KAWASAKI VULCAN S
Kawasaki wants first time cruiser buyers to have a good time. And the Vulcan S offers bags full of it
A Japanese naked street bike in American cruiser clothing. Seems like an interesting idea
KAWASAKI SAYS THAT YOU must ‘let the good times roll’ and that is what reflects in its products, be it the Ninjas or the legendary ZX-10 or the maniacal H2R. However, when a Japanese bikemaker tries to do things the American (read laidback) way, it doesn’t always go well, does it? That is one of the reasons why none of the other Japanese bikemakers have launched a middleweight cruiser in the country yet. Can the Vulcan S beat the Americans at their own game? This Kwacker really does have the potential. Let us find out why.
The Vulcan S isn’t a new product from the ground up but a cruiser form of the now defunct ER-6N or the previous generation Ninja 650. And it is very unlike a cruiser, yet is more cruiser-ish than the Harley-Davidson Street 750, its closest rival. It looks the part for sure, with its wide stance and long wheelbase. The raked out front and ape handlebars give away its lazy intent. The footpegs are mid-set but can be moved rearward or forward, depending on the rider’s choice. The matte dark theme runs through the body parts and that shotgun like, low-slung exhaust. Wish it also had the soundtrack to go with the theme.
The 649cc, liquid-cooled engine makes 60bhp and 63Nm and is retuned for better low and mid-range torque. The power delivery is very linear; however, the engine’s character is typical of a parallel twin. The main action begins after 6000rpm and it cleanly pulls all the way to 10,000rpm. Fit that onto a sport tourer and it’d make perfect sense and that is the reason behind the Ninja 650’s success. But how does it fare on a full blown cruiser like the Vulcan S? Not well. In fact, the engine is the only chink in this ‘cruiser’s Japanese armour. Hope you’re listening Kawsaki.