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Kawasaki Vulcan 900 - a near miss

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by mrbreeze, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze I keep blowing down the road

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    You know, I was reading the latest edition of Rider magazine. They have a comparison test of the Vulcan 900, V-Star 950, Honda 750 ACE, and Suzuki C-50.

    The Suzuki won. I don't know what they were smoking, but evidently it's pretty potent.

    I guess I am biased. There is a Vulcan 1600 Nomad waiting for me in the parking lot. Right next to it is a Vulcan 900 LT. I don't know who owns it, but it's a beautiful bike. It seems to me though that Big K needs to get a bit more serious about it. First of all, lose those silly spoked wheels and get some cast wheels and tubeless tires on that thing. Now let's lose the little leather baggies and put some locking hard luggage on it. Not those flimsy things they are using on the 1700 Nomad, but something more substantial. How about the side loading bags from the Vaquero?

    What do you think? Would a serious 900cc touring cruiser succeed in the American market? I think it would.

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    I think it might.

    Great idea to put the side loader bags on the 900 Touring. Economy of scale might make it more profitable and easier.

    I like the 900. I think it's a great machine.
    #2
  3. No False Enthusiasm

    No False Enthusiasm a quiet adventurer

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    As I read the article, I thought, "Why would anyone want tubed tires on a bike that might be used for travel?" Alloy wheels with tubeless just makes so more sense.

    Several mags are reviewing Yamaha's new 1300cc version of the "budget" bagger. It seems to do what kraven is describing, but it is heavier and more expensive.

    NFE
    #3
  4. Meter Man

    Meter Man Long timer

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    In my opinion a "Touring" motorcycle needs only a few attributes (and I've toured on many a motorcycle that doesn't meet any of these):

    1. Able to comfortably cruise at 75 mph

    2. Able to accommodate hard luggage

    3. 200 mile range

    4. Comfortable seating position that allows 200 miles without stopping

    5. Reliable enough it won't leave you sitting on the side of the road

    The Vulcan 900 seems to fit the bill mostly.
    #4
  5. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    yeah, exactly what I was thinking.
    The VN900 Custom has some nice cast wheels with a 21" front.

    It's only a set of bars, windshield, and bags away from this idea. There's already a 5.3 gallon tank on it and a belt drive. Kind of veers away from the drag bars and skinny front image, but you get all the good with very little of the bad.

    That 900 engine is pretty nice. Pretty decent trans too. Belt drive.
    Not a bad idea at all.

    Yamaha and Suzuki made the Silverado and C50T models for a while, but they didn't sell great. People just wouldn't buy a touring bike that wasn't a mega-inch barcalounger.

    A guy could build one of these on the cheap at the price point of leftover or used VN900 Customs.
    #5
  6. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze I keep blowing down the road

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    yep, the 900 is all most folks need. I have normal adult sized couples riding two up on them with smiles on their faces. A friend of mine has one. He's about 6'2" and 300 lbs. He was one of 10 bikes on our trip out west. 4600 miles in 9 days.
    #6
  7. scotty918

    scotty918 Been here awhile

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    Mine was wound up pretty good at 75mph, not sure I'd want to run it like that all day.
    #7
  8. JerryH

    JerryH To Each Their Own

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    The 900 Classic or LT fits all but the last one. I would not call tube type tires reliable. The Yamaha V-Star 950 has cast wheels and modern tires.
    #8
  9. JerryH

    JerryH To Each Their Own

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    I don't see how a 900 could have that problem. My Vulcan 750 will easily cruise at 85 all day, only halfway to redline. It does not feel overstressed at all. It will top out around 120, still under redline, and still does not feel overstressed. In fact it seems very happy at high rpms. The gas tank is to small though, at highway speeds it hits reserve at about 120 miles.
    #9
  10. scotty918

    scotty918 Been here awhile

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    Me and many others have complaints about the highway revs. That's why Scootworks sells a pulley for it. Unfortunately, the pulley is not a big help. Do some searches on the Vulcan forums, it's an issue with the 900. The engine is fine, it's all in the gearing my friend.
    #10
  11. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze I keep blowing down the road

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    I would think the gearing could be easily addressed by the manufacturer, if they in fact wanted to turn the LT into a serious touring bike.

    Jerry - I am with you on the cast wheels/tubeless tires thing. The Yamaha 950 has them, which is a plus. Unfortunately the gas tank is significantly smaller. I also prefer liquid cooling to air cooling, and I think Yamaha botched the job as far as styling is concerned. That's just my opinion, of course - but I think the Kawasaki is much better looking.

    Have you seen it in blue/white? Gorgeous! I would post a pic but I can't hotlink it and I'm too lazy to download/upload, etc. Also when I was perusing Momma K's website last night, I took a look at the 2013 Nomad - it's also available in blue/white. Man I really like that!
    #11
  12. satz

    satz Been here awhile

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    i just picked a vstar 1300 to join my fz1.

    i compared and test rode vstar 950 and the vulcan 900 from the demo trucks .
    anyway , the vulcan was good but the vstar 1300 fit me better as i am 6 3 ,34 inseam .
    #12
  13. luckychucky

    luckychucky Long timer

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    Can't remember exactly the part that shears, but an old man told me you have to split the cases to get to the part when it needs replaced. Other than that I too think this is a cool motorcycle.
    #13
  14. JerryH

    JerryH To Each Their Own

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    The 750 has a completely different engine than the 900. It performs more like an inline four than a v-twin. It's an extremely complex engine with 4 cams, 8 valves, 4 cam chains, 2 jackshafts, dual plug heads, dual carbs, high compression, highly oversquare (large bore short stroke) liquid cooled, counterbalancer, and a tuned exhaust. It is completely smooth at highway speeds, no vibration at all. The grips do not buzz, and the mirrors are clear. Instead of the power falling off at 75-80 mph, it has a top end rush, almost like a sport bike, and pulls strong all the way to top speed, where it is likely well above the redline of the 900. This engine is more VTR1000 or TL1000 than Harley.


