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Kawasaki Vulcan S

Kawasaki Vulcan S

4.6 from 11 reviews

An awesome motorcycle.

This motorcycle is a beast of a machine in every sense of the word.
With amazing torque power, how this is regarded as a LAMS approved bike is a mystery.
It has all the comfort of a cruiser but with a Badass 650 Ninja sports bike motor that smokes most Harley’s. Im not surprised it’s rated 14th fastest cruiser 0-100km in 4.2 secs.
I bought the 2018 model in matte black with gloss black highlights, had it factory fitted with the extended reach seat, bars and pegs a windscreen and vintage fog lights.
Rides awesome with matching killer looks. I will be buying a tourer but will NOT be selling this bike.
I believe it will be rated as a must have classic in the future.

Date PurchasedSep 2017

perfect commuter and week end bike for this older guy

over 30000klm in my first year commuting 90klm a day.
very comfortable seating position.
cannot fault mechanics,very reliable and plenty of power, although i have de-restricted it.
You can blow away Harley's from the lights all day long...haha...they hate it.
handles great for what it is and keeps up to most everyone in the twisties.
with spirited riding ,mixed with the commute, i get over 25klm a litre.

on the down side....
i have the standard seat and start to get a sore back after an hour riding.
exhaust note is only good under acceleration .
cruising along the chain makes more noise than the exhaust.
i was looking at after market exhaust but i think quiet suits better.
i come home late at night sometimes ,and start early sometimes ,so quiet is good

those negatives still dont make me want to trade it in...i will keep it for the long run.

Date PurchasedJan 2017

Great bike

Just a fantastic bike. Smooth and easy to ride. Looks great. Only thing I would make a negative comment about is the color range available in Australia. Black or white are the 2 options you have. Matt black looks good though and that’s what I purchased. If your looking for a lams approved cruiser then check out the Vulcan S

Date PurchasedDec 2017

Want a LAMS cruiser? keep this one in mind

In my quest to find a new LAMS approved bike with a bit more power than my CBR300R, the Kawasaki Vulcan was definitely high up on my list of "have to try bikes". The local Kawasaki dealer had a 2015 copper Vulcan S and I jumped at the chance to take it for a spin. Having never ridden a fully forward pegged cruiser (only the Street 500 HD) I was keen to see how I would feel and how I would adapt to a different riding position. Yes it took a few kilometres to get the hang of things and for the first half hour I loved it, it was quick off the mark, it sounded great, looked really good and I felt quite comfortable on it.
Yet again, I took it through various speed zones to see whether it was suitable for all areas and it was very easy to control despite being a lot heavier than the CBR that I am used to. The issue I did encounter though was that the seat did feel like it was pushing me forward and for someone with back issues this did start to effect me after about half an hour. Up until that hit me, I was enjoying the bike so much, I still plan on trying out a newer model and to see if there are different seating options where I don't feel like I am being pushed forward.
As I am looking for something heavier, this is a great option, comparing it to the Yamaha V Star XVS650 Custom/Classic and the Suzuki Boulevard S40 is something I plan on doing. From first impression at looking at all of those options, this Vulcan is more ideal to the learner market as its dash is head and shoulders above the others. If you are looking for something with a tacho, speedo, tank range, gear selector, fuel gauge and pretty much anything else than the Vulcan is streets ahead of the others listed.
For beginners this would have to be a great option, I was put off originally by the seat but have convinced myself to take a swing at the newer model to see how that goes as it is too good a bike to ignore.

Date PurchasedJun 2017

Great Lams cruiser

Got mine little over a week ago , so far i am loving it ...very easy and fun to ride and comfy as ..can ride for hours non stop ,runs very smooth around 4K rpm...I'm getting a lot of complements on the bike at the lights and servos .Highly recommended for anyone who is looking for a LAMS cruiser :)

Date PurchasedJun 2017

Perfect all round bike

I bought my Vulcan S new from BikeBiz in December 2015. I fitted a 2 bros comp S exhaust (very loud & mean sounding pipe. The bike is a real head turner as EVERYONE heres you coming) & it is one hell of a machine! Very light & easy to ride. It is a sports bike that looks like a cruiser. Very comfertable ride. I have hammered it through the twisties & it leans in & corners beautifully. I have done plenty of long distance freeway rides too & it cruises along nicely. I have gotten her up to 170 kph pretty easily. I fitted a rear seat & pegs, i ride 2 up with my partner & the bike doesnt struggle at all. I recently de restricted the bike & wow you need to hold on when giving full throttle as she launches & handles like a sports bike. An absolute dream to ride!

