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The Ducati Hypermotard 1100 S - Ridden and reviewed.

My amp goes to 11:

Supermotard styled bikes are basically a combination of motorcross and road racing bikes. You take a light weight off-road bike and put some street wheels on it and take it racing on a short twisty track where rider skill matters more than the outright speed of the bike. Voila! - That’s a supermotard.

Manufacturers have jumped on the popularity of this style of bike and in some cases have put mirrors and signals on the bikes to make them street legal. The Suzuki DRZ400SM is such an example - a much cheaper example than the Ducati (more on this later). Most off-road bikes don’t have the same big displacement of their streetbike counterparts; that is until recently. A few manufacturers like KTM, and BMW have come out with big displacement off-road bikes. So it was only a matter of time before somebody put some street wheels on them. Ducati - not one to be outdone came out with a new category bike, no longer a ‘super’ moto. They’ve upped the ante and called their creation a ‘hyper’ motard because with a 1078 cc L-twin engine super just wasn’t enough!

Introduced to the public at the Milan International Motorcycle Show in November 2005, the Ducati Hypermotard 1100 was only hours later named "best in show". You and I both know that the concept you may see at a show isn't necessarily what the production model looks like. A pre-production bike is often made without regard to realities such as cost, safety, reproducibility, etc. Sometimes those bikes appear in a much toned down and practical form in the dealership. Thankfully, when the Hypermotard 1100 arrived in Canadian showrooms in 2007 it lost none of the excitement displayed in Milan. It is a wickedly sexy bike that makes it ever so difficult to stay on the proper side of the law whenever you hop aboard. It has the power and personality to convert even the most responsible of drivers into a hooligan.

The Hypermotard's air cooled, fuel injected 1078 cc L-Twin cylinder engine features a desmodromic dual spark engine producing 90 hp @ 7750 rpm and 76 lb-ft of torque @ 4750 rpm. The engine is borrowed from the Multistrada, where it produces 5 more horsepower and the same torque numbers. The engine doesn't produce quite the same dramatic results in the Multistrada due to a significant weight disadvantage. The standard Multistrada weighs in at 432 lbs dry (Ducati also reports dry weights without the battery). The regular Hypermotard comes in at 395 lbs while the S version cuts that down even further to 390 lbs. That's near 37 lbs difference in the standard model and 42 lbs for the 'S' model. The Hypermotard loses a little horsepower to the Multistrada in part because the Hypermotard design forces the use of a very small airbox that trims top-end power.

Lookin’ Good!

The S model is the top of the range model and improves on the base model by adding a few lighter weight parts and other upgrades. Upgrades include the same Brembo Monobloc calipers that were introduced on the 1098. "Each caliper is created from a single casting, as compared to the conventional two piece construction, to ensure rigid flex-free operation and a consistent solid ‘feel’ at the lever" according to Ducati. The 50mm Marzocchi forks of the ‘S’ include a durable low friction, DLC (diamond-like carbon) black coating to the sliders that make them nice and slick for there is no binding or sticking in the suspension. The rear suspension is upgraded to a fully adjustable high spec ohlins unit. You’ll get a generous 6.5 inches of travel up front and 5.6 at the rear.

Black Marchesini wheels with a stylish red-pinstripe also add, or should I say 'detract' from the S version because they are even lighter than those included on the standard 1100. Reducing weight in the wheels is particularly effective because it reduces the unsprung weight of the bike so that the suspension can react quicker. I've read in other 'technical' reviews that removing a pound of unsprung weight is like removing two pounds off the chassis. So any reduction in unsprung weight produces dramatic results.

If the appeal of an art-like tubular steel trellis frame and the desmodromic symphony for the senses isn't enough to entice you; and I can't see how it wouldn't be! But, if that's still not enough to impress you; well you need to see this bike in person! Careful and up-close inspection reveals a multitude of details that went into the design of the bike. Details such as the aerodynamic tail wing with its integrated LED brake light that functions as a passenger grab handle too, the multiple intakes on the tiny front fairing that break up the shape a bit, to the magnesium-colored aluminum engine cases and strategically placed carbon fiber bits on the fork protectors, timing belt covers, front fender rear section and tail side covers. It's wonderful to look at.

Let’s go for a ride:

When I sat on the bike my first impression was that the bike felt surprisingly small considering the 1100 cc of displacement. Not small in stature, but in feel. I rode the BMW F650GS only days before and that felt every bit as large as at the 1100. The BMW has a seat height of 820 mm (32.3") whereas the 1100S is 845 mm / 33.27 in. