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Discussion Starter #1
Well, it's down to (2) bikes- I finally shortened the list up and it's truly a neck & neck race, where I'm stuck in 'feelings' rather than practicality. So, input is needed to settle it.

Vulcan 900 Custom: Most beautiful, best lines, great sound stock. Once de-badged, Kuryakin switchblade footpegs, stock front windshield, rear sissy bar & matching saddlebags are mounted- perfect bike forever. Over time, I can drill out the stock exhaust, dremel out the stock airbox, move the 2ndary air line forward and fix the gas guage with the diode trick. All done- hop on & ride for years to come. Sure, if I continue to ride long distances, I can swap out front &/or F & R cogs for better highway comfort, but- as is- no problem.

Triumph Speedmaster: Classic, British, midsize cruiser with a parallel twin. More power & torque, higher revving, lighter weight, slightly more nimble. BUT, about $2,000.00 more used, and, I still have to add: windshield, bags, sissy bar. (not negotiable for either bike). Sounds OK, but, not nearly as good as the Vulcan, nor does it have the 'perfect spatial balance' of the Vulcan.

Either bike will work, but, the looks/sound of the Vulcan are stunning. My heart says Vulcan, and, so does my wallet. They are both dependable, reliable, safe and offer plenty of forum support. Both have tons of aftermarket products, so, I'll never be bored with either bike.

I am spoiled with lightweight power on my current bike. Under 500 Lbs with 72HP & 47 Ft./Lbs of torque, dual front discs and unusual looks, I really have NO REASON to switch to either of these bikes, other than a desire to move up into a slightly larger, more roomy bike. Both bikes are comfortable, both do well on backroads, both have excellent switchgear and smooth transmissions. The VN900C has at least twice the 'presence' of the Triumph, moving or stopped.

I can buy a burnt orange VN900C for @ $4,000.00 with low miles, almost completely stock- all day long. I can buy a 2011+ Triumph Speedmaster or America LT for @ $6,000.00 but, they never made burnt orange, and, I don't really even like any of the color combo's in any model year. But, it revs higher, has both more power and torque, weighs less and well, you get the idea. Speedmaster is preferred: tachometer is stock, and, generally, the bike is better looking due to blacked out pieces over the America or America LT...

Current cruiser is almost worthless ($2,000.00?)-2008 Hyosung GV650 Avitar, but, I've owned it since new, it has been as reliable as sunrise- never failed me- has been cheap to own, has brand new tires front & rear, custom exhaust and 11,000 miles so far. Ultimately, I'm thinning out current inventory, down to 1 sportbike & 1 cruiser for all of my needs. Hate H-D's for too many reasons to list, but, there isn't 1 that is under consideration, nor, have I ever really wanted one either. My sportbike is really a naked bike (2014 Triumph Street Triple R in matte graphite with too many mods to list), I love it and can spank many litre bikes that are poorly ridden from a stop light or in the twisties. It's a supebike in every way, and, I don't need more than what it offers.

So, I KNOW I'm asking the Vulcan forum which bike to choose- so, I know the direction everyone will go, but, I need other input. The circles in my head are making me crazy, even though I know it's truly a luxury problem to have.

Flamesuit on, so, fire away!

Dave
 

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I waffled between those models too. I think the speed master is better looking but not $2,000 better looking. The vulcan also has a belt drive, great track record of reliability, tons of aftermarket stuff to make it your own.

I ultimately went with the vulcan but I still will drool over the Speedmaster anytime I see one. That bike just passes the eye test for me and you rarely see one on the road.

I have no regrets owning the Vulcan. If the triumph had a belt and better aftermarket support I would pick it every time. Ok so this should help you zero. Lol!


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I'm not a fan at all of the Triumph, so I'd have to go with the Vulcan.
 

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I just sold a 2013 America.
Poor to nil dealer support. Stalling issues and snatchy low speed throttle response - can remedy with modifications but shouldn't have to on a new bike. Very poor stock seat, not sure about the Speedy. Unique sound if you can stand it. Chain is a plus - ratio easily changed. I didn't find the shifting to be as smooth as the 900. Almost impossible to refuel without blowback on tank. Cast wheels & tubeless tires a plus. Stock fork springs and shocks will loosen your fillings - the 900 ride is nice. A bit less vibes above 70mph than the 900. Triumph OEM parts are sky high and few aftermarket choices.
 

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I have a 2006 900 classic
By far best bike I have owned,not sure if there much difference,totally stock with bags and shield,not one problem with it at 18000 miles replaced tires and regular oil changes
 

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Take each out for an extended test ride not just the around the block up the road and back test ride most places let you. Than you will know which one really talks to you
 

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My heart says Vulcan
I think you might have answered your own question.

