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Old 11-18-2012, 07:47 PM   #1
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Default V_Twin vs I_Line bikes

For those of you who have ridden vulcan V_twins and a vulcan 500, I'm wondering how you liked the 5 speed vs 6 speed and the vibration of the I-line vs the V-twin. I'm starting to want a bigger bike, but I keep hearing about the vibration of V-twins and the desire to lower the rpm's at higher speeds. Would appreciate hearing some experiences and opinions.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:01 PM   #2
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What vibrations?
My vulcan doesn't have the vibration like a Harley I have ridden.
Not sure what you mean by 5 and 6 speed.
I have seen v twin with both.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:08 PM   #3
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Hey there,

For starters, 'speeds' is a myth. Get it out of your head. It doesn't exist. Ignore it.

Yes, yes, the Vulcan 500 has a 6 speed transmission and some of the V-Twins have a 5 speed, but it's the final gear ratio that matters. I've been on some 6 speed bikes and screamed along on the highway, and I've lumbered along on some bikes that you really can't even think about 5th gear until you're on the interstate highway. Those big trucks you see on the highway run up about midway into their RPM range, yet are running in 13th gear, maybe even 21st gear with some of those 21 speed transmissions! Case and point IS the Vulcan 500, which is geared fairly high into the rev range even in 6th gear. It needs to be, that engine doesn't develop low end power like a twin. The larger Kawi twins will rev slower in 5th than a VN500 will rev in 6th.

Anyway, all that aside;

Both would be a good choice. The 500 is a little bit smoother but is buzzy on the highway, so are the smaller Kawasaki twins (I own a 900, haven't ridden an 800 but others have said it also gets a little buzzy on the highway). Just the nature of a smaller displacement motor. The 'big twins' will be a little smoother, but have more vibrations at idle. The big inline-twins (Triumph) will be super smooth all the way through, but that wasn't what you were asking!

It sounds like one of the bigger Vulcan twins will probably suit you. There will be some vibrations at idle, but they are all counter balanced. Most Harley motors are NOT counter balanced, which is why they shake like crazy. You won't get those vibrations on any Kawi twin, though, it won't be as smooth as an inline engine. BUT, to throw a curveball your way, while it might not be as smooth as Kawasaki's 1400cc inline 4 that's used on their sport touring bike, or NEARLY as smooth as an opposed 6 1800cc Honda Goldwing engine, a big twin Kawasaki will probably be smoother than your 500cc twin.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:54 PM   #4
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Smaller displacement engines will get buzzy at higher speeds because they simply have to work harder. Solid mounted engines will transmit more vibration to the frame because nothing is there to dampen any of it. Counter balancing or rubber mounting an engine at critical points where the most vibration resonates serve to smooth out an engine.

Inline engines seem to be inherently buzzy. Technology has evolved to the point, though that manufacturers are able to quell most of it to make the ride comfortable. Some are smoother than others. V twins are hard to smooth out because of the fore/aft rocking nature of the vibrations. HD has done a good job of smoothing out their engines as has Kawasaki and others.

A large displacement engine will have less apparent vibration because it doesn't have to work so hard ro get a bike up to high speed and keep it there. In short, a large engine, say, 1700cc hasn't used up its power, so to speak, to arrive at and maintain highway speed, while a smaller engine is approaching its maximum available power. In other words, it's beginning to strain, while the bigger engine is still running relaxed.

If what you want is a very smooth engine, I suggest something like a Gold Wing. You will never be able to complain about vibration or lack of power.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad46 View Post

If what you want is a very smooth engine, I suggest something like a Gold Wing. You will never be able to complain about vibration or lack of power.
+1. Any traditional cruiser type bike is going to vibrate and be less smooth than an I-4 or O-6 engine. The king of smooth being the GoldWing.