    The part that fails on Kawasaki v-twin engines is the POG, or plastic oil pump gear. It usually fails around 35,000 miles. But as far as I know, it was only used on the original 1500 and the 1500 Classic. For some reason it tended to fail a lot more on the Classic. Kawasaki finally learned their lesson and replaced it with a steel gear in 2000 or 2001. The 900 is not affected.


    I agree the Vulcan looks better than the V-Star, but for me that does not make up for the tube type tires it has. The gas tank is definitely an issue, but I have managed ton put 80,000 miles on my 750 and it has less than a 150 mile range total. I have had to carry an extra gallon on occasion.

    I don't know what size the gas tank is on the Suzuki, but it does have tubeless tires on the C50SE, which can also be set up with a windshield, backrest, and bags for touring. It also has a shaft drive, which I consider better than the belts on the Kawasaki and Yamaha, especially for touring. And it is liquid cooled.
    #14
  15. DaveBall

    DaveBall Long timer

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    Funny that this thread should come up now. I have finally decided to get into the 21st century and sold the newest bike I ever owned ('81 BMW R100RT) and have narrowed my search for a replacement down to the Vulcan 900.

    I have ridden all the mid sized cruiser style bikes and found the VN900 seems to fit my size and riding style. I did find that they do like to rev a bit at highway speeds, but I don't find that to be a problem. My old BMW used to love spinning at 4-5000 RPM, and the VN900 is similar. I don't think that it will do it any real harm. Another gear may be nice for high speed cruising, but for secondary highways, where the speed limit is 100KPH (60MPH) the revs are not a problem. The replacement sprockets (both front and rear) appear to have helped others who don't like the higher revs.

    I will be looking for some good hard bags for it, probably side loading style, as that is what I am used to. I would like to be able to fit a full face helmet in them, just like I could in the old BMW bags.

    And tube type tires have never bothered me. But, I don't ride at the upper limits, and learned long ago how to patch a tube on the side of the road.
    #15
  16. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    Just to be that guy: a set of old school Krauser bags would be hilarious to mount on a VN900 :lol3
    #16
  17. skysailor

    skysailor Rat Rider

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    How does that go? "Friends don't let friends ride cruisers...."? As I sit here looking through the latest pretty pamphlet on Yamaha cruisers. Who the fuck would call a bike "Stratoliner' and "Roadliner"? The first sounds like a Boeing, the second like a fucking Grey Hound bus! The Venture S? Who designed that "not quite a bat wing" fairing? UGLY! The V-Star 950 and 1300 Tourers look kind of Okay, (actually going to look at them next weekend) but I think I'd be bored shitless on the 950! Personally, I think the Suzuki offerings are just plain UGLY! Getting pretty close to the Harley/BMW price points here, but do we really NEED 1854cc's? Might as well just go buy a Buick.
    Lyle
    #17
  18. kingnba6

    kingnba6 R1der

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    i own a 06 vulcan 900. no luggage bags but i do have a mustang touring seat with backrest. and i do agree that the tires should be tubeless and spokeless. but with that being said, i can cruiser 75-80 and not have a problem. i always fill up before the light comes on so i dont know what a full tank of gas would give in miles. i do plan on making the bike into a full tourer by getting a proper windshield, hard locking luggage bags and a crash cage with highway bars.
    #18
  19. Keithert

    Keithert Long timer

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    I almost bought a 900 Classic back in 2008. Instead I ended up getting another Vulcan 1500. The 900 is a very nice machine though. About the same size ergonomics of the 1500 but not as heavy of a bike. The 900 motor does a decent job.

    I owned a Venture from 99-2003. It was by far the most comfortable bike I've ever ridden. I could ride that thing all day with no discomfort. It was a great bike for touring but a bit of a pig around town. I put 48,000 miles on it in 3 seasons. I replaced it with a Kaw Nomad 1500.
    #19
  20. JerryH

    JerryH To Each Their Own

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    You could always rig up a way to mount KLR type aluminum panniers on a cruiser, I have seen them on a Goldwing.

    I simply could not live with tube type tires. I would be scared every single time I went somewhere, and would soon get fed up with that and get a bike with tubeless tires. I have found that most tubes cannot be repaired. Most tubes I have taken out, even from bicycles tires, were badly shredded. It's not just a little pin hole, they pop like a balloon when punctured, and even if they don't, by the time you get stopped, whatever punctured them is probably still sticking in the tire, and has cut the tube to pieces.

    Now, if the bike had a centerstand (my Yamaha XT225 does) then it wouldn't be so much of a problem. Put the bike on the stand, remove the wheel, remove the tire, install a new tube, reinstall the tire and wheel, air it up, and be on your way. Not nearly as simple as plugging a tubeless tire, but it is still possible.
    #20