When I made my last bike decision, I knew there were other bikes in the same class with more features, or better reviews, but I just kept coming back to the same bike, which is what I now have. It's a Triumph, but not a cruiser. I've never been that keen on their cruisers.

I think the lack of dealer support comments seem to vary from dealer to dealer. I looked and you have four or five dealers close to you. I only have one Triumph dealer nearby, but they're good, so I'm not concerned about having any problems from them. In your case, if one sucks, you could always just go to another one. In some areas, Triumph dealers are pretty rare, but I don't let that stop me from doing what I want to do.

Anyway, if one bike keeps pulling you back, that may be the one, even if you still have others you like. Somebody who works in the building with me recently bought one of the other bikes I was considering. I went out and oohed and ahhed over it with him, but still think I made the right decision even though his is considered "Better" by the reviewers. I offered to let him take my Triumph for a spin and he wouldn't do it because he didn't want to think he'd picked the wrong bike. Good luck with your decision.
 

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I'm not sure how much you generally rely on dealership maintenance or network but that may be an issue for you. The Vulcan has a great dealer network and is super easy to maintain with 10 minute oil changes and easy air filter swap etc. The Vulcan requires 15,000 mile valve checks though and its a 4 hour deal for me and I have done it twice....hoping to not do it again since its kind of a pain. I'm not sure what the valve adjust intervals are on the Triumph, if at all, but having to do chain maintenance is something I hope to never do again....belt or shaft drive for me from now on. The Vulcans are just so cheap and easy to maintain I can't see trying anything else unless you really feel there is an obvious need for a Triumph. If its a coin toss in your mind I would play it safe and get a Vulcan.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Funny, but, I have an AWESOME dealer near me (Great Bay Motorcycles, N. Hampton, NH) whom I've done business with for a couple of years now. Like us, the owner and all staff are riders 1st and businessmen second. We talk, we hang and, I even offered to run a distance ride for them this last Fall... They are the primary reason why a Speedmaster made the list! Also, Triumph is making some pretty sweet 'budget' bikes with great gear boxes and overall great detail- so, I could even step up and buy new. ($8,300 MSRP new {$7,100?} vs. $6,000.00 used, with a warranty... Why NOT new?)

Conversely, I DON'T have a great Kawasaki dealer nearby, which really bothers me? I almost bought a Ninja 250 for me and the kidz, but, all dealers were too sleazy, impersonal, and, unwilling to let me ride one (even a used one?) There wasn't a dealer I was willing to do business with within 50 miles of me- very frustrating. But, they are great bikes, that occasionally need a stator replaced- what's not to love. Not to mention the forum support available (thanks, guys!)

Regardig suspension feedback- there are lots of aftermarket companies addressing the well known front & rear set up on the Bonneville/America/Speedmaster- I've read some reviews of revised rear springs, and, front fork stiffness... Great potential for long distance riding & years of satisfaction out there.

Either bike will be a long term project- kept & ridden for 5 or more years. I keep the riding fever fire burning during the winters by adding gear: heated grips, front & rear sprocket swaps, stereo systems, floorboards (kuryakin switchblades), LED integrated turn signals, locking helmet hooks, rear luggage trays, alarm systems, mounting lower fairings, black out work... And, both bikes have an endless supply of available products so, that is not a concern. The Triumph store has been great about keeping maintainence & repair costs down by not overly marking up parts prices- especially stuff anyone can internet shop for much less.

Also, there are very few Speedmasters or Americas on the road- so, I won't be waiving at myself every few lights. Finally, and, this may be the kicker for me- GBM is doing a Triumph sponsered 'project' bike (all US based dealers are doing- supported by Triumph) and, this Fall they told me that they were going to do an America, a Speedmaster or a Thunderbird. I will offer to buy the project bike, once it's done- if they'll cut me a deal on it. Even if they don't- they will cut me a deal on either bike, as I have done lots of business with them. Actually, they give everyone a good deal on the purchase price, because they always earn the service (profit) afterwards.

For example, when completing the build out of my Street Triple R, we spent a couple of hours adjusting the suspension to get it just right for me. I already had over 5,000 miles on it when we set sag front & rear, adjusted click by click: compression, rebound and pre-load, also front & rear. $30.00 for a couple of hours, a tank and 1/2 of gas, and, a 30 pack of beer. All with guys I would hang out with anyways, that I ride with...

