|Kawasaki Vulcan 900|
It can be difficult to write a review on a bike you have researched and finally committed to purchasing. Seems the review is bound to have a bit of bias in it. So with no apologies, here is my view and comments on the Vulcan 900.
I could never have been called a cruiser fan, I like simple bikes, fast bikes, and I like soft core trail riding. Cruisers were just not in my sights. Then one day my Dad bought a cruiser and rode it out to the farm to show it off. I wondered what had ever made him decide to buy a cruiser. I had (still have) a Kawasaki Concours and didn't see the attraction of the cruiser. I think he saw that in my eyes, because he just smiled and offered me his bike. It was sooo nice and sooo easy. (He did that to me with scooters too. Thanks Dad for opening my eyes to so many things)
That nice and easy stayed in my head long after that ride and several years later, with the encouragement of my best friend, riding buddy, and wife we purchased the Vulcan. Now after riding it for 12,000 plus miles, I have to say I like it better with each mile I ride it. Just as no bike is the perfect bike, this one gives and takes in different areas, so read on and we'll talk about the good and the bad of this very nice machine. Is there any bad after 12,000 miles? Not really, but there are things we can talk about so you are better informed if you should be in the market for a cruiser.
When reading magazine reports on the Vulcan 900, you hear them call this bike a middleweight or sometimes even a light cruiser. Let me tell you that a 660 pound 900cc bike is not light. It may be middle weight, but only because middle weight is a relative term. Just the same the weight is very low and because of this, the bike is easy to move around the garage and it is almost laughably easy to maneuver at walking speeds. It gets moved around less in the wind than my Connie and TU 250 and those wide handlebars make it super easy to roll into and out of the curves.
The fit and finish is quite good, the paint is flawless and the chrome is very pretty. I like plastic and am happy the bike has plastic fenders - no rust - but chrome plastic engine parts strike me as odd. Just the same, Kawasaki has pulled this off very well and the chrome is very nice. It has a belt drive and, again, I was not sure I'd like that feature, but I have become a convert. There is nothing to worry about with a street bike and belt drive, and it never needs oiling and seldom (none so far) needs adjusting. The final little thing that I'd change if I were King, or wealthy enough to buy aftermarket, is the spoke wheels. Not the spokes really as they are pretty and they compliment this type bike. They do run tube type tires though. I prefer the ease of patching a tubeless tire to a tube type.
There is no other bad for me and all these minor things are just that, minor. The windshield does a great job of splitting the wind, in fact it is the best bike I have owned for weather protection. The engine has fantastic torque and chugs up and down the road as easy two up as solo. It makes easy work of the eastern US mountains. This bike is at it's absolute best cruising through the countryside showing off the sights and smells of our rural areas. It is like riding a big old lawn chair. The seating position encourages you to look around and enjoy the world we so often just blast through when we are trying to "get somewhere". The Vulcan is happy at 45 mph and it is happy at highway speeds. I think the big windshield starts to drag a little as speeds climb above 70-75 mph. The bike can travel at these speeds and higher without any problem, but you do see the gas mileage begin to suffer. The mileage on the open highway is 45 MPG but on last summers' ride to Tennessee and North Carolina the mileage ranged from 48 to 54+ MPG. The bike has a 5.3 gallon fuel tank. I run about 190 miles between fillups when riding back and forth to work (mostly turnpike travel)and will usually go 215+ when I get to ride it on the back roads I enjoy most. When the fuel warning light illuminates, there is still a gallon of fuel in the tank.
An interesting thing I have noticed with the Vulcan as well as the Concours is that they just keep getting better. It is as if it takes them 30,000 miles or so to fully break in. They get smoother and quicker with miles. With the Vulcan, the mileage has continued to improve with age and even though I have always felt the engine was smooth, it also seems to keep running freer and smoother. There is very little vibration from the Vulcan. The floorboards and handlebars remain steady all the way up to 70-75 MPH.
My father in-law and I rode to Tennessee and North Carolina last summer and we had intended to trade bikes now and then to give us sore spots in different place than we'd get if we stayed on just one bike. Turned out my father in-law enjoyed the Connie so much and I enjoyed the Vulcan so much that we did not trade at all. After a full week of steady riding neither of us was sore or tired.
It'll never be confused for a dual sport bike, but we have taken the Vulcan down a number of gravel roads as well as paved roads. I think the combination of wide tires and steering geometry make this an easy ride. There is no need to worry as it remains stable in both hard pack dirt and gravel.
I think the Vulcan 900 will be in Kawasaki's lineup for a long time. It doesn't try to be macho, it doesn't try to be a hotrod, it doesn't try to be anything other than a very pleasant to live with bike. The Vulcan will stay in my stable for a long time, it is just sooo easy and sooo nice!
Video Links you might enjoy:
Klausenpass - Teil 1
Klausenpass - Teil 2
Klausenpass - Teil 3