Newbies Ride the Nomad vs. Road King - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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Newbies Ride the Nomad vs. Road King

We (Me and Wife) rode a 1700 Nomad single and 2-up last weekend in Detroit at the Kawa Demo Days. We needed to compare it vs. a Road King with passenger back rest that we had rented maybe a few months ago for a day.

We are relatively new to Motorcycle riding and have reduced our selection down to these two bikes. We have to have comfortable 2-up capability for weekend trips out and back over 2 or 3 days. Single riding will occur with regularity. Riding 2-up half across the country is not yet planned but could happen down the road if we really get to like riding distances.

We had thought that we would like the Nomad but were not prepared for how much better it was for us (IOHO, as Newbies testing over an hour's time) than the Road King. The reasons:

1. Wind turbulence was much less with Nomad. You sit closer behind a wider screen. This is a huge advantage in our book. Our Nomad's screen was fine even at its lowest setting and it could be adjusted upwards by 2 inches if desired.

2. Little shake with engine at idle is more comfortable for both riders, and I expect the comfort difference to increase over longer rides. Again, it is a huge advantage in our book to have a balanced engine rubber mounted to the frame. [As Newbies to riding, our concept of a good engine is one that runs smooth. This basic belief is unlikely to change as it was honed over lifetimes of driving everything else but motorcycles.]

3. Better rear view through mirrors. One can see clearly at idle when stopped, with more peripheral view through appropriately shaped mirrors. The mirror shape is clearly more functional on the Nomad. Harley has shaped its mirrors for style and lost some function.

4. Passenger seat was wider and more comfortable on the Nomad, with hand rails for gripping.

5. Hard bags each hold a full face helmet on the Nomad. The size of the hard bags means that one may not need a tour pack.

6. Self-cancelling turn signals are actuated with only the left thumb on the Nomad, whereas on the RK one has to use either thumb. This is an advantage in our book.

7. Gear indicator for 1 thru 6 and N on the Nomad. Not so for the RK.

8. Passenger back rest, passenger foot plates, passenger hand rails, and cruise control are standard on the Nomad.

9. Exhaust note was less pronounced on the Nomad. [As Newbies, we don't yet appreciate a loud "Look at Me" exhaust.]


There seem to be multitudes of those who prefer the RK but we just don't see it. The Nomad appears to be a better bike all around for a considerably lesser cost. Can somebody tell us if we are wrong?

Last edited by MotorMojo; 08-01-2012 at 10:36 PM.
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post #2 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 10:36 PM
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I've spent some time with HD this season. The Nomad will offer a smoother ride and more room. There is more rear suspension travel in the Nomad. Once you fill the shocks with air and set the rebound the ride is even better. If the concern is buying a lesser bike in terms of functionality that would be incorrect. Each make has its pros and cons. The Nomad would make a good 2up bike and you won't outgrow it.
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post #3 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 10:54 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, 1700Classic

Forgot about rebound adjustment (as well as air adjustment) of the shocks. You're quite right that the ride might have been smoother yet had we tuned the shocks for 2-up riding. Will try to do that at the next opportunity!
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post #4 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-01-2012, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MotorMojo View Post
We (Me and Wife) rode a 1700 Nomad single and 2-up last weekend in Detroit at the Kawa Demo Days. We needed to compare it vs. a Road King with passenger back rest that we had rented maybe a few months ago for a day.

We are relatively new to Motorcycle riding and have reduced our selection down to these two bikes. We have to have comfortable 2-up capability for weekend trips out and back over 2 or 3 days. Single riding will occur with regularity. Riding 2-up half across the country is not yet planned but could happen down the road if we really get to like riding distances.

We had thought that we would like the Nomad but were not prepared for how much better it was for us (IOHO, as Newbies testing over an hour's time) than the Road King. The reasons:

1. Wind turbulence was much less with Nomad. You sit closer behind a wider screen. This is a huge advantage in our book. Our Nomad's screen was fine even at its lowest setting and it could be adjusted upwards by 2 inches if desired.

2. Little shake with engine at idle is more comfortable for both riders, and I expect the comfort difference to increase over longer rides. Again, it is a huge advantage in our book to have a balanced engine rubber mounted to the frame. [As Newbies to riding, our concept of a good engine is one that runs smooth. This basic belief is unlikely to change as it was honed over lifetimes of driving everything else but motorcycles.]

