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2011 Vulcan 1700 Vaquero First Look

Tuesday, October 5, 2010
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.
2011 Vaquero Photo Gallery
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2011 Vulcan 1700 Vaquero Specs
The 2011 Vulcan Vaquero is powered by a liquid-cooled 1700cc V-Twin engine mated to a six-speed transmission.
Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, four valve per cylinder, 52° V-twin
Displacement: 1700cc / 103.7 cu. in.
Bore x stroke: 102 x 104mm
Compression ratio: 9.5:1
Maximum torque: 108 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm
Cooling: Liquid, plus cooling fins
Induction: Digital fuel injection, dual 42mm throttle bodies
Ignition: TCBI with Digital Advance
Transmission: Six-speed with overdrive and positive neutral finder
Final drive: Belt
Frame: Steel, double-cradle with box-section single-tube backbone
Rake / trail: 30 degrees / 7.0 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel: 43mm hydraulic fork / 5.5 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: Swingarm with twin air-assisted shocks, with 4-way rebound damping / 3.1 in.
Front tire: 130/90x16
Rear tire: 170/70x16
Front brakes: Dual 300mm discs, dual twin-piston calipers
Rear brakes: 300mm disc, twin-piston caliper
Overall length: 98.8 in.
Overall width: 38.2 in.
Overall height: 50.8 in.
Ground clearance: 5.7 in.
Seat height: 28.7 in.
Wheelbase: 65.6 in.
Curb weight: 835.7 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 5.3 gal.
Colors: Ebony, Candy Fire Red
MSRP standard / two-tone: $TBD
Warranty: 24 Months

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Ryan Cantrell -The Fairing  December 6, 2010 01:13 PM
Set up of front end doesn't look much different than the Nomad. Wonder if I could buy this fairing for my 2005 Nomad?!!! Anyone know?
Tom Stuart -Jumped in too quick  November 8, 2010 11:47 PM
Oh well! I bought a 1700 Classic and put on my own bagger equipment. The main reason was because I thought the Nomad bags were awful and I thought the Voyager was overdone. I still prefer my aftermarket removable bags but if this bike was sitting beside the Classic in the showroom I would have taken this one! Agreed that ABS is a required option these days but cruise control is there!
Zippy -Rode the Voyager at BTBERFST  October 15, 2010 04:29 AM
Just rode the Voyager at Biketoberfest, same basic chasis/driveline. Great looking machines, but no real personality. Very generic feel, just sort of thier. Triumph and HD build lots of character into thier bikes.
James Asbury -I'll bet it IS!  October 14, 2010 01:25 PM
More reliable than a Victory, that is. And lets look at that price point, shall we? If you factor in that Kawasaki has had less recalls on their Vulcan bikes than victory has had in it's short (high priced) life then you'd have to agree that it's a better buy than either a Victory or a H-D. And on THIS one, you don't have to pay extra for 103 cubic inches. As long as I'll have to pay an extra 10 grand (or more) than the bike is really worth to own American, I'll burn rice.
Ben Taylor -Retired  October 13, 2010 08:14 PM
I have a hangun called a Vaquero by Ruger . So much for copyright laws
Miss Piggy -2011 Vulcan 1700 Vaquero - can this be a women's bike?  October 13, 2010 11:56 AM
I ride a VN900 classic and have spent a fortune adding what matters to me! lowering kit, handlebar riser, fairing with radio, light bar, engine guard with chaps, hard saddle bags, rider back rest, new pipes, air breather etc.. and in less than 4 years I have reached over 100,000kms. Will this bike offer appropriate lowering kit for very short persons?
VN900rider -customizing is expensive  October 10, 2010 09:12 AM
Not everyone want's to customize their bike. I'd love to customize my VN900 classic but I just don't have that money and I'm having to live with putting the bare minimum on it. When the 1700 vaquero hits the showroom floors, and my checkbook will allow, I will go check them out. If it's not what I want then I will check out the 2000 classic LT. My dad has a classic so it's not like the 2000 classic LT should be a disappointment. Talk about a beast of a bike!
RNR -Nice Come back  October 8, 2010 09:14 AM
I am pleased to see the return of the side opening saddlebags, I never had a problem with anything falling out and it was always easy to find what you needed. I also love the blacked out look. It also looks like they have angled the floorboards slightly and may have also moved them slightly forward like the LT. Better for rider comfort, but my touring partner will still need the backrest and wide seat.
VV -More reliable?  October 7, 2010 02:17 PM
More reliable than a Victory? Doubt it vary much so.
Wowza -Vaquero...Is that pronounced Va-queer-o? Just wondering...  October 7, 2010 12:59 PM
Vaquero...Is that pronounced Va-queer-o? Just wondering...

