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Cruisers and bad back

Discussion in 'Cruisers' started by bulby, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Hi guys,

    I'm a new rider - New as in I've only ridden around 3000km and still got that ugly yellow plate stuck on me behind. (Going to try to lose it in Jan or Feb though).
    As you can see from my signature, my current ride is a Suzuki Across. She's rather tiny, but I don't feel very cramped since I'm short and skinny anyway.

    I have a bad lower back due to an injury back in my martial arts days. I have no issues with sitting on a stool with no back-rest for an extended period of time, but my back do hurt if I sit slouched on the couch for around 30 minutes or so.
    Now on the bike, on a normal commute, I usually feel a very minor discomfort I can safely ignore about 20-30 minutes into the ride. On the bad days however, it can be bad enough to hurt my concentration. I've had to pull over to an emergency lane and stretch for 5 minutes once.

    So I'm just wondering if anyone had / know anyone with a similar back problem and rides a bike regularly? And whether riding a cruiser helps or would it aggravate the problem? Or is this another case of won't-know-until-you-actually-try-them?

    To be honest though, I will most likely upgrade to a cruiser anyway :p
    That is, unless riding a cruiser actually hurts my back even more.
    I've lusted for cruisers before getting my first bike, though somehow I got swayed towards the sportier kinds by the little kid in me. Having ridden for a bit though, I'm finding myself perving at and lusting for cruisers once again.


    p.s. If I may sneak in another question, is it worth swapping my Across with a V-Star 650 before I'm off the restrictions? For example, when I've got my full license? (Full cage license, so no P's)
  2. #2 Tone2, Dec 28, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2015
    Back injuries are different, so what's ok for one is hell for another. It'll probably only be when you've had a ride for an hour or two that you'll know, but anyway...

    ...I've got a lower back injury from over 20 years ago in the Army Reserves - disc issue at L4/5 and associated lower back tightness etc. i see a chiro and a physio reasonably frequently, mainly for 'maintenance'.

    I've got an XVS650 and find its generally fine. I upgraded the seat to a Mustang brand seat, which means I can ride for 2hrs or more without getting a sore bum/feeling like I have to stretch in the seat. With the stock seat, after 1 hr I was fidgeting.

    I put my back out pretty badly early last week - a few days of not moving much and shuffling around in pain. Bring on the drugs and a few intensive chiro/Physio sessions and appropriate stretching. Yesterday I did a 2hr+ ride and another one today. I'll be doing a few more over the next few days. I'm a bit stiff but was fine on the bike. So in my case, cruisers work ok. YMMV.

  3. Myself and Mav moved away from cruisers because of back pains.

    Thinking back on it now though my XVS650 was pretty damn comfy (did the Putty loop without any discomfort).............I think I had back problems because of the time spent on the saddle (basically all day and night everyday)................riding my sports bike I start getting aches and pains at close to half the distance of that loop (I usually turn back at Grey Gums Cafe)......................note though that I do have a preexisting lower back problem.
  4. I broke my tailbone horseriding many years ago - more pelvic than back injury. I had 2 learner bikes - vstar250, then an xvs650. The 650 was a great bike but i used to suffer discomfort and fatigue after a couple of hours - I used to put this down to learner-lameness but it all changed when I upgraded to a naked after coming off restrictions. I now know alot of the issues were related to the seating position as I can sit on the naked all day and feel quite comfy.

    Just as a side point, the thing that really helped build up core strength to tackle the resulting back issues from the injury other than physio - was pilates. Girly I know, but it's awesome for core strength which really helps with long hours in the saddle. No you don't have to wear a leotard and yes, there'll be plenty of chicks in the class to perve on :)
  5. Stock seats will kill you. Add a mustang or similar after market to your price calculations. Older dudes on cruisers swear by them.
  6. Heathers back aches after about an hour on her cruiser, She dont get the aches on the Bird,
    After asking around, we have found cruisers do hurt your lower back,

    A different seat with a higher back would probably cure the problem,
  7. Interesting feedback re: cruisers hurting your back. - Ever Hardley clown I've ever come across says they ride them because they're "more comfortable than them Jap bikes", and they usually cite a lower back injury as being the reason. I had alway suspected this was just a bullshit line spouted by cretins who'd never even ridden a sport/naked bike; it's nice to have my suspicions confirmed.
  8. well those harleys are more like lounge chairs on wheels with a couple of screws loose................so they might be telling the truth.
  9. Thanks for the replies, guys. As I thought, everyone have different experiences when it comes to riding positions :)

    Interestingly, I was vastly more uncomfortable on the GS500F compared to the Across. I dismissed it as me being a learner and needing some getting used to it all. But after riding the Across, I'm thinking it must have been the riding position on the GS500 - Probably a 20 degrees lean forward from completely upright.
  10. i broke my back and shattered both my hips in a motocross accident when i was 14. (only 11 yrs ago) ... i have tried to ride sporties but my back just cant hold... on my cruiser (honda shadow) i can do 600ks a day hop off and do it all again the next day...
  11. I have a friend who rides a Yamaha XVS 250 (or a Virago. Can’t remember exactly). Her day job is driving a government bus.
    The only time her back doesn’t hurt is when she is riding. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get out as much as she would like :(
  12. It sounds like it might be worth borrowing or hiring a cruiser for an afternoon and putting some decent kilometers on it to see. Riding position and pain is certainly a very subjective matter. I discovered that cruisers hurt me in the lower back. Sports bikes hurt me in the neck and shoulders. If the feet-forward thing doesn't work for you, you might need something with the old-fashioned sit up and beg position - mid-set pegs. I see some Guzzi cruisers have mid-set pegs, as do many HD Sportsters. And then there are the retro bikes - Triumph Bonneville, Kawasaki W650, Moto Guzzi V7 - which look great on their own, but can easily be fitted with higher bars, a king and queen seat, saddle bags, or whatever it is that you envision as a cruiser.
  13. Firstly there isn't really any such thing as a 'Harley riding position', even stock the various models are very different to each other.

    Second Harley have the largest accessory selection of bars, seats, pegs and footboards of any manufacturer which enables customizing the ride position to suit most people.

    There are Harley's I've ridden which I find very comfortable (more comfortable than my Moto Guzzi Norge GT touring bike) like the Electra Glide Ultra Classic.

    There are Harley's which have such stretched out riding positions that I can't really ride them at all and ALL of my weight is on my bum and the ride jars my spine (wide glide with forward controls).

    I know there are ignorant Harley riders out there who won't even consider anything else and put down other brands but you're doing your argument no good by doing the same thing from the far other end of the spectrum and bagging all Harleys and all Harley riders as 'clowns and cretins'.

    The truth of the matter lies somewhere in the middle (like with most things) and SOME Harleys are comfortable and suit SOME riders with SOME back conditions but not all riders with all sorts of bad backs.
  14. I think the issue here is to look at the relative riding positions and see what might be different and contributing to possible back pain.

    The classic Sports/Touring bike riding position is considered by those who know to be the most comfortable. It places the rider in an inverted "V" position, with arms and back making up the two sides of the equilateral triangle. The rider's weight is distributed over the widest area possible, including the glutes but not completely. Most importantly, a fair proportion of the rider's weight is equally distributed on the wrists AND the undersides of the upper thigh so that no one area of the body bears the majority of it. The feet also help to support the legs and allow them to act as springs to absorb bumps as well.

    Bumps and irregularities in the road surface are thereby distributed over a large area of the rider's body meaning that no one area has to endure most of it.

    The cruiser rider position has none of these benefits. The rider sits almost vertically, or leaning back slightly, and almost all of the rider's weight is distributed, through the backbone, directly onto the coccyx, the tailbone. Bumps and irregularities in the road go straight up the backbone and jar it along its entire length.

    Neither the hands or the feet provide any support to the body in the cruiser riding position, meaning that the trunk is almost totally responsible for supporting the rider and it bears almost all of the impacts of the road.

    It is no surprise that cruiser riders spend a small fortune on accessory seats, but no amount of padding and support can alter the basic physics of how the impacts are sent directly to the spine.

