Kawasaki Cruiser Motorcycles : Andrew Motoblog

Kawasaki Cruiser Motorcycles

2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS studio 3/4 viewThe all-new Vulcan S just revealed at AIMExpo 2014 fills in a gap at Kawasaki, that of an entry-level cruiser. But because this Kawasaki is powered by a 649cc parallel-twin (related to the one also found in the Versys and Ninja 650), the new Vulcan S should offer a level of performance that belies its displacement.

What’s more, this Thai-built Kawasaki, which goes on sale in January for $6, 999 (or $7, 399 with ABS), is very adjustable for rider size. Through what Kawasaki calls its Ergo-Fit program, the new Vulcan S will be available with a standard handlebar or one that brings it an inch closer to the rider. Perhaps more significant, there are three different seats available, and three peg locations, all part of Kawasaki’s effort to accommodate short, medium or tall riders. “We want the dealer to fit the bike to the rider, ” explains Croft Long, Kawasaki’s Motorcycle Project Manager.

The standard Vulcan S, says Kawasaki, is designed for a rider between 5-foot-7 and 6-feet. Riders 6-foot-1 and taller should order the extended-reach pegs (which have been moved forward an inch from the stock location, and require a longer shift rod to be installed) and the extended-reach seat, which remains at 27.1 inches but has been moved rearward and is fitted with firmer foam and a gel insert to provide better hip support. Riders 5-foot-6 and shorter will profit from the Vulcan’s reduced-reach handlebar, seat, and pegs, the last items moved rearward one inch from the standard position. At the AIMExpo press conference, Kawasaki made it clear that this Ergo-Fit plan, which takes place at dealers, will not cost customers any extra money.

As for the 2015 Vulcan S itself, it looks to us like Kawasaki has built what it wanted, an affordable and highly accommodating cruiser, one that benefits from a low center of gravity and a reasonably light claimed curb weight of 496 lb. That’s good for both stability and rider confidence, and Kawasaki says the steel chassis has been designed with good lean angles in mind. In back, the offset laydown shock offers 3.15 inches of travel. It also has seven preload settings.

Compared to the engine in the Versys 650, the Vulcan S’s liquid-cooled DOHC powerplant has had its torque characteristics altered. The goal: better midrange, improved roll-on performance, and smoother take-offs. Revisions to the camshaft profiles and intake-funnel length are largely responsible for this, but the Vulcan S’s fuel-injected parallel-twin has been given added crankshaft mass for easier, stall-resistant starts.

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