Why the 900? - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 07:43 AM Thread Starter
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Why the 900?

New to the forum but been riding for close to 50 years and trying to make an informed decision on my next bike!
Why did you choose the Vulcan 900?
Did you go from a smaller bike or larger bike?
Are there any lemon years for the 900?
What are some common problems?
What upgrades are recommended?
Thanks! mitch
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 07:59 AM
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Hi, Mitch, and welcome.

I can't really define it completely, but there's just something about the vulcan 900. It's one of those motorcycles that seems to do all things well. Some better than others, but for the most part, it's a great all-around motorcycle.

Don't know about any lemon years, but there are some common niggles. This first is the stock seat. While a very few seem to survive with it, most agree that whoever designed the seat on the 900 made his escape from the torture chambers of the dark ages and is trying to get his revenge. The Mustang seat seems to be about the most popular aftermarket seat. I have a Russell on mine, as does my wife on her 900. The second complaint is that at higher highway speeds--65 and above--the engine feels strained. Actually isn't, as it's a bit of a revver, but some find that a 200 series rear tire or replacing the front and/or rear belt pulleys seems to give it a more relaxed feeling at high speeds. A minor complaint is the inaccurate fuel gauge and low fuel warning light. It's an easy fix with a 262 (I think) ohm resistor.

Power-wise, while the actual numbers seem to find the 900 somewhat lacking in power, actual performance seems to prove that it is surprisingly powerful. I came from a GL1800 Gold Wing and I find the 900 to be just fine. Besides, it's light, easy to manage, is comfortable and handles well. I can't find anything yet to actually complain about. They are as reliable as a rock and are easy on gas, getting somewhere between 45 and 55 mpg. I average about 45 in town and 50--52 on the road.

Differences from year to year seem to be mostly what color paint Kawasaki used, however the '06's have a 4.8 gallon gas tank while subsequent years have a 5.3 gallon tank. I've yet to figure out where the difference is between the two.

I don't know if you intend to ride solo or 2-up, but those who have a co-rider seem to feel the 900 works well for that. Some even pull a small cargo trailer when touring.

I don't think you could go wrong with this bike. From what I can determine, the Vulcan 900 seems to be about the most popular cruiser Kawasaki offers. One thing you'll find (and I have no idea what your background is as to what kind of motorcycles you have owned and ridden over the past 50 years) is that the 900 is a great platform for customizing. Lots of accessories available for it. What I can say is that I have no regrets moving from the Gold Wing to the Vulcan 900.

Hope this gives you at least a small bit of insight into the Vulcan 900.

"Don't sweat the small stuff---it's all small stuff"

'09 650 VStrom

Last edited by Strompilot; 02-14-2012 at 08:01 AM.
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 08:13 AM
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Aww, jeez, this is sure to turn ugly soon. Before it does, here's what I think.

I picked the 900 for looks, performance, and feel. By "performance" I don't mean that it's a racer but it's no slouch either. Two of the biggest factors for me were fuel injection and the belt drive. I think the bike looks great and every time I sat on one it just felt right. Once I rode it I knew it was right.

I sold my first bike, a Shadow 750, before buying the 900. I considered several other bikes, mainly the V-Star 950 and VTX 1300 but also looked at a few Heritage Softails. I kept coming back to the Vulcan for all the reasons I mentioned.

It's a great all around bike but some people buy it expecting it to be something that it isn't. If you want a touring bike that will lope down the interstate at 2500 rpm, well, it will do it but you won't be going but about 45 mph. You're looking at more like 4000 rpm to be at interstate speed. Some people don't mind, but others hate it and say they feel like the bike is coming apart. At first I didn't ride above 65 but after a few weeks of getting used to it, I don't even notice any more. Another thing to think about is that the recommended max weight for a classic is right around 400 pounds. I have done day trips through the Smoky Mountains with both of us (no hard bags) and it performed fine. I could feel it working harder but a little extra twist was all it took. We have a couple of members here who make long trips pulling a trailer with a 900 and love it. But we also have people here who consider a 900 a "scooter" in the derogatory sense and say they wouldn't ride one. You'll also hear people call it a "learner's bike" or "entry level bike" but again, that's all perception.

