2005 Bruiser Cruiser Comparo 2005 Honda Valkyrie Rune, 2005 Triumph Rocket III, 2005 Kawasaki Vulcan 2000
Okay, so you’ve got yer traditional cruisers, your classic cruisers, your stripped-down cruisers and yer touring cruisers. Then, with the arrival a few years back of the Mean Streak, Road Star Warrior and V-Rod, add performance cruisers to the list of sub-niches to capitalize on the lucrative cruiser market.
Now we have what we like to call Bruiser Cruisers, and they trump all the rest in terms of size and engine output. Their mammoth proportions and power will either make you feel like a man or prove that you’re not.
Each bike, in its own way, is a phallus extender: the Triumph Rocket 3 for its sheer size; Honda’s Rune for its blatant outrageousness and price tag; and the Kawasaki Vulcan for its biggest-of-all cylinders. Perhaps these bikes should be labeled “The Enzyte Trio.”
At around 100 inches in length, these 8-foot long monsters are the oil tankers among motorcycles. In somewhat of a surprise, the bike with the largest engine in the group, Triumph’s Rocket, has the shortest overall length (97.6 inches) and nearly the stubbiest wheelbase (66.7 inches). In a perfect bit of irony, the smallest-engined bike, Honda’s Rune, is the longest (100.6 inches) and has the most amount of space between its wheels (68.9 inches).
But the topic of conversation that always crops up around this massive trio is not a linear measurement but rather volume: that is, cubic centimeters.
At 2294cc, Triumph’s three-cylinder Rocket 3 sports the biggest package, and we enjoyed telling innocent bystanders that the engine in the bike they’re looking at is just 60cc smaller than the one in their Honda Accord family sedan!
Next down the displacement line is the 2053cc Vulcan 2K. Its pair of massive 4-inch pistons move through a gargantuan 4.85-inch stroke to boast mammoth 1026.5cc cylinders. Put another way, if this mill was a V-8, its engine would displace 501 cubic inches.
Smallest but no less impressive is the silky, 1832cc flat-Six in Honda’s Rune. What it lacks in size is made up by its exotic nature; this, and the Gold Wing upon which it is based, is the only six-cylinder engine in motorcycle production. Its hot-rod exhaust note and rumpity-rump idle sounds more like a big-block Plymouth Roadrunner than a horizontally opposed Six has a right to.
The MCUSA staff was truly livin’ large when we took this titanic trio to Arizona and back to SoCal for our Bruiser Cruiser comparison.
As can be expected of a group whose engines displace a combined 6.2 liters, roll-on power from each of these bikes is really impressive. Cruising at 90 mph and whacking the throttle open will have you up to 110 in mere seconds, causing its rider to think, “Man! This is a cruiser?” The Rocket proved worthy of its name when it stunningly catapulted from 60-80 mph in less than 2 seconds during our instrumented performance testing.
Besides big engines and large lengths, this is a group that has little else in common. The Rune, for all its high-tech looks, is the only one that doesn’t use the more efficient four-valve-per-cylinder arrangement, relying on a single intake and exhaust valve per cylinder operated by a single overhead cam.
Conversely, the V2K a more contemporary 4-valve head and dual-cam system, although it uses pushrod valve actuation and partial air-cooling.
However, all must bow down to the Trumpet’s Triple. Added to its obvious size advantage, its motor is a fully modern DOHC, 4-valve-per-cylinder arrangement that easily boasts the greatest levels of both horsepower and torque.
But this is all parking-lot chatter. Turn the virtual page to find out just how these behemoths perform in the real world as we take them on an interstate trip from SoCal to Phoenix, taking notes on the road, in town and at motorcycle hangouts along the way.
Since we’ve already given you our first impressions of the Vulcan 2000 and Triumph Rocket in earlier articles, we’ll begin with what is perhaps the most bizarre machine of this already eccentric group.