2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT
Unlike a fair amount of its competition (are you listening Honda Shadow 750?) the 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT is a truly modern and technologically up to date midsized cruiser which combines essential basic model good looks with the classic Fifties tourer styling clues to end up with an exceptionally tasty and desirable package. From the bold chrome structure on the windshield featuring the V logo to the studded leather everything and the exquisite pinstriped two tone paint job that just oozes post-war era, the Vulcan 900 Classic LT is a visual feast.
The Vulcan 900 Classic LT is, of course, not aesthetically perfect. The mufflers are way too fat and long, the saddlebags cover up the radical hardtail styled rear frame members, and the air cleaner cover is an aberration. It's a bulbous triangular mess with a half formed embryonic chopperish round cover bulging out of it like the Alien from John Hurt's gut. Worse than that, if that's possible, the darn thing covers up half of the raison d'etre of the Vulcan 900 Classic LT, the wonderful V-twin jugs which are the primary impetus for these bikes being bought in the first place. Underneath that pile of chromed junk you might as well have a Kubota D600 diesel for all you can see from the right side!
While the 21 inch almost dangerously skinny front rubber on the Vulcan 900 Custom leads you to wonder whether you'll be kissing the asphalt when you slide out on the next hairpin, the Vulcan 900 Classic LT is provided with an exceptionally meaty 130/90-16 front tire which instills considerable confidence when leaning the V-twin over. The essential design of the Vee's shaft drive limits the size of the rear tire, and that can be considered a drawback. The 180/70-15 rear is definitely acceptable, but this type of machine just cries out for outrageously fat rear tread and if some way could be found to cram a 200 or even a 240 back there, there would be a howl of joy from the combined metric cruiser faithful that would be heard all the way back to Kawasaki Jukogyo Kabushiki-gaisha.
In many ways the 903cc liquid cooled, SOHC, four valve V-twin can be considered the best all-round Vulcan in the 2011 lineup. The Vulcan 900 Classic LT can be considered preferable to the much larger Vulcan 1700 Classic LT due to its versatility. You can tour anywhere with it, but it's also a far more maneuverable and reasonable ride than its big brother… not to mention you'll still have a wad of about 50 $100 bills left over in your jeans.
2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT At A Glance
Base MSRP: $11,399
Engine Displacement: 903 cc
Engine Type: Water cooled 4 stroke v-twin
Bore & Stroke: 88 mm x 74.2 mm
Ignition Type: Digital
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Valve Train Type: SOHC, 4 valves/cylinder
Transmission Type: Five-speed, return
Final Drive Type: Belt
Front Tire: 130/90-16M/C
Rear Tire: 180/70B15M/C
Wheelbase: 1,645 mm
Saddle Height: 680 mm
Curb Dry Weight: 298 kg
Fuel Capacity: 20 L
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released