Most of us fight an eternal internal battle; we are constantly sorting out what we need, what we want, and what is best for ourselves. The 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom SE (Special Edition) forces us to confront the question of how much displacement is the right amount.
When riding the 900 motorcycle, one avoids looks of distain from observers provoked by engine size-it is simply not particularly apparent. The Vulcan 900 has the right proportions, plenty of room for a full-size rider, and an engine that almost certainly will surprise you.
The engineers at Kawasaki pulled a sleight of hand with the 900’s liquid-cooled, oversquare, four-vpc, OHC, fuel-injected motor, by tuning the quick-revving powerplant for torque. This gives the Vulcan the grunt to get out of the hole effortlessly-torque peaks at 3500 rpm-and then spins up the motor for continued acceleration. The result is a motorbike that is both easy to ride and, for a cruiser, nicely sporting.
Despite a seat height of just under 27 inches, Kawasaki did not scrimp on suspension travel. The Vulcan’s rear wheel moves over four inches (the single shock is hidden) and the forks have nearly six inches of travel. The result is an unexpectedly smooth ride, even on rough streets.
Far from being overly plush, the suspension action works in concert with the peppy motor to bring a smile to any rider making time in the canyons. The single 272mm disc up front may seem minimalist, but the four-piston caliper is up to the job.
Ergonomics work for all-day rides, as the wide seat is supportive, and the footpegs are placed naturally low and forward. The mid-height bar sweeps back to the rider, so no limbs are stretched uncomfortably, and the narrow 21-inch front wheel enhances agility while reducing steering effort. A single-pin crank and counterbalancer combine to give the rider a friendly hint of vibration.
With big-bike looks-particularly in the blacked-out SE trim with some additional accessories-and performance that may catch folks on larger-displacement bikes flatfooted, the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom SE is not only an alternative to other mid-size bikes, it is also worthy of consideration by anyone who values practicality as much as style.
Engine: 4-Stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, four-valve per cylinder, V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 88.0 x 74.2mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Maximum Torque: 58.2 lb.-ft. @ 3,500 rpm
Fuel Injection: EFI with 34mm Keihin throttle bodies (2)
Ignition: TCBI with electronic advance
Final drive: Belt
Frame: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
Rake / Trail: 33 degrees / 7.2 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel: 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork / 5.9 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: UNI-TRAK® swingarm, seven-way adjustable spring preload / 4.1 in.
Front tire: 80/90×21
Rear tire: 180/70×15
Front brake / rear brake: 300mm hydraulic disc / 270mm hydraulic disc
Overall length: 94.7 in.
Overall width: 35.2 in.
Overall height: 44.1 in.
Seat height: 27.0 in.
Curb weight: 610.8 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 5.3 gal.
Wheelbase: 64.8 in.
Color choices: Candy Surf Blue, Candy Persimmon Red, Metallic Flat Spark Black
Warranty: 12 Months