– Ben Martens

Cruiser vs. Crotch Rocket

There have been a lot of conversations directed at me lately implying that my choice of motorcycle was ridiculous. This comes mostly from pure sport bike riders claiming that my bike is “slow.” However, a couple of the questions have been honest questions from new riders so I’ll give a little spiel about why I love my bike in hopes that it will help some of you decide what you want to buy.

There are two basic styles of motorcycles for the road: cruisers and sport bikes. On a cruiser you sit straight up with your legs out in front. Think of a Harley. On a sport bike the handlebars are very low requiring you to lean forward and tuck your legs up under you. This is what you see people racing on TV.

Cruisers are great for long rides. They’re very comfortable and while you’ll get sore, you could put in a 500 mile day and still be able to move the next day. Sport bikes are built for speed and they can be quite a bit faster than cruisers. Generally, the faster your sport bike is, the shorter the distance you can ride before you turn into a giant cramp. You might think twice about 100 miles on a sport bike, but you’ll experience more thrills in those 100 miles than you would on a cruiser.

Now of course I’m generalizing and it all depends on the specific bike. MattM has a bike that would fall in the sport bike category but he puts in way more miles than I ever have on any of my bikes. But in general, I think the above paragraph holds up.

My bike, a 2009 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS, falls into a tiny category called “sport touring.” Actually Kawasaki calls it “super sport touring” to reflect it’s race bred ancestors. It’s more of a niche market but it attempts to combine the performance of a sport bike with the comfort of a cruiser. Of course you can’t get the best of both worlds, but this bike comes pretty close. It has gobs more speed than you can ever pretend to use on a street (0-100mph in 4.7seconds?!?), but the seating position is much more upright giving you the ability to ride a lot farther each day.

It’s probably not a great category for your first bike since these bikes tend to be pretty heavy and they have huge engines that can get you in a lot of trouble. But if you like taking overnight trips but you want a little pep in your step, it’s a great style!

What’s next for me? Of course I dream about that a lot. I think I’ll have this for many years down the road, but when it does come time to sell it, I think I’d strongly consider going full “old man” bike. After I’ve hit 300-400 miles in a day, I really envy those guys on Goldwings with arm and backrests!