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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a friend of magringo and test rode a Vaquero on his behalf yesterday. A little background on me; I currently ride a 2012 HD FLTRX (Road Glide Custom), with previously owned bikes being a 2009 1200 Nightster (2010-2011), 2005 GSXR-750 (06-07), and a 1972 Yamaha TX-500 that a friend and I chopped out. When doing the test ride, I tried to be as objective as possible, and thought I'd post my thoughts and a review here, and get some feedback. I apologize in advance for the length.

Pros: I was REALLY impressed with the transmission. HDs tend to have a clunky transmission, that although runs well, tends to be loud especially when changing gears. The Vaquero shifted smoothly, and seemed to be geared well for both acceleration and top speed, though I never had it over 70. My HD could be geared a little shorter in my opinion. Also liked the feel of the rear brake and heel/toe shifter. Very solid w/ good placement. I was also impressed with the low speed mobility/agility of the Vaquero. It felt slightly heavier than my Nightster at parking lot speeds, and much lighter than my RG. Did not "feel" like an 850# bike at any point.

Cons: First thing I noticed leaving the stealer was a very loud rattle coming from the fairing on the right side near the glove box. Occured in 1st gear and was much louder than the exhaust and engine noise. When I stopped away from the dealership to really look over the bike w/o an overbearing salesman, I looked in depth for the source of the rattle. I discovered that it occured @ 2000rpm, even in neutral. Has anyone else experienced this? This was a demo/used bike 2500 miles on the odometer, so perhaps it had loosened up from previous use. Also related to setup/prep, front brake lever pull was exceptionally short, and there seemed to be a lot of slop in the clutch pull. There was also some slop in the clutch lever vertically. For 16k msrp, I would expect alot more than the wrinkle black plastic trim on the tank. Even some stamped 22ga bumper chromed steel to fool me for awhile. Also didn't like the side load bags. Again, I know I'm biased coming from the top load bags on my HD, but it seems to me that the total space would not be usable. I can store stuff in levels in my bags (raingear on bottom, polish cloths in the middle, gloves and sweatshirts on top) that would seem to fall out when the bags were opened from the side. At speed, the bike did not feel as solid or planted when leaned over, as my RG. Did not inspire confidence, but wasn't sketchy eiher.

Personals: Biased I know, but I thought the hand controls were a little cluttered. Would liked to have seen the cruise on/off switch on the dash. Felt a little like riding a scooter, with the upright seating position. Felt very much "on top" of the bike. I think the Nomad bars would have been better suited to the bike.

Conclusion: I told magringo for 12-13k OTD, it would be hard to pass up. An msrp of 16.5k + ttl is right up there w/ a road king (2011 msrp 16.9k). Granted, there is no radio, but the quality and fit/finish of the RK is superior in my opinion.

Just wanted to get some feedback from the experts, especially in regards to the fairing rattle and give an opinion from an HD rider.
 

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I don't think you can touch a 103 RK for less than 20k. I love Harley's and Kawasaki's but the 96 motor is inferior. I have driven the 103 RK and has so much more power then the 96.
 

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Vaquero

Just for background I have put a couple of thousand miles on a 2009 RK and a 2010 Electra Glide Limited. The saddle bags are objective but one of the reasons I purchased the Vaquero. I have to be careful loading the bags but I don't really have a problem with anything falling out except maybe something light at the top and it just drops onto the door. The big advantage is I can reach everything in the saddlebag and if I want something that is on the bottom I don't have to pull stuff out or move it around to get to it and this keeps my bag more organized than when I had a topload. The bags are huge and I have everything in one saddlebag that took both saddlebags on my C50T to hold.

I agree that the HD's seem very solid, but the 103 motor really makes a big difference and on the Electra Glide Limited you are looking at $24k +. IMHO the Vaquero handles well for the weight and I have not felt any problem with scraping the footrests.

It was really that the Vaquero was different that attracted it to me and I have not regretted the purchase. The Vaquero is not perfect and I had to do some mod's like a new seat to make it work for me, but with over 5,000 miles on my Vaquero I still long to get it back out on the road if it is in the garage for more than a day.
 

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We are creatures of habbit, I have had 2 G/W's and 3 Valkyries, there is nothing out there to compete with the big inch 6cyl. HD's will hardly pull 2up by compairison. I love my 1700C which is fast but not compaired to the GW 6cyl. It is hard to adjust to something new when giving up familiarity. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the responses. Keep them coming, please. This is magringo here, and I asked my buddy to take the Vaquero our for a test ride because I wanted his opinion. I did the same with my wakeboard boat as well. He's quite the gearhead, and I value what he has to say. I really appreciate how we all can have a conversation and still act like adults. As you can see, he has a lot of good things to say and some critiques. It's nice to see that these critiques can be aired without the typical, "it's still a rice rocket japcycle" jargon.

