Best Cruisers of 1998: Reader's Choice

The voice of the people...

readers choice
The readers of 1998 have spoken. Here are their choices for everything cruiser-related.Fran Kuhn

This article was originally published in the December 1998 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

In this, the second year of the Motorcycle Cruiser Reader’s Choice Awards, we once again asked you—our loyal readers—to vote on all things cruiserish. Plenty of you faxed, e-mailed and posted your ballots, and we thank you. Your choices for the winners are:

Best New-for-1998 Cruiser

Kawasaki Nomad
Although the Kawasaki Nomad is a '99 model released in early '98, the public's enthusiastic response made the Nomad a clear winner both at the ballot box and on the street. And what are people doing with these bikes? Riding! A Nomad was spotted at the Hoot with almost 10,000 miles on the clock—in June! The Intruder LC and V-Star Classic were second and third, respectively.

Most Desirable Cruiser Under 650cc

Honda Shadow VLX
Honda's Shadow VLX beat the V-Star in the competition for best middleweight cruiser, but the V-Star had its revenge….

Most Desirable Cruiser 650–899cc

Yamaha V-Star
While some might say the V-Star doesn't belong in this category since it actually displaces 649cc, we chose not to negate the V-Star's landslide victory on a technicality. Of the Stars' combined votes, the Classic garnered the most responses. Second-place honors go to the Kawasaki Vulcan 800s, which outpaced their closest competition by a good margin.

Most Desirable Cruiser Over 1200cc

Kawasaki Nomad
In the most hotly contested category of the Reader's Choice Awards, the Nomad nosed out some admirable competition. Rounding out the top four places were the Valkyrie, the Vulcan 1500 Classic, and the Harley Fat Boy, respectively. Since only a handful of votes separated the top four positions, cruisers obviously have a wealth of choices when choosing a flagship cruiser.

Most Desirable Cruiser 900–1199cc

Honda Shadow Aero
The first Honda ever sold with floorboards cleaned up in the category that its sibling, the Spirit, won last year. While having a Shadow win the class in which Honda sells four models wasn't a surprise, the way the Aero dominated the voting impressed us. But there's a lot to like stretched between the shapely headlight and the oh-so-long exhaust canister.

Best Value in a Cruiser

Yamaha V-Star
Despite the best efforts of the fans of last year's winner, the Virago 1100 (which tallied a close second), the V-Star love-fest continued. Even though a larger variety of bikes received votes here than in any other category, we suspect the elusive combination of style, fit, and finish for a surprisingly low price won the voting public over to the V-Star camp. The always potent 1400 Intruder also made a strong showing.

Best Model Line

Honda Shadows
For the second year in a row, the Shadow line won the hearts of our readers. With no less than six Shadow models currently in showrooms, Honda has struck a chord with the cruiser market.

Best Manufacturer

Riding the crest of the Star line wave (which ranked second behind the Shadow line) and the quality of the bikes in it, while picking up votes for the utilitarian function of the Viragos, Yamaha claims the best manu­facturer laurels for 1998.

Favorite Engine

Configuration: Liquid-cooled V-twin
V-twins eclipsed all other configurations, although V-fours obviously have their admirers. Liquid-cooling was preferred by our readers by more than a two-to-one margin.

Best Billet Line

Cobra continues to dominate this category both through the sheer number of accessories the company sells and its excellent quality and style. Jardine also gave a strong showing.

Best Leather/Synthetic Leather Motorcycle Accessory Line

In the surprise upset of the awards, LeatherLyke's clever locking, ABS saddlebags outpaced favorite manu­facturers of traditional leather saddlebags—such as Heritage, Dowco's Iron Horse, and Willie & Max.

Best Exhaust System

Vance & Hines
Retaining its crown for another year, Vance & Hines stayed on top while the rankings shuffled below. Cobra and Jardine were in an almost dead heat for second and third, respectively.

Best Event/Rally

Daytona Bike Week
Every spring Daytona ushers in another riding season with a gathering of the tribes for Bike Week. Daytona also took second place, ahead of Sturgis, with Biketoberfest (which hadn't taken place for '98 when this was tallied).