Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Specs and Review (Cruiser Bike)

The Kawasaki Vulcan, often abbreviated as VN, represents a splendid lineage of cruiser bikes and custom motorcycles renowned for their exceptional comfort and distinctive V-twin engines. Within this illustrious family, the Kawasaki Vulcan 800 stands as a shining star, rivalling even the brand’s iconic Ninja units in terms of popularity. This formidable machine is part of the fifth series in the Vulcan line, produced from 1995 to 2006, and is available in three distinct variations: the Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Classic, 800A, and 800 Drifter.
But what sets the Kawasaki Vulcan 800 apart, and what delights does it hold in store for its fortunate riders? The VN800 series motorcycles boast frames designed with concealed shock absorbers, evoking a classic and vintage Hardtail style that exudes timeless charm. The heart of these magnificent machines is an engine that exudes an ample dose of power, all without the need for excessive snarl, making the Vulcan 800 an ideal choice for riders of varying skill levels.
The arrival of the VN800 marked the torch-passing moment, as it succeeded the venerable Kawasaki VN750 and held the fort until 2006 when it made way for its successor, the VN900. While the three distinct models within the VN800 series share many common internal specifications, they each have their unique external features and characteristics that set them apart. To assist you in making an informed decision, we will delve into both the overarching traits that make the Kawasaki Vulcan 800 a compelling choice and the specific nuances that distinguish each model within this exceptional series. This way, you’ll be better equipped to ascertain if this motorcycle is the perfect fit for you or someone dear to you and, if so, which particular variant suits your riding desires and aspirations.
Exploring the Kawasaki Vulcan 800: A Comprehensive Review

Transport yourself back to 1995, a time when the motorcycle industry witnessed the emergence of a true classic – the Kawasaki Vulcan 800. This remarkable model was not only born in America and Europe but also captivated the hearts of riders in the United States, Japan, and across Europe. Among its variations, the Standard and the Classic editions garnered the most attention, while the Drifter variant held a special place in the hearts of Indian riders.

Kawasaki, known for its commitment to excellence, maintained the core features of the Vulcan 800 line, as they consistently delivered on performance and reliability. Let’s embark on a deep dive into the world of the Kawasaki Vulcan 800, exploring its specifications and unique attributes across the three main models:

Under the Hood

At the heart of the Kawasaki VN800 lies an 805cc V-twin, four-stroke engine, featuring twin cylinders with a Single Overhead Cam (SOHC) configuration. Each cylinder boasts four valves for optimal combustion efficiency. To ensure longevity and precise temperature control, this powerhouse incorporates a liquid cooling system. Moreover, the discreetly installed radiator further enhances the engine’s capabilities, providing ample power, torque, and speed.

The VN800 channels its power to the rear wheel through a smooth-shifting five-speed transmission. This configuration not only facilitates relaxed engine performance but also ensures swift acceleration when cruising at highway speeds. The presence of Kawasaki’s Positive Neutral Finder simplifies shifting, allowing seamless transitions from first to neutral.

In a thoughtful design move, the VN800 prevents shifting into second gear when stationary, maintaining a smooth ride. The carburetor is equipped with an accelerator pump for immediate throttle response, while concealed cam chain tensioners ensure minimal maintenance, preserving the engine’s clean aesthetics and precise cam timing.

Furthermore, the VN800 features a user-friendly spin-on oil filter, minimizing upkeep efforts. The chassis, a testament to Kawasaki’s innovation, combines cutting-edge design with a classic cruiser appearance. It incorporates a transistorized electronic ignition system and digital timing, ensuring enhanced fuel economy and precise throttle response. With a generous fuel capacity of approximately 4.0 US gallons and a consumption rate of around 39.7 US mpg, long rides become a pleasure.

Exterior Elegance

From the 1996 Kawasaki Vulcan 800 to the 2002 iteration, the Vulcan 800 series boasts a steel-made, tubular, double-cradled frame that not only exemplifies sturdiness but also exudes timeless aesthetics. The front suspension, a telescopic fork, allows for a smooth ride on well-maintained roads, although cornering can be a tad sluggish.

A distinctive feature is the concealed rear suspension, ensuring the triangulated swingarm maintains a clean, hardtail appearance. The VN800’s single-shock system is compressed to enable progressive spring force and damping, resulting in a remarkably smooth and comfortable ride. Different models are equipped with similar-sized rear tires but vary in front tire dimensions.

When it comes to braking, the Vulcan 800 series offers versatility. The front brake features a single disc with one or two pistons, depending on the specific model. Meanwhile, the rear brake can be either a single-disc or drum type. Regular brake system maintenance is essential to maximize the longevity and performance of your VN800.

