Choosing your first Cruiser! 

2023 Kawasaki Vulcan S vs 2023 Kawasaki Vulcan Custom.

Which one would you prefer?

Hey everybody, it's Peter. And in this video we're gonna compare two different Kawasaki cruisers, the Vulcan S and the Vulcan, in this case, custom. Now, custom classic. You could vary on those, but the premise of this video is you're looking for your first cruiser. Which one of these Kawasaki options might be best for you? And it's an interesting comparison because both of these cruisers really go about a different riding style and there's some surprises I think you'll find between these two bikes. And that's sort of my job here. I'm gonna dig into the differences between these bikes and show you some things that some of the other videos aren't showing you. So first of all, if you have questions after this video is done, make sure you let me know in the comments section below because I'm filming here at Jim Gilbert's Power Sports, where they gimme complete access to all of their vehicles.

From here you can watch Peters Video by clicking YouTube or read his transcript... enjoy...

And if you have questions, I'll answer your questions both in the common section and in future videos. So if you're interested in either of these bikes, make sure you hit subscribe. I've already filmed a few videos on these bikes and I'm going to be filming more, so I wanna make sure I can answer all of your questions and continue to make content that hopefully you'll find useful. So let's start with the comparison between these two bikes. And again, we're looking at this for the idea of a first cruiser. Let's get going. So normally when I recommend a first bike, something like the Ninja 400 or the Z 400 is a very common bike that I will recommend. Also, it's X 300, but none of those are anything at all like a cruiser. So if we're talking about your first overall bike, in my mind, I would recommend this one before, I recommend this one.

But if you have a little bit of riding experience, you've driven dirt bikes or anything else, I think either one of these bikes could be good for a first cruiser. And there are some things to consider here. First of all, this is a 650 cc parallel twin. This is a 900 cc v twin. So a lot of time when you're thinking about a first bike or you know, sort of an entry level into anything you think smaller ccs are gonna be, you know, a little bit less powerful. And in some ways that's not actually true at all with this one, this bike here actually makes more horsepower than this bike over here. Now there are some differences in feel and we'll talk about that as well. But even though this one makes more horsepower out of less ccs, it's actually very easy to ride as well and in part because it's lighter weight.

So we're gonna talk about this bike in detail, but I also wanna mention that even though this makes less power and it is a bit or less horsepower and it's a little bit heavier bike, it is also a great bike for someone who again, is used to riding but wants a cruiser. There are some differences. So let's start here with the Vulcan S and talk about that. And then we'll move into the Vulcan custom, which again could be the Vulcan Classic. The biggest difference between custom and classic is this front wheel here. I have a custom off there, uh, off screen there. We'll show you that in a second. But let's start with the Vulcan S. So the Vulcan S is a non-traditional cruiser. It's really a cruiser unlike any other. It's not the only parallel Twin Cruiser,

But it is a much more sporty cruiser than other parallel twin cruisers as well as other cruisers in general. What you'll notice when you sit on this is it's a fairly lightweight cruiser, nice low seat height. You can adjust it for different sizes. We'll talk about that in a second. But the key here is this is the Ninja 650 engine. Now it's tuned slightly differently, but the big thing is when you get a big V twin engine where the cylinders go like this, you end up with a rumble, you end up with uh, you know, a whole bunch of big moving parts that give you a different feel than a small parallel twin like this six 50. So the parallel twin has two cylinders that go up and down sort of side by side. It is a more efficient engine to get a lot of speed out of.

And when I say speed, I mean revolutions per minute. Revs basically this one revs up to 9,500 RPM and that engine can rev a little higher on different bikes, but you make power in the rev range. So it's got good mid-range power for what it is. But you can continue to rev this up. A lot of cruisers, you know, 6,000 rpm is the absolute maximum on some of them, whereas this one you can really rev it out a lot more and that means that this behaves a lot more like a sport bike And when you're riding it, it also has sort of a similar feel to a sport bike style cruiser. The handling on this bike is very good as well. So I'm gonna jump across it for a second and show you a couple things. First of all, I'm about six feet tall. I'm not exactly sure how this bike is set up, but it can be set up in a number of different ways.

