Kawasaki Vulcan Forum banner

1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,
I posted something similar on the 900 forum but figured I'd ask here for some different opinions regarding the 650 S as it's one of the two I'm obsessing over to get in the next month as my first bike.

So, brief synopsis of me: I'm 5'7", 160lbs and will be riding a lot doubled up with my wife who is 4'11 and 105. Most of the riding out here in PA is through country-like roads with the obvious major routes. It's a hard choice as there are a lot of posts out there, but I feel more of them are aimed towards either bigger or more experienced riders.

What I have gathered on each, and PLEASE correct me if I am wrong is as follows:

900:
-Smooth ride when on longer cruises due to size and seats
-Ample space for two riders and saddles
-Ample power for two riders
-Handles really well when more experienced. Have heard the exact opposite though that it is slow in turns and a bit more cumbersom
-Heavier bike. I'm not sure if working out regularly will help with this(some say it might what with my smaller size) in anyway aside from if it goes down. 600lbs is heavy either way.
-Lots of used bikes and after market pieces due to time on market
-Large fuel capacity
-Belt driven so weekly maintenance wont be as involved/messy
-Has a more classic cruiser look and feel to it. This of course is kind of personal.
-Should replace stock tires. Seems to be the recommendation on both bikes

650 S:
-Does okay longer cruises, but seats tend to be uncomfortable
-Conflicting reports for two riders, but I get the feeling our sizes wont be much of an issue.
-Seems a little more up close when doubling up, but may not be an issue due to our size
-Seems to be more of a "fun" ride as it handles tighter due to the size and engine.
-Lighter bike, so quicker stops, accel and handling
-Used bike market is slim with prices making it that you may as well buy a 2015 new
-Smaller fuel capacity but excellent mileage so it evens out
-Chain driven so a bit messier to maintain. Not sure which has the benefit here though.
-Bobber look, so a bit more sporty but still has a nice look, albeit different than a classic cruiser
-same with the tires. Seems to be more heavily recommended on this bike.
-More beginner friendly. Seems very subjective as some people recommend light and lower power/torque for first time riders.
-Nice dash display that makes it easy to read at all times, especially on sunny days

Again, this is all that I've digested that seems unbiased (though of course I am sure some has slipped in there). I'm not expecting too much to be said on the 900, as this is the 650 S form, so please...any thoughts, experiences or hell, pictures to show off would be really appreciated. It's unfortunate that I seem to love both bikes and know I'll only be able to get one (this year).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
63 Posts
This is a very hard question to answer because we are all different in size, experience, and what we think looks good. (style of bike).
Now for what you said about your size, weight, experience, and 2 up riding, I think the 650S is a better choice because of its, size, weight, ease of fitting to each rider, forgiveness to inexperienced riders and for some reason being liked by the experienced rider.

In my case I'm 6 foot and weight 165. I ride a lot with my wife also and she weights 130. I have the shock set on the second notch and it works fine for me. The 1 thing that change this bike from liking it a lot to luving it was the mini apes I put on. The ride is so much nicer now to me. I have ridden a lot of bikes models, sizes, shapes, and makes of bikes. Thinking back one of my favorite bikes was a 1982 Kawasaki kz750 ltd. Man I luved that bike.

http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/model/kawasaki/kawasaki_z750ltd%2080.htm
I came to the 650S from a Harley Street Glide last year that I was tired of muscling through the city all the time. LOL.
My first street bike was a Honda CB125. It was fine to learn on but got small fast. I have a buddy, his first bike was a 1987 Honda Shadow 1100 and he still has that same bike 31 years later. He never bought another. (yes he rides it, LOL)

My opinion is to test ride what your thinking about buying, when you decide and buy what ever, dont second guess yourself. After some time if your not happy with your bike trade it in, sell it, buy something different. Good luck, have fun, be safe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
After owning my 650s for about a month now I love everything about it except it does feel a little cramped with me at 5 11, I wish the seat were pushed back a slight amount. I had the double up seat installed when I got it but after looking at it, sure does look cramped if you had another passenger. On older gen 900 the passenger seat looks a little bigger/plushier than the new gen, but still not the best for double up riding IMO. If you do alot of cruising that way maybe a more comfy cruiser with full back rest for the seat?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,037 Posts
For two up riding I would most definitely go with the 900 over the S. It's just a more comfortable bike for 2 up riding. The S is great if you are Solo but has it's limitations especially for 2 up riding. Also if this is your First bike I would advise against two up riding at least in the beginning. Worry about getting the skills down on your own. Two up riding does change things and if you aren't very experienced I would wait until you get some miles under the belt especially on a new bike. Good Luck with your decision.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
507 Posts
I haven't ridden an S, so I have no qualifications to compare the two bikes, but I do have a lot of miles on a 900, and more on other bikes. Neither I nor anyone else can really pick the right bike for you, nor can you pick the right bike for you from a distance. Once you've done your MSF course and gotten your endorsement, go ride both of them. Here are a few thoughts, easily worth half what you're paying for them:

In general, as you seem to have figured out, small bikes are nicer for scooting around town on relatively short trips or for lots of high-speed twisties. Big bikes are nicer for the longer, straighter-line trips. There's no bike that's a 10 out of 10 for both -- every bike is a compromise. That said, I ride the twisties in the Cascade Mountains all the time on my 900, and I haven't felt impeded.

Fuel capacity isn't an important value, but it relates to one, and that's range. While the S holds less fuel, it also will burn less. I fuel my 900 at around 160 - 170 miles on the trip meter, which is the only reliable fuel gauge on most any bike. Maybe an S owner can chime in with their approximate range, but I wouldn't be very surprised if it is a similar number.

