Kawasaki's Vulcan 900 Classic Reviewed... great value in the cruiser segment, with looks to match... Test and images by Kris Hodgson

There are some bike’s which just remind me of the enjoyment of motorcycling, they don’t need to be dripping with technology or high performance parts, they are just fun to ride. The Vulcan 900 Classic is one such bike and is punching above it’s weight.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

The Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic.

Sitting in the 900cc category it’s relatively small for a cruiser, and while running an eye over the bike reveals a well finished and stylish motorcycle, to my eye at least, the specifications are relatively basic. A single 300mm front rotor with two-piston caliper, 41mm forks, no ABS, no traction control, no rider modes. Power from the 903cc V-Twin is a claimed 50hp and torque 78Nm which is available from 3700rpm and the engine is fantastic.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

Kawasaki’s Vulcan 900 Classic with optional pillion back rest and panniers.

3700rpm? Where that is I don’t really know, as there’s no tacho (not unusual for a cruiser), it’s just a matter of upshifting when it feels right and the Vulcan starts to run out of puff. It’s all about the seat of the pants experience. If I want go I roll the throttle on, if I want to go fast I roll it on hard, if I want to slow down I’ll knock the Vulcan down through the gears and let the brakes do the rest.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic - tank mounted dash, with analogue speedo and basic idiot lights

Tank mounted dash, with analogue speedo and basic idiot lights.

As someone who doesn’t ride a cruiser every day the bike does feel a little ungainly at feet down speeds, especially with the ‘bars low enough to feel very close to my chest at full lock, although that may help prevent drops. There’s also no issue with getting your feet down and banging your shins or ankles against floorboards, which are gripes I’ve experienced on other cruisers.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic - floorboards and forward controls

The Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic features floorboards and forward controls.

Of course for a cruiser it’s easily manageable on the move, even at low feet-up speeds, and the floorboards with forward controls are comfortable and not too wide. Shifting through the gears is easy and natural both up and down, and the clutch action was light enough not to draw any attention.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic - A single two-piston caliper on 300mm rotor provides respectable braking performance for the class

A single two-piston caliper on 300mm rotor provides respectable braking performance for the class.

Brakes require a very firm action to get full effect, but lacking ABS I’d be hesitant to ask for anything more, especially when it came to riding in the wet, keeping in mind 281kg is a relatively hefty weight, if not for this particular category.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic - 41mm forks, single 300mm rotor and two-piston caliper

41mm forks offer good front end feel and a super smooth ride, spoked wheels look the business.

Suspension was a stand-out, for just offering a great smooth ride across the varied surfaces we tested on. Out testing an MT-09 at the same time it was easy to see where a big unavoidable pothole or divet in the road had just effected Jeff in front of me. On the Vulcan in comparison it’d just glide over pretty much all these road inconsistencies.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic - Liquid-cooled 903cc four-stroke V-Twin, SOHC, four valves per cylinder, dual 34mm throttle-bodies

The liquid-cooled 903cc four-stroke V-Twin, SOHC, four valves per cylinder engine features dual 34mm throttle-bodies, and torque is plentiful.

The Vulcan 900 Classic certainly lives up to its category name, it’s an ideal cruiser, with plentiful torque, easy manoeuvrability, and carries its 280kg wet weight with a low centre of gravity. Whether it’s puttering along in traffic, on the highway or enjoying a set of twisties the Vulcan is more than capable.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

The Vulcan 900 is at home navigating city traffic as it is out on the open road, although it’s a far more pleasant experience on the open road.

I certainly wasn’t setting the world on fire with my pace, but the Vulcan feels fast at an enjoyable speed and will really hook through the corners. The perfect example of a machine that you can have real fun on, without necessarily being well over the speed limit to get a thrill.


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The Vulcan is plenty of fun through the twisties, with clearance on my mind but not an issue in my time on the bike, and that’s coming from someone who normally rides sports and nakedbikes.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

Clearance was a concern in my mind, but never materialised during testing – keeping to a respectable pace albeit.

Styling and finish are both exemplary as noted, but I’ll again admit, I don’t own a cruiser and what people look for in a motorcycle can vary greatly.

The paintwork is downstated but eye-catching, with good vision through the mirrors and simple switchblocks that don’t need relearning. The thicker grips offer ideal comfort, especially for relaxed rides, or if you’re really rolling along, to hold onto.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

Style-wise the Vulcan ticks all the boxes for me, keeping in mind I don’t own a cruiser. Blacked out with a smattering of chrome looks the business, and the paint is top notch. You’d have to have very high standards indeed to find anything wrong here.

The tank mounted dash did cause some reflections up into my eyes at just the wrong time of day and the analogue speedo provides somewhat of a rough speed estimate at a glance, but that’s really looking for something to criticise.

The passenger back rest and panniers also stand out as great features, but these are optional accessories, while choosing to add the Windshield Kit would be an obvious choice if you were doing the big kilometres.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic - pillion comfort is well allowed for

Pillion comfort is well allowed for, although the backrest is an optional accessory.

Overall the Kawsaki Vulcan 900 Classic is fun, refined, well finished and provides enough torque to keep things interesting. Add a $12,499 RRP plus on roads asking price and you’ve got great value no matter how you look at it.

2017 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

When it comes to value, the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic is exceptional at $12,499 plus on roads.

Specifications: Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic


Price: $12,499+ ORC
Warranty: Two-year, unlimited kilometre
Colours:Metallic Matte Carbon Gray, Pearl Flat Crystal White

Claimed power: 37kW@5700rpm
Claimed torque: 78Nm@3700rpm
Wet weight: 281kg
Fuel capacity: 20L

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 903cc four-stroke V-Twin, SOHC, four valves per cylinder, 88 x 74.2mm bore x stroke, 9.5:1 compression, dual 34mm throttle-bodies

Gearbox: Five-speed, return; Belt final drive
Clutch: Wet, multidisc
Chassis: Rake: 32°, Trail: 160mm

Suspension: 41mm forks, 150mm travel, Unitrack shock, seven-way preload adjustable, 103mm travel

Brakes: Single front 300mm rotor, dual-piston caliper, 270mm rear rotor, dual-piston caliper

Wheels & Tyres: Wire spoke wheels, whitewall tyres, 130/90-16M/C 67H, 180/70-15M/C 76H

Wheelbase: 1645mm
Seat height: 680mm
Overall height: 1065mm
Overall width: 1005mm

Instruments: Analogue speedometer, multi-function display


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Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic Gallery

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