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    A few days ago I visited the local Kawasaki dealer where we installed some interesting motorcycle accessories to the Kawasaki Vulcan S - the Vigo Smart Track, the Smart Turn System and the Smart Brake Module. Being their showcase cruiser motorcycle for our products as well, I couldn’t help myself to take the opportunity for a test ride. I was sure that many riders would soon book the Kawasaki’s most popular cruiser for months ahead. I was so curious that I called my boss and told him I would be late 😉

    Read on to get all information on my first impressions, handling, brake performance and a special test of the brakes and engine braking forces. I will give you my thoughts on the engine performance and suspension, and if I would recommend this motorcycle to experienced and beginner riders.

    Kawasaki Vulcan


    After two hours of riding, I came back to the Kawasaki dealer where another surprise waited for me. My colleague at the dealership told me that I could keep the Vulcan for two more days over the weekend if I were willing to share my experience with a journalist, who is also a local acquaintance of mine. Who could say no to such an offer?

    Kawasaki Vulcan

    OK, here we go. A beautiful sunny Saturday morning – check! All ready and geared up – check! Full of positive energy and excitement – check! It is time to take this beauty on the road.


    I was always more an adventure rider, and I used a »naked« bike for my daily commuting around the town. I didn’t know at first what to expect about the Kawasaki Vulcan S, since it is basically a typical mid-range urban cruiser. If you want to know more about cruiser motorcycles, take a look at our recent blog on Cruiser motorcycles – the Ultimate choice for real bikers.

    Will I be able to handle the Kawasaki Vulcan S? Would it feel like a big cumbersome couch on two wheels? Will the relatively small 650cc engine be able to put out enough power to move it from the spot? Well my friends, prepare to be amazed. 


     I couldn’t help myself and went on another adventure with the Kawasaki Vulcan S on Sunday. I was riding on this amazing forest road full of curves. After a while I returned to the city and made a stop in a coffee shop. I parked my bike and while ordering, my phone started ringing loudly – and I thought “What the heck?!”

    I picked it up and saw the theft notification. I immediately ran out to check on the bike – luckily I could stop the thief of riding away with the Kawasaki Vulcan S. I couldn’t believe, that such a tiny motorcycle add-on could do so much! Namely, the bike had the Vigo Smart Track installed – a new-generation motorcycle tracker, which besides preventing motorcycle theft, it also records your rides, scores them, and if you’d have a crash it would activate the fully automated SOS notification.

    Kawasaki Vulcan 

    I still cannot believe, that this little gadget actually prevented the Kawasaki Vulcan S from being stolen. I’m really amazed, and 100% sure, I’ll install the Vigo Smart Track to my other bikes as well 🙂


    To be fully honest, my expectations about the handling of the 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan didn’t do it any justice. Quite contrary. Even at a standstill, the handlebars felt very »light.« and easy to turn. Also, during the ride, it handles amazingly well, unlike anything I expected.

    Kawasaki Vulcan

    It must be due to the clever weight distribution of the motorcycle. The handlebars feel very light and offer you excellent control of the motorcycle in corners as well. I was impressed by how good can you take the Kawasaki Vulcan through tight turns on twisty roads.

    Are you concerned if you will be able to handle it if you are a taller or a smaller rider? You can choose from three different handlebars »Ergo fit« configurations. Extended reach for riders 6’1” and taller, Mid reach for riders between 5’7” and 6’0”, and reduced reach for riders under 5’6”. Regardless of your height, you will feel very comfortable.

    Kawasaki Vulcan

    One thing that I would point out, and this is only nitpicking on my part, is the long turn radius which makes a simple U-turn not so simple. 


    The Kawasaki Vulcan S has the same engine as the Versys 650 and the Ninja 650. It is optimized to perform better at lower RPM and offers more torque throughout the whole RPM range. It reaches it’s maximum at 6600 RPM 63Nm. The pulling power will surprise you for sure, and the force on the motorcycle tire much more “violent” then you would expect. I can honestly tell you that I didn’t expect it at all from the 61HP engine. Good work Kawasaki 😉

    The parallel-twin liquid-cooled engine produces very little vibration for a twin-engine, so it is very comfortable on longer rides. The sheer power offers a lot of fun while cornering around and still has enough reserve to overtake another vehicle safely. You have a lot of instant power from the lower RPM range up, but above 5000 RPM, it becomes a rocket. It much more resembles a sportbike than a cruiser which I find simply astonishing.


