And all of that makes our buying decisions now more difficult than ever. What do the different types of custom or cruiser mean? What do you get for your money? And which sort is right for you?
To help you decide, we’ve put together this brief guide to five of the best, spread across different types of custom from different manufacturers.
The first thing to understand is that ‘custom’ is, in itself, something of a misnomer. Strictly speaking, ‘custom’ refers to the type of one-off, hand-built, ‘customised’ machines which first sprang to prominence in the US in the 1960s, particularly in the wake of the movie Easy Rider in 1969.
Today, however, along with the term ‘cruiser’, it’s also regularly applied to mass-produced machines, or ‘factory customs’, which follow the same basic style of long, kicked out forks and a laid back riding position, where looks, comfort and (usually) a low revving V-twin engine take priority over performance, gadgets and equipment.
Of course, there’s also much more to it than that, with plenty of sub-groups within the whole cruiser genre. ‘Baggers’, or machines, which are part-tourers, complete with panniers or ‘bags’ and touring screens, and part chopped-down/styled-up customs, have become hugely popular in recent years for their blend of practicality and style. Indeed, in the US, ‘baggers’ are currently THE best-selling type of bike of all, headed by Harley-Davidson’s hugely successful Street Glide.
Then there are drag strip-inspired ‘hot rods’, defined by their low stance, fat back tyres and performance engines and exemplified best by Ducati’s potent Diavel and Harley’s Breakout.
But nor are they soley big, extreme machines for experienced riders only. Light, middleweight offerings such as Honda’s 500cc Rebel, Kawasaki’s 650c Vulcan and even Harley’s own 883cc Sportster have traditionally appealed to novice riders thanks to their easy ergonomics, friendly manners, classic style and decent value.
So which is the best? Our guide aims to help you find out…
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