Kawasaki has changed the game on rider fit and comfort. The new Kawasaki Vulcan S (S for “Sport”) 650 with ABS has over eighteen “Ergo-Fit” options all intended to fit you into the bike before you ride away! The fitting is done at the time you purchase the bike within the Kawasaki “Ergo-Fit” shop. Imagine now the confidence and complete comfort you’ll have the very first time you ride your new Kawasaki Vulcan S – control right from the first kilometre.
For most new riders, and many women motorcycle riders –the feeling of not fitting, not feeling in control on a motorcycle is intimidating. Far too often new riders are told by sales staff that – they’ll “grow into the bike”. Well, this couldn’t be further from reality. Skills may improve (grow) over the years as to managing the motorcycle operation, yet our length and the reach of our arms won’t change!
Kawasaki engineers wanted to build a motorcycle for those seeking to join the motorcycling world. They weren’t looking at sport bike style because Kawasaki already has the Ninja models. When Kawasaki put the question out there to new and want to be riders, the replies were loud and clear – fit, comfort and confidence in riding. Armed with this new info they set out to meet those desires and succeeded with the new styled Kawasaki Vulcan S.
How The Vulcan S “Ergo Fitting” Works
Aptly named the “Ergo-Fit” Shop, the measuring system tailors the Kawasaki Vulcan S to your personal ride adjusts before you ride away. And that’s what happened prior to my ride on the Vulcan S ABS – talk about a personal touch! I met with my assigned Kawasaki technician who assisted with measuring charts, started my fitting off with first noting my height and weight. We then went through my exclusive “Ergo-Fit” process sessions, which didn’t take long but included a sitting on the three Vulcan S base set ups:
- Extended: 6’1” and above (185cm – up)
- Mid: 5’7” to 6 ft (175-183cm)
- Reduced: 5’6” and under (167cm)
Further Fitting Considerations
- One of the two handlebar reach options
- Three seat options and
- Three adjustable foot peg positions.
In all my years of riding this was my first ever, though not too unlike setting up my race bike during my years of competitive road racing – I’d experienced a street ride “fitting”! Talk about personal care. I really felt catered to and enjoyed the personal and uniqueness of the experience.
We determined that I was the “mid” reach fit. Later on, and just before hitting the Santa Barbara streets for my ride review, we adjusted my shift lever a little more to fit my foot toe reach. The “Ergo-Fit” shop is a component of the Vulcan S and will be set up at your authorized dealer. Unlike most pricey “customizations” most cruiser type motorcycles get when our budgets allow. The Kawasaki “Ergo-Fit’s” are included with the Vulcan S at time of purchase.
Kawasaki Vulcan S Is A Cruiser With Sport Bike Performance
The Vulcan S is based on the Ninja 649cc parallel twin-engine. Its digital fuel injection liquid cooled and specific tuning give the engine its smoothness. This is a big advantage for new riders still finessing the power transitions either at high or low speeds. There’s also a positive neutral finder making it easier to find neutral when stopped. What also impressed me were its power and high revving smoothness and the long-range of power each gear possessed. I found that I could keep the bike in fifth gear rather than sixth for higher cornering speed control without power discrimination’s.
As said earlier, the “S” in the Vulcan name stands for “sport” and this is exactly how the Vulcan S responded! The design is unlike any Vulcan produced in Kawasaki’s thirty year history of the model. Its long and low sport bike bred chassis is slim which also gives the Vulcan S its lightweight feel (just 459 lbs/226 kgs). Its finishes defy cruiser as seen in the tucked under exhaust muffler intentionally chosen to stay out of the way for more lean into the corners. The forward placed inline parallel twin-engine (versus V-Twin) opens up the cockpit. This feature overcomes the wider stance normally needed with many cruiser style motorcycles. It’s also worth noting that the Vulcan S design makes gripping the tank with the inside of your knees possible. This is a sport bike handling technique and on other cruiser models there’s just too much exposed engine to do so.
My ride experience was relaxed, agile and more to that of a sport bike but that just may have been my style. I later shared this with the Vulcan S engineer Mano-san during our meeting. I explained to him that while taking it through the sharp turns of the Californian coastal hillside, the Vulcan S seemed to morph into sport bike performance. Power through all gear transitions, fabulous sturdy leans into the corners and smooth high rev transitions. He smiled, nodded and said “thank-you”. That was what he intended to achieve.
