Ready to Cruise Around?
Cruisers aren’t the massive sellers they used to be. However, manufacturers still sell a lot of them, which is why the cruiser style is still a big part of the industry. A lot of these machines are high-dollar bikes, but they don’t have to be. You can get a wonderful cruiser motorcycle for under $15,000.
To prove it, I wanted to put together a list of the best cruiser motorcycles under $15,000 that are worth buying. I’ve divided them up into two categories. There are the new-for-2021 designs and then there are the carryover designs that are still sold today in 2021. No matter what route you choose to go, you should be able to get a killer bike for a reasonable price.
What Can You Get for under $15,000?
Actually, a whole heck of a lot. I’d argue everything you need. Going over that $15,000 mark gets you up into some of the more touring-focused cruisers and high-style. These are great bikes, but generally have a lot more stuff than you really need unless you’re riding cross country or trying too hard to impress people.
What you’ll get for $15,000 is adequate power from either a V-twin or parallel twin-engine, comfy saddle, two-up capability, modern features like ABS and traction control, and a smooth and comfy ride. These are the bikes for the everyman and they will do all of your street duties well. You can commute on them, cruise around town, or tour if you want.
There have been plenty of new cruisers that have come out this year, but most of them are over the $15,000 mark, which means I’m forced to exclude awesome machines like the Triumph Rocket 3 and Indian Challenger from this list.
Let’s take a look at what is out there, and why you should consider these bikes if you’re looking for a new cruiser motorcycle in 2021.
New or Updated Cruisers for 2021 Under $15,000
Harley-Davidson Softail Standard
Some of you might be wondering where the Low Rider S is, well, it’s more than $15,000, so it’s not on this list. What is on this list is arguably the best motorcycle in Harley’s lineup right now, the Softail Standard. This bike is basically a blank slate that you can ride as is or customize to your heart’s content. It’s hearkening back to a time when Harley was marred by less bullshit.
The Softail Standard features the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine that puts out 110 lb-ft of torque. That’s the same engine that’s found in most other Softail motorcycles. The Softail Standard from there comes with turn-signals and speedo and not much else. It forgoes all of the extra equipment to keep the price low and easily manageable at $13,599.
Honda Rebel 500 & 1100
Yes, the Honda Rebel 500 came out a few years ago, but the company updated it in 2020 so that it can keep pace with the competition. The bike is honestly mostly unchanged. It’s still the fantastic beginner bike it always was, but now it gets assist and slipper clutch, suspension refinements, a new gauge layout, a thicker seat (much needed), and modern LED lighting. Overall, it’s a better bike, but not totally new.
The Rebel 500 features the 471 cc parallel-twin engine that Honda used previously. That engine puts out about 40 hp and 30 lb-ft of torque. It’s a good amount of power for city cruising and even makes the bike a respectable highway machine, though not a speed demon by any accounts. You’re looking at a price tag of only $6,199.
If that’s a little anemic for you, for 2021 Honda has also released the Rebel 1100, which uses the monstrous 1,083 cc parallel-twin from the Africa Twin. Power comes in at 86 hp and 72 lb-ft of torque. Yet, oddly enough, it’s still so controllable and not scary that even a beginner rider can get to grips with it, all at $9,299.
Indian Scout Bobber Sixty
Indian Motorcycle already had a Scout Sixty and a Scout Bobber so the company did the smart thing and came out with a Scout Bobber Sixty. It’s the styling of the Scout Bobber and the engine from the Scout Sixty. This combo gives you an Indian bobber with a lower price tag.
The Scout Bobber Sixty gets a 1,000 cc 60-degree V-twin engine that makes 78 hp and 65 lb-ft of torque. That’s plenty of power for riders going just about anywhere, but it’s also not so much power to make this bike a dangerous speed demon. It’s a really nice engine for the chassis, and the price of the bike is right, too, at $8,999.
Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
The Indian Scout Bobber Twenty is a new model that was originally released in 2020 that takes the bobber design from the company to a new level. It’s called Twenty to refer to the year 1920, which honors the 1920 Indian Scout. This bike offers some upgrades over the standard Scout Bobber including unique paint, new exhaust, higher bars, among other features.
The engine in the Indian Scout Bobber is the bigger of the two that’s fitted to the Scout lineup. It’s the liquid-cooled 1,133 cc 60-degree V-twin that puts out 100 hp and 72 lb-ft of torque. The Scout Bobber Sixty is a unique take on the Scout motorcycle, and well worth its $11,999 price tag.
Non-New Cruisers Still Rumbling Into Our Hearts it in 2021
Harley-Davidson Low Rider
So, the Low Rider S didn’t make the price cut for the new motorcycles. The regular Low Rider did for the not-new-but-still-good-in-2021 models, and it’s a killer bike, although it has been replaced entirely by the Low Rider S in 2021. The regular Low Rider gives you a Softail cruiser from Harley-Davidson with a bit more on it than the Softail Standard. This is the bike to get if you want a Harley cruiser, but don’t want to fuss with it. Buy it, ride it, and love it.
The Low Rider features the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine. What that engine gets you is 110 lb-ft of torque to move you about. The Low Rider gets some nice things over the Softail Standard, including a pillion seat, more chrome, and a different more-classic look overall. All of it comes at a starting price of $14,899, which just sneaks under our $15,000 price tag.
Harley-Davidson Iron 1200
Another Harley that I’d be remiss to overlook is the Harley-Davidson Iron 1200. Sure there are several other Sportster models, but the Iron 1200 is the one that I’d buy. I like the mini ape hanger bars, and the overall look of this bike a lot. The other Sportsters are great bikes, too, but I think this is the best buy.
What you get is the 1,200 cc Evolution engine, which is a notable step up from the base Sportster engine. The 1,200cc mill puts out 73 lb-ft of torque and does so with that classic Harley noise. My favorite part of the Iron 1200 is the price. It has a price tag of $9,999.
Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom
Kawasaki makes several different variations of its Vulcan, but the Vulcan 900 Custom is the best. The bike has a sleeker and slimmer look. It’s a bit more badass than that Classic version of the Vulcan or the weird-looking sport cruiser version. The Custom gets all the good stuff and none of the bad.
The engine in this bike is the liquid-cooled 55-degree V-twin with a displacement of 903 cc. The engine puts out 50 hp and 58 lb-ft, which isn’t a ton, but the thing that’s nice is it’s an approachable amount of power and will be enough for a variety of riders. The price is right, too, at $8,499.
Yamaha Bolt R-Spec
The Yamaha Bolt R-Spec is a fantastic-looking bobber-like motorcycle that offers a bare-bones ride for a very reasonable price. The bike looks very good and makes a killer style statement. The ergonomics are also right, and the performance of this bike is also there.
The Bolt R-Spec features a 942 cc air-cooled V-twin that makes 65 hp, which is a good amount and better than some of the competitors out there. The bike is also pretty bare-bones, which, in a world of overcomplicated machines, is a breath of fresh air. Also, the price tag of $8,399 is right where it needs to be.
Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster
Some people will balk here and be mad that I didn’t put the Triumph Bonneville Bobber on here. Sorry, I think the Speedmaster is the better bike both from an aesthetic standpoint and from a practical standpoint. The Speedmaster just offers more than the Bobber, and it’s still under our $15,000 price barrier.
The Speedmaster features the same liquid-cooled 1200 cc parallel-twin engine that’s in some of the other Bonnies from Triumph. The engine makes 77 hp and 78 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to get you around town or take on the highway. The bike has a very classic cruiser look to it, but it doesn’t let go of its Triumph Bonneville roots. I think this bike is a killer buy with a starting price of $13,150.