Thinking of buying a 2018 Vaquero. Pros and Cons? - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thinking of buying a 2018 Vaquero. Pros and Cons?

Hi Everyone, I am thinking of buying a 2018 close out model at my local dealership. I was just wondering what to watch out for and what are the Pros and Cons about this bike. One thing just looking at it is the Halogen Headlight. By now they all should be LED's But I am sure I can get a LED Bulb for it. Not too many reviews out there. I know it's been on the market since 2009 and probably hasn't changed a lot or any in the 10 years of production. I am riding a Vulcan S Cafe at the moment but want something larger for some longer trips. I know the Vaquero is a heavy cruiser but is it a slug? Does it have enough torque and acceleration to pull out into traffic on the highways? Also I read about some stalling issues and running Hot issues. Have these been addressed in the later year models? Overall I love the looks of the Vaquero but due to the weather I haven't been able to test ride it yet. Once the snow melts and the temps are getting more normal I will remedy this situation.

Thanks for any input that you may want to share.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-04-2019, 05:02 AM
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In August 2017 I purchased a '17 Vaquero. I had been riding a 900 Custom since '07 (my first V twin Cruiser). So this is a comparison to the 900.

Torque: At 107 ft lbs @ 2750 rpm this bike has plenty of power to pull it's 800 lb bulk quickly off the line. It's not a crotch rocket, but it is quick. The 900 was pretty quick up to about 75 mph but the Vaquero just keeps pulling. The first time I passed a semi on the freeway (Rt 15, Penn thru the mountains), I took it from 75 to 115 so quickly I hardly knew what happened. And you don't really feel the speed the bike is so smooth.

Comfort: Like the 900 Custom, the seat is ok for driving, but not for a passenger. If you're planning long trips or all day rides "ok" isn't going to cut it. You'll need to invest in a better seat. I'm 6'-0" with a 34" inseam and the seating postion is good. I did add highway pegs for alternate leg positions on long rides. I found that the 6" windshield that is stock looks hot, but directed the air straight into my face. I added a 16" clear windshield.

Audio: The radio is AM/FM/Weather (on the '17) with no stock option to play mp3 or stream. I purchased the aux input kit (hugely over-priced @ $60) and I now plug in an mp3 player and just leave it on random in the glove box. I have no complaints over the sound quality, I just don't understand why it wasn't set up as an mp3 player in the first place.

Fuel/mileage: At 9.5:1 compression I don't understand why they call for 91 octaine fuel. The 900 runs the same compression and burns 87. After 10 years of 50+ mpg, the 34-40 mpg I get is dissapointing, but not heart breaking.

Running hot: This engine runs at the same tempurature as the 900 but the larger cylinders (specifically the rear) dumps more of the heat on the driver's thighs. Also, the lower cowling seems to direct hot air onto your legs. It doesn't run hot, but you feel the heat more than the 900. I'll be trying Engine Ice this season but a lot of owners are Ivanizing their controllers (turns on the fan earlier among othet things).

Speed: No V twin will compare to a crotch rocket, but this bike is plenty quick for a heavy, full dress cruiser. Kawi claims a top speed of 142 mph and I believe it. I've had mine up to about 120. I don't know for sure. I'm estimating based on how fast the speedometer needle was moving up when I realized I was going faster than I intended. I have to point out, it's difficult keeping your feet on the floorboards over 100. The wind off the cowl pushes your feet back and out and it's a struggle keeping them in place.

Over all I'm very happy with the bike. I drive 7 miles to work each day. Weekends I enjoy 4-6 hour rides regularly. Last summer my son and I (him on the 900) rode from Manchester, NY to Baltimore, MD and back and the Vaquero behaved beatifully. 8 hours each way, mix of country roads, super slabs and city traffic. About 2/3 of the time we were on the freeway doing 75-85. Great ride.

Let us know what you decide.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-04-2019, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you very much SteveJB for your great and honest review and input on the Vaquero. I think it has some great options on it from the factory like Cruise controls and the radio. I was hoping for Bluetooth and I have to check if the 2018 model has that. The dealer is selling it for a little over 12k which I think is a pretty decent deal for a brand new bike. Of course they have their freight and doc charges on top of that and with taxes it will be closer to about 14K out the door. Still less than the MSRP on the bike. Thanks again for your help. Now I just have to convince my wife that I need a Vaquero in my life.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-04-2019, 10:59 AM
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Thank you very much SteveJB for your great and honest review and input on the Vaquero. I think it has some great options on it from the factory like Cruise controls and the radio. I was hoping for Bluetooth and I have to check if the 2018 model has that. The dealer is selling it for a little over 12k which I think is a pretty decent deal for a brand new bike. Of course they have their freight and doc charges on top of that and with taxes it will be closer to about 14K out the door. Still less than the MSRP on the bike. Thanks again for your help. Now I just have to convince my wife that I need a Vaquero in my life.
Tell your wife that I said you need the Vaquero in your life! I bought a new 2016 in August of 2016, and I paid $13k for it. All said and done, I was at $15k out the door.

