King Of Cruisers – Kawasaki Vulcan 2000
by Staff Writer
With the largest V-twin engine in a mass-production motorcycle, amazing torque, unique style and superb craftsmanship, the Vulcan 2000 truly is the king of cruisers.
Big becomes a well-used word, as you learn the impressive technical specifications of the bike. Power for this stylish cruiser comes from a massive V-twin engine featuring a bore and stroke of 103 x 123.2mm, forged pistons, alloy-steel connecting rods, huge 220mm flywheels, dual cams located within the one-piece crankcase and right-side pushrods actuating four valves per cylinder. Valves are suitably super-sized, with a pair of 40mm intakes and 36mm exhausts.
To provide sharp throttle response at any rpm, the Vulcan 2000â€™s electronic engine control unit (ECU) manages electronic fuel injection with its dual 46mm throttle bodies and sub throttle valves, as well as the iridium spark plug ignition system. The sub throttle valves provide the Vulcan 2000 with a smooth, linear power band, while the highly sophisticated fuel injection systemâ€™s fine atomizing injectors deliver an ultra-fine mist of fuel/air mixture to the cylinders for greater combustion efficiency, increased power and optimum fuel economy. This brings almost faultless response from the big twin. I say “almost,” as it is possible to catch the injection out if you are a little quick off and then on the throttle at higher rpms.
So what does all this add up to? Well, in a country where good is bad, and bad is even better, the Vulcan 2000â€™s power output can only be described as “bad.” Making 116 horses at 5,000 rpm, and a mind blowing 196 Newton Meters of torque (145 ft/lb) at just 3,000 rpm, the Vulcan is not only the largest production V-twin cruiser; it is the most powerful.
Visually, the motor is just as stunning, taking up a large amount of real estate in between the massive steel frame rails. And, the first thing that strikes the eye, after the huge attractive air cleaner cover, is the chrome pushrod tubes that actually contain pushrods. Notably, Kawasaki engineers chose to utilize a push rod design in order to reduce engine height, which directly contributes to the Vulcan 2000â€™s low center of gravity and relatively low seat height. Plus, hydraulic valve lash adjusters automatically maintain zero valve clearance for smoother, quieter operation.
Looking at the engine again, you could be forgiven for taking the new Vulcan engine for an air-cooled unit, with the polished cylinder fins standing out against the matte black cylinders. In reality, only the top quarter of the V-twin engine is liquid cooled, while temperatures for the bottom three-quarters of the engine are managed by stylish and highly functional cooling fins. A closer look reveals the radiator tucked between the front-down tubes. Finished in black, it blends with the frame so as not to give away the Vulcanâ€™s secret. Dual exhaust pipes and mufflers emit a distinctive V-twin rumble, and include honeycomb catalyzers to reduce emissions.
The gearbox contains five speeds and has a nice easy operation to it. A resounding “thunk” greets the rider when first gear is selected, and a good hearty boot can be employed on the heel shifter for selecting neutral again at stoplights. You will really like this feature, and the fact that you will not feel as if your feet are too far out in front of you once under way. Toe only shifting is effortless, with no false neutrals. Shifting with your heel is a very straightforward affair, needing only the lightest of nudges to engage the next ratio.
A Hyvo primary drive chain transfers torque from the big V-twin engine to the five-speed transmission case, which houses a multi-plate wet clutch. To fully benefit from the Vulcan 2000â€™s advanced electronics, a gear position sensor in the transmission sends signals to the ECU, further enhancing fuel injection volume and ignition timing, and thus improving performance. Final drive to the rear wheel is provided by smooth, quiet and low maintenance belt drive.
The Vulcan 2000 motorcycle rides on bright, cast aluminum 16-inch wheels with a 150/80 front radial tire and a huge, 200/60 rear radial tire. Dual 300mm front disc brakes with four-piston calipers and a single rear disc brake with two-piston caliper bring this big cruiser to smooth, powerful stops.
The Vulcan 2000â€™s rear tire is the largest ever used on a production V-twin cruiser. It does not look abnormally large, because the rest of the bike is so big, but you may wonder if it will make for awkward handling. But once in the saddle, you will completely forget about it, as it has no negative effects on the bikeâ€™s handling what so ever.
Styling that puts the Vulcan 2000 at the forefront of cruiser design includes a powerful four-bulb, projector-type headlight encased in a signature chrome Nacelle headlight â€“ the first for a production cruiser. Adding to its high-end status is the chrome instrument panel with its large-face speedometer; mounted on a stretched, 5.5-gallon fuel tank, the V-shaped panel keeps the rider informed with an LCD display and warning lamps. The bucket-type saddle with locking passenger seat complements the Vulcan 2000â€™s long, curving silhouette while providing all-day riding comfort.
The Vulcan 2000 provides you with more torque than you could possibly need. In other words, it is just enough.