Before becoming the conglomerate known as Kawasaki Heavy Industries, its humble roots originally began with its founder, Shozo Kawasaki had to reinvent himself in 1878 after his trade in the marine industry seemed to become obsolete after Japan's decision to use modern technology to build their ships. For Kawasaki, this was somewhat of a blessing as this meant he no longer had to work in conditions that had put his own life in jeopardy on more than one occasion. In 1886, after nearly a decade's worth of finding steady business, he relocates Tokyo to Hyogo to set up a shop he called Kawasaki Dockyard. His involvement with the ship-making business really began to soar as a result of the new location, especially when the Shion-Japanese war broke out in 1894.
New Century, New Opportunities, and New Obstacles
Come 1906, Kawasaki started to explore product diversification that eventually included involvement with aviation, the automotive industry, and the railroad. However, after the first world war had come and gone, plus the Allied arms limitations placed in 1912, business began to slow down for the company. When the Great Depression struck in 1929 after the infamous stock exchange crash, this hurt Kawasaki's company even further until the Japanese government introduced a new shipbuilding agenda in 1947. Once the door to building ships became open again, Kawasaki was able to fully restore his company by 1950 and quickly became catapulted Japan as the world's leading shipbuilding producer.
Starting in the late 1960s, Kawasaki began to withdraw from shipbuilding as they ventured more into building aircraft, automobiles, bridges, jet skis, motorcycles, and tunnel-boring machines. The company also brought forth an advanced line of railroad cars for New York's subway system. By 1995, Kawasaki Heavy Industries comes into agreement with the Chinese government to build the largest containerships to date, but the end result of this highly profitable venture has not kept Kawasaki's business out of financial hot water. Off and on, Kawaski Heavy Industries Co. has been on a rather interesting rollercoaster ride of profits and losses over the years.
Also in 1995...
As mentioned, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Co. also ventured into manufacturing motorcycles. This they do through their motorcycle division, otherwise known as Kawasaki Motorcycle Co. Ltd, which officially got its name in 1963. Through this motorcycle division, Kawasaki introduced for the first time their 1995 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 motorcycle. Custom-designed as a cruiser class bike, this V2 four-stroke motorbike weighed over 565 pounds and had a maximum horsepower output of 61 at 4300 rpm and a maximum torque of 81.7 lb-ft at 3300 rpm. The drivetrain was capable of reaching the top speed of 109 miles per hour. At the timing of the 1995 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500, it brought forth the company's reputation for not holding back when it comes to producing a powerful machine that's more than capable of handling the road. The torque capability at the time was even considered excessive, despite the fact that even today this Vulcan is the largest production of the V-cruiser series, measuring at 88 cubic feet. It is also among the most luxurious to ride, thanks to the contoured seat shape that happens to be pillow-soft. This thick padding for the seat and backrest was tested to be among the most comfortable in its time and is still the case today. The handlebar design has a tall rise and reaches back to the rider, making this comfortable to handle. When it comes to footing the long wheelbase of 63.2 inches allows for plenty of passenger room and leg space with the driver's footpegs placed well forward.
1995 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Specifications
- Engine and Transmission
- Engine Size/Displacement - 89.70 cubic inches (1470 ccm)
- Power - 61 horsepower (44.5 kW) @ 4300 rpm
- Torque - 81.7 lb-ft (11.3 kfg-m) @ 3300 rpm
- Gearbox - 4 speed
- Valves per Cylinder - 4
- Bore/Stroke - 102 x 90 mm
- Cooling System - Liquid-cooled
- Compression Ratio - 8,8:1
- Induction - 2x Keihin CV 40 mm carburater
- Ignition/Starting - CDI Electric
Front Brakes - Two 320 mm discs, 6-piston calipers
- Rear Brakes - Single 370 mm disc 2 piston caliper
- Braking - 60 - 0: 14.7 m
- Braking - 100 - 0: 41.5 m
- Chassis, Physical Measurement and Capacities
Frame - High-Tensile Steel, double-cradle
- Dry Weight - 566.6 pounds (257 kg)
- Power/Weight Ratio - 0.2374 HP/kg
- Seat Height - 29.5 inches (750 mm)
- Front Suspension - 41 mm cartridge fork
- Front Wheel Travel - 5.9 inches (150 mm)
- Rear Suspension - Dual air-assisted shock absorbers with 4-way rebound damping adjustment
- Rear Wheel Travel - 3.9 inches (100 mm)
- Front Tire - 130/90-16
- Rear Tire - 150/80-16
- Rake - 32.0 degrees
- Trail - 6.9 inches (177 mm)
- Wheelbase - 63.2 inches (1605 mm)
- Front Seat Height - 27.8 inches (705 mm)
- Rear Seat Height - 28.3 inches (720 mm)
- Dry Weight - 643.7 pounds (292 kg)
- Wet Weight - 690 pounds (313 kg)
- Fuel Capacity - 4.2 US Gallons (16.0 liters)
Throughout the 1995 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500, there is no lack of a highly polished chrome finish. From back to front, the shine of the chrome added that much more appeal to what had become one of the most coveted cruise-class motorcycles of its time. Even the cover of the coolant tank featured a chrome finish, which also gave an air-cooled look to the liquid-cooled V-twin motor. This was essential to win over as an important style feature in the highly competitive cruiser class motorcycle market. This bike also came with a flurry of warning lights and a chrome-plated rider's panel that's easy to read its speedometer. The fuel gauge area is also heavily decorated with chrome and easy to read, which is a good thing because Kawasaki didn't give much thought to fuel economy when it comes to riding this Vulcan on the road. It wasn't uncommon to run out of fuel after only 120 miles of cruising speed travel.
The 1995 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 is still regarded as one of the most favored cruiser-class motorcycles the company has ever made. Some Kawasaki fans have literally chosen to remain as fans for life as many won't even consider straying to test out any of its competitors. The biggest appeal is the power in the motor, even with a motorbike that is already over 25 years old.
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Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith