2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS
It's a shame that motorcycle manufacturers have a tendency to bring old names out of mothballs and apply them to bikes that really don't have anything in common with the original machines. Although the original Kawasaki Voyager was a tourer, it was based on a transverse six cylinder engine which in the shadow of the tremendous Honda CBX 1000 transverse six turned out to be the Rodney Dangerfield of sixes. It never got any respect but it was a much better powerplant than most people gave it credit for.
In the 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS the six is long gone, replaced by a somewhat shrunken version of the gone and lamented albeit monstrous Vulcan 2000 Vee Twin. So while the original Voyager was a full dress CBX, the new Voyager is an ersatz Electra Glide. Yeah. It's confusing.
Fortunately that's the only confusing thing about the Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS because in almost every other respect, this bike cleans the clock of any tourer which has ever issued from Milwaukee or York. To state that the Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS may just be the best v-twin tourer to ever hit the roads of the world is not necessarily empty hyperbole. The Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS is really that good.
The 1700cc liquid-cooled, SOHC, four valve per cylinder, 52 degree V-twin is so outrageously powerful, grunty, smooth, throaty, and pliant that it would take several pages from Roget's just to begin to define how wonderful, luxurious, comfortable, satisfying, class leading, and incomparable it is. It's got almost as many toys and gadgets as a Wing, but still has the soul and spirit of a humongous V-Twin. Sign me up for the four corners trip today: Florida, California, British Columbia, Nova Scotia… here I come!
The Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS, runs, ABS stops, handles, and rides like the V-Twin tourer of any enthusiasts' dreams. The only jarring discrepancy is that at 5.3 gallons capacity riders have to stop for gas too often.
The base Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS is just a bit over $17,000 which although it provides about 10 times the bang for your buck of the say-whaaaaaat twenty grand Yamaha Royal Star Venture S, is still just a bit on the pricy side. With an MSRP that started with the digits 14, the Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS would be a lock for the most awesome tourer value in the Milky Way galaxy. As it is, it's a tiny bit of a stretch to justify the stack of Benjamins you need to hand over to your local Kawi dealer in exchange for the keys. Were it not for the price issue, tiny tank, and the unfortunate naming confusion, there is no doubt that the 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS wins the V-Twin Tourer Of The Decade Award hands down.
2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS At A Glance
Base MSRP: $21,049
Engine Displacement: 1700 cm3
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke V-Twin
Bore & Stroke: 102 x 104 mm
Ignition Type: Digital
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Valve Train Type: SOHC, 8 valves
Transmission Type: 6-speed
Final Drive Type: Belt
Front Tire: 130/90B16M/C 67H
Rear Tire: 170/70B16M/C 75H
Wheelbase: 1,665 mm
Saddle Height: 730 mm
Curb Dry Weight: 402 kg
Fuel Capacity (US): 20 litres
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released