Two-cylinder cruiser Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom, Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and Triumph Bonneville Bobber in the test

Rossen Gargolov

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Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom, Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and Triumph Bonneville Bobber – cruisers to recharge your batteries.

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom: Classic double tube frame made of steel, flat steering head of 60 degrees, longest wheelbase, highest weight, biggest image: The Sportster continues the tradition in the best sense

The finest chrome and matt anthracite go hand in hand on the Harley.

New: the more central footrest system. Incomprehensible because it is unsuitable in practice: the offset between the footrest and the brake pedal.

Noble and always beautiful: the handlebar clamp.

Easy rider feeling is always possible.

Freed from the pillion rests and seat, a large number of stickers removed, the Guzzi already has a much darker appearance.

The elaborate washers remain in good memory even after driving, as is the V2 with its enormous elasticity.

What annoys: the extremely loud clone when changing gears.

Inviting place, refined with handlebar end mirrors and levers from the accessories. The handlebar clamps made of brushed precious metal look just as chic…

…like the non-lockable fuel cap.

Flat and narrow, tidy and thought out down to the last detail. 245 kilos meet up to 106 Newton meters, neutral driving characteristics and sufficient lean angle.

A bike for the soul. Outwardly, the Bobber inspires across the board, every component conveys quality and sensuality.

The full blow of the in-line two-cylinder and its vehement thrust…

…can be enjoyed from the adjustable driver’s seat.

The handlebars are close at hand.

The Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom shines like a fir tree. Elbows, mufflers, cooling fins and and and. Simply successful.

The brake may lack an initial bite and good controllability, but the braking performance leaves nothing to be desired.

From the skilfully laid exhaust pipes come thick, reticent blows.

The pilot’s posture is fixed due to the strong depression in the seat.

The well-known analog instrument is supplemented by a small integrated LC display.

With the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber, you shouldn’t let the data sheet mislead you.

It doesn’t have to hide from the outside either. Matt black with skilful color interruptions, picture book washers, everything neatly balanced.

The LC display in the analog clock is informative.

The pillion kicks in the air. Footrests are only intended for the pilot.

The Moto Guzzi shows what is possible with a single disc brake. Excellent braking performance, good controllability, initial bite.

A real masterpiece that the English put on their wheels. Starting with the shapes, through the colors and down to the last detail.

Only the brakes leave a lot to be desired. The standard variant gives a poor idea.

Apart from that, it impresses with the cited carburetor dummy, brushed surfaces, the carefully welded frame and much more.

The wide handlebars stretch far in front of you.

Without any major vibrations, the stainless steel dampers make it sound choppy and bubbly.

The Harley weighs 268 kg in front of the Triumph (245 kg) and the Moto Guzzi (213 kg).

When it comes to the price, the three don’t give each other too much. The Moto Guzzi is the cheapest cruiser at 10,550 euros. Harley: 12,275 euros. Triumph: 13,000 euros.

Cruisers from Harley-Davidson, Moto Guzzi and Triumph

Two-cylinder cruiser in the test

Aside from galactic performance racers, knees on the ground and front wheel in the air, the three cruisers Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom, Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and Triumph Bonneville Bobber show what it’s all about: feeling good.

E.s may not immediately make sense to everyone. Many never get an answer to the question that others would never ask: Why are there such cruiser bikes? If you are looking for grounding after a hard day’s work with miserable meetings, hard work, stress and anger and only find it in a low incline, you would never think of sitting on one of these low grinders. Motorcycles whose rests grate across the asphalt at the thought of bends, heavy as schnitzel fries and unwieldy like a Dutch bike brush over the tar are not perfect for gymnastics. Many even consider it to be a completely unsuitable device. But be careful! This species can do a lot better than any performance racer.

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Cruisers from Harley-Davidson, Moto Guzzi and Triumph
Two-cylinder cruiser in the test

Cooling off Bonneville Bobber in front of the café on the French Mediterranean Sea, crackling and cracking despite partial water washing, makes you a plumber even while standing. Without a single turn of the crankshaft by just one of the three protagonists, the café au lait and the Camembert baguette taste of freedom. The bikes apparently also inspire passers-by. You pause for a moment, pause for a moment and let the monumental masterpieces sink in. Absolute cliché? Perhaps.

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom

It’s remarkable how chrome can put a motorcycle in the limelight. The Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom shines in the sunshine from manifolds, mufflers, cooling fins and style-defining horn cover like the child under the Christmas tree. The matt anthracite paint contrasts the gloss wonderfully, the new racing stripes on the tank reinforce the lines. The thick, polished rim hubs that you would like to hang in your bedroom instead of the television are a real eye-catcher. And you would also like to secure a place for the handlebar clamp next to the couch. In addition, the Sportster has a rustic appearance, impresses with its classic look and simple design such as the solid double loop frame, the well-known analog instrument with a small integrated LC display and the powerful brake and clutch levers. All components have an unmistakable charm of the indestructible. With a total weight of 268 kilograms, this is also guaranteed by the scales. Wherever you tap on it with your fingernail: what looks like metal is.

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom.

Compared to the previous year’s model, the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom has not changed too much apart from the external changes. The footrest system moved more into the center of the motorcycle, which arranges the legs at almost right angles. The seating position, which is now more active when driving, offers little scope for individual preferences: The strong recess in the seat clearly dictates the pilot’s posture. The heavily cranked handlebars with traditional fittings sit comfortably in the hand. Only those for whom the arms are a little short have to tense the abdominal muscles and lean the upper body over the teardrop-shaped 17 liter tank. Either way, you can feel the easy-rider feeling, which the 45-degree V2 supports with archaic expressions of life.

Harley’s chassis leaves a solid impression

When the starter rotates the crankshaft, it is more reminiscent of a tractor than a filigree motorcycle engine. The bike bounces up and down in proper style. The Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom doesn’t care about fine intellect. She embodies tradition and masculinity. The fact that the engine doesn’t like low speeds and that it puts a strain on the low-maintenance and otherwise inconspicuous belt drive is a given. The fact that the transmission is too long for frequent changes in speed, for example on winding roads, and that it has to be operated with a firm foot: for free. However, the fact that the notches drag on the asphalt when it feels like ten degrees incline is a questionable construction even for the cruiser class. Especially since a look at the footrest system raises another question: Why are the pegs and brake and shift levers not in the same alignment?

In everyday life you actually often stand with your foot on the arm of the footrest and not on it itself. Of course, these concepts are not primarily about dynamics. Nevertheless, there should be a certain reserve for dangerous situations. It is a shame that the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom cannot score here, because beyond walking pace it steers perfectly and neutrally, the Michelins offer enough grip in the dry (not in the wet) to reach the maximum 98 Newton meters on the crankshaft (MOTORCYCLE Measurement) to get on the road. The chassis leaves a solid impression, only the rear suspension should dampen short bumps even better.

More show than appearance?

No, such a statement would be presumptuous. For example, the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom has good brakes. It may lack an initial bite and good controllability, but not braking power. After a short acclimatization, you always delay intuitively and with two fingers. That clears your head to listen to the full but restrained blow from the skilfully laid exhaust pipes. Or you can enjoy the brawny torque curve, which you can casually surf along long stretches. The Harley offers enough material for therapeutic idleness, for an after-work beer with friends, for marveling at and continuing tradition. Dynamism is not her hobby.

Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber

What has been bobbing through the country from Italy, unchanged since last year, shouldn’t be copied straight away with a look at the data sheet. Because although the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber ignites with almost 350 cc less displacement, you never get the feeling of being short of breath on it. On the contrary. On the one hand, the 90-degree V2 has an incredibly long speed range in which the twin runs smoothly and the power is dedicated to the cardan drive, on the other hand, the torque curve runs over a wide area almost horizontally at 70 Newton meters. Maybe the Guzzi doesn’t have muscles like Popeye, but also with 213 kilograms doesn’t have a big belly like Bud Spencer. In connection with the loud cracking in the first three gears, but overall short-stepped six-speed transmission, you sniff after the two opponents surprisingly casual.

Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber.

And externally, the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber doesn’t have to hide in any way. How pleasantly the two cylinders stretch in the airstream, how the dominance of the matt black is broken by the few colored elements, how washers are used like from a picture book, makes you think of this motorcycle days later. Yes, one inevitably wonders how the few employees in Mandello del Lario on Lake Como manage to construct a balanced and characterful bike again and again on a small budget. The fact that the pillion footrests and seat bench are missing compared to the standard condition, the handlebar end mirrors and levers from the accessories are installed and the lamp ring is black instead of chrome-plated, is due to a small custom measure by the Moto Guzzi press man. This is used to sharpen the bobber look. And you have to acknowledge: It worked, actually looks bobberier.

Balancing act between optics and driving dynamics succeeds

As light-footed as her appearance is compared to the Triumph and the Harley, you whiz through narrow and wide arches with her in a playful and intuitive way. The Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber manages the balancing act between optics and driving dynamics best. The Italian not only looks good and has a revving motor, her muffled sound, the optimized bobber look, the informative LC display in the analog clock, her precise chassis and the insignificant, fat 130 mm front tire make the V9 to a good overall package . Even novice drivers can handle it. Especially since the steering angle is huge, the Conti tires convey a lot of confidence even in cold and damp conditions and the standard, two-stage traction control that can be switched off offers additional safety. The few things that have to be blamed on it are the disruptive load change reactions in the drive train.

