The Vulcan S stands alone by not following the preconceived notions of what a cruiser should be
Story by Costa Mouzouris
Photos by Kevin Wing
In motorcycling, the Vulcan name usually conjures images of big V-twins, skirted fenders and floorboards. But you won’t find any of these on the 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S. For starters, it’s powered by a parallel-twin engine with sportbike lineage. And when looking at it, its partially exposed, steel-tube perimeter frame and offset, horizontally mounted shock bear a closer family resemblance to the Ninja 650R than, say, the Vulcan Classic. This resemblance isn’t accidental, because the Vulcan S was designed by Yoshifumi Mano, head of product development for the ER-6n, the Versys and, of course, the Ninja.
This stylish middleweight cruiser is Kawasaki’s latest addition to the Vulcan family, and it’s designed to appeal to a new, younger generation of rider than the aging baby boomer. It doesn’t resemble any of the other Vulcan models in Kawasaki’s line-up, brandishing a sleeker, sportier profile than the typical metric cruiser. The unique laidback silhouette is both stylish and sporty, and the overall effect is very attractive in the metal, though I find that the numerous plastic covers, which conceal some of the mechanical components, somewhat clutter the design.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Simply producing a stylish new bike might not have been enough to attract a fresh breed of discriminating young riders, however, so the Vulcan S needed a hook. That hook is Ergo-Fit, a unique new feature that offers a much wider range of riding-position adjustability, to fit a broader range of body styles.
Buyers of brand-new Vulcan S motorcycles can take advantage of the Ergo-Fit system at no extra cost, and it involves much more than just a simple adjustment of the levers. When ordering the Vulcan S, the dealer will fit the bike to the rider, a process that includes choosing from two handlebars, three seats and three foot peg positions.
As delivered, the bike comes with a mid-placement seat and foot peg position, and the standard handlebar, all meant to fit riders measuring between five-foot-seven and six feet tall. If the reach to the handlebar is too long, there’s a reduced-reach handlebar, and for further adjustability, also available is a reduced- or an extended-reach seat.
Before making your deposit on your new S, you’ll be able to sample the seating position in the showroom; once the right fit is determined, the dealer will install the chosen items on your bike before delivery. Keep in mind that whatever comes off the bike stays with the dealer – there’s no going home with an extra handlebar or seat.
To facilitate the fitting process, Kawasaki plans to equip certain dealers across Canada with Ergo-Fit Centres, which are static showroom displays that include three Vulcan S motorcycles set up with different riding positions. If a dealership isn’t equipped with an Ergo-Fit Centre, however, you should still be able to be accommodated. It’s a unique approach that should entice new riders, since a big part of rider confidence is rooted in the riding position.
Only when buying a used Vulcan S
would you likely incur extra costs, should the previous owner’s setup not fit right. Handlebar cost is $93, seat cost is between $286 and $301, the shifter rod required to relocate the foot pegs costs $9, and any labour costs of course are extra.
There are 18 different seating possibilities in all, and regardless of which seat is chosen, seat height remains at a low 706 mm. Reach to the ground is also made easier by the bike’s very narrow midsection, and a muffler placed beneath the machine.
Since I don’t like stretching too far for the controls, at the bike’s press launch in Santa Barbara, California, I had my test bike fitted with the mid-placement seat and foot peg position, but opted for the reduced-reach handlebar.
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