2010's Best Cruiser: Triumph Thunderbird

A 98-inch antidote for the common V-twin

The first lesson in Rico Suave 101 is, whatever you do, don't do it like everybody else. Especially when there's a better way. Triumph is the only brand that can match that Milwaukee Motor Company's straight-up street cred. Now the Brits are doing it with the Thunderbird, as in The Wild One, as in Marlon Brando, as in they don't come cooler than that.

The 2010 edition's 1597cc T-16 twin parks two 104mm pistons next door to each other in one magnificently beefy, liquid-cooled lump. Down below, a 270-degree crank and dual balance shafts pound out a pleasingly off-kilter cadence from 1500 rpm. The triple-digit torque peak comes online at just 2750 rpm, and spinning it much faster than that means you're trying too hard. Thoroughly modern underpinnings-Showa suspension, Nissin brakes and optional ABS-add up to a T-bird that corners more like a Triumph than any other me-too cruiser for just $12,499. And did we mention how cool it looks?

Alternative Take
Victory Cross Roads
One for the road

Thank you, Victory, for proving that retro looks don't automatically equal retrograde performance. The all-new Cross Roads' styling is pure art deco Americana, but underneath that beautiful bodywork is an up-to-date cast-aluminum frame, air-adjustable suspension and Victory's latest 106-cubic-inch air-cooled V-twin, delivering modern performance alongside timeless, classic style.

Best Cruiser: Triumph Thunderbird