Kawasaki Vulcan 750 thread

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by JerryH, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    Anyone else here have a Vulcan 750? I have owned 2 of them, both bought new. A '93 that I put over 80,000 miles on before trading it for a new '01 KLR650, which didn't work out, so I bought another new Vulcan 750, an '02 model. I now have 74,000 miles on it. I have ridden both Vulcans all over the country several times, but have never been out of the country with them. They are the most comfortable solo touring bikes this side of a Goldwing, and they are small enough to make handling them easy. They were made almost completely unchanged from 1985 through 2006. I will post some pictures in the next couple of days.
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  2. Lujo

    Lujo Long timer

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    An '89 (or was it '88?) Vulcan 750 was the first bike I owned! Here it is: http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~lbauer/vulcan/

    I still remember it very fondly. But, probably because I'm on the tall side, despite a cushy aftermarket seat I couldn't ride it for very long because the seating position put too much weight on my tailbone. And when I bought a KLR 650 I was amazed to discover how much more nimble bikes could be. :rofl (And then I bought a R1150GS and discovered that bikes could brake amazingly well too! :evil) All that said... great bike.

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  3. gumshoe4

    gumshoe4 Been here awhile

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    I owned one for three years.

    It was a very nice bike with fairly decent power. I had the stator go bad on me, which required engine removal and case split to replace...this is, apparently, fairly common on these machines, as I have a friend who had the same thing happen to him and quite a few folks on the VN750 website have reported similar circumstances http://www.vn750.com/ I should say that in my case, the stator failure was mostly my fault, as I failed to properly maintain the battery or put it on a trickle charger...after I started the trickle charger program and replaced the battery with a good sealed battery, no more problem.

    Other than the weak charging system, the bike was pretty flawless for me. Hydraulic valves meant no valve adjustments, shaft drive meant no chain adjustment or belt replacement. The ergos were pretty good and the engine pretty responsive, with about 4500 rpm showing at 75 mph indicated and redline at, I think, 8500 rpm or so BUT the bike really could have used a sixth gear for long freeway slogs. That said, the bike would haul my not insubstantial self down the road at 70-75 mph plus as long as I wanted to go and I had it up to 90+ to pass trucks with no problem. Slow speed handling was good. Handling in the twisties was pretty good, but I found that finding the right tire pressure was particularly critical for this bike for improved handling in the canyons.

    All in all, a very good motorcycle which, despite its weird 80's styling, received many very positive reviews by the motorcycle magazines over the years.

    I'd buy another one...
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  4. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    Strangely enough I never had a stator fail, in nearly 160,000 miles. You don't have to completely pull the engine to replace the stator, you can unbolt the right side frame section, and the engine mounts, put a jack under the engine, and slide it to the right just far enough to get the left side stator cover off. It's still a time consuming job, but one person can do it. Only problem I had was the automatic cam chain tensioners failed, way back around 15,000 miles, I replaced them with manual tensioners, which are still working fine.

    I didn't like the KLR on the highway, it was way less comfortable than the Vulcan for long highway trips. And for off road use it was too big and heavy. So I got another Vulcan 750 and an XT225 for dirt road/off road use.

    How comfortable any bike is depends a lot on your height and weight. At 6' 220 with a 34" inseam, I find the Vulcan 750 a perfect fit.

    It has cast wheels, tubeless tires, a centerstand, shaft drive, rear air suspension, hydraulic valves, spin on oil filter, liquid cooling, dual carbs, dual plug heads, complete instrumentation, even a reserve lighting device, so if one filament burns out it automatically switches to the other. It also has 4 way hazard flashers and dual horns. I wish they still made them, mine has a lot of miles on it, and isn't going to last forever. Don't know what to replace it with.
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  5. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze Long timer

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    do any of you vn750 guys own a camera? :D
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  6. gumshoe4

    gumshoe4 Been here awhile

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    I think changing the stator out would be something beyond my admittedly limited skillset.

    I agree, though, Jerry, the VN750 is a pretty user-friendly machine. I'm also 6', but weigh 250, yet never really felt that the bike was suffering under my size. Mine had Plexifairing III, which worked well on it. I never toured with mine, but I think it would make a very decent touring bike for a solo rider, averaging about 50 mpg-although I would not want to run up the Interstate on it for hours a time...I think the bike would do fine, but I might not...:D

    And yes, I do have some photos. Here's one taken at China Wall, near Foresthill, California.

