2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Nomad

2011 Kawasaki Nomad Preview

One look at the 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Nomad and classic American motorcycle styling sets in, an image taken that seems to pop out of picture books from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

The Vulcan Nomad is built for adventure, an open-road traveler that caters to the riders who love to tour comfortably, either by themselves or two-up. This is due to the added features, such as Kawasaki’s windshield, hard saddlebags, floorboards, backrest and standard cruise control taking the sting out of long days in the saddle.

For others, the Nomad serves as the traditional cruiser, but loaded with all the goodies one looks for in a motorcycle. Kawasaki says the key to the Nomad’s considerable flexibility is its blend of touring-oriented hardware and the uniquely designed Vulcan 1700 platform, which offers a ton of versatility and performance whether in Voyager, Classic or Nomad configuration.

The bike comes to life from a V-Twin, 1700cc-powerplant that features liquid cooling, a 52-degree V angle, overhead cams, high compression, a long-stroke design and all the latest technology for prodigious power and torque spread over a shockingly wide rpm range.

The bike has plenty of power to 5,000 rpm, and the low-end torque is perfect for the cruiser just looking to relax and enjoy the road. The stock mufflers add style, and a tone that is also typical of that American sound from the mid-20th Century.

The Kawasaki Vulcan is stacked with the latest electronic technology available for motorcycles, including the Electronic Throttle Valve system. Kawasaki says working with the rest of the advanced fuel injection system, the electronic throttle valve enhances engine response without detracting from its distinctive V-twin feel. The system utilizes an Accelerator Position Sensor (APS) and a Throttle Position Sensor (TPS). Both units feed data to the ECU, which adjusts the throttle plates to tailor intake airflow accordingly.

The Kawasaki system offers a natural throttle feel, because the APS is activated by a throttle body pulley connected by cables to the throttle grip. Besides the obvious FI advantages such as improved fuel economy and automatic adjustment for altitude changes, the system also permits easy hands-off warm-up and idle speed control.

Newly redesigned mufflers that offer a more tapered, classic look necessitated a slight modification to the intake manifold, which promotes even better throttle response. The Nomad motorcycle also features a water-cooled alternator that produces a staggering 46.8 amps of electrical output – plenty to power a selection of electronic accessories to enrich motorcycle travel.

Another feature that brings the Vulcan everywhere comfortably is the electronic cruise control operated from the right handlebar. This system, which can be engaged between 30 and 85 mph in any of the top four gears, can be disengaged in any of the following ways: brake lever, clutch lever, rear brake pedal, or manually turning the throttle grip past the “closed” position.

Kawasaki says a revised six-speed transmission with quieter and more positive shifting action features overdriven fifth and sixth gears, which contribute greatly to a relaxed ride and excellent fuel economy at highway speeds. Power is routed to the rear wheel via a carbon fiber drive belt that has a 40-percent higher tensile strength than current Kevlar belts.

Regarding the chassis, the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Nomad is designed with a single backbone double cradle frame offers a short seat-to-steering head distance, with a correspondingly short wheelbase. Kawasaki says that easy-to-reach handlebar facilitates slow-speed maneuvering and helps maximize rider confidence. Adding to the light and easy handling are suspension components that match the Vulcan 1700 Nomad’s intended usage.

An elegantly simple rear swingarm with twin air-assisted shocks provides 3.1 inches of rear suspension travel, and features air spring preload and four-way rebound adjustment. Up front on the Kawasaki Vulcan, a large 43mm fork offers precise steering feedback and 5.5 inches of travel.

The Kawasaki Nomad rolls on nine-spoke cast wheels fitted with tubeless tires: a 130/90 front and 170/70 rear are mounted. Dual 300mm front disc brakes with twin-piston calipers and a 300mm rear disc brake with a two-piston caliper help bring this stylish machine to sure, powerful stops.

Color-matched, lockable hard saddlebags set the Nomad apart from its Vulcan 1700 brethren; these top-opening side cases are beautifully integrated and offer bountiful storage: 10 gallons each (38L) as well as front and rear guards to help protect the bike’s engine and saddlebags in case of a tip-over (Helmet locks are conveniently located on the left- and right-side saddlebag guards).

Kawasaki says keeping the rider and passenger comfortable on long rides is a top priority, and the Vulcan 1700 Nomad delivers with deluxe seats sculpted to provide additional support for all-day rides. A special backrest with integrated grab bars and floorboards for both the rider and passenger further contribute to the Nomad’s long-distance abilities.

Vulcan motorcycle designers were able to infuse abundant technology into the 1700 Nomad without sacrificing any of the charm and visual appeal expected from a Kawasaki touring cruiser. Meticulous attention to detail and exquisite craftsmanship of the Vulcan engine covers, bodywork design and side cases result in a motorcycle that turns heads whether parked in front of a cafe or cruising down the highway.

With its combination of traditional styling, sophisticated technology and touring refinement, there’s really nothing else out there quite like the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Nomad. Time to hit the open road.

2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Nomad | Motorcycle Specs

  • Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, four valve per cylinder, 52° V-twin
  • Displacement: 1,700cc / 103.7ci
  • Bore x Stroke: 102 x 104mm
  • Compression ratio: 9.5:1
  • Maximum Torque: 108 lb-ft @ 2,750rpm
  • Cooling System: Liquid, plus cooling fins
  • Ignition: TCBI with Digital Advance
  • Induction: Digital fuel injection, dual 42mm throttle bodies
  • Final Drive: Belt
  • Frame Type: Steel, double-cradle with box-section single-tube backbone
  • Rake/Trail: 30° / 7.0 in.
  • Front Suspension / wheel travel: 43mm hydraulic fork / 5.5 in.
  • Rear Suspension / wheel travel: Swingarm with twin air-assisted shocks, with 4-way rebound damping / 3.1 in.
  • Front Tire Size: 130/90×16
  • Rear Tire Size: 170/70×16
  • Brakes, front / rear: Dual 300 mm discs, dual twin-piston calipers / Single 300 mm disc, twin-piston caliper
  • Overall length: 98.4 in.
  • Overall width: 40.4 in.
  • Overall height: 57.7 in.
  • Seat height: 28.7 in.
  • Curb weight: 834 lbs.**
  • Fuel capacity: 5.3 gal.
  • Wheelbase: 65.6 in.
  • Color Choices: Candy Neptune Blue / Metallic Phantom Silver, Ebony / Metallic Moondust Grey
  • Warranty: 24 months
  • Good Times Protection Plan: 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
  • MSRP: $13,499

**Curb weight includes all necessary materials and fluids to operate correctly, full tank of fuel (more than 90-percent capacity) and tool kit (if supplied).

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One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).