Any bike's performance in corners has a whole lot more to do with the skill level of the rider than it does with the bike itself. Lots of MSF instructors around here ride big ol' Gold Wings, which are double the displacement of the 900, have a high seat, and a ton of plastic luggage hanging off 'em, but they get them around the tightest parts of the course well inside the cones with no problem while the inexperienced students flail on even the Rebel 250's most of the schools use.

Speaking of seat height, that S sits an inch higher than the 900, and that not only affects handling but, more day to day, whether you can comfortably reach the ground with both feet when you're stopped at a light or stop sign. So that "classic cruiser look" isn't just an esthetic choice -- the bikes have that shape for a reason.

The 900 is heavier, but that doesn't make it particularly harder to ride. (It WILL feel like a BIG bike at first if all you've ridden is one of those 250's at the school.) It does make it a whole lot harder to walk backwards out of a downhill parking spot though -- that's a lesson every rider learns early. (Unless they're Gold Wing riders -- Wings have a reverse gear. And a heater. Not kidding.) Picking up a dropped bike is quite possible, even for folks your wife's size -- it's a matter of technique. Have your MSF instructor go over it for you. That said, the object of the game is, obviously, don't drop it.

Replace the tires? What's that all about? If you're even hazily fantasizing about riding either bike at the limit of the tires, you really need to sit yourself down for a heart-to-heart chat -- once you get lots of miles, lots of training and practice, and go off to race school, THEN you could think about riding at the limit under controlled conditions. I know there are all kinds of riders out there who think a highway is a race track, but they're idiots. One of my guiding principles is, "Try not to be an idiot."

Finally, I'll echo IndyTom both about far preferring the 900 for two-up and very much about NOT riding two-up until you have at least a strong season of riding under your belt. I'd throw in a recommendation that after you have that strong season, you also do the MSF's advanced rider course. That second body really changes the handling of the bike, even on a big bike -- and neither of these bikes would really qualify as a "big" bike. Even "little" stuff like stopping at a light or walking the bike along a few feet at a time in a traffic jam changes with that second person on there, and I can pretty much guarantee your wife will not be pleased if you dump her on the asphalt.

Hey, welcome to the forums and to the sport -- keep that shiny side up!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
I’d definitely go with the 900 for two-up. I have an 800 Classic and it is set up for two, with backrest, saddle bags and all. It’s more comfortable than the “S”. And feels roomier for two people. I bought the “S” with the intention of it being set up for only me and to scoot around town on. People use the “S” for 2-up and with bags and that’s fine, but to me it looks too cluttered and over burdened. It has the power, yes, but it’s not a relaxed kind of power, if that’s what your interested in. I always feel like I’m heading for the finish line, Lol! I can’t see the rear suspension being compliant enough either, with a little over 3” of travel. Just my 2 cents. Like other posters mentioned, make sure you do that MSF course and get some riding experience before 2-upping! Take care and be careful out there!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,111 Posts
I had a friend that was 4'9" and weighed in at 100lbs IF she was wearing jewelry, had just eaten, and was overdressed. My 750, which like the 650 S, is also physically smaller than a 900, and it acted like it didn't even know she was back there.

Regardless, for longer rides, the 900 will be more comfortable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
I've only ridden the S alone and it is a fun machine but as far as 2 up on it i am not sure. I think as most everyone here has said do get more experience before you try it, i did 2 up myself when i was a beginner on a cbr250 i got cocky and thought i was so great at riding it'd be no problem, i was wrong lol it felt so much different and it was hard, now i know its a completely different bike but the point is with a second person the bike changed completely.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
50 Posts
If you are going to spend the majority of your time 2 up then the 900. But if the opposite is true go with the 650S. The S is a much more modern bike and the performance shows. I am 64 years old and it is the most fun of any bike I have ever ridden (Don't tell my Goldwing). 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, anti lock brakes which are a life saver and light weight makes it so fun and safe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
288 Posts
So, brief synopsis of me: I'm 5'7", 160lbs and will be riding a lot doubled up with my wife who is 4'11 and 105.
In Texas, with 100 miles or more between cities, you don't see either the 900 or the 650S on the Hi-Ways. Nothing but big road bikes. Period.

Having said that, and with your above quote as your stated purpose, the bigger bike, in this case the VN900 would be the obvious choice.

I have a VN900C and I limit it to a radius of 75 miles away from my home. For trips further away, I take a much larger road bike that I have.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
225 Posts
I was cross shopping the 900 Custom before picking up the S. I was dead set on the 900 until I saw the S. 2-up was never a consider as my wife will not touch the bike. If I even thought I’d ever do 2-up, I would not have gotten the S. If your girlfriend is going to be on the back with you, and you want her to feel comfortable, I cannot in good faith recommend the S, regardless of how much I like it for my style of riding.
 

·
Premium Member, BOTM Winner, June 2016
Joined
·
639 Posts
I would recommend the Vulcan S as a first bike, simply because it's so nimble and lightweight.

But if you're going to be riding 2-up, then the 900.

Why the Vulcan S for a first bike? Backing the bike up is an awkward experience for a while and had I not had such a small bike initially, I would have solid dropped that thing on the pavement if it were any heavier. Also, I had a few close encounters on corners that were saved because I had could push it a little more. I'm glad I had one as my first bike.

Also, I did 700+ miles recently on the 650 in one day and I was good for at least 5hrs. After that, it got wearisome. Up to that point, though, it was really fun.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top