1997 Top Test Bikes

Cruiser editors choose 5 of the top test bikes of 1997

Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 ClassicFran Kuhn

Throughout the nine issues that Motorcycle Cruiser has published, we have tested examples of every cruiser family available at press time. By family, we mean bikes using the same basic engine and chassis. We haven't tested a Sportster 1200, for example, but we have tested a 1200 Sport and Custom. In all, we have tested 37 models, a few twice. We have also ridden an additional half-dozen or so at press intros, dealerships, etc. We listed 52 models in our buyer's guide this year, some of which, like the Virago 535 and 535 Special, are virtually identical.

People frequently ask what the best bike is. The answer is different for every rider, but here are the answers of two people who have ridden enough bikes to at least have an informed opinion. Price was no object, just pure desirability.

Yamaha V-MaxFran Kuhn


  1. Honda Valkyrie Tourer
  2. Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic
  3. Yamaha V-Max
  4. Yamaha Virago 1100
  5. Honda Shadow A.C.E. Tourer


  1. Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic
  2. Honda Valkyrie Tourer
  3. Yamaha V-Max
  4. Honda Shadow A.C.E. Tourer
  5. Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Classic

This article was originally published in the October 1997 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.