Already? Seems like we were just basking in the glow of a balmy Indian summer and a great late riding season, and now, zing... the holidays are upon us. I’m reminded by the loud thunk of our annual Buyer’s Guide in my inbox—it’s a hefty chunk of a project that somehow manages to shove its way into every part of a magazine guy’s day. It’s all good though, because if nothing else, it serves as a barometer of the industry’s health. The 2013 edition of the Motorcycle Cruiser Buyer’s Guide doesn’t quite break the 100-model listing mark, but it comes pretty close and if you ask me, that’s a good reflection on the current state of the motorcycle market.
Some recent data I’ve seen backs that up; Harley stated in its First Quarter 2012 Earnings report that sales of new bikes worldwide for Q1 were up over 20 percent compared to the same period last year, and Victory touted numbers closer to a jump of 40 percent for their 2012 Quarter 1. Impressive stuff.
But while most indications are that the industry’s slide bottomed out last year, many cruiser manufacturers are playing it safe, stocking lineups mostly with carryover models and meting out just a few new bike debuts. Harley’s sole new model is the CVO Softail Breakout; understandably, the Motor Company seems to be more focused on its big 110th Anniversary in 2013. Victory added several early-releases for 2013, the Judge and the Boardwalk, along with the usual complement of Ness Series bikes. Star is making hay about its newest model, the V Star 1300 Deluxe, which looks to find a slot in the middleweight bagger niche. Meanwhile, Moto Guzzi announced a big California 1400 cruiser several months back, but we haven’t heard a peep from them since. Indian Motorcycle has also gone through the motions for 2013 with the Vintage Limited Edition, a blinged-up Chief that’ll fill the slot while new Polaris-designed models are being prepped for next year.
Other manufacturers have chosen to make do, which in some cases means bringing back previously omitted models. Suzuki has done just that with the C50—the base model that missed 2012 so the tarted-up C50T Classic could appear (it isn’t in the lineup for 2013). Suzuki has also brought back the middle-heavyweight M90 power cruiser, missing for a couple of years now.
Newcomers to the Guide this year include Russian sidecar maker Ural, which, like Royal Enfield, is making remarkable inroads into the U.S. market by trading on ages-old technology. We feature its two-wheel Solo model here.
Otherwise, the Guide’s structure is the same-old same-old, with manufacturers listed alphabetically and models following in order of price. Our listing contains companies that design proprietary motors, and we mention whether there was a price increase or decrease to carryover models. There’s also a big Specifications chart at the end with data for each model, as well as contact info for the manufacturers. So kick back and settle in with our annual guide to the cruiser world. It’s gonna be a good year.
DUCATI Diavel /Dark /Carbon
If the Diavel is indeed a cruiser, it wouldn’t be the first to be badged as such by Bologna (the 650cc Indiana debuted in 1986). But the Diavel is far more evolved, sporting ABS, Traction Control, and a retuned version of the 1198cc Testastretta mill that pumps out a claimed 162 hp—all this while rocking a 30.3 inch seat height, and weighing less than a Sportster. The devilish machine comes in several packages: The Dark is blacked-out, the Cromo adds shiny stuff, and the Carbon brings textured carbon weave componentry.
Harley-Davidson CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide
For all you dedicated—and well-heeled—long-distance fans, the CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide represents the finest expression of the Electra Glide ethos. This one ticks all the boxes, starting with a Twin Cam 110 Screamin’ Eagle powertrain in a Touring platform, plus voluminous storage space. Then add the bling: a zumo 660 GPS, dual-control heated seat, Harmon/Kardon Advanced Audio System with BOOM Bagger speakers plus Sirius/XM radio and 8-gig iPod nano, ABS, and lots more. For 2013 there are four exclusive paint schemes, including a 110th Anniversary edition in Diamond/Dust/Obsidian with Palladium graphics.
Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Custom
The new year will see a heavily revised CVO Road Glide Custom. Leading the way on the shark-nose fairing is Harley’s Daymaker LED headlight; the Custom is the first production Harley with it. For road tunes, the Harmon/Kardon Advanced Audio System gets a second 200-watt amplifier, an extra pair of speakers (for a total of six) and an iPod nano in the right-side saddlebag. And the brawny, rowdy, 110-cubic-inch Twin Cam 110 now features a slipper clutch. Also new are three fresh paint schemes, including a 110th Anniversary model.
Harley-Davidson CVO Road King
Take almost everything lust-worthy about the Road King, crank it up to 11, and you get the CVO Road King, the newest, coolest ’King on the block. Want more power? The CVO-standard Twin Cam 110 V-twin now comes with a slipper clutch. Road tunes? This is the first ’King with a factory-installed audio system, boasting four speaks, a 200-watt amplifier and an 8-gig iPod nano. More comfort? Experience the detachable Vented Wind Splitter screen with adjustable vane to direct airflow, plus a new solo touring saddle with removable passenger pad and backrest. In three new color options, including a 110th Anniversary edition.
Harley-Davidson CVO Breakout
Harley says its new-for-2013 CVO Breakout is “muscle in motion,” and you wouldn’t want to argue with anything this bad-ass. H-D started with a basic Softail chassis, then added a Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110B (with a slipper clutch), bolted on a wide, raked-out fork with a 21-inch front wheel, chopped the fenders, then went hog wild on the finishes. There’s a choice of three: Black Diamond and Molten Silver with Crushed Slate, Hard Candy Gold Dust and Liquid Sun with Pagan Gold, and Crimson Red Sunglo and Scarlet Lace with Hammered Sterling. All three require extensive hand work, making each bike unique.
