When it comes to motorcycles, cruisers and customs have a look and feel all of their own. It's not about power and speed here (although some of them certainly have that too) but as the name suggests, it's about cruising in style.
The low seats, far forward footpegs, and high handlebars are the signature features of the cruiser and what makes them so unique.
There have never been more options available when it comes to cruisers and customs and in this blog, we are going to look at 10 of the very best bikes on the market today. I'm going to cover a wide range of prices, makes, and styles so that hopefully there will be something here for everyone!
BMW R 18
This one is brand new for 2020, arriving in UK showrooms in September, the R 18 is BMW's take on the cruiser. This is a big machine in every sense. It sports the largest boxer engine BMW has ever produced at 1802cc with 116.5ftlb of torque and it weighs in at a hefty 345 kilos with a full tank.
Visually the R 18 has that classic Fatboy look but definitely with BMW's own unique twist. As with almost everything BMW does, this bike comes loaded with tech - expect riding modes, traction control, cruise control, ride by wire, and a whole host of optional extras. There is also an optional bobber configuration which looks amazing.
This is definitely a premium bike and comes with a premium price tag, starting at £18,995. It will be interesting to see if BMW can give Harley a run for their money.
|Engine type||2 Cylinder Boxer|
|Power||91 hp @ 4750 rpm|
|Price (starting from)||£18,995|
Triumph Bonneville Bobber
The Triumph Bonneville Bobber was a bit of a surprise when it was announced back in 2016 but swiftly became a huge hit thanks to its gorgeous styling, affordable price, and excellent performance. In 2021 the Bobber is going stronger than ever!
Aside from the styling one of the things that really makes this motorcycle unique is the way it performs, with the kind of handling and acceleration you might expect from a street bike rather than a cruiser!
The engine here is the same 1200cc parallel twin Triumph uses in the Bonneville T120 but with a 10% power increase. Despite the stripped-down bobber looks, there is actually a surprising number of features here too with switchable traction control, ride by wire, ride modes, and a slipper clutch.
Somehow, despite everything Triumph has packed into this bike, they've managed to keep the price down to £11,850 which I am sure has helped with its huge success.
|Engine Type||8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel-twin|
|Power||76 bhp @ 6100 rpm|
|Price (starting from)||£11,850|
Harley Davidson Low Rider S
When it comes to cruisers there is one name that defines the genre and that is Harley Davidson. It would be easy to do a top 10 list with nothing but Harleys on it so picking just one bike is pretty difficult. However, the Low Rider S is the bike we are going to include here because it has been given a brand new update for 2021 and I think perfectly captures that west coast style that Harley are so famous for.
The ride position on the Low Rider S is a bit more aggressive than Harley's normal fair thanks to the drag bars and footpeg position but we are still very much in classic custom territory here. The style of this bike is gorgeous too with its largely blacked-out detailing and modern headlight cover.
Harley likes to keep things simple, so aside from ABS and keyless ignition, there are no fancy rider aids to be found here. The star of the show is the engine, the Milwaukee-Eight 114, the most powerful engine in the Harley lineup. This is a 1868cc V-twin putting out 93hp at 5020rpm so despite the typically hefty weight, the Low Rider S still has plenty of pull and according to Harley offers exceptional agility and handling.
Another thing worth mentioning is the sound of this engine. A real Harley trademark, is there anything else that sounds this good when you pull the throttle?
The price of the Low Rider S from Harley Davidson starts at £16,995 which is definitely at the steeper end but Harleys tend to retain their value very well so purchasing brand new is generally a safe investment.
|Engine type||Milwaukee-Eight 114|
|Power||93 bhp@ 5020 rpm|
|Weight||308 kg (wet)|
|Price (starting from)||£16,995|
Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
The other iconic name in American style cruisers, Indian Motorcycles celebrated their 100th anniversary with a brand new iteration of the Scout for 2020, the Indian Scout Bobber Twenty.
Indian, like Harley, have done away with the modern rider aids to offer a stripped-down and more raw custom experience, although they have utilised ride-by-wire technology here and the Scout's highly responsive pulling power is one of the bike's stand-out features.
The engine is a 1133cc V-twin with 94bhp maximum output so there is plenty of power on offer and despite the hefty 260kg weight, the scout is surprisingly agile, especially for a cruiser.
The other stand-out feature is this motorcycle's fantastic design. It's a bike that is going to turn heads wherever you go. It retains the classic American cruiser vibe while giving it a modern spin with its sleek curves and stylish headlight surround. The Scout Bobber Twenty has been given mini-ape handlebars, spoked wheels, and a classic bobber seat to add a splash of retro and make it even more unique.
Priced at £13,295 Indian will face tough competition from Triumph but the Scout Bobber Twenty is a worthy addition to the list and a great alternative option with a style of its own.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled V-Twin|
|Price (starting from)||£13,295|
When I think of Ducati's Diavel, I think of a powerful modern super-naked - not exactly a cruiser. But in 2016 the Italian giants added the XDiavel to their range, aimed at combining a traditional cruiser feel with Ducati's signature high performance and power and the XDiavel delivers.
It retains the modern beefy styling and raw power of the Diavel but with its forward pegs and higher bars, the XDiavel becomes a new breed of super cruiser. The engine is a 1262cc DVT L-twin with a whopping 160 hp, making it the most powerful bike on the list. It is a machine capable of very high speeds and with the kind of responsive handling, you would not normally associate with the cruiser class.
