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i posted this question on the Motorcycle Classics Forum, and got no response.
maybe you guys will know some history.

i'm wondering when v-twins started to be called cruisers.

as i remember it, Harleys/Indians were just v-twins. Then when the first Japaneese v-twins showed up i think they were called 'Customs', or just Japaneese V-twins.

now they are all crusiers. i tried searching all over the internet, but can't find a point when the name changed, but i'm guessing it must have been around the middle 90's?

the early 80's Shadows/Vulcan/Viragos were more "we can make it faster and better" Harleys. Harleys were slow, Japaneese Customs were way faster. My 96 Vulcan 750 still looks more like a hot-rod than the current crop of 'cruisers'.

so does anybody have a time-line of the term 'cruiser'?
 

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That`s an interesting question. I now know what the definition of a cruiser is, which I couldn`t say a little over 2 years ago, but I do not know when the term came into common use.

Daniel Meyers calls his horizontally opposed 6 cylinder Honda Valkyrie a power cruiser. If you are interested in reading some of his writing, check out this link. Unfortunately he doesn`t shed any light on your question.
http://lifeisaroad.com/stories/2004/10/27/theDarkSide.html

You might find some information from the "Old Bastards":
http://www.oldbastards.ca/
 

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i posted this question on the Motorcycle Classics Forum, and got no response.
maybe you guys will know some history.

i'm wondering when v-twins started to be called cruisers.

as i remember it, Harleys/Indians were just v-twins. Then when the first Japaneese v-twins showed up i think they were called 'Customs', or just Japaneese V-twins.

now they are all crusiers. i tried searching all over the internet, but can't find a point when the name changed, but i'm guessing it must have been around the middle 90's?

the early 80's Shadows/Vulcan/Viragos were more "we can make it faster and better" Harleys. Harleys were slow, Japaneese Customs were way faster. My 96 Vulcan 750 still looks more like a hot-rod than the current crop of 'cruisers'.

so does anybody have a time-line of the term 'cruiser'?
The cruiser title was handed out in the early eighties when the Japanese first started moving the controls farther forward than the so called standards of the seventies that had flat seats, and foot controls that were farther back than todays cruisers and lower handlebars,that made you sit in a more upright position. Which in fact actually leaned you forward more rather than back the Laid back riding position of a bike you would just cruise around town on.
The motorcycle Magazine writers of the day were more geared toward a sportier style of riding ,and as a matter of fact would have love to have seen cruiser styled motorcycles go away,whether they had a Vtwin ,inline four or v4.
a lot of the bikes we ride today are pretty well Harley clones,Mine included.As for the VN looking more like a hot rod,The Sportster started that look and are along with the VRod based bikes, still pretty hot looking,By the way where did you think it got the peanut styled tank and stepped seat look from?
In my opinion todays Metric criusers look more like a stripped down ElectraGlide or on the other end of the spectrum ,factory built choppers like the Honda Fury.There are very few of the middle of the road types out there any more which is a niche the VN750 fills very well indeed. :motorcycl
 

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Opinions?

Good question man, I could see lots of opinions on this. I was discussing this on the meanie forum a while back too. The answer seems to vary depending on when a riders awarness of motorcycles really took off. The evolution of motorcycles from the first engine on 2 wheels up to today seems to only become obvious after several years of being interested in motorcycles. Where you jump in on that evolutionary scale seems to guide how you categorize certain motorcycles. We were trying to categorize the meanie and with everyone's different backgrounds and experience levels, it seemed futile. Let's try it with the VN750. I think I'd call it a small to medium sized v-twin cruiser.

In fact, for a comparison, maybe we could get opinions on the meanie as well. How would you categorize it? I've heard "muscle cruiser," "big v-twin," "sport bike on steriods," you name it. I've been riding for 3 years and the meanie is my second bike after the uber tourquey VN750. I think I'd categorize the meanie as a medium to big v-twin cruiser. I'd say it's a big cruiser but now-a-days there's so many 1600's, 1700's, and 1800's out there - I don't know if a 1500 still qualifies as a "big" bike. Kawi even has a 2000 cc bike out now. Anyway, here's a larger pic of a bone stock 2002 mean streak:
 

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My understanding is close to denny's. I belive it's seating and controll positions. A "standard" has an slightly leaned forward seating position with the controll directly under the rider, like a bicycle. A "cruiser" has upright seating with the controls mover forward, more like sitting in a chair.
 

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Good question man, I could see lots of opinions on this. I was discussing this on the meanie forum a while back too. The answer seems to vary depending on when a riders awarness of motorcycles really took off. The evolution of motorcycles from the first engine on 2 wheels up to today seems to only become obvious after several years of being interested in motorcycles. Where you jump in on that evolutionary scale seems to guide how you categorize certain motorcycles. We were trying to categorize the meanie and with everyone's different backgrounds and experience levels, it seemed futile. Let's try it with the VN750. I think I'd call it a small to medium sized v-twin cruiser.