Anyway some recommended upgrades, the more popular ones mentioned here, are a new seat and better tires. Everything else is what you want it to be. You'll see stock bikes, turbo kits, custom anythings, fairings, trunks...if you can think of it, somebody here has probably done it.

It's all about what you want. If you want a fat cat long stroke tourer, you might be barking up the wrong tree. If you want a good all around cruiser that you can do just about anything with, you might be in the right place. Have a seat on one and if you can, take one for a spin. If you've been riding that long, you know how it works. You'll just know if a bike right for you.

Last edited by Graybush; 02-14-2012 at 08:16 AM.
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 08:34 AM
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I decided on the 900 for the gas tank.... good range, at around 50 mpg for 5 gallons, it looks great and was quite affordable. I upgraded from a 750 Honda, and found the Kaw to be about twice as comfortable on long 3000 mile trips. Large touring bikes are just too big for me, so the 900 is a good compromise.... I went back and forth between the yamaha 950 and the kaw at 900, but felt the 900 to be more powerful (just a personal observation), nothing scientific about my test rides. I've looked at other bikes since buying the Kaw, but it always comes back to the 5.3 gas tank and the 50 mpg. I have installed the front Ccootworks pulley, and been very satisfied with the performance with just the one pulley. Thinking about getting a trailer for my longer trips, but haven't had the time to do the research on which to buy. I have upgraded the grips to heated so that on longer trips if it gets a bit nippy, I have warm hands. Now I am in the realm of the BMW's :-)

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting'..... “what a ride”!' George Carlin
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 09:12 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies! Keep them coming!
A little history! I started on dirt bikes in 64,moved to street bikes over the years. Had Honda,Kawasaki,Yamaha,Suzuki and the past several years been riding Harleys. I sold my Electra Glide last year and bought a Sportster 1200 which is too uncomfortable!
As I get older,I'm trying to come to a compromise with weight and comfort. I don't ride long distance,mainly one or two hour rides for an attitude adjustment!
I grew up in Alaska and retired to Florida a few years ago and it gets dang hot here in the summer. Sitting at a stop light with an air cooled engine between your legs is insane! Winters are great
In my mind the Vulcan 900 can be set up to meet my comfort level for the amount of riding I do!
It's not too big and bulky!
It's liquid cooled!
It's affordable!
I don't ride the interstates! 55-65 is a nice cruising speed for me! I do feel the need for speed once in awhile though
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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by mitch48 View Post
New to the forum but been riding for close to 50 years and trying to make an informed decision on my next bike!
Why did you choose the Vulcan 900?
Recommended by a friend. A 900 was about the size bike I was looking for, and between my friends recommendation and what I was able to read on the internet reviews, I figured I would give it a chance. Also, see my next answer.
Originally Posted by mitch48 View Post
Did you go from a smaller bike or larger bike?
I moved up from a Vulcan 500. Although I had ridden years ago, that bike was a 550. I got the 500 knowing that I would only keep it a year or two depending on what happened. I considered it a possibility that I would not like or want to continue to ride, so I did not want to put out a lot of money on a new bike. I also knew that if I continued to ride, I would want something larger than a 500 and the 900 is what I had in mind all along.

Originally Posted by mitch48 View Post
Are there any lemon years for the 900?
The new model came out in 2006. They are all pretty much the same since then. There have been a few slight issues, like the gas gauge showing empty too soon. But those are easily fixed (see this forum) or they are no longer an issue. My tank on my 2009 seems pretty accurate.

Originally Posted by mitch48 View Post
What are some common problems?
What upgrades are recommended?
Highway/engine bars, windshield, maybe a sissy bar if you ride 2-up.
Originally Posted by mitch48 View Post
The 900 is a great bike. You will enjoy it.


2009 Vulcan 900 Classic (Zhaan)
OEM Windshield, Crashbars, Sissybar
OEM Slim Saddlebags
Crampbuster throttle control
Wagner BP1210/H4 headlight & 2357LL taillight
FIAMM Low tone horn
Homemade Lowers

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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 09:26 AM
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As a new bike owner I looked at a lot of bikes before I bought one. I looked at Yamaha, Suzuki, HD, and Kawi.

What sold me on the 900.
1. Just the right size. Small enough to take back and forth to work. Short runs. Very easy to handle in tight areas. However large enough to weekend trips. My wife travels on back with me along with luggage. She loves the backrest. We do need a new more comfortable seat. Above 1,000 cc insurance goes up also.
2. Fuel injected and liquid cooled. Easy to start, even in winter. Runs cool during the summer.
3. Mileage per gallon.
4. Belt drive.
5. Price.

