2010 Cruiser of the Year

2010 is over--so which bike gets our pick for best of the year?

2010 brought its share of pain to the motorcycle word, but for such a rough economic year, the OEMs managed to bring to market some tantalizing designs. For this year's Cruiser of the Year, we considered only designated 2010 model year bikes, and new models only. There were three bikes that made every editor's short list: The Honda Fury, Triumph Thunderbird and Victory Cross Country.

Cruiser of the Year: 2010 Honda Fury
There may be heated discussions over this choice, but we'll just say it: Honda's Fury is the bike that got everyone buzzing in 2010. Just the fact that a company based on technological innovation would build a sub-$20K, liquid-cooled mass-produced chopper boggles the mind. We've heard jeers from those who say it's not hardcore enough, or questions about why Honda would want to appeal to the Orange County Chopper crowd, but the point is moot: visually and mechanically, this clean-sheet machine works better than anybody had a right to expect.

Highlights include the sculpted fuel tank-a work of art in itself. You'll find no technological marvels in the engine bay but the chassis is fairly radical by factory standards. At 71.24-inches, the wheelbase alone is the longest of any Honda ever produced.

With everyone else still cranking out big-bore V-twins, Honda seems to be focusing on middleweights that defy old categories. The Fury is the standout, and kudos to Honda for having the cojones to crank out an off-the rack, $12,999 chopper-just when everyone thought the mainstream motorcycle industry was going into hibernation mode.

First Runner-Up: 2010 Triumph Thunderbird
Running within a hair's breadth of the Fury is Triumph's new Thunderbird. Versatility is one thing we love to see in new designs, and the T-Bird delivers it in spades. Where the Fury is narrowly focused, the 'Bird is an expansive all-rounder, a breath of fresh air in the stagnant heavyweight cruiser segment. The Triumph isn't avant-garde by any means-it's designed to be a mainstream cruiser-but it is a very well-executed shot at the status quo. For one, it's powered by a dual-overhead cam, 1597cc parallel twin that produces a triple-digit torque reading at just 2750 rpm. Throw in a six-speed transmission, Showa suspension and optional ABS, and that wonderfully neutral handling becomes a big bonus. The $12,499 T-Bird is a winner in whatever category you'd like to slot it in, with an overall competence that's unimpeachable.

Honorable Mention: 2010 Victory Cross Country
The Cross Country is Victory's true push into the mainstream touring market, after 2007's jaw-dropping Vision debut (not mainstream by anyone's definition). The Cross platform is also a fresh new look at a popular category. Underneath the sleek lines, you'll find grunt galore from the 106 cubic-inch V-twin, and a stout, cast aluminum frame that contributes greatly to the Cross Country's excellent road manners and all-around performance.