Kawasaki Vulcan Forum banner

1 - 20 of 76 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,620 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

A buddy of mine and I went riding today. In the course of the day we ended up switching bikes. He rides an '05 Road King, which is one of Harley's touring models (basically an Electra-Glide without the fairing). Supposed to be one of Harley's most comfortable bikes.

Just for grins, I though I'd do a little write up and compare it to my 900LT. Keep in mind we're comparing a 900cc mid-size cruiser to a much larger, 88ci (little under 1500cc) touring bike.

For starters, the seat was awesome. Loved it. Not even in the same ballpark as the 900 seat. But that's a given.

I was very surprised to find that the Road King was SMALL compared to the 900. I had to lean forward to reach the bars, and the reach to the floorboards was short and my legs felt a little cramped. Also, I didn't like the style of the heel shifter on it, you have you really lift your leg up and put it on it... probably something I could get used to, but it was odd.

The brakes on the road king were much better, very linear, very strong, very smooth.

Handling was surprisingly similar, but I had some trouble in low speeds with the RK... I'm not sure if it was me not being used to the extra weight or not, but it felt much more top heavy than my 900 and not as well balanced.

Here's the one where fans of Harley's should shield their eyes and take their children into the other room. Let me be clear- I hate brand bashing, I think it's stupid. That said... the "Harley's are better built"... I didn't see it. The grip on the left twisted and slide around, the switch housings were worn out with all of the labels worn off, and it just didn't feel as 'solid' as my bike. Looking down at the bar clamps and the forks... it just didn't seem as solid. Even the owner of the bike was commenting on how well built my bike was. The Harley WAS a very well built machine, but I don't think I could say it was 'better' built than my 900 and feel like I was being honest.

Suspension blew the 900 out of the water. Felt like a Cadillac. Very smooth ride. Unfortunately, the teeth-breaking brain-wrenching how-come-they-can't-make-this-any-better vibrations, at all RPMs and all speeds, kind of canceled out the nice suspension. I was really amazed at how much this thing vibrated... I always heard they vibrated a lot at idle then smoothed out... not the case here. At idle it vibrated so bad I thought the thing was gonna fall apart, at speed it got better, but was still pretty severe. It vibrated as bad as my push lawn-mower.

Finally, power. In a straight stretch, both bikes are probably neck and neck with power. Both accelerating ABOUT the same. However, once you hit a hill the Harley is the winner. Pulling hills in top gear at low speeds didn't break a sweat on the Harley. That's to be expected though with an engine that is much bigger!

So in conclusion? I liked the bike. I've always liked the road kings and if they new 96" engines are smoother than the 88" he had in his, then I would probably consider one one day over the 1700. I really enjoyed the bike. That said, I'm impressed with just how much 'bike' I got for just a few grand, compared to his $15,000 Road King. It makes me excited to see what Kawasaki has to offer in the 1700 line. It's not an Apples to Apples comparison at all, but considering how well my bike compared to a Road King? I'm impressed.

Anyway.. just thought I'd share!

-John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,221 Posts
Romans
I rode a 2012 Electra Glide limited at a Demo Days recently. The 103ci shook like a wet dog in neutral, but as soon as it started rolling it was a smooth as my 9.

Like you I think I will stay with ma Kaw!:)

Scott
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
152 Posts
the 1500 covers all the areas that were missing on your nine.
And twice as comfortable.
More like a Lincoln though.:D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,620 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Hmm...

Well it wouldn't be so bad if it smoothed out. This one did smooth out but I still had a ton of vibration in the floorboards and grips.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
498 Posts
One of the guys in my group Bought new left over 2011 softtail this spring. Wow alot smoother doesn't jump around at all like my other friends (1340 or there abouts cc I have not road it but my friends 97' flh will literally walk across a parking lot if left at idle without a rider. The new softail smooth and nice. sounds the same thump thump thump but way less vibration.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,620 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Someone told me the softails are counterbalanced (like our Vulcans) as opposed to just rubber mounted like the other ones. If that's true I dunno why on earth they don't do it to all of them!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,159 Posts
I rented a Street Glide last year when I was out of town and rode around for a couple of days. At idle it really hopped around but as soon as I got moving it smoothed out. I got it up to about 85mph on the interstate and it was as smooth as you can imagine, but idle was a different story.