Er, um...nice name Kawasaki...?? I'll be passing on the Va-queer-o, thanks!
Ichiban -KawaStreetGlide  October 6, 2010 04:16 PM
Well, at least it's better than what Honda offers..
Woodco100 -on the short list  October 6, 2010 05:17 AM
I was thinking about a Strato Deluxe, but I am not impressed with the styling. Thinking about an HD. I really like this look.

Lets hope they have one at Biketoberfest, maybe I will finally pull the trigger. Of course the Roadstar runs fine and is paid for...Lets see what November brings!
Kevin -Nick-Answer  October 5, 2010 07:02 PM
I probably doubt you can hear much of the bass or mid-range over the buffeted wind noise and engine whine at that speed on most blade shield bikes unless you don't mind blasting the volume up to 11 =).
Nick -Wonder how the fairing is  October 5, 2010 06:15 PM
The speed limit on the interstate in West Texas is 80 mph. If you were riding that bike into a headwind at 80, could you still hear the stereo?

Matt -Vaquero  October 5, 2010 04:07 PM
Overall I like it. It's a nice package for the price. More exited to be able to order some of the blacked out parts for my Nomad! =)
Superbikemike -hmmmmmm.......................  October 5, 2010 02:46 PM
nice loooking imho.....looks heavy (835 lbs.) , looks expensive too..........
Boomer -Why not!  October 5, 2010 02:43 PM
Not everyone is a wannabee , many are hasbeens and just tired of the whole HD thing and want something different as in brand and technology. looks a lot like a cvo ultra and 20k less . very good looking bike. Kawasaki is producing some neat bike in a very Tough economy
ScottyJ -2011 Vulcan 1700 Vaquero First Look  October 5, 2010 02:31 PM
Cool bike. Yes, it looks like a Harley or the Victory Cross Country but less expensive and I would bet at least as reliable or better. Just my opinion, obviously. No ABS? Should at least be an option. Side-loading bags? Most the comments I've read on the Nomad boards say that the top-loading bags are an improvement to avoid spillage. Don't know why they would go side-loading. Overall, I like it. Hopefully, it has a good stereo.
William G. -2 year man  October 5, 2010 02:18 PM
I agree no A.B.S. no buy for me. I have been preaching for years that all bikes should have A.B.S. We need all the help out there we can get, well 95% of us.
milwaukee mike -Why?  October 5, 2010 01:37 PM
Kawasaki builds another "wannabe".
Just check out what a 2010 Voyager sells for now. That will give you an indication of what it will be worth next year.
MarkC -Not Everyone Likes Working on the Bike  October 5, 2010 11:33 AM
Some people do enjoy "customizing" their bike but some, myself included, look for a bike that has what we want on the showroom floor. I at least do not want to spend piles more money putting adding assorted bits.
KyleC -MSRP $16,499  October 5, 2010 11:21 AM
Would definitely say the Vaquero is the looker of the 1700 line. Nice to see the old Nomad side loading bags make a come back. The fact that it is a true bagger with touring features for $1000k less then the Strat Deluxe makes it pretty competative price wise. For a new well equipped fairing bagger it's a hard value to beat. Would be neat to see an ABS option in the future though.
SW -Realworld51  October 5, 2010 09:38 AM
Side-opening saddlebags from the previous-generation Nomad. Cool. No ABS? Not cool.
TG -Potato Head  October 5, 2010 09:29 AM
So, it's a Voyager with a short windscreen, no trunk, and Nomad bags...right? I like the VN17 line, but I don't see the need for so many models. Can people no longer make these changes at home? I thought people wanted to "customize" their bikes.