First Bike Issues...2011 Vulcan Classic SE - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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First Bike Issues...2011 Vulcan Classic SE

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Hey everyone ..Just got the SE last week .
This is my first bike and I dont have experience riding any other bike at highway speeds and long distances...A few days back I took a 120 mile trip and was highly dissapointed at the comfort of my bike at highway speeds and long distance. My back has been killing me since the ride..At highway speeds I found it severely uncomfotable in a normal cruiser position. The wind blowing against me and not having any form of back support caused me to be using my back muscles to stay upright. To correct for this I found myself in a slight tucked postion with my toes as far rear on the floorboards as possible. I was so excited for the floorboards but they just are not comfortable. I dont know if the fact that im 6'2 plays any part in this. Also the last half hour of the ride my ass was incredibly uncomfortable .So Ive come up with two ways to go with this. I could either sell the bike and get a more upright adventure touring style bike with my feet directly under me (theres a bmw 1200 for 9k...crazy deal) or Ive been looking into adding things such as getting a mustang seat with a back rest...batwing fairing with windshield..and memphis lowers..I dont know if this would fix the problem ...I have no experience with windhsields or the like...Does anyone have any input/suggestions or personal experience with this problem? Any help would be great..I love the look of the bike it just is not as comfortable as i thought it would be..I dont know if it changes anything but Im going to being using the bike as my primary mode of transportation ...Ive heard that generally speaking most people dont use cruisers as a daily driver and if thats my intention to get something like a touring bike.
Thanks
Marc
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 02:39 PM
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A touring bike will have the same basic riding position as a cruiser...typically they're just dressed-up cruisers w/ fairing, bags, etc.. I would suggest that you're on the right track w/ the Mustang seat w/ backrest and windshield (don't know that you need to go overboard w/ a fairing), maybe some lowers if that combo doesn't do the trick. I'm 6'1" and also have a 900 and have no problems in that regard, so I don't think it's necessarily how you and the bike fit together...I think you just need to help ameliorate the problem of wind, especially at highway speeds.

( Used to have: )
'08 Vulcan 900 Custom:
*Passion Red *Mustang One-Piece Vintage Seat
*Hard-Krome 2.5" Strippers with Smartpartz Hard Kore Baffles
*Cobra Short Sissybar, Pad & Insert *Leatherworks 312 Chopper Bag *Small/Med. Windshield
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by swoop4422 View Post
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Hey everyone ..Just got the SE last week .
This is my first bike and I dont have experience riding any other bike at highway speeds and long distances...A few days back I took a 120 mile trip and was highly dissapointed at the comfort of my bike at highway speeds and long distance. My back has been killing me since the ride..At highway speeds I found it severely uncomfotable in a normal cruiser position. The wind blowing against me and not having any form of back support caused me to be using my back muscles to stay upright. To correct for this I found myself in a slight tucked postion with my toes as far rear on the floorboards as possible. I was so excited for the floorboards but they just are not comfortable. I dont know if the fact that im 6'2 plays any part in this. Also the last half hour of the ride my ass was incredibly uncomfortable .So Ive come up with two ways to go with this. I could either sell the bike and get a more upright adventure touring style bike with my feet directly under me (theres a bmw 1200 for 9k...crazy deal) or Ive been looking into adding things such as getting a mustang seat with a back rest...batwing fairing with windshield..and memphis lowers..I dont know if this would fix the problem ...I have no experience with windhsields or the like...Does anyone have any input/suggestions or personal experience with this problem? Any help would be great..I love the look of the bike it just is not as comfortable as i thought it would be..I dont know if it changes anything but Im going to being using the bike as my primary mode of transportation ...Ive heard that generally speaking most people dont use cruisers as a daily driver and if thats my intention to get something like a touring bike.
Thanks
Marc
Hey Swoop, Congrats on the 2011 Classic SE! I bought the same bike as I really liked the look of the bike with the whitewalls, spokes, fat rear tire etc.. I am 5'10' and I can honestly say that to the contrary, I find the bike very comfortable. I have a windshield that cuts down the wind so that is not an issue with me. I tend to agree that perhaps its your height that could be the issue, however, You are certainly not the only 6'2" Classic SE 900 owner. What say other owners 6'2" out there? Any help you can give our fellow 900 owner?
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 03:01 PM
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I am 6ft. 2" if you give or take about 6 inches. In all seriousness I think your first start is a good windshield. Now I know a lot of guys buy the SE because they don't like windshields and that's OK if you are doing boulevard cruising. If you are at highway speed it quickly becomes a problem with you feeling like a human sail and the only thing saving your life is your fingertips wrapped around the handlebar grips. I also think depending on your leg inseam length that the SE may be a little small for you. If you don't want to move up to a Nomad style cruiser you may want to look into a BMW touring model. I have heard of guys with bad backs claiming that they are much smoother riding than the v-twin bikes and they are especially good for tall riders. I am 5FT. 8" and although quite comfortable on my 1500 classic the BMW is so tall that I would be on my tippy toes at a stoplight. I would maybe test ride a few bikes before I stuck a ton of money in the SE. You will not get your money back on the add-on accessories. Just my 2 cents worth.

