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Review of the 1993 Kawasaki VN 1500:
Author: GarbageManCometh, 2004-08-04, viewed 394 times.|
I bought this ´bike in October ´02 with 3,000 miles. I had NEVER riden, and began to learn from ´scratch´ on this one. ´Chose this one as I´m 6´4´ / 285 lbs.
´Starts easily and idles smoothly enough after a minute to ´take off´. Once the oil is fully heated, engaging 2nd gear results in distinct metal-to-metal ´chomp´ sound (I´m told this is common for this tranny).|
Even if you´re taking things easy, you´ll rapidly find yourself in 4th gear. At 35-40 mph, you´ll instinctively attempt to shift in 5th, except it ain´t there...and then the questions start rolling around in your head.
Yeah, she´s geared short, and the engine´s tremendous torque and RPM range pretty much eliminates need for a 5th gear, though I do wish they´d included it anyway. When you´re easy-going, there isn´t a great deal of perceived change in available torque from 2nd to 3rd or from 3rd to 4th, as if shifting gears were no more than a formality.
But just before you´re about to conclude that this ´bike isn´t all that much fun to ride, perhaps because the tranny reflects some design mismatch, you decide to see what happens when you flex the Vulcan´s muscles...then the doubt you were experiencing instantly transforms into sheer AWE.
The acceleration in each gear is positively neck-snapping to the uninitiated. Before you´ve gone 1/8th of a mile, you´re already in 4th, at 70 to 80, but the rate of acceleration doesn´t seem to decrease, and there´s no indication at all as to when she might even begin to ´level-out´. ´Guess that´s called the ´grin´ factor, though for awhile I considered it ´Kinda Frightening´.
Don´t ask me what she´ll do the quarter´, cuz I dunno. I´m afraid to take her past 85 mph, especially considering how quickly she arrives at that speed. I can´t see any point in going any faster, considering that I haven´t grown tired of living just yet. But the previous owner told me he´d had ´er up to 125.
Despite the ´short´ gearing, the Vulcan runs the highway without complaint. 40 mpg on 87 unleaded if you keep her at-speed, seemingly regardless of whatever speed you want. Like I said earlier, acceleration from 80 mph will not disappoint. But the instant you let go of the throttle at any highway speed, you will slow down as rapidly as you accelerated, without touching the brakes. It´s then that you realize just how much engine braking is available.
The degree of engine braking IS distinct from gear to gear. Undoubtedly, what I perceive as a whole lotta engine braking that this engine/tranny combo produces is why Kawasaki deigned that it needs only a single disc brake up front (and a single disc on the rear).
Though the Vulcan is not so loud that the neighbors will complain as you come and go, anything over 60mph becomes a progressive means of turning gasoline into more and more noise.
I expected to confirm that the Vulcan is a crummy-handling boulevard beast, but I´ve discovered otherwise, at least in my hands. There is an instant of inertia preceding her leaning her left or right when I push on her -- which I like; she´s inclined to track straight-on until I DELIBERATELY maneuver. Perhaps a smaller, lighter rider would find this characteristic annoying or even dangerous, but it´s ideal for a guy my size and weight. Plus, she rides very, very smoothly. The adjustable dual rear shock/spring combo makes manhole covers, RR tracks, and speed bumps all-but-disappear.
EVERYONE told me to take the rider test on a 250 cc ´bike; that I wouldn´t possibly pass such a slow-speed, tight-turn test on a large and sloppy-handling beast like the Vulcan. As it turned out, I was the only one of a group of 15 who ACED the test. The ´bike appreciate a light touch just as well as a lead foot...er...lead right wrist.
As I have 37´ sleeves, the handlebars are very nicely placed for me. The standard-issue seat is fairly comfortable, as well. But while the pegs are well-positioned for a spirited jaunt, they´re a little too high up and rearward for comfortable touring. I´ll be checking into some kind of floorboard scheme to make longer rides more feasible.
There´s no tach, but while I´d agree that I really don´t need one, I still WANT ONE, anyway.
Oil changes are pretty easy; it takes a Fram filter you can obtain at Walmart. I haven´t tackled servicing the coolant, but it seems pretty easy to service as well. The shaft-drive mechanism is virtually maintenance-free, at least in the short term. Nothing has gone to hell as yet -- after riding it for 3000 miles.
In the final analysis, the Vulcan 1500 is a fine ride for Friday and Saturday nights around town, and for afternoon-long trips with your rat-pack -- but she ain´t no highway touring rig. What she´s just aching to do is to make your heart pound with great gobs of blessed acceleration.
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