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Ride Review: 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S

RECOIL recently enjoyed the opportunity to ride the all-new 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S with its innovative Ergo-Fit custom fit options and stellar 650cc engine.

Kawasaki is looking to reach a new audience with its entry-level Vulcan, and it was notable the way they went about designing this new motorcycle. The engineers wanted to incorporate thoughtful touches, such as a configurable ride system dubbed “Ergo-Fit”, which allows the bike to suite a wide range of riders, weather tall of short.

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Ergo-Fit starts with three different, rider-configured, dealer-prepared ergonomic arrangements that will fit riders of specific heights and body types. For example, rides that are 5'6″ and shorter will most likely select option A, with it's “Reduced Reach” handlebar, footpeg position and seat setup. Option B, dubbed “Mid Reach” is designed for riders in the 5'7″ to 6'0″ range. While option C is an “Extended Reach” configuration tailor-made for any rider over 6'1″. Kawasaki also allows you to custom fit your body to the bike at the dealer, with the Ergo-Fit parts coming at no additional cost to the original buyer!

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In addition to the comfort, Kawasaki ensured any rider would appreciate the performance of this vehicle. For beginners, Kawasaki fitted a parallel twin engine that is easy to manage with a Positive Neutral Finder and rider-friendly powerband that makes starts and shifting easy to and nail every time.

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For the more experienced rider, Kawasaki kept the high-revving capabilities that this Ninja 650-derived engine is known for, but a number of tuning measures have given the engine more torque and slightly less outright power than the Ninja application.

After riding the bike, we can say Kawasaki addressed both of these goals. A rider of any experience level will quickly feel comfortable on this motorcycle.

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The suspension setup on the Vulcan S is reminiscent of your typical cruiser but with some unique aspects. Most noticeably, the rear shock is positioned horizontally. This gives the bike 3.2″ of suspension travel to absorb bumps, while visually having a low rear fender that hugs the tire. This laydown rear shock is put on display to highlight its sporty location for this class of cruiser.

The KYB front fork offers 5.1″ of travel. The steering is light yet stable at speed. Overall, the suspension is plush for your riding around town, but it can be a little harsh on high-speed bumps. We should clarify that by stating it has more suspension travel than most of its competition and is as good or better than most, especially at the price point.

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Brakes are one of the bike's strong suits. Stopping power is progressive and easy to manage with a 300mm disc up front that is squeezed via a dual piston caliper. Out back, a single 250mm disc is squeezed with a single piston caliper. This, and the quick handling reflects Kawasaki's sportsbike heritage that they brought to bear during the development of this cruiser.

One of the most confidence-inspiring attributes of the new bike is the rider's ability to reach the ground when stopped. It might not seem like a big deal, but the narrow parallel twin engine means the exhaust is tucked under the bike. As such, there are no obstructions around your legs, meaning you can confidently come to a halt. We should also point out that this configuration allows some impressive lean angles for a cruiser, again pointing to its ancestry.

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Kawasaki infused a ton of thoughtful engineering into the motorcycle, from its customizable seating configuration to the available accessories at the vehicle's launch. Vulcan S owners can add a passenger seat, saddlebags, different height windscreens, 12-volt DC power outlet, gear indicator, and a host of other accessories to customize the bike to their liking.

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The entry price is also accommodating, with the non-ABS model starting at a very reasonable $6,999, coming with a 12-month Limited Warranty. Customers who want to step up to the ABS model will only need to stretch to $7,399 for the extra reassurance.

So if you're looking for a bike that will fit almost anyone, looks stylish, has loads of optional accessories, and a price point that will fit most budgets, the Kawasaki Vulcan S is worth a look at your local Kawasaki dealer.

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Receive the latest updates for the Kawasaki Vulcan S and other vehicles at the Kawasaki Facebook Page. If you’d like more information about Kawasaki’s new Vulcan S, or any of vehicles in Kawasaki’s extensive lineup, check out the new website at Kawasaki . Or you can head over to your local Kawasaki dealer to get an up-close and personal look at this new offering from the “Good Times” company.


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