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  7. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    Is that an '02? Looks exactly like mine color wise. I have the Kawasaki extended backrest and luggage rack, so I can carry a T-bag, I also have the Kawasaki bolt on saddlebag mounts/turn signal relocator brackets, and the bolt on hard leather saddlebags sold by Kawasaki. I am using a Memphis Shades Shooter windshield, which works fine. I had a taller Harley style windshield, but the helmet buffeting and high speed instability were so bad I had to get rid of it.

    Mine is a CA model, and I removed all the emissions crap from it, including the evap system and air injection system. There were enough parts and hoses to fill a 5 gallon bucket. I also relocated the horns under the air filter housings, fabricated a bracket, and installed a leather tool bag below the headlight, where the horns had been. I also replaced the amber turn signal lenses with clear, with amber bulbs, eliminated the clunky looking license plate holder and light, and a few other cosmetic modifications. I have a removeable Protac backrest. I have taken 2 week trips on this bike, averaging 500-600 miles per day. I have done 2 SS1000s on it. Most of it's 74,000 miles have been at freeway speeds.

    Yes I have a camera, I just have to get out and take some pictures. I will get that done soon.
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  8. mattoid1

    mattoid1 Been here awhile

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    Had one, the first street bike at bought. A '99 model with about 2100 miles on it, rode it for four thousand miles and traded it for a Vulcan 1500. Put 43,000 miles on that and bought a new Harley Ultra Classic. I've got 20,000 miles on that in a year and half. Bought a KLR 650 for a second bike, but didn't ride it and sold that. A Vulcan 750 may be the second bike I am looking for. They are nice bikes.

    Dave
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  9. gumshoe4

    gumshoe4 Been here awhile

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    That photo is from when I owned it early on. I later put on the PF III and I also had the luggage rack. I used nylon bags on it.

    Mine was an '05...I did love that bike. I ended up giving it to a friend who was just getting back into riding, like I did several years prior. My re-entry bike was this VN750, so it has a fond place in my heart...I rode the darn thing all over the place.

    You're making me want another one...

    Here are some more photos...some of them show the bike in its later configuration with the PF III and luggage rack, others show it with a short wind deflector and leather bags, which is how it was for the first two years or so that I owned it.

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  10. arkansawyer

    arkansawyer Long timer

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    My vulcan 750 story is different than the rest. I bought mine as a total. The frame was straight and the engine ran. The bike looked like someone spent about an hour with an angle grinder and a hammer on it. Tach/speedo/headlight were toast. Tank was dented pretty bad. Both exhausts were ground up.
    I put an SL125 speedo on. DT175 headlight. Three different krylon paint jobs and lots of poorly applied bondo.
    Mine was an '86. I put a touch over 80,000 miles on it. One of the auto cam chain tensioners failed. The chrome plug over the right angle drive pushed out. I put plumber's strap over it after. It ate batteries and tail light bulbs, I think due to vibration. RIde bitch sometime and feel how bad it buzzes back there. No other troubles.
    My boss made me park it around back. My coworkers called it the vulgar 750 because it was obscenely ugly.
    I never got used to the footpeg location. I wished Kaw would have put this drivetrain in a standard style bike.
    Sometimes I miss the vulgar. Park it anywhere and not worry about it. Take it off the side of the road to camp and not worry about scratching it up.
    I sold it for $200 more than I paid for it after all of that.
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  11. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    That bike is almost an exact copy of mine, with only minor differences. I find the riding position absolutely perfect for me, at 6' 220, with a 34" inseam. It's like sitting in a recliner, or riding a recumbent bicycle when you put something on it to lean back against. And if you need a change of position, the passenger pegs are in the perfect place for the rider to use.

    I love the way it looks. It's a cruiser, but not a Harley copy. It is a 1985 design. It has about every feature you could possibly put on a motorcycle. Unlike todays v-twin cruisers, this thing has power. Not just torque, but top end power as well. it has an 8500 rpm redline, and pulls strongly all the way to the top. it's more of a sportbike motor than a cruiser.

    The motor, as well as it works, is my one complaint about the bike. The motor is more complicated than a Swiss watch. It is a 55 degree single crankpin design, with a counterbalancer. Since it is Japanese, I don't understand why they didn't use offset crankpins, and eliminate the balancer. It has 4 cam chains, 4 cam chain tensioners, 8 valves, 4 plugs, 2 carbs, hydraulic lifters, liquid cooling, and a very complex and convoluted intake and exhaust system. It is an engineering masterpiece, but an absolute nightmare to work on. Fortunately, if you leave it completely stock engine wise, it rarely ever needs to be worked on. My 150,000+ miles on 2 of them with no problems but the upper cam chain tensioners, which are known to be defective, is pretty much proof of that. They were replaced with manual tensioners that work fine.