Let me kind of give some background of where I am coming from: I don't currently have my motorcycle endorsement for NC where I am, but I hope to have it soon. This isn't my first time on a bike, either. I have narrowed down my bike search to two metric offerings: The Vaquero and the Yamaha Star Stratoliner/Roadliner. I was really leaning toward the Yamaha offering until I visited my local Kawi dealer and saw a red Vaquero on the floor. My buddy had recently bought his RoadGlide, and I really liked the fixed fairing, radio, cruise, etc that were offered on his bike. It's just that I am not comfortable dropping the type of coin on a toy that Harley would require. I really like all the options available on the Vaquero and the price OTD that many of you are paying is very appealing to me, as I'm going to pay cash.

Would some of you please address some of the cons listed. I'm mostly concerned with the fairing rattle. It's located where the out portion of the fairing meets at the speaker area. Is anyone having this rattle? I'm leaning heavily toward this bike, but I just don't want to have any buyer's remorse. Thanks to everyone in advance for your help.

-Matt
 

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my 1700 Nomad has basically the same chassie/engine/trans as the vaquero. I do not have the fairing so I can't comment about any rattling. my windshield/lowers system works great and is vibration free. My clutch and front break lever both have a very good feel to them. The clutch engages at the right point. as far as the side opening bags go, I think they do look great, but prefer my Nomad top-loading bags.

Regarding the road glide and vaquero. I like them both and am glad Kawasaki finally makes a 'bagger' style bike. With regards to the other 3 manufactures, i bet we will see something from one of them in this catagory. competition is good...
 

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Matt do some OTD prices and option comparos. The 16k+ price is virtually non existent. I dont know anyone who has had to pay that yet. I paid $12,399 OTD for mine. Not sure if HD can get within $5k of that. So with a little tweaking to iron ot the small things that may bug ya, like the crappy seat or a rattle that is prob easy to adjust out or get fixed under the warranty, that still leaves a lot of extra coin to customize or just pay your mortgage, lol. And the 3 yr warranty isnt too bad either. Again, IDK what HD or Yamaha offer warranty-wise so do some comparos. And not to throw the whole Japanese thing out there too far, but their reliability really is what keeps a lot of us coming back, especially for the $4 or $5k ya save in the process. And now that the styling has finally gotten competitive, and the Kawsaki ride quality is supposed to be a little better on the back than the HD, it's kind of hard to argue for the HD. I believe there are a few reviews and comparos with the Yamaha and the Kawi seemed to win convincingly. Just my 2 cents after I did a little research before my purchase...
My background - I've owned a '65 Honda CB77, '77 Kaw KZ400, '80 Yam YZ250, '82 Suz GS11000E, '84 Yam FJ1100, '86 Honda Magna 65, '86 Suz GSXR750 (2), '86 GSXR1100, '88 FZR1000, '93 GSXR1100, '94 Kaw Niinja900 (2), '01 V-star1100, '06 Suz M109R, '08 Honda CBR1000RR, '11 Vaquero, and currently roadrace 2 Yamaha R6's. There are more that I've forgotten over the yrs I'm sure. And yes, no HD's. Just haven't been able to justify the cost.
 

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Side opening bags

As far as the bags are concerned, I bought the kawi liners for my top loading Nomad but they fit the V also. they are awesome and make it so convenient. Gears 1 and 2 are loud but change gears sooner not so bad and it doesnt bother me at all. I have not ridden a HD or Kawi that doesn't clunk. These motorcycles have tall gears. I have read so many articles that state too tall but I love just purring along at 85MPH and the motor sounds bored. Puts my wife to sleep.:D
 

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Signed the papers on my Vaquero today and bring it home Monday. Got the black model with KQR backrest, aux lights, ipod adapter, dc plug and saddlebag liners OTD for $16.3K. I seriously considered a street glide (like the looks better than the road glide) but optioned out similarly it would have been around $5K more. Just couldn't bring myself to pay that. They even threw in a 3 year warranty extension so I expect many years of happy riding.
 

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Rattle

I have not had a rattle on the right side. There is an adapter under the left side of the fairing that is just hanging in an opening that I get a little rattle from occasionally. I keep meaning to put a little padding in there but it has not been annoying.
 

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About every allen head screw on my Voyager loosened up after a few miles. The ones on the speaker covers, the ones holding speakers themselves and the windshield. A little blue locktite helps out alot. The trim ring around the ignition is a source for another rattle. Pry it up and put a little double stick tape around the ring and the rattle goes away.
 

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I had some fun last weekend on a VFW ride. One of my buddies has an Electraglide limited with the 103"motor. I was curious if mine was faster, so...we turned onto a road with no traffic and lit them up from about 20 mph...and my Vulcan pulled him about three bike lengths before we shut it down.

