Triumph, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Honda Cruiser in the test


Triumph, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Honda Cruiser in the test

Chopper from Triumph, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Honda put to the test

Comparative test of mid-range cruisers up to 9,000 euros

In the cruiser field, the middle class is very popular. Understandable, because even for less than 9000 euros, you can chill like a master. New: the Harley Sportster 883 L SuperLow and the revised Triumph Speedmaster.

When the pointer on the scales is fairly high, the performance values ​​on the ergometer level down low, the reflection in the mirror is dominated by the contours of the broad hips instead of defined shoulders, but everyone still puts their thumbs up and says in admiration, “You look great “Then only bold daydreams or fake buddies can be the cause. Or you are reborn as a cruiser.

Because in the world of the soft and beautiful, different standards apply. Even if it is, say, a baby cruiser. Because while around 900 cc is enough in real life to break lap records, this cubic capacity is considered a child’s portion in the cruiser profession, which is dominated by 1500 to 1800 engines. Also in terms of price. With a maximum of 9,000 euros, the tariffs remain within a financially justifiable framework. For their larger-displacement sisters at least 4000 euros more hike over the counter.

At first glance, the quartet hardly shows any of this. Opulent and massive, the four puddle comfortably along the country road. How right Karl Marx was then with his thesis: Being determines consciousness. As soon as your bottom has got used to the deep seat, your arms to the protruding handlebars and your upper body to the slightly reclined position, your mind switches to relaxation mode.

In this contemplative environment, the demands on the technology are quickly put into perspective. There is certainly no need for hectic model changes. Hardly anyone cares that the Honda Shadow, apart from one injection, has remained almost unchanged since 2004. It is more likely that the mighty VN 900 Custom from Kawasaki – the only innovation – has been wrapped in matt black from the handlebars to the rear wheel rim instead of glossy this year.

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Triumph, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Honda Cruiser in the test

Chopper from Triumph, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Honda put to the test
Comparative test of mid-range cruisers up to 9,000 euros

Speedmaster elaborately: 19 instead of 18-inch front wheel, to which now only one instead of two brake discs is screwed, a four instead of 3.5-inch wide rear wheel rim and a seat height reduced by three centimeters thanks to a thinner seat cushion, distinguish the current Briton from hers Previous model.

It is well known that Harley-Davidson is not petty when it comes to expanding its own range of products. Based on the 883 Sportster, the Americans created a new model from their gigantic parts kit with a lower seat, modified handlebars, a 17-liter tank and optically revised wheels: the XL 883 L SuperLow. Irony of naming. It sits deepest not on Harley’s newly appointed flat iron, but on the Honda. The shadow pilot glides over the asphalt just 66 centimeters above the ground. Three centimeters lower than the assembled competition.

Now put aside the tape measure and wallet. The smell of the freshly hacked grain fields hangs over the area, spreading a little melancholy despite the bull heat. When the harvest is in, summer ends, the old farmers know from experience. Hopefully they are not right. Therefore: carpe tempora, use the time.


Harley Sportster 883 L Superlow, Kawasaki VN 900 Custom, Honda Shadow 750 C and Triumph Speedmaster.

The Honda leads the small cruiser caravan. Coincidence or Self-Image? Whether the wide fenders, the tank, the headlights, the covers on the fork and strut, the spoked wheels, the covers of the engine and air filter housings or even the smallest detail, the change from shiny black, chrome or polished aluminum parts gives the Shadow an elegant look Noblesse. Which also seems to be reflected in its handlebar shape. Strongly cranked and pulled down, the steering antlers stretch deep in front of the driver. As if it wanted to be guided with delicate fingers and not misused as a handrail against the wind. A reluctance in which the 750 V2 engine involuntarily cooperates. With 44 HP peak power and restrained revving (maximum speed: 6200 / min), the three-valve engine moderates itself excessively compared to its not too lavishly motorized colleagues. Perhaps this should – with all due respect – only underline the homogeneity of the overall concept. Because when it comes to suspension, too, the Shadow had its limits early on. The buttery-soft fork and the underdamped spring struts quickly reach their limits, only please if you take a decidedly leisurely pace. Only in this case is it possible to reside comfortably on the Honda, does the driver also find the opportunity to look forward to two unique selling points. Firstly the only ABS in this quartet and secondly the perhaps less stylish, but low-maintenance cardan drive.