- Anti-Chrome: Blackened frame mirrors, exhaust and tank ignition cover further sets the Vulcan S apart and making it seem sportier.
- ABS: With the ABS (anti-lock braking technology) braking to stop quickly provides a new rider with added confidence. There’s a single disc with twin piston calliper for the front and double disc twin piston for rear, the braking happens smooth and without effort. *Note: US Vulcan S offers optional ABS however, in Canada its standard.
- Colours: There are three colour choices: Flat Ebony, Candy Lime Green and Pearl Crystal White. A Metallic Royal Purple is available for Canada only.
- Compact Easy-To-Read Instrument Panel: The tachometer is simple and clear to view. You’re not missing any key data here with a display showing your speed, fuel level, and average and instant fuel economy plus warning lights. And there are two trip meters for mileage tracking.
- Easy Adjustable Clutch and Brake Levers: These both are five-way adjustable to finger reach or preference for any hand. Both levers are light and easy to operate.
- Lighting: The unique, strawberry like shaped headlamp adds special style to the front of the bike. LED lighting technology for tail lights a big advantage for visibility. The clear signal light lenses bring a brighter communication to the road around.
- Wide Rubber Mounted Handlebar: This offers a broad turning radius ideal for tight turns within small spaces of the inner city. And being rubber mounted means reduced vibration to the rider.
The Vulcan S comes as a solo seated ride. This makes perfect sense as new riders need practise before carrying cargo or a passenger. But when you’re ready to take a passenger you can purchase a passenger seat and foot peg set. And for cargo, the solo fender mounted rack or a set of quick release saddlebags.
A Few More Add-Ons for the Vulcan S:
- Clutch cover emblem along with clutch cover plate
- DC power outlet
- Front led light bar for increased ‘blue’ illumination of the road (plug and play operation)
- Gear position indicator
- Helmet lock
- Medium or large size wind-shield
- Motorcycle Gear – a range of Vulcan S inspired technical riding jackets to complete your ride comfort.
- Passenger back rest, or back rest with luggage rack
- Tank decals
PRICED RIGHT! The Vulcan S has an impressive first ride budget at USD6999. (Without ABS) and USD 7399. (With ABS);
In Canada the Vulcan S suggested retail is CAD7999. and comes standard with ABS.
Vulcan S Ride Summary:
You’ll not have to “skill up” to the Kawasaki Vulcan S with ABS or its handling. It’s tailored “Ergo-Fit” brings a sense of confidence from the first mile (kilometre). Knowing you can reach the ground, the levers and the controls as well as confidently balance a motorcycle that’s easy to operate is incredibly satisfying. The fun begins right from the first mile!
It’s combo of cruiser and sport bike ability and style, satisfies the rider who wants the diversity both ride styles offer. It’s perfect for a long distance holiday tour, urban commuting or tackling the curves through the twists of north-east Santa Barbara’s hillside corners.
Cruising or spirited switch back corners – the Vulcan S never let me down. It responded fully when I demanded – accelerating or braking hard where even the ABS performed as expected. The fit selected for me was perfect (outside of a rear shock adjustment later due to the speed/handling in the corners) as was further underlined at the end of a full day’s ride. I had no stressed feelings or aches whatsoever. This is often the case for example, in my legs from being cramped or extended as well as arms/elbows from extended reach. The seat was particularly comfortable giving a “stay put” feeling particular when riding through the fast left to right corners.
One size may fit all for some things, but that concept has yet to work for riders wanting a motorcycle which fits and feels right. The game has changed thanks to the Vulcan S – it really is the motorcycle that grows to fit you.
- It’s best to have your Vulcan S “Ergo-Fitting” done with your riding gear on. The slightest increase and positioning of your feet in riding boots, or say your sit position with the added width riding pants creates can deter from exact measure results.
- I would suggest the windscreen for those taking longer trips at higher free-way speeds to reduce potential wind buffeting discomfort. There are two sizes to choose from for your height but also the smaller size if you don’t want that big wind-shield look.