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Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them









MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom

Cruiser comfort in a sporty, custom package

By Genevieve Schmitt
5/1/2007

To understand where Kawasaki's new for 2007 Vulcan 900 Custom fits in the Vulcan family, read through Teri Conrad's article on the Vulcan 900 Classic, the sister to the Custom. The Custom is the sporty, custom version of the Classic.

Genevieve shows off the aggressive, sporty ride of the 900 Vulcan Custom. She's wearing <a href="http://www.womenridersnow.com/pages/REVIEW_Feel_Like_A_Bombshell.aspx">Icon Bombshell chaps.</a>
Genevieve shows off the aggressive, sporty ride of the 900 Vulcan Custom. She's wearing Icon Bombshell chaps.

The best way to experience the Custom's finer points is to ride the Classic first, which I did. The Custom feels sleeker and lighter and rides much more deliberately – just like a sportbike going right where you point it. I really like the Custom. Where the Classic lumbers through the turns, the Custom really carves them up.

Genevieve demonstrates the 27-inch seat height. She stands 5 feet 6.5 inches and is wearing two-inch heels. Her inseam is 30 inches.
Genevieve demonstrates the 27-inch seat height. She stands 5 feet 6.5 inches and is wearing two-inch heels. Her inseam is 30 inches.

The seat height is slightly higher than the Classic at 27 inches, but still relatively low for a cruiser. The bike and seat are not too wide, so you don't lose leg inches in the spread. The riding position has your feet reaching forward to meet the footpegs and foot controls; arms are outstretched to meet the flat, drag style handlebars. The ergonomics remind me of a custom Pro Street -- to borrow terminology from the custom bike world -- sleek and long with a low profile.

The new 903cc Vulcan engine on the Custom is the same one described in our review of the Vulcan 900 Classic. Engineers started with the Vulcan 800 engine making significant improvements, including eliminating the carburetor in favor of fuel injection. The fuel injection is the same system developed for the Vulcan 2000 motorcycle, including the "automatic fast idle system" that makes for easy starts in cold weather. High energy ignition coils like the ones on the Vulcan 2000 provide a hotter spark at low rpms. This produces a consistent output of power at any speed. 

The front tire is stretched around a custom cast wheel with designer styling. Arranged in pairs, the 18 "spokes" are hand-designed. This striking accent is one of the bike&#39;s finer points, in our opinion.
The front tire is stretched around a custom cast wheel with designer styling. Arranged in pairs, the 18 "spokes" are hand-designed. This striking accent is one of the bike's finer points, in our opinion.

The Custom also has that "big bike" look Teri writes about with the Classic, but comes in a manageable middleweight package – ideal for very confident beginners and intermediate riders. Styling and ergonomics are where the bikes differ. The Custom has a 21-inch wheel versus the 16-inch on the Classic. The skinnier 80mm tire wrapped around it-- common on custom motorcycles -- contributes partly to the Custom's different ride. Less rubber up front gives you the feeling you can whip the bike around more easily, which you can. Keeping you planted throughout the ride is the big 180mm tire in the rear wrapped around a 15-inch rim, the same set up as on the Classic.

The fenders on the Custom are shorter than the Classic&#39;s to expose more of the tires.
The fenders on the Custom are shorter than the Classic's to expose more of the tires.

In addition to the shorter fenders on the Custom, the passenger section of the seat is shorter. The Custom's saddle is what's called a gunfighter style, a solo seat that narrows as it extends to the rear, only really good for quickie passenger accommodations. I say quickie because, passengers will find they won't be able to spend too much time on this narrow strip of flat-cushioned rubber.

If regular riding plans include a passenger, opt for a saddle with better back seat accommodations.
If regular riding plans include a passenger, opt for a saddle with better back seat accommodations.

I had a great time riding the Custom. It zipped along feeling much lighter and quicker than the Classic. I also felt more power on roll-on coming off the line than with the Classic. This could be attributed to the lighter weight of the bike as the engine is virtually the same. The Custom weighs only eight pounds less than the Classic's 549 pounds, but it skirts along like it's much lighter than that. I can't say enough about much fun I had with this bike.

The drag-style handlebars on the Custom with integrated risers that bring the bars up toward the rider.
The drag-style handlebars on the Custom with integrated risers that bring the bars up toward the rider.

I found the brakes did a good job at stopping me when and where I wanted to, A large 300mm disc in the front, and a 270mm disc in the rear are slowed by twin-piston calipers.

If you like the ergonomics, ride, and styling of this minimalist bike more than the Classic or Classic LT, Kawasaki offers a lot of accessories to outfit the Custom for touring. Two different size windshields are available as well as a luggage rack, saddlebags, a lightbar, and a backrest if you decide to take a passenger. Don't forget to spring for a better passenger seat first, though. 

If you can&#39;t choose between the Custom and the Classic, buy one of each, one for her and one for him.
If you can't choose between the Custom and the Classic, buy one of each, one for her and one for him.

The Custom at $7,349, only $50 dollars more than the Classic, you get a bike people will think cost a whole lot more. Heck, you'll think it cost more, too, after you spend some time on it. For more information, visit Kawasaki.com.

The Specs at a Glance
Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom
Displacement: 903cc liquid-cooled V-twin
Seat Height: 27 inches
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gallons
Dry Weight: 549 pounds
Colors: Candy Plasma Blue, Candy Fire Red, Ebony
Price: $7,349

WRN Recommendation
Kawasaki has a winner with its trio of Vulcan 900s, the Custom, Classic, and Classic LT. The ride and styling are smartly dialed in making you think these bikes should cost so much more. We were surprised when we learned they were less than $7,500 for all you get. A 900cc motorcycle is no lightweight. These are powerful machines one can hold on to for years to come. If you can't decide between the three, test all of them at a demo ride near you.

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