Harley-Davidson has never had a hard time meeting the taste of the target group. Not even with the 883. Even the way the 45-degree V2 pulsates while standing, clearly tugging at its rubber mounts, is a real experience. This increases even more when the long-stroke engine suddenly puts a comfortably low-frequency vibration carpet over the vehicle just above idle speed instead of the expected shaking. It is not a coincidence. Running culture and sound have been explicitly defined goals in model development in Milwaukee for years. Accurate styling too. Especially since Harley of all people avoids the pompous cruiser look here.

Little things like the milled rim flanges of the cast wheels are nicely done, the look of which can be found on the belt pulley on the rear wheel. The hand-drawn decorative lines on the tank also testify to the attention to detail. The only thing that the Americans couldn’t hold back was the engine: the cast iron look of the light metal cylinders and the engine housing comes from the powder paint spray gun. After all, deceptively really successful. Without cruiser regalia, you won’t be surprised at the seating position on the SuperLow. The footpegs attached quite far back may initially irritate, after a few kilometers you even begin to appreciate their position. Because it allows you to sit actively on the Harley. Because with the narrowest wheelbase, the steepest steering head angle and the shortest caster of all test machines, the US bike deliberately differs from the somewhat lethargic cruiser community – if the Yankees had not also referred to the model name SuperLow as the freedom from lean angles. Not least because of the extremely short spring travel of 54 millimeters at the rear, the nipples of the footpegs scrape loudly over the asphalt even at the slightest inclination and the rear of each pothole passes on to the pilot almost unfiltered. It’s a shame, because the overall package has potential for more. The engine feels good in every situation, the brakes decelerate properly, the handling is successful – not to mention the cult factor of a Harley.


Harley Sportster 883 L Superlow.

Triumph doesn’t need that. Especially when it comes to the objectively assessable criteria of the engine, the Briton sits in the executive chair. With 58 hp, the air-cooled unit of the Speedmaster is the most powerful, accelerates the fastest, purrs the softest through the speed range and hardly vibrates. It was precisely with these qualities that Triumph won two years ago in the last mid-range cruiser comparison test by MOTORRAD (issue 13/2009). But even then it was said: The facts speak for the British twin – but the emotions do not. At least cruiser purists will still slide on the smoothly polished character of the two-cylinder. The full blow in the lower speed range, the pleasant tingling sensation when the accelerator is opened or even just the bassy V2 sound, the same-runner can hardly offer any of this. Too much subjectivity? No. Because as if reason had not yet been sufficiently satisfied, the Speedmaster was also slowed down during the model revision. Instead of the previous 172 km / h top speed, the Triumph is now only allowed to run at a top speed of 152 km / h with speed-limited fourth and fifth gear. If this topic is ultimately of subordinate importance in a cruiser, circumcision is always surprising. On top of that, it costs a few meters in the MOTORRAD 1000 point evaluation. There is also a deduction for the fact that the new single brake disc at the front can still be metered excellently, but the pilot has to use a little more manual force. Ultimately, the padded seat also contributes to the lack of comfort in the rear. Of course, whining at a high level. Or even on the wrong floor? Because the appearance of the Speedmaster does not always fit into the baroque cruiser look. Whether the only chain drive in the test field, the clearly visible steel flex lines to the oil cooler, the unadorned box swing arm or even the injection system with a constant pressure carburetor look: the details reveal that the guys from Hinckley also understand technology as a stylistic device.

Nevertheless: As long as you are thematically in the cliche of a cruiser, there is hardly a way around the Kawasaki. It is a truly powerful motorcycle. At 280 kilograms, it is by far the heaviest of the four. And yet it is consistent in its monstrosity. Because everything about the VN 900 is big, massive, self-confident. The rigid frame look alone is exceptionally successful. Only at a third glance can the strut hidden behind the side panels be discovered. Or the tank: the mounted instrument console also puts it in the limelight as if it had not already turned out to be huge with its 20 liters content. Or the handlebar: with two very long, bolt-upright and firmly welded risers, it holds the front with a firm grip. Or the belt pulley: one could assume that the 20 kilogram difference between the VN 900 and the competition is due solely to this cast part. Matching it: the massive 15-inch disc wheel.

And the 903 cc engine also behaves appropriately, throwing itself neatly in the chest with its barely significant displacement advantage (Harley: 883 cc, Honda: 745 cc, Triumph: 865 cc). The lovingly ribbed, yet water-cooled propellant delivers the full blow from the lower engine speed expected by choppers, shining up to 4500 rpm with a powerful torque. The fact that it flattens out shortly afterwards and produces just 48 hp from a displacement of just under one liter is forgiven against this background. Because no engine in this mid-range cruiser conveys that big bike feeling better than this 55-degree V2.

The Kawasaki engineers were also right with the largest front wheel of the test squad, a 21-inch cast rim. The narrow tire allows the VN to turn effortlessly in spite of its abundant dimensions, it then keeps its lane cleanly and, despite its narrow-soled dimensions (80/90 21), still offers acceptable grip even when braking. One begins to understand why the VN 900 has long since become one of the best-selling mid-range cruisers in Germany. Above all, it proves that cruising in proper style is not necessarily a question of displacement. The manufacturers manage to clearly define the characters of the engines for mid-range cruisers and build coherent motorcycle concepts around them. Restrained and noble the Honda, lively the Triumph, stylish the Harley and sovereign the Kawasaki. One of the most important findings of this comparison test is that the front of this cruiser, which at first glance appears to be so uniform, ultimately offers this nuanced variety on closer inspection.

However, also that the critical braking behavior caused by the unfavorable weight distribution (example Harley SuperLow with driver standing: 58 percent at the rear, 42 percent at the front) seems to be taken seriously by only one manufacturer in the test field. Only Honda offers an ABS. This should give a reason to think. Because the proportion of moderately experienced or occasional riders is particularly high on these affordable and low-profile bikes.

MOTORCYCLE scoring / test result


With its pronounced torque in the first third of the speed, the Kawasaki hits the nerve of the cruiser faction. The Triumph holds against it with unvarnished performance. However, the British woman does not release her 58 hp as impulsively and appropriately as the Kawa, but it is easy to use with low vibrations. It is actually true that the Harley of all things is the fastest in the test field with a top speed of 170 km / h – but also that the Triumph is speed limited in fourth and fifth gear. Her top speed: 152 km / h. While the Harley’s gearshift with long distances and rough gear changes is not very convincing, it is noticeable that the Kawasaki the engine rating with a consistently high rating
wins in all criteria.
Winner engine: Kawasaki

landing gear
Handling is the strong point of the harley. Your short wheelbase and the
moderate dimensions make it easy to deal with the American. However: The footrests, which come down extremely early in bends, are impractical even for cruiser conditions. After the engine classification, the Kawasaki also wins the chassis category. Its strong points: the VN 900 has the greatest freedom of lean angle of the four thanks to the footrests positioned far to the front, it is the easiest to turn in due to the narrow 21-inch front wheel and offers the most reserves of suspension. The Triumph is only just beaten with strong feedback and directional stability. The Honda clearly suffers from its suspension elements that are too soft – even if they ensure good comfort at a moderate pace.
Chassis winner: Kawasaki

everyday life
And again it is the Kawasaki that takes the stage win. Moderate consumption and a large 20-liter tank add up to an impressive 455 kilometers of range. Without pronounced strengths, but also without weaknesses, the Honda pushes itself in front of the Triumph with its inconspicuous appearance. While the Kawasaki offers the most comfortable workplace, the seating for the pillion or the pillion is quite uncomfortable on all four. It’s not much more pleasant to sit on the narrow and sloping cruiser ridesharing facilities than on the jump seats of super athletes.
Winner everyday: Kawasaki


