Kawasaki Vulcan S Test Ride Review
- Published On: 22 January 2019
- 6 min read
The Vulcan S is a middle-weight sports cruiser motorcycle from the Japanese manufacturer Kawasaki.
Kawasaki has explored a lot in their 650cc range, right from the adventure-tourer Versys 650, full-faired sports tourer Ninja 650, a street-fighter Z650 and then a cruiser, the Vulcan S. Today we look at how the Vulcan S justifies its cruiser tag and whether you should be looking at the Vulcan S over the Harley-Davidson Street 750.
Styling – One look at the Vulcan and it looks like a typical cruiser motorcycle. Off-size front and rear tyres, extended handlebars, front-set footpegs and a long wheelbase add a lot to the cruiser styling. The Vulcan has a very non-traditional design though with a unique frame and suspension setup. The motorcycle gets conventional lamps for all the lights but an LED setup for the taillights. Other standout elements include the long travel suspension at the front with the offset monoshock at the rear and the underbelly exhaust. The Vulcan gets two colour schemes, an all-black colour scheme and an orange-black colour scheme.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear - The console on the Kawasaki Vulcan S is an analogue-digital unit and looks quite dated. However, the cluster does provide a decent amount of information. The tachometer is analogue while everything else is integrated within the digital LCD display like the odometer, twin trip meters, speedometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, distance to empty and a clock. Quality levels of the switchgear and fit and finish levels are top notch as well.
Ergonomics - The ergonomics of the Kawasaki Vulcan S are proper cruiser like. The handlebar is high, footpegs are front-set and seat height is low. The motorcycle is pretty comfortable to ride on the city roads as well as during highway cruising. Kawasaki also offers an Ergo-Fit package with which the owner can get the seat, handlebar and footpeg position adjusted to three different positions individually. At 705 mm, the seat is set pretty low making it very accessible for all kind of riders. The seat provides good support overall and the pillion seat is also pretty comfortable but not wide enough.
Performance - The Kawasaki Vulcan S is powered by a 649cc parallel-twin engine mated to a 6-speed gearbox that produces 61 PS of power and 63 Nm of torque. However, unlike other cruisers, the power delivery is strong in the top-end of the rev-band. Throttle response in the mid-range is brilliant and as the motorcycle feels very rev-friendly, redlining close to 10,000 RPM. The motorcycle misses out on a traction control system though. Gearshifts are quite smooth while the clutch is decently weighed although on the heavier side. The Vulcan S is quite refined just like any other Japanese motorcycle but some amount of vibrations can be felt on the footpegs and the handlebar at higher revs. The exhaust has a rumble and it gets louder with the revs.
Riding Dynamics - The Kawasaki Vulcan S rides like a cruiser at low speeds and a sports tourer at high speeds. The perimeter frame does a good job for the dynamics of the motorcycle and also aids the tyre’s grip. The handlebar provides amazing feedback as well. The front and rear suspension work very well together in keeping the motorcycle stable at high speeds while also providing good ride comfort. However, manoeuvring through traffic is a bit tricky given heavy weight of the motorcycle. It weighs about 235 kg but the low ride height compensates for the weight in such situations.
Braking performance is a bit underwhelming on the Vulcan S that gets a single disc at the front. The motorcycle does get a dual-channel ABS but the bike nosedives under heavy braking and the brakes lack the initial bite.
Verdict - Overall, the Vulcan is a very comfortable motorcycle to ride and the option of the Ergo-Fit package can help owners choose a custom riding position as well. Kawasaki also offers a Tourer kit which comprises of luggage carrying accessories like bags, mounts and visor. It offers a very well-rounded package of a cruiser motorcycle and a sports tourer. The Kawasaki Vulcan S is definitely a worthy opponent you should look at when you’re out there with your chequebooks.