Cruisers are a special kind of big in the good ol’ US of A. They constantly battle against sport bikes for market dominance, and you’ll most likely find a cruiser model on the showroom floor even from the Japanese, Italian, and British manufacturers. And many cruisers have a certain something about them that gives them that touch of the bad boy.
However, certain cruiser models have a big dose of extra badassery. It could be an engine that is more at home powering the small family sedan. It could be insane styling that makes you take a second look. And maybe it’s just so mean-looking, so unbelievably evil and twisted, that it demands to be called badass.
Here, then, in no specific order, as the newest, most badass cruisers you can buy today.
2022 Triumph Rocket 3 R
Reason For Badassery: Engine
It’s simple, really. It’s all about one number that casts a shadow on pretty much every other motorcycle engine out there. That number is 2,458 cubic centimeters. In Imperial, that’s 150 cubic inches. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the size of the three cylinder engine that powers the 2022 Triumph Rocket R.
167 HP. 163 lb-ft of torque.
Compare that to, say, the 2022 Kia RIo5 hatchback. That car has a 1,600cc inline four engine with 120 HP and 112 lb-ft of torque, pulling a car weighing 2,762 lbs.
The 2022 Rocket 3 R weighs just over 660 lbs soaking wet with a cinder block or three tied to its seat.
To celebrate the insane torque numbers that this titan-of-a-motorcycle produces, the 2022 Rocket 3 R even has a 221 Special Edition coming into 2022. Thanks to our Metric-loving Brits across the water, the ‘221’ denotes the 221 Newton Meters of torque (à la 163 lb-ft of torque in freedom power). Can’t believe the insane torque saddled between your thighs? You can find the power specs engraved directly into the fuel tank so you can never forget what is providing the feeling of riding literal lightning.
It used to be that if you wanted the Indian introductory bike, the venerable Scout Sixty, you could only get it with a softail and a few old school bits to make it look like an older bike. Not so anymore. Last year Indian finally decided to bite the bullet and finally give the people what they want. The American cruiser brand has taken the standard Scout Sixty and whacked half the tail off, lowered the seat, hauled back on the handlebars, and gave the Scout Sixty a couple of big, badass noise makers, one from each cylinder.
Give it a 1,000cc (61 ci) liquid cooled V-twin that rumbles out 78 HP and 65 lb-ft of torque, and make it a middleweight at 550 lbs wet.
For 2022 customers will be delighted to find the Scout Bobber Sixty with some extra color options when compared to last year. Take your pick from a hardy Quartz Gray, matte red Ruby Smoke, Black Smoke, or compete your murder aesthetic with a complete Black Metallic. Unfortunately you won’t be getting very far with a body strapped to the back of this loud entry-level cruiser, despite it’s lowkey blacked-out nature.
Indian’s got more exciting bikes in their 2022 fleet.
2022 Honda Rebel Lineup (350, 500, 1100)
Reason For Badassery: Bringing new riders to the cruiser community
Let’s face it, the Honda Rebel bikes don’t overtly look threatening. They also don’t have particularly loud exhausts, and use parallel-twin engines to deliver linear torque and have very forgiving handling. But that, in and of itself, is why they are badass.
Honda has pulled a master stroke with the Rebel lineup. Many new riders choose a Honda, because of their reputation of being easy to ride, easy to fix, and reliable as all hell. So why not let those interested in cruisers have a great first bike? Japan can make bad-ass bikes too!
Although this can be an easy stepping-point for new riders thanks to 350cc and 500cc options, last year Honda happily obliged to finally duke it out with the American big-hitters with the introduction of the Rebel 1100. Not only is this great for larger riders, but it also gives consumers the option of getting on a Japanese-built cruiser with a displacement over 1000cc. Using the Dakar Rally tested 1,100cc engine from the Africa Twin, the Rebel 1100 has 86 HP, 72 lb-ft of torque, and is big enough that even those above 6 feet tall will be able to sit comfortably on it.
2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber
Reason For Badassery: Brute-force British cruising
Known for typically manufacturing refined classically-inspired motorcycles, Triumph still takes any given chance to “stick it to the man” – and what counts more than sticking it to the man than a bad-ass bobber from everyone’s favorite British motorcycle builder.
