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2012 Women’s Cruiser Shootout For My Money

Monday, May 21, 2012


The 2012 Honda Shadow Spirit was the lightest bike we tested.
Test riders Jody, Sarah and Vickie selected the 2012 Honda Shadow Spirit as their For My Money selections.
The 2012 Triumph America was one of the first British rides for many of our testers.
Jan and Tania liked the Triumph America for their For My Money pick in the 2012 Women's Cruiser Shootout.
Jody Hemingway – 4’11”, 110 pounds – Honda Shadow Spirit

The Honda is definitely my overall pick for comfort, speed and handling! I would pick a different color though. Although price is important to me, it is not a factor when it comes to safety, comfort and confidence on the road.

Tania Satchwell – 5’3”, 130 pounds – Triumph America

It was a toss up between the Honda and the Triumph for me. But today I base my decision on power, comfort and overall performance. Being a Kiwi, I didn’t think I would ever trust those Brits to make such an awesome motorcycle (just joking).

Honestly, I wouldn’t have looked twice at the Triumph on the showroom floor. The paint and color scheme is just a standard classic cruiser look. The first time I heard it start up, I laughed at how quiet it was. This brings me to the life lesson we are all familiar with: “You should not judge a book by its cover.”

After spending some time on the Triumph America, this would be the bike for me. The engine has a lot of torque and feels like it continues to pull through top speed. The seat and controls are comfortable. I could ride this motorcycle to the East Coast and back.

Jan Plessner – 5’3”, 148 pounds – Triumph America
 
I really think all of the bikes in our test have something to offer. I would be proud to own them all. I’d take the Harley around town, to bike nights and up to the lookout just so I could hear it wind through the canyon. The Honda would be my “go to” machine. As the testing proved, it topped the scoring in six of the nine subjective categories. It is a top-shelf package by a top-shelf company. I’ve logged plenty of miles on the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom, and there is no denying that it is the most beautiful machine in the bunch.

But when I’m riding cruisers, I crave three things more than anything else: fun, comfort and confidence. The Triumph America completely surprised me on all levels. This was my first Triumph experience and hopefully not my last. I enjoyed it from the minute I threw my leg over to the last minute of my last session. I even like the name of the model.

Sarah Schilke – 5’4”, 140 pounds – Honda Shadow Spirit
 
The Harley was the most maneuverable and in my mind, was the most typical cruiser of all the bikes. The Kawasaki Vulcan had the best cruiser image. The Triumph was the best performance-wise, but I think the number one value was in the Honda.

Every piece of the Honda Shadow Spirit just seemed to fit and flow together creating sleek lines and good balance. In my mind, the Honda delivered the best package of performance, comfort and looks.

Vickie Norton - 5’8”, 145 pounds – Honda Shadow Spirit
 
Overall, I’d have to say the Honda was my favorite bike for the same reasons it dominated the top spot in so many categories. It is what I’d buy with my cash. Surprisingly, it is the least expensive bike. I think it is safe to say that I wouldn’t buy the bike in orange. (Hey Honda, how about matte black or custom midnight blue?)







2012 Harley-Davidson SuperLow Photos
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2012 Triumph America Photos
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2012 Honda Shadow Spirit Photos
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2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom
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2012 Women's Cruiser 0-60
2012 Women's Cruiser 0-60
2012 Women's Cruiser Braking
2012 Women's Cruiser Braking
2012 Women's Cruiser 1/4 Mile
2012 Women's Cruiser 1/4 Mile

