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2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S Preview


by Pascal Bastien ,

Kawasaki transformed its ER-6n to create a brand new sporty cruiser. It's a simple yet promising idea that contrasts with the sea of small-displacement cruisers, most of which simply try to emulate Harley-Davidson products.

In the case of the brand new 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S, modern lines and serious execution combine with innovative solutions (like adjustable ergonomics) to enhance comfort. The 705mm seat height makes it accessible to smaller riders, yet it's not the lowest in the segment so everyone should be happy.

Equipment is fairly generous for the price. The Vulcan S features adjustable brake and clutch levers, a stylish black exhaust pipe cover, unique wheels (18” front, 17” rear), and a comprehensive instrument panel that includes a fuel gauge, trip computer, clock, and gear indicator in addition to the usual info.

2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S
Photo: Kawasaki

Heart of a sport bike
The 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S is powered by a 649cc inline twin-cylinder engine that's more flexible at low and medium revs than the same unit in the ER-6n. Various modifications since 2006 have helped deliver more pleasant operation at higher speeds, and more importantly the transmission proves sharper.

High-revving performance may not be as strong as that of other bikes using this particular engine, but typical Vulcan S customers likely won't care. This is the result of a heavier flywheel, longer intake funnels, less aggressive camshaft profiles, and revised engine maps. The transmission is actually identical to the one in the ER-6n including the chain final drive for optimum power delivery, Kawasaki says. A belt or shaft (cleaner and lower-maintenance) would have been a big draw, though.

Vulcan S chassis means business
The 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S is built around a new perimeter frame and swingarm made of high-tensile steel. Featuring an offset, laydown shock (as seen on Kawasaki sport bikes), the rear suspension is equipped with linkage to enable a longer stroke for increased ride comfort. The bike's ultra-low centre of gravity makes up for its 228kg curb weight, while the brakes consist of a single front and rear disc backed by Bosch M9E ABS.

Ultimately, Kawasaki decided to launch a modern, sporty cruiser at a time when all other manufacturers are focused on small sport and naked bikes to attract beginners. It's a formidable alternative to dated and stale models like the Suzuki S40 and Yamaha V-Star 650 custom. With the high-value Vulcan S, this oft-forgotten segment is bound to return to the spotlight. From novices to seasoned riders, anyone looking for style and excitement at a reasonable price will be pleased.