Revealing additional 2016 models at the Third Annual AIMExpo it appears Kawasaki is riding the same road as other motorcycle manufacturers and looking to the ever-growing popularity of the café-style of bike design.
The Japanese motorcycle manufacturer hopes to bring attention to its Vulcan S line of motorcycles featuring a café inspired version, the Vulcan S ABS Café.
For riders who may have missed this latest motorcycle fashion, the style harkens back to the era of British youths customizing their light-weight, lightly-powered motorcycles for performance and handling rather than looks.
The term developed among British motorcycle enthusiasts of the early 1960s where the bikes were used for short, quick rides between cafés, which could be better described as bars. Not surprisingly, the bikes were customized for quick rides over short distances. Similar to what many consider a ‘bobber’ the look tends to have a pieced together appearance with the motorcycle optimized for speed and handling rather than comfort.
Anyone who has seen a Kawasaki Vulcan may wonder what it looks like when this kind of motorcycle meets such an unique design element. Wonder no more.
Firstly, a quick overview of the 2016 Kawasaki Vulcan S line of motorcycles. They promise the same low silhouette of a Vulcan cruiser, mixing it with Kawasaki sportbike-derived power and handling, as well as its popular ERGO-FIT custom fit concept, designed to comfortably fit a wide range of riders.
The new models in the 2016 Vulcan S motorcycle line-up are designed to enhance this popular motorcycle, which is the only bike in its class with standard adjustable, forward-positioned footpegs, allowing a range of riders to get comfortable.
The Vulcan S certainly catches a rider’s eye. It incorporates elements such as the teardrop-shaped, 3.7-gallon fuel tank, inverted triangular headlight and black mirrors to match the black frame and exhaust muffler.
The distinctive front headlight design, which has a unique look for a cruiser, works in conjunction with a bright and compact LED tail light. The rear light is incorporated into the rear fender, which is supported by the separate rear subframe.
A closer look at Vulcan S' 649cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine - Source Kawasaki Motorcycles
The powerhouse of the 2016 Vulcan S is a 649cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine. Derived from the Kawasaki Ninja 650 and tuned for more low- and mid-range torque, the engine is reportedly very smooth when pulling away from a traffic light and responsive when the rider wants to accelerate. This makes it suitable for novice riders, while its top-end power and the nimble handling will keep more experienced riders entertained all day.
This narrow parallel-twin engine helps the model manage a slim chassis, which has its engine cylinders positioned further forward than a V-twin engine. The parallel-twin configuration also enabled engineers to route the exhaust under the engine and away from the rider’s legs.
A further benefit of the slim chassis is an increased lean angle when cornering. As for the ride itself, the Vulcan S suspension was designed to absorb the bumps and give the rider positive feedback, allowing them to relax and feel in control.
Something promoted heavily by Kawasaki is its ERGO-FIT range of accessories which offer several options to tailor the motorcycle to fit individual riders. In one example an accessory that moves the hip support further forward, making it easier for riders with a shorter inseam to reach the adjustable footpegs and handlebar. There is also a second optional ERGO-FIT Extended Reach Seat with firmer foam with a gel insert that moves the hip support further back to accommodate taller and heavier riders.
To this end of adjusting the riding position, ERGO-FIT shift rods give the Vulcan S footpegs three positions to accommodate a variety of different-sized riders with an adjustment range of 1” forward and 1” backwards from the middle mounting points, making the ride comfortable for riders whether they are short or tall.
ERGO-FIT Reduced Reach Handlebar helps riders with shorter arms to comfortably reach the bar, which is brought 1” closer to the rider.
Probably the best feature of this line of accessories is the price. The preferred ERGO-FIT parts are available free of charge and will be fitted to the motorcycle for the first-time purchaser to ensure they leave the Kawasaki dealership with the ideal fit.
Another reason for the bike’s appeal, the Vulcan S boasts the lowest weight of any motorcycle in its class, which not only improves maneuverability and handling but it’s helpful for riders blessed with short legs.
These last few features appear to fit nicely into the concept of a café racer, which brings us back to the Vulcan S ABS Café.
2016 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS Café.- Source Kawasaki Motorcycles
The Vulcan S ABS Café, enjoys a dark tinted wind deflector, custom stripe and tank panel. It also receives a distinctive Candy Lime Green sports stripe down its entire length and painted in a contrasting Metallic Matte Carbon Gray.
Riders who may like what they’re reading about the Vulcan S line but aren’t particularly enthused about the café design, Kawasaki has the answer. Another model joining the Vulcan S line is the Vulcan S ABS SE. This model will be available in a very stylish two-tone finish, featuring Metallic Imperial Blue and Metallic Spark Black paintwork.
The Vulcan S ABS, Vulcan S ABS SE and Vulcan S ABS Café model also add anti-lock braking (ABS) technology, which has become the must-have on new motorcycles.
The color palettes for Kawasaki’s 2016 Vulcan S and Vulcan S ABS are two distinctive new colors: Candy Matte Orange and Urban City White.
2016 Kawasaki Vulcan SE ABS.- Source Kawasaki Motorcycles
Accessory-wise, riders who like to spend time on the road may want to look at the the KQR (Kawasaki Quick Release) large and medium windshields, saddlebags and passenger backrest options allow easy installation or removal once installed. Vulcan S customers will also be able to purchase the Café model’s wind deflector separately for their own motorcycles.
Other notable accessories include a DC power outlet, gear position indicator, LED light bar, helmet lock, tank bag, soft top case, passenger seat and footpegs.
Kawasaki Genuine Accessories have more than 40 accessories available for purchase at Kawasaki dealerships nationwide.
With the design of the Vulcan S and certainly an abundance of customizing, Kawasaki have carved out a particular niche for riders wanting something a little different in their cruising choices so it will be interesting to see where the series falls with its sales