Both the seat, the pegs and the handlebars can all be moved to different positions. So on the Kawasaki website they'll talk about how it can be like for a short rider, a mid rider and a and a lo longer or larger rider. Uh, the difference is that you don't have to follow those presets. You could set up your pegs to be closer, your handlebars to be farther. You can kind of customize your uh, riding position with this more so than any other bike in the cruiser lineup from Kawasaki. And what that means is you can be very comfortable, you still have that feet forward position, but a nice upright uh, riding position. You can get all the cruiser accessories you wanna do long touring on this. You can get a windshield up here, you wanna get some bags on this, not a problem. You wanna throw a rear seat on this. Not a problem as well. So you can do all the things that you need to do to turn this into a cruiser, but you're still gonna find that this is a very easy bike to flick back and forth that handles very well. And again, when you're driving it, you're gonna be revving that engine out, which is kind of fun and it feels a little bit like more like a sport bike. You are going to surprise some Harley Davidson rider on this because this is quicker than many Harley Davidsons on the road today as far as zero to 60 and that kind of thing. So this is an interesting option that is both easy to ride and yet faster than, I can't say the average cruiser, but faster than many cruisers and probably the average cruiser on the road today in 2023. There are definitely cruisers that make a whole bunch of power.

You're not gonna be faster than everybody but for a 650 cc engine you really get value out of this for power. So let's talk about the other as well and then we'll start looking at the details like the dash and some other things. We'll kind of dig into that. So let's talk about the Vulcan custom. Now I'm gonna show you a picture on screen right now of the Vulcan Classic and show you that you can really decorate these up in a whole bunch of different ways. The one you're seeing on screen right now that comes from the factory like you see and you, just a couple things worth noticing. It's got the bags on it, it's got the rear backrest, a larger rear seat than the bike. I'm gonna show you in a second here. It's got a windshield on there and it's got a totally different size front tire. So take a look at that front tire as I fade back to me now and take a look at this front tire, the bike you just saw. And this are actually the same bike and that's kind of what the custom is all about. And the classic, the overall Vulcan, you can really tailor it to suit your needs. So both of the bikes I just showed you that uh, picture I just showed you and this one here are the same bike. They just have a couple different features on there. Uh, and again, both of those can be ordered from factory with zero options and that's what those two are. But you can also customize this up. I chose this one for the video just cuz the front wheel looks kind of cool and it looks kind of sporty just like the Vulcan s. Now while this looks sporty, it's a little less sporty.

First of all, it's heavier. I'll just jump across it here. Can I move it side to side? I absolutely can. I will say that this front wheel, although it looks cool, it's gonna be a little bit tougher to do slow speed maneuvers on this bike than it is on the Vulcan S. The Vulcan s when you sit across, it feels like a sportier bike than this one. In simple terms, this one feels like a regular bigger cruiser, but it's not so big that you can't really handle it. So a couple features I like about this that, you know, I think again for your first cruiser, if you wanna get into a traditional cruiser, what you're gonna find here is again, while this makes less horsepower, it makes more torque. You can see that vwe engine in here, one down there, one up here, there's the cylinders in there that ride up and down.

A vwe engine is great for torque. That's that pulling power. Think of like a pickup truck engine versus a, you know, Honda Civic type engine. Honda Civic can rev really high, relatively high. The pickup truck engine doesn't rev it's high, but it's got that torque. Now again, even though this is bigger, it makes less horsepower than the Vulcan S and the Vulcan S is lighter. So that bike zero to 60, the Vulcan S that we started with is quicker. But you have a different feel here. And again, if you wanna get into big power and a big cruiser, you're gonna get into a pretty big engine, which adds a lot of weight as well. This one has an intentional roughness to it. It's not designed to be perfectly smooth, perfectly refined. The v2, an engine is gonna give you that rumble kind of feel. But this Vulcan is still a relatively smooth riding bike, although at idle you're gonna feel that v you know, giving you that cruiser feel. So if you need a cruiser feel and you want the classic Vwe look, this is a very good option. And even though it's a 900 cc bike, it's not gonna be outside of your speed range or something like that. Again, customizations can be done to

