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Are cruisers the best bike for mature riders?

Yamaha cruisers have five-year warranties mature flashes
Yamaha cruisers have five-year warranties

As some mature riders begin to suffer from various aches and pains they tend to opt for cruisers to relieve the stresses on their body. 

But are cruisers with their relaxed riding position really the most comfortable bike to ride?

It really depends on what ails you.

Common ailments for mature riders are bad backs, crook knees, dodgy hips and arthritic hands.

As someone who has all these problems to varying degrees and tested all types of motorcycles over the years, I feel I am qualified to comment.

So let’s look at these separately and together.

Bad backKobbers Kruiser Klub now fr all cruisers except Harleys mature

If you have a bad back, a cruiser may not be the right bike for you.

In the relaxed riding position of a cruiser with feet-forward controls, you sit as though you are in a couch. Usually your spine is straight up and down or slightly curved.

That means any bumps from the suspension will be relayed straight up your ageing backbone.

Your legs cannot prevent any of that jolting to your back because they are out in front of you.

Depending on the handlebars, your arms also cannot take any of the stresses and strains away from your back.

All your weight is pressed in to the seat with no way to relieve that stress, so you can get a sore lower back and backside. An aftermarket backrest or luggage on the back seat may help.

You may find a bike where your feet are in a mid-mount position is better because your body is in the shape of a coiled spring and absorbs the bumps more evenly.

You can also take some of the weight on your feet and legs.

A softer seat or a supplementary cushion such as an Airhawk may help.

Some people even find a sports bike is good because they can take some weight on their hands.

Crook kneesDaytona 675 Adventure cruisers naked sports touring Safety mature

If you are in need of a knee operation or replacement, you will find that anything with a tight knee bend in the riding position is uncomfortable.

That rules out sportsbikes.

However, bikes with a neutral riding position such as most naked bikes should be ok as you can occasionally straighten your leg to relieve the pain.2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE mature

That is more difficult when your feet are tucked up behind you.

The best bike in this situation is a cruiser where your legs are straighter.

Some people install highway bars to rest their feet, but this can be considered dangerous as your feet are away from the important gear and brake controls.

Dodgy hips2016 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic FLSCc mature

You would think that a cruiser with its relaxed position would be best for mature people suffering from hip problems.

However, most low-riding cruisers have wide fuel tanks which means you sit with your hips splayed around the tank.

This affects the hip flexor muscles and can cause a pinching sensation.

You are best to find a bike with a narrow tank so you can get your legs closer together.

Arthritic handsFingers wrapped around the throttle frail

Arthritis in the hands can be very painful on long trips without cruise control. You can also buy a palm rest so you don’t have to curl your fingers around the throttle.

Being able to relieve the pressure on your hands also means finding a bike where the bars are not too low or far away.

You will probably also need a fairly thick bar grip so your hands aren’t curled too much.

You can buy wider and softer grips such as Grip Puppies to alleviate some of the pain from the jackhammer effect of the front forks over rough surfaces.

Mature conclusion

If you are becoming a mature rider with one or more of these problems, you are going to have to think hard about what you need to remain comfortable on a longer ride.

That’s why it’s important to go for as long test ride, not just around the block. That’s if the dealer offers you a test ride at all!

A short sit on a motorcycle in a showroom (if they let you!) also won’t provide any answers. You would have to sit there for a couple of hours and the bike would need to be vertical, not on its side stand.

We suggest trying a few bikes, maybe try your friends’ bikes, and don’t just opt for a cruiser because it looks comfortable!

  1. You’re completely right, a cruiser is not a bike for someone with a dodgy back.
    For me, I’ve found that leaning forward (even if only slightly) relieves the pain.
    A sports tourer would probably be perfect but I actually find my Honda ST1300 pretty comfortable back wise as well…

  2. Two bikes in my garage were, upon release over 30 years ago, quick sports bikes. Times change and these days those bikes would qualify as “sports-tourers” which is fine by me.
    The term “sports-tourer” is a strange combination of two diametrically opposed ideals but it does sum up my typical requirement on a pleasant summer weekend daytrip.
    To get to the “sporty” roads requires quite some amount of “touring”. The ratio of “sporty” kilometres to “toury” kilometres would be around 1:6 or more.
    As I feel I don’t have have any 17-hour interstate runs left in me, I have to settle with being a weekend warrior. So I need a bike that will only miminally punish me on the boring roads but also not limit me too much when I feel a bit frisky in the twisty bits.
    Let’s not forget the occasional track day. Melbourne is blessed with a variety of race tracks within a couple of hours ride. These should be safely enjoyed while they exist. A competent sports-tourer ridden with consideration and determination will still provide entertainment on the track before the comparitive drudge of the ride home.

    Way back in the 80’s I borrowed a Suzuki Intruder 750. That Suzuki was part of the rising tide of the so-called “metric cruiser”. I thought the shaft drive was a nice touch and the engine provided pleasing grunt. It was a nice enough bike to potter around town with but back then I decided that genre was not for me. 30 years later it still isn’t.

  3. Another issue with most cruisers is that they have very limited suspension travel – some as low as 50mm on the rear. When hitting larger bumps on the road much more of the shock will be transmitted into your body through all contact points than a bike with a larger amount of travel.

  4. Having graduated from the Ace caf and Tritons in the late 60’s thru sports tourers I have settled nicely on a fully dressed XVZ13TF Venture and a Roadliner. I’ve had all the ailments mentioned above but am happy to say don’t suffer too much from any of them even tho I’m closer to 80 than 70. The “pillow” seats on the Venture makes a full day’s ride a piece of cake and the floor boards and highway pegs means I can move my feet and legs around. The stock Roadliner seat is like sitting on a plank so must be changes to an ero Mustang or Ultra made seat from the US of A at around US$ 450 a piece if you are doing some serious riding and not just perving up and down the Boulevard. With both these bikes a back rest is essential but get a fold down backrest unless you can still throw your leg over so to speak.

  5. I’ve had a lot of back and leg problems and find my cruiser suits me best. Low centre of gravity and low seat height gives me good confidence holding it up and so easy to throw my leg over. Also much more comfortable for passenger than any other bike I’ve owned. I agree the suspension can be an issue, but I take it pretty slow these days.

  6. On any bike you have to arch your back inwards – it’s how our spines are designed to work. Any outward slump is only going to cause you grief.

  7. I was one of those riders who said (for years at Ulysses meetings) that he would never be old enough to ride a Spyder, but now at 77 years I have had to eat my words. Can-Am Spyder has solved all my ageing body problems, particularly the fear of dropping my bike in the shed, and it is ever so much fun.

    1. Hi Raymond,my name is Craig, I’ve been thinking about a Spyder my self, you mean the Hunter, right,????350 -250.craig

  8. I am 6,6″ 270, 65 years old. Former paratrooper. I ride an HD Road Glide Ultra with slightly higher handle bars, high back support, and road pegs. The adjustable shocks and cruise allow me to ride, raise up and sit for hours. Usually I ride 2 1/2-3 hours with 10 minute gas breaks and I am not beat after 500 miles. I tried BMW cruisers and GW forced knee bend didnt work for me. Considering looking at Indian but new fixed faring looks like an HD knock-off.

  9. At 66, a yoga teacher for 30 yrs have been riding for 57 years from motocross to flat track and the last 30 road riding. For any sitting in chairs, cars or motorcycles a neutral spine with the lower back slightly concave is the best for the spine and shoulders in any situation. So any adventure bike, naked, retro, and even sport tourer is always what the spine wants. Maybe more plush seat!!!

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