2009 Kawasaki 1700 Vulcan Classic/ Classic LT, Vulcan Nomad, Vulcan Voyager…

15 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2009 Kawasaki 1700 Vulcan Classic/ Classic LT, Vulcan Nomad, Vulcan Voyager…
Kawasaki VN 1700 Classic
Kawasaki VN 1700 Classic

2009 Kawasaki 1700 Vulcan Classic/ Classic LT, Vulcan Nomad, Vulcan Voyager

Vulcan 1700 Voyager/ABS

As far as riding goes, Mill Valley, California, isn’t a bad place in which to indulge your throttle hand. Especially when somebody else is providing the bikes, as Kawasaki was for its 2009 Vulcan 1700 launch last month. The firm was introducing its fuel-injected future in the form of four new cruiser and touring V-twins, and for the next two days I sampled the new line while negotiating the twisty miles that snake around the verdant Marin hills.

Four models–three of them bearing familiar names–are being rolled out for 2009. The 1700 Classic, Classic LT and Nomad all receive the obvious 100cc bump in displacement from 2008’s 1600, but the bigger news is Kawasaki’s new luxury touring bike, the Voyager. Any way you slice `em, all the new 1700 Vulcans all get a six-speed transmission, a belt instead of shaft drive, and a new chassis.

The Big Picture

I’ve always felt the 1600 Vulcans were just an incremental step up from the 1500s, so I’m happy to see Kawi go with an entirely new engine and chassis for the 1700s. The new long-stroke V-twin is indeed a fresh design, even though it’s loosely based on the Vulcan 2000’s mill. Most noticeable is the debut of a single-overhead cam in each cylinder (and four valves per cylinder) instead of the V2K’s pushrod-actuated arrangement.

The 1700cc engine retains the 1600’s 102mm bore, but stroke gets stretched to 104mm for a solid 1700ccs of displacement.

Probably of greater concern to cruiser riders is torque, however– and they’ll be tickled to hear the new engine allegedly outputs 108 ft-lb of the stuff at 2250 rpm (15% more than the old bike). Kawasaki says the new long-stroke design along with a bump in compression (now 9.5:1) also results in 20% more horsepower than the 1600’s (we’ve heard 89 hp), peaking at just below 5000 revs. Engine heat is now diffused by a combination of machined cylinder fins and liquid-cooled upper cylinders.

A single-pin crankshaft delivers the requisite rumble, while twin counterbalancers (as opposed to the V16’s single balancer) keep the 52-degree Vee’s vibes in check. Power production is smoothed out by Kawasaki’s first electronic throttle valve system. The setup allows the EFI to adapt to inputs from throttle position, load, temperature and air pressure.

It doesn’t end there. The new powerplant is backed by a 6-speed transmission that offers overdrive ratios in the top two gears. Thrust is now sent rearward via a 28mm wide carbon-fiber-based belt drive- the bulky shaft of the 1600s has been ditched, for better power transfer and no jacking.

It also makes the bike easier to customize with aftermarket goodies.

Tying it all together is a single backbone, double-cradle frame with some forged steel parts for lighter weight. That chassis is also more compact and has fewer castings, which likewise helps knock tonnage off the curb weight.

Kawasaki VN 1700 Classic
Kawasaki VN 1700 Classic

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