2008 Vulcan 1500 Classic, "Black of-course"
National cycles windshield
National cycles chrome lowers
Fire & Steel backrest
Cobra rear floorboards
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Phats II Risers
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 03:02 PM
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A windshield and a backrest go soooo far to making a long trip comfortable, and stock seats are rarely what you want to end up with. When I upgraded my Shadow Sabre from it's stock seat to a Mustang seat with backrest I was able to put in 300-500 miles in a day for 2-4 days in a row. The windwhild reduces the stress of wind pushing you back and buffeting over you.

If you're height is an issue (6'2" is tall but not THAT tall) you can have your seat modified to sit and inch or two farther back.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 04:38 PM
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Swoop, a couple of questions first: Do you have a history of back trouble? Injury, surgery? Also you don't mention your age. Young joints are more forgiving than my 57 yr old ones.

Aside from that, my thought is 2 weeks and couple hundred miles won't tell you much. You say that this is your first bike. That means you're in different position and using different muscles than you're used to. Riding in a saddle will never be the same as driving in a seat no matter what you install on the bike. It's a different experience and will take some getting used to.

My question about your back health has to do with what type of pain your having and why. You say "not having any form of back support caused me to be using my back muscles to stay upright." The fact is you need to be using your back muscles or every bump in the road will be transferred directly to you spine. If you already have reduced disc clearance that will result in long lasting pain. Although a lot of guys swear by back rests, I find that reaching forward slightly keeps my core slightly tight and that helps to safely absorb road shocks. You'll probably find that much of your back pain has more to do with fighting the wind than riding position. A windshield is definitely in your future.

As for your sore butt; if you're going to ride real distances you'll probably need to replace a stock seat on any bike you buy. Stock seats are notoriously crap.

Bottom line? Start researching seat and shields while you get some miles under your belt. You may find that the bike is more comfortable than you first thought.

Welcome aboard and good luck!
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 05:48 PM
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Upgrade from stock equipment

Hey,

I have a 900 custom and had the same issues that you're mentioning. And this was not my first bike, I've had three previous bikes. The kawasaki stock seats are murder on your a** and back. I was having to stop way to frequently to strectch and get some butt relief, and the wind was pretty instense as well (bike had a small windshield so I was getting wind right to the head). The seat was so bad after a full day trip, my wife said she wouldn't want to ride with me anymore (her a** had bruises).

I upgraded to a Mustang touring seat and added a full touring windshield and a backrest for the old lady, and the difference was unbelievable! We can ride until we have to stop for gas with no pain whatsoever. We've now done multi state trips on the 900 custom and had no pain issues.

As far as getting a touring bike for your daily driver, if you are doing a lot of highway travelling it could be good, but the added weight makes manuerverability at slower speeds harder. I think the 900 is a perfect size.

I also just upgraded to Metzeler ME 880 200 rear tire and matching front tire and the bike rides much smoother and handls better (but this is a different issue than what you're asking).

Don't get rid of the bike so soon until your back is used to keeping itself upright as someone else previously mentioned.

The seat and the touring shield are well worth the money! Good luck.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 06:03 PM
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I must agree with the previous posters. Get yourself a good seat, and a full size windshield (stock one goes on and off in 3 minutes with practice, or get a quick-release one for town riding). I also advise you either purchase, or make a set of lowers to keep your head from bobbing around. These will do wonders for your comfort level and make riding an extremely enjoyable experience.

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 06:54 PM
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I owned a 900 Classic last year, and had the same problems.

First get yourself a windshield and lowers. I used the Memphis Shades stuff and it worked great for me. Get the quick release mounts and you can put the shield on or off in just a few seconds.

The lowers are important too, because they reduce the amount of air coming up around the sides of the gas tank. This turbulence ("buffeting") in the area behind the windshield will cause your head to wobble and shake.

Then replace the stock seat with a Mustang seat. The backrest is up to you. Some people love the backrest, but I didn't. I only used it a few times, then took it off and left it in my garage.

Also check the shock absorber preload. A softer setting may be more comfortable for you.

Those 3 items will make the 900 work reasonably well for highway speeds or all-day rides.

Joe
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 07:24 PM
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Before you go selling what may be a perfectly good bike, ask yourself, "Am I always uncomfortable or was it just this once?" If the answer is "Always" then maybe you do need something else. If it was just this one time there are plenty of things you can do to fix the problem. I think they've all been hit already-some form of wind protection (including lowers), a new seat and maybe a backrest. Lots of windshields and fairings are available in quick detach versions so you can remove them if you don't want them but put them back on quickly.

I think my bike is naturally comfortable to me but the stock seat is still pretty bad. I don't know how I put that many miles on it but usually after an hour or two, my butt is either numb or burning. I recently picked up a Corbin Dual Tour seat to fix that but haven't tried it out yet. Both Corbin and Mustang make seats with a removable rider's backrest so you can add/remove it quickly depending on what you need. Some companies make a backrest you can use with the stock seat and some members here have fashioned their own backrests. Even if you don't get something with a backrest, most aftermarket seats will have a deeper pocket and a little more support against your back. Anyway, I use my bike almost daily when I'm at home to get to/from work. I did that for a while without a windshield and since adding one, then getting a fairing, I don't know if I can ever go back.
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