The V-Twin engine is not the best engine configuration out there. It's much less efficient than an engine of a different configuration but identical displacement, it vibrates more, and it's less reliable than other more modern configurations. (Generally speaking of course, there are exceptions to every rule). But then again, a motorcycle is NOT a practical vehicle. Maintenance costs and tire costs eat up any fuel savings you might gain, you're subject to the weather, there are additional inherit risks, and it doesn't have the storage or passenger capacity of a car. But, we're all here because despite all of that we love riding motorcycles because it's not ABOUT being practical, it's about enjoying the road! In much the same way, a V-Twin isn't a decision in practicality, it's a decision based on style, low end torque, the general grunt and personality (and sound) of a V-Twin, etc. Any combination of variables makes us decide on a V-Twin. Practical, quiet, efficient, smooth, reliable motorcycles do exist (and no better example than the GoldWing). But that's not what some people want!

Which, of course, brings us back to the original point with ANY 'which bike should I get' question. What type of riding do YOU want to do, find a bike that matches it.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:28 AM   #6
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At the risk of being objected to, let me say that for starters, a cruiser is probably not your best choice for long distance touring, especially 2-up. It really wasn't meant to be that. There are bikes made specifically for that purpose, such as the Gold Wing, the HD Ultra, Kawasaki Voyager, Victory Vision or Cross Country Tour and the BMW D1600GTL. These are all smooth, some more so than others.

But like Romans said, what you choose to ride depends on what kind of riding you prefer. You certainly don't want a Gold Wing if all you do is run around town, for example. Any bike can be a touring bike--all you have to do is ride it to wherever you want to go--but some are purpose built for it and do a much better job at it.

V Twin engines are not as smooth as inline or horizontally opposed engines because of their inherent imbalance. Some inline 4's are quite buzzy, as well. One well-known culprit is the old Kawasaki Concours 1000. Good bike, but a very buzzy engine. Tinkering with timing and carb balancing can smooth it out some, but never totally removing it. On the other hand, HD has taken a well known paint shaker engine and rubber mounted it in the Road King and Electra Glide series and made them dead smooth at speed. So it can be done.

In the end, only you can decide what kind of riding you will do, then choose the right bike for the job. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad46 View Post
At the risk of being objected to, let me say that for starters, a cruiser is probably not your best choice for long distance touring, especially 2-up. It really wasn't meant to be that. There are bikes made specifically for that purpose, such as the Gold Wing, the HD Ultra, Kawasaki Voyager, Victory Vision or Cross Country Tour and the BMW D1600GTL. These are all smooth, some more so than others.

But like Romans said, what you choose to ride depends on what kind of riding you prefer. You certainly don't want a Gold Wing if all you do is run around town, for example. Any bike can be a touring bike--all you have to do is ride it to wherever you want to go--but some are purpose built for it and do a much better job at it.

V Twin engines are not as smooth as inline or horizontally opposed engines because of their inherent imbalance. Some inline 4's are quite buzzy, as well. One well-known culprit is the old Kawasaki Concours 1000. Good bike, but a very buzzy engine. Tinkering with timing and carb balancing can smooth it out some, but never totally removing it. On the other hand, HD has taken a well known paint shaker engine and rubber mounted it in the Road King and Electra Glide series and made them dead smooth at speed. So it can be done.

In the end, only you can decide what kind of riding you will do, then choose the right bike for the job. Good luck and keep us posted.
+1!

Someone around here said their bike is perfect 50 weeks a year. I think that sums up most of us who ride cruisers but still tour. We don't tour all year round, just a couple times a year, and it's adequate for that while still being a nimble and perhaps good looking commuter/around towner.

I don't THINK anyone will disagree that a touring bike is better for the long haul. But, there are many who would say their touring bike is great for around town too! I ride with a few GoldWing and HD Ultra owners who say their bike is the best short ride / around town / go to work bike they've ever had. I ALSO know one HD Ultra rider who says he really wishes he had a smaller bike because "I don't need all of this 99% of the time, I wish I had something I could flick around a little better"

Just goes to show ya, it isn't something anyone can tell you! You need to figure out what kind of riding you want to do!
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:59 AM   #8
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inlines have more top end. but they lug down low. my vn9 will beat my r1 off the line but only for a few meters maybe. once an inline gets higher in the rpms it will fly where a twin is good for low rpms
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans5.8 View Post
+1. Any traditional cruiser type bike is going to vibrate and be less smooth than an I-4 or O-6 engine. The king of smooth being the GoldWing.

