2012 Kawasaki Vulcan Cruisers First Look

October 11, 2011
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.

While the revised 2012 Ninja ZX-14R stole most of the thunder during yesterday’s Kawasaki Dealer Show in Orlando, the Japanese manufacturer also released its 2012 lineup of Vulcan cruisers. The biggest updates were made to the 2012 Vulcan 1700 Voyager, while the company’s popular bagger, the Vaquero, is back for a second run. Three 900cc Vulcan cruisers round out Big Green’s 2012 cruiser offerings.

2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager
Kawasaki’s fully dressed tourer, the 2012 Vulcan 1700 Voyager, receives a new air management system aimed at diverting some of the heat coming off its 1700cc V-Twin. It also comes with the latest iteration of Kawasaki’s K-ACT II braking system as part of the optional ABS.
The latest generation of the K-ACT II braking system is available on the 2012 Voyager ABS for a  1000 over the base MSRP.

The 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager is powered by the same 1700cc liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-Twin as last year, operating with identical 102mm bore and 104mm stroke dimensions. The powerplant continues to be mated to a six-speed overdrive transmission. Stopping power is provided by dual 300mm discs with dual four-piston calipers on the front and a single 300mm disc with a twin-piston caliper on the rear. It is available with the latest generation of Kawasaki’s K-ACT II braking system on ABS models, which adds a cool grand to the base $17,899 MSRP. The 1700 Voyager still features a frame-mounted fairing with muscle-car inspired styling, while color-matched lower fairings, hard saddlebags, a topcase and cruise control highlight its touring credentials.

New for the 2012 Vulcan 1700 Voyager is the addition of the Kawasaki Air Management System (KAMS) which routes heat from the radiator and rear cylinder away from the rider and directs it toward the ground. Engine heat has been an issue with the Voyager’s engine in the past, so the KAMS should be a big benefit, especially when stuck in traffic or when it’s hot out. The 2012 Vulcan 1700 Voyager also comes with new Navigation Audio Prompt Capability that can play navigation voice prompts from a Garmin Zumo 600 or 665 series GPS devices over the motorcycle’s audio system or through Kawasaki Genuine Accessory helmet headsets.

Kawasaki’s bagger returns again in 2012 after making a successful debut last year. The 2012 Vulcan 1700 Vaquero ($16,799-$17,199) has a front fairing styled in the same manner as the Voyager minus the auxiliary lights. A shorty, smoked windscreen, louvers where the cruising lights were, and a chin spoiler give the Vaquero a sportier disposition. The tail end has been opened up by eliminating the topcase and its hard saddlebags are styled a bit differently, too. The engine and covers have been given the blacked-out treatment and the bike’s engine shrouds, rear fender and one-piece side covers are all exclusive to the model.

2012 Kawasaki Vaquero
The 2012 Vulcan Vaquero comes with a new color scheme similar to the one we saw on a Vaquero customized last year by the guys over at Roaring Toyz.

Dynamically, the Vaquero and Voyager are almost identical – same engine, six-speed tranny, and belt final drive. Both utilize an electronic throttle actuation system controlled by position sensors and an ECU. With a 28.7-inch seat height and a stable steel chassis, the Vaquero’s handling should continue to be a bright spot. Having a claimed 108 lb-ft of torque at 2750 rpm is an attractive feature as well.

The two other models offered in Kawasaki’s 1700 line of cruisers include the 2012 Vulcan Nomad ($15,799) and the 2012 Vulcan Classic ($11,499). The Nomad has more classic cruiser lines than the hot rodded Vaquero, with highway bars, floorboards, a tall windscreen, hard saddlebags and a backrest for passengers giving it touring capabilities. The Vulcan 1700 Classic is more of a stripped-down cruiser geared to give even more torque earlier in the powerband. True to its name, it comes with classic lines, exposed rear shocks and is designed with the the solo rider in mind.

The Vulcan 900 lineup consists of the 2012 Vulcan 900 Classic, 2012 900 Classic LT, and the 2012 900 Custom. The trio is powered by a 903cc SOHC V-Twin with an oversquare 88mm x 74.2mm bore/stroke. Fueling is carried out by a DFI system with dual 34mm Keihin throttle bodies. The Vulcan 900s feature a five- instead of six-speed gearbox and their front ends carry a little bit more rake than the 1700s. Big fenders, dual pipes, pullback handlebars, spoked wheels and whitewalls give the 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic SE version strong curb appeal. Prices on the 900 Classic range from $8,299 – $8,499.

2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic2012 Vulcan 900 Classic SE2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom
Introducing Kawasaki’s 2012 900 Vulcan lineup. (L) 2012 900 Classic LT (M) 2012 900 Classic SE (R) 2012 900 Custom.

The 2012 Vulcan 900 Classic LT ($9,499) is Kawasaki’s mid-sized touring cruiser, highlighted by soft, studded saddlebags and a studded pillion and backrest. It has an adjustable windshield up front to shield riders from windblast and a generous 5.3 gallon tank which gives it decent touring range. Dual slash cut pipes and a chrome console mounted high on the tank contributes to its classic cruiser design.

For the 2012 Vulcan 900 Custom ($8699 – $8999) Kawasaki trimmed up the fenders, pulled the bars in and back thanks to tall risers, and gave the SE an even more custom look with blacked out features, from its engine to its cast wheels. They went taller on the front, upping the size to 21-inches, and wider on the rear tire to 180mm. Kawasaki also tucked the rear suspension out of sight on the Vulcan 900 Custom. Floorboards have been swapped out for forward-mounted footpegs and a standard toe-operated shift lever replaces the heel-toe shifter of the other Vulcan 900s. As mentioned, the Special Edition gets the blacked-out treatment on its air cleaner, engine cases, handlebar, headlight housing and rear fender struts. 

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