"Please allow me to introduce myself; I'm a man of wealth and taste," Mick Jagger sang in the Rolling Stones' Sympathy For The Devil. Because the Diablo name was already taken by the likes of Pirelli, whose tires have been specially made for this very devil, Ducati resorted to its own Bolognese dialect for the word Diavel.
I guess the first thing I should disclose is that I've never really liked the Fat Boy moniker that Harley-Davidson put on this Softail motorcycle. But, then, I never liked the name Fatburger--a popular local hamburger chain in Los Angeles--even as I happily devoured their signature sandwich.
The new 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero motorcycle is the latest addition to the very successful Vulcan 1700 line introduced in 2009. Running the gamut from standard cruiser to full dresser, the Vulcan 1700 platform has proven itself to be quite versatile.
I'm taking a break by the side of the road. A seasoned gentleman walking his dog steps up to me and asks, "What year is it?" I reply confidently, "2010." He follows up with, "No, I mean the motorcycle."
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.
One can easily dismiss mid-size cruisers such as the 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom Special Edition. They point to the liquid-cooled 903cc V-twin motor and scoff at its "diminutive" size, as if 96 cubic inches is the minimum required for a "real" cruiser.
The 2010 Triumph Thunderbird's wings have shape shifted into a massive parallel twin motor. Triumph's Thunderbird is Harley-Davidson's worst nightmare come true. If there is such a thing as a slayer of giants or, in this case, a Harley killer, then the 2010 Triumph Thunderbird is the spearhead and the first that really could matter.
In 15 years, Wichita-based Big Dog Motorcycles has grown from modest beginnings in founder and CEO Sheldon Coleman's garage to become the world's largest manufacturer of premium motorcycles. Big Dog now occupies a 150,000 sq ft factory that supplies nearly 100 domestic dealers, and is poised to expand into Canada.
Ever try to put lipstick on a Pitbull? It's a hazardous enterprise. Blood is spilled. Fingers vanish. Michael Vick leaves nasty messages on your voicemail. Ignoring the obvious peril, the brave souls at Big Dog Motorcycles have given their vicious, 10-year-old Pitbull a complete makeover for 2008. Admirers of the ill-tempered street dog need not fear—this is no Queer Eye, metrosexual de-fanging.
The Harley-Davidson Sportster hit the Big Five-O this year, and the senior-most Harley nameplate is showing its age. Graying and sedate compared to the big Twin-Cam 96 powered studs roaring out of Milwaukee these days, the middle-aged Sporty has been in need of a wardrobe consultant and a handful of Viagra for some time. Fortunately, the brooding, black-clad Nightster has swaggered into the Sportster's Golden Jubilee, fashionably late and looking for trouble.
Well, this one almost slipped by us. When Kawasaki announced the new-for-'07 Vulcan 900 Custom, it's safe to say that there wasn't a staff-wide arm wrestling sudden-death tournament to determine who got to ride it first. But, at Kawasaki's urging that I was really missing something, I skeptically agreed to give the 900 Custom a shot. Really, how exciting could a sub-liter metric cruiser be?
When Polaris industries launched Victory Motorcycles in the mid-1990s, the upstart did not exactly cause The Motor Company to quake in its engineer boots. Polaris made snowmobiles, personal watercraft and ATVs—scarcely a threat to the primacy of the big boys in Milwaukee. In 1998, Victory introduced the first all-new, mass-production, American-made street bike in over 60 years. Despite listless sales, Polaris persisted, knowing that something big was on the horizon.
My first impression of the Boss Hoss hit me on a Sunday morning when Jay Leno, in typically larger-than-life fashion, pulled up on the massive bike at the Rock Store. The strange conveyance brought to mind the Hooters corporate slogan: “Delightfully tacky yet unrefined.” In the Venn diagram of my mind, the hot wings and cleavage section doesn't typically overlap with the motorcycle category, but “typical” bikes aren't powered by small block Chevy V-8s, either.