Cruisers are motorcycles styled after the low, beefy American bikes made by Indian, Harley-Davidson, Excelsior, and Henderson between the 1930s and 1960s.
Cruiser engines are traditionally V-Twins tuned with a focus on low and mid-range torque rather than horsepower. Also, the riding position of the cruiser puts riders’ feet forward while keeping their spine straight for a lounging style of riding.
This article will explore the attributes of cruiser motorcycles to determine whether they are suitable for beginners.
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Here’s the Short Answer to Whether Cruiser Motorcycles Are Good for Beginners:
Cruiser motorcycles are suitable for beginners because of their low seat height, relaxed riding position, and generally mild-mannered V-Twin engine. These bikes come in various chassis and engine sizes with varying degrees of power.
Mind you, ensure you’re buying an entry-level cruiser if you’re a beginner.
Are Cruiser Motorcycles Easier or Harder to Ride?
Cruisers are easier to ride than sport bikes, street fighters, tourers, adventure bikes, and even dirt bikes, thanks to their comfort-focused riding and seat position and low-end focused engine tuning.
The following makes Cruiser Motorcycles easier to ride for beginners.
1. Low Slung Chassis
The chassis or frame of a cruiser motorcycle typically sits low to the ground. Its V-Twin is mounted beneath the rider’s low-resting seat to keep the center of gravity below the rider, just inches above the ground.
This makes it easy for new riders to walk the bike, as their feet can rest flat on the pavement.
2. Balanced Suspension
Cruiser motorcycles generally come stock with a front and rear suspension tuned to move well on the bumps in the road to aid a soft and comfort-emphasized ride ideal for beginners.
While it’s not a hard rule, most cruiser motorcycles pack a V-Twin engine with a larger displacement.
The small-bore/long-stroke cylinders of the typical cruiser V-twin have lower rev limits than performance-based bikes. This makes them safer for new riders to learn how to throttle and clutch-shift.
Also, cruiser’s gearboxes are rationed with an emphasis on low and mid-range torque and less focused on horsepower. The mild engine tuning is partially where the cruiser gets its name and one of the main reasons it’s an ideal first motorcycle.
The design is also simplified for an easy ride.
Cruiser motorcycles are known for their low center of gravity that combines with the legs-forward, spine straight, and the low-to-the-ground seating position to make them one of the most comfortable and ergonomic bikes to ride.
This offers entry-level motorcyclists a chance to focus on mastering their riding technique without battling physical discomfort and its associated fatigue.
How Well Do Cruiser Motorcycles Handle Speeds?
Cruiser motorcycles handle well at city and highway speeds, although some of them have a long wheelbase, making them slightly harder to maneuver through corners than those with a shorter base.
The heavy, comfort-focused frame and engine can make handling a cruiser at slow speeds more difficult.
That said, there are a few riding strategies even beginners can employ to make their cruisers handle them efficiently.
One technique that comes in handy when riding over train tracks or speed bumps is standing on your pegs to stabilize the traction in the rear tire and alleviate the suspension shock.
And while the forward-focused foot position of the cruiser is more comfortable than mid controls, it’s harder to stand on pegs closer to your front fork than your seat.
Also, installing floorboards on your cruiser bike gives you more surface area to distribute your weight and more positioning options for both sitting and standing, optimizing your bike’s handling more than you might think.
One of the advantages the cruiser position gives its rider’s handling is how low to the ground the bike is. Putting your feet flat on the ground allows a more leisure time for parking and walking the bike at slow speeds.
Beginners can take advantage of their secure footing by spending time power-walking their motorcycles while they learn the friction zone between the clutch and the throttle.
Make sure to also check our article on why motorcycles lose power at high RPM.
The friction zone feels different on every bike. Mastering the distinct feel of your cruiser’s friction zone at low speeds while walking the bike with your feet flat on the ground will help you handle your cruiser like a pro.
Finally, while the standard handlebar positioning on a cruiser motorcycle is wide and placed at chest level to avoid arm fatigue and keep the rider’s chest and breathing capacity more open, many other cruiser bikes come standard with tall, ape-hanger handlebars.
Not only are the chest-level bars easier to learn simply because their comfort allows more endurance, but straight bars also handle the corners exceptionally well.
On the other hand, a cruiser with ape hangers is much harder to manage, especially in the corners while you’re still mastering the clutch-shifting and the clutch-to-throttle friction zone.
What Is the Best Cruiser Motorcycle for Beginners?
The modern Indian Scout is good for beginners, thanks to a low seat height and a forward riding position that isn’t too aggressive.
This bike has plenty of horsepower to grow into, ample customization options, and comes in various style packages and engine sizes so new riders can find their perfect fit.
Another excellent cruiser motorcycle for beginners is the Yamaha Star Bolt.
The Bolt combines the American cruiser’s aesthetic and riding position with Yamaha engineering. It produces a reliable machine with plenty of power for new riders to learn to use as they get used to more serious riding.
The Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 is another legendary entry-level cruiser bike that brings beginners into the American cruiser scene on a bike that’s easy to ride and is backed by Harley’s world-class dealership support.
The Sportster offers as many customization options as any other motorcycle on the market, allowing riders to develop their riding style by trying different accessories.
The Kawasaki Vulcan S, the Honda Rebel and Shadow series are other great cruiser lines for beginners.
We’ve written an article about whether cruiser motorcycles are good for beginners if you want more information on the topic.
What Defines a Good Starter Motorcycle?
The key qualities that make a motorcycle a good beginner bike are a middleweight, enough engine power to grow without being overwhelming, a comfortable riding position, a good resale value, and safety features like Traction Control and Anti-Lock Brakes.
Rumble.com recently published this shortlist of features beginner riders should look for when purchasing their first bike:
Here are a few considerations to take into account if you are in the market for your first motorcycle:
- Weight – A bike between 300 – 400 lbs is a good weight and is not too hard to find.
- Engine size – Anywhere from 150 – 600 cc will give you enough power, but not overwhelming
- Price – A good used bike can be purchased for as low as $1,500 but we go up depending on the size, type, and brand.
- Speed – Beginners don’t need more speed than they can handle with their first bike. Look for something between 80 – 130 mph.
- Technology – Anti-Lock Braking System is a must. Newer motorcycles have some upgraded tech such as GPS, digital systems, audio systems, and other mechanics.
- Manufacturer – Most major manufacturers make motorcycles that are a good fit for new riders.
- Community – You will find that different motorcycles come with a different community of riders to engage in.
- Terrain – Motorcycles can handle different types of terrain. You’ll need to know where you want to ride “street, dirt, both” before committing to buying.
We’ve also written an article that discusses whether touring motorcycles are good for beginners.
Are There Any Cruiser Motorcycle Beginners Should Avoid?
Beginners should avoid what the market refers to as “Power Cruisers”. These are motorcycles that look and feel like cruisers stylishly but pack large-displacement, high-performance engines capable of high speeds and heft horsepower.
Power Cruisers are to motorcycles what hot Roids are to cars. They are neither the safest nor the easiest to learn, as they rev high all the way up through the gears.
Power Cruisers have beefier frames, sportier suspensions, more aggressive brakes, and a rising position geared towards riding hard and fast.
Please also read our article about whether trikes motorcycles are good for beginners.