3. Better rear view through mirrors. One can see clearly at idle when stopped, with more peripheral view through appropriately shaped mirrors. The mirror shape is clearly more functional on the Nomad. Harley has shaped its mirrors for style and lost some function.

4. Passenger seat was wider and more comfortable on the Nomad, with hand rails for gripping.

5. Hard bags each hold a full face helmet on the Nomad. The size of the hard bags means that one may not need a tour pack.

6. Self-cancelling turn signals are actuated with only the left thumb on the Nomad, whereas on the RK one has to use either thumb. This is an advantage in our book.

7. Gear indicator for 1 thru 6 and N on the Nomad. Not so for the RK.

8. Passenger back rest, passenger foot plates, passenger hand rails, and cruise control are standard on the Nomad.

9. Exhaust note was less pronounced on the Nomad. [As Newbies, we don't yet appreciate a loud "Look at Me" exhaust.]


There seem to be multitudes of those who prefer the RK but we just don't see it. The Nomad appears to be a better bike all around for a considerably lesser cost. Can somebody tell us if we are wrong?
A well written assessment. I agree about the wind buffeting, It's perhaps the Nomad's most underrated feature. I sometimes forget how minimal it is till I try ride somebody elses scoot. Both are solid bikes but I am glad you were able find the one that was right for you.

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post #5 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 09:32 AM
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Great post and assessment. I would disagree with the bags holding full face helmets though. Mine will hold half helmets but no way would they hold full face helmets. Also, the gear indicator is a great feature but many of us have had it not work correctly once in awhile or quite often. But all in all, I agree, the Nomad is a great bike to ride with lots of bang for the buck. I ride two-up a lot and my girlfriend hated riding on the back of my 900 Custom but she loves the Nomad's back seat. Personally, I had to get a driver's backrest because the combination of my poor posture and the setup of the Nomad seat makes my back sore if I ride too much without that support.

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post #6 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 12:25 PM
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Thanks for this much-needed camparo. I've test ridden two RKs, I've yet to test ride the 1700 Nomad, but I have no doubt the Nomad's ergonomics are a lot better. The ergos on the RK were completely off for me. Another plus for the Nomad is the liquid-cooled engine. The RKs I tested were very smooth on the freeway, but I can't imagine how they'd hold-up in 2 hours of stop & go traffic without a radiator...

I like the RK's fit and finish over the Nomad's but from what I can tell that's the only thing going for the HD.
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post #7 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 12:36 PM
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Great review. As newbies your opinion is based more on the differences you noted rather than any pre-concieved bias, and what amounts to the facts for the two of you.
Thanx for the review.

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post #8 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 12:45 PM
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What ultimately matters is which bike you both prefer. If you don't feel a need to pay a couple extra thousand for the "HD Lifestyle" they want to sell you on, then you will not go wrong with the Nomad.

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post #9 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 01:08 PM
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I tried putting my XXL FF Shoei Qwest in the saddlebag today and it was't even close. I guess maybe if you wore a small side FF it might fit, but no way on the big Shoei.

Good breakdown though on your opinions between the two, I agree with you on just about all of them, which is why I bought a nomad over a RK.
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post #10 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-03-2012, 05:39 AM Thread Starter
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Hey you're all tremendous!

Thanks for your constructive comments! You're right -- I had read or was told that a full face helmet would fit into a Nomad hard bag but didn't actually try it myself. I will do so soon.

And I forgot to mention the liquid cooling of the engine on the Vulcan but that was because we didn't get to ride in stop&go traffic on a hot day -- on the Nomad or the Road King -- to see if there was a difference in the amount of heat felt by the riders. I am certainly willing to believe that the difference under these conditions is significant. I was unaware of any heat problem on the Nomad when we rode it last weekend, on a warm day, but did notice some warmth on my right leg and knee with a demo Voyager that I rode a few minutes later on the same route. This I attributed to the leg fairings that kept the air flow from taking the heat as effectively away from my leg on the hotter side of the engine.

There are so many Harleys out there and they are organized such that we wonder how we will be received riding up on a Vulcan.

Again, thanks for all of your comments.
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