They look good and they sound good, I've been keeping my eyes open for a good cruiser too. I ride a Suzuki TL1000R vtwin sportbike so twins are the thing for me. The Harley "bang for the buck" shortcomings are the only thing keeping me from buying one right now.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Harleys. They work eggzactly how they are intended to work. Solid, reliable and comfortable transportation. I've had two that ran perfectly. Not one mechanical problem.
The rift between HD and other bikes comes from the attitude of the owners. If you own a sport bike and think of HDs as ass candy or you ride a Harley and acknowledge every non-HD as jap crap you are the problem. HD riders laugh at everyone because they "just don't get it." Everyone laughs at HD riders because they "just don't get it."
Here's the deal, if you dress like Rossi, spend some time at the track and learn to ride your bike. If you wear a bandana and assless chaps you better be an extra in a gay pirate movie.
Buy a Harley if you want one, they are wonderful motorcycles full of American pride and history. Don't fall for the individual freedom marketing crap that has you buying the same black t-shirt as all the other individuals.
Buy the bike that you like/want get yourself some good protective gear and ride the thing.
Sounds like you should buy one and see if all that is true... You could become a member of the Gray Pony Tail Brotherhood (GPTB), a term I invented for babyboomer Harley/cruiser riders.. Me I love technology (newer the better).. Why tour the country on antique when there are so many better bikes (cheaper too) that specialize in touring/sport touring.. ST1300, Goldwing, BMWs, Yamaha FJR1300A, Ducati STs. etc..
But I don't get the whole cruiser group thing....My bike is like my sports car...
Do not know about H-D in US, but on this side of the pond MOST H-D riders (not all, but 90%) rarely:
1. Greet non-HD riders
2. NEVER stop to help if you are riding jap, specially sport and broke down.
3. Think they are salt of the earth even if they ride twice a year on sunny wather and demonstratively ignoring you in group f bikes somewhere on side of twisty road on god day.
4. Keen to tell you that you know nothing about bikes and that jap bikes are "mass-production crap" even if you just build your own streen from junk and they riding Glide covered in chromed eagles.
5. On charity rides tend to ride in the middle of the road NEVER letting you to pass by when you tired of loud sound from straight pipes.
I am impartial to makes as long as person riding bike is not bad person. But I do not tolerate people who forget about two-wheeled fraternity and enjoy being snobs without grounds. This is what wrong about H-D here: H-Djust happened to be in bad spot to be most appreciated by numerous prats.
Ah, yes - loads of these people do not think twice before riding while drunk and the do ride badly, because when you are RUB you got enough money to pay fines instead of spending it on riding school. Shame, especially as V-Rod truly is a VERY good bike in it's category. And rest of them just is what they are - retro-styled, fun, comfortable and nice to ride overpriced bikes.
It's not bikes, it's people that make bikes look bad. Recently on street of Cincinnatti I saw horribly fat and overweight stupid idiot on Busa wearing just t-shirt, flipflops, shorts and dark glasses - well, he is not any better than rich show-off riding shinly H-D FatBoy.
you may find that owning one is not as satisfying as you'd hoped it would be.
then again, you may find that you LOVE hawg ownership.
there is only one way to find out which camp you fall in.
i could see myself owning a hawg, but never as an only bike ... or even a third bike. if i were a rich man i'd buy one tomorrow. but since i'm not, and not likely to ever be, i'll probably remain hawgless.
if i wanted a cruiser it would more likely be a rocket iii, which can both trundle and roar.
"But if I get one, how do I keep it from being stolen? And what's the truth behind the mutterings that some parts, like drive belts, still aren't reliable or that some parts on a Harley will rust in the rain?"
Don't worry about it being stolen - lock it like you would any other bike.
Drive belts have been on Harley's since the early '80s. They are the best drive train - no maintenance and will last forever. I have a '92 Electraglide with over 80k miles, the original drive belt and haven't adjusted it since I can't remember when. I have a primary drive belt on my Norton that's lasted forever. Belts are way better than chains!!
Some parts will rust. So what? I rust in the rain. You can shine that bike right back to show-room condition years after you bought it.
There's only three things you can't do on a Harley... unfortunately those things are go, stop, and turn.
But seriously folks...
Dude, if you want one and can afford one, get one. Why would you care what any of us think? Harley's are about image, about looking good, and if they look good to you, and you like your image on a Harley, good for you.
This gray pony-tailed old phart retired road racer can't cope for ten minutes with the lack of performance that is a Harley, but if cruising and posing and styling is your thing, and your idea of fast is double digit MPH and only in a straight line, then get yourself a Harley, all the others are imitators.
Wouldn't it be great if a couple of those idiots hit each other head on? They're the kind of people that give the rest of us a bad name, and sometimes get you forced off the road. It's happened to me twice, when I was just minding my own business.