Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS Café Review | Techno Motorcycle Cruiser

Some motorcycles are more difficult to review than others, and the 2017 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS Café ranks among the trickiest subjects.

With the wide dealer-configured customization of the ergonomics available (called ERGO-Fit by Kawasaki), plus the unusual combination of cruiser and sport bike attributes, the 2017 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS Café is something of a Rorschach Test.

Before we get going, let’s look at what makes the Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS Café a “café”. It’s not much—just a large flyscreen and three-color paint.

Advertisement

That’s good news, as “café” often denotes “uncomfortable”, as the seat loses padding and the ergonomics get stylish. In the case of the Vulcan S ABS Café, that means you still get some choices of seats, handlebars, and footpeg locations.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS Café TestI went with the standard seat and footpegs, along with the pullback reduced-reach bars, which resulted in a feet-forward, upright seating position for my 5’ 9” frame.

The ERGO-Fit system is the most important feature of the four flavors of Vulcan S—standard, ABS, ABS SE (two-color paint) and the ABS Café. When you purchase the bike, the dealer will custom fit the bike to your taste. Don’t take that choice lightly, as it will have a huge impact in how much you enjoy your Vulcan S. Also, those ergonomic selections will change the handling of the motorcycle in addition to your comfort.

The concept of the 2017 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS Café is not a new one. It’s a throwback to the 1970s when the Japanese would modify an existing sport bike such as the KZ1000 with a stepped seat and pullback bars, and the results were bikes like the KZ1000 LTD. In the case of the Vulcan S, the donor bike is the Ninja 650 upright sport bike.

So, the Vulcan S platform took the Ninja 650, shortened the suspension, relaxed the geometry, reworked the ergonomics, and retuned the motor for torque. Despite the modifications, you can see much of the Ninja 650 in the liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin motor and the perimeter frame with the exposed side-mounted shock. There is no missing the family resemblance.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS Café for saleIf you expect the Vulcan S to be a sporting cruiser motorcycle, you would be right. The engine loves to rev, and requires it to get the most from the motor.

You will always know how quickly the engine is turning, as there’s a large rev counter on the dash, which is borrowed from the Ninja 650. Your speed is a large LCD readout, and this year there is a new gear position indicator—something I find unimportant, but colleagues such as Coram President Arthur Coldwells and Associate Editor Kelly Callan find essential.

Continued on the next page…