    The Kawasaki Vulcan comes with the brake system that will give you a lot of confidence. The front brake is a single 300 mm disc with a twin-piston calliper with ABS and the rear brake a single 250 mm disc with a single-piston calliper, ABS. Even though the 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan isn’t the lightest among motorcycles, the brakes offer a very good and controlled stopping power.

    The high engine torque increases the stopping power with significant engine braking as well. I could get used to the strong engine braking very quickly, and since we are producing a brake module that indicates deceleration of your motorcycle on the existing brake light when you don’t apply the brakes at the same time, I decided to make a small test.


    Kawasaki Vulcan smart brake module

    I pulled out our specially developed device that measures motorcycle telemetric data and decided to measure the stopping power of engine braking at highway speeds. First I measured the maximum braking force with both brakes applied to their maximum. At the exact point when the ABS kicked in, I could measure 1,12 »g-force« of deceleration.

    The second test was to speed up to 130 km/h and to release the throttle. You will not believe how much stopping power you get from engine braking and air resistance (drag). Our device measured 0,52 »g-force« on deceleration, which makes just a little less than half of the maximum braking force. And all this without even touching the brakes and no indication on the brake light.

    This is exactly why we developed the SMART BRAKE MODULE. It makes it a brilliant addition for any motorcycle out there, not just the Kawasaki Vulcan S. It is an add-on device that you can’t get directly from Kawasaki, but it will add to your visibility when engine braking and it will increase your safety.


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      The 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan looks astonishing. If you are into cruisers, it just might be one of your favourite cruiser designs. During the weekend I could feel heads turning, and I know it wasn’t my flashy helmet 😉

      There is a lot of unique details that compliment the quality built motorcycle. If you look at the motorcycle more closely, you will see that every detail on the motorcycle is carefully designed.

      Kawasaki Vulcan


      The seat is very comfortable, and since the Kawasaki Vulcan has a very low seating position. Even smaller riders will have no trouble reaching the ground with both feet. The seating position feels very natural. The handlebars are easy to reach, footpegs are positioned low and not too much forward, so you don’t have to extend your legs too much to reach them.

      While we are at the foot pegs, this is the only place where you can feel quite a strong vibration from the engine. After a good hour of riding, I felt it in my legs, but I guess I could get used to this eventually.


      Even though the seat feels very comfortable, the suspension doesn’t help you »behind« feel well on longer rides, especially if you hit some bumpy roads. The rear suspension offers seven different settings, and while I had it set to the softest setting, I could still feel every little bump on the road. This is something I was used to when riding sports bikes, so this was a bit surprising to me.

      Kawasaki Vulcan


      Another thing that will surprise you is, that you can easily scrape your footpegs on the asphalt. If you don’t expect it, it can scare you a bit. This is due to a low ground clearance of the Kawasaki Vulcan and low positioned footpegs. But to be clear, the Kawasaki Vulcan is a cruiser. Its purpose is not to bring your knee down in the corners.


      Overall, especially considering the very affordable price, you get a lot of motorcycles for the price. The performance is easily comparable to any other mid-range cruiser. The stock headlight, tail light and directional indicators are average and could be better. The wind protection is quite good, even at higher speeds but you have to take into account, that this is a cruiser and this type of motorcycles are not meant for speeding.

      Wide handlebars will make filtering through dense city traffic a bit harder than with any other type of motorcycle, but the easy handling will still make it manageable. The one thing I would definitely change immediately on the 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan is the mirrors. Take it as my personal opinion, but the mirrors are simply ugly.

      Kawasaki Vulcan

      The whole motorcycle is very well-designed, and it is simply beautiful, I can’t argue with that. But to me, it seems that the story with the mirrors went something like: »So, here is the design of the new Vulcan!!!« Everyone was impressed, but then someone asked: »Hey guys, where are the mirrors?«. It seems like someone has forgotten them and had no interest in designing them. In the end, the mirrors do their job, but to me, it seems they simply don’t compliment the whole design.


