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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking for my first bike. I grew up riding dirt bikes and have ridden all of my brothers crotch rockets raging from 500s to R1s. Oh also ridden a sportster a time or two. But I've narrowed down my search to the Vulcan S and the 900 custom. I'm looking for some pros cons of the two so I can make a final decision! I plan on doing mainly city riding with the ocasional 2-3 hour highway trip to visit family, 2 up with my wife. Any input opinions pictures of your bikes would be much appreciated. Thanks!!
 

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Well...wow...I was just going to sit back and watch all of the comments roll in...then I figured I jump in with a few comments...then I decided - no - just sit back and wait...and now, here we are!

I own a 2012 Custom SE (Orange) so I may be biased.

Asthetics: That's all about you. What do you like? The Custom is more of a chopper style...more raked out in the front...maybe not so "compact" as the "S". Some don't like the tall-skinny front tire on the Custom...I do...but some don't. The "S" rear fender looks better to me - fits the flow of the bike and tire better. I absolutely HAD TO lower my Custom - I couldn't cope with the fender gap in the rear. I also HAD TO remove the Gawd-Awful rear turn signals & license plate holder on the Custom. The stock mufflers on the Custom are a tad long for my liking...but I have not changed those out yet. The triangular headlight on the "S" is kinda cool. The rad surround on the "S" makes no effort to "hide" the rad...whereas the Custom attempts to tuck the rad between the frame and disguise it a bit. I also HAD TO change the rear tire on my Custom - the 180 was too skinny for me - I went with the 230 mod and I like the looks of it.

Drive Train: Parallel twin vs. V-twin. I haven't ridden the "S" but I'll bet it's something like my buddies Triumph America - zippy and smooth - smoother than a V-Twin and smoother than my Custom. Similar power figures and 1/4 mile times. The "S" has a 6-speed tranny whereas the Custom has a 5-speed. I expect the V-Twin "might" be a tad more buzzy at higher RPM - but I have no numbers on that. I also have a Cobra PowerPro Fi2000 fuel processor on my bike with a Cobra PowerFlo intake. I think the power of my Custom is "adequate" (for a 900). I also have the rear pulley upgrade on my bike - you can see the theme here - I have added or changed several things on my Custom.

Weight: The Custom is heavier @ 610lbs vs. the "S" at 492lbs wet. I expect you'd notice that. I expect the "S" to be a bit more nimble - partly the lower weight and partly the less-rake on the front forks, comparatively speaking.

Fuel Capacity: 20 litres (5.3 US gals) for the Custom - 14 litres (3.7 gals) for the "S".

Brakes: The "S" has an ABS option, if you care about that. I don't.

Seat: I cannot speak for the "S" seat, and the Custom seat is fine for me - but loads of people complain about the VN900 seat...for any longer than 1-hour jaunts.

Other: The "S" can be easily "fitted" to the rider (3-settings, IIRC) where the Custom's pegs and controls are set. Yes, you can add risers to the Custom (oh, did I mention that I added 2" pull-back risers too?), if you desire. Moving the pegs on a Custom would be a bit more work.

FINAL WORD: So, have you sat on them both? Ridden either? Dreamt about either or both?

Purchase what you like...I think they are both fine machines...I just happen to be one of those people who cannot leave "well enough alone" and have to fiddle with my machines - performance & aesthetic...

PS: I'd post some pics, but I don't have any really current ones...maybe later...
 

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I have both bikes. I'll give you a proper pro/con review later this evening or in the morning. TL;DR both are fantastic bikes, both do 2up well but they are apples and oranges by comparison imo.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks shadow! I've done a ton of research on both. I currently have the specs for both pulled up on my phone,I have for the past 4 or 5 days actually. Lol. I like the looks of the custom a bit more in some ways. But I think maybe the S's nimble nature may be more what I'm looking for. Not really sure. Which is why I'm asking for people opinions. As I said I'm from a sports bike background mostly so that's what I'm comfortable with.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Alloy_gt looking forward to your pro con assesment! I've not sat on either yet. I've done hours of reseaarch and watched countless videos on both bikes. I'll probably go this week and sit on both.
 

