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Old 17th March 2020, 13:04   #1
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Default Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

I wasn't really looking for a new bike until I ran into an auto expo at the mall. Was casually sitting on a few bikes and felt really good when I sat on the Triumph Street Twin. That rekindled my desire for bikes. The Street Twin is very nice but it's expensive at around 8 lakhs. Plus it'll heat up in traffic.

In school I used to be crazy about fully faired sports bikes (Who wasn't?). Now that I'm 33, I feel drawn towards comfortable cruisers much more. I prefer sitting like a king to being crouched like a mouse (Personal preference. No offence to sports bike lovers - I used to be one)

Requirements
  1. Cruiser
  2. Comfortable
  3. Mid sized engine (Anywhere between 200-600cc is sufficient)
  4. Smooth engine and low vibrations on the handlebars (Are 2 or more cylinders necessary for this?)
  5. Reasonably reliable - 1 major/3 minor issues per year is acceptable
  6. Doesn't heat up in traffic
  7. Preferably pre-owned
  8. Budget: 2-5 lakhs

Usage
Occasional commute in not-so-heavy traffic, weekend errands and escape-from-fight-with-wife short rides to cool down. I'm not planning to go on long rides as I use one of my cars for long trips.

Current Ride
A well maintained, 16 year old 55,000 km run LML Freedom that doesn't give me any problems. Is likely to keep going indefinitely until a critical part fails without availability of spares.
Among cars, I own an Octavia and a City.

Short Lists
Keep using current bike. I really have no complaints with my current steed. It was my first bike so I am quite fond of it. And my usage is too low to warrant another bike. I'll keep this even If I do buy a new bike.

RE Thunderbird 350. I really like this one. It looks, feels and sounds good. Rides well over bad roads. Material and paint quality aren't that good. But the two dealbreakers are too much vibrations and abysmal reliability. Which is a bummer, as it would have been the perfect bike for me.

RE Thunderbird 350x. Looks much more modern and delicious. But I prefer the bent bars on the 350 that let me sit straight up over the 350x. Has the same drawbacks as the 350

Interceptor 650 Not a cruiser. Seats not comfortable. Quality isn't good enough for the price. Engine and suspensions are good.

Continental GT 650 I'm not a fan of the the aggressive riding posture.

Bajaj Avenger 180/220. Like the looks and ergonomics. Dislike the difficulty in turning, vibrations, lack of smoothness in engine and hard suspension.

Honda Rebel 300 (Upcoming). Seems like the perfect bike for my requirements. Only known con is I don't like the looks half as much as the Thunderbird. And it might not feel like a real cruiser.

Triumph Street Twin. No used examples in the Telangana/AP market. New one too expensive to buy and maintain. I won't be able to use it enough to justify the price. Will heat up in traffic. (I haven't test driven this out of fear I might like it so much that I end up handing over my wallet to my heart rather than head.)

Jawa. The looks are too old school for me. They stopped being sold before I was growing up.

I'm looking for advice from this highly experienced forum.

I am in no hurry to buy a bike as I have two cars and a bike now. Maybe after 2 years when my Octavia's car lease completes. This is more of a want than a need.
I thoroughly enjoyed researching for a new car before buying the Octavia, probably more than driving it. Part of that was because of regret since I'm a frugal person and I also loved driving the Polo GT TSI which was way cheaper.
Perhaps I should just research a new bike and not buy one.

Last edited by evil_grin : 17th March 2020 at 13:10.
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Old 17th March 2020, 13:40   #2
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Default re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

I see quite a variety of bikes in your shortlist.

The final selection will be easy once you test ride them all. I would like to add the Suzuki 250s to the mix. Refined and comfortable. They are surprisingly easy to ride in traffic.


Do test ride and let us know.

-Slick
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Old 17th March 2020, 18:59   #3
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Default re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

Not many options in the segment in India if you look strictly at cruisers (Not retro classic/ roadsters).

I wound surely suggest you to stay away from the TB350, the engine has become archaic now and would soon be replaced by the new SOHC engine, probably by year end.
Same can be said for the Avenger 220 but replacement (read updated engine) is no where to be seen.

Honda Rebel - Only God knows when will Honda wake up from it's slumber and start thinking of launching some good global (new) products. I guess they are too happy and content with the Activa sales. So waiting for the "Rebel" can prove to be infinitely long.

