2017 American Iron Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide: Cruisers
There’s nothing like having an American V-Twin thundering beneath you, from the bolts of torque it unleashes from the first crack of the throttle to the raw vibrations in the bars and saddle. It’s a sensation that’s often imitated but never duplicated. This style of cruiser motorcycle is at the crux of the Harley, Indian and Victory brands, bikes with big power and big style, everyday riders and bar hoppers. With that in mind, let’s take a peek at the 2017 American cruiser motorcycle market.
Between its Softail and Dyna models, Harley-Davidson easily leads the segment in terms of having the most horses in the stable. Last year Harley threw its High Output Twin Cam 103 in all Softails and Dynas except the Street Bob, along with introducing the Softail Slim S and Fat Boy S with the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110. While the return of both “S” models in 2017 is good news from the Harley camp, overall it’s a quieter year for The Motor Company. This rings true across the board as there’s only returning models from all three American manufacturers as no all-new cruiser motorcycles hit the market.
Harley Dynas are a hot commodity, the FX chassis a favorite for those who ride hard. With its mini-apes, bobbed back fender and solo seat, the 2017 Street Bob sports a chopper-like vibe. The front is tall and skinny, its rear is slammed, and the fork lowers, triple clamps and engine covers have all received the blacked-out treatment. At $13, 849 it’s the most affordable Dyna in the bunch and a great bike to get your “Easy Rider” on with.
Harley introduced its Low Rider in 1977 and the model continues to find a soft spot in Harley enthusiasts’ hearts. The 2017 Low Rider keeps the rider’s triangle compact with mid-mount controls and an adjustable seat and handlebars. The handlebar riser can be moved forward or backward 2.4 inches and the seat design allows for 1.5 inches of adjustability. Traditional styling and plenty of chrome trim help the latest Low Rider maintain its longstanding status as a fan favorite.
With club-styling straight from the factory, the 2017 Low Rider S ups the attitude ante with a host of performance upgrades including the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine, forward-facing heavy breather intake, and upgraded suspension thanks to a cartridge fork and emulsion-type rear shocks. American Iron Garage Editor Tyler Greenblatt said “There’s fast, then there’s 110” Screamin’ Eagle Dyna fast” in his first ride review of the Low Rider S. With a bikini fairing, slotted heat shields, burly pipes, and denim gold rims against a primarily black bike, the Low Rider S has the rugged good looks to match its boosted performance.
The 2017 Fat Bob is no slouch in the attitude department either thanks to meaty tires front and back, dual bullet headlamps, and Tommy Gun exhaust. The Fat Bob rolls on disc wheels from machined aluminum and benefits from dual front discs. A custom LED tail light, drag bars, and coil-over shock housings give the Fat Bob its own signature look amongst Dynas.
The 2017 Wide Glide also has its own unique identity thanks to its wide, raked-out fork, 21-inch laced wheel and wire sissy bar. The Wide Glide runs a single rotor on the front and has the fists in the wind riding position courtesy of drag-style bars and forward controls. Internal wiring keeps the bars nice and tidy. Chrome bits and top-notch paint, especially with the nostalgic flame job on the tank, provide the Wide Glide flair.
Harley’s Softail motorcycles are prized for having an old school, hardtail look without the rigid ride thanks to its hidden rear shocks. Last year, cruise control and ABS became standard on all Softails.
For 2017, the Softail Slim comes in two versions, the base model equipped with the High Output Twin Cam 103B engine and the “S” version running the Screamin’ Eagle Air-Cooled Twin Cam 110B V-twin. The 2017 Softail Slim is distinguished by vintage Hollywood bars perched atop a stout fork. With the signature Softail horseshoe oil tank and cat eye console, the Softail Slim has textbook American cruiser styling. The 2017 Softail Slim S punches a little harder thanks to its Twin Cam 110B and Stage 1 High Flow intake. It looks the part of brawler thanks to a black triple clamp and riser, gloss black headlamp ring, black fork slider covers, fork lowers, mirrors, and over/under shotgun exhaust with slash cut mufflers. The added punch comes at an added price. At $18,999, the 2017 Softail Slim S costs $3900 more than the $15,099 Softail Slim.
Similar to the Softail Slim, the 2017 Fat Boy also comes in two versions, the first with the High Output Twin Cam 103B engine and the second with the Screamin’ Eagle Air-Cooled Twin Cam 110B. Solid disc wheels and thick forks are standard fare on both, as are wide handlebars and a 200mm rear. The 2017 Fat Boy S gets the bigger engine and performance intake along with the blacked-out treatment. The list includes frame, wheels, fenders, a gloss black front console, brake levers, hydraulic clutch assemblies, handlebar, handlebar riser, triple clamp, headlamp trim ring- even the axle nut covers are black. For paint, there’s two choices: Vivid black and Denim black. At $20,199, the 2017 Fat Boy S is the spendiest of the 2017 Softails.
