Seems to me like Kawasaki is happy with its cruiser line up right now ... it's making money for them, especially the 900s, which haven't changed (apart from paint) since they were launched. In just the last year or two they've updated the ZX-14, ER6s, ZX-6R (with the return of the 636), Z750 to Z800, Ninja 250 to 300, and brought in the Versys 1000. Not long before that they brought in the new Z1000s, Vaquero and Voyager, and W800. That's a lot of work at a time when the Japanese motorcycle industry has been in the doldrums, and I take my hat off to them. They surely have the most improved line-up in the industry. I'm not surprised they've just been content to let the 900s roll out of the showrooms. Who knows what they'll do next?
As you can tell, I've been really impressed with Kawasaki for a while. The cruiser line up is small but streamlined (unlike Yamaha's, which looks completely uncoordinated), and the smaller bikes have their own character (whereas Suzuki have turned the M50 into an M109 wannabe ... it was much nicer before).
I'm sure there are some who've stepped up to a V-Star 1300 because Kawasaki doesn't make a bike in that size, but I doubt Kawasaki think spending money on R&D, production and marketing to catch those few is a good idea. And I'm no engineer but I'm not sure a "big bore kit" for an engine that already has a quite oversquare bore (88.0 x 74.2 mm versus the little Sportster's 76.2 x 96.8 mm long stroke) would do much for the character of the bike.
Wasn't so long ago that bike manufacturers were making stuff for almost every conceivable desire. For a few years there was a VN750, a VN800 and a VN1500, tho the much-loved (for their character) VN700/750 had relatively little in common with its cousins outside the fact they're all V-twins. And it seems like Honda has a Shadow in almost every possible displacement in 50-to-100cc increments from 500cc on up to 1300cc.
So the question seems to be, why can't Kawi build a mid-sized cruiser on par with the power increase seen in the 883 to 1200 Sporty? Well, I'm sure they can. They just don't see enough money in it, as several posters have pointed out. And tho we love our Kawis dearly, I think we all know Ma Kaw's bread-and-butter is the sportbike division, with more than a little gravy from the ATV market. Wise business sense for the company: they don't NEED to pander to every niche group. They make enough money outside the cruiser market, anyway.
I also agree with the assessment that the 883 exists solely as a starting price point. Get ya on ya bike, and pretty soon "need-a-bigger-bike" syndrome will kick in. I've heard great things about the reliability and quality of the sporty motors, tho I'm no HD guy by any means.
Which is why I also agree with an earlier comment's suggestion of Victory. I happen to know the Cross Roads weighs 745 lbs dry...
Good post. As a long time Harley owner, it's my belief that if Kaw made a nice V-twin (similar to the 900 Classic LT) and increased the engine size (and consequently the HP and torque) to about 1200 to 1300 cc and added cruise control as an option, they might get a lot of the Harley riders to switch to Kawasaki.
I realize that some Harley riders wouldn't ride anything that didn't say Harley on the tank, but many others would consider a nice touring bike such as I've described particularly if it weighed under 700 lbs (wet weight) and sold new for around $11K or less.
2009 Vulcan 900 Classic LT
2005 Harley Electra Glide Classic
Started riding motorcycles in 1963.
I also throw in with everyone's congratulations on your decision, Chas. I had my 900 for 2 and a half season and always thought it was a great bike. I don't think you'll be disappointed at all. In comparison the my Vic's 106, well, that's apples to oranges. Your Electra will still feel faster and more powerful, noticeably so...but the 900 is no slouch either. You won't walk away from anyone at 80 mph, but you can pull around a semi truck quick enough. Enjoy that bike, man.
btw, hate you for being able to ride. We have 6-7 inches of snow here now, and the roads are pretty treacherous with 4 wheels under you, nevermind 2.