Kawasaki VN900 Cus­tom

Does Kawasaki’s mid­dleweight cruiser still shine?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Buying & Selling - By Phil West MCN GUEST TESTER

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).

Ju­di­cious ad­di­tions

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.

Af­fec­tion rekin­dled

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?

It’s a Kawasaki but civil­ians would never guess

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