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Hi all,

I rode a small street bike for about 4 years 30 years ago, and now that the kids are in college I am getting back into biking. My first inclination was to go smallish to get back into it, since my old bike was a Suzuki GT 185! It was way better than a moped, but.... However, after sitting on larger bikes and feeling how well balanced they are and realizing I want to take some trips, I started thinking bigger. Then I read and read, and started thinking even bigger. Read some more, and thought bigger. You probably get the picture.

I am not worried about size affecting my ability to get back into it. I'm not concerned about the safety issue or my experience hampering the ability to handle most of the bigger bikes. The issue is what bike do I want.

What I'm looking for most is riding through backroads to see country, and maybe commuting. However, there will be times I want to hit the road and get there, which means 70-80 mph.

I fell in love with the Vulcan 900 Classic LT. Love the looks. It seems like a compromise bike that will be great for back roads and adequate for occasional jaunts at higher freeway speeds. I'm thinking about buying a 2014 I found. Love the looks, love the feel. But...

My concern is whether I will wish I had a bigger bike. I've read all about the high RPMs on this bike at 65+, and I understand that this is part of the design for this engine. I've read all about the mods (e.g., the pulleys) --- my concern there is that the engineers geared the bike a particular way for a reason. I guess I worry that these mods might bog it down a bit starting out. All that said, the vast majority of my riding will be through back roads where 50-65 (and less) will feel great.

The long and the short of it is that I'm hemming and hawing about whether I want to go bigger. Here's my question. How many of you 900 owners who spend, say, 10% or more of your riding time on freeways with cars going 70-80 wish you had a bigger bike? If you would stick with your choice at 10%, how high would the percent of freeway time have to go before you would want a bigger bike?

Thanks for any help,
Dan
 

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I know this is not what you want to hear but those are questions about opinions. The only way you are going to tell is ride them and see what you like.

The physical size of the 900 is anything from small and if you can handle it you can handle several other "Larger" bikes. "Larger" as in bikes with larger displacement motors. Personally I like to go big or go home. I like my big bikes and will ride them until I can't any more. If you have your licenses then I would hit dealers and play the games with the salesmen to get a couple test rides on different size bikes. Odds are you won't be able to do this at anything but Harley and Victory Dealers, but some Metric dealers will.

I can tell you first hand it took me buying a few bikes to really figure out what was best for me. I have had all the ones in my signature line plus 3 other that were my wife's. So I have ridden on the road a few bikes between (smallest) a 125cc Kawasaki Eliminator up to (largest) 2000cc Vulcan Classic.
 

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I ride secondary roads every Saturday I can, usually 125- 200 miles per trip, 6-8k miles per year. For me the 900 is great, most roads are 40-65 mph. But I will often take the 400 hwy from Atlanta up to the mountains about an hour @75mph. If I were doing a Lot of long distance interstate riding I would look for a bigger bike, but I am happy with the 900 based on my riding.

I replaced the tires with Michelin Commander 2 170/80 rear which corrected the speedo and lowered the revs a little at hwy speeds. I use balancing beads and don't have any uncomfortable vibration at 75 mph, just a little blur in the mirrors.

The bike is inexpensive to buy, run and maintain, smooth and reliable, lots of customizations options available or just fine as stock (except the seat).

My wife asks me if I want a bigger bike like a Harley and I so no, I am happy with my 9.
 

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I'm on the interstate about 80% of the time I'm riding my 900 Custom. Yes it revs high and there is almost no wind protection, but that does not bother me one bit. The vibes are not that bad in my opinion and wearing proper gear is enough wind protection for me. Even at 80mph, there is enough power on reserve to pass if I need to. Based on what you said, I would think this bike will do what you need it to, it comes down to personal preference whether you should get a bigger bike or not. It will based on want, not need.
 

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wocka, wocka, wocka
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if you want the 900 its best you just get it and don't test ride the bigger bikes. they will ruin it for you. the 900 will never feel rite again. its a midsize bike with a midsize motor and does everything perty well... cept the big bikes does everything better.. so don't ride one if you don't want one. poncho
 

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I know this is not what you want to hear but those are questions about opinions. The only way you are going to tell is ride them and see what you like.
He's right.

