Vulcan 900 Classic or How I Embraced a Cruiser

I’ve complained about cruisers being boring and overall sub-optimal motorcycles. I don’t think that’s changed, but I’ve come to embrace that as another facet of motorcycling.

My first bike was a cruiser (a Vulcan as well, though very different), I’ve also ridden cruisers at Harley-Davidson and Victory demos. While neither of those won me over, I did find things that I enjoyed.

For Harley, it was the classic look of the Heritage Softail Classic (I’m not even trying to decode the model). It looked beautiful and felt substantial. It also drug floorboards on every turn and had a serious case of false-neutrals. Including one that required me to come to a complete stop to get it unstuck. Yeah it shook and rattled … but that was some of the charm.

The Victory felt smooth. The more modern motor and chassis were just more capable. I just couldn’t get behind the style of them. Yes, it’s unique and different, but it didn’t speak to me in the way a cruiser should. I think there was  a veil of performance cast on them which is not what a cruiser is about.

Why was I even looking? That’s a good question. My wife was talking to my friend’s wife about taking a short weekend trip. I was really excited, but then it sunk in that my Scrambler is not setup for this task. After sarcastically saying, “how big of a backpack do you plan on wearing.” We started talking about adding a bike with some more passenger and luggage capabilities.

My search was pretty casual. Look at those Softails, realize that I had no intention of spending that amount of money on a part time bike. Then move on. After a few weeks I opened up my criteria a bit and looked at some of the entry level Dynas. I’d have to change a lot to get the look and feel of what I wanted. While cheaper than the Softail, the Dynas were going to cost a lot in modifications. 

Eventually I ended up at Superstar Cycle Center’s website and was just scrolling through their cruiser inventory. While wading through the bikes with ape hangers or questionable taste in paint and accessories this white and grey bike jumped out at me. A quick message to my wife, was responded to with a “that’s really pretty.” Exactly what I thought.

I mulled it over a bit. I’ve been spoiled by premium motorcycles (Triumph, BMW, Harley). Japanese cruisers always seem like wannabes. It’s only a 900 cc motor. Wouldn’t the 1500 cc be better. It looks heavy. I bet it’s slow and handles like crap. 

Oh well, I went to test ride it anyway!

This is a super mellow bike, in a good way. The undersized motor is more than adequate to haul this thing around. There’s enough ground clearance that I haven’t put metal to pavement, yet. And, I’m not trying to make it anything other than what it is. A big, comfy cruiser that handles a passenger well, takes some luggage (already on it!), and looks really nice! 

While the allure for the Harley is still there, for the price difference, I’d rather buy another sport bike AND a supermoto to round out the stable. This bike hasn’t taken away from my Scrambler either. If anything, I appreciate the Scrambler more than I did and it’s opened up to make some of the modifications that I’d been wanting to make. A win in all directions.

 

 

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Review: Texavina Saddle

Motorcycle accessories are expensive. In a twist of irony, most motorcyclists I know are very thrifty. Purchases are often poured over for weeks and we expect perfection at Wal-Mart prices. The adage of “get what you pay for” holds true most of the time, but sometimes it gets flipped. The ease of moving goods and currency through the global economy has opened up opportunities for entrepreneurs, factories, and bargain seeking customizers.

Scott has contributed this review of the Texavina saddle he recently purchased to go with his Bailey and Watkins bag. — ed

I’ve been looking for custom saddles for my Triumph Bonneville T100 for some time. In fact, I found a pretty decent used Corbin Gunfighter and Lady saddle on eBay. It was comfortable but looked like a giant loaf of bread. I needed something more streamlined to show the lines of the bike but also something that can work for riding two up. I also wanted the option of a seat that is not just the typical black, but a chocolatey brown. That’s when I realized that aftermarket seats are not only limited in design and style but way too expensive.

I did what any one of us would do. I turned to the forums. I found a bunch of other guys in my same boat on TriumphRat looking for custom saddles. One site, Texavina, was mentioned. At first glance, the shop seems to be based out of Texas, which I later found out was not entirely accurate. The shop is operated by Tex; a really nice guy out of Vietnam.

Texavina makes saddles for many makes and models, but specializes in cafe racers and vintage import bikes. They claim that they can make any design as requested. The selection of seats for my motorcycle was great. There are many different styles, colors, and stitching. Any design can be modified. All I had to do was contact Tex.

Saddle with The Parallel
Saddle with The Parallel

I selected a seat and ordered it as it came. The price was great! Just $185 for the seat and $69 for shipping. It took about three weeks for the seat to arrive, but I was notified every step of the way via email. Tex even gave me his personal cell number to contact him if I had any questions or concerns.

Upon delivery of my new saddle I couldn’t help but notice the packaging. This seat came from across the world so it was essential that the package needed to be sturdy. It was! A solid layer of foam protected the bubble-wrapped saddle from the dangers of its transoceanic voyage. After I got the seat out of the package I was very impressed. The build quality is great for the amount I paid for it. Stitching is top-notch, the metal seat pan is solid, and the vinyl seems to be good quality. Tex included a matching grab strap as well.

On Bike
On Bike

When I began the installation I noticed the hooks were bolted on backwards. This was an easy fix but it was a little annoying to have to do that. It was just a matter of unbolting and switching the hooks. No biggie. The seat installs quickly and feels fairly solid on the bike. I do think the firmness will take a few rides to get used to. It’s significantly firmer than the stock ironing board and my old Corbin. It’s the same length as the stock saddle but it feels about an inch less wide and around an inch lower. This makes backing up much easier for me as I am a short guy.

All in all, I think this was a good purchase and I recommend Texavina to anyone looking for a cheaper alternative to the big-named custom saddle companies. It looks great and follows the lines of the bike very nicely.

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