The Vaquero is a nice bike. The fit & finish represent a step down from a Harley, but you're paying about half of their MSRP, too. It also shows in the features - no central locking and keyless fob like a HD touring bike. The radio is OK, comparable to the base HD stereo, but not as nice as their upgraded setup. For a few hundred bucks you can add new speakers and an amp to the Vaquero, and then it'll be just as nice. You still won't have navigation, but Garmin's standalone unit is nice, as that's what I have on my bike. You'll want highway pegs for longer distance touring, and I recommend lower covers (I have leather ones, not sure of the brand) for riding when it's cold out.

The Vaquero handles fine, and has plenty of power for all the situations I've come across in 11.5k miles. Highway, city, squirting through traffic, high-speed runs, you name it! It keeps up with other touring bikes through corners, even with my timidness. The saddlebags are roomy and can hold enough for a long weekend solo trip. The headlight is fine at night, but think about adding the auxiliary lighting kit. It's pricey, but really adds to your visibility and what you can see. I installed it myself using the ship-in-a-bottle method.

The Vaquero also gets a LOT of looks, even from HD riders! Its clean, classic design, along with fully painted inner fairing, will turn heads.

Oh, and if the unthinkable happens and you dump it, the Vaquero is a TANK.

That's about all I can think of off the top of my head. Let us know if you get it!

-John
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-04-2019, 11:43 AM
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I got used to it so fast that I forgot all about the cruise control. It works a little differently than the cars I own. They have it set up so when you down shift to 2nd the setting is cancelled. I guess it makes sense since you can't just hit 'resume' with a standard transmission. It took me a while to stop hitting resume and instead re-setting after a stop or slow corner. Of course she has enough low end torque that I've taken a lot of corners in 3rd when I was used to using 2nd.

Then there's KACT ABS braking. That takes getting used to as well. When you apply the brakes, both are actuated. The front brake releases completely at about 6 miles an hour. I didn't know it, but I've been trail braking for years so in a slow corner I can still be on the brakes when the front lets go. It's a weird feeling but doesn't actually affect the bike's movements. You just get a little click from the front end. At first I thought I had bad bearings but it was just the calipers releasing. Coming from bicycles, I've always been a rear-braker and add front brakes when I need more breaking power (I know, that's not the way to do it). Now it doesn't matter how I apply the brakes, the front-rear mix is always right. Well, until I climb on a different bike without ABS!

Last thing I can think of is the self cancelling turn signals. That also took getting used to. You're supposed to turn them off manually and the switch doesn't reset to neutral when they self cancel. So if you don't manually cancel and turn on the 4-ways, when you turn off the 4-ways the turn signal comes back on. Also, until I re-read the manual, the turn signals kept turning off before I made my turn. Seems I start the signal earlier than the system is designed. Let's see if I remember this right: after traveling 213 feet and 8 seconds elapses the signal cancels. Riding in the country I tend to start signalling earlier than I would in an urban environment so I would pull up to stop sign (maybe 300 ft) and my signal would cancel. I have to get used to signaling later I guess.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 08:27 AM
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A suggestion would be to check out Ivan's Performance webpage. Ivan reflashes ECU's in many bikes to optimize performance. I have a 2016 Voyager I bought new and I "Ivanized" at the 2000 mile mark. I had experienced all the ills of the stock ECU that Ivan describes on the website. All I can say is WOW....Ivanizing woke up that 1700 cc engine, it ran cooler, no more popping on decel and made using the cruise a lot more efficient and better. The single best upgrade i will ever do on my Voyager. I am just about at the 15K mile mark after 2 riding seasons. Good luck! Ivan's Performance Products
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-07-2019, 11:40 AM
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Steve, I'm very skeptical about this estimate of top speed!
My Versys 1000 is supposed to go about 137mph, and although I haven't ridden either my bike or a Vaquero anywhere near top speed I can tell you the Versys is MUCH faster.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-07-2019, 12:14 PM
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Steve, I'm very skeptical about this estimate of top speed!
My Versys 1000 is supposed to go about 137mph, and although I haven't ridden either my bike or a Vaquero anywhere near top speed I can tell you the Versys is MUCH faster.
Well honestly I have no intention of maxing it out to see where it goes. The first year I had the bike I was playing with the throttle after break-in and I rolled back on the grip as the needle swept past the 110 mark. I estimate I was doing between 115 and 120 before the bike started decelerating but my eyes were on the road, not the speedo.

I don't doubt that the Versys accelerates faster than the Vaq, but the claim is top end, not how fast you get there. As a comparison, my 900 custom was quicker off the mark than the 1700 Vaq, but once it hit 80 the acceleration was snail paced and topped out at 105. The Vaq keeps pulling hard as you past 100. I'll never know for sure how fast she can be, I'm long past that stage in my life.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2019, 06:49 AM
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No need to doubt the top speed. He a believer😊 With two overdrive gears and 6th being best utilized above 80mph, your not very far up the torque curve at that speed. I had my Voyager at 110ish while passing, and I wasn't trying to do it. Just accelerated hard, passsed two cars, and realized I'll have to be more careful compared to my Yamaha Venture. The Valquero is a shade lighter, so I'm a full believer it could hit the 140s
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