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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been wanting a bigger bike to take longer trips on. So I was perusing the ads on Facebook. I found a super nice 2016 Kawasaki Vulcan Custom 900, with less than 14,000 miles on it and from the original owner!. So I went to see it after church last Sunday. The chrome is almost immaculate, except for some very small rust spots on the handlebars.
When I saw the fan and the radiator, I asked the owner how to check the coolant. He said he didn't know. And then he changed the story to, it did not need to be checked.
So as I was researching information for Vulcans I found this thread on replacing the coolant. At first I was aghast at hearing him not even know how to check the coolant level. But after reading on this forum, I am not so concerned about the damage it could have done, now. I downloaded a copy of the owners manual from kawasaki.com and it said it needed to be replaced every two years. So it is only been overdue for 1-2 years. To make a long story shorter...
I think I will buy the bike at the end of this month or near the beginning of next month. Of course I must take it for a test drive first when weather permits.
He even went out and bought a new battery when his old one died, to show the bike to me. It had been stored in his car port for a year or two.
It is very cold up here in Indiana now. But I am still cruising around on my 1982 Honda cm450c. I just hope the weather isn't too bad at the end of this month. The cold does not bother me, with my electric heated jacket and electric gloves, but the ice and snow would.
I'll be visiting this forum often in the next few weeks. Looks like there's a lot of good information on here to see.
  • Can anyone tell me what else to check on this bike before I buy it?
Thanks.
 

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After a period of storage like that, there could be fuel issues, caused by corrosion inside the tank. Inspect with a flashlight. Since he hasn't checked the coolant level, check the overflow bottle. It's located behind the cover with the round mold line, just above and behind the kick stand. Look at tread depth on tires, to see when you might have to replace them. Be prepared to change all fluids, except maybe brake fluid. Also check oil level thru sight glass, located down low, a bit in front of the kick stand. There could be other things.
 

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Can anyone tell me what else to check on this bike before I buy it?
Thanks.
The seller has been riding it if it has around 14K miles on it and it is a 2016. So it could be considered "high mileage". I have seen some 2016's with as little as 800 miles on them. Use this to your pricing advantage.

15K miles is the magic number for some major and expensive services that you can use to your advantage to obtain a lower sales price by pointing out this fact to the seller.

Starting on page 83 of the manual you downloaded is -everything- that must be done to the bike including changing brake fluid and other items. Though changing fork oil is not mentioned, I would do that at 15K miles also.

All this adds up to some really major $$$ unless you intend to do the work yourself. Be sure to point this out to the seller.

When the owner said "this that and the other don't need to be checked" there is no such thing as something that doesn't need to be checked. You can be assured by this statement that nothing probably HAS been checked/done to this bike so you are going to have to do it yourself.

If you don't have a favorite mechanic, now is the time to get acquainted with your nearest/favorite motorcycledealer/repairshop. Might want to spend less then $100 to have them give the bike a once over.

Another tip. Crunchy Clutch lever action can be solved by lubricating the pivot pin on the clutch cable located under the right side of the bike. Everybody forgets to lube this one point when lubing the clutch cable.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
The seller has been riding it if it has around 14K miles on it and it is a 2016. So it could be considered "high mileage". I have seen some 2016's with as little as 800 miles on them. Use this to your pricing advantage.

15K miles is the magic number for some major and expensive services that you can use to your advantage to obtain a lower sales price by pointing out this fact to the seller.

Starting on page 83 of the manual you downloaded is -everything- that must be done to the bike including changing brake fluid and other items. Though changing fork oil is not mentioned, I would do that at 15K miles also.

All this adds up to some really major $$$ unless you intend to do the work yourself. Be sure to point this out to the seller.

You can be assured by this statement that nothing probably HAS been checked/done to this bike so you are going to have to do it yourself.

If you don't have a favorite mechanic, now is the time to get acquainted with your nearest/favorite motorcycledealer/repairshop. Might want to spend less then $100 to have them give the bike a once over.

Another tip. Crunchy Clutch lever action can be solved by lubricating the pivot pin on the clutch cable located under the right side of the bike. Everybody forgets to lube this one point when lubing the clutch cable.
Thank you so much for this advice.

My go to mechanic is 15 miles north in another town. So I may have to call the local bike dealership to find out if they will check it out for me. Making 2 appointments. 1 with the seller and 1 with the dealership. And I am a very busy person as well.
The dealership refused to even take a look at my 1982 Honda cm450c. They even refused to change my tires! Only person I could find was in Clinton, north of me, to do anything to my bike.

Some problems, and the reason I like this bike is: I just started riding in July, dropped my bike a couple of times, and the Vulcan has a low seat height, highway bars, and the custom seat. Hopefully, I can handle the extra weight, given the lower seat.