ABS – and the case is scratched, one could conclude after the success of the Honda. But the practice is more drastic than what this evaluation suggests. Of all types of motorcycle, cruisers have the most critical blocking behavior on the front wheel. It is therefore completely incomprehensible that three out of four manufacturers forego an ABS. Even after the reduction to a single brake disc, the Triumph brake remains very effective.
Safety winner: Honda

Triumph is the only manufacturer to offer 10,000-kilometer inspection intervals, while Honda and Kawasaki are still at 6,000 intervals. Harley offers new customers a one-year mobility guarantee.
Winner Cost: Harley Davidson

Close race: The relatively small price differences lead to the photo finish in this criterion. The Kawa wins by a hair’s breadth by only a tenth of a note.
Price-performance winner: Kawasaki

Max points Harley Davidson Honda Kawasaki triumph Overall rating 1000 437 453 477 473
placement 4th. 3. 1. 2.
Price-performance note 1.0 4.0 4.0 3.8 3.9

MOTORCYCLE test result

1. Kawasaki VN 900 Custom

Successful rigid frame optics, high-torque engine – Kawa knows what is important. No wonder that the VN 900 has been one of the best-selling cruisers for years.

2. Triumph Speedmaster
Lower top speed, less comfort, slimmed down brakes – that’s enough to lose the boss. Nevertheless: still a good bike.

3. Honda Shadow 750 C
The Honda is easy to drive, has a cardan shaft and ABS. But even a cruiser needs more than common sense. Punch and character, for example.

4. Harley 883 L SuperLow

She doesn’t need a Harley bonus. Just more lean angle and suspension travel. Handling and engine are up to date – the Esprit anyway.

Specifications – Harley Davidson, Honda


Honda Shadow 750 C..

Harley Davidson Engine*
design type Two cylinder four stroke 45 degree V engine
injection  1 x Ø 45 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch
Bore x stroke 76.2 x 96.8 mm
Displacement 883 cm3
compression 9.0: 1
power 39.0 kW (53 PS) at 5900 rpm
Torque 70 Nm at 3750 rpm
Landing gear*
frame Double loop frame made of steel
fork Telescopic fork, Ø 39 mm
Brakes v / h Ø 260 mm / Ø 292 mm
Assistance systems
bikes 3.50 x 18; 4.50 x 17
tires 120/70 ZR 18; 150/60 ZR 17
Tires Michelin Scorcher “11”
Mass and weight*
wheelbase 1500 mm 
Steering head angle 59.0 degrees
trailing 145 mm
Suspension travel v / h 108/54 mm
Seat height ** 695 mm
Weight with full tank ** 259 kg
Payload ** 195 kg
Tank capacity / reserve 17.0 / 3.8 liters
Service intervals  8000 km
price 8295 euros
Price test motorcycle 8775 euros ***
Additional costs around 350 euros
Top speed * 170 km / h
0-100 km / h 6.4 sec
0-140 km / h 12.8 sec
0-200 km / h
Draft 7.2 sec
60-100 km / h 8.8 sec
100-140 km / h 4.3 sec
140-180 km / h 4.9 sec
Consumption highway 4.5 liters of super
Reach country road 378 km