But, I just watched a video of guy setting up his GoPro on his Vulcan 900 custom on YouTube- ahh, stock pipes even, pull back beach bars....
 

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I can't imagine a better looking, easier to maintain, simple and straight-forward cruiser than my Custom. Love the colour, love the ride, love the feel. I've done the partial de-baffle and am relatively happy with the sound (for now).

My buddy has the America. It handles well, is probably a bit more "peppy", but I have no problem keeping up with him on the open road. The America is certainly more "classic" styling, but that is why I like the Custom so much more.

Its a personal thing. Go with your heart.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ahhh, Shadow01- you have my bike! The only differences are: chrome instead of blacked out treatment (SE?), stickers & Kawasaki badging removed, Kuryakyn switchblade highway pegs and a quick release windshield. But, that color, and, that sound (love stock pipe size & shape, but, not sure of just drilling or complete removal yet...)

I will want to ride the Triumph, but, I will also enjoy just looking at the Custom- does that make any sense? Visually, the VN900C's radiator is the only 'oops' on an otherwise perfect motorcycle. It's like some Ferrari's or Lamborghinis- just so beautiful to the eye- you just want to rub the tank with a soft microfiber cloth (fingerprints? What!)

I think my problem is thinking that there is something practical about a motorcycle. That is my fundamental error. Truth is, a motorcycle is about love, lust, beauty, sight, smell & touch. At the end of the day- who cares what how it shakes out on paper, right? I'm never gonna bench race either one of them. How do you feel when riding either one- that's what matters.

A good night's sleep put this all in perspective. I just have to throw out the worksheets. I WANT the Custom for all sorts of ridiculous 'reasons' (none of which make any real sense). So, that's what I'm gonna get at the end of the day. Forget the 60 Lbs heavier, the lower HP & torque numbers- it's what I want to ride, and wash, and wax, and, take pictures of, and, ride with my wife on, and take trips with friends on... Make memories with.

Thanx folks- just needed you folks to babyshake my brain, cuz, I was losing perspective- all wrapped up in numbers, etc... Somehow, I lost the happy factor, that wow feeling when you turn the corner and see your bike, shining in the sun, all clean, and, done up in the way you (maybe, only you) want it. You all know what I'm talking about, and, honestly- it's a big part of why I ride. I just forgot it for a little while.

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders- my head is finally clear. It was almost too easy... Whew!

Dave
 

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Had an America project bike that I rebuilt a few years back and son has an LT.
Not quite the same but the Kaw hands down, even with the touring stuff has way more power than the trumpet. IMHO the triumph is underpowered for what it is. Suspension and comfort hands down the Vulcan. That and you can find a dealer almost anywhere. Trumpet feels higher in the saddle as well.
 

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Hey Dave, great choice.

Remember that "Kawi" stickers are (all?) under the clear coat so kinda difficult to get 'em off without a re-paint.

I still have to "fix" the front flashers and the mirrors. My windshield is a quick release Memphis Shades Speed Demon, which does keep a bit of the breeze off my chest at highway speeds.

I also want to move the rear tag to the axle/side somewhere, although I hear that's not exactly "legal" up here in Canada. The plate is suppose to be horizontal, but I think it sticks out too far if horizontal on an axle mount. I'm not sure yet - but I HAD TO get rid of the stock rear flashers and plate mount. It was just too ugly for me with the 230 rear and lowering kit. I tried a few shortcuts on the rear plate mount, but ended up with the Low & Mean LED strip on the rear. I also blacked-out the factory rear light by painting the chrome bits (after I took that pic).

I still really dig the Victory Hammer 8-Ball, not so much for the huge motor (which would be fine for me), but the overall menacing, raked-out, chopper look. However, I'd rather a liquid-cooled bike, all things being equal.

My buddies America is a nice bike, and probably better around the pylon course than my lowered Custom, but like I said before, I love the chopper/raked-out look of a Custom style bike. This "look" includes the Hammer 8-Ball, plus the Yami Raider or Stryker - which I also love. Those bikes are significantly more $$ and just larger overall than the Custom. For me right at the moment, the Custom is exactly right.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Gary- it's all of that, and, a lot of VERY subjective things just like that. Sitting in, rather than on the bike. The low rumble of the motor & burble of over runs. The steady feel at low speed, solid clunk of the shifter, as each gear engages. How 'solid' the whole bike 'feels' from the handlebars back. The smooth bump absorption when riing in the city. The broad spread of the gas tank and handlebars when riding down the road. Always finding 1st. The glint off of the gas tank & exhaust pipes in sunlight. The curve of the gas tak, the relationship between the V-Twin, the tank & the pipes. The skinny, spindly front vs. the chunky, massive, billet rear. The line of the tank flowing into the seat, flowing into the rear wheel cover.