In addition, bumps and transverse joints sometimes hit the spine hard, so that one would wish the stereo shock absorbers had a slightly longer spring deflection like the model sister Roamer. There is no wish to change the braking performance: initial bite, good controllability, excellent braking performance and safely coordinated ABS show the other two long forks what is possible with a single-disc brake system these days.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

Above all, this should make Triumph think. Because beyond the new introduction of the more expensive Bobber Black with two brake discs on the front wheel, the single-disc brake system of the standard variant delivers a really poor performance. The brake is as blunt as the teeth after a bottle of rhubarb juice spritzer. Two-finger brakes like to rush past the braking point on their first ride, then register that from now on they should always grip the massive brake lever with their whole hand and full force. Even bringing the Triumph Bonneville Bobber into the ABS control range requires (on dry roads) willfulness. Only when the brake is at a high temperature after a few violent delays does the picture improve briefly. The status quo, however, remains unsatisfactory and in need of improvement.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber.

But enough of the scolding: What the English have built beyond the brakes leaves you almost speechless. The shapes, the colors, the details: this bike is a masterpiece. No matter where you look or grasp, every little thing fits perfectly, looks great. No effort was spared. Not only the popular carburetor dummy inspires, but also the carefully welded frame, the brushed surface underneath the three-way adjustable seat, the riveted manufacturer’s plate, the adjustable cockpit, the rear wheel hub in drum brake design, the chrome-plated and branded , lockable fuel filler cap: The Triumph Bonneville Bobber has been thought through to the end. And if you don’t want to ride with her, you just look at her and you’ll be so happy too. Although the fat twin could drive the beat of life into new spheres …

So up on the Triumph Bonneville Bobber. The pressure on the button floods man and machine with pleasure. You feel harmoniously integrated into the overall structure, becoming part of a great whole. The wide handlebars stretch far in front of you. He embraces himself more easily if you tilt your upper body a little towards the front. This results in an active driving posture that requires relaxation exercises only after more than an hour. The 1197 cubic in-line two-cylinder with 270 degrees of ignition offset cranks up with plenty of momentum, warm, hardly vibrates, but sounds groovy and bubbly from the two stainless steel dampers. Splendid. It all fits together.

How does the Triumph drive?

Now that the twin was designed for high torque, you can feel it at the latest when you engage the clutch. From around 2,500 tours the engine no longer maltreats the chain, but rather the Avon rear tire with just under 100 Newton meters. The wide speed range and the homogeneous power delivery usually give the driver several options for choosing the right gear. Anyone who wants to send the flat-drawn Triumph quickly through the course usually rotates between 3,000 and 6,000 revolutions. Every turn of the throttle catapults the 245-kilo bike forward, accompanied by a calming but loud roar. The diesel characteristics, the thick pounding, the pressure from the lower rev range flatter the feeling of well-being again. Anyone who overestimates the grip level will be safely slowed down by the standard, disengageable traction control.

The 19-inch front wheel, which is unusually narrow for a Bobber, may not steer jaggedly, but it can be controlled and directed into the corners. The pegs of the Triumph Bonneville Bobber are – measured by the overall appearance – pleasantly late. But be careful: the rear silencer quickly follows the pegs, and it doesn’t really need an individual look. On the chassis side, there is little to complain about when you stroll along the coastal road. Rolling over the asphalt is relaxed and comfortable. Short bursts should also be filtered better here. Nevertheless, the spring elements respond best in the comparison of the trio. Beyond the brakes, power and gearbox Kalonk, all three bikes each offer numerous moments of wellbeing in their own way. And for that alone it is worth driving it extensively.

Conclusion on the cruiser comparison test

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom

She embodies the tradition of Harley-Davidson with soul. The Sportster doesn’t want to be a fine spirit, but a real doer. Your V2 has power, but the long translation steals some horses. Lots of chrome and contrasting matt lacquer make it a beautiful appearance.

Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber

A pretty Italian woman with inner values! Despite the immense displacement disadvantage, the pistons of your V2 rotate freely thanks to the wide rev range, the chassis and the freedom from leaning enable not only cruising, but also committed driving. A very nice and inexpensive bobber.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

Would their brakes slow down better, here would be a song of praise. Not because she masters everything perfectly, but because she is provided with so much love. All the details tell their own story, every turn of the throttle not only makes the fat row twin beat faster. A total work of art on two wheels!

Price comparison of the two-cylinder cruiser

Used Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200, Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and Triumph Bonneville Bobber in Germany

The Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom, the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and the Triumph Bonneville Bobber are compared directly to each other on the used motorcycle exchange. All three motorcycles can be found in good condition and at reasonable prices: used Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200, Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber and Triumph Bonneville Bobber in Germany

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