The seller is already selling at more than $2500 off of the Kelly blue book value.
Could you give me a ballpark figure on how much it would cost to change ALL the fluid levels in one shot?
 

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If you do it yourself:

Oil and filter: $25 to $30
12 oz. brake fluid: $5
1 gal. antifreeze: $10

Now you don’t need a whole gallon of antifreeze, but you really cannot buy a smaller amount.
 

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My go to mechanic is 15 miles north in another town.
I live in Texas. 15 miles just gets me to the end of my driveway... Arf arf arf!!

... my 1982 Honda cm450c...
...I just started riding in July, dropped my bike a couple of times...
Damn, I hate to hear you dropping that purty CM450. Have you actually test drove the VN900C in question. The VN900C is MUCH tougher to ride than the CM450. Turn in on the VN900C almost "Chopper Length" front end with the 21" wheel will get you into trouble at stops if the front tire is not absolutely straight when you stop. Takeoff on turning are also much more difficult on the VN900C vs the CM450.

The seller is already selling at more than $2500 off of the Kelly blue book value.
Make sure it is a clean title and not a salvage title. Give the VIN to your insurance company and have them run their trace BEFORE you buy the bike. If you cannot tell what a bent/straightened frame looks like... all the more reason to take it to a mechanic.

Could you give me a ballpark figure on how much it would cost to change ALL the fluid levels in one shot?
Fork Fluid = about $40. .
Oil Change = about $40 with synth oil
Antifreeze (I use the Hyundai brand) = $20 per gallon. Only 1 gallon concentrate required.
Brake Fluid = about $12.00
Parts Costs = $(fork parts, brake parts, valve shims ) $250.00
Labor - $Priceless$
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Damn, I hate to hear you dropping that purty CM450. Have you actually test drove the VN900C in question. The VN900C is MUCH tougher to ride than the CM450. Turn in on the VN900C almost "Chopper Length" front end with the 21" wheel will get you into trouble at stops if the front tire is not absolutely straight when you stop. Takeoff on turning are also much more difficult on the VN900C vs the CM450.
Wow, I thought the lower seat height would make it easier to keep up! I understand about keeping the front end straight when stopping. I nearly have dropped my 450 on the street, stopping, waiting to make a turn, for a slow 4 wheeler that I thought was going faster. Thought I would just have to slow down but ended up needing to stop. So I think I could handle that, probably, not for sure.

As far as turning, I had to go to an abandoned parking lot, to learn how to turn from a stop, both ways. Turning sharp right was a bit difficult. But learned to lean into it and give it some throttle. Learning that centrifugal force plays a big role in completing a sharp turn, even from a dead stop. Or if all else fails, then keep both feet dragging the ground, while keeping the bike nearly straight up, then apply power towards the end of the turn.

I spent a good bit of time riding in figure eights to get used to how far I could lean with the right amount of throttle at different speeds. The slower I went, the more difficult it was to keep on my intended path.

When I saw the gear shift foot lever, on this Vulcan, I thought that was going to be a bear to get used to. I have never used the heel of my foot to downshift 🤪🌝

So now I don't know if I want it. I do! But don't know if I have enough experience to handle it. The wheel base is pretty long. But I didn't know it would be such a hassle to maneuver it, on account of that chopped front end.

So now I will just have to keep my money, looking for another type of cruiser to buy. I really appreciate all the advice. I can take that advice and apply it to my next prospect, hopefully not a project bike.
 

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When I saw the gear shift foot lever, on this Vulcan, I thought that was going to be a bear to get used to. I have never used the heel of my foot to downshift 🤪🌝
I know of no Kawasaki VN900 CUSTOM series motorcycle with a HEEL-TOE shfter. Only the VN900 classics and LT's would have this. The Classics and the LT's also dont have the tubeless tires of the Custom with the 21" front rim. and are a -little- easier to ride because they dont have that 21" tire up front. So... we just have to decide which bike we are talking about. However, ALL VN900's are much tougher to ride than the CM450 which is one of the easiest and most forgiving bikes in the world to ride.
239973

This is a CUSTOM with forward controls.

239974


This is a Classic and the starting point of the LT.

So now I don't know if I want it. I do! But don't know if I have enough experience to handle it. The wheel base is pretty long. But I didn't know it would be such a hassle to maneuver it, on account of that chopped front end.
You have to stop taking my word for it and actually go test ride the VN900 series (whichever model it is) and then decide based upon what you think.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I know of no Kawasaki VN900 CUSTOM series motorcycle with a HEEL-TOE shfter. Only the VN900 classics and LT's would have this. The Classics and the LT's also dont have the tubeless tires of the Custom with the 21" front rim. and are a -little- easier to ride because they dont have that 21" tire up front. So... we just have to decide which bike we are talking about. However, ALL VN900's are much tougher to ride than the CM450 which is one of the easiest and most forgiving bikes in the world to ride.
View attachment 239973
This is a CUSTOM with forward controls.

