Kawasaki practically invented the big inch metric cruiser back in 1996 with the Vulcan 1500 Classic. At the time, it was the biggest V-twin money could buy. At about 10K, it was half the price of Harley’s Fat Boy. Yes, I know a 1996 Fat Boy had an MSRP of about 16K but most dealers were getting four to five thousand over list back then.
The original Vulcan 1500’s reasonable price allowed many people who either couldn’t afford a Harley or just couldn’t find one at any price, to experience the big V-twin cruiser. Of course, as time went on, the competition from the other metric manufacturers grew. Kawasaki however kept improving the Vulcan Classic. First they added fuel injection, then bored out the motor to 1600cc and then in 09 offered an all new chassis and a 1700cc motor, a six-speed transmission and belt drive. The 2010 model is unchanged except for colors available. The LT tested here adds studded leather saddlebags, matching seat, a backrest and a windshield—two tone paint is also standard at the $14,199 MSRP.
The styling of the 1700 classic is well, Classic American fat fendered cruiser. While there’s nothing about its styling that jumps out at you, it is a very handsome overall package with great attention to detail and excellent paint quality. A nice feature is the wealth of information available from the new low profile tank mounted gauges that can be accessed by a switch of the right grip.
Powering the Vulcan is a liquid cooled 52 degree fuel injected V-twin. The 1700 has a single pin crank and dual counter-balancers to smooth out the vibrations. The transmission is a six-speed unit with overdrive on both 5th and 6th gear. A carbon fiber belt now brings power to the rear wheel. The new chassis is more compact than the old. The wheelbase is now 65.7 inches and the front rake is 30 degrees. These figures make for a more nimble handling motorcycle at low speeds and a slightly more compact riding position.
Speaking of riding, the new Vulcan 1700 LT excels here. The ride is quite plush even on the worst roads. Handling on your favorite winding road is also very good. The Vulcan has plenty of ground clearance and steers easily through the curves. Power from the big 1700cc motor comes on right off idle. A quick shift through the gears will throw you back in the seat with each gear change. 1st through 4th gear are spaced closely for quick acceleration. As mentioned earlier, both 5th and 6th gears are overdrives. That means even at speeds quite a bit over the limit on the Interstate, the big V-twin is just loafing along and as smooth as silk.
With the windshield at its highest setting (it has a 2” adjustment), there was very little buffeting. The seat offers all day comfort and the saddlebags have enough room for a weekend long trip. Kawasaki has come a long way since the first Vulcan Classic rolled off the assembly line in 1996. The Vulcan 1700 Classic is a true modern state of the art cruiser that will delight the rider every time he or she swings a leg over the saddle. Whether it’s a short hop to your local bike night or a weekend romp, two up and fully loaded, the Vulcan 1700 Classic LT will perform both tasks with ease and comfort. You want more? As of this writing, Kawasaki is offering a $1,500.00 rebate on 2009 models and $750.00 on 2010’s. What are you waiting for??
A special thanks to the fine folks at Fun Bike Center Motorsports in Lakeland Florida for loaning me the 2010 Vulcan Classic LT. If you’re not familiar with this dealership, you’ve got to see it. It is possibly the largest metric dealer in the U.S. They have a huge selection of Kawasaki and Honda motorcycles as well as parts, accessories and clothing. Visit them at 1845 E. Memorial Blvd., Highway 92 & Gary Road, Lakeland, FL 33801, 800-226-3008. Tell them Motorman sent ya!
Copyright 2010 Jerry Motorman Palladino