In conclusion, the Kawasaki Vulcan 800 is a testament to engineering excellence, combining power, style, and reliability in a package that has stood the test of time. Whether you opt for the Standard, Classic, or Drifter model, you’re bound to experience the joys of cruising on a legendary two-wheeled companion.

When delving into the world of Kawasaki Vulcan 800 motorcycles, one encounters a trio of intriguing variants, each possessing its unique character and charm. Let’s embark on a journey to explore the distinctions and virtues of the VN800A, VN800B (Classic), and VN800C/E (Drifter), as we venture into the realm of these exceptional cruiser bikes.

Kawasaki Vulcan 800A: The Pioneer of Modern Cruising

The venerable Kawasaki Vulcan 800A, known for its debut in 1995 and production spanning up to 2005, stands as a pioneering symbol of modern cruiser design. This embodiment of elegance features a signature bobbed fender, setting it apart from its siblings.

What truly distinguishes the 800A is its lightweight and narrow profile, making it an agile and nimble companion on the road. It gracefully balances between the seat heights of the Classic and Drifter, offering a riding experience that harmonizes comfort and control. Moreover, its superior ground clearance, courtesy of a well-proportioned wheelbase, ensures you can tackle diverse terrains with ease.

Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Classic: Where Classic Meets Modern

The Vulcan 800 Classic, produced from 1996 to 2006, seamlessly marries classic aesthetics with modern engineering. Its defining features include a broad, beefy front tire wrapped around spoked wheels, exuding a timeless 1950s-style charm. This beauty isn’t just skin-deep; it boasts chrome-clad fork downtubes and headlight housing, bestowing it with a bespoke appearance.

But style isn’t the only forte of the VN800B. Its low-stepped seat provides not only eye-catching design but also impeccable stability and off-the-road comfort. With 16-inch wheels at both the front and rear, the Classic embodies the perfect blend of form and function.

Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Drifter: A Nod to the Retro Era

The Vulcan 800 Drifter, in production from 1999 to 2006, pays homage to the timeless appeal of the Indian motorcycle era. With an unmistakable retro style reminiscent of late 1940s cruiser bikes, it captures the essence of a bygone age. A standout feature is its distinctive fishtail muffler extending from the rear, enveloped by fenders that elegantly conceal its spoked wheels.

Comfort reigns supreme in the Drifter, as its well-contoured saddle provides a secure footing, and its wide floorboards invite relaxation. Distinguished by its extensive chrome plating, this model outshines the Classic in terms of chrome-covered elements, encompassing the engine, fork, shock, headlight shell, clamp, back fender rail, and handlebar.

In conclusion, the choice between the VN800A, VN800B Classic, and VN800C/E Drifter is a matter of personal preference and riding style. Each of these remarkable Kawasaki Vulcan 800 variants offers a unique blend of aesthetics, performance, and comfort, catering to the diverse tastes of cruiser enthusiasts. So, whether you’re drawn to the modern agility of the 800A, the classic-meets-modern allure of the Classic, or the retro charm of the Drifter, rest assured that you’re embarking on a journey of style and substance on two wheels.

Summary of Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Specs and Features

To see the differences and similarities of the VN800 models more clearly, let’s sum up their specifications and features using a table.

Table of Exterior Specs and Features

Features VN800A VN800B (Classic) VN800C/E (Drifter)
Overall Dimensions in mm (LxWxH) 2360 x 825 x 1170 2375 x 930 x 1130 2490 x 1005 x 1125
Seat Height in mm 710 700 760
Dry Weight in Pounds 496 516 547
Wheelbase in mm 1625 1600 1615
Ground Clearance in mm 160 150 135
Trail in mm 149 123 158
Frame Steel, tubular, double-cradled
Front Suspension Telescopic fork 41 millimeters; 150 millimeters
Rear Suspension Swingarm Uni-Trak with mono-shock and spring pre-loaded adjustment; 100 millimeters
Rear Tire 140/90-16 71H
Front Tire 80/90-21 48H 130/90-16 67H

Table of Interior Specs and Features

Features VN800A VN800B (Classic) VN800C/E (Drifter)
Engine Type Liquid-Cool, Four-Stroke, V-Twin, SOHC
Maximum Power (Hp/RPM) 55.0/7,000
Maximum Torque (Nm/RPM) 64.0/3,300
Acceleration (0 to 60 mph) 5.88 seconds
Displacement in cm³ 805
Bore x Stroke in mm 88 x 66.2
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Carburetor Type Keihin CVK36
Final Drive Chain
Transmission Five-Speed
Initial Reduction 2.184
Final Reduction 1995 to 1996 Kawasaki Vulcan 800: 2.875
1997 to 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 800: 2.470
Clutch Cable-Operated, Wet, Multi-Plate
Front Brake Single Disc, 300mm, one-piston caliper Single Disc, 300mm, two-piston caliper
Rear Brake Drum, 180mm Single disc, 270mm, two-piston caliper
Alternator Three-phase AC; 329W at 8000RPM
Ignition System Transition-Controlled
Battery Capacity 12V-12Ah