The 2017 Breakout sits low and stretched. Add drag bars, 21-spoke Turbine wheels, and staggered, straight cut pipes to the equation and you’ve got the raciest-looking Softail of the bunch. The Breakout rolls 21 inches tall up front and 240mm wide out back with a High Output Twin Cam 103B slung in between. The Harley Breakout has a more custom look than other standard Softails.
Meanwhile, the 2017 CVO Pro Street Breakout does look like a custom bike direct from the factory floor. This thing will straight up boogie thanks to its Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110B engine and heavy breather intake. A hydraulic “Assist & Slip” clutch facilitates smooth launches. The CVO Pro Street Breakout’s performance is further boosted by an inverted fork and dual discs on the front. With Aggressor wheels, a club fairing, chin spoiler, top-shelf paint and a gold race stripe, it’s one mean-looking machine.
Indian powers into the cruiser segment with a twin bill of Indian Chiefs, the classy 2017 Chief Classic and its alter ego, the 2017 Indian Chief Dark Horse. Powering both is a pearl of an engine, Indian’s 1811cc Thunder Stroke 111 that easily pumps out in excess of 100 ft-lbs. of torque. The 2017 Indian Chiefs are an attractive combination of classic and contemporary. Plenty of the company’s heritage is evident, from the motorcycle’s big valanced fenders to the illuminated headdress on the front fender to the graphics on the tank. Make no mistake, though, these are modern machines with ABS, cruise control, and keyless ignitions. The stout frame is made of cast aluminum with an airbox integrated into the design. A big powerful bike like this needs big brakes so Indian equipped them with dual 300mm floating rotors on the front. The 2017 Chief Classic exudes class thanks to a bounty of shiny chrome, from the engine and exhaust to the fork and bars. Premium paint is icing on the cake, the Chief Classic striking in either its Pearl White or Burgundy Metallic over Thunder Black colorways. For the 2017 Indian Chief Dark Horse, it’s all about the black. There’s a hint of silver in the machined cylinder heads, fender trim and pipes, but beyond that everything on the bike has been blacked-out. At $17,499, the Chief Dark Horse is a grand cheaper than its dolled-up sibling.
Victory takes a four-pronged approach to the 2017 American cruiser market, all powered by the tried-and-true Freedom 106 V-twin. In the same manner as its competitors, Victory offers its 2017 Vegas in a traditional and blacked-out form. The standard Vegas sports a striking wheel up front in the form of the industrial 21 inch Falchion. The frame is color-matched to the Sunset Red paint job, the vibrant color offset by a powertrain, bars and fork clamps all in black. The spined tank continues to be one of its strong style points while its headlight has a new, more streamlined design. With a low 25 inch seat height, the 2017 Vegas is suitable for a wide variety of riders. On the flip side, the 2017 Vegas 8-Ball is dark as night, the contrast cut of the Falchion wheels, fork legs, and speedo housing the only shiny bits on the bike. At 25.2 inches, its seat height is a tad higher than the 2017 Vegas. With an MSRP of $12,999, the Vegas 8-Ball is the most affordable of the Victory cruisers.
The 2017 High-Ball exudes more attitude thanks to a 12 inch mini-apehanger handlebar and chunky tires on 16 inch spoke wheels. Matte paint replaces the gloss of the Vegas. A grunty 1731cc engine with plenty of low end torque suits this motorcycle perfectly. The High-Ball with the Suede Nuclear Sunset Orange paint is matched to whitewall tires while the Suede Black version is mated to straight black rubber. Even with the high bars, the High-Ball will surprise you with its willingness in turns.
The final offering in the Victory stable is the 2017 Gunner. The fact that Victory competes in the NHRA with a Gunner drag bike is a good clue as to the company’s intentions with this bike. With bobbed fenders, 24-spoke cast aluminum wheels, 16 inch wheels all the way around, and pullback handlebars, the Gunner is a real runner. Muscular Dunlop 491 Elite tires are ready to be roasted on this bike. Price point is definitely one of Victory cruisers’ strong point, the 2017 Gunner starting at $13,499 with the Suede Titanium Metallic paint.American Iron Magazine issue # 345 on news stands now! To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com. Follow American Iron Magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here. To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.