Free spirited

Saturday, 23 June 2018

The cruiser bike Kawasaki Vulcan S, which aims at a market that currently includes the Harley Davidson Street 750, offers a good ride

Kawasaki has launched its first cruiser in India, albeit in the form of the 2018 Vulcan S. The model line has been available in the international market for quite some time, and the model in question was introduced in those markets in 2015. 

Powered by a 60.2bhp 650cc parallel-twin engine, the cruiser bike aims at a market that currently includes the Harley Davidson Street 750. What makes the Vulcan S interesting in comparison to the Street 750 is that the bike dares to look modern and even a bit futuristic. To start with, there’s no sprinkling of chrome. It is either matt or glass as far the appearance is concerned. Making the Vulcan S stand out is the distinct looking triangular-shaped head lamp. Lower down, the 18-inch front alloy wheel looks smart and distinctive and is fitted with a 120/70 profile tyre. The 41mm telescopic forks provide about 5.1-inch of travel. Featuring a big analogue tacho that sits on the top of a digital screen (visually speaking), the instrument cluster has been borrowed from the earlier generation ER-6n. 

The 14-litre tank is yet another element that adds presence as well an ability to look distinct. The engine or the seat do not seem to add as much to the distinctive appearance of the bike. 

Low stance

When viewed from the side the Vulcan S makes for an interesting low stance bike with a view of the rear monoshock mounted to the right rather than at the centre, and the single-barrel exhaust. A closer look reveals that the engine cases and valve covers are machine-polished. If the tubular frame of the bike is visible in the area surrounding the engine, an interesting bit is the Ergo-fit system that enables ride position adjustment by moving the foot pegs. To do so, it is essential to purchase tie-rods as accessories. 

There’s extended-reach and reduced-reach seat options as well, but they are expensive. It could be a good idea to opt for an extended reach handlebar since the stock unit feels more pulled back than one would expect. This is specially felt when executing acute turns, a U-turn for example. 

The liquid-cooled engine with different cam profiles from that of the ER-6n unit is punchy and linear in its delivery. The tweaked intake, exhaust and ECU mean that the bike responds very well from low revs. The ratios of the six-speed gearbox complement the way the engine delivers power, and make for good tractability. There is a heavy feel to the way the gears shift, the action is precise. 
If it is possible to crawl over a speed hump in second gear, it is possible to coast along in the fourth gear with ease.  

Good ride quality

If the good tractability aids riding in the city, on the highway the Vulcan S has the ability to pull strongly. 
A ride into three-digit territory is easily accomplished. Speeds in excess of 150kmph are achieved with consummate ease. Capable of a top speed of 180kmph, the bike feels quite refined. The exhaust note may not be as engaging, or of as high aural quality, the sweet spot lies close to the 6600 peak torque rpm. Weighing 235kg, the Vulcan S, leave for a somewhat jerky feel when riding in the city under conditions that call for the throttle to be closed and opened in quick succession, is easy to ride due to its low centre of gravity. Long rides may be slightly uncomfortable because of the hard seat. Staying planted and offering a decent cornering ability, the bike displays a good ride quality. Less than ideal surfaces are well taken care of, the tyres exert good grip. The ABS assisted brakes with a single disc at either end inspire confidence with their progressive feel.

Priced at Rs 5.44 lakhs ex-showroom, the Vulcan S is slightly costlier than the Street 750. But sporting a high quality of fit and finish, the cruiser bike feels quite capable.  

Pros: Distinct looks, performance, ride and handling

Cons: Price

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