Ol'Yella said:
my friends 97' flh will literally walk across a parking lot if left at idle without a rider.
That's funny because a couple of times I jumped off to snap a picture and left the bike running. I was so afraid it would do exactly that that I could barely take my eyes off of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,620 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I should mention that we were on back roads, I hit 60ish a couple times (but even then it was more vibration than the 9. Might have had a better impression regarding the vibration if I was in the interstate though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,620 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Sometimes I think one of Harley's biggest selling points, their legacy, is one of their worst features.

A liquid cooled, counter balanced, overhead cam Harley Road King? I think I'd trade my Vulcan in first thing in the morning lol.

I guess you could get used to the vibrations, it's just such a shame to take such a smooth riding bike and stick an engine in there that spends its time trying to jump off!

They are good bikes though. Can't knock 'em too much. Love the looks too, more squared hard bags, a little less trim and cover on the engine, etc.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,335 Posts
Since I have not ridden a Harley, yet. I can only comment on my observations with my friends Harleys. Every time they sit at a stop light it looks like the bike is going to vibrate apart. I think my teeth would chatter. I'll have to try one at least once to get a sense of the true vibration. But, until then I'll just enjoy my Vulcan.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
643 Posts
Nice post, R58. I dig all bikes. I dig HDs. And if I could have a "stable" of ten bikes, 4 of them would be HDs. But they just cost too much for the HD badge. Not to mention you can take a direct competitor of the RK like the Nomad, and blow the RK away in just about all performance categories. And like one of our Kawi V2K brethren has said, I don't park too close to the Harley because my bike will suck the paint off them -or something like that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,620 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Nice post, R58. I dig all bikes. I dig HDs. And if I could have a "stable" of ten bikes, 4 of them would be HDs. But they just cost too much for the HD badge. Not to mention you can take a direct competitor of the RK like the Nomad, and blow the RK away in just about all performance categories. And like one of our Kawi V2K brethren has said, I don't park too close to the Harley because my bike will suck the paint off them -or something like that.
I don't care too much about performance though to be honest. Putting me on a V2K is like putting a 94 year old lady in a Bugatti. It still has 1,200 horsepower, but that doesn't mean it's not gonna drive 35 in a 55 with the blinker on. The sheer fact that my 900 felt similar in performance to that 1500cc Harley shows that they are behind modern technology enough to be lacking in performance. That said... it doesn't really matter to me, it's no slouch, and it was a nice bike.

Yeah, if I had 10 bikes, some of them would have to be Harley's too!

A buddy of mine who is a huge Harley fanatic told me not to ride a Harley until I'm ready to buy one because I'll never wanna go back. Well, I didn't experience that. He did, but then again, he rode an old beat up Yamaha from the 80's, and traded up to an Electra Glide. I think that Kawasaki has done a fantastic job with the Vulcan line, and has distinguished themselves from 'knock off Harley's into true V-Twin competitors in the market. Like I said, though I was impressed with the Harley, I was disappointed that, for the price, it was not substantially better than my Vulcan.

I want to ride one of the 1700's at the next Demo Days to get a feel for that too. It's a few years down the road yet but I do want an open-air touring bike eventually. (Road King, Nomad, etc.) I wonder how the 1700 Nomad compares to the RK? I prefer the Road King's styling (Nomad is too smooth and rounded, I prefer the square bags and stocky looks of the Harley). But, I ride it more than look at it, so riding comfort is the key factor here! :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,221 Posts
HD marketing is phenomenal! I bet they pay their engineers half of what they pay their marketing people! If they don't, they should.

I heard the same as you Romans, 'if you ride it you will want to buy it', 'if I have to explain, you wouldn't understand' and my favorite 'you aint sh*t if you ain't on a hardley!'.
I rode one, and if you toss me keys all day long I will ride em all; but it did not cause some 'open wallet syndrome' to kick in. I still want value for my money.

