The History and Evolution of the Kawasaki Vulcan

Since 1984, the Japanese company, Kawasaki, has been using Vulcan to depict their motorcycle cruiser line. This Japanese company is famous for manufacturing some of the world’s best bikes. This brand is representative of Japanese ingenuity and engineering, and it remains to be a top contender in motorcycle industry to this day.  Here’s a look at various Vulcan models over the years and the year said model was first implemented:

1985 – 750 series

This was the very first year that the company launched its first cruiser, the VN750. This motorcycle had a 750cc engine. Along with this model, the company also launched the VZ750, which was simply a subtle variation to the original. This model is now quite rare. From this point on, stylistics and designs of the brand has remained mostly similar throughout its production. Kawasaki ended production of this series in 2006.

 1986 – 400 series

From 1986 to 2004, the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer produced the 400 series as an entry-leve motorcycle cruiser with a 398cc liquid-cooled twin engine. This model had a belt drive and a six-speed transmission. There was a redesign to this model that switched the drive to a chain drive. The transmission was also switched to five-speed instead of six. This ultimately reduced the motorcycle costs for both the manufacturer and the consumer. The 400 series’ design was largely similar to that of the original VN750.

1987 – 1500 series

At this point, the engines used in this series were by far the largest among the Vulcan motorcycle cruisers The 1500 Classic had a 1,470cc liquid-cooled engine. It also looked different from previous models with its floorboard and handlebar designs. Other models in the 1500 series included the 1500 Drifter, the 88, 1500 Meanstreak, and 1600 Meanstreak. This entire series ended production in 2008.

1990 – 500 series

This model strayed from VN750’s designs and rather took inspiration from Kawasaki’s 454 LTD and the Ninja 500R. The first 500 model, EN500A, used a six-speed transmission. It also had a parallel twin 498cc engine. This model was discontinued in 1996, but it was redesigned as the 500 LTD or EN500C. Ergonomic designs of the motorcycle were basically changed along with the fine-tuning of the engine. The 500LTD model was discontinued in 2009.

1995 – 800 series

This was only the beginning of Kawasaki’s foray into modern styles for its cruisers . VN800A was the first model of the series. It had a softail design and a different rear fender. It had a 805cc liquid-cooled engine and five-speed transmission. This motorcycle had a 42.9 hp capability. Next year, Kawasaki released the Classic redesign for the series, which they called VN800B. Both models were discontinued in 2006.

2002 – 1600 series

This year, the company produced three different variations of one motorcycle: the 1600 Classic, 1600 Nomad, and 1600 Meanstreak. Each of these bikes had 1,552cc of liquid-cooled engines. There were subtle differences between all three in the smallest details. All models stopped production in 2009.

2004 – 2000 series

There were three variations made on one model frame for the 2000 series. This base model came out in 2004 and was named Classic or VN2000A. Apart from design differences, the other two models were essentially similar to the base. A few feature were just added to the new model, including different headlights, added saddlebags, windshield, and passenger features such as floorboards and a backrest. These remodels were released in 2006 and were called Classic or VN2000D and Classic LT or VN2000F. Each model used a 2,053cc engine and had capabilities of up to 116 hp. By 2010, all three models had been discontinued.

2006 – 900 series

This year, the 900 Classic was introduced. This is a 900cc bike that uses a belt drive and a special speedometer mounted on the tank. It also has other features such as turn signals and hazard lights. This 900 Classic had a couple of variations: 900 Classic LT and 900 Custom. Both variations were basically similar to the classic model—except for a couple of differences. The Classic LT has a passenger backseat and saddlebags while the Custom model has a 180mm rear tire, lower-profile seats, and drag-style handlebars. This series is still currently in production.

2009 – 1700 series

The latest and most current series has had five different variations so far, with latest ones released as recently as 2011. This 1700 series features a 1,700cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected engine. All models have six-speed transmissions and a ride-by-wire throttle. These models are called Classic, Classic LT, Nomad, Voyagers, and lastly, Vaquero. Only stylistic differences separate all of these five different variations, and some of those stylistic appeals are quite subtle. These models are all still currently in production.


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