I’ll say right up front, I don’t like cruisers. The way I like to ride and the ergonomics that I like are anathema to the way cruisers are designed. But, I love bikes and will take any opportunity to ride something new or different.
This demo was on a Tuesday so attendance was pretty light, which made getting the bike you wanted easier. Other demos made you sign up for a certain bike at a certain time. Here, you put your helmet on a bike to claim it.
This is the only demo I’ve been on that hit the interstate. It made for some interesting problems trying to stay in a group of 10-15 bikes while avoiding the other interstate traffic.
The first bike I rode was the Gunner. Once I sat down, I was immediately reminded of a Honda VTX 1300. Everything was very nicely put together and felt well built, but it was not really exciting. The motor sounded really nice and had the typical V-twin cadence. Everything felt oversized, the grips, the lever the pegs the pedals. Even the throw of the shifter was big and heavy.
Like all low cruisers, I would change a few key things. First, get the ass in the air. This is just too low. I’ll happily give up “flat-footing” at a stop for better handling and visibility. Second, I like the pegs under me. The foot forward position kills my back makes me feel like I have less control.
The motor felt nice. It’s not a paint shaker like a Harley (good and bad) but it’s got a familiar laid back gallop. Power was surprisingly good, it really reminded me the V-rod. A good, powerful motor that needs a chassis.
Next up was the Hammer 8-Ball. Basically the same bike as the Gunner, but dressed up a little different. Especially at the back with a ridiculous 250 mm tire.
I’d never ridden one of the super wide rear tires. I don’t like the look and I couldn’t imagine they would handle well. I was right. By the time you’re leaned enough to get to the radius of the shoulder, boots or pegs are dragging. It’s like wrestling a bear to get off the center of the tire … and then it get light and loose feeling once it gets over. I about tapped out after the first few turns as I didn’t feel like I had control over this thing. I stuck it out, but I didn’t like it at all.
Somewhere deep down, I want to like cruisers. It’s what I grew up around and some of them seem pretty cool. I just can’t seem to find one that works the way I think a bike works. This is my hangup as there are plenty of people that ride these bikes and love it. Maybe I’ll slow down and relax as I get older. But for now, I’ll pass on this class of bike.