In fact, for a comparison, maybe we could get opinions on the meanie as well. How would you categorize it? I've heard "muscle cruiser," "big v-twin," "sport bike on steriods," you name it. I've been riding for 3 years and the meanie is my second bike after the uber tourquey VN750. I think I'd categorize the meanie as a medium to big v-twin cruiser. I'd say it's a big cruiser but now-a-days there's so many 1600's, 1700's, and 1800's out there - I don't know if a 1500 still qualifies as a "big" bike. Kawi even has a 2000 cc bike out now. Anyway, here's a larger pic of a bone stock 2002 mean streak:
LP is right concerning the time line question,I have been around bikes since the late 60's ,early seventies.And been riding myself since about 1975 or so
It pretty well is a question of how much you have seen the everyday motorcycle change over the years.
Hey LP I always referred to the meanie a as a powercruiser.It was the first really fast stock Vtwin I had ever ridden.
As a little side note on the meanie,the first one we got in at Paintsville Kawasaki,Where I was the only bike mechanic,that worked for them at the time. the Meanstreak was a surprise when I put it together.Part of my job was to test ride a bike after final assembly,pre-sale.
I was impressed by the inverted forks,the really impressive Braking system and the overall look of the bike,Then I got to ride it.
After a little shake down cruise (to make sure I hadn't missed any thing)I rode it a little harder and it truly impressed me with it's light handling,surefootedness and stopping abilities.
I had ridden about everything we sold at that point and I had told Joe ,the owner) that I didn't know why he rode an 800 Classic ,since the 750 seemed to be a lot better handling and faster to boot.Joe was a novice and he also wanted people to see him on the newer Designed Classic so it would get people to start coming into the store.He had the Honda Shadow customer's in mind.
Then along came the Meanstreak. I never even put it in the show room.I went inside and told Joe that he needed to ride that bike and tell me what he thought a bout it.After a little coaxing he went out and slung a leg over it. Then he started it and took off,he was gone all of ten minutes and came back grinning,told me to clean up his 800 and put it inside to sell.I laughed at him and said, why?I'm buying this one for me was his reply.
As for the V2k(vulcan 2000) it has been around as long as the meanie,but was not nearly the seller that the meanie was. :motorcycl:motorcycl:motorcycl:motorcycl:motorcycl
 

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Interesting, I guess it would be base primarily on seating position. So what esle is out there besides V-twin? 4 cylinder? In-line? What are all the categories?

Yeah the meanie does pretty good. The breaking is so good because they're the brakes off the Ninja...
 

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Interesting, I guess it would be base primarily on seating position. So what esle is out there besides V-twin? 4 cylinder? In-line? What are all the categories?

Yeah the meanie does pretty good. The breaking is so good because they're the brakes off the Ninja...
I would break it down to five or six primary types with big differences within each one.
1,Dirt bikes=Motocross,Trail bikes,Trials bikes etc.

2, Cruisers = Classic or Retro ,and the ones that lean more toward bobber or chopper styling,factories like to refer to them as Customs ,but to me it ain't custom unless it has been customized after you bought it.JMO

3,Touring= Voyager,Electra Glides, Goldwings and a lot of the sport tourers out there Like Knife'FJR and the Honda VFR's

4.Sport bikes=Race Replicas such as the CBR,R1,R6 and the more comfy and less powerful smaller Ninjas to the Triumph Thruxton there is a wide variety in this class,Again JMO

5 Standards,Now being called Naked Bikes by a lot of people-Honda 919,599,Yamaha FZ and Kawasaki Versys and ER6N up to the Z1000

6.Dual Purpose=KLR 650,Ducati Hypemotard and their like offerings from other companies

This is just a basic breakdown of modern bikes as I see them with several of the above mentioned being able to cross over from one category to another.
all bikes are pretty well what the rider does with them to a certain extent and the above mentioned Classes of bikes is subjective at best,Hope it helps.:blah:;)
 

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The term "cruiser" stemmed from an early article in Cycle World discribing the new batch of "harleyesque" bikes coming out of Japan. The statement made said basicly said that these bikes are not really suited for corner straffing, but more for "cruising down to the local burger joint"

Another magazine picked up on this phrase and used it to say about the new Yamaha "Custom" 650....that it would look good "cruising around town" but might not be suited for a cross country romp.

Notice now that the emphisis shifted from buying a bike for speed or handling to picking a bike solely based on "style"...a trend that Harley would run with like a mad bull in the years to come.

"Cruisers" do not have to be Vtwins... but they do have to have those styling cues to some extent.

Most of it all really is "market-speak"...meaning there is as Denny mentioned 9 or so "types" of motorcycles, all with sub groups and purpose driven names.

When Kawasaki redid the Concours, they did not call the machine a "Sport/Tourer" but called it a SuperSport/Touring bike. Now, if you go to the Yamaha Motors site, they refer to the FJR as a "Super Sport Touring bike also.

So whatever bike you have now, there is some label attatched to it , that will let one get a general picture of what the bike looks like, and what it's general purpose is.

The newest name I know of know for a specfic type of motorcycle is a "Streetfighter" ...had to look that up myself to find out what that meant.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streetfighter



KM
 

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Discussion Starter #10
i did a lot of internet searching, looking for old sales brochures and magazine reviews. didn't find much, however there was a brochure for an 85 Harley Sportster that didn't say the word 'cruiser' anywhere in it. so i think the word cruiser hadn't been coined yet by 1985. anybody have a source of old cycle brochures?
 

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i did a lot of internet searching, looking for old sales brochures and magazine reviews. didn't find much, however there was a brochure for an 85 Harley Sportster that didn't say the word 'cruiser' anywhere in it. so i think the word cruiser hadn't been coined yet by 1985. anybody have a source of old cycle brochures?
Great idea. I found these, search for the word "brochure" on these pages. They have links:

http://www.classiccycles.org/2062/2083.html

This one's all HD but pretty good. It's definitely back far enough and there's loads of them:

http://www.motobrit.com/index.php?pageid=ads-hd

Here's a book of brochures you can buy if you're hell bent. Might be nice to have anyway:

http://www.esscoaircraft.com/p-85142-1970-harley-davidson-motorcycle-color-sales-brochure.aspx

Here's a ton of links, there might something in here too:

http://www.dmoz.org/Recreation/Motorcycles/Classic/

I'm going to look at some of these links as well. I'll be back to let you know if I find anything "cruiser" related. Great idea man.
 
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