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What strikes me right off the bat is the 5.3-gallon fuel tank. That’s creeping up into bagger size. Kawasaki claims it’s the largest in its class, and I don’t doubt it. With the long legs that tank gives you, you’ll spend more time cruising and less time at the gas station. To live up to the “classic” name, the bike — along with its vintage styling — comes with white-wall tires, laced wheels and skirted fenders. That’s a very classic and classy look. Kawasaki calls the seat height “ultra low,” but at almost 27 inches, I beg to differ. Tall folks will have a nice break at the knee when putting their feet down, but short folks will have to sit on it and decide if it works. (Kawasaki thinks “short” people are 5 feet 6 inches tall. I need four-inch heels to reach that height.) At least the seat is tapered, and with the narrow shape afforded by the lower chassis rails, it’s easier to find the ground. With heel and foot shifters on the rider footboards and ample hip support in the seat, it’ll make for a comfortable ride. The blacked out engine and air-cleaner lends the bike an old-school custom look, but also helps camouflage the radiator mounted to the front down-tubes. The polished cooling fin edges highlight the V-twin look and keep the engine from getting lost in the black void under the fuel tank.

Chassis:

 

When I saw the 5.9-inch travel in the front forks — the most in its class — I wondered how much dive there’d be, but excellent rigidity keeps the bike from dipping forward when applying the brakes. The fat 180-width tire — widest rear tire in its class — makes a great big contact patch for the feel and control of a big bike. The fork offset and rake make for good parking-lot maneuverability, which is where folks often get into trouble at low speeds before counter-steering takes effect.

Drivetrain:

 

Kawasaki’s 903 cc V-twin engine looks classic to fit the style of the bike, but inside it reaps the benefits of modern engineering with four valves per cylinder and liquid cooling. The single-pin crankshaft and balancer reduces vibration, which in turn reduces rider fatigue and prevents the high-frequency vibrations that can make your hands go numb on long rides. The saddle-shaped seat keeps your butt on the bike when you grab a fistful of the throttle and that 58.2 pound-feet of torque moves you. Bolted to the engine, you’ll find a five-speed transmission with positive neutral finder. The positive neutral finder benefits newer riders and riders wearing heavy leather boots who may have a hard time feeling the neutral detent. The belt drive is rather ubiquitous nowadays, but the low maintenance and quiet operation are superior to chain- or shaft-drives.

Pricing:

 

Available only in two-tone Metallic Matte Carbon Gray and Pearl Flat Crystal White, MSRP on the Vulcan 900 Classic is $7,999 with a 12-month limited warranty. An optional extended warranty for 12, 24, 36, or 48 months is available through Kawasaki Protection Plus.

He Said:

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton says, “The lines of the bike, the V-twin engine, wide front end and saddle shape do a fair job of copying the look of the H-D FatBoy. The single-throw crank moves the engine design even farther into Harley territory, but you’d be a fool to believe it sounds like one. However, the price makes it very accessible and gives you a comparable look without breaking the bank. Overall, I think it’s a decent entry-level-priced bike with aesthetic qualities that certainly bring to mind traditional American design.”

She Said:

“I called this a baby bagger without the bags, and that wasn’t a far-off statement. Kawasaki added a windshield, bags and a passenger backrest and called it the Vulcan 900 Classic LT sport touring bike. Opt for Kawasaki genuine accessories, such as a luggage rack, saddlebags and a windshield, and you can have a touring cruiser with that big V-twin feel. That’s bar-hopping in style.”

(By Allyn Hinton, via topspeed.com)