Cycle World Magazine Tests 8 Bagger Motorcycles

By: On: October 7th, 20080 Comments »Updated: October 14, 2012

Moto Guzzi California

Cycle World Magazine’s October 2008 edition includes a “Battle of the Baggers” test of 8 different bagger motorcycles tested by 8 different riders and written by Peter Egan.  An unlikely winner was picked which made the article all that more interesting.



For those unfamiliar with the term “bagger” motorcycle, this is used to describe a class of motorcycles that come with side luggage bags or also known as saddlebags or panniers.

Victory Kingpin Tour MotorcycleSome bagger motorcycles have soft bags traditionally made of leather.  Some baggers have hard bags usually made from fiberglass or composite body-panel materials.  Also, all the motorcycles in this test come fitted standard with windshields also.  To me, bagger motorcycles are not just practical due to the storage space they have, but they are one of the true classic style of motorcycles with very cool looks indeed.

What I have put together here is a further comparison of those bagger motorcycles featured in the Cycle World magazine bagger test. My intention here is not to simply repeat the article, but hopefully the additional charts provided here will help you with a quick and easy to read summary or comparison of bagger motorcycle info.Bagger Motorcycle Cost 2008

Cycle World tested a very good variety of motorcycles in this “Battle of the Baggers” article and should be applauded for it.  The motorcycles they selected included Harley-Davidson Road King Classic, Victory Kingpin Tour, Honda VTX1800T, Star (Yamaha) Road Star Silverado S, Suzuki Boulevard C109RT, Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 LT, Moto Guzzi California Vintage, and the Triumph Rocket III Touring.

The 2008 US list price (dollars) for the bagger motorcycles in this test ranges from $14,099 for the Star Road Star Silverado S, up to $19,195 for the Harley-Davidson Road King Classic.  If you don’t have a motorcycle license yet, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to get one after you see these bikes in person at the dealer, and don’t forget to get yourself some good motorcycle insurance too.

Star Roadstar Silverado SBagger motorcycles are not usually very light as motorcycles go, and sometimes all that extra weight can really reduce the ease of riding.  Below is a chart comparing the weights of the tested motorcycles that were in the magazine test.  The lightest motorcycle in this “Battle of the Baggers” is the Moto Guzzi California Vintage, which also has the smallest engine at 1064cc, that is if you can really even call that engine small.  Described as an “enthusiast’s bike”, this one holds it’s own and then some among these more mainstream competitors.

Motorcycle engines in baggers these days are typically V-twins, as all the bikes in this test were except for the Triumph.  The Triumph Rocket III Touring has a whopping 2.3 liter in-line 3 cylinder engine that is rated at 139.1 lbs-ft of torque, which is a heck of a lot for any street driven motorcycle.  This touring Triumph really needs that extra torque to get it’s massive size underway.2008 Bagger Motorcycle Engine Sizes

Air cooling of these big motorcycle engines works well for half of the group.  The other half: the Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and the big Triumph use liquid cooling.  The Star’s 1670cc engine was the only air-cooled Japanese brand in the test.

One of the Japanese brand of baggers that faired very well was the Honda VTX1800T and was close to being the top favorite of the 8 different riders.  As nicely made and as smooth as it is, it does come in as the highest priced Japanese motorcycle of this test.

Honda VTX MotorcyclePrices of these beautiful motorcycles, which in general are not cheap, but also are not too awfully high in terms of what touring motorcycles generally can cost these days.  A couple more things to consider when buying a nice motorcycle such as a bagger, is the warranty and the maintenance requirements.

The best standard warranty of the bunch comes with the Moto Guzzi.  The Moto Guzzi California comes with a standard 2 year warranty, plus 24 hour roadside assistance.  It’s sure hard to beat that.  The majority of competitors in this test come with the standard 1 year warranty.

2008 Bagger Motorcycle Weight Compare

One of the only negative issues with the Moto Guzzi, as pointed out by the author of the article, is that their current dealer network in the US is “sketchy”, as in it may be hard to find one.  While the author picked the Harley-Davidson Road King Classic as the one he would personally consider buying, he included “a good dealership network” as one of his several reasons. Right after that, Mr. Egan wrote that “A Guzzi dealership within a 100 miles might change things, however.”

Triumph Rocket TouringSo, all this Guzzi talk comes from me, the author of this motorcycle info summary and happy owner of a Moto Guzzi California Vintage.  But, more importantly, who was deemed the overall winner of the Cycle World test you ask?

It was the actually the Triumph Rocket III Touring that won it.  I suggest you read the magazine article for yourself to find out why, then leave a comment here on Motorcycle Info to let fellow riders know which of these bagger motorcycles you would have selected!

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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