The 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 model range takes the best from the world of cruisers and adjusts it to match the size, experience and demands of riders who are just starting out. Each of the three models, Classic, Classic LT and Custom are set to offer a different kind of riding experience and the new Special Edition version derived from the Custom model follows the trend towards Dark Custom motorcycles that Harley-Davidson started.
While style is different from one bike to another, user-friendliness has the same source and that’s the 903cc (55.1-cubic-inch), liquid-cooled, SOHC, four-valve per cylinder V-twin motor. Fueled through an EFI injection system with 34mm Keihin throttle bodies, this delivers 58.2 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm so there’s plenty of grunt to work with long after learning how to ride. Fuel Consumption in this case is anything but a killer so there’s no sixth gear overdrive, just a five-speed tranny helping at keeping things lively down the open road. The biggest majority of cruisers (be them classics or customs) have lately began featuring belt final drive, so Kawasaki also adopts that for their Vulcan 900 lineup. This ensures quiet working, smooth power delivery and requires little maintenance as well.
None of the small and fairly nimble Vulcans weigh more than 660 lbs with all liquids included and the 26.8 inches seat height (27 inches on the Custom) allows for short sized riders and females to easily get accustomed with their models of choice and start enjoying the ride. All models are built on a steel frame and feature long travel suspensions.
2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom
The Custom and Custom Special Edition models are even more compact than their Classic and Classic LT siblings. Also, these offer bigger front and rear brake discs (300mm front and 270mm rear instead of 272mm front and 242mm rear) as well as a 21 inches front wheel instead of the regular 16-inch one on which the never growing old models roll down on.
Definitely, Kawasaki Vulcan 900’s disadvantage is the lack of double overhead cams. That would have been a very inspired move for 2010 as we’ve come to find that riders are always ready to sacrifice more or less in the fuel consumption chapter as long as power and torque are much sweeter. Also, this can turn into an advantage for the competition if they know how to turn that to account.
The Honda Shadow Aero and Shadow Spirit are powered by an even smaller engine – 745cc displacement – of the same type, liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-twin with SOHC and three valves per cylinder. This is still fed through a carburetor and mates to a wide-ratio five-speed transmission on both Classic’s and Custom’s contender. Considering the fact that they come with MSRPs starting at the same level as the Kawi models, Honda’s Shadow alternatives aren’t that much of a threat for the Vulcans.
Suzuki’s Boulevard lineup misses no category and we find here different solutions to the same riding demands. Various models such as the Boulevard C50 and the corresponsive Special Edition model, Boulevard C50T as well as the Boulevard M50 (offered with a Special Edition model as well) and even the Boulevard S50 are powered by the very same 805cc (49.1-cubic-inch), liquid-cooled, OHC, 45-degree V-twin motor fed through a fuel injection system. Styles are different, fuel consumption is great (a claimed 49mpg) and the prices vary so riders are most likely to scan the Boulevard lineup carefully, just as they do with the Vulcan lineup when looking for the proper beginner cruiser-style motorcycle.
Star launched too brand new models last year, the V Star 950 and V Star 950 Tourer. In 2010, these carry on blending the classic and custom styles and are a major attraction especially because of the highly economic (47 mpg claimed fuel consumption) 942cc, air-cooled, V-twin, SOHC, four-valves per cylinder engine that is as well fuel injected. Apart from the five-speed tranny, these bikes also feature belt drive, low seats and spicier prices.
With a facile transformation, Kawasaki turned their Custom into what Harley-Davidson would have called a Dark Custom model and which competes with this last’s all-new Sportster Iron 883 model. This is powered by the 53.89 cubic inches, air-cooled, Evolution V-twin engine that if fueled and tuned through an Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection system to deliver 55 ft lbs of torque at precisely 3,500. Doesn’t this sound familiar? Wait, it’s almost the same as Kawi’s engine so we have some Japanese against American action going over here.
Style is what makes the difference and with the 2010 Vulcan 900 lineup, Kawasaki approaches three different styles:
Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic
The Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic is characterized by a pair of standard spoked wheels covered in deeply valanced fenders in between which the chromed V-twin engine stands out as the source of all fun and excitement. Furthermore, this thing features a teardrop tank on which the instruments are mounted just so that the pullback handlebars and decently sized headlight would be as highly appreciated. With a low seat and slash-cut exhaust (also chromed), it is no problem noticing the never going out of fashion motorcycle in this lineup. The Candy Imperial Blue and Candy Fire Red paintjobs also help.
Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT
The Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT is the exact same motorcycle only that fitted with a large windscreen, studded seats, passenger backrest and saddlebags while being two-tone painted - Candy Diamond Red/Ebony, Candy Imperial Blue/Metallic Moondust Gray and Metallic Dark Green/Metallic Titanium.
2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom
The real transformation can easily be spotted on the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom model featuring stripped down fenders, a 21-inch custom wheel and straight-style handlebars. In this case, we’re dealing with footpegs instead of footrests and the passenger will ride less comfortably due to the one-piece seat. The headlight is smaller, but we find the same chromed pieces on the Custom model as on the Classic and Classic LT ones. Kawasaki also offers riders the possibility to fully accessorize the Custom model with a fairly smaller windscreen, saddlebags and passenger backrest. Colors available are Candy Surf Blue, Candy Persimmon Red and Metallic Flat Spark Black.
2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom
An Ebony paintjob with orange valve covers, tribal orange and white pinstripes together with a pair of blacked-out pieces such as the pipes, air cleaner and engine cases turn the standard Custom model (how does that sound anyways?) in a Special Edition Custom one.
“Swing a leg over the Custom’s low seat, reach under your left thigh to switch on the ignition, and the Vulcan is ready to rumble with nothing more than a push of the starter button, thanks to fuel injection.” – ridemagazine
“…while the 900 lost some high-rpm power, performance is improved with a significant boost in low- and mid-range torque (a.k.a. the part of the torque curve most often used on a daily basis). The five-speed gearbox gets revised lower gear ratios for smoother accelerations, while the longer fifth gear reduces engine speed as well as fuel consumption and emissions.” – moto123
“… riders will definitely think you’re up to something in the canyons. The Kawasaki liquid-cooled, oversquare, overhead cam, four-valve V-twin is agile, revving quickly in response to rider input. The twin-body Keihin fuel injection system works perfectly, and maximum torque (claimed 58 ft/lbs) is doled out early—at 3500 rpm.” – ultimatemotorcycling
"The Vulcan is very smooth, solid and well built. After a few minutes in the saddle, I felt confident and secure. I didn’t miss the heat of the air-cooled engine, and the V-twin engine’s throb felt familiar and comforting." – motorcycles.about
The simplest bike of them all is also the cheapest, which is the Classic model starting at $8,149. Fully accessorized, that precise bike is called LT and has an MSRP that starts at $9,249. The Custom model comes with a base MSRP of $8,349, Special Edition included. Note that accessories will seriously add on to these sums.
Kawi’s 900cc Vulcan lineup shows how the potential of an engine can be fully exploited with the introduction of several models that are just as different as they are similar. Design is what makes the difference in the choice of each rider, but also what they plan to actually do with the bike. The Classic and Customs look best down the Boulevards while the LT is designed for the long haul.
Fuel tank features a twin valley design, with a dynamic tension and presence all its own
Designed to be pleasing to both the eye and to the touch, the tank is composed exclusively of curves with constantly varying radii, the twin valley design theme continues to the rear fender and its hand-sculpted contours
Bottom of the rear fender features a relatively straight cut, to balance the lines of the motorcycle
Chromed headlamp, headlamp mount, lower triple clamp and turn signals as well as footpegs, shift lever and rear brake lever
Clean headlight design is small and isolated without a central fork cover or headlamp bar
Small, minimalist fender and lack of front fork covers also contribute to the slender appearance of the front end
Sporty, straight-style handlebar adds to the bike’s custom styling. Instead of handlebar clamps, twin tubes elegantly curve back from the upper triple clamp. Both the handlebar and twin tubes are completely chromed
Forward-mounted footpegs instead of floorboards add to the custom image and improve rider control
One-piece gunfighter style seat is designed for comfortable rider and passenger accommodation and a custom-style look
Matte black frame emphasizes the chrome finishing
Standard toe-operated shift lever instead of a heel-toe shifter
Black-out treatment on pipes, air cleaner and engine cases
Aggressive Orange valve covers
Special Edition Ebony color of flat black paint with tribal orange and white pinstripes