Date PurchasedDec 2015
Just a quick update, I have now done 17000 K's in 18 months without a hiccup. The bike still runs perfect like the day i bought it. My brother bought a 1200cc Harley Nighster (sportster) & we lined up for a run from the lights. He could not shake me. It was a dead set even run. My bike is de restricted which took about 5 minutes to do (very easy).Update: i have just hit 30,000k's on the bike & it is still running perfectly. I have had ZERO issues to date. Everything is still working great! I have done a few Youtube videos on my bike now, 30,000km review, Oil & oil filter change as well as a review of the 2 bros exhaust. You are welcome to check out my vidoes. Here is the link to my review on Youtube https://youtu.be/sQLOxVdqLjY

Not quite what I expected ... but quite impressed

Let's start with the positives. Kawasaki is an established brand with a good reputation for builidng reliable motorcycles. With the Vulcan S it has also developed what is one of the best looking motorcycles ever made. The design is virtually flawless. It also feels very light. I ride a BMW R1200R which, on paper is some 20kgs lighter but feels much heavier because of the higher centre of gravity.

For a cruiser, the suspension is acceptable although the little travel range makes it rather unsuitable for uneven road surfaces. Many riders speak of the Vulcan S as a comfortable bike to ride. I disagree but this is not necessarily a criticism. Riding motorcycles is not about comfort. If I want to get from A to B in comfort I use the car. My point is that compared to other bikes having a sit-up-and-beg riding position, it is not really all that comfortable.

The instrumentation is also quite impressive. There is everything a rider needs and even more and the 2017 model even features a gear indicator. Consumption is impressive. I regularly get 260 kms between refuelling and I am pretty sure that it can run for up to 300kms before running dry.

The ergo-fit system is obviously a good idea because the bike can be adjusted to suit a variety of riders. Because of my history with naked bikes I tend to prefer the shortest position even though I am 5' 11'' and the manual advises the regular or standard fit.

Finishing is of a very good standard and the braking system is very good. Even the rear brake is effective and the rider rarely needs to resort to the front brake to bring the bike to a stop under normal conditions. For a new bike the Dunlop tyres are also of good quality so there is really no need to upgrade to better tyres immediately after purchase.

However, the best feature of this bike is the handling. It is absolutely unbelievable. I would say that it even gives naked bikes a run for their money. I have never ridden a cruiser before that goes round hairpins as quickly and as securely as the Vulcan S. You can lean over and throw it about without feeling that you are in any danger.

Now for the negative bits! The bike vibrates between 1500rpm and 3500rpm but above this range it is quite smooth. I have to be honest; I was disappointed with this because I imagined Japanese bikes (I normally stick to European bikes) to be ultra smooth. This is not so with the Vulcan S. It is also not as refined as my other bike, the BMW, but this is unfair on my part. I should not expect the Vulcan to be in the same league as a bike that cost me three times as much.

The worst of the Vulcan's features is the gear ratios. First of all, I genuinely believe that in the Vulcan's case a five speed gearbox would have been sufficient. But that is not the worst thing about the Vulcan's gearing system. The rider finds that (s)he needs to shift very quickly right up to 4th, sometimes even 5th gear, so narrowly spaced are the gears. For most of the time, I find myself riding in 5th and 6th in situations where most other bikes hardly ever get out of 3rd. I would have preferred a gearing system where the bike is allowed to pick up speed progressively through each gear rather than end up over-revving the engine like some insane sewing machine on speed. For this reason I give the Vulcan S four stars although I would have been more comfortable giving it 3.5 stars. Having said that, it is a good bike that should satisfy most riders who are specifically after a mid-engined cruiser.

Date PurchasedDec 2016

New Vulcan S 650 LAMS cruiser

Test rode a Kawasaki Vulcan S last weekend. Looks great, nothing else with quite the same looks. It has that same exposed monoshock spring as the Kawasaki Ninja 650L etc. Even though it is a LAMS cruiser it has ample torque-seems as good as 800's I've ridden. Slightly smaller than the others too. In spite of being marketed as a "full size" cruiser I'd say it's about 4/5 the size of your usual 800 cc "power" cruiser.

This is a good thing as far as I am concerned! I am just shy of 6ft but have a long body and short legs. I have a full licence but I'm used to smaller bikes mainly. The one I test rode (as I found out after the ride) was absolutely brand new. I was apparently the first to take it out on the road as it turned out! It was the orange tank model which really hits the retinas but in a good way. There is that and Metallic Matte Carbon Grey in the non "cafe" models according to the Kawasaki Motors Australia site. Also the three tone "cafe" version. It has a black and silver colour scheme with green highlights such as the shock spring, wheels and tank pinstriping. It also has a small deflector type screen. Looks the business in the pics. Last year's (2015) models were white and also purple.

I have only ridden a few cruisers (see my other tests) and so I tend to flail around looking for the footpegs in the "usual" position as I take off. This Kawasaki has them in a great position though and feels natural once you find them. The whole bike feels good and very confidence inspiring if you aren't used to cruisers. Just a nice reach to pegs and 'bars, brake and gears etc. The surge of power from the engine, at least in the lower gears, feels smooth and powerful, with ample torque as I mentioned. Also, unlike the larger V twins- (this is a 650 Parallel twin like the aforementioned Ninja)- the compression braking on throttle backoff is not as brutal. I'm told it has a slipper clutch like the cutting edge sports bikes to help with sudden downchanges . Brakes are ABS, a very useful feature, especially on a LAMS bike. Can't comment on hard applications at speed etc but didn't notice any problems.