Exploring the World of Kawasaki Vulcan 800: Frequently Asked Questions

As we delve into the captivating realm of the Kawasaki Vulcan 800 cruiser motorcycles, it’s only fitting that we address some of the most common inquiries that can provide you with invaluable insights to make an informed decision.

  1. How Much is a Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Worth?

In the intriguing universe of motorcycles, the price of a Kawasaki Vulcan 800 is a multifaceted facet. As with any vehicle, it significantly hinges on the year of manufacture. The latest iterations, exemplified by the 2005 Kawasaki Vulcan 800, naturally command a higher price tag compared to their vintage counterparts from the 1990s and the early 2000s. Moreover, it’s imperative to note that models like the Classic and Drifter tend to bear a more substantial cost compared to the 800A, adding an additional layer of intricacy to this pricing conundrum.

In this intricate matrix, the cost of acquiring a Kawasaki VN800 spans a spectrum, ranging from approximately $2,000 to $4,000, offering riders a plethora of choices to suit their preferences and budgets.

  1. How Fast Can a Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Go?

When you embark on a journey astride your trusty Kawasaki Vulcan 800, adorned with the requisite helmet for safety, the open road presents itself as an exhilarating playground. You’ll find that the VN800 series possesses the capability to reach speeds of up to 108mph or a brisk 174kph, ensuring a thrilling and comfortable ride, regardless of your chosen pace. The beauty of this experience lies in the seamless transition between these speeds, courtesy of the well-designed gear ratios that bestow each shift with an ample reservoir of power.

  1. What Are the Most Common Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Problems?

Navigating the terrain of common issues that may befall your Kawasaki VN800, you’ll discover that these tribulations are not exclusive to this model but are part of the broader Vulcan series. Nevertheless, it’s pertinent to acknowledge that these problems tend to manifest more prominently in units with higher mileage that have not received the meticulous care and maintenance they deserve.

a. Oil Gear Pump: This particular concern is prevalent among Vulcan models manufactured between 1999 and 2005, owing to the utilization of plastic in the pump’s construction. Regular checks are imperative, and replacement intervals fall within the range of 4,000 to 15,000 miles, ensuring the continued reliability of your trusty steed.

b. Stator: A more frequent occurrence in VN800B, or Classic models, stator-related issues surface when the motorcycle exhibits signs of battery-related troubles. To decipher the root cause of these problems, it’s advisable to enlist the expertise of a professional mechanic. Depending on the issue’s nature, they may opt for battery recharging, replacement, or even a stator swap to restore your ride’s vitality.

c. Speedometer: Inaccurate or non-functional speedometer readings are a well-known quirk of the VN800 models. For the mechanically inclined, a common culprit has been the improper sealing of the cable’s housing. While this represents a relatively straightforward issue to resolve, those who lack prior experience in motorcycle mechanics may find it prudent to entrust this task to a seasoned professional.

Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Review Verdict

Irrespective of whether you elect to embrace the VN800A, VN800B, or VN800C/E, the one constant you can anticipate is a motorcycle that embodies beginner-friendly attributes and features. Kawasaki has artfully blended simplicity with style, ensuring that your safety, comfort, and performance are never compromised. Furthermore, the addition of subtle design nuances, exemplified by the flowing lines, ensures that your presence on the road remains unobtrusive to fellow riders and drivers, harmoniously coexisting in the bustling tapestry of traffic.

An additional noteworthy aspect is the flexibility inherent in the VN800 series. This motorcycle offers the freedom to transform into a customized masterpiece, be it a Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Bobber or any other personalized configuration, by upgrading elements such as the seat and more.

When selecting from the trio of variants, your choice will invariably hinge on your individual preferences. For those seeking an economical option that boasts a lightweight profile, the VN800A beckons. On the other hand, enthusiasts with a more generous budget will be enticed by the Classic and Drifter, both of which exude a nostalgic allure, although the Drifter carries a tad more weight, underscoring the importance of this decision.

Regardless of your preference, it is strongly advisable to have a trusted expert thoroughly inspect the specific unit’s condition and accompanying documentation, ensuring that your investment aligns seamlessly with the value it promises to deliver.