      Don’t get me wrong. Overall, the Kawasaki Vulcan 2018 impressed me very positively. It is such a fun bike. Over the three days of riding it, I could see how I could fall in love with it. Not a single motorcycle out there is perfect. But, I would definitely count the Vulcan as the one with the least imperfections. It is quality built, very well-designed, one of the most reliable motorcycles out there. And the best thing is, it is very affordable, and it brings the cruiser segment much closer to a wider range of riders, who can’t afford Harley’s that can cost twice as much or even more.

      Kawasaki Vulcan

      If I were buying a cruiser, this would be definitely one of the first choices I would consider. Even if I would be buying my first beginner motorcycle, I think this would arguably be a good choice. What about you? Did the Kawasaki Vulcan convince you?

      Share your thoughts with us, share the blog with your friends to give them a few of my personal insights about Kawasaki’s most successful cruiser and share with me your experience with this amazing motorcycle.

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        28 thoughts on “Kawasaki Vulcan S – Don’t buy it before you read this”

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          that is a very good device and also there should be a device for cars/trucks when they slow or brake to activate the front signals as brake lights. this would help motorcyclists to avoid the dreaded sudden left turn collision of cars/motorcyclists. I have had people turn left in front of me on my m/c without signaling at all but because i trained myself to observe every cars motion i braked early anticipating this left turn in front of me….she did not stop as i blasted the horn and her passenger was watching me all the time and said nothing!

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          Excellent review for my needs. I have been riding a Yamaha V-Star 650 for several years now (my first bike) and I do like it, but would like to switch to some other cruiser after several years. Considering a 900 Kawasaki or Yamaha cruiser with all the trimmings (windshield, bags, crash bars, etc.) and this, Vulcan S ABS. It is still a 650, and I could use a tad more power, but then again it seems to have better acceleration than mine or any 900 ccm cruiser, and be generally more nimble, which counts for the city traffic. My rides are mostly in the city traffic – work commute on a freeway (10 miles one way) and moving around town, but now and then I like to go for an out of town pleasure ride up to 2 hrs long, once or twice a week. Do you think this bike would fit the mix I described. I can add that on one hand I don’t like the idea of riding sports bikes and street racing, on the other riding the likes of Honda Gold Wing (“a big cumbersome couch on two wheels”) and long cross country rides.

          The Smart Brake Module looks like a very good idea – how hard is it to install for an amateur? Do you offer any warranty on it?

          Thanks again for the review

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            Hi Mark,

            I guess in the end it comes to your personal preferences, so it doesn’t matter which motorcycle you choose in the end, as long as it fulfils your needs and expectations.

            About the Smart Brake Module, everyone can install it with ease and you simply can’t go wrong. You only have to locate the three wires going directly to the brake light. The module itself has 2 year warranty, but we offer lifetime warranty as well. Also, you get 60-day money back guarantee, so you can give it a try without any risk. I’m sure you will love it and you can count on my full support also during installation, if you will need any help 😉

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          Kenny Dehler-Rosario

          Can the smart brake module be used with a flashing module also attached? I added the flashing module right after I bought my bike because I like the idea of getting the attention of these idiots texting and driving but think the smart brake module is also a good idea.

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            Hi Kenny,

            the Smart Brake Module can be connected with other modules as well. It will trigger the other module on engine braking, so it will complete the functionality of the brake light in all situations. Feel free to contact us anytime, if you’ll have any further questions 😉

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          I love motorcycles but I’m small 5’2″ and petite 42 kg. I used to own a Honda 150 the mini sports bike, a Suzuki raider 150 both are pretty good for my height i drove my dad’s American eagle once and i loved it i wanted a cruiser now that I’m older. Do you guys this I could handle this witb easy or would i be difficult? Like parking in uneven areas, pulling out off thigh spots or inclines since i live in Baguio? I’ll appreciate the insight.

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            Hi there. The Vulcan is very easy to handle if you compare it with some other cruisers. However, cruisers are heavier bikes by definition and are hard to move on inclinations. You could also check the new Intruder 150, it is probably the smallest cruiser bike among the newest models, it has a 150 cc engine and is amazing for commuting if that is what you are looking for. But the best way to find out what works for you is to give it a try. So check, if you have an opportunity to make a test ride at your local dealers 😉

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          Ola Sez!! You should test drive the Honda Rebel 500. It’s is smaller, lighter and has a very good performance comparable to the Vulcan S which I own. There is also the 300cc option the Rebel 300
          I am a bit bigger than you and chose the Vulcan S 650 , I am also 55 y old… My feeling tells me… the Rebel 500 would be the better option for you.

