Vulcan S – The laid back cruiser from Kawasaki
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 Kawasaki 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.
60bhp and 63Nm
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 Kawasaki.
Ride and handling of the Vulcan S
The perimeter frame is again something that you wouldn’t find on a cruiser, but Kawasaki intends to let the good times roll for the rider. The centre of gravity is extremely low and with a low saddle height, you are connected with the Vulcan at all times. The ride quality is on the stiffer side for our conditions and the low suspension travel of 80mm means your spine takes a beating at all times. But show it a few corners and the Vulcan reveals its Kawasaki genes. The raked out front (31deg), ape handlebar combined with low set foot pegs limits its manoeuvrability but the Vulcan S is brilliant in corners. Straight line stability is excellent as well and even at high three-digit speeds, she stays calm and composed, never losing her lady like demeanour.
Price and rivals
When you compare its price tag with the recently launched Kawasakis, it feels reasonably well-priced. Although priced higher than its main adversary, the Street 750 by Rs 19,000, the Vulcan S still offers enough bang for the buck. Ironically, Hogs have always disavowed Street 750 owners from calling it a true blue Harley but they would never complain about the Vulcan S if it came with a Harley badge. And that does go a long way. Bravo Kawasaki, bravo.