Speaking of interceptor, "Quality isn't good enough for the price" I don't quite agree with you here, Int 650 is today the most value for money motorcycle you and buy, not just in India rather globally. If you compare with the like of Street and Speed twins, then certainly it is no match in terms of quality. But you also need to look at how much you are paying. Quality has to be assessed relative to the price. And in that respect you are getting a lot more than what you are paying for.

If comparing with a used Street twin, my advise would be to rather go for a new Int. Apart from drastically low ownership costs, the joy of buying something new is something different. Also, you are getting 80% the fun at 30% the price also with the added advantage of cheap maintenance and REs service network.
Seat is something that can be easily fixed with a Rs 2k expense. I have seen most people customizing the seat as per their requirement after the purchase.

Jawa is another good option. If your primary purpose is within city use, then Jawa is a better option compared to the Int 650.

Still buying a motorcycle is totally a decision made by heart, so no amount of logic holds ground in that aspect.
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Old 17th March 2020, 19:52   #4
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Default re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

With the wide selection criteria put up by OP, I can think of new Interceptor, used Vulcan (if you can find), used Street Twin as good options. I would also suggest having a look towards naked bikes as they are comfortable, easy/ fun in city as compared to cruisers and you can choose between multiple options available in the market. For example:- used Z650, new Duke 390, Honda CB300R.

Last edited by ast.ggn : 17th March 2020 at 19:57. Reason: Adding CB300r as suggestion.
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Old 18th March 2020, 01:13   #5
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Default re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

The only worth option IMO is 650, which you ruled out!
pros
  1. used bike with less than 2K km at 2.5L to 2.7L
  2. comes with 3 year insurance
  3. and 2+2 year warranty till 50k km
  4. RSA
  5. Service network
cons
  1. not a cruiser?
My suggestion:

1) Upcoming RE Meteor.

2) Used Kawasaki Vulcan.
Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting-screenshot_20200318-2018-kawasaki-vulcan-abs-650.png
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Old 18th March 2020, 15:25   #6
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Default Re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

I've had my Suzuki Intruder 150 for 15-16 months now, and I don't regret the purchase at all.
It's a really comfy ride for the driver, as long as the tyres are at the indicated pressure. 6100+ kms done, I'm getting 45+kmpl on average with a typical daily commute of 16-20 kms and weekend runs of upto 50 kms - in Bengaluru traffic!
If you ask me, it's the look that spoils the chances for a wonderful machine underneath. But then again, I've spent more time riding it than staring at it, and I've realized it's what's inside that counts
Jokes apart, it does feel a little bulky at first. But take it out on the street and it's a smooth ride all the way. It's a great commuter and a halfway decent speedster if you let 'er rip.
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Old 18th March 2020, 20:09   #7
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Default Re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

Considering you mentioned pre-owned, how about looking at the adventure category? They are more comfortable than cruisers a nice Versys could be bought. For even cheaper, an absolutely reliable workhorse would be found in the Suzuki Inazuma

PS: sorry I don't know much about cruisers
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Old 18th March 2020, 21:34   #8
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Default Re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

Why haven't you included the Himalayan in your list? Agreed, it is not an outright cruiser, but is one of the most comfortable motorcycles available in your price bracket for cruising.

Requirements
[*]Cruiser - Technically no, but great for cruising
[*]Comfortable - Extremely
[*]Mid sized engine (Anywhere between 200-600cc is sufficient) - 411cc, with enough grunt
[*]Smooth engine and low vibrations on the handlebars - Definitely less vibey than the Classic/TB tribe
[*]Reasonably reliable - 1 major/3 minor issues per year is acceptable - Reasonably reliable, yes!
[*]Doesn't heat up in traffic - Does NOT tick this box, heats up pretty badly in traffic
[*]Preferably pre-owned - New one comes in your budget. The newly launched BS 6 has new colour schemes and a few added features
[*]Budget: 2-5 lakhs - Check
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Old 19th March 2020, 16:51   #9
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Default Re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ishan12 View Post
Not many options in the segment in India if you look strictly at cruisers (Not retro classic/ roadsters).
I'm not looking at retro classics because I like the ergonomics, looks, character of cruisers more (The street twin is the only exception in my list).
I already have a roadster (naked) and would like to sit more laid back.

Even thought the TB350 is archaic, it still has a very satisfying rumbling sound. Very few other engines besides Harleys seem to have that character.