He has stage one. I have Thunder intake, Power Commander, stock pipes with baffle plates bored out.

Just thought ya might want to know.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the comments. There's really no way I would shell out the coin for an HD. Are they beautiful? Yes, but I find it difficult to justify the cost. Now if I have a huge bonus check one quarter or sign a big deal, I may consider it, but apart from that, the answer would have to be the Vaquero. I want to pay cash for whatever I buy. What is everyone's opinion or speculation on depreciation?
 

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I'd say considering it's the first yr of the Vaq, the closest thing to it is the Voyager. Look up a few that are for sale and compare the used prices to the HD's and Yamaha's. I would think they all will depreciate similarly. Yam and Kaw have a much cheaper buy-in price initially so the amount you lose is prob going to be less than with a HD. And the old "HD hold their value" arguement holds less water for me these days due to the fact that HD flooded the market with their product, and also the way economy tanked means they are a very expensive toy that wont bring the prices they used to like before. You said it yourself, "there's no way I'd shell out the coin for a HD".
 

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I'd say considering it's the first yr of the Vaq, the closest thing to it is the Voyager. Look up a few that are for sale and compare the used prices to the HD's and Yamaha's. I would think they all will depreciate similarly. Yam and Kaw have a much cheaper buy-in price initially so the amount you lose is prob going to be less than with a HD. And the old "HD hold their value" arguement holds less water for me these days due to the fact that HD flooded the market with their product, and also the way economy tanked means they are a very expensive toy that wont bring the prices they used to like before. You said it yourself, "there's no way I'd shell out the coin for a HD".
Great point. I'll have to do that. Gonna be paying cash hopefully, so I want to get the best deal possible. Those of you who have vulcans that may be a few years old: what are you seeing in terms of depreciation, and is owning a metric really accepting the fact that our bikes are going to depreciate more than the HDs? Thanks!
 

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Thanks for all the comments. There's really no way I would shell out the coin for an HD. Are they beautiful? Yes, but I find it difficult to justify the cost. Now if I have a huge bonus check one quarter or sign a big deal, I may consider it, but apart from that, the answer would have to be the Vaquero. I want to pay cash for whatever I buy. What is everyone's opinion or speculation on depreciation?
If you ride it it depreciates. That is any make. 20,000 miles and no one wants to pay for it. I know guys that take a beating on HD as much as any other brand the percentage may be different but losing 8,000 on a hd you paid 17,000 for or 8,000 on a vulcan you paid 15,000 for, still same 8G.
 

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If you ride it it depreciates. That is any make. 20,000 miles and no one wants to pay for it. I know guys that take a beating on HD as much as any other brand the percentage may be different but losing 8,000 on a hd you paid 17,000 for or 8,000 on a vulcan you paid 15,000 for, still same 8G.
Amen brother ! Besides, you will get 16k worth of pleasure just riding that Vaq for the next 3 to 5 years. Dont worry about resale! its all smoke and mirrors any way. My riding buddy paid 22k large for his RKing in 03. they wont give him 9k today. Toomany trade ins and bank repos now on HD. The resale and trade values on these bikes have changed today. Enjoy the VAQUERO! Its a great bike!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The colors on these bikes are beautiful; although I wish there were more color options. However, I'm torn between which of the two is my fave. I love the red, but I don't like some of the flat black accents and how they contrast against the red (eg-the forks and a lot of the engine work). I'm more of a chrome kind of guy, and I think that the amount of black on the bike makes the bike have too much black. Thoughts???

Also, is there enough OEM or aftermarket part options to chrome-up the engine and maybe the forks. Just wondering....
 

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The colors on these bikes are beautiful; although I wish there were more color options. However, I'm torn between which of the two is my fave. I love the red, but I don't like some of the flat black accents and how they contrast against the red (eg-the forks and a lot of the engine work). I'm more of a chrome kind of guy, and I think that the amount of black on the bike makes the bike have too much black. Thoughts???

Also, is there enough OEM or aftermarket part options to chrome-up the engine and maybe the forks. Just wondering....
For some of the blacked out parts that you would want to be chrome you might be able to arrange a swap with a Voyager owner...
 

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The fairing rattle appears to be a hit or miss kinda thing.....some of the bikes have it while others don't (my '09 VV does not have it). I recall reading a professional review on the VV when it first came out, and that VV had a rattle. As some have pointed out, most folks find the rattle around the ignition ring. If you end up with one that has a rattle, don't worry - it can be fixed....don't let that sway your decision. I think you'd be happy with the Yamaha too....they offer many more accessories for their bikes. I already decided my next set of wheels will be a Star.
 
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