Individually meaningless, but, exactly why I want the VN900C. My heart rate increases when I see pictures (thank you Shadow01!) of them.

Somehow, I got so wrapped up comparing them, I forgot how much I really like the bike. On paper- it's a good fight, but, side by side- it' no contest for me. I LOVE the Custom, and, I like the Speedmaster. Game over. I just had to get over the fact that buying a motorcycle is never, ever a practical consideration. Really. And, either way, I wasn't buying new- I'm looking at used. $4,000.00? Not a $25,000 new car. A personal transportation device that I probably should be in love with anyways- or, I won't use it as much.

Who cares if it makes less power, or, weighs more, or..whatever! It's gorgeous, sounds like a million bucks and makes me feel much cooler than I really am- just looking at it! It makes a statement- so, I don't have too. (Of course, it's also reliable, long lasting, gets OK gas mileage and won't break the bank if it needs repair) But, none of that matters- if it was a Ducati Diavel- now, that's a bike that polarizes opinion- then, that is what I would have to have. Thankfully, it's a mass produced Kawasaki that is plentiful in the used marketplace for a moderate price with great parts availability and accessories galore.

It wins on heart, on passion, on pure lust alone. Thank GOD they made a ton of them- so, we can all have the one we really, really want! Exactly how we want them (budget allowing, of course!).

I'm just surprised I got so constipated with the decision. How did I get so wrapped up in the process that I forgot how much I adore the Custom. Forget the $2,000.00 less money out the door, and, the 10 times the marketplace of accessories - but, the look and the sound. One video and (2) pictures from another forum member- and, everything cleared right up. The fat rear fender with it's very cool gothic, chrome edged tail light- I'm done! I could have stopped, just looking at the fat lip on either side on the rear fender as it tapers (yes, I love that too!), but, instead- I spent a month struggling- before I posted up here.

I already found one, about 40 minutes away from home. Sure, it's snowing, but, I can make room in the shed RIGHT NOW, if we can settle on price and trade...
 

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Ahhh, Shadow01- you have my bike! The only differences are: chrome instead of blacked out treatment (SE?), stickers & Kawasaki badging removed, Kuryakyn switchblade highway pegs and a quick release windshield. But, that color, and, that sound (love stock pipe size & shape, but, not sure of just drilling or complete removal yet...)

I will want to ride the Triumph, but, I will also enjoy just looking at the Custom- does that make any sense? Visually, the VN900C's radiator is the only 'oops' on an otherwise perfect motorcycle. It's like some Ferrari's or Lamborghinis- just so beautiful to the eye- you just want to rub the tank with a soft microfiber cloth (fingerprints? What!)

I think my problem is thinking that there is something practical about a motorcycle. That is my fundamental error. Truth is, a motorcycle is about love, lust, beauty, sight, smell & touch. At the end of the day- who cares what how it shakes out on paper, right? I'm never gonna bench race either one of them. How do you feel when riding either one- that's what matters.

A good night's sleep put this all in perspective. I just have to throw out the worksheets. I WANT the Custom for all sorts of ridiculous 'reasons' (none of which make any real sense). So, that's what I'm gonna get at the end of the day. Forget the 60 Lbs heavier, the lower HP & torque numbers- it's what I want to ride, and wash, and wax, and, take pictures of, and, ride with my wife on, and take trips with friends on... Make memories with.

Thanx folks- just needed you folks to babyshake my brain, cuz, I was losing perspective- all wrapped up in numbers, etc... Somehow, I lost the happy factor, that wow feeling when you turn the corner and see your bike, shining in the sun, all clean, and, done up in the way you (maybe, only you) want it. You all know what I'm talking about, and, honestly- it's a big part of why I ride. I just forgot it for a little while.

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders- my head is finally clear. It was almost too easy... Whew!

Dave
I have seen many other bikes with the radiators of course, and some are totally in your face and out of place. I don't feel that way about my vulcan's radiator at all. Many buy chrome covers (many styles to choose from) as did I, here's mine. (see pic) And after the engine guards were put on mine it basically unnoticeable.

And it seems like you are stuck on the Custom simply for the color? But all the amenities and accessories you are looking for are stock on the (Classic and LT) Vulcans. Could get on one of those much cheaper, and still mod it to your hearts content. Hell even for the money you saved you could paint it to your liking. Just a few thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It's NOT just the color, and, almost every post I've made refers to other things- not sure how you got color only, but, the Custom does have the cool spatial balance that the others also have- however, they are less noticeable. The gunfighter style seat shows off the teardrop of the tank, the uncovered forks highlight the pizza cutter wheel, and, the increased rake. I could also do red, or, silver (not available on customs though). Black is just to hard to keep clean-for me. Very Traditional though. Might do the Low & Mean radiator cover & chin spoiler- but, it's not a deal breaker for me. Also, I use my bags everyday, so, I may shop outside of the Kawasaki catalogue to find something hardsided, and, shaped more closely to the lines of the bike... Just thoughts so far. I also like a chrome covered windshield on a cruiser, so, I might do a more traditional one for that as well...
 

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It's NOT just the color, and, almost every post I've made refers to other things- not sure how you got color only, but, the Custom does have the cool spatial balance that the others also have- however, they are less noticeable. The gunfighter style seat shows off the teardrop of the tank, the uncovered forks highlight the pizza cutter wheel, and, the increased rake. I could also do red, or, silver (not available on customs though). Black is just to hard to keep clean-for me. Very Traditional though. Might do the Low & Mean radiator cover & chin spoiler- but, it's not a deal breaker for me. Also, I use my bags everyday, so, I may shop outside of the Kawasaki catalogue to find something hardsided, and, shaped more closely to the lines of the bike... Just thoughts so far. I also like a chrome covered windshield on a cruiser, so, I might do a more traditional one for that as well...
I totally understand. Just seemed like everything you wanted to do to customize the "Custom" comes stock on a Classic & LT. But you obviously like the thinner front wheel look too. I'm just the opposite on that matter. I also ditched the oem bags right off the bat and installed some lockable bags from Viking. They also follow the lines of the bike better than the oem ones did. Just to point out a few differences you may not now of. The Custom has pegs for the foot controls, and the Classic & LT have floor boards. Not sure how important that is to you? And don't forget the Drag Bars on the custom vs cruiser beach Bars on the Classic & LT. And as you mentioned the seat is different also. I haven't heard too much about the Custom seat but know for a fact that the Classic & LT seat leaves much to be desired. May want to consider an aftermarket seat as well. Good luck on finding and creating your ride my friend. You will not be disappointed on whatever Vulcan you may choose.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Please share pix of your bags- have not seen any that pulled me in yet. I want something plain (no rivets) and, shaped-yet, not too big for the bike. Even though I don't mind a large wi.dshield, I do like the drag bars, so, no matter what I get- I will probably cut it down a bit, to ensure that I get some air on my helmet. I will go with Kuryakyn switchwing pegs though.
 

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Please share pix of your bags- have not seen any that pulled me in yet. I want something plain (no rivets) and, shaped-yet, not too big for the bike. Even though I don't mind a large wi.dshield, I do like the drag bars, so, no matter what I get- I will probably cut it down a bit, to ensure that I get some air on my helmet. I will go with Kuryakyn switchwing pegs though.
Bags in my signature pic are my current Viking bags. Can't really complain I got em for $200 shipped to my door, and they lock. That was what I really needed. They are as big as the oem bags but look much better. They follow the lines of the rear fender. I don't really care for the flat top bags on these bikes. Many choices at http://www.vikingbags.com/

My only real complaint is that they won't support or service the locks on the bags. I couldn't even get spare keys. So basically I would have had to buy new bags if my lock had broke and i wanted it fixed. And I had a small issue with one of the locks which is how I found all this out. Turns out the key was just going into the lock too far. Put an o'ring on it to stop it from going in too far and it's been good since. All just food for thought. I would buy them again cuz it's a nice bag for decent cost.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
OK, that is very helpful- thank you, DeputyLoud! Since I've been waxing poetic about the bike, it's looks, colors & things visual- I've forgot to ask some basic modding questions to those in the know. But, I had to get away from the selection process to even consider any of the other things that must, should, can and want to be done going forward!

So, stock airbox mod, or, custom airbox (there are literally dozens of choices!), along with a completely de-baffled stock exhaust, in conjunction with a programmable EFI module (Dynojet Research, and others) will yield how many HP & how much torque?

Normally, it would in another thread, addressed by a different group of responders- but, maybe someone who has checked this thread out knows what the real numbers are. I'm sure that many owners, and, members of this forum have done these mods, and, have received the benefit of the change. But, I think that modding a 'stock' airbox & removing the baffles on the stock exhaust system may net VERY SIMILAR results to a custom airbox & fancy exhaust...

I am in the process of using the "SEARCH" function, which is my normal approach to learning more.
 
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