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Racer117 appears to have both bikes too...I find that interesting...people who own both will have some good insight for you. The fact that folks have BOTH bikes tells you something (maybe). They must be quite different rides. Go to it...
 

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I have never ridden an S or a Custom 900. But I have owned a 2006 Boulevard C50, a 2012 Vulcan 900 Classic, a 2014 Harley 1200 Sportster Custom, a 2015 Harley FXDB (Street Bob,) And now I ride a 2016 Vulcan 900 Classic LT. (There's a story to each of those bikes and why I got them lol)

The Boulevard was a fine bike but had shaft issues. The Sportster was beautiful to look at, but way too small. (The engine was fine, the bike was about the size of a Schwinn.) The 2012 Vulcan was a keeper that got away. I still love the Candy Arabian Red color, best color of all the bikes I've owned. The 2015 FXDB was not fun to ride at all, something was off with the balance it always felt like it was falling over. At least I didn't enjoy it at all. And now with the 2016 Vulcan LT I am enjoying the ride again.

You can't go wrong with either Kawasaki, but the 900 is a proven winner all around, the S has less of a track record so far, but seems to be a winner as well. If your over 6 foot and over 200 pounds definitely get the 900. :)
 

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with a sports bike background, i'd say you would like the vulcan S
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the link. I've read through that whole thread a few times now. Not much in there in comparison to the Vulcan S though. Which will be remedied in the near future :)
 

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I posted this in your duplicate thread in the Vulcan S forum.

OP, you need to consider the final drive of both bikes and how much time you want to invest for their maintenance. The Vulcan S is chain driven and will require at least weekly cleaning and lubing. The 900 is belt driven; thus, no maintenance required other than periodic tension adjustment. Chain maintenance can be a pain and is messy. No matter how "slingless" the lube is, it will sling getting your garage floor messy and the rear wheel messy. Using a rear stand help tremendously; however, depending on your confidence, a helper may be required while lifting rear wheel. Something else to consider is when the chain or belt fails. The belt will simply fly off and cause minimal damage or none at all. The chain has the potential to bind up in the sprockets and could cause the rear wheel to lock up possibly causing an accident.

Just some food for thought. Chain maintenance alone is the reason I moved away from the Versys and back to the 900.

EDIT: The vibration on the 900 isn't as bad as folks say it is. I think the severity of the vibration depends on the rider and their sensitivity to it. You can change the pulley's to lower the final gear RPM to reduce the vibration further. It will always be there. The other day, I rolled up on an older HD Sportster. I kid you not, the front tire was bouncing on the pavement as it sat there waiting for the light to change. After seeing that, I appreciate the milder vibration my 900 has.
 

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Perhaps I am immune to vibration. I don't really notice any vibration from my 900 at all and I've rode/owned many bikes in my lifetime. It's unfair to compare a HD to a Vulcan 900. I've owned two HD's in the past (Sportster/Fat Bob). It always felt like sitting in the dentist chair riding them. They're more for looking/bragging versus riding/running.

I'm sorta partial now. I love the 900 very much...all aspects of it. Heck it even tops my custom chopper I once owned that was built with a Honda 750 four, and I loved that thing!

I think it's important to consider all of the aftermarket stuff that is available for the 900 if you're into that kind of thing. Lord knows I am.

I think going out and riding both of them is a great idea.

Good luck with your hunt for a great bike. (IMHO the 900 is the one)
 

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I, like yourself, grew up on dirt bikes and did a ton of research before buying my first "real" bike which was the S. Unlike yourself, I've not ridden much on a sport bike or a naked bike.

So I'm gonna review each bike then hit the comparison. This will probably be windy, lol.

The S:

First and foremost this bike is a blast after break in and with a real set of tires. During break in she's a boring bike and with the factory rubbers she's down right untrustworthy when being pushed as the factory tires have a lot of slip in corners. I swapped them for a set of pilot road 4 GT's and she I whole new bike on both dry and wet roads. Best purchase I made for her.

The engine is, as we know, a modified 650 ninja motor. As such she's a high revving girl for a cruiser. Most of her power is made above 4500 with peak being closer to 7000 and she carries well from that 4500 all the way to the 9900 redline. Top end of the powerband is only mildly buzzy. Aside from the twitchy sport bike like throttle response when rolling onto and off of the throttle she is incredibly smooth.