It has dual throttle valves which add to this smoothness on take off and 4 valves per cylinder.

Added to all that is the fact that it has a modest curb weight (all fluids and fuel) of about 230 Kg and a low, nicely padded seat with only 705mm seat height and it is a winner for feeling at ease on from the get go.

As mentioned this bike was absolutely brand new, and yet gear changes were quite light and positive and would only get even better as the k's clock up. Nice light clutch too. It also features a neutral finder. You stop and shift to first then shift it up and it finds neutral for you.

The best part though, for those not used to cruisers, is adjustable footpegs - standard, 25mm forward and 25mm back, adjustable handlebars and even different seats, all from the factory, to get the bike just right for the individual rider. This for me, especially the footpeg adjustment if I can stump up for the (modest, around $10,000) asking price for the bike, is the final sweetener. I believe it may cost a few hundred or so to change the peg positions with some accessory components but it is a factory feature-so your bike is still an original factory Kawasaki and not aftermarket altered. They don't come standard with a pillion seat but this is in the catalogue for after the learning period.

I only went for a short test ride along 60 k streets ( I requested this ; they were willing to take me along the Brisbane ICB) but I rejected this idea due to unfamiliarity with the bike etc but as it turned out, familiarity with this bike comes quickly. It's that good to ride. Suspension felt nice and not harsh but I'd need a few more bumps to really assess this as well as higher speed handling but what I experienced felt good. No top heavy feeling like some cruisers either.

Dash looks great with a half circle analogue tacho at the top with a pleasant and reasonably easy to read blue lit LCD screen below it which should look awesome and legible at night. It has speed readout, fuel gauge, odometer, dual trip meters, clock, average/instant fuel consumption, remaining range and an "Economical Riding Indicator" which I am told may allow you to get about 400 km out of a tank! Speed readout was clearly legible in modest sunlight/slightly hazy daylight conditions of test. Some of those smaller readings on the LCD were a bit of a struggle for me but I need reading glasses these days anyway.

It has a substantial looking muffler on the exhaust system-looks cool too. Unfortunately the sound won't exactly blow you away.

So a short but very pleasing test ride. Kawasaki seem to have done everything to make this bike the most hassle free entry to a cruiser bike you can get for the "medium" segment, and hot looking to boot! I want one !

Many thanks to the good people at Team Moto Kawasaki, Bowen Hills, Brisbane for the test ride. (I have no commercial etc association with them.)

Great sports cruiser

Great sports cruiser derived from Versys/Ninja 650 platform. Powerful. Reliable. Well balanced and easy handling. Modern styling with slammed rear end gives it that muscular cruiser shape. Recommend aftermarket exhaust for better road presence and performance, as factory exhaust is restricted and quiet. Lots of positive comments from those who see it. My daily commute, rain or shine. Fun to ride with heaps of low down torque, which makes it easy in stop start traffic, but also good on the open road. 8500km and faultless so far. Good value bike for the price. Vulcan S accessories finally coming onto the market now, so plenty of options to customize.

LAMS cruiser that handles and goes

Best lams cruiser I test road. Heaps of power and take off and it actually handles it's a perfect mix of fun and comfort. Highly recommended for any rider. I love mine. Had since new and now done 2000ks. It has a low centre of gravity and it does not feel as if you are riding a 230kg bike. I think this will take over as the.Best lams cruiser anyone who rides the xvs and the Vulcan will no what I'm talking about! Thanks Kawasaki I'm chuffed!

Good ride at a affordable price

Bought above mentioned bike about 3 months ago.Has just done 1000km on it. Good and comfortable ride. Perfect for ladies and those ones with short legs ! Enough power. Will definitely add the small visor (shield). Only regret - Kawazaki only import the white and purple. Bought a white one and had it resprayed in the original Candy Lime Green. Bit pricey but more than worth it.

1 comment
Happy to report that I have now just done over the 4500km on my vulcan s - and still happy as can be. Up to date no hiccups or problems.

Questions & Answers

Hi, am thinking of buying a 2015 Vulcan 650 taken one for a test ride 1,500km on it. Seems to be quite vibrational & rough in the grips is thus normal?
1 answer
Sorry for the delay in responding but I found the Vulcan to be quite smooth and the only time it felt a bit rough was when the bike was sitting at about 3k on the tacho. Apart from that I believe it is easily the best option in the LAMS cruiser class

Does anyone know for a fact if the ego fit adjustments on the vulcan are done for free or if there is a cost?
3 answers
It's a cost you pay at the dealer. I'm 5ft11 and standard fit is perfect for me.Done for free they adjusted mind just to take it for a test ride. But seat you have to pay for.Seems to be Free in the USA but in Australia you pay for a long or short reach seat same with the foot peg adjusting rod. But its not much and you keep the standard gear to sell with the bike.

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