Biker culture explained: Why Biker Gangs ride Cruisers

Ever wondered why biker gangs love big displacement cruisers?

Today I’m going to propose some theories as to why the biker gangs, sometimes referred to as 1%ers, love their heavy, big displacement cruiser motorcycles instead of the faster more nimble sports bikes.

Characteristics of the Cruiser

Cruisers tend to have larger and wider frames, wider seats, and foot pegs that let you ride like you’re on a Lazy Boy. More luxurious cruisers might have heating, stereo systems, cup holders, and even air ride adjustable suspension. Of course all these features make them ideal for cruising and that’s also why they are called cruisers.

Now if your in a 1% biker gang, then your spending most of your time on a bike, probably cruising. Having a comfortable ride all day and night can dramatically improve your take on life.

Roads Less Traveled

As a 1%er you would also probably find yourself making deals down desolate unlit roads, the kind covered in gravel and holes. Dual sports are better on trails for sure but cruisers can handle most of them too. Dirt bikes for the most part are not an option because they lack serious ability on the interstat and being in a biker gang means getting on the freeway often. It also means carrying gear for multi-day trips, and possibly cargo i.e. drugs, weapons, something dirt bikes just aren’t well-suited for.

Off-Road Sports Bikes?

You can take a sport bike off-road. I’ve seen a few brave people hauling ass on a CBR or a ninja down a dirt road. From personal experience you can do this but it gets dicey. I’ve taken a fully loaded VFR, 2-up, down dirt and gravel forest roads. Those trips will test your nerves and aren’t something I would pursue on a bike like the VFR ever if you can avoid it. Unlike the VFR and many sports bikes, these cruisers tend to have lower centers of gravity making them more stable when travelling down unmarked and lesser used trail roads.

Cops vs Bikers

Evasion is certainly an area where sport bikes shine over cruisers. I would expect these outlaws would want to be able to evade police if the need came. Cruisers are usually not nearly as fast as sport bikes so this makes cruisers seem like an odd choice. The most sensible explanation I got though was “if the success of your criminal enterprise hinges on your ability to outrun the police then your criminal enterprise probably will not last very long”. That is very true.

For the typical squid rider evasion can be an exhilarating experience. Typically these sporty riders aren’t hauling unmarked handguns to a buyer though, chances are they’re just riding for fun. Sirens just came on and so did the fun… So getting caught is an evasion ticket, maybe a night in jail. Whereas these biker gangs are facing long stays spanning years in prison if caught with their merchandise.


The last factor which is probably the driver for the cruisers popularity is the intimidation factor. The intimidation factor of the cruiser is what drives suburban dads to buy a Harley to prove their badassness. The same factor helps in asserting dominance in territory against newcomers and competition encroaching on sales of illicit products and services. It helps in the business and intimidation can help sway a brawl in your favor.

A Web Developer by trade, find me on Github
A motorcycle enthusiast at heart.
Most days I’d rather be in the woods anywhere.