Motorcycles: Attention, Chopper Shoppers

  • Barry Winfield

One-of-a-kind, custom-built chopper motorcycles are commonly referred to as hogs for good reason: Their rudimentary suspensions offer limited creature comforts. If demonstrating your individuality is absolutely essential, comfort may not be a critical criterion. However, if your ego can withstand compromise better than your back can, then the moderately priced ($7,350), mass-produced 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom might be appealing.

The bike’s complex and eye-catching cast-alloy design does not include a single straight line. The 21-inch-tall, 90-mm-wide front tire appears to be barely wide enough to provide the grip necessary to keep the bike upright, but it performs admirably for its size. The contours of the organically shaped fuel tank suggest the muscles under the taut skin of a lithe animal. A gunfighter seat drapes between the tank and the rear wheel, kicking up onto a bobbed rear fender that frames the fat, 180 mm rear tire.

“Our intention was to give the machine the substance and presence of a big cruiser while retaining the midsized engine,” says Croft Long, Kawsaki’s product manager. The bike’s 55-degree V-twin is based on the preceding Vulcan 800’s engine, but its stroke has been increased to bump its displacement to 903 cc—which, coincidentally or not, was the exact size of the engine in the company’s legendary Z1 4-cylinder bombshell of 1973.

Kawasaki added fuel injection to this new engine, using dual 34 mm throttle bodies. Combined with catalytic converters, the new fuel metering system meets strict new European emission regulations while offering a wonderfully linear and responsive throttle response. The engine features a common-crankpin design, which produces the off-beat engine cadence characteristic of most cruisers. A gear-driven balancer quells the engine’s vibrations without eliminating that distinctive pulse.

The real virtue of the Vulcan 900 Custom is its rider-friendly nature. With a seat height of just 27 inches, the bike is easy to mount, and its 550-pound weight will not intimidate smaller riders. During the machine’s press introduction, its riding position proved comfortable for riders of various statures, and the combination of stability at speed and light handling in confined spaces elicited compliments from cruiser and sportbike fans alike.

The Vulcan’s single-shock rear suspension worked well with the big rear tire and its belt final-drive system. Equipped with a smooth-shifting 5-speed and a fairly light-pull clutch, the Vulcan displayed the sophisticated operation of a more expensive machine. Those attributes, plus the Vulcan’s sharp styling, might leave you with little compulsion to commission a bike from a chopper shop.

Kawasaki
www.kawasaki.com

Read Next Article >>
Photo by Mercedes-Benz Cars
Robb Report puts the C63 S through its paces at the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal…
Photo by James Lipman
Find out how the V-8 stacks up against its V-12 stablemate…
This race-adapted hybrid generates 86 more hp than its road-going counterpart…
Porsche 918 Spyder
See the winner and rankings, as well as exclusive photos and videos of all the cars...
Caterham Bikes Carbon E-Bike, a brawny carbon-fiber-and-aluminum electric bicycle that looks like a...
The Stingray is the seventh generation of the Corvette, a model that has been in production since...
Photo by Mathieu Heurtault/Gooding & Company
The annual Gooding & Company Amelia Island Auction...
Photo by Scott Williamson/www.photodesignstudios.com
Stutz Motor Car of America, produced the Blackhawk from 1971 through 1987...
Chevrolet brought its Corvette Stingray convertible to Palm Springs, a popular location for...
Photo by Max Earey
The new sedan generates 552 hp and 465 ft lbs of torque…