Cruisers are not often thought of as the fastest bikes on the road. The overarching image is that they are slow, comfortable machines meant to eat up the miles between cities or, in some cases, across continents. Yet, the power and speed behind some cruisers may surprise you.
For this list, we’re not looking as much at top speed and outright performance as we are looking at one specific metric: 0 to 60 times, measured in seconds. As these cruisers are often considered as muscle cruisers, power cruisers, or sport cruisers, they are often missing the bags, windshields, and cowlings that add so much aerodynamic drag to their touring cousins.
#10: 2014-2017 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom
0-60: 3.75 seconds
You have to give it to the Italians. In a list where American thunder and Japanese precision are expected to reign supreme, they sneak in with a classic looking, perpendicular V engined cruiser that can get to 60 MPH faster than most Ferrari’s. Moto Guzzi took the chance to pull off all the touring weight and accessories and let the engine have some fun.
The reason the bike is so stupendously fast is that it is a pared down, stripped down version of the California 1400 Touring, weighing in at a scant 670 lbs wet. This allows the 88 lb-ft of torque and 95 HP ample space to get the rear wheel gripped into the asphalt and the bike itself launched down the road rather quickly!
#9: 2015-2020 Suzuki Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S.
0-60: 3.65 seconds
When your bike is named “The BOSS,” it’s a statement that needs a lot of grunt behind it to sustain it. Well, with the Blacked Out Suzuki Special (B.O.S.S.) version of the instantly classic Boulevard, Suzuki walks the walk to back up their talk! The Boulevard line of bikes has gained a reputation as something not to sniff at haughtily, and the Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S is the king of that model range.
Borrowing engineers from their sport and racing divisions, Suzuki tuned the 1,785cc V-twin monster in the BOSS to rip up pavement with 97 lb-ft of torque and 105 HP. It also does so like roaring like Thor as it blasts past.
Part bruiser, part cruiser, all power. Just the way a muscle bike should be!
#8: 2008 to 2017 Yamaha XV1900A Star Raider
0-60: 3.6 seconds
Coming out of the early 2000’s, Yamaha wanted to tap into the newly emerging sport cruiser segment that, for decades prior, had been relegated to only a small portion of the riding population. Taking their XV1900A Star Roadliner, an excellent touring bike that still crushes miles to this day, they pulled off the windshield, the saddlebags, the backrest for the rear passenger, and dropped the seat almost down to bobber height.
As well, the front forks were raked harder and lengthened, and a 210 mm wide rear tire was shoehorned in to get power from the 1,854 cc V-twin. 123 lb-ft of torque from that bad boy set the rear wheel spinning if you dropped the clutch too hard. However, if you got the perfect hookup, the Star Raider leaped forwards, promptly followed by the rider’s scream of excitement.
Sadly, the Star Raider is getting harder and harder to find on the used market, and a well maintained one in good condition will set you back a small fortune.
#7: 2002-2006 Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod
0-60: 3.59 seconds
The early 2000’s were both a good time and a rough period for Harley Davidson. On the positive side, they were seeing a jump in sales after the lackluster end of the 1990’s. They were also involved with flat-track and drag-bike racing teams, and out of that came the VR-1000 Revolution engine, a prototype for a super-cruiser bike. On the downside, however, the Harley Davidson experiment with Buell Motorcycles as a sub-brand was already going sour, with the sporty cruisers and road bikes not resonating well with customers at all.
From the VR-1000 engine, however, Harley Davidson made the now legendary VRSCA V-Rod, a V-twin engine with 1,131 cc’s of displacement. 84 lb-ft of torque and 115 HP rumbled out of the venerable engine at stock. However, the true glory of the engine was its nearly endless headroom for tuning and building up. The VRSCA V-Rod from this generation, already powerful enough to place 5th on this list, soon became known as the engine you wanted in your drag bike, and it is still an extremely potent engine on the dragstrip today.
#6: 2014-2015 Honda Gold Wing Valkyrie
0-60: 3.4 seconds
What do you get if you take one of the most popular long distance tourers of all time, strip it of all its touring gear, give it a muscle cruiser profile, and sell it to the mass market? The Honda Gold Wing Valkyrie, of course!