With Triumph’s Bonneville line of motorcycles typically being synonymous with light-tan leather jackets and cafe bros, the Bonneville Bobber takes a completely different approach to Triumph’s typical bike ethos thanks to its eccentric stripped-down styling and Bobber core.
Armed with a fat blow-horn exhaust stemming from each of the 1200cc V-Twin’s cylinders, Triumph markets the roar of this motorcycle as having a “Hot Rod Sound”; and they aren’t kidding. This throaty beast definitely has the acoustic power to back up it’s bad-ass looks. If you don’t believe us you can preview the exhaust note on their model page.
Speaking of looks, this bike really is a tried and true bobber thanks to its minimalistic seat design, stripped back handlebars, and blacked out components. The only piece of chrome you’ll find on this thing (beyond the obvious brakes) are the exhaust pipes capable of setting off car alarms as you dice up the streets hopping bar to bar in an urban wasteland.
With power figures rated at 76 horsepower and 78 lb-ft of torque, this is also a great option for newer riders looking to strap themselves to a piece of British Bobber brilliance.
2022 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114
Reason For Badassery: Honestly, it was the original badass cruiser, and we respect that
Way back in the 20th century, Harley-Davidson was known for making touring motorcycles, continent crushers, and baggers. And then, out of the depths of their skunk works, a little cruiser (okay, a fairly big, chunky, loud cruiser) called the Fat Boy emerged. It took the same basic frame and style of those baggers, tourers, and continent crushers, got rid of all the extraneous things that weren’t needed, dropped the seat down a bit, and put a big badass V-twin into it.
Fast forwards to today, and that same basic recipe has helped many motorcycle manufacturers build badass cruisers that rival the original. But, and this is a hefty but, there can only be one original. Harley remembers that, and so the Fat Boy 114 is their 2022 flavor of the classic badass cruiser.
With a Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin, the Fat Boy chucks out 114 lb-ft of torque and “adequate” HP. It has the classic rumble of a straight piped, slightly baffled V-twin as well, another of the signature badass sounds. It has the classic lines of those first Fat Boys, the slope of the tank matching to the front slope of the seat. It is a classic, and it was the original, so we respect that badass cruisers exist because of Harley-Davidson taking a risk back in the 20th century.
2022 BMW R18
Reason For Badassery: A true heritage classic that brings the noise
Few know that prior to the new millennium, BMW actually made quite a few cruisers. They weren’t really labelled as cruisers at the time, but throughout the middle few decades of the 20th century, BMW cruisers were prized for their ride and handling.
BMW decided to bring back that love of their cruisers, but they also kind-of packed Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, with it. A 1,802 boxer-twin is the engine of the R18, making it both the first true boxer cruiser in the 21st century, as well as harnessing the horizontally opposed cylinders to smack out some big numbers.
With Harley-Davidson squarely in their sights, the R18’s boxer makes a grunty 117 lb-ft of torque, which beats Harley’s mainstream Milwaukee-Eight 107 by 10 lb-ft, and the 114 by 3 lb-ft. It also takes the longtail bobber look and puts a bit of German engineering excellence to it, with a steel double frame to support that monster of an engine covered in gorgeous classical lines and curves.
Despite cruiser motorcycles being synonymous with the color black, BMW has brought a completely swank color option into 2022 with the addition of (please excuse the long-winded name) “Option 719 Galaxy Dust Metallic/Titansilver 2 Metallic”. Phew. With unbelievable attention to detail put into this special paint option, it’s pretty hard to even begin to explain what the color really is thanks to its blue-ish purple-ish iridescent sheen. A loud paint option for a loud cruiser. Amazing.
2022 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster
Reason For Badassery: A bruiser cruiser with a top hat
The British have a weird way of looking at things. They have a tendency for stubbornness, a fight-before-flight attitude, and despite living on a tiny island in the North Atlantic, have some incredible influence around the world.
So it should be no surprise, then, that a cruiser from England is understated, wearing a nice tux and a top hat aesthetically, while packing a solidly developed, honed-over-years body underneath. A 1,200cc parallel-twin puts out 78 HP, 78 lb-ft of torque, and does so confidently and smoothly.
It also looks spectacular. It’s one of those cruisers that you look at, turn around, then turn back again to appreciate the confident curves, the seemingly perfect rake of the front forks, the way the seat hitches up over the back wheel almost like a bobber, but then eases into a pillion rider cushion. The 2022 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is just badass.