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          Awesome post I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this intriguing and educated article.

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          I have one (2016) and I love her… Such a amazing bike. My first one too… I strongly recommend the Vulcan.

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          I’m 6’ 225lbs. I’m hesitant to even consider a 650cc bike only because I’ve been told so many times that the minimum I should buy is an 1100. I just don’t want to be a hazard on the highway. I would like to ride double for overnight/weekend trips. And I’m also cautious about a chain drive. Please offer any advice you can.

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            Hey Ian!

            We can assure you a 650 will never be too slow for you. A 650 is the best option for new riders; you get the speed, agility and looks. You will have a hard time pushing the bike to its limits.

            And remember, always drive with caution!

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          Picked up my new Vulcan 650 3 weeks ago as my first road bike and this thing is a beast. Im 130 kilos and its just such a nice bike to ride and just wants to go but also very nice bike to cruise on. It handles the corners so well even if im scrapping the pegs every now and then. Can get a little bounce off the seat on up and down roads but as long as your aware of it still handles it well.

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          mine only makes 15k per liter a deposit only makes 170km, I think it drinks a lot, it has the original Kawasaki Arrow exhaust and driving slowly

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          iv owned my vulcan S for 2 seasons now…. i must say the only thing really keeping you from enjoying long rides cross country is the lack of a throttle lock…. the vulcan s has a very resistive throttle… meaning it takes a bit of grip to keep it right where you want it… this can be resolved with a palm attachment to your throttle… but still a throttle lock is probably your issue of choice as i have a palm attachment for my throttle and im still wanting more.

          i also spent 1200+ dollars on a nice givi monokey 33 liter storage and backrest/cargo rack kit. one thing to note… if you have worries about engine wear and gas mileage on the highway… this bike does alot better gas mileage wise at 65-70 then at 80… so if your willing to ride a little longer to get where your going you will have a much easier time with both engine wear and mpgs. with a fully warmed up engine that has been running for an hour at road speeds with no stop and go … you can get 70-75 mpg in the right gear…at around 65-70mph…. but as soon as you go towards 75-80 your gonna be lucky even with keeping your throttle jitter to a minimum…to get 40-50mpg… with a head wind expect 40mpg at 80

          but if you dont care about engine wear and just want to cruise at the speed limit (75-80mph)no matter the conditions. just strap a 10 dollar 2gallon red gas can to your cargo rack and boom your maximum range even at 40mpg is 228 miles.

          but if your someone who likes to ride even if it takes a little longer to get there (65-70mph) then your max range is closer to 400 miles on a tank and the extra can.

          but to stretch mileage no matter what kinda travel riding on a vulcan S you do…. you need to invest that 170 usd on a kaoko throttle lock.

          conversions to save a google search if your out of the US.
          40mpg = 17 kmpl
          70mpg = 29.76kmpl

          65-70 mph = 104.6-112kph
          75-80mph = 120.7-128.7kph

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          Hi Team,

          I have gone through the full Vulcan S details & Reviews. I am planning to buy, whether this bike will help in daily commuting to office in Chennai and weekend ride to Chennai to Bangalore . All are aware the Chennai weather, so want to know , how was the Engine Heating in your city ride.
          Kindly suggest .

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          Hi I took a test ride 9/01/20 and I would highly agree about the weight distribution I found it felt light and easy to ride, I am a cruiser rider and for the last 4 years have ridden a Triumph America this Kawasaki just blew me away so much so I brought it.
          Roll on delivery.

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          I love my Vulcan S. I have been riding it for four years now and plan to continue for many more. I have ridden over 500 miles in a day and have found it to be so comfortable. I am 5’2’’ tall (or short) and have had the handlebars brought closer, but otherwise it is all perfect. Acceleration is good, braking, good, corners well (but I have had the floor peg touch the ground, which was a bit of a shock the first time). I can not recommend the bike highly enough. Nb I am female and am 69 years old!

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            Carol Christie

            Good for you! I am 70 years old and I have had my Vulcan S for 2 years and I absolutely love it!

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