I don't know if I am slow, or if it is the 'die hardleys' (thanks Ponch I am stealing your line). But, if I am shelling out my hard earned cash, I need to be able to justify my purchase. Even if it is simply 'Nothing else is as fun'.

Finally; if you aint sh*t before you buy a bike, there isn't a brand in the world thats gonna change that!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,291 Posts
Nice comparison. I've recently read of guys buying stock Road King saddles and putting them on other bikes - apparently they are that good. I put a Corbin on my other bike and now understand how a good saddle can be worth chasing.

I'm surprised all that comical vibration I see Harleys with at stop lights doesn't go away once at speed. I always thought that I could deal with the vibes at idle (and that may have had something to do with the build quality you experienced - those shakes shake parts loose), but if what you say is true... I don't think I would be happy with one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
I have dual citizenship I guess you could say. I have a 1993 HD FXR with a 1340 EVO and my 2006 Vulcan 900 Custom. My FXR shakes while idling because I have a aftermarket cam in it, but once I let out the clutch she smoothes out and I glide on down the road. They are two different kind of bikes for two different rides. I enjoy both of them immensely for different reasons. My Classic I have the bags and take it on trips. My FXR I have drag pipes on and take her out for a couple of hours on a sunny day (she looks better than brand new and her name is Roary) and relax and enjoy the ride. Just enjoy whatever you are riding.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,131 Posts
I don't care too much about performance though to be honest. Putting me on a V2K is like putting a 94 year old lady in a Bugatti. It still has 1,200 horsepower, but that doesn't mean it's not gonna drive 35 in a 55 with the blinker on. The sheer fact that my 900 felt similar in performance to that 1500cc Harley shows that they are behind modern technology enough to be lacking in performance. That said... it doesn't really matter to me, it's no slouch, and it was a nice bike.

Yeah, if I had 10 bikes, some of them would have to be Harley's too!

A buddy of mine who is a huge Harley fanatic told me not to ride a Harley until I'm ready to buy one because I'll never wanna go back. Well, I didn't experience that. He did, but then again, he rode an old beat up Yamaha from the 80's, and traded up to an Electra Glide. I think that Kawasaki has done a fantastic job with the Vulcan line, and has distinguished themselves from 'knock off Harley's into true V-Twin competitors in the market. Like I said, though I was impressed with the Harley, I was disappointed that, for the price, it was not substantially better than my Vulcan.

I want to ride one of the 1700's at the next Demo Days to get a feel for that too. It's a few years down the road yet but I do want an open-air touring bike eventually. (Road King, Nomad, etc.) I wonder how the 1700 Nomad compares to the RK? I prefer the Road King's styling (Nomad is too smooth and rounded, I prefer the square bags and stocky looks of the Harley). But, I ride it more than look at it, so riding comfort is the key factor here! :p
I've ridden, but never owned a Harley RK, but I have owned a 1700 Nomad. I think both are find motorcycles and both have their strong and weak points. While the Harley (this was a brand new '08 RK my friend bought) does shake a bit at idle, it's not annoying. I felt it was just part of its personality. Once a bit of throttle was applied, it smoothed right out, and while I could feel some vibes at cruise, it was so slight I was able to ignore it after awhile. By comparison, my friend's '11 Harley TriGlide trike seems to have minimum vibration at idle and is super smooth at speed. At least at 85 mph it was smooth. I was impressed!

The 1700 Nomad, while much smoother at idle, felt about the same on the highway, although rolling on the throttle produce some vibration that surprised me. Once back into the cruise mode, it was smooth. Something about a load being placed on the engine, I guess. The 'Nad had an unpleasant roughness between 60 and 65 mph, for some reason. Above 65 it began to smooth out again, but was never as smooth as it was at 60 and below. My personal opinion is that the gearing wasn't quite right. It's my understanding that for 2011 and newer, Kawasaki did some minor changes to the gearing that may have changed all that, as reports I've read seem to indicate that the Nomad is quite smooth and relaxed at all speeds.

As to comfort and handling, I felt that the handling of both is on a par, with the nod going to the Nomad, especially at parking lot speeds. It felt a little better balanced than the RK. I also felt that the comfort level of each was about the same, although the seat on the Harley was much better than that on the Nomad. In fact, I ended up with a Mustang seat for my Nomad, and the only reason I got rid of it was because it was a horrible platform for towing my Bunkhouse camper trailer. Otherwise, I really liked my Nomad and wish I still had it.

Performance: about equal in my opinion, but the RK felt much more "gutsy" off the line, up to mid range, then the Nomad showed a bit better performance. In the end, I'd have to say that in the performance category, overall, they were close to equal. Where the Harley shines is in the fact that it gets better fuel economy. Both burn premium gas, but the Harley gets in the neighborhood of 50+ mph while the Nomad only manages about 42 at best. The Harley seems to have good power with a load, while the Nomad starts to run out of steam. Not much power in the 6th gear overdrive, and 5th isn't a lot better. With no load, such as the camper, it was just fine. HOWEVER--gas mileage suffered greatly on the Nomad, pulling the camper, and at one point, going up long hills into a brisk breeze, I managed to hold about 40-45 mph in 4th gear and got 17 mpg!!! :eek: Once out of the wind, I was up to about 25--28 mpg, and I giggled when I got 35 mpg while going down a long hill. To be fair, the folks on Gold Wings pulling campers didn't fair well with fuel economy, fighting the headwind and going up the long hills, either, but at least they had enough power they could maintain the posted speed limit. I could not, even without the wind. I decided that I would just have to live with that if I was going to continue pulling the Bunkhouse. In the end, I felt that the Nomad was supremely unhappy pulling the camper, so I sold it and got the Gold Wing back. I can't say how a Harley would do in the same circumstance, but I can say that my wife, who was riding her 900 LT at the same time, seemed to have no power issues and despite the wind, still got gas mileage in the 40's. Meanwhile, I was very unhappy.

Final word? I'd love to have a Road King. Just can't afford it, and since I will never be pulling a trailer again, I'd have no problem with another Nomad. Even better, given the price similarities, I'd lean toward a Victory Crossroads or Crosscountry.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,620 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Nice comparison. I've recently read of guys buying stock Road King saddles and putting them on other bikes - apparently they are that good. I put a Corbin on my other bike and now understand how a good saddle can be worth chasing.

I'm surprised all that comical vibration I see Harleys with at stop lights doesn't go away once at speed. I always thought that I could deal with the vibes at idle (and that may have had something to do with the build quality you experienced - those shakes shake parts loose), but if what you say is true... I don't think I would be happy with one.
As a matter of fact that's what I'm going to be doing. The guy who had this bike put an aftermarket (but from Harley) seat on his road king, it has gel in it and a backrest pouch, but is otherwise same as stock. Then married a woman whose late husband had a Road King with an identical saddle and she took it off when she sold the bike. One of the oddest stories of 'two of everything' I've heard, but works for me because I get the other seat :D

We're gonna see how it adapts to the 900. I think it will with just a little work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
987 Posts
HD comparo

I owned a Harley in the 70's and swore I would never have another. I have been a Kawi guy since 75 and have three right now. I would say that I like the styling of the new CVO Harleys, aggressive, sporty, big name designers....But Kawi stepped up with the Vaquero, brought in the Voyager so I am still happy with my Kawi brand. I ride with a young guy that has a pumped up 96 inch Dyna something or other and I leave my V2K at home. I usually take my 900C which is nearly as fast off the line and keeps up well until higher speeds. If the weather is good, I run my 1500 Classic and make some noise, staying out in front. The one thing that is really good about Harleys is that there is a big dealer in every single city, and every one of them has a storefront full of Harley gear. Marketing is fantastic, and they only make bikes....Kawasaki could take a lesson from Harley, and even from Yamaha (Star) as far as the business of business is concerned:cool:
 
1 - 20 of 76 Posts
Top