    It is also known for stator failures, but I don't really think it has any more stator failures than any other bike, it's just that you have to pull the engine to replace the stator, so when it happens it is a big deal. 4 cylinder Goldwings have the same reputation for stator failure, probably for the same reason.

    The only other bike of this size I can see being as good at touring would be the long gone Yamaha Virago 750/1100. I don't think Yamaha had a clue what they had when they replaced these great bikes with the V-Stars. The Kawasaki Vulcan 800 and 900 have the same problem. Lack of comfort, and lack of features. I certainly would not go touring on a bike with tube type tires and no centerstand.
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  12. gumshoe4

    gumshoe4 Been here awhile

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    I agree with your assessment on the Viragos. The 1100 Virago is a very nice machine. I had a chance to ride one, briefly, on a small aircraft runway (long story...). Really liked it and I think it would make a very nice cruiser in the 80-90's style like the VN750.
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  13. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    I didn't have time to go for a ride this weekend, so I just pushed the bike out of the garage and snapped some pictures.

    No, you are not seeing things, the right front brake is missing. I have ridden it over 50,000 miles that way with no problems. Stock, I found the Vulcan 750s front brakes to be very grabby. They were difficult to modulate, kind of like on or off with nothing in between. Noticing a friends Honda Magna 750 had only one front brake, while being both heavier and having more power than the Vulcan, I decided to try it out. Front brake was much better. So I decided to go with a single front brake on the Vulcan. After doing so I did extensive testing in a safe area, and found my stopping distances had not changed, I could still lock up the front wheel, just took a slightly harder squeeze. I did several stops from 100 mph to 0, holding the front wheel on the verge of lockup the whole way. I watched it for over 10,000 miles, expecting more wear, but that has not been the case. It shows no disc wear after 50,000 miles, and pads last as long as ever.


    This bike has 74,269 miles on it, and runs and rides like new. Only issues were the cam chain tensioners and one clutch. Surprisingly enough the clutch was not slipping, but dragging. The friction plates had actually swollen, and were thicker than they were supposed to be. First time I've ever seen that.



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  14. gumshoe4

    gumshoe4 Been here awhile

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    Very nice! Looks like mine!!

    :D
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  15. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    Anyone else have a Vulcan 750, or ever taken a long trip on one?
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  16. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    I really don't understand your aversion to the Vulcan 750. I have owned 2 of them, both bought brand new. A '93, which was sold with over 80,000 trouble free miles on it, and still ran like new, and my current '02, with 77,000 miles on it, only problem was the automatic cam chain tensioners, which I replaced with manual tensioners at about 20,000 miles. Otherwise it has also been trouble free, ant it also still runs like new. I would not hesitate to ride it coast to coast right now. The 750, unlike all other Vulcans (other than the parallel twin 500) is NOT a Japanese Harley clone. It has a super high tech engine which has way more in common with a sport bike engine than a cruiser. It has plenty of power to take you anywhere you want to go, at any speed. It handles better than 99% of cruisers, and has comfort rivaling the Goldwing. It will run a 12 second 1/4 mile. I have put 160,000 miles on these 2 bikes, more than any other model, and there are a lot of good reasons for that. It was made completely unchanged except for paint from '85 through '06. If they still made it, I would buy another without even considering anything else.

    As for Motus, they have been very secretive about everything. While I agree the Hanlons did everything wrong with E-H, they did it all out in the open. They built a factory (albeit with taxpayers money) and conducted factory tours before production even began. They kept the magazines informed about all the details, including all the mechanical aspects of the bike and engine. They actually gave out more information than most people wanted. And while the E-H price was high, it was way less than the Motus, and had it succeeded, it would have had a much better chance in the market. The motorcycle market is mostly made up of cruisers and crotch rockets.

    As someone else asked, where is all the information about the Motus? They are not trying to keep it a secret, but yet they are releasing almost no information on it. They have not explained WHY they missed their deadline for releasing the bike for sale. And of all things, they are talking about selling just the engines, BEFORE they have even released the bike for sale. That is completely unprecedented. Even Harley never sold just engines until they realized the profit to be made by selling genuine Harley engines to custom bike builders, who would otherwise use an EVO clone. But so much was known about the Harley engine, and so many custom frames were available that it fit in, that it made sense. Who woulf buy a Motus engine? What would they use it for? It's specs are for the most part unknown. Nothing is available to put it in. Something just doesn't sound right about this whole thing,
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  17. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze Long timer

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    not tom hi jack your thread, but your comments about the Virago are spot on! What a sweet bike! I bought a 750 for my wife, but I think I rode it more than she did. It was comfortable and it handled great. When Yamaha replaced the Viragos with the V-Stars I thought they were crazy - and I still do.