View attachment 239974

This is a Classic and the starting point of the LT.



You have to stop taking my word for it and actually go test ride the VN900 series (whichever model it is) and then decide based upon what you think.
Ok thanks. Yes it appears to be a classic. Because it has small floorboards and heel To toe shifters on it, I believe.
I may just try to ride it. And I was hoping the highway bars would help keep the damage to a minimum if I happen to drop it.🙄🌝
Thanks I'll go by your recommendation again and see how hard it is to handle.. it is a really beautiful bike and I hate to pass it up. It is becoming quite cold here in Indiana so I don't know when the next day will be good for doing that.
Being today is Veterans Day and I'm a dual Branch vet, I will call the dealership tomorrow to try to get some more information.
I will post my results here in this thread. Have a great day!
 

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JDerrick, I'm going to disagree with Du-Rron just a little bit. I started riding again after over 40 years off bikes. My previous experience was about 5000 miles on a CB250 back in the 70's. Like you, I really liked the Vulcan 900, but felt intimidated by it at first. After I finished my MSF course, I went and rented a Suzuki M50, which was about 570 lbs with an 800. I drove it slow around the airport (where the rental place was) for about an hour to get used to the weight, then took off and met by wife for lunch about 15 miles away. I rented it all day. That went pretty well, so my wife and I drove to Houston to buy the Vulcan 900 I now have, and I drove it all the way back to Dallas (on the back roads at first), over 2 days. Then I followed that with slow speed maneuvering (the part I was weakest at in the MSF course) and emergency braking and swerving in a church parking lot. I bought 2 sets of cones for about $10 from Walmart for this work. After that I took off, got stuck in traffic (handled that), drove other places nearby (handled that), then later went anywhere I wanted to go.

The bike now (after 2.5 years of riding it) is nearly effortless to ride. What I'm saying is, build up to the skills you need for this bike. After you acquire them, this Vulcan 900 is one of the easiest bikes to ride and just about the most maintenance free bike you could ever own. Just don't get ahead of yourself as you practice the slow speed stuff (going fast is easy by comparison). Watch traffic and assume you aren't seen, stay close to the speed limit (stuff they taught you in the MSF course), and everything should go smoothly. I also watched a lot of Youtube motorcycle crash videos to learn what the other knuckleheads where doing wrong. I've never had a crash, and don't plan to have one (I do wear safety gear, helmet, armored jacket, boots, etc just in case). I have dropped the bike twice though, both times for failing to put the freaking kickstand down.
 

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JDerrick, I'm going to disagree with Du-Rron just a little bit. I started riding again after over 40 years off bikes. My previous experience was about 5000 miles on a CB250 back in the 70's. Like you, I really liked the Vulcan 900, but felt intimidated by it at first. After I finished my MSF course, I went and rented a Suzuki M50, which was about 570 lbs with an 800. I drove it slow around the airport (where the rental place was) for about an hour to get used to the weight, then took off and met by wife for lunch about 15 miles away. I rented it all day. That went pretty well, so my wife and I drove to Houston to buy the Vulcan 900 I now have, and I drove it all the way back to Dallas (on the back roads at first), over 2 days. Then I followed that with slow speed maneuvering (the part I was weakest at in the MSF course) and emergency braking and swerving in a church parking lot. I bought 2 sets of cones for about $10 from Walmart for this work. After that I took off, got stuck in traffic (handled that), drove other places nearby (handled that), then later went anywhere I wanted to go.

The bike now (after 2.5 years of riding it) is nearly effortless to ride. What I'm saying is, build up to the skills you need for this bike. After you acquire them, this Vulcan 900 is one of the easiest bikes to ride and just about the most maintenance free bike you could ever own. Just don't get ahead of yourself as you practice the slow speed stuff (going fast is easy by comparison). Watch traffic and assume you aren't seen, stay close to the speed limit (stuff they taught you in the MSF course), and everything should go smoothly. I also watched a lot of Youtube motorcycle crash videos to learn what the other knuckleheads where doing wrong. I've never had a crash, and don't plan to have one (I do wear safety gear, helmet, armored jacket, boots, etc just in case). I have dropped the bike twice though, both times for failing to put the freaking kickstand down.

My experience with a 900 is almost word for word as above. I'm a new rider, fresh out of the MTC. Bought a Vulcan 900 Custom and thus far (one week on the bike) I'm very happy. She handles very well. You will easily be able to grow into this bike.

