Cruisers, with their chrome pipes, loud rumble, low-slung seats, and leather-clad riders, are the epitome of cool. They carry with them an aura of rebellion, and freedom, and exploring the open road.
If this is your vision of motorcycling and you are on a limited budget, you have some great choices.
Cruisers under $12,000
If you are looking to purchase a new motorcycle in the sub $12,000 range (all prices in the article are based on the MSRP), you are pretty much limited to choosing a cruiser from one of the big four Japanese brands: Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, or Kawasaki. The good news is that Japanese-made motorcycles are known for their innovation, high build quality, and great value. (I.e., you get a lot for your money.) I once read a review of a new Harley Davidson model. The reviewer was so impressed with it that he wrote that it had a Honda-quality build. When a company’s brand has become known as the de facto standard of high quality, it knows it’s doing something right. Today, all Japanese manufacturers are on par when it comes to quality, so you are in good shape, whatever you choose.
The cruisers discussed range from $5,500 to $11,900 and from 250cc to 900cc. Some models look like stripped-down bobbers and others are fully appointed, ready for you to pack up your saddlebags and head out for a multi-day adventure. The seat heights range from 681 mm (26.8 inches) to 705 mm (27.8 inches), so are not an issue to discuss. All of the motorcycles are electronic fuel injected except the Yamaha V-Star 250, which has a Mikuni bds 26 Carburetor.
Honda Rebel: 300/500
Rebel 500: $8,000
Rebel 300: $6,150
Honda has two models that fit within the price range. Their parallel-twin Rebel 500 (471cc) and their single-cylinder Rebel 300 (286cc). As both of these are smaller-sized motorcycles, they are a great choice for a new rider. They have a minimalist classic bobber styling, much like one of the smaller Harleys. They are also among the most affordable of the group. Both have an O-ring sealed chain final drive, are 6-speed, and have anti-lock braking—another great feature for new riders.
Suzuki Boulevard: C50/C50T/C50SE
C50T: $12,330 (new non-current models available under $12,000)
Suzuki’s C50 (and its variations) are based on a shaft-driven, 5-speed, 805cc V-twin engine. The C50 is the basic version and the other two include additional features like a windshield and saddlebags. This bike is reminiscent of the classic American V-twin cruisers. If you’re itching to let your inner James Dean out, this might be the bike for you. No ABS.
Kawasaki Vulcan S and Vulcan 900
Vulcan S: $8,399–$9,300
Vulcan 900: $10,299–$11,899
The Vulcan S and the Vulcan 900 each offer multiple models with different features.
The Vulcan S has a chain-driven, 6-speed, 649cc engine. With its sportbike-derived chassis and suspension, you won’t sacrifice performance for coolness. This bike gives both. Its styling may be a bit edgy, but it is cool. You will be turning heads with this ride. ABS is optional.
At the core of the Vulcan 900 (and its variations) is a belt-driven, 5-speed, 903cc V-twin engine. This bike has a retro big cruiser V-twin style that will have you nostalgic for the past while it serves up the latest in riding technology. Its finish and detailing will have eyes turning as you cruise down the main street or head out for a highway adventure. No ABS.
Yamaha’s Bolt-R Spec and V-Star 250
V-Star 250: $5,500
At the core of the Bolt-R is a belt-driven, 5-speed, 942cc V-twin engine. Its Mad Max minimalistic style will tap into your inner rebel. This bike will have you tearing up the roads with flair.
Its smaller sibling, the V-Star 250, has a styling that belies its small size. Its low seat, chopper-looking front forks, tear-drop gas tank, and chromed V-Twin engine are all classic symbols of cruiser style. At the core of the V-Star is a chain-driven, 5-speed, 249cc V-twin engine. No ABS. Its small size also makes it an ideal starter bike.
Not all models have new non-current models available. But, if, like the Suzuki Boulevard C50 or the Kawasaki Vulcan, you can find one, you can buy a new, out-of-the-crate, non-current (one or two years old) motorcycle with a full warranty for a considerable saving.
And, if you buy in the fall, many motorcycle manufacturers have promotions or favourable financing options to clear out their current stock. So, there’s no better time to head to your local motorcycle dealer and start shopping.