She's a fairly light bike and her weight is carried petty low and centered well making her very nimble. She's easy to move around without her running should you need to. The way her exhaust is set up allows the use of a bike stand provided you add spools to the swing arms.

Her suspension is adequate. There isn't much travel but what travel there is tends to be enough when coupled with proper preloading to make for a smooth ride unless you're facing rough roads. There isn't any floaty feeling in it unless you soften up the preload just like there isn't any unnecessary stiffness unless you add too much preload.

The drive was mentioned above. It's a chain drive which requires heavier maintenence but with ability to use a rear stand it makes the task easier (I bought mine at harbor freight as have many S owners). If you're like me then the weekly ritual is enjoyable even if it is messy. The chain cleaning and lubing time for me is also a chance to inspect the bike more closely as well as detail her.

The seat certainly leaves something to be desired. After 45 minutes or so its time for a tailbone beak. The seating position itself is more stiff and rigid feeling to me than my 900 classic. The bars are relatively straight and that's great if you're riding aggressively but for cruising I prefer the swept back design of the 900 classic. The 900 custom I'd imagine, from pictures anyway, is somewhere in the middle of the S and the 900 classic. With the Ergo fit system singe of that may be able to be altered. For reference I'm 6'1" and roughly 200lbs and use the factory mid reach setup.

The passenger seat is about the same according the Mrs. She's needing a break about the same time I am usually a little sooner since my saddle is more broken in than her cushion.

For two up riding some will tell you it's terrible and that the bike hates it. I'll tell you those people don't know the bike then. While two up on the S is more crowded than on something like the 900 classic its still easily done. The Mrs, who may kill me for saying this, is 5'8" and 200(ish) so that puts the two of us together just over 400lbs and that doesn't count gear or saddle bags and supplies in those. The S hails is around flawlessly. You simply need to keep the rpms where the power is. Riding at 3k is going to be terrible but riding at 5-6k as a cruising rpm range is perfect. It carries well there and still leaves plenty of roll on power for curves or passing.

In the twisties she's ridiculously fun. With plenty of space to lean courtesy of break away pegs and a power range that gives ample room to roll on in the curves she can be a docile as you'd like or as aggressive as you'd like. I can push her as hard as I want and she still begs for more. This is both a pro and con for me. I ride with a co-worker who rides a ninja and I've put my S in places and through the twisties fast enough that he couldn't touch me. However I'd wager a lot of that is the rider as I have more experience than he does. I'd also wager I could push harder and further with his ninja than with the S so I'd take that with a grain of salt. The point of that is that the S can be wicked fun for someone who knows the road, their ride and has zero willpower when it comes to adrenaline which is where the con is. I push it like a sport bike when I'm solo. The whole reason I bought the S was to avoid a sport bike (because I know me) but have plenty of power for two up riding with the Mrs coupled with the fact that my budget was $7500 > and I picked the S up with 1 mile on her for $4500 because the dealer couldn't move them.

*In the city she's great as well. Her lighter weight makes navigating stop and go traffic, tiny side streets, parking lots and cross town commutes a breeze. My problem here stems from a heavy throttle hand and high adrenaline addiction as I get bored in town and tend to flick her back and forth in my lane.

All around she's a solid bike and due to her light weight, nimble nature and my lack of adrenaline control, the S is the bike my wife is taking over when she gets her license and that's the reason we bought the 900.

The 900 (classic):

This bike is great as well but it's a very different bike. I bought this one used with 23k on it and the previous owner for some reason stuck with Dunlop 404's. So even without pushing the bike in a lean there is still slippage. I can't wait to change these out next season for a set of 888 white walls.

The engine here is a v-twin as opposed to the parallel twin in the S. Its power is made much lower in the rpm range and has a much shorter rpm range as well. Without a tach is guesstimate that power starts around 2k sand pulls solidly until around 5k with a 5500-6k redline. At higher rpms for this bike gets pretty buzzy but as mentioned above that's a relative thing to each rider. Coming from a parallel twin its really noticeable but if you shift when the buzz starts (roughly around 5k) its a moot point.