The V-Twin engine is not the best engine configuration out there. It's much less efficient than an engine of a different configuration but identical displacement, it vibrates more, and it's less reliable than other more modern configurations. (Generally speaking of course, there are exceptions to every rule). But then again, a motorcycle is NOT a practical vehicle. Maintenance costs and tire costs eat up any fuel savings you might gain, you're subject to the weather, there are additional inherit risks, and it doesn't have the storage or passenger capacity of a car. But, we're all here because despite all of that we love riding motorcycles because it's not ABOUT being practical, it's about enjoying the road! In much the same way, a V-Twin isn't a decision in practicality, it's a decision based on style, low end torque, the general grunt and personality (and sound) of a V-Twin, etc. Any combination of variables makes us decide on a V-Twin. Practical, quiet, efficient, smooth, reliable motorcycles do exist (and no better example than the GoldWing). But that's not what some people want!

Which, of course, brings us back to the original point with ANY 'which bike should I get' question. What type of riding do YOU want to do, find a bike that matches it.
Kinda makes me wonder what would have happened if the Japanese continued to make I-4 cruisers like the Eliminator 900/1000, Maxim X or V-4s like the V-Max, Suzuki Madura, Honda Magna line instead of opting to build It's much bikes with V-Twin motors that are "less efficient than an engine of a different configuration but identical displacement" that "vibrates more, and it's less reliable than other more modern configurations" for the sake of character or style.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclesarge View Post
Kinda makes me wonder what would have happened if the Japanese continued to make I-4 cruisers like the Eliminator 900/1000, Maxim X or V-4s like the V-Max, Suzuki Madura, Honda Magna line instead of opting to build It's much bikes with V-Twin motors that are "less efficient than an engine of a different configuration but identical displacement" that "vibrates more, and it's less reliable than other more modern configurations" for the sake of character or style.
Well it's what the market wants. It's not like V-Twins are without advantages. Style is one, low end torque is another, and certainly the sound and personality are there. Easy to work on, fewer parts, etc.

It's not like the other bikes are gone. Remember those old inline bikes had a 'standard' riding position (upright, feet directly below you, etc.) Today we call that a 'sport tourer' and they truly are the next generation of those Kawasaki KZ's, Suzuki GS's, etc. Bikes like the Honda ST1300, Kawasaki ZX-14, etc. are really the top notch option. Some might go so far as to say that a sport touring bike is a 'correct' motorcycle. It has the most efficient engines, the riding position that allows the most control of the bike and the best lean angles, and features that V-Twin cruisers will probably never have (like electrically adjustable windshields, etc.) But, many of us, myself included, are still drawn to V-Twin cruisers for a variety of options! The Inline and Boxer type engines are too wide to allow for forward mounted controls, for one example.

A cruiser with a super smooth and powerful inline twin (2 cylinder) does exist, it's made by triumph and comes in a few models! They are out there, it's just the biggest chunk of the market is the V-Twin Cruiser. It's what people want! Few riders ride more than a few thousand miles on their bikes each year, so they are more than willing to sacrifice 'practical' comfortable bikes and replace them with bikes that are a little 'cooler'. Then there are oddballs like me and many many others who DO ride quite a bit but still enjoy the throaty rumble and laid back ride of a V-Twin cruiser, so much so that we'd prefer it over a smoother more powerful bike.

I know people call some of those old bikes Cruisers but I really don't think they are. The MSF book calls them 'standards'. To me, a cruiser has wider, taller handlebars, and most importantly, feet forward riding positions. Those bikes you mentioned all had the pegs mounted directly below the seat. Due to the wider engines, only highway pegs could be mounted up farther.
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