The Vance & Hines Slash Cut Staggered Pipes are much shorter than stock and open up the back of the bike. They give the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom a bigger bark and a noticeable boost in power.
We’ve confessed to being fans of the styling chops of the 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom, but we’ve also let it be known we wish it had a bit more angst at the throttle that better suited its blacked-out disposition. We got the bike breathing deeper with the installation of a Forcewinder Intake and gave our at-the-throttle impressions in our Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Project Part 1 article. Now that we’ve bolstered the air coming in, some new pipes were in order to chuck those spent gases and hopefully give us a few more ponies, too. The stockers on the Vulcan 900 Custom are really long and put out a subdued, EPA-friendly exhaust note. Thinking some shorter pipes would fit the personality of the bike better, we opted to throw on a set of Vance & Hines Twin Slash Staggered Pipes in black.
Vance & Hines has made slapping these babies on about as easy as possible as they’re a direct replacement for the stock pipes. We started by removing the three bolts and one nut connecting the header to the stock brackets with a 12mm socket. Then we removed the four nuts holding the headers to the cylinder heads and the entire stock system pops off as one piece. The inner bolt on the rear pipe was a little tricky to access, but it broke loose fairly easily after we were able to get a flush connection. Both of the stock brackets connecting the pipes to the frame have to come off next, but save the top two bolts for use in the new bracket Vance & Hines provides because swapping out brackets is the next step.
Now that you’ve got a place to mount the new pipes, it’s time to connect the heat shield to the head pipe using the smaller #20 clamps. Feeding the clamps into the heat shield clips is about the trickiest task because there’s not much room to operate in. V&H suggests you mark the heat shields where the clips are with a pencil to save yourself a little frustration. We tried to hook up the head pipes back into the exhaust ports, but the rear brake line running along the lower frame rail was sitting up against the pipe, so we had to run it inside of the frame tube using the zip ties supplied by Vances & Hines. With both pipes connected back to the exhaust ports, we screwed four flange head bolts into the bracket to secure the exhaust to the frame. After that, the muffler body heat shields were attached using the larger #36 hose clamps. Finally, we went back and tightened everything down and fired it up.
What a difference! Now each time the 3.5-inch piston pounds down in its cylinder, I feel it. The exhaust note is much angrier, the deep-seated thump at idle akin to a hammer hitting an anvil when you’re on the pipe. Where we noticed how the addition of the Forcewinder Intake remedied flat spots on the low end, with the Vance & Hines pipes on it now boosts the engine’s top end and we can stretch gears out more.
(L) A 12mm socket is needed to remove the four nuts holding the headers to the the cylinder heads. (M) We got a big boost in performance from the addition of a Forcewinder Intake and Vance & Hines Slash Staggered Pipes, the 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom receiving gains of 7.16 lb-ft of torque and 10.12 hp. (R) The stock mounting bracket connecting the pipes to the bike had to come off but you use a couple of the stock bolts to attach the new bracket provided by Vance & Hines.
To confirm our assertions, we took the Vulcan 900 Custom over to our friends at Hansen’s BMW/Triumph/Ducati in our hometown of Medford, Oregon, to throw it on their Dynojet. We already had the stock numbers on the Vulcan 900 Custom from our 2012 Women’s Cruiser Shootout where it registered 45.13 hp @ 5600 rpm and put out 52.27 lb-ft of torque @ 3500 rpm at the rear wheel. Granted, conditions were slightly different and air temps varied because the first dyno is enclosed and the second one was in an open garage, but the addition of the Forcewinder Intake and V&H Slash Staggered Pipes gave us gains of 7.16 lb-ft of torque and boosted horsepower 10.12. The Kawasaki cruiser hits peak torque later in the rev range, its 59.43 lb-ft max coming on @ 4200 rpm while horsepower did likewise with a new high of 55.25 hp @ 6000 rpm. This all comes without the Fuelpak Vance & Hines suggests installing with the pipes to get the electronic fuel injection dialed in correctly. Without it, we’re getting a bit of sputtering on decel, primarily when the bike’s cold.
With its heat shields covered in a matte black finish, the short, straight-cut pipes blend in perfectly with the predominantly black bike. The slash, staggered pipes are much shorter which opens up the back and the view to the rear wheel. We can dump the clutch and get the tires to bark in the first couple of gears now and the bike just sounds better. Quiet and competition baffles are available, but we didn’t want to mute the drumming of the V & H pipes, so we’ve been rollin’ with them just as they came out of the box. Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom owners looking to give their ride a boost in power and attitude, seriously think about plunking down $519.95 for a set of Vance & Hines Twin Slash Staggered Pipes. You won’t be sorry.