For now I only ride in my neighborhood (no tags or plates yet). Practicing the slow speed turns and u-turns (also my weak point in the MTC), and also practicing emergency stops. Again, these Vulcan are very easy to ride.

Get the 900. You will not be disappointed.

CMOS
 

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Wow, I thought the lower seat height would make it easier to keep up! I understand about keeping the front end straight when stopping. I nearly have dropped my 450 on the street, stopping, waiting to make a turn, for a slow 4 wheeler that I thought was going faster. Thought I would just have to slow down but ended up needing to stop. So I think I could handle that, probably, not for sure.

As far as turning, I had to go to an abandoned parking lot, to learn how to turn from a stop, both ways. Turning sharp right was a bit difficult. But learned to lean into it and give it some throttle. Learning that centrifugal force plays a big role in completing a sharp turn, even from a dead stop. Or if all else fails, then keep both feet dragging the ground, while keeping the bike nearly straight up, then apply power towards the end of the turn.

I spent a good bit of time riding in figure eights to get used to how far I could lean with the right amount of throttle at different speeds. The slower I went, the more difficult it was to keep on my intended path.

When I saw the gear shift foot lever, on this Vulcan, I thought that was going to be a bear to get used to. I have never used the heel of my foot to downshift 🤪🌝

So now I don't know if I want it. I do! But don't know if I have enough experience to handle it. The wheel base is pretty long. But I didn't know it would be such a hassle to maneuver it, on account of that chopped front end.

So now I will just have to keep my money, looking for another type of cruiser to buy. I really appreciate all the advice. I can take that advice and apply it to my next prospect, hopefully not a project bike.

@JDerrick Take a look at the Vulcan S. Go to a dealer and see if they have one you can ride. If you're coming from a CB450 the Vulcan S is probably a more suitable ride experience. I haven't ridden the larger 900. I have a Vulcan S though and I love it. I found it by luck and chance in spring of 2018 for a great used bike price and still nearly new with only 394 miles on mine when I bought it. It's a 650cc parallel twin and has all the power that I need. It's actually a pretty fast bike. It handles extremely well too. Maybe take a look.
 

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OP,

Nothing at all against "Sturke's" reply above at all, however do consider this: What type of driving will you be doing on this bike? Highway cruising over long distances at speeds of 70+ for long rides? Shorter drives locally at 55-65 MPH for shorter distances?

I bring this up so that you consider the cc displacement of the bike's engine. If you're a long ride (70 MPH+) type of rider you'll want and need the bigger displacement engine (at least 900cc). If you're more of a local short-trip rider then a smaller engine will work. The issue is cruising RPM's. If you're driving at 70 MPH with a 600cc bike, you're going to be pushing some serious RPM's on that bike = vibrations = not comfortable.

A larger displacement bike (at least 900cc) will be more suited for highway cruising than a 600cc bike.

Just consider this. What type of riding will you be doing? Go from there.

CMOS
 

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OP,

Nothing at all against "Sturke's" reply above at all, however do consider this: What type of driving will you be doing on this bike? Highway cruising over long distances at speeds of 70+ for long rides? Shorter drives locally at 55-65 MPH for shorter distances?

I bring this up so that you consider the cc displacement of the bike's engine. If you're a long ride (70 MPH+) type of rider you'll want and need the bigger displacement engine (at least 900cc). If you're more of a local short-trip rider then a smaller engine will work. The issue is cruising RPM's. If you're driving at 70 MPH with a 600cc bike, you're going to be pushing some serious RPM's on that bike = vibrations = not comfortable.

A larger displacement bike (at least 900cc) will be more suited for highway cruising than a 600cc bike.

Just consider this. What type of riding will you be doing? Go from there.

CMOS
I have to agree with you on one hand @CMOS. My Vulcan S 650 is an uncomfortable ride over 80mph. But, I would be inclined to think this is a vehicle weight issue more so that vibration from the engine in the case of the Vulcan S. It is an incredibly smooth running engine and really prefers the higher revs. She loves running between 4k and 6k rpm and does it very smoothly. Without a windscreen, I really think its a matter of vehicle weight on this machine in particular. That said, it's my first motorcycle that I've ridden after a 27 year gap. I rode a '78 Suzuki GS850 back in the early 90's and never felt the highway issues that I have on this Vulcan S. So, yes @JDerrick, take the purpose of your ride into account when considering your next motorcycle. If you're running around town or even a tri-county area, the smaller Vulcan S is a fantastic and really fun bike. The Vulcan S will get up to 106 mph and 111 mph with relative ease. I will say that's tops though and pretty hairy as the wind is beating you to death. I haven't ridden the larger 900 or even larger Vulcans. I want to because I want to go further down the road without feeling like I just did a 3 hour workout trying to keep up with Richard Simmons.
 
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