Absolute, the Vulcan S has customizations, but this one is a much larger feeling bike. Big huge seat here, bigger than even the uh, Vulcan S. And you really have that sort of feel of the classic cruiser that will stay in style forever. Now there are differences in the instrumentation here as well and that may lead you to prefer one over the other. So let's take a look at what we have here and then go to the Vulcan S. So taking a look at the instrumentation here, let's just zoom out for a second so you can see where we're looking. We are actually looking at the tank of the bike. There is no dash up on the handlebars, it's down on the tank. So we'll zoom in again here very carefully. Let's see if we can get it right where I want to have it. There we go. And you can see this is your full instrumentation. So bottom light over here is your neutral light, your signal lights, and again, no separate uh, indication of signal lights. It's a single light to tell you that your signal's on your high beams there. And then you have your dash here with just a speedometer, just a fuel gauge and some warning lights. Now the key is actually down below the seat, so I'm gonna turn that on right now and you'll see this dash come to life. Pretty simple stuff here. Nothing too advanced. You've got a clock in there, you've got odometer in there and you've got a triple odometer and that's it. So again, no real technology, which again gives you that cruiser style and cruiser feel, but it does leave you without some of the things that a modern motorcycle might have. So you have to sort of decide what you're looking for.

But again, why is there no tack? Because this is an engine that does not need to rev excessively for power. So really you're not gonna be driving this anywhere near red line. You're gonna feel where that power is, make your shift and off you go. Now let's take a look at the Vulcan S take a look at the Vulcan S. You can see that there are a few uh, differences here. Obviously first of all the, the controls are mounted to the handlebars here. There's a little bit of glare in there, but we'll kind of work with that. Oh, maybe we have to turn the handlebars a little bit more to deal with that. Anyways, ignore the glare a little bit and you can see first of all you've got a real tack here and again it revs up to 9 9500 rpm. So again, this bike can continue to make power in that six, seven, 8,000 RPM range.

So you're gonna want to have a attack to see how that goes. Your key here is down on the tank instead of underneath uh, the tank down by the side of the bike, turn it on and you've got a really complete dash here. So a lot of things I really like. Again, if it's your first bike, having a gear indicator is really helpful, but even if it's not, I just like that. So you can see the N right there tells me it's a neutral. Of course you have a neutral light on both bikes, but the gear indicator will tell you first gear, second gear, that kind of thing. I don't know if I can put it in gear, actually know what the camera tripods in the way, but I'm gonna change that. But the point is there's a six speed transmission here. So you can zip through the gears, you still have a fuel gauge. Then up top you here you have some trip information. So let's just cycle through the information here. Uh, trip A, trip B. So already you get an extra trip computer and you're not losing your clock in order to get to that trip. A trip B. Then you have kilometers per liter, which I'm pretty sure can be set for leaders per a hundred kilometers as well. Average Kilometers per liter. So you have instant and average fuel efficiency and then you have range to empty, which in this bike of course because it's not rolling, once it rolls it starts to calculate how you have been driving and tell you how much range you should have approximately and never uh, something to rely on completely. But again, you have that in addition to the fuel gauge and then you go back to your odometer. So a lot more controls here, a lot more modern technology in there. Uh, your signal to lights as well. You've got left side signal and right side signals. So you've got different lights up there as well as your high beam which uh, actually I can't turn on until I start the bike and because we're indoors won't start the bike. But again very compact but a lot more information here and that may be something that some people prefer because although the classic look is nice, it's nice to also have extra information.

So we've talked about the engine style, the V twin versus the parallel twin. We've talked about the overall bikes, bigger feeling bike, kind of a cruiser old classic style and something that's a little bit more sporty. But there's another few things that I think you should look for if you're getting into a first cruiser or even a modern motorcycle, you can buy old cruisers, you can find them anywhere, you can usually buy them cheap. One thing that I like about both these bikes is they are liquid cooled. Now a lot of cruisers are gonna have this V twin engine. You can sort of see the fins on here. The fins are what they used to use for air cooling and you have the same look of the fins on here. Having these liquid cooled and I mean radiator up front here and a radiator up front here, just like your car.

I think that really matters especially if you're getting into a bike and maybe it's your first one or that kind of thing. If you've ever been stuck in traffic in an air cooled bike, that's where they create the heat. It's not the hot day when you're driving, it's when you're stuck in traffic or idling or that kind of thing. An air cooled bike doesn't warn you when it overheats or when it gets too hot. You just don't know. You have to get moving and I've been stuck in traffic and start feeling the heat off that air cooled engine and you don't know what's going on. Liquid cooled bikes not only control that engine temperature, that helps with longevity, it helps with, you know, and, and again, if you buy an air cool bike that's used, you never know has it overheated hazard issues. In fact the owner may not know if it's been to a place where it's started to overheat.