From Riders Plus Insurance
With so many great options available for motorcycles under $12,000, it’s easier than ever to get into the cruiser scene. Whether you are a first-time buyer or a seasoned veteran, these rides are a great choice for those looking to buy a bike without breaking the bank. Riders Plus Insurance is proud to provide the best rates in Ontario to all types of riders, and we love to help out our community with helpful articles like this one. For more details on motorcycle insurance in Ontario, and to get the best rates around, give us a call at +1 877-251-4504
|Suzuki Boulevard C50SE||Suzuki Boulevard C50T||Suzuki Boulevard C50||Honda Rebel 500||Honda Rebel 300||Kawaski Vulcan S/Vulcan S ABS||Kawaski Vulcan Cafe ABS||Kawaski Vulcan 900 Classic LT, Custom, Classic||Yamaha Bolt-R Spec||Yamaha V-Star 250|
|Base MSRP||“2022: $11,729
2022 (no ABS): $8,400
2021: $10, 200–$11,800”
|2022: $10,000||2022: $5,500|
|Engine type||4-stroke, Liquid-cooled, OHC, 45-degree V-twin||4-stroke, Liquid-cooled, OHC, 45-degree V-twin||4-stroke, Liquid-cooled, OHC, 45-degree V-twin||liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin four-stroke||Liquid-cooled single-cylinder||liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC 8-valve parallel twin||liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC 8-valve parallel twin||liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC 8-valve V-twin||air-cooled, SOHC, 4-valve per cylinder, fuel injected, 60° V-twin||air-cooled, SOHC, 2 valves per cylinder, 60 degree, V-twin.|
|Displacement||805 cc||805 cc||805 cc||471 cc||286 cc||649 cc||649 cc||903 cc||942 cc||249 cc|
|Fuel System||Fuel injection||Fuel injection||Fuel injection||Fuel injection||Fuel injection||Fuel injection||Fuel injection||Fuel injection||Fuel injection||Mikuni bds 26 Carburetor|
|Transmission||5-speed constant mesh||5-speed constant mesh||5-speed constant mesh||6-speed||6-speed||6-speed||6-speed||5-speed||5-speed||5-speed|
|Final Drive||Shaft||Shaft||Shaft||O-ring-sealed chain||O-ring-sealed chain||chain||chain||Belt||Belt||chain|
|Weight||651 lbs/ 295 kg||611 lbs/ 277 kg||498 lbs/226 kg||657 lbs./298 kg|
|Brakes: Front||Disc||Disc||Disc||296 mm disc with two-piston caliper||296 mm disc with two-piston caliper||300 mm disc with dual-piston caliper||300 mm disc with dual-piston caliper||300 mm disc with twin-piston caliper||298 mm disc / twin piston caliper||298 mm disc / twin piston caliper|
|Brakes: Rear||Drum||Drum||Link type, coil spring, oil damped||240 mm disc with single-piston caliper||240 mm disc with single-piston caliper||250 mm disc with single-piston caliper||250 mm disc with single-piston caliper||270 mm disc with twin-piston caliper||298 mm disc / single piston caliper||Drum|
|Fuel Capacity||15.5 litres||15.5 litres||15.5 litres||11.2 litres||11.2 litres||14 litres||14 litres||20 litres||13 litres||9.5 litres|
|Seat Height||27.6 inches/ 700mm||27.6 inches/ 700mm||27.6 inches/ 700mm||27.2 inches/ 690mm||27.2 inches/ 690mm||27.8 inches/ 705mm||27.8 inches/ 705mm||26.8 inches/681mm||26.2 inches/690mm||27 inches/ 685mm|
|Front suspension||Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped||Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped||Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped||41mm fork; 4.8 inches of travel||41mm fork; 4.8 inches of travel||41 mm telescopic fork / 130 mm (5.1 in)||41 mm telescopic fork / 130 mm (5.1 in)||41 mm telescopic fork / 150 mm (5.9 in)||41mm fork / 120 mm (4.7″) wheel travel||33mm fork / 140mm (5.5″) wheel travel|
|Rear Suspension||Link type, coil spring, oil damped||Link type, coil spring, oil damped||Link type, coil spring, oil damped||Dual shocks with 3.8 inches of travel||Dual shocks with 3.7 inches of travel||Offset laydown single-shock, linkage-equipped, with adjustable preload / 80 mm (3.1 in)||Offset laydown single-shock, linkage-equipped, with adjustable preload / 80 mm (3.1 in)||Uni Trak, single shock with adjustable spring preload / 103 mm (4.1 in)||Preload adjustable premium dual gas charged piggyback shocks / 70mm (2.8″) wheel travel||Adjustable dual shocks / 100mm (3.9″) wheel travel|
NOTE: Specifications shown are for 2022 models.
* This means that there was no evidence in the specifications showing that ABS was included.