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited
Life’s full of tough choices, and if the Ultra Classic Electra Glide just doesn’t have enough of the right touring stuff, then simply step up to the Electra Glide Ultra Limited. To create the Limited, Harley kept the foundation: single-spar Touring frame, rubber-mounted Twin Cam 103 mill, familiar Bat-wing fairing, ample cargo space, Harmon/Kardon audio system and so on. Sweeteners include ABS, Smart Security System, heated grips, Tour-Pak luggage rack and more. And if that still isn’t sufficient, for 2013 you can get the Limited in a 110th Anniversary Edition, with special paint and solid bronze trim.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra
Harley starts with its Road Glide Custom, excises a touch of attitude, adds a full-size windscreen to the frame-mounted shark-nose fairing, a King Tour-Pak trunk with passenger backrest and wraparound armrests, vented lowers with storage compartments, an 80-watt Harmon/Kardon Advanced Audio System, and a variety of mechanical bits to come up with what it rightfully calls the “tourer’s touring bike.” Additional standard features such as ABS and H-D’s Smart Security System grace the Touring platform, powered by a blacked-out Twin Cam 103 V-twin with 6-speed Cruise Drive gearbox. For 2013 this tourer’s touring bike gets new paint options.
Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide
Harley’s Ultra Classic Electra Glide has long seemed perfectly configured for long-distance touring in the American idiom. A big-inch V-twin—in this case a rubber-mounted Twin Cam 103 with 6-speed Cruise Drive—lets you lope along interstates and blue highways with equal ease, while the Touring platform, with air-adjustable rear shocks, keep you comfy and composed. The fork-mounted Bat-wing fairing, vented lowers with glove boxes, sculpted seat with passenger backrest, plus ample luggage space further attend to comfort and if you’re traveling two-up, harmony.
Harley-Davidson Road King Classic $19,899–$20,659
Subtle but meaningful style and trim touches—with a nod to nostalgia—transform the standard Road King into the Road King Classic. You’ll find leather-wrapped saddlebags, tooled metal detailing on the fender, tank, seat and bags, plus chrome laced wheels with wide whitewall tires. Supporting it all is Harley’s Touring platform with a rubber-mounted and black-powder-coated Twin Cam 103 V-twin with 6-speed Cruise Drive. Electronic cruise control is standard, while ABS and H-D’s Smart Security are available options, and you get new color choices for 2013.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom
With the Road Glide Custom, it’s OK if you’re not packing enough attitude, because this motorcycle has enough for you both. This “bagger with swagger” starts with that frame-mounted shark nose fairing and shorty wind deflector, carrying on the theme with the bike’s slammed good looks. A Twin Cam 103 provides thrust at the twist of wrist, while Harmon/Kardon’s 40-watt Advanced Audio System with CD/MP3 player can supply the tunes. Air-adjustable rear shocks, 6-gallon tank, injection-molded bags and Streamliner footboards, brake pedal and passenger pegs complete the picture.
Harley-Davidson Street Glide
Take your basic Road King, swap out the windshield for a fork-mounted Bat-wing fairing with smoked wind deflector, add Harmon/Kardon’s Advanced Audio System, strip off the superfluous chrome, et voilá: You’ve just created the Street Glide. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but the basics are the same, with a rubber-mounted Twin Cam 103 V-twin at the heart of H-D’s Touring platform, air-adjustable shocks, 6-gallon tank, Brembo brake calipers, hard bags and full rider floorboards, to name a few. There are new paint options this year, and you can still get the Security package with ABS.
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic
Within the stable of Harley-Davidson’s touring models, the prices and long-haul amenities continue to ascend at a commensurate pace. So it is with the Electra Glide Classic. At this level, the clear additions are a Tour Pak trunk and a passenger backrest. They provide extra luggage space and comfort, crucial items for anyone who travels two-up. Basics are covered in the Touring platform, Twin Cam 103 engine, air-adjustable shocks, hard bags, Harmon/Kardon Advanced Audio System and a host of other details. Electronic cruise control is optional.
Harley-Davidson Road King
The Road King evokes a time when travel wasn’t about sheer speed, when it was accompanied by a certain flair. It does so stylistically by channeling the 1965 Electra Glide to a T, from the front of its deep, wide FL front fender to the tips of the chrome exhausts; likewise with the booming torque of the Twin Cam 103 V-twin, injection-molded bags and detachable windshield. Other touring accoutrements include air-adjustable rear suspension and spacious floorboards for both rider and passenger. For 2013 the Road King is also available in 110th Anniversary Edition trim with vintage paint, bronze medallions, and a Security package with ABS.
Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic
In the Heritage Softail Classic, Harley-Davidson continues to mine its history and nostalgia with relentless efficiency and clarity. This time the period is from the 1940s, illustrated in the overall look and highlighted in the chrome-studded leather saddlebags. And while the engine and chassis mimic the looks of classic Harleys, the rigidly-mounted and counterbalanced Twin Cam 103B engine in the hardtail-look Softail frame bring the Classic into modern times. For 2013, H-D digs a little deeper with a 110th Anniversary Edition, featuring special paint and badges, plus a Security package with ABS and H-D’s Security system.
Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe
Harley touts its Softail Deluxe as “one of the most confidence inspiring Big Twins.” No doubt that stems from a basement-level saddle height (only the Slim and Breakout CVO are fractionally lower), plus broad, smoothly flowing power from the solid-mount, counterbalanced Twin Cam 103B engine, combined with the predictable handling and ocean-liner stability of the Softail chassis. Style accents that ease of riding, in the form of fat whitewalls on chromed, laced rims, full fenders, front light bar, tombstone taillight and shotgun exhaust. New color options—including Hard Candy Lucky Green Flake—are the only updates this year.