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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is a straight forward attempt to compare the likeness or differences of the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic and the 900 Custom. This is not an attempt to bash one or the other, just an honest assessment of the bikes we love to own and ride

First comparison question: If you have other comparison questions feel free to ask in this thread

How does the Cusom compare to the Classic (handling qualities) in low speed maneuvers?
 

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I have not rode both 9's but I have owned both "classic" and "custom" style bikes. The biggest difference for me is the front tire. I do not like the skinny front tire. I am more of a fan of the "classic" big front tire.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have not rode both 9's but I have owned both "classic" and "custom" style bikes. The biggest difference for me is the front tire. I do not like the skinny front tire. I am more of a fan of the "classic" big front tire.
Does the front tire on the Custom hinder manuevering at lower speeds compared to the more traditional front tire of the Classic?
 

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I have been riding for about 15 years or so. I have owned several bikes (standards, older sport bikes, and now my Custom 900; my first true cruiser). Personally I have not had any handling issues with the skinny front tire. I was a little apprehensive about aggressive riding at first (because of that skinny tire), but after throwing it around in a few twisties, no issues at all. It will never handle like a sport bike, but it handles very well none the less. I have ridden my friends ninja, another friends V-Strom (obviously both handle much better than the custom, but that is what they are designed to do).

I cannot compare it to a 900 classic (since I have never ridden one) but overall I like the Custom. It feel extremely stable and confident in curves. I have ridden a friends Harley sportster and the handling on it was nowhere near as good as the Custom, but that might just be because I am used to the Custom.

I think when we try to answer the "how well does your bike handle" question, we need to look at experience, familiarity with the bike, riders skill level, type of tires, etc. So, having said that (with stock tires) my Custom handles very well, including low speed.

Other comparisons (besides the looks, which is a matter of personal opinion) I believe the Custom sits you higher up by an inch than the classic, and the footpegs would feel different from the floorboards.

I do recall reading that the rake and trail are longer on the custom, thus it may not handle as well as a classic, but again, I have no problems or hesitations throwing it around hard in the twisties. Could be because I am such a great rider though..;)

Matt
 

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With parking lot maneuvers it responds quicker and the bars are easier to turn. You tend to feel more of the finer bumps and cracks in the road than you do on a "classic". We have a lot of rougher and dirtier roads (a lot of gravel and other things) and that skinny front tire feels swirly but will still handle fine. They are not "Bad" characteristics, just not what I like riding around.
 

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I have ridden both and find that the custom handling is a little easier as the surface area of the front tyre is smaller and thus in theory be easier to turn. This could possibly be because im used to riding a Virago 1100 and the tyre size is similar to that of the custom.

The classic to me is a totally different ride due to the position of the bars, changes the seating position considerably which i find more comfortable and natural than that of the custom. Ive only had the bike for about 2 weeks now, so I cant profess to know the huge differences other than what ive experienced in a short space of time.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I own and ride a Custom and love it. However, I have never ridden a Classic. Compared to other more traditional bikes, (even larger ones like the Yamaha Stratoliner my son owned) I find the Custom does not perform as well in very slow speed ,like firure 8.

I may need handlebar risers (short at 5'7") and a larger front tire like the Metzeler 90/90/2. Not sure that would make any difference but it sounds good.
 

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With parking lot maneuvers it responds quicker and the bars are easier to turn. You tend to feel more of the finer bumps and cracks in the road than you do on a "classic". We have a lot of rougher and dirtier roads (a lot of gravel and other things) and that skinny front tire feels swirly but will still handle fine. They are not "Bad" characteristics, just not what I like riding around.
That is one thing I forgot to mention as well...with that skinny front tire, you feel lots of bumps. Plus those "tar snake" asphalt repairs you see on highways are very inviting for the Customs' skinny front tire to find its way into. The tire (and bike) just want to follow those, and That is very annoying.

 

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That is one thing I forgot to mention as well...with that skinny front tire, you feel lots of bumps. Plus those "tar snake" asphalt repairs you see on highways are very inviting for the Customs' skinny front tire to find its way into. The tire (and bike) just want to follow those, and That is very annoying.

