Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Brisbane, Australia
I test rode both. Power wise the Triumph has a markedly stronger top end and really feels like it belongs in the higher rev ranges. Torque specs are similar on paper but the Vulcan feels much torquier and is more fun to ride at lower speeds.
Both bikes handle very well for cruisers, personally I don't think there's a lot to choose between them there. The America is lighter steering than it looks, more like the 900 Custom than the Classic in that respect. The rear suspension and the brakes are probably the best I've experienced in this segment and it wins hands down over the Vulcan on those counts. That and the generally lighter feel (although it isn't a whole lot lighter) might steer smaller riders toward the Triumph. Seat heights are about the same I think.
Personally, despite its advantages I wouldn't dream of swapping my Custom for an America. The Vulcan has more grunt low down and just feels more solid. And while the Custom's pipes aren't exactly head turning, the America really does sound like a sewing machine. Finally, part of my reason for buying a cruiser was to be done with chain maintenance.
To me, the America is a standard dressed up like a cruiser. It's a good performer and a lot of fun to ride, especially if you wind it out, but the Vulcan just feels more like the real deal. They're so different that anyone who rides both will know straight away which they prefer. If the V-twin cruiser 'feel' is not a prerequisite for you (or yours), there's a lot to be said for ten extra horses and better brakes and suspension.