    And your 77,000 mile Vulcan is gorgeous! That doesn't look like the stock seat though - is there a story there?
    #17
  18. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    There is indeed a story with this bike, but it's not the seat, it is stock. There are about 20 or so minor modifications to it. It was a CA model, and I removed ALL the emissions crap, the EVAP system, and the air injection system, and there was enough junk there to fill a 5 gallon bucket

    But the big story is the brakes. The Vulcan 750 came with dual front discs. Notice mine only has one. The one thing I did not like about the Vulcan was the front brake. It was either on or off. Modulating it was very difficult, and required some thought, not good in a sticky situation. I put 80,000 miles on my '93 like that, and did quite a few unintentional stoppies. I finally got fed up with it on the '02, and decided to do something about it. I noticed that a lot of larger heavier bikes only had one front disc. I had owned a couple of them, and they stopped just fine. So, I removed the right front caliper, and ran a single line to the left one. I then took it out to a safe place and did a lot of testing. I started out slow, and it felt fine. More like what a brake should feel like. Since I had an empty road all to myself, I took it up to high speed, and practiced holding the front brake on the verge of lockup several times, a couple of times from an indicated 100 mph. It worked fine. I considered fade after repeated use, so I tested it over and over again. No fade, no degradation in performance, and stop distances were actually under what the manual stated.

    So now that I knew it was safe, I started riding it in normal traffic like that, and it performed beautifully. Much better than before. I was still concerned that the rotor would overheat and warp, but it never did. I figured both the rotor and pads would have a much shorter life, but the pads lasted as long as usual (EBC ORGANIC pads). I rode the bike in the mountains with no problems. I could easily lock the front wheel at will, WITHOUT a death grip. But the real proof of this mod is the fact that I did it with under 20,000 miles on the bike. That's about 60,000 miles of riding with one front brake, and not a single problem. I consider it to be much safer than it was. And after 60,000 miles, the rotor still looks like new. It shows a tiny amount of wear when checked with a micrometer, but it is negligible. I can see the rotor will likely outlast the bike. But since the right and left rotors are exactly the same, I still have a spare.

    So not only did this mod make the front brake work a lot better, it also save a bunch of unsprung weight in the front end. That rotor and caliper are heavy. Most riders complain that their bikes don't have enough brakes. The ONLY bike I can say that about was a '66 Triumph Bonneville. For some reason, Kawasaki put to much brakes on the front of the Vulcan 750. Maybe it was because back in '85 when the bike first came out, it was the complete opposite of today. Manufacturers were loading bikes down with as much as they could get on them. Features were where it was at back then, the more the better. And the Vulcan 750, all the way through 2006, was an '85 model. No mechanical changes were made during the entire production run. None were needed.


    The Vulcan 750 is not your normal v-twin cruiser. Look at the engine. Obviously liquid cooled, and no fins to make it look like a Harley. It looks very much like an automotive V8 from the end. It is liquid cooled, has dual carbs, four overhead cams, eight valves, four cam chains, four spark plugs, fairly high compression, and a 10,000 rpm redline. It has shaft drive, tubeless tires,and a centerstand. It has a tach, fuel gauge, temp gauge, and even a gadget that will switch the headlight over to the other filament if one burns out. It is a 55 degree single crankpin design with a gear driven counterbalancer. It has a nice low speed rumble, and is dead smooth at highway speeds. It will easily cruise at 80 mph all day with plenty in reserve. It handles well and is extremely comfortable. I just cannot find anything not to like, other than the front brakes, which I fixed. Don't confuse the 750 with the 800 and 900, which ARE typical Japanese Harley copies.
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  19. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze Long timer

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    I can't buy another bike right now, but lately I have been wishing I could pick up an older bike and take it on an extended cross country road trip. Something reliable enough to get me there and back, and yet old enough to make it an adventure. There is a VN700 on CL here (Nashville) that the guy is asking $1000 for! :eek1 I wish I could jump on that. It would make a good second to my Nomad, and it would be a good commuter. One of the things I like about these bikes is just what you said above - not a HD clone, but a modern cruiser. And not just 8 valves, but those valves have hydraulic adjustment! :clap I could see me touring on one of these, with a w/s, throttle lock, driver's backrest, and soft luggage. :D
    #19
  20. Eye of the Tiger

    Eye of the Tiger Adventurer

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    This thread makes me want a Vulcan 750, but I would have to do away with the forward controls, stepped seat, and high handlebars. I'm thinking cafe racer style.
    #20