for not performing well.
The Road Glide Ultra above weighs 944 pounds. It handles itself okay once moving, but is miserable to move at slow speeds or to push. Why isn’t it okay to ask for lighter cruisers or for some consideration be given to their weight?
I think this Forty-Eight is simply beautiful. I also think the one I rode several years ago refused to stop. Why isn’t it okay to say so without being called a hater or accused of only catering to sport bikes?
I’m asking this as an enthusiast and as a journalist. I want to understand how to evaluate them. Because they don’t accelerate, stop, turn, or handle road imperfections particularly well - and because it doesn’t seem like their owners care much. Because, when I rode one alongside a decidedly better Victory to Seattle and back, I didn’t care either and I opted for the HD almost the entire trip (but when I said the bike was worse, while also making me feel better, I was scorned for being a hater).
I certainly didn’t make up the term “the Harley waddle” (an MSF coach did) or “ the Harley death wobble” (examples here and here), but I’ve seen both and experienced the latter. Why is it that the Harley community can talk about these things, but we can’t comment on how ridiculous or unsafe they are?
This CVO Road Glide Ultra starts at $40,299 and Sporties, like the Forty-Eight pictured, often go for $12,000 or more. Why is it okay to talk about how overpriced the RC213V-S is, but not about how overpriced Harleys have become?
“I’m no fan of Harleys but, come on! If Lanesplitter is trying become something more than just a weak little blog it has to do more than publish garbage that pisses on a whole segment of motorcycle riders. Is this a motorcycle blog, or a blog for motorcycle elitism?” - JBRonin
Joe wrote about the Road Glide Ultra this week, in an article I thought was positive and captured why people love these bikes. Yet, to my surprise, we still got responses like the one above.
We want to be fair for riders debating between different options (Sportster or RC390 for first bike? - They do exist). This means discussing both the fact that performance isn’t always there, and the fact that cruisers can be awesome in their own way - the experience, the culture, the customization opportunities. In a way, it’s apples and oranges, and in a way it’s not.
So, now is your chance Harley/Bagger/Cruiser lovers. Tell me why you love Harley-Davidson. Tell me how we should evaluate them.
I want to be fair, I really do - so make me understand so I can try and add this massive and important segment to those we talk about.
Sean MacDonald is the brand spanking new Editor of Lanesplitter. He likes long walks on the beach, searching for the best new burger spots to ride to, and his girlfriend says his snoring sounds like “braaaaap.” Follow him and his adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.