Unusual on this list of V-twins and thunderous triples, the Valkyrie packed a flat-six boxer under its massive front end. 123 lb-ft of torque and 117 HP moved the 700 lbs wet bike at rapid pace down the road, and could leap forwards to 60 MPH at about the same speed most mid-600cc sportbikes could at the time.
While not sold for long in the USA, they resonated well with customers, and as such it is not too difficult to find a used Valkyrie hiding in the “For Sale” section of the local auto and bike trader website.
#5: 2010-2017 Triumph Rocket III Roadster
0-60: 3.3 seconds
Leave it to the British to show up the USA in “How to do it correctly!” Introduced in 2010, the first version of the Rocket III Roadster was an absolute powerhouse of a bike. 2,294 cc’s in an inline-triple, pushing out 162 lb-ft of torque and 146 HP, it was the biggest, baddest, most powerful cruiser that had ever come from Triumph.
The only downside to the first generation Rocket III is that it was a bit of a pudgy bike, at 800 lbs wet. Yet, as the muscle car saying goes, “There’s no replacement for displacement,” and the equivalent of 140 cubic inches at the command of your right wrist just proves that point.
#4: 2020 Harley Davidson Livewire
0-60: 3 seconds
The Harley Davidson Livewire first appeared in 2019, the first venture from the old American motorcycle company in producing a sports-oriented electric motorcycle. The bike itself rides much more in a standard seating position than the relaxed cruiser style forward peg placement, but it has rear peg placement for a reason.
The thing about the livewire is that it uses a triple-phase induction electric motor. This produces the equivalent of 52 lb-ft of torque and 74 HP. That doesn’t sound all that amazing… until you realize that all of that power and torque is available at 0 RPM. The instant your right wrist twists, you have all the torque in the world, and it veritably launches the Livewire down the road faster than all but the most powerful sportbikes.
#3: 2020 Triumph Rocket 3 GT
0-60: 2.75 seconds
The second generation of Triumph’s Rocket III, this time stylised as the Rocket 3, the GT version was launched in 2019 to wide acclaim. A total evolution of its first generation brother, the new Rocket 3 GT is lighter, more powerful, and, incredibly, a full half a second faster than its older brother.
This comes about from the gigantic 2,458 cc inline triple that could quite easily be used in a small city car. This new engine fires out 164 lb-ft of torque and the equivalent of about a million HP, or so it feels when you’re hanging onto the handlebars by your fingertips because of how fast this beast slingshots itself to 60. And, due to that heavy duty engine, it doesn’t seem to want to obey the laws of physics as it will just keep accelerating until those laws catch up, or your right wrist relaxes!
#2: 2019-2020 Ducati Diavel 1260 S
0-60: 2.6 seconds
Ducati intended for the name of the Diavel1260 S to sound a lot like “devil.” Not so much a sport cruiser as a cruiser body style placed over a monstrous sportbike, the Diavel will shred its rear tire at the mere mention of throttle. And to think, this is the third generation of this insane bike, with a 1,262 Testatretta high-angle V-twin engine, “only” makes 95 lb-ft of torque and 157 HP.
We put the only in quotes there because this Italian devil weighs in at 480 lbs soaking wet with a brick strapped to the handlebars. That gives it a power-to-weight ratio of 0.3 HP per pound of weight. Compare that to a supercar such as the Ferrari 488, which has 0.23 HP per pound of weight, and you can see why this Ducati absolutely flies!
#1: 2009-2020 Yamaha VMAX
0-60: 2.5 seconds
Introduced in 2009, nothing that has come to market since has been able to beat the Yamaha VMAX. It’s even there in the name, as in physics, the maximum velocity of an object is reported as V-max. It doesn’t have the biggest engine at 1,679 ccs in a V-four. It doesn’t have the most torque at 123 lb-ft. It doesn’t weigh the least at 694 lbs.
What it does have, however, is the most mechanical horsepower at almost exactly 200. Combined with the torque to get the bike moving, that mechanical horsepower propels this utter power cruiser through the legal speed limit on many highways in spot on 2.5 seconds. It beggars belief that this unassuming cruiser can quite literally leave anything but the newest, 1,000 HP+ hypercars behind.