Top Five Cruisers of 2013 | Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom Takes Top Honors

2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom

2013 Ultimate MotorCycling Cruisers Awards

There was no doubting the 2013 model year for cruisers. Many manufacturers released some entirely new cruisers, others  revamped some older ones.

After a year of riding and testing, we at Ultimate MotorCycling have chosen our Top Five Cruisers from model-year 2013. Each machine is unique in its own way, and all five cater to different riding styles.

5. 2013 Star V Star 1300 Deluxe

Star’s 2013 V Star 1300 Deluxe was designed to take on the touring-cruiser segment, which accounts for 42-percent of all cruiser sales.

Taking the standard V Star 1300 platform, Star has created what it calls a “Casual Full Dress” touring bike. The V Star 1300 Deluxe has a fairing in the front–-not a full coverage fairing but more than just a windshield. Also, the Casual Full Dress machine, which is powered by an 80 cubic-inch, 60-degree V-Twin, has hard side bags, but not the top trunk you find on a Full Dresser.

For those who want a lightweight dresser and don’t need 100 cubic inches or so (solo riders take note), the V Star 1300 Deluxe is a compelling choice for cruising and touring. Making this choice easier is the MSRP – $13,690.

4. 2013 Victory Boardwalk

You don’t even have to climb aboard the Boardwalk to know that it is a pure beach cruiser. With ultra-wide bars and fat white-walled tires on chrome lace wheels, the Boardwalk is as suggestive of the Schwinn AeroCycle as the Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two’s appropriation of the Sting-Ray.

Victory uses a standard platform for its cruisers, and the personality – both visual and performance – of each model is determined by its ergonomics and styling.

By the spec sheet, the closest relative of the Boardwalk is the High-Ball – same wheels, tires, rake, suspension, powerful Freedom 106/6 motor and exhaust – yet with different handlebars, floorboards, tank and seat, the Boardwalk is an entirely singular interpretation of the cruiser genre.

Hop on the 2013 Victory Boardwalk, ride it for an hour or so between your favorite haunts, and revel in the fact that it is simply a great cruiser that embodies the hang loose beach lifestyle.

3. 2013 Harley-Davidson Breakout

For 2013, Harley-Davidson released the standard Breakout, which is basically a de-commissioned CVO Breakout. Missing is the CVO’s Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110B with its (amazing) downshift assist, ride-by-wire throttle, chromed Turbine wheels, chrome handlebars, and loads of other expensive shiny garnishes.

This less glitzy version, which features the Twin Cam 103B engine, knocks almost $10k off the price of the CVO Breakout, and is tastefully accessorized with gloss-black parts, including the oil reservoir, fork legs, and exhaust shields.

Harley’s designers spent many hours improving agility on the Breakout platform. Even with a long, 67.3-inch wheelbase and 35-degrees of fork rake, the Breakout allows for some hard-hitting cornering, whether you are exploring the depths of a curve or maneuvering in a parking lot with aggression.

Without question, Harley-Davidson successfully designed the 2013 Breakout to be a low-slung cruiser with good handling and a badass look. Sure, there were styling and performance sacrifices when the CVO budget was revised for this standard Softail motorcycle, yet, the essence is there.

The translation was done with deft hands, providing a tough-guy cruiser that is within the grasp of a larger number of potential owners.

2. 2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B

The 2013 Honda F6B is a blacked-out battle bagger based on the renowned Gold Wing platform, stripped of its long distance amenities in favor of a more sinister profile.

What remains is a lighter machine with the same impressive 1832cc engine and handling that makes the Gold Wing one of Honda’s top selling motorcycles.

Most notable to the transformation is the elimination of the huge trunk. This gives the F6B a line that plunges from the fairing down to the bags, moving this machine out of the suburban environment straight into the urban milieu.

Even though the suspension is unchanged from the big brother, the claimed weight savings of 62 pounds makes the suspension firmer, giving a more sporting feeling to the F6B. The benefit is realized in the F6B’s rock-steady cornering.

In taking its premier super-tourer and stripping it down to the essentials, throwing in a darker spirit without losing any of its original prowess, Honda has re-molded the classic Gold Wing to produce a motorcycle that will appeal to the more aggressive rider – aggressive in style as well as in performance. The Honda Gold Wing F6B is not a sleek fighter jet; rather, it’s a battle-ready bagger with enough firepower to conquer the urban streets and still find time for relaxing weekend escapes.

1. 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom

Ultimate Motorcycling Editor Don Williams quickly sums up the 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom, our favorite cruiser of 2013 – “An impressively fast mid-size cruiser, with the handling and panache you expect from Italy.”

After a docile introduction to the bike back in April through local suburban streets, the California 1400 Custom felt good. The bike was responsive and the drag-style bars were a large departure from the Touring version of the bike. Without the windshield, we enjoyed the breeze, and the sporty saddle felt good.

We weren’t expecting any sort of blistering acceleration from the Moto Guzzi. The Touring version was peppy, but nothing that was going to seriously turn heads. However, with the bags and windshield removed, and the power mode switched into Veloce, we were about to get the friendliest rude introduction to the 1380cc motor’s power in the Custom trim.

We were perplexed at the traction control options on the Touring version. However, we can definitely see the advantage of traction control on the 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom. If we wanted to light up the tires, the 89 ft./lbs. of torque at 2750 rpm and 96 horses all the way up at 6500 rpm seem willing to oblige. So, while traction control is superfluous on the Touring, on the Custom it does show itself to be useful.

For 2013, Moto Guzzi has gotten the weirdness out of the California, while keeping its unique character – win/win. This bike is nothing short of a revelation. If you want to establish your credibility at the stop light, have something truly unique to profile with, and gather a crowd on bike night, the 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom is a bike that will accomplish your goals.

This is why we chose it as our 2013 Cruiser of the Year.


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