    Incidentally, the classic S/T riding position also means that the first part of a rider's body that encounters the wind is the top of their head/helmet, whereas the cruiser rider's body cops the full brunt of the wind directly in the sternum, adding to the agony and discomfort of riding a bike that is 100% style and 0% substance.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. I have only recently moved up from a XVS650 to an XVS1100 and can say first hand that these are really built for comfort and as someone with a bad back the bike certainly doesnt put any strain on it unless I am riding for more than an hour or two.

    Today I had a service on the 1100 and the shop gave me a street bike similar to yours to ride to work and back. Honestly, it was the most uncomfortable ride even though it was 20 minutes each way (thrilling and quick thankfully though).

    Also a few the guys at work have new Harleys and whilst they are fine machines they dont have the comfort factor of the Vstar (mind you they have most other bases covered except price).

    My advice, go for a test ride on a XVS650 and you wont look back.
  16. And this is exactly why I told Peter Stevens to stick their bikes up their arse when they wouldn't let me test ride a bike when I was in the market for one. (Incidentally, I bought my bike from Mick Hone who gave me great service and let me test ride). Their sales clown had the audacity to ask me if it really mattered?

    Every bike, Sports, Tourer, Cruiser or any permutation between is likely to ride differently. As bikes are intrinsically more physically demanding than a car the way the bike is set up and the location of your three key points (hand grips, seat, footpegs) can significantly alter your comfort levels. Even with my bike, the addition of risers moved the hand grip position by several inches which altered my body position when riding and removed the shoulder pain I was experiencing on long rides.

    Mattb gives excellent advice when he recommends borrowing or hiring a cruiser to assess the difference for your own particular circumstances. Try to narrow it down to a couple of bikes first perhaps by sitting on them to see if they feel comfortable to begin with, then take a couple out for a few hours. I would highly recommend that the XV650 is on your list and it sounds like you're a similar physique to me so you will probably find the bike will do you for a few years of riding even after you're clear of restrictions.

    Feel free to ignore the negative tones in rc36's post. He illustrates some good points about riding position and load distribution but by ignoring some of the benefits of cruisers and deriding them with the "0% substance" quote is doing them a disservice. They may not be for everyone but they are hardly without their benefits. I've ridden and owned several bikes of different types and none of them are perfect, but for me right now the cruiser is perfect for me :)
  17. Ive just ridden my XVS1100 from the Northern Rivers to Nowra on the South Coast and back (2300km) and let me tell you that anything over 90 minutes is excruciating on the tail bone area, due mainly to the clown that designed the rear seat mount that sits right on the tail bone.....one aftermarket seat coming right up (apart from that it didn't miss a beat, even when stuck in bumper 2 bumper in Macksville and Kempsey, not bad for a 20yo air cooled engine design.)
  18. I have to agree with Kingy, the Honda Shadow seat has to be the most comfortable that I have found as well with decent lower back support.
    They Shadow's come in 400, 600, 750 all the way up to an 1800cc.
    I sat on a vStar and sat on a Shadow and the thing that sold the Shadow for me was a comfortable seating position.
    I have not yet had a single issue with discomfort with the stock standard Shadow seat and I can literaly lean back on the seat and with forward controls in place it makes the ride position even more comfortable.

    PS. I also need to be careful with my lower back and so far the stock seat has been great.
  19. Just noticed the other day. Whenever my back starts to get all sore, it feels heaps better when I take hands off handlebars and sit upright while stopped at the traffic lights.

    I'm pretty much set on getting a cruiser on my upgrade. Now I just need to decide whether to get a LAMS one when I lose that ugly yellow plate, or tough it out for another 12 months and get a non-LAMS cruiser. Currently leaning towards sticking to my Across for a couple of reasons:
    1. Saves me some coins
    2. Not convinced that the XVS650A would have much passing power left 100km/h

    And when it's time to upgrade, I'll just test ride as many as I can :D

    Thanks for all the input, guys.
  20. I heard it from a guy who knows someone with an XVS650A like mine, that he found it accelerates really well up to $1.20, which is as fast as he's gone on it so far. Given I heard he still has a red P plate on, I'm shocked he exhibited such risky behaviour.

    On the Yamaha Motorcycle Forum, some of the Yanks reckon they have hit top speeds of around 100mph (translates roughly to 160).