About in that order.
I have put 5,000 miles on it and love the bike.
I have put a larger tire on the rear to lower RPMs. Next purchase will be seat, then engine guards, and then maybe a pully to lower rpms some more.
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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 10:13 AM
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A dude I worked with picked up a leftover '09 (candy plasma blue) a couple summers back for a good deal. A friend I worked with heard of the deal and got one too (his was diablo black), and seeing him ride around lit a fire under me. I was very inexperienced at the time, so rather than go out and drop several Gs bike I could potentially destroy, I spent 1200 bucks on an '85 Vulcan 700. I overpaid.

After several weeks, the ol' VN700 had let me down a couple times (dead battery, out of gas on an inaccurate fuel gauge, tricky to get started when warm, oil beginning to leak from the front jug, leaky fuel lines, clutch slippage, lots and LOTS of cam chain noise), so rather than it grenade on me, I sold it to another friend's (who by this point had gone bought a VN900C in orange) little brother for $1k and took myself down to the Kawi dealer who was putting all my friends and coworkers on 900s. I went in to look at a used '08 Custom with 1k miles, and rode home on a new leftover '09 Classic.

Prior to this I had shopped around some, checking stats and pricing, and the 9 seemed best bang for the buck the whole way. Honda reliability had its place but I didn't agree with the price for a 750, which still seemed small (the VN700 was neither comfortable nor capable 2-up). The V-Star 850 was a real looker, but air-cooled and still more cash that the 9. The 50 CI-class Suzukis just didn't do it for me, and the M90 and M109R were way outta my price range. And there was no way I was paying 9k for a Sportster, which I find neither nice to look at or comfortable to ride, having had an experience with one several years back. So the 9 it was.

As far as issues, I've had a couple gremlins myself. Blinkers quit working for a while...to this day still not sure why. I have a mystery "thump." Not sure what makes it. the 900 cc motor in general seems to be rather noisy. But nothing major. She always starts, runs, gets me back and forth, gets great mileage, and has plenty of power. I think you won't find a better deal out there than the 900, honestly.

2011 Victory Cross Roads, crimson red

"There is only one God, and His name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: 'not today.'"

Last edited by Luciferiad; 02-14-2012 at 10:15 AM.
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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 10:57 AM
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I am a retired Motorman and have owned bikes from a 650 cc XS1 Yamaha to a KZ1300 Kawasaki in the day and ridden plenty of Harleys and Kawasaki Police bikes. To say that the 900 is a "learners bike" is totally inaccurate. Each to their own I guess but I had not ridden since retiring over 20 years ago and I was looking for a solid bike beneath me, good price point and a good dealer. I am most pleased with our 900 and as others have noted, the Mustang seat for us was a must. I like the great fuel mileage, and the reliability so far. The 900 could use a 6th gear but only for prolonged 65+ mph runs, other than that it is torquey and a real pleasure to drive. Our 900 is used 99% of the time 2 up and it is not lacking in power. The tires are iffy imho and I will be replacing with Metzlers. I bought the 900 to see if I still enjoyed biking with the intention of moving up but guess what? I have no intention in doing so. Anything bigger and your insurance costs more, mpg drops and there is that weight issue rearing it's ugly head again. Been there, done that. I cannot see any issues you will have with a 900 so just go get one and start enjoying your time together.

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'09 900 Kawasaki Vulcan Classic LT, titanium/white, tach, Kawasaki light bar, CTEK battery maintainer, Powerlet outlets for GPS, cell phone, etc. Mustang touring seat.
Eastern Beaver headlamp/driving lamp relay kit. Eastern Beaver 3CS fused accessory circuits. Matazu
luggage rack. LED bulbs, Rumble LED turn signal relay, Grote LED driving lamps installed in oem driving light housings. Michelin Commander II tires. Laconia luggage bag by T BAGS.
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 01:15 PM
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I bought mine purely on looks. I saw it at the dealer and thought, "Oh sh*t, I really like the look of that!" and that was pretty much it.

'09 Vulcan 900 Custom
'08 Concours 14
'05 CBR1000RR Repsol
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