2011 Vulcan 1700 Vaquero First Look

October 5, 2010
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
Cruiser Editor |Articles|Articles RSS|Blog|Blog Posts|Blog RSS

Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

Introducing the 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero.
Many of the Vaquero’s parts are original designs, including the engine shrouds, rear fender, one-piece side covers, saddlebags, fairing, seat and mufflers.

Motorcycles, like fashion, are cyclical. What’s hot is a carousel – bobbers yesterday, baggers today, and who-knows-what tomorrow. But baggers have been hot. As has the anti-chrome movement of blacked-out engines and dark components. Kawasaki has been paying attention to the trends as it looks to spice up its Vulcan 1700 line of motorcycles with its new blacked-out bagger, the 2011 Vaquero.

The foundation for the newest Vulcan is provided by a single backbone, double cradle steel frame. Kawasaki has trimmed down the number of forged parts in the frame to a handful and those are used only in areas that need additional reinforcement like the downtube joint, engine brackets, side-stand bracket and rear fender/shock absorber bracket.

Spooned compactly within the tubular rails of the frame is Kawasaki’s 1700cc liquid-cooled V-Twin, with its four-valve heads making use of a single overhead cam. The 52-degree V-Twin sports a generous 104mm stroke working within a sizable 102mm bore to squeeze out low-and mid-range power. Kawasaki claims its peak power numbers are 108 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm, which puts it in the same range as the Freedom 106/6 engine Victory uses in its faired bagger, the Cross Country. A single-pin crankshaft will help ensure it has plenty of that lumping V-Twin character cruiser riders expect. A semi-dry sump design allows Kawasaki to use a lower crankshaft position and achieve a long piston stroke without increasing the engine height. The engine in the Vaquero will power all four 2011 Vulcan 1700 models, including the Voyager, Classic and Nomad.

The Vaquero’s fuel-injected powerplant uses a system based on the EFI used in the Ninja 650R and the Vulcan

The Vaquero is equipped with Kawasakis 52-degree V-Twin with a single overhead cam and a long 102 x 104mm bore stroke.
The Vaquero is equipped with Kawasaki’s 52-degree V-Twin with a single overhead cam and a long 102 x 104mm bore/stroke.

900. The EFI operates in conjunction with the motorcycle’s throttle valve system. The electronic throttle actuation system uses an Accelerator Position Sensor (APS) and a Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) to feed data to the ECU. The bike’s ECU then adjusts throttle plates to tailor intake airflow and fuel delivery. Best part is, Kawasaki attempted to make it feel as natural as possible when you twist the grip because it’s still cable-actuated. The throttle grip is connected to a throttle body pulley that activates the APS.

The Vaquero sports a frame-mounted fairing shaped much like the Voyager’s – chopped low, stretched wide with lines influenced by hot-rod cars. The Vaquero’s fairing differs by its shorty smoked windscreen and louvre-style fog lamp covers on each side of the headlight. The covers can be replaced with accessory lamps like the Voyager, though, for added night time visibility. Below the fairing sits a new set of engine shrouds Kawasaki R&D has come up with that terminate in a small chin scoop.

The instrument layout mounted inside the fairing features large, round dials and a display reminiscent of vintage American automobiles. The largest two analog dials give riders the most important information – speed and rpm. Two smaller dials serve as a fuel gauge and display coolant temperature. Smack-dab in the middle of these is a multi-function LCD display with a gear position indicator, clock, odometer, dual trip meters as well as readouts for remaining range and average fuel consumption. These can be toggled by switches on the right handlebar. You’ll also find switches for the electronic cruise control system mounted on the right handlebar that is usable at any speed between 30 and 85 mph in any of the top four gears. The Vaquero also sports an audio system with AM/FM/WX and is compatible with iPod, an XM tuner or CB radio units.

The 2011 Vaquero features an aerodynamically shaped  frame-mounted front fairing.
The 2011 Vaquero features an aerodynamically shaped, frame-mounted front fairing.
Kawasaki enhanced the rugged stance of its Vaquero bagger by using instrumentation influenced by American muscle cars.
Kawasaki enhanced the rugged stance of its Vaquero bagger by using instrumentation influenced by American muscle cars.

The muscular stance of the Vulcan Vaquero’s front end is complemented by the beefy arms of a 43mm telescopic fork. The fork assembly has been blacked-out, as has the fender, the nine-spoke cast aluminum wheels and inner rotor assembly of the dual 300mm front discs. The front wheel’s diameter is compact at 16 inches but stout at 130/90.

The new Kawasaki bagger’s back end follows the smooth symmetry formed by the sweep of the sculpted 5.3-gallon tank and one-piece leather seat. Hard-shell, lockable saddlebags are top-opening and provide almost 10 gallons each of claimed storage space. The subtle round shape of the bags is another design Kawasaki says is unique to the Vaquero, as is the bike’s rear fender, one-piece side covers, seat and mufflers. Tucked neatly out of sight on the bike’s rear are twin air-assisted shocks connected to a steel swingarm. The shocks offer spring preload and four-way adjustable rebound damping. There’s more under wraps on the back end as the bags also hide a 170mm-wide rear tire and a 300mm rotor with twin-piston Tokico calipers.

Kawasaki aimed to inject the 2011 Vaquero with plenty of attitude, demonstrated by the company’s choices of style and color. It begins up front with the Vaquero’s chopped, distinctively shaped fairing and continues with its new engine shrouds and chin spoiler. Black is the new chrome and its list of blacked-out components is long,

The 2011 Vaquero has lockable  side-loading hard saddlebags.
The 2011 Vaquero has lockable, side-loading hard saddlebags.

from the multi-textured engine treatment to its air-cleaner and engine covers to its wheels, fork assembly and tank. The Vaquero isn’t entirely without a little bit of the shiny stuff, though, as its engine guards, exhaust, and mirrors are chrome.

The 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero will be offered in either Ebony or Candy Fire Red and comes with a 24-month warranty. No price has been indicated yet, but we anticipate it will fall somewhere in between Kawasaki’s full-dresser , the Voyager at $17,299, and its other hard-bagged cruiser-turned-tourer, the Nomad at $15,199. Baggers are hot and Kawasaki’s poised to capitalize on their popularity.

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