We have a lot of those pavement snakes here since most of our roads are either on a creek bank or on the side of a mountain. The ground tends to give way and the creek/drop off side of the road tends to have plenty of long cracks in them.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That is one thing I forgot to mention as well...with that skinny front tire, you feel lots of bumps. Plus those "tar snake" asphalt repairs you see on highways are very inviting for the Customs' skinny front tire to find its way into. The tire (and bike) just want to follow those, and That is very annoying.

I agree,very annoying!
 

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There is one thing that I did like about the "custom" style bikes I have had (1100 vstar and 600 VLX) is that the rear tire changes are usually easier since you do not have to either jack the bike up to the moon or take the rear fender off.
 

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I find exactly the same thing with the classic. The tyre tends to follow the grooves and cracks of the road surface. Perhaps the make of tyre or something to do with pressure etc...
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
I find exactly the same thing with the classic. The tyre tends to follow the grooves and cracks of the road surface. Perhaps the make of tyre or something to do with pressure etc...
At low speeds, downshifting to low gear (second or first), and at low rpm, it sometimes feels like the rear tire wants to squirm out from under me. I have the original factory stock 900 Custom with 3,000 miles on the original tires. At over 100 degrees in this Texas heat the asphalt roads get really slick. I keep my rear tire inflated at 38 psi and the front at 36 psi. I only ride one up and weigh less than 175 lbs. I am thinking of lowering the rear tire pressure for the hotter days riding. This usually occurs starting into very low speed turns, so I suspect it is the nature of the beast.
 

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Differential

I have an 08 Custom and have not ridden the classic, but I do have an 06 1500 classic which lines up quite the same. The rake on the Custom seems a little different, but I like the added dive in the corners. As for accessories, if you want a luggage rack for a Custom, you will have a hard time finding one. If you want one for a Classic, just about any corner dealer has it in stock. I put the Classic rack on my Custom for a road trip with my little bro just before he bought his Nomad. It fit with some creative use of the spacer kits that came with my V2K rack and the Classic Rack. There must be a little bit different mounting system under the fender, narrower maybe?:confused: I think the Kawi 9 is one of the best designed bikes for the money and fits an absolute multitude of riders. This Forum is an indication of the popularity and diversity of buyers for sure:D
 

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I have not ridden a custom but I own a classic.

I have ridden or owned... Ninjas 250-550-600, Harley V-Rod, Honda ST1100, V-Strom, GSR 750, and a throw back Kawi 1000 green machine.

honestly the classic holds its own but isn't going to match the custom for handling, IMO given the different setup, however I will say my classic seems to love to follow damn grooves in the road as mentioned with the custom so I don't know the small tire thing fits completely.

still all in all this is my favorite bike of all those I listed:D
 

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for me, the difference is mostly the look.
i dont really like driver floor board and the custom has somewhat forward controls(still not not far enough for me)
i don't like the straight handle bar from the custom, i'm debating switching to either apes or bigboy handlebar
i love the aluminum wheels from the custom, and i dont like wire wheels like the custom(too much maintnance)
for me front wheel has to be wide, really wide, i think a 240 in the front would look awesome
rear fender on the cusotm is just plain ugly, the one from the classic is not much better,i'm probably gonna build a new one this winter.
the seat on a custom look better than one on a classic
 

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At low speeds, downshifting to low gear (second or first), and at low rpm, it sometimes feels like the rear tire wants to squirm out from under me. I have the original factory stock 900 Custom with 3,000 miles on the original tires. At over 100 degrees in this Texas heat the asphalt roads get really slick. I keep my rear tire inflated at 38 psi and the front at 36 psi. I only ride one up and weigh less than 175 lbs. I am thinking of lowering the rear tire pressure for the hotter days riding. This usually occurs starting into very low speed turns, so I suspect it is the nature of the beast.
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It would make sense to deflate a bit in hot weather as your tyre will expand. Have had the same problem when I went through one of the passes here in S.A
Keep a tyre pressure gauge with you and see what the difference in pressure is between a hot and cooler day...I'm sure it will be noticeable
 

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I have an '07 Classic and an '08 Custom. The Custom is my daily driver and the Classic is used for 2-up riding. The Custom is quicker in the turns and more nimble at slow speeds. However, that being said, the Classic is no slouch at slow speed manuvers, either. I have no problems in the parking lots on the Classic. I have Metzler 880's on the Classic, and they help the bike handle very nicely. I love 'em both, and that's why I have my '08 Vulcan 2000 for sale. I like to say I am transitioning from a Corvette to 2 Miatas!
 
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