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Fall Motorcycle Ride

Fall’ing for a Middleweight Cruiser

I was just sitting here, smiling to myself. It’s finally Fall, and, the weather is great for riding, the air is dry and the leaves are turning, ever so slowly. Translated, the bike runs better, I can wear all my gear without sweating to death and visibility is generally 10’s of miles – a great time to own a motorcycle!

I’m blessed, because I have choices in my shed. And, everything is running so well – good times, good times! Funny, but, I start thinking of projects- what to do to improve the sound, or, HP or torque. Intakes & exhausts get an extra look daily, Iridium plugs…you get the idea.

Actually, I was thinking about swapping bikes – getting a low cost middleweight cruiser with great looks, plenty of low end grunt and great pipes! Available for short money, many have low miles and remain mostly stock (adult owners!) allowing for choices.

I’ve fallen in love with a Vulcan 900 custom. De-badged, it looks very close to a Honda 1300- a cross between a Fury and a Stateline- beautiful does not begin to describe it’s well considered lines. However, even though the radiator is well concealed, it is obvious from every other angle other than a side view- which may reduce the appeal to many traditional cruiser buyers. However, there are screens, and, a cover, which creates a chin spoiler effect, thereby making the bike look lower and slightly meaner without destroying the lines of the bike.

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom

But, let me be clear- there are lots of mid sized cruisers in lots of shapes and sizes, all bringing a beauty of their own to the table. What tickles you? What makes you want to consider a change? EVERY manufacturer has a well built, well designed, finely engineered cruiser in the middleweight class (700 -1,000 cc’s) that is long lasting, easy running, with plenty of forums where fellows share their experience. Best ownership experience possible! So, there is no better time than the present to make a modification to your existing bike, or, swap out for that dream bike you’ve been waiting for! There is well over a month of riding left, plenty of time to enjoy those louder pipes, the new intake noise, or, even new to you motorcycle.

In all cases, these bikes can be purchased for around $4,000.00. At less than 50% of new, it belies the fact that they are barely broken in, have many years of use left in them, most need nothing but a plate on the back, and, gas in the tank to start enjoying… Let’s be honest here- $4,000.00 for a modestly used, yet, well sorted cruiser is a bargain. It’s nice to know that the cost of entry for someone with modest experience is reachable for many, even those of us on a tight budget. Since depreciation affects everybody, values abound for all bikes, leaving us riders with an almost endless supply of perfect bikes to choose from. At prices like this, you can have all of the benefits of a new bike, other than the warranty. Generally, these bikes are ‘well owned’ by adults, who store them in garages or sheds, keep them serviced appropriately, and have no deferred maintainence to boot.

Cruiser Motorcycle Technology

Also, cruiser ‘tech’ hasn’t changed much in a long time. Other than the long standing argument about whether a water cooled bike is a real motorcycle in the cruiser class, everything else has been around for a while. A 2001 isn’t much worse than a 2006, but, the price is lower. The risk of modification, rough use and budget ownership increases with age, but, clean, one owner bikes are still available as age increases. Personally, I prefer to modify my own bikes, rather than buy one already highly modified, but, some people prefer to buy an already customized bike-so they don’t have too.

I love the fact that a torquey V-Twin with fuel injection is available on every manufacturers model line. Who cares if it’s a 750 or a 900? Certainly not me, because I’m going for stunning looks and a nice deep rumble on this one. Power be damned; style, sound, looks, comfort and reliability are all available right now. All can do whatever is needed on any road available- no problem. I ride with a guest almost half of the time, and, every one of these has a passenger seat, and, many already have sissy bars installed.