So you have good longevity built in because that liquid cooling is gonna keep this engine and that engine in a temperature range that not only preserves longevity of the engine, it preserves performance of the engine. They can get more performance out of it and it gives you more peace of mind. This one, although it doesn't have a temperature gauge, it does have a warning light. And same thing over there, you'll be warned if the engine is getting too hot or if there's an issue with it. And I think that's a modern piece of technology that's really worth getting on a cruiser just because it's gonna give you so much more benefit. Again, consistent performance, uh, protection from you know, idling away. And uh, also you know, the idea of are you in trouble or are you not? Not a problem. So liquid cooling something that I would look for on a first cooler on a first cruiser. So let's talk

Who I think both of these bikes are for or who they fit better. And let's start here with the Vulcan S. First of all, the Vulcan S is a great first cruiser. It can be used as a first motorcycle. And what I like about this is it can introduce you to all kinds of motorcycling. If you find yourself going down twisty roads and really liking that, and maybe this is your first bike, you could decide do you want to stay with a cruiser like this or do you wanna move to more of a sporting bike? This car, this bike can handle the sporty turns and curves and all that. So that is a real advantage of this. It's also a little bit lighter weight and it's going to be more comfortable for a lot of people who are new to riding slow speed maneuvers are more difficult on a cruiser than on other styles of bike. And slow speed maneuvers are when you often run into trouble with dropping bikes like this. So this one, again, much easier to move in a parking lot than most cruisers. This one's pretty good, but you're still getting into that cruiser uh, type feel, cruiser geometry and that cruiser weights. So you have that option and it's just something worth keeping in mind. Now that being said, at speed they're both gonna be very stable, very comfortable, but again, sport bike feel and that sport bike engine, if you're buying a bike and you wanna keep it for a long time and you're concerned, maybe you're a bit of a speed demonn, you're concerned that a bike will become too slow. Sometimes people make the mistake of saying, well the six 50 s gonna be too slow, so I'm gonna move to the 900. I would argue that this one, again, zero to 60 speed, you've got all the power you need here, you get to it differently.

But this is a great bike for, you know, if you want a faster bike, this one is going to be faster in time. So if this is faster and more nimble, why get this one? Well, the classic Vulcan Classic or Vulcan custom, whichever one, the classic cruiser is what a lot of people are looking for. The, the way the engine is situated and the way it works gives you that rumble, it gives you more of a basey exhaust note. It gives you that full cruiser feel and that's what a lot of people are going for. You can still tour on this, you can customize these up in any which way you want. So whether it's around town or uh, out of town or even overnight trips, you can do that on both of these bikes. This one does cost a little bit more and in fact you're getting a little bit more motorcycle.

It's a bigger overall everything here. But this one does give you that true if that's what you want to call it, cruiser feel. I've had people argue with me on the internet that this isn't a true cruiser because it doesn't have that V between that kind of feel. So this one gives you that V twin feel and again, it's still very torquey. It's not like it's not powerful, it's just overall top speed and some of the acceleration with the six speed transmission and the quick revving engine that's gonna be able to accelerate. But this one still has all the power you need to do what you'd want to do. Taking a passenger, again, horsepower versus torque. This one takes a passenger is fine, it's got that torque to pull. Think about torque being what trucks have that pulling power. Um, you know, you've got the ability, and again, you can customize seats and customize things up like that. So this one's going to appeal to a more of a traditional cruiser buyer where this one is gonna appeal to a little bit more of a diverse

Riding style and someone who's open to a modern interpretation of a cruiser. So there's a quick overview about potentially your first cruiser. Now there are things I left out in this review that I may have covered in the reviews I've done of these individual bikes. So make sure you check out my channel, check out these individual bikes and if you have questions, subscribe Because I'm into answering your questions, I wanna make sure that I'm filling the internet with the information that you wanna know. So if you have questions about these bikes you wanna know more, let me know in the common section below. If you own these bikes, tell me about how you use them and what you like about them. So we can sort of fill the common section with a database of information for people who are looking at these, considering these bikes. And remember, I'm here at Jim Gilbert's powerSports. It's March right now and the showroom is absolutely packed with 2023's. These are both 2023 models. You can still see a few 2022's as well. So make sure you swing by Jim Gilbert's PowerSports to check them out. And if you want to know more, I can come back to these bikes again and again. So subscribe and we'll make sure we get you more videos on these bikes. Thanks everybody for watching.

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