Street Cruiser vs. Sport Bike

by CAbiker on March 5, 2009

There are many different types of motorcycles. Touring bikes, choppers, cruisers, sport bikes, standard bikes and dirt bikes. Touring bikes, choppers and dirt bikes are specialty bikes that serve a specific purpose. Standard bikes are kind of a cross between the cruiser and the sport bike. However, standard bike manufacturers have not been able to capture as much of the motorcycle market as they would like. The two most common bikes you will find on the street are cruisers and sport bikes. Both of these styles offer a very different and distinct riding experience. The cruiser is designed for a comfortable ride where you can sit back and enjoy the scenery to the fullest. Cruisers have a soft seat and wide handlebars that reach back toward the rider. Whereas, the sport bike sacrifices a bit of the comfort for a more adrenaline enriched riding experience in which the rider is leaned forward toward a more narrow set of handlebars. This article will examine both the cruiser and the sport bike and how they relate to safety.

Cruiser motorcycles are beautiful machines that are hard to take your eye off of. Much of these bikes are made of iron and steel. They are usually laced with chrome, and feature unique paint schemes. Riders who own cruisers are fond of customizing their bikes with various types of saddlebags, handlebars, mirrors, pegs and especially pipes. Engine sizes for cruisers tend to range widely from 250cc (Honda Night Hawk), all the way up to 2300cc (Triumph Rocket III). The weight of a cruiser also varies, but an average weight would be around 600-800 pounds. The most common types of cruisers on the street are Harley Davidson motorcycles. However, in recent years some of the Japanese companies such as Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha have really begun to take a chunk out of the cruiser sales market.

Sport bikes, more commonly referred to as “crotch rockets,” are also pleasant to look at. They are made of lighter materials like carbon fiber and plastic. Sport bikes tend to be much brighter in color. Cosmetic after-market add on parts are usually things like LED lights, windscreens, frame sliders and license plate mounts. However, most sport bike owners tend to direct their after market purchases toward performance parts. Engine sizes for sport bikes range from 500cc which can be found on many motorcycles up to 1400cc (Kawasaki ZX-14). An average weight for a sport bike is around 350-500 pounds. Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki are the four main manufacturers of sport bikes, but some other top sellers are Buell and Ducati. The reason for sport bikes being so much faster than cruisers is not so much a function of engine size, but rather a much higher compression ratio, thrust to weight ratio, and torque through gearing. Furthermore, sport bikes are known to tolerate a much higher RPM, with a typical redline of 14,000 compared to that of street cruisers, around 6,000 RPM.

By nature, sport bikes are more dangerous motorcycles than cruisers. The temptation to drive recklessly is hard to resist when you are sitting on a machine that will do 80 miles per hour in first gear, and only take a few seconds to get there. In addition to that, the types of individuals who ride sport bikes are wired a bit differently than cruiser riders. Age is probably the easiest way to determine whether a rider owns a cruiser or a sport bike. Cruiser riders tend to be older, and more content to enjoy a nice comfortable ride with the wind in their face. Sport bike riders are usually a younger crowd that feels the need for speed. In addition, many sport bike riders can be found “stunting” their bikes on the streets. Examples of “stunting” are wheelies, stoppies, standing up on the motorcycle and other dangerous maneuvers.

One main reason why deaths via motorcycle are not heavily leaned toward sport bikes is because riders of sport bikes are more prepared for a crash. It is rare to find a rider on a cruiser in a full face helmet, a padded jacket and riding pants. In fact, you can often see cruiser riders wearing sleeveless t-shirts, jeans and no helmet. Sport bike riders usually have a full face helmet and a padded jacket at a minimum. Ideally, cruiser riders would prepare with the same equipment as sport bike riders, and sport bike riders would ride with a little more caution like cruiser riders. After all, wrecking a motorcycle at 100+ miles per hour is not going to end well no matter how much gear you have on.

No matter which type of motorcycle you own, the goal is to have a great time while remaining safe. So to those of you riding street cruisers; put on a helmet!  And to those daring souls out there taking on the challenges and thrills of a Sport bike, take it easy so as not to endanger yourself as well as other driver’s around you.

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