Regardless of buzz there's plenty of power for this noticeable heavier bike. She's more lumbering in the ride and more cumbersome to move around without the bike running. The weight is also notice when stopping and when making tighter maneuvers but you get used to it and it stops being as noticeable.

Suspension wise its more of the same. Its an adequate suspension that allows for preloading but it's more taxing to adjust than the S. Where the S's adjustment is in the open the 900 has its rear spring tucked inside.

The drive is a belt drive and this will be my first belt drive. So I'm feeling like I'm missing something out forgetting something without my weekly chain gang ritual.

The weekly is a bit different with the 900 as you can't just toss it up on a spool stand to do your work. You'll need a jack or lift (unless I'm missing something). I picked up a jack from harbor freight that I caught in sale. I've actually found the jack easier but I worry about the front to back balance when working on her but I digress.

Seat wise its more of the same again. This could be because there's 23k miles of saddle time on the 900 vs the 5k I on the S in the 10 months I've had her so I'd take that with a grain of salt as well. Passenger seat is slightly better according to the Mrs but mostly because there's more seat on the 900.

Two up on the 900 is noticeably more comfortable. It isn't so much that the ride is any better but more the ergonomics of it. The S almost forces you and your passenger into a mild tuck position whereas the 900 is more of a lounge position for both parties.

Overall the 900 is also a solid bike. You can enjoy the curves, albeit at a less spirited pace but enjoyable just the same. In the city she certainly makes use of the power being in the lower rpm ranges but stop and go traffic and parking lot maneuvers etc require a but more effort.
 

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My opinion/experience:

I live in a rural area with lots of country roads to carve. If I wanna go solo and ride the adrenaline wave I'll take the S every time. She's a very strong, quick and playful machine that with excellent tires is happy to be pushed to peg dragging leans and still ask for more.

Conversely if I wanna simply take more leisurely ride and cruise those same back roads I'll take the 900 because ultimately to me it feels more comfortable.

It's for this same reason that if I'm going on a long ride or I'm going to be out all day I'll take the 900. While there isn't any real difference seat time wise in terms of comfort the more relaxed riding position coupled with extra space makes for better long rides.

However, if I lived in a more metropolis styled area the S would be the choice. Its lighter weight makes it a more nimble and easily controlled bike at low speeds. That said I took my wife out on the 900 to our local MSF course and completed the course, the dreaded box and all, on the 900. Everything but the box I did with her on the bike. So the 900 is still capable of those low speed maneuvers but it requires more effort and rider control.

I haven't touched on highway riding our distance riding yet but that's because there isn't much to talk about. The S is far smoother at 75+ than the 900 in terms of get up and go at that speed and the vibrations felt. However, the riding position plays in here as well. The foot position particularly. On the S you'll find pegs that hold your foot at roughly a 45 degree angle against the wind. This creates a fair amount of fatigue after a while that can be felt in your legs if the ride is long enough. The 900 classic has floorboards so there is no fatigue there. This could all be individualized based on the rider so I'd also take this with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, my suggestion would be to sit on each, test ride if possible and think able how and where you'll be riding the most. The 900, in classic form anyway, is more about cruising and longer rides but wasn't really propose built for any one thing. Instead it seems to do all things well.

The S on the other hand seems to be a purpose built city commuter for those who want to occasionally corner carve. It can do the longer rides and two up riding but it does those fairly well while handling city commuting and corner carving really well.

Hope this helped, assuming you made it this far without your eyes bleeding or falling asleep, lol.

-Alloy
 

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I'm not sure you'll be happy with either of TBH. You spoke of coming from a sports bike background & neither the 900 or the S are going to be a match for the sporties. Both are cruisers, built to ride at slower speeds that allow you to appreciate your surroundings, not to flash through in a blur. I've owned loads of different bikes over the years & I can truly say I love riding my 900 Custom at, what I used to refer to, a snails pace. It's a peaceful ride, maybe not what you're after.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
All really good info alloy_GT I appreciate the length of the post and the detail! I was hanging on every word!! :) I'll be sure to let ya know what I got and how I like it!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Paul55 I'm not looking for a sports bike because I don't want the temptation To be stupid. Most of the people who i know that have them are Stunters or ride them reckless. Having a cruiser styled bike gives me an excuse to say "sorry can't do That"
 
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