Kawasaki VN900 Custom
Does Kawasaki’s middleweight cruiser still shine?
What we said then
“Over recent years Kawasaki have created an impressive portfolio of cruisers and the VN900 Custom is one of its best yet. That laid back, chopper style is down largely to its distinctive, 21in cast alloy front wheel but other differences from the stock VN900 include high-rise drag bars along with the forward highway pegs. Kawasaki cruisers are usually a cut above the norm and the VN900 Custom continues that tradition.” MCN review | 2007
But what is it like now?
What impresses immediately on seeing this pristine example for sale at Peterborough dealer Wheels (01733 358555) is just what astonishing nick it’s in. If it wasn’t for the giveaways of the 2010 registration plate, odometer showing 9000-odd miles and a few choice accessories fitted by the previous owner, you’d be forgiven for assuming it is a brand new bike – it really is that good.
What’s also impressive is the model it happens to be. I’ve tested Kawasaki’s middleweight cruiser V-twins many times and not only are the later 900s and particularly the Custom variant (there’s also a more 50s style ‘Classic’ version) above most rivals in terms of style, quality, dynamics, durability and ease of use, this one, being the blacked-out ‘Special Edition’ version introduced in 2010, is even better.
There’s oodles of blacked-out mean and moody style, plenty of neat design touches (such as the belt drive, cast wheels and tank-mounted clocks); it’s got great proportions, being neither too dinky nor too much of a handful, and is pleasing and easy to ride.
What’s more, with no Kawasaki badges to be seen, most laymen will naturally assume you’re aboard something from the U.S of A – but at a fraction of the price.
Common faults explored
Dating back to the VN800 of the mid90s, the Kawasaki V-twin’s powertrain is proven and refined while the chassis is solid and under stressed. Instead, being a cruiser where the ‘look’ is everything, the biggest area of concern should be its cosmetics. Kawa cruisers are better built than most but it’s still important to check for any dings or scrapes (possibly the result of a novice rider’s inexperience) or poor maintenance. In this case, however, this example was absolutely immaculate – or at least it was until we took it out onto the winter roads ( Wheels assured us it would be re-valeted to immaculate in the blink of an eye).
The Plexiglas touring screen is the most obvious accessory, but it’s a useful extra and easily detachable when the time comes for sunny summer rides. Also welcome are the heated grips, while the aftermarket cans give an extra kick to the exhaust note. Apart from that the bike is completely standard, apart from being in Kawasaki’s factory ‘Special Edition’ trim, meaning most of the chrome has been replaced with black, a special paint job and different badging.
Sometimes it’s too easy to question the authenticity and credibility of so-called ‘Harley clones’, but not with the VN900 Custom, especially in this Special Edition trim. It’s great-looking, beautifully built and detailed, far better than the ‘genuine article’ of the same period as a riding experience both in terms of performance and handling.
Best of all, though, as this example clearly demonstrates, as a used buy, especially when it’s in as fabulous condition as this one, it’s an absolute steal. At £4295 compared to £7299 new, it’s an absolute no-brainer. And, as a dealer sale, it comes with a warranty. What more could you want?