On top of the performance it comes loaded with premium components and cutting edge tech including rider modes, traction control, Bosch ABS and cruise control. For 2021, Ducati has added 3 variations of the XDiavel, with the 'XDiavel Dark' starting at £16,995, the 'S' at £20,695, and the 'Black Star' at £21,295. If you are looking for a cutting-edge motorcycle and budget isn't a concern, there is nothing else quite like this.
|Engine Type||Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing) L-Twin|
|Power||160 bhp @ 9500 rpm|
|Weight||221kg (Dark & Black Star) & 223kg (S)|
|Price (starting from)||£16,995 (Dark), £20,695 (S) & £21,295 (Black Star)|
Kawasaki Vulcan S
Not every cruiser is a hulking beast with a huge engine, there are now a few more accessible options to suit beginner riders and those on a tighter budget too. The first I am including is Kawasaki's Vulcan S, a pretty unique offering with its unusual, almost futuristic styling and relatively small (in cruiser terms) 649cc engine.
The standard version puts out 60bhp so it offers a nice responsive ride that is still easy for a beginner to handle. If you don't yet have your full motorcycle licence, there is also an A2 compliant version that limits the power to 47bhp.
The Vulcan provides a stripped-down experience, again doing away with most of the modern rider aids you see these days, with ABS its only real concession. Kawasaki's focus is on the basics here and the result is a bike that gets the job done at a really affordable price - just £6,699 brand new.
|Engine type||Parallel twin|
|Power||60 bhp @ 7500 rpm|
|Price (starting from)||£6,699|
Honda CMX500 Rebel
Another highly accessible motorcycle, Honda's A2 cruiser the CMX500 Rebel was given an update for 2020 with a few key improvements to its performance and visuals.
The Rebel uses the same 471cc engine as Honda's excellent CBR500R but with revised mapping to give it a bit more torque at the low end. The 45hp makes it another ideal bike for beginners and a very reasonable £5,799 price tag is great for the budget. As an A2 bike, the insurance is also going to be lower than the larger models so you can save there too. This bike is also one of the lightest on the list and with the trademark low cruiser style seat could be a great choice for shorter riders.
Similar to the Vulcan, Honda's CMX500 Rebel keeps things stripped down and simple when it comes to the rider aids but it does have ABS and a slipper clutch which is always a nice touch.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled DOHC|
|Power||45 bhp @ 8500 rpm|
|Price (starting from)||£5,799|
The last of the Japanese cruisers on the list, the XV950R occupies the middle ground between the high capacity models and the smaller A2 machines.
Yamaha first brought out the XV950 in 2013 so it has actually been around for quite a while and in 2021 it remains a great middleweight option. The 942cc might seem high but this cruiser's 53hp and 252kg kerb weight actually put it in a good spot for novice riders. There will still be plenty of go but without being too intimidating. It's becoming a bit of a trademark for Yamaha but the power delivery comes quite low in the rev ranges here which is going to give this bike a nice responsive ride that is well suited to urban areas.
This is another stripped-down cruiser without too much fancy tech aside from ABS. What you do get is Yamaha's high build quality and reliability, and with a model range that has been around as long as this, they must be doing something right with plenty of user reviews to back that up. It also looks great too, especially in the latest Tech Graphite colour scheme.
The price of this bike just like everything else sits in the middle of the pack starting at £9,047.
|Engine type||V-type 2-cylinder 4-valve SOHC|
|Power||53 bhp @ 5500 rpm|
|Price (starting from)||£|
Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber
This is Moto Guzzi's take on the bobber but it is very different from the usual American style bikes we see in this category. Guzzi's bobber is infused with classic Italian style to create yet another very unique offering.
The V9 Bobber also sits in the middle ground of this list, with an 853cc V-twin engine and 65 hp maximum power, it makes for another motorcycle that is great for a wide range of riders. There is plenty of power for all your everyday riding needs but it's mellow enough for beginner riders too, although it would need to be restricted for an A2 licence holder.
As I said earlier, it isn't a traditional American style bobber but the unique Moto Guzzi styling does make this a real head turner and the philosophy behind the bike is just the same - cruising in style. The V9 Bobber starts at £9,600 and features switchable traction control and ABS with high-quality Brembo brakes and Kayaba suspension.
|Engine type||90° V-twin, 2 valve per cylinder|
|Power||65 bhp @ 6800 rpm|
|Price (starting from)||£9,600|
Royal Enfield Classic 500
The Classic 500 from Royal Enfield is the smallest option on this list and lives up to its name as a true classic style motorcycle.
Royal Enfield has been going from strength to strength in recent years constantly improving their machines while retaining the features that make them unique. Stripped-down bikes that focus on delivering an authentic classic experience for a budget price. The Classic 500 is no different, it is the cheapest bike I have included, starting at £4,899 and available in a range of different finishes that all look fantastic.
I said the Classic 500 was a stripped-down model and I wasn't joking - there isn't even a fuel gauge on this bike but the latest 2020 models do have ABS. The lack of modern features can actually be a selling point for some people, all the vibrations and character of a true classic motorcycle are in full effect here.
The engine is a 499cc single with just 27.2 bhp maximum power so this is another very accessible bike that is A2 friendly. It can handle your commutes and cruise steadily but don't expect high performance. But then that isn't what the classic is about. It's about cruising in style and enjoying the motorcycle experience and if you are on a tight budget, this could be a great choice if you can find one for sale still - it's not in production anymore!
|Engine type||Single-cylinder, 4-stroke, twin-spark|
|Power||27.2 bhp @ 5250 rpm|
|Price (starting from)||£4,899|
The cruiser category really is stacked right now, there are so many other great bikes that could have been included in this list, why not let us know on social media what some of your favourites are?
If you are looking for insurance on a custom or cruiser motorcycle remember to get a quote directly from Lexham for the best possible prices.
If you want a lower capacity list, have a look at the Top 10 125cc Custom Motorcycles list.
After some insurance? Click here to start a quote.