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Comments
talldancer8   May 30, 2014 09:50 AM
Great article. My biggest concern is that I can never find information specifically for tall women who are new riders. I'm 6-feet tall and got my training and motorcycle license two summers ago. I bought a 2008 Harley Sportster 883 XL Custom because the foot pegs were more forward allowing my legs to stretch further than on other bikes. I also thought the gas tank took up less space between my legs, which bothered me on other models. Unfortunately, I only rode the motorcycle once to quickly realize it was not a good first bike for me. The center of gravity felt too low and balancing at a stop was awkward for my 35" inseam legs. You mention a weight of 500-some pounds for your test bike but my Sportster was closer to 700-pounds. That with the low center of gravity actually made me very nervous, so I stopped riding. I just got rid of my Harley (husband used it as a trade in on a new truck), so I'm ready to search for the right first bike for me. I want a lighter weight and higher seat height/frame. I'll buy used again because I can't afford more than $7,000-$8,000. Any suggestions for this tall newbie?! Thank you, Laura
fishy   June 28, 2013 07:40 AM
Nice write up being read by a guy, shopping for my wife. In my book the Spirit (now is June 2013) the only bike with ABS and that makes the stupid spoke wheels almost tolerable. Lack of ABS for her killed all the others. For the guys out there looking for bikes for their lady-LET THEM PICK OUT THE BIKE. I did not and ended up riding the bike I got for her for a few years. Were going to test the Spirit ABS this week. She is on a Suzuki S40 with a Mustang notch seat and it's very smooth and low. A few skidding rear wheels on fast stops have us on a search for a ABS bike. Keep up the good reviews.
Glen   July 13, 2012 01:38 PM
Interesting choise of bikes for women to think about, but your dollar limit seems to be low for older women(25+) who can afford the better alternatives. How about doing this again with cruiser and street fighters together without money as the premise.


samb   June 7, 2012 07:59 PM
Over the years I have owned 14 motorcycles. I have owned both the Triumph America (2008) and the Honda 750 Shadow (2007). I think the Honda 750 Shadow is the best overall bike I have owned. The bike has a natural balance and great handling, and I love the sound. The only complaint is the lack of power, which can be improved with a few changes. The Triumph America is a sleeper speed demon. The America can simply fly and stay up with about any cruiser on the road. My only complaint about it is the heavy handling and it sounds like an electric motor. Triumph should fire the people that designed the muffler and hire the one that designed the Honda's.
Justin Dawes   June 2, 2012 04:32 PM
dbbie - Perhaps you missed the by-line of this shootout. It was conceived and written by a woman, one of the most influential in motorcycle business. Jan Plessner led the PR effort for Kawasaki up until earlier this year. She no doubt understands that women are not relegated to smaller machines, as do we at Motorcycle USA. If fact we just wrapped up our Superbike Smackdown IX Street testing. 2 of the 5 test riders are women.
mgale   May 31, 2012 09:38 PM
I'm glad to see that you finally did a women's shootout, but why does everyone assume that women can't ride any bike with decent power? I would like to see a shootout with bikes that aren't made for such small women. How about using bikes that can keep up with the men? I got a chance to ride the Kawasaki 1700 Classic in Sturgis and it was the best combination of comfort, power, and handling of any motorcycle I have ridden. I have to admit that I was on tip-toe (I do wish the bike was an inch or two lower) but it was so easy to handle that even at a stop light on a steep incline, I didn't have any trouble. Come on, ladies, lots of us want real power and speed.
dbbie   May 29, 2012 03:32 PM
It's men like you that make me want to scream. Your comparing bikes based on paint color. Get real. Your comparing apples with oranges. And why do you think all women are short and weigh next to nothing. I'm 5'7" without riding boots and I weigh more then a feather. I couldn't a bit more fit on a Harley super low if I wanted to my knees would hit my chin. Why is it assumed that a women can't ride a 1200? Why are you always putting us on 883?I have an 883 but it's a 2003 with forward controls and a drag bar. Not all sportsters are created equal. You can customize them to get a better fit. I changed my seat and it made a world of difference in how my bike fit me and how I felt more confident on my bike. Get this women properly fitted in each brand of bike and then compare them and see what your test results are.
blkmmba   May 23, 2012 10:39 AM
It's awesome to finally read a review on this site from a woman's perspective that isn't as a passenger. Thanks, please keep it comin'.
bikerrandy   May 22, 2012 04:20 PM
It's about time someone had a women rider shootout ! Well done, Motorcycle-USA.