Common Tread

2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S first look

Oct 17, 2014

While the Kawasaki Versys 650 and Versys 1000 got their time in the spotlight at INTERMOT earlier this month, Kawasaki released an all-new cruiser called the Vulcan S via a fairly quiet press release. However, that doesn't mean Kawasaki isn't serious about stealing Star Bolt customers.

Kawasaki Vulcan S
2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS. Kawasaki photo.

The 2015 Vulcan S is an all-new motorcycle for 2015, pairing classic Vulcan looks with a version of the Ninja 650 motor to fill out the entry level of the cruiser offerings. While the move is unsurprising, the styling is a bit unexpected, considering the "Sportster look" has become so popular. I actually got a sneak peek at the Vulcan S a few weeks back, and it looks more mini-Diavel than anything else. That will set it apart from the pack. Whether in a good way or not is yet to be seen.

Kawasaki Vulcan S
2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS. Kawasaki photo.

Throughout the press release, Kawasaki focuses on this new Vulcan's appropriateness for a wide variety of riders, which, in non-PR speak, means it's designed for new riders and short riders — which is a good thing.

The Vulcan S uses a derivative of the Ninja 650 twin-cylinder engine, re-tuned for more low- and mid-range torque, and paired with a six-speed transmission to make it easier to pull away from a stop or navigate urban areas. While the Vulcan S definitely has a far different style, you can see the Ninja 650 parts in the frame and the offset, laid-down rear shock.

Kawasaki Vulcan S
The gauges on the 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS are a little less traditional than what's found on most cruisers. Kawasaki photo.

The slim chassis makes for a narrow-feeling motorcycle that should feel lighter than its 498-pound curb weight would indicate, and the seat is both low (27.8 inches) and tapered at the front, to make putting a leg down incredibly easy. If that doesn't make it inviting enough, Kawasaki Ergo-Fit parts are available to lengthen or shorten the reach to the bars or further raise or lower the seat. The brake lever and clutch are both adjustable to fit a variety of riders, and Kawasaki has even moved the exhaust pipes under the bike, to keep them out of they way of your feet.

Kawasaki Vulcan S
2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS. Kawasaki photo.

Braking is handled by a single 300 mm rotor with a twin-piston caliper up front and a single 250 mm rear rotor with a single-piston caliper at the rear. ABS is available as a $400 addition to the Vulcan's $6,999 MSRP.

Which would you rather have, this or the Star Bolt?

2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS

Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, parallel twin
Displacement: 649cc
Bore x stroke: 83 x 60mm
Compression ratio: 10.8:1
Cooling system: Liquid
Fuel system: DFI with two 38mm throttle bodies, with sub-throttles
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
Transmission: Six-speed with positive neutral finder
Final drive: Sealed chain
Frame: High-tensile steel double pipe perimeter frame
Front suspension / wheel travel: 41mm telescopic fork / 5.1 inches
Rear suspension / wheel travel: Lay-down offset rear shock with linkage and adjustable preload / 3.2 inches
Front tire: 120/70-R18
Rear tire: 160/60-R17
Front brakes: Single 300mm disc with twin-piston caliper, ABS
Rear brakes: Single 250mm disc with single-piston caliper, ABS
Overall length: 91 inches
Overall width: 34.7 inches
Overall height: 43.3 inches
Ground clearance: 5.1 inches
Seat height: 27.8 inches
Wheelbase: 62 inches
Curb weight: 498.3 pounds (wet)
Fuel capacity: 3.7 gallons
Colors: Candy Lime Green, Pearl Crystal White or Flat Ebony
MSRP Standard: $7,399
Warranty: 12-month limited warranty