You've polled the captured audience given that most readers love to talk about their bikes. I've ridden' many bikes, Honda spirit 750, 1100, 1300 and the Voyager 1700 as a passenger. The only bike I've driven' is the Vulcan 9. For me, that's the perfect bike. Like you, read lots of articles, reviews and comparisons from "experts". Husband rides a Road King, which my 9 looks to be just as long wheelbase and a little taller tank height. Of course, don't compare horsepower, but it certainly will get up and go! Very quick response and better with few upgrades.

You didn't mention about any passenger? Been on both ends of the seat so... if you're solo, go for it, you'll be bragging along with the rest of us. If you'll be riding with passenger, and you'll be doing a lot of long rides, maybe a bigger ride? The most comfortable bike from the back seat, my opinion is the Voyager 1700. But a little big for mostly a single rider.
 

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I do not think you can go wrong with the 9. It will perform all tasks quite well.
You need to test a few bikes if you can, find what works for you.
For me when/if I get a bigger bike it will more than likely be a "Connie"
 

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I got back into riding in 1993 with a Kawasaki 440 ltd, the next yr. I moved up to a Honda 600 then an 1100. I fell, not on the bike, and did serious damage to my left leg. Sold the 1100 re-entered on my 600 and in 07 moved up to the 900. I like everything about it except the long distance rides we take twice a year. I am now considering a Victory or a Heritage. You could buy a good used 900 and if you feel you have out grown it later on you wouldn't have a lot in it and there is nothing wrong with having a different bike for different occasions. I had four until last year and sold three, now I have only the 900 but looking for a better highway bike.
 

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I'm with sage...

LOTS of 900's used and you can't get hurt as bad WHEN you decide to "upgrade"...

Maybe the upgrade will be to a newer 900...who knows???

If you have the dough to throw away and resale value vs initial money spent is meaningless, then WTH...blow it on a new one.

There are too many good used ones out there though...

Might even find one "personalized" the way you would like it...:cool:

Luckymann77
 

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Sounds like everyone here is happy with the 900. I am also.

However if you want to go bigger. Go bigger. You just have to be happy with you and your decision.
 

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I bought new in2013, a leftover new 2012 900, loved the bike, great run around bike, then recently bought a new leftover 2013 nomad, the two years i had the 9 was real helpful in being ready for 1700, there is a weight difference only noticeable when trying to manuever around ones driveway or parking space, certainly no deal breaker, you will get use to it and just take your time, foot slipping is usually the downside. When i was buying my 9 there was a 1700 classic sitting there with a great price on it, knowing what i do now i would go with it right off, if i could have a do-over; i got two great years out of the 9 and then $$$$ off on the trade in, either way your riding again!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Guys and gal,

Thanks for the comments. No one took the bait and came up with the percentage of freeway time above which they would go bigger, but your answers all helped me think it through. I'm pretty sure I'm going with the 9. I think I'll actually like it better (lighter) given the limited time I'll be spending on the freeway, and everything I've read says freeway jaunts are not a problem if you can take the revs (or modify them) and do something about the seat.

Thanks for the help.

Dan
 

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preference

I am with the other riders here, you have to test ride some bikes but once you have hit the big bikes above a 900 you will notice a difference. I test drove a 08 yamaha vstar and really liked it because it had the tour package and handled well but it was an 1300. In the end I decided I couldn't give up the 99 vulcan 1500 because the power really showed. One could argue a 99 1500 could compare with a 08 1300 but I did not see it. the point is you have to try out some bikes but I would not start out with a 900. The size of a big bike can be intimidating but they handle so well you won't want a small bike. they are balanced really well and you may find a time when the extra power can save you.
It is a preference in the end and all the advice in the world only adds up to little as long as you are comfortable riding and are in the wind.
 

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Get the biggest bike you can afford and feel comfortable on. If you go small, in a year you'll want a bigger bike. You'll get used to the power and want more.
 

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Had my 900 classic for years,all stock,best Bike I ever had,Best for small trips and town,imo,As I said it was all stock.Never once let me down
Moved up to 1700 nomad for longer trips since she likes to ride,The nomad is great on hwy,rides like a couch,little heavier,but handles great,love the size of the bike
I wouldn't go back
 

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Ok, Like you a took a brake in riding (mine was do to $) but ready to ride again I saw a 900LT at a shop, walked in and test rode it, even went on the highway, was fine, drive it home. I loved that bike would ride back roads 100 to 150 miles, fun times but then I started going on longer rides 150 /200 miles and would go on the highway 55 MPH to get home maybe 20 miles here and there. So there I was having fun riding maybe 10 % of my ride on the highway. Then the state changed the 55MPH to 65. Must cars where going 70/75, I started hating the bike. At 70 it was just no fun. So I just went back to roads below 55/60 and when I had to would do the highway. I did not like knowing that if I wanted to jump on a highway and go 70MPH down to work (60 miles one way) that ride would be no fun. I sold that bike with 30K miles on it in 2 years, when I got my 07 Nomad which I have now, still only ride 10 to 20 % of the time on highways 75/80MPH but all the riding is now fun. With that said, I am now having back pain and may need to down size the bike, my 1st chose would be the 900LT, just 100% under 60MPH, which to me is better then no riding at all. The 900 will do fine for you but you maybe limited to riding below 70 if you do not like the buzz, some do not mind, I hated it but loved riding that bike 30K miles below 70. just my 2 cents.
 

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The 900 is not a small bike. It is more than powerful enough for 2-up highway duties. However - if you are worried about it being too small now then you will always worry about it. I went from the 9 to a 1700 & would never go back unless it's for health reasons. Think of the 9 as a transition bike and be happy with that.
 

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900 is great to get back into riding. Get used one at first until you decide on what you like best. I think you will eventually want a bigger (motor).
 

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You will almost always have going bigger in the back of your head. Good bike, but bigger is better for a lot of folks.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Took the Vulcan 900 Plunge

Well, thanks for all the advice everyone. I hemmed and hawed, but drove a 2014 900 home today. Stock bike is gorgeous. Trip was 160 miles on mostly two-lane highways.

I LOVE IT! Kept it mostly below 60 on the highway per the break-in procedure, and varied the RPMs a lot per the suggestion of the dealer. I've got some work to do on low speed handling (parking lot/driveway), but otherwise, it was like it was 33 years ago, but with a real bike.

No real issues. I either lucked out, or the 2014-15 seats really are better, because I didn't have any issue with the seat. Felt fine. Quite comfortable, honestly.

There was no vibration of note in the mirrors. There's definitely that V-twin pulsation in the sound, but it didn't translate into any roughness on the road. Then again, I don't really have a good benchmark for comparison, as my previous bike was a Suzuki GT185! Funny thing is that these big bikes are so balanced they don't feel that much heavier than the little thing I rode years ago. Sharp turns in the parking lot...well, I need some work on those.

I heard some noises that seemed a little unusual, particularly in 3rd and 4th. I wondered if this is the belt squeal folks talk about. Might need to adjust belt tension a bit?

I got used to the heel shift, which they didn't have on most bikes back in my day. I used it for practical reasons. I'm not very tall (just 5'-6"), and the foot rests and toe shifter are a bit further forward than would be ideal for me. My biggest complaint is that on the highway I wanted to rest my left foot an inch or two further back, but the heal shift is in the way. Do any others of short stature have this issue?

I found acceleration in all gears around the recommended max speeds for break-in (20 in 1st, 30 in 2nd, 40 in 3rd, 50 in 4th, and 60 in 5th) to be more than adequate. It's not a speed demon like my friend's Valkyrie (LOL), but it will get the job done. While near 60, I thought the acceleration was fine. I don't have a good reference point, but it seemed more than fine to me. I'll be interested in seeing how it is at 70-75.

I had some great times on narrow roads at 45-55. I may trade up down the road if I want to tour more, but right now, I'm happy as could be. I'm quite sure this bike will keep me happy for at least a few years, and maybe forever.

Cheers,
Dan
 
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