When I say the Interceptor's "Quality isn't good enough for the price" I meant the quality of paint, materials and finish aren't as good as other bikes in it's price range (or even much less) like the Duke 390, Yamaha R15 or FZ-S (sorry, there are no cruisers in it's range except the Avenger to compare to. That would have been more fair). I'm not even comparing with Street/Speed twins as those cost 3-4x the price. I do agree with you that despite those flaws it's still the most value for money bike among twin cylinders.

Yes, a new Interceptor is a much greater deal than a used Street Twin, but what can I do brother, the Interceptor doesn't tug at my heartstrings.

Good advice on changing the seat. I overlooked that.

Jawa is too old school for me. Sorry.

Thank you for your pointers. They were quite helpful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ast.ggn View Post
With the wide selection criteria put up by OP, I can think of new Interceptor, used Vulcan (if you can find), used Street Twin as good options. I would also suggest having a look towards naked bikes as they are comfortable, easy/ fun in city as compared to cruisers and you can choose between multiple options available in the market. For example:- used Z650, new Duke 390, Honda CB300R.
Much appreciated. Our country does have a good selection of naked bikes. Keeping that as a "if-nothing-else-works" plan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepster View Post
1) Upcoming RE Meteor.
2) Used Kawasaki Vulcan.
Thanks for the good suggestions. I forgot to mention the Meteor. I'm eagerly awaiting its launch. Pity it isn't coming with a twin cylinder.

The Vulcan is a very nice bike. A cruiser with Japanese reliability is like having the best of both worlds. It's looks aren't good enough. And it's low end is, well, low.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChevyTeddy View Post
I've had my Suzuki Intruder 150 for 15-16 months now, and I don't regret the purchase at all.
Thank you. The Intruder is a very capable entry level (semi?) cruiser. But again, I don't like the looks at all. What's with Japanese and their beautiful sports bikes but ugly cruisers? It seems like only British and Americans can make good looking cruisers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IshaanIan View Post
Considering you mentioned pre-owned, how about looking at the adventure category? They are more comfortable than cruisers a nice Versys could be bought.
Good call. The Versys and the V-Strom would have been the only bikes I'd have looked for if I were looking for adventure tourers. They are more practical for our broken roads as well. And that's what I'd have bought had my head been in charge of this search.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geo_Ipe View Post
Why haven't you included the Himalayan in your list? Agreed, it is not an outright cruiser, but is one of the most comfortable motorcycles available in your price bracket for cruising.
You're right. I think of this as a more affordable Versys. Brilliant bike and value for money. And the one that I should be buying. But heartstrings and all.
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Old 21st March 2020, 04:17   #10
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Default Re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

You mentioned that the Rebel is upcoming, is there any such news?

I really hope it is true, as I have been mentioning on various threads, this space is a huge missed opportunity for the Japanese brands, I don't understand why they just don't get it. The sad part is they all already have bikes in this space, even if those models are old. They just have to build it locally and offer it.

The need for a premium, not-commuterish, nice-image, traditional motorcycle with a flat low pillion seat and a traditional riding posture is just obvious. This is the reason why RE sells so well. Only part of their success is the RE branding, in my opinion it is just sheer lack of any other choice in this space and the need for these vehicles. Not everyone wants a sportbike / sportbike-image, and not everyone wants a commuter / commuter-image either.

Anyway, if the Rebel thing is not true, then I would wait for two things if I were you:
1. The new all-new RE models (Meteor etc)
2. Avenger 400 (sometime back there was a rumor they are going to plonk the Dominar / Duke engine in the Avenger; I guess they will do that, since Dominar failed to really dislodge RE in its space, and it makes logical sense).

... or
3. Go to the used-bike market with a few lakhs, and look for a used Harley (the 883 is delicious)

Last edited by rajushank84 : 21st March 2020 at 04:20.
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Old 21st March 2020, 12:11   #11
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Default Re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post
3. Go to the used-bike market with a few lakhs, and look for a used Harley (the 883 is delicious)
The Harley is unfortunately probably the worst ever for commuting!

I was once sitting in traffic and a harley 750 street pulled up next to me. We kept pace together in the traffic for 6 mins but I let him go ahead as my legs were getting fried 2 feet away from his engine! God knows how he managed to bear the heat when his leg was 2 inches away!