It’s Fall, so, what do you like? What tickles your fancy? What makes you drool on sight of it? I want the smell of wax and oil, riding with friends on pretty back roads, maybe my wife or daughter on the back, noticing the curves and the way they dance in the sunlight. Warming a little at every stop light…quaint little towns, modest farms, livestock in all shapes and sizes, lakes ponds and rivers, sparkling in the yellowed sunlight of mid Fall. I’m not averse to a low rumble through my body, feeling the heat of the engine on my legs, the rear tire providing a little extra stability through that last turn, and, the sudden silence, only the ticking of the engine as it cools in the fading afternoon light…

Come on, you know you want too. It’s a great time to consider moving up to a midsized cruiser, one with the looks, sound and comfort that you want, without the giant pricetag of a new bike. And, they are waiting for you, a new owner to wash & wax it, ride it into the fading sunlight of a perfect Fall day. I’ve cleaned my bike up, just put on new tires & changed the oil, pulled the baffles out for a deeper sound (and improved MPG’s), took pictures of it, up close & far away- ready to sell at the drop of a hat! If I’m willing to deal with a local dealer, they will take my bike in trade for slightly less… The itch is strong, are you feeling it too?

About David Gulliver

David is a middle-aged father of four who rides motorcycles to maintain his sanity and escape a household of constant chaos. David has twenty-five years of experience modifying and restoring imported British and German sports cars, and he has one very supportive partner who understands his need to run wild on motorcycles.

8 comments

  1. I always have to snicker at people calling a 900cc motorcycle a middle weight. It wasn’t that long ago that 750cc Hondas were running back and forth across America with Vetter fairings and bags, two up and called Heavyweights. News flash! a 1976 Honda 750cc will still acquit itself well on any trip even though it’s now “Entry Level”. Want a bigger pause for thought? How about a “MIddleweight” 1974 900cc Kawasaki Z-1?

    • Funny, but I feel the same way. I reflect on the fact that I own 2 ‘midsized’ bikes: a 650cc ‘cruiser’ and a 675 naked streetfighter. I traded away from a 1,300cc bike, because it was just too big in every way. Also, almost every mainstream article this Spring & Summer were all about “middleweights’-over 600cc but under 1,000cc’s- being “Just Right”- not to big, or to small. And, I think that most people agree with us, as these midsized cruisers from all manufacturers typically sell 2 to 1 over the bloated, oversized, 1,500cc’s and up motorcycles. At less than 1/2 the cost of entry, there is nothing a Big Boy Bike can do that a midsize can’t? So, why double the mortgage, get lower MPG’s and worry all the time about dropping this anchor. Also, I get many comments on how relaxed my bike is when on the highway, or, on the backroads. I never struggle to keep up, and, sectretly, I think I’m enjoying the ride more because I’m nowhere near the limits of my bike…

  2. +1, Mr. Zeiser!
    Back when I had my 900 KZ Cow it was pretty much a category killer…….and you don’t pull that off by being “middleweight”. Amazing how the audio equipment “wattage race” somehow got transferred over to cc’s on bikes. I thought we were done with that nonsense…especially with fuel costs being what they are….and what they’re GOING to be in the not too distant future. Strange how a V-Star 1100 is somehow seen as “small” in some people’s eyes!

    I’ve always thought that, unless you’re pulling a camper trailer, or riding two up WITH luggage, a 750 ought to “do the trick.”

  3. Just bought my 99 V Star 1100 middleweight literally today for a ridiculous price. 1 adult owner with 9400 miles and dealer service records. This 56 year old had bikes years ago and like cigarettes the need sneaked up and bit me again. I too remember when the 900 Z1 had performance like the fist of an angry god.

    • Doesn’t it feel great! Back on the road with a a great, well maintained bike (saw a few older V-star 1100’s yesterday in a large indoor showroom- very classic looks!), no issues, a trickle charger your 1st upgrade? We are having Indian Summer right now, with very warm days, and, I love riding in that golden yellow light that only the Fall seems to bring. The trees all ablaze with bright colors, the warmth of the motor wisping around your legs, trying to keep the curves at modest speeds because the roads are covered with leaves. That V-Star is a big bike, I haven’t ridden one, but, there is nothing middleweight about it. Congratulations on your NEW ride!

  4. RT @YouMotorcycle: Fall�ing for a Middleweight Cruiser http://t.co/faId680V9u

  5. I own a v-star 650 custom. I ride an average of between 10,000 – 12,000 miles a year in Up-State New York’ six month riding season. The bike is perfect for my 5’6 185 lbs frame. On back roads the bike averages over 50 miles on a gallon of gas. The bike handles well and has a good suspension. In addition, the bike is very reliable and can really be customised.

What do you think?