Honda Engine*
design type Two cylinder four stroke 52 degree V engine
injection  2 x Ø 34 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch
Bore x stroke 79.0 x 76.0 mm
Displacement 745 cm3
compression 9.6: 1
power 33.5 kW (46 hp) at 5500 rpm
Torque 64 Nm at 3500 rpm
Landing gear*
frame Double loop frame made of steel
fork Telescopic fork, Ø 41 mm
Brakes v / h Ø 296 mm / Ø 276 mm
Assistance systems Compound brake, ABS
bikes 3.00 x 17; 3.50 x 15
tires 120 / 90-17; 160 / 80-15
Tires Bridgestone G 701 / G 702
Mass and weight*
wheelbase 1640 mm 
Steering head angle 56.0 degrees
trailing 161 mm
Suspension travel v / h 116/90 mm
Seat height ** 660 mm
Weight with full tank ** 261 kg
Payload ** 189 kg
Tank capacity / reserve 14.6 / 3.5 liters
Service intervals  6000 km
price 8790 euros
Price test motorcycle
Additional costs around 170 euros
Top speed * 151 km / h
0-100 km / h 7.8 sec
0-140 km / h 19.9 sec
0-200 km / h
Draft 8.3 sec
60-100 km / h 13.8 sec
100-140 km / h 6.5 sec
140-180 km / h 9.2 sec
Consumption highway 4.2 liters normal
Reach country road 348 km

* Manufacturer information, ** MOTORCYCLE measurements, *** including two-tone paint

Technical data – Kawasaki, Triumph


Triumph Speedmaster.

Kawasaki Engine*
design type Two-cylinder four-stroke 55 degree V engine
injection  2 x Ø 34 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch 
Bore x stroke 88.0 x 74.2 mm
Displacement 903 cm3
compression 9.5: 1
power 37.0 kW (50 PS) at 5700 rpm
Torque 78 Nm at 3700 rpm
Landing gear*
frame Double loop frame made of steel
fork Telescopic fork, Ø 41 mm
Brakes v / h Ø 300 mm / Ø 270 mm
Assistance systems
bikes 2.15 x 21; 4.50 x 15
tires 80 / 90-21; 180 / 70-15
Tires Dunlop D 404 vo. “J”
Mass and weight*
wheelbase 1645 mm 
Steering head angle 57.0 degrees
trailing 182 mm
Suspension travel v / h 150/103 mm
Seat height ** 695 mm
Weight with full tank ** 280 kg
Payload ** 178 kg
Tank capacity / reserve 20.0 / – liters
Service intervals  6000 km
price 8895 euros
Price test motorcycle
Additional costs around 180 euros
Top speed * 154 km / h
0-100 km / h 6.7 sec
0-140 km / h 16.9 sec
0-200 km / h
Draft 6.2 sec
60-100 km / h 10.3 sec
100-140 km / h 4.6 sec
140-180 km / h 5.7 sec
Consumption highway 4.4 liters normal
Reach country road 455 km

design type Two-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine
injection  2 x Ø 37 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch 
Bore x stroke 90.0 x 68.0 mm
Displacement 865 cm3
compression 9.2: 1
power 45.0 kW (61 hp) at 6800 rpm
Torque 74 Nm at 3300 rpm
Landing gear*
frame Double loop frame made of steel
fork Telescopic fork, Ø 41 mm
Brakes v / h Ø 310 mm / Ø 285 mm
Assistance systems
bikes 2.50 x 19; 4.00 x 15
tires 100 / 90R 19; 170 / 80B 15
Tires Metzeler ME 880 marathon
Mass and weight*
wheelbase 1606 mm 
Steering head angle 56.2 degrees
trailing 170 mm
Suspension travel v / h 120/96 mm
Seat height ** 690 mm
Weight with full tank ** 266 kg
Payload ** 184 kg
Tank capacity / reserve 19.3 / – liters
Service intervals  10,000 km
price 8690 euros
Price test motorcycle
Additional costs around 350 euros
Top speed * 152 km / h
0-100 km / h 5.7 sec
0-140 km / h 11.9 sec
0-200 km / h
Draft 6.5 sec
60-100 km / h 9.7 sec
100-140 km / h 5.5 sec
140-180 km / h 10.5 sec
Consumption highway 4.7 liters of super
Reach country road 411 km

* Manufacturer information, ** MOTORCYCLE measurements, *** including two-tone paint

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