15 Jun,2013

2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero | One Hardcore Homebre!

Vaquero: Spanish, meaning cowboy. For some, the image of a brawny hardworking cow-hand unafraid of a hard-day’s work may come to mind.

For others, it may be a Zorro’esque character with a sense of old-world charm, finesse and spirit that conjures up visions of a time when your horse meant as much to you as your own familia. Mi amigos, bienvenido the 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero. A bike that combines the swagger of the aforementioned characteristics into one bold bad bagger.

All new for 2011, the Vulcan Vaquero 1700 (MSRP $16,499) rocks a low profile with frame mounted fairings and an old school custom look raw’ness combined with a bevy of modern technologies. For instance, it incorporates Kawasaki’s next-generation fuel injection based on the same system found on the Ninja 650R and Vulcan 900 series. This system uses one sensor rather than three for reduced weight and complexity. You will also find an onboard diagnostic systems display for its various electronics wizardry which helps to identify areas of attention before they become problems. The audio system rocks out with AM/FM/weather frequencies from twin speakers and is compatible with iPods, XM tuner or CB radio units. All of which are easily operated via controls on the left handlebar.

For a big V-Twin, handling this bagger was a breeze. With its relatively short wheelbase of 65.6 inches, this compact design contributes significantly for easy handling at low-speeds, cornering and maneuvering within small spaces. But don’t let this graceful handling mislead you because this lean heavy-weight (coming in at 835.7lbs) ain’t no wall flower. The 1700cc four-stroke, liquid-cooled SOHC, 8-valve, 52-degree V-Twin cranks out 108lb of torque at 2,750 rpm. Link this power up to a 6-speed transmission with 5th and 6th overdrive gears for increased highway fuel economy and you’ve got the formula for one smooth ride. Equally as impressive is the powerful breaking system via dual 300mm front disc brakes with four-piston calipers and two-piston rear disc brakes available on both the ABS and non-ABS models.

I have to admit the saddle-bags were a bit smaller than others I’ve experienced in this class. I was also looking for a little more from the tunes produced by the exhaust. However, once I saddled-up and cranked up Bruno Mar’s from my test bike’s XM equipped system those concerns were quickly drowned out as I entered into a zen like state of being. For on that day with my borrowed ebony iron el caballo, I became a vaquero.

Still not convinced this is one bag bagger? Don’t take my word for it. Check out Kawasaki’s touring Ticket2Ride demo event for an opportunity to demo any of their bikes from their Ninja 1000 to the Vulcan 1700 Vaquero. Judge for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

For more details and info: www.kawasaki.com


Written by: Leon L. Brittain
Motorcycle Journalist and photographer