2011 Kawasaki Vulcan Vaquero
Baggers Rule, at least here in the U.S. That must be the mantra of every motorcycle manufacturer since it seems every few months one of them is introducing a new bagger model or at least, another variation of an existing model.
Such is the case with the new 2011 Kawasaki Vaquero 1700. The Vaquero (Spanish for cowboy) is based on the Voyager, but sportier. The windshield is much shorter, the fairings’ a bit more stream-lined as are the lowers, and there’s no tour pack. The rider seat and passenger pillion have been shaved down as well. Just about everything that’s chrome on the Voyager is blacked out on the Vaquero. The side opening saddle bags appear to have been lifted from the previous generation Nomad. They do however flow very well with the Vaquero’s rear fender and the filler strips between the bags and the fender look very Custom as does the nicely shaped brake light.
The stylist did a great job on this bike. In my opinion, the Vaquero is the best looking motorcycle Kawasaki has ever made. From every angle this bike is downright beautiful. Kawasaki also did a great job with the dash of the frame mounted fairing. The black background with red face numbers looks very Custom. The analog gauges consist of tach, speedometer and coolant temperature gauges. In the center, the LCD displays the gear position, fuel gauge, clock, odometer, dual trip meters, remaining fuel range and mpg; all accessible by a switch on the right hand grip. The twin speaker audio system features AM/FM/WX and is compatible with optional IPOD, XM tuner or CB radio. The switches are located on the left handlebar.
The motor is Kawasaki’s tried and true 1700cc 52 degree liquid cooled V-twin. This is a single pin crank motor with a distinct V-twin feel. Balance shafts though keep annoying vibrations away from the rider or passenger. The transmission is a six-speed unit with both 5th and 6th gear being overdrives; that means extremely relaxed highway riding.
Kawasaki’s Big V-twins have been known for putting out tons of torque right off idle and the Vaquero is no exception. Wind the motor out in any gear and you’ll get quick acceleration and enough power to through you back in the seat with each shift. The transmission shifts smoothly and the clutch action is light for such a powerful motor.
The Vaquero will handle your favorite stretch of winding tarmac with ease as there is a decent amount of lean angle available before the floorboards touch down. Low speed handling is a breeze as well, aided in no small part by the wide friction zone of the clutch.
The dual front disk and single rear disk have excellent feel and do a fine job of slowing down this heavy-weight motorcycle in a hurry.
Overall the Vaquero is a beautifully styled bagger that rides as well as it looks and it’s loaded with features. With an MSRP of $16,499 in black or red, it’s priced right. For a closer look and a test ride, head to St. Pete Power Sports at 555 34th Street South, 727-456-6088. Tell ‘em Motorman sent ya.
Copyright ⓒ 2011 Jerry “Motorman” Palladino