Thoughts On Cruiser Versus Adventure Motorcycles


When I bought my Triumph Tiger 800 XRx there were a few people who asked me how much I was going to sell my Harley-Davidson Fat Boy for. They just assumed that I was done with my cruiser and was moving to an adventure motorcycle. I don’t blame them for thinking that way because there isn’t anything that the Fat Boy can do which the Tiger can’t. In fact, the Tiger can do a whole lot more. Cruisers are designed to be ridden on highways and adventure motorcycles are designed to be ridden just about anywhere, including highways. However, the difference in the experience of riding a cruiser versus an adventure motorcycle on a highway is huge. Huge enough to give me reason to keep both motorcycles.

Ignoring the geometry of the two motorcycles and sticking just to the ergonomics, the Tiger has an upright riding position that allows me to stand on the pegs and plough through a bad section of road. That’s why I can cover far more distance riding on the not so nice state highways in India on a Tiger than on my Fat Boy. But the national highways are a different story. They are long, straight and have a pretty good coat of tarmac on them. They also have a median that doesn’t make you deal with oncoming traffic.

I have replaced the stock seat on my Fat Boy with the Signature Seat. It comes with a tall rider back rest which supports the lower half of my back, not just the tail bone section. I use the Harley-Davidson Road Zeppelin adjustable rider seat pad, which provides a cushion of air between my butt and an already soft Signature seat. Although the Fat Boy comes with comfortable foot boards, I have installed foot pegs out on the crash guard. So when I start riding a long stretch I plant my feet on the foot pegs which wedges my back snugly into the seat and back rest. The only thing I do that requires any effort is lift my hands and place them on the handlebar. Yes, I said place, not grip tightly. That’s because I have a Crampbuster cruise assist wrapped around my throttle. If I need to twist the throttle or let it go, I just rest the base of my palm on the Crampbuster a little more or less.

The reason I’ve explained all of this in excruciating detail is so that you can appreciate it when I say that riding a Fat Boy, or rather more precisely, my Fat Boy, on a national highway in India is like sitting in a spa and getting a back, hand and foot massage, the mild undulations of the road serving as the therapist. The only real struggle is to stay awake. The passing scenery usually serves as a good reason to do that.

To add to all this, the Fat Boy’s engine runs at merely 2,250 RPM when I’m on 100 kmph on 6th gear. That’s just a little more than the idling RPM of my KTM Duke 390. The regular thump of the exhaust pipes does the job of the spa music putting me in a trance. Everything is in harmony.

I can’t get this kind of an experience riding my Tiger. When I ride my Tiger it becomes an extension of me. I consciously tell it to do something and it does it for me. But when I ride my Fat Boy, I become an extension of the motorcycle. I loose all sense of free will. Yes, my arms and legs are the ones controlling the motorcycle and telling what to do. But my mind feels like I’m a little boy whose father has placed on the tank of his motorcycle and is being taken for a ride.

While on a long ride I occasionally stop the Tiger because I get tired of riding. But in the case of the Fat Boy, if the roads are really good, I stop because I get tired of resting. It’s that different.