@OP - Do consider a used Z650 too. I use the bike for everything from commuting to breakfast rides to overnight trips as well. Its a smallish bike for a 650cc class and the engine doesn't fry your legs even on long commutes. Maintenance is a bit expensive unfortunately but not prohibitive like some other high end brands. However you will have to stretch your budget a bit and speedbreakers will be your enemy if they aren't scientifically designed.
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Old 21st March 2020, 12:29   #12
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Default Re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

Quote:
Originally Posted by evil_grin View Post
Requirements
  1. Cruiser
  2. Comfortable
  3. Mid sized engine (Anywhere between 200-600cc is sufficient)
  4. Smooth engine and low vibrations on the handlebars (Are 2 or more cylinders necessary for this?)
  5. Reasonably reliable - 1 major/3 minor issues per year is acceptable
  6. Doesn't heat up in traffic
  7. Preferably pre-owned
  8. Budget: 2-5 lakhs
Looking at the requirements, I can think of the following bikes in the order of suggestion for you:
  1. Dominar 250/400 - a new one will be around 2.4L max for the D400 and around 2L for the D250.

  2. Interceptor 650 - OTR will be around 3.5L.

Do TD the Dominar 400, won't disappoint you.

Last edited by a4anurag : 21st March 2020 at 12:37.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 12:34   #13
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Default Re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

From my personal experience with potential contedenders in the segment, each have something unique to offer. I will put down a few words about the best of of the bunch.

Interceptor 650
The best when it comes to giving that retro cruiser feel. Unbelievably smooth and pretty powerful for an RE. Overall a VFM machine for what it offers. A few ergonomics issues, minor quality niggles and lack of pillion comfort would be it's caveats.

Dominar 400
It was ergonomically the best in the segment as a cruiser. Long trips and City rides weren't a problem whatsoever. While it lacks the special feel of the 650, it is an easier bike to live with. Decent FE, cheaper maintenance and feature packed for the price. The headlights deserve a special mention the way it aided in night rides through forest roads.

RE Himalayan
Not a cruiser, but one that is good enough for cruising at sane speeds. Got bottom end punch which would be a boon in the city, off-road trails and decent grunt for the highways too. The riding stance and suspension was good enough for Himalayan expeditions. Some niggles were reported by some owners which RE seems to be ironing out.

KTM Adventure 390
While I'm yet to ride one, the feedbacks on the adventure are pretty positive, especially if it's to be used as a tourer. Powerful engine and tech laden machine. If one doesn't crave for its top end punch, the upcoming 250 may suffice.

Then there are a lot of no nonsense bikes which could do the job but has nothing exciting to offer. I personally stay away from the imports as the ownership experiences of a few friends weren't that nice especially when it comes to parts and maintenance. But then the riding experience may be well worth going for something like a Vulcan or a Versys.

Last edited by vb-san : 22nd March 2020 at 13:57. Reason: Spacing
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Old 22nd March 2020, 14:20   #14
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Default Re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

Seems the best option for you would be the "Power Cruiser" of India- The Dominar 400. (Especially since you are not too keen on the Interceptor 650)
The ergonomics are spot on for both city riding and long distance highway cruising, has decent tech (Dual channel ABS, upside-down forks, informative instrument console, DOHC engine etc), plenty powerfull for our highways and cheap to maintain (its a Bajaj. Need i say more?).
Do take a test drive when you can and see if the Motorcycle agrees with your style. Better still, you could rent one from the umpteen number of Motorcycle rentals available today (Royal brothers is one that comes to my mind) and go for a short one day trip, to understand the motorcycle properly. This should let you take a proper, informed and accurate decision.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 18:20   #15
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Default Re: Midsize Cruiser motorcycle for commuting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ishan12 View Post
Not many options in the segment in India if you look strictly at cruisers (Not retro classic/ roadsters).

I wound surely suggest you to stay away from the TB350, the engine has become archaic now and would soon be replaced by the new SOHC engine, probably by year end.
Same can be said for the Avenger 220 but replacement (read updated engine) is no where to be seen.
....

Still buying a motorcycle is totally a decision made by heart, so no amount of logic holds ground in that aspect.
As an owner of an Avenger 220 Street, I would like to say that it is as comfortable to navigate [right turns especially for which it was given negative opinions] as any commuter bike, and yes engine is a bit coarse. But comfort factor is a big plus. I am jus 5' 3", so the ride comfort, ride posture might be working for me. Taller people have always found it bit uncomfortable due to the fuel tank obstructing with the knees. Fuel economy is hovering around 45-55 KMpL. The new Avenger Cruise/Street variants with ABS can be given a thought.

Regarding the last line by @ishan12, it holds true for all my purchases.
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