In Roman times, Vulcan was the god of fire. In the 1960s, Vulcan came to be known as the home planet of Spock on Star Trek. And in 1984, Kawasaki began using the name Vulcan for its line of cruisers, which over the years have ranged from 399cc up to a ground-pounding 2,053cc. These days, Vulcans come in two sizes, 900 and 1700, with several models to choose from in each class, all powered by liquid-cooled, fuel-injected V-twins with belt final drive.
The Vulcan 900 was introduced for 2006, and is currently available in three styles: the Classic ($8,699) tested here; the Classic LT ($9,699), which is touring-ready with a windshield, saddlebags and passenger backrest; and the Custom ($9,199), with forward-mount controls, a drag-style handlebar, cast wheels (21-inch front) and blacked-out exhaust.
Old-school curb appeal is the Classic’s calling card. It rolls on wire-spoke wheels shod with whitewall tires, which match the matte black-white two-tone paint job. There’s enough chrome for sparkle—on the dual slash-cut pipes, on the beach cruiser-style handlebar and on trim pieces here and there—but the engine, frame, fork, seat and headlight nacelle are in bad-boy black.
The Vulcan’s 903cc 55-degree V-twin has a single-pin crankshaft for that classic rumbling sound, but a gear-driven counterbalancer keeps vibration in check. On Jett Tuning’s dyno, the Kawasaki cranked out more than 50 lb-ft of torque between 2,200 and 4,600 rpm, with a 54.3 lb-ft peak at 3,800 rpm. Horsepower increases steadily with revs, reaching a maximum of 48.1 at 5,700 rpm.
With 5.3 gallons of capacity, the Kawasaki’s teardrop-shaped fuel tank is the largest of the four. Based on our 43.6 mpg average, the Vulcan can travel 231 miles between fill-ups—the best range in this comparison by a good margin.
2013 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic
Base Price: $8,699
Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 55-degree V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 88.0 x 74.2mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: 15,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: Digital fuel injection w/ 34mm throttle bodies x 2
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.9-qt. cap.
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Ignition: TCBI w/ electronic advance
Charging Output: 448 watts max.
Battery: 12V 10AH
Frame: Tubular-steel double cradle w/ steel swingarm
Wheelbase: 64.8 in.
Rake/Trail: 32 degrees/6.3 in.
Seat Height: 26.8 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm
stanchions, no adj., 5.9-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring preload, 4.1-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper
Rear: Single disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper
Wheels, Front: Wire spoke, 3.00 x 16 in.
Rear: Wire spoke, 4.50 x 15 in.
Tires, Front: Tube-type, 130/90-16
Rear: Tube-type, 180/70-15
Wet Weight: 620 lbs.
Load Capacity: 396 lbs.
GVWR: 1,016 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals., warning light on last 1.1 gals.
MPG: 87 PON min. (high/avg/low) 48.7/44.5/41.5
Estimated Range: 231 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: NA
* This article Ebony & Ivory was part of a four-motorcycle comparison titled Main Street Middleweights, which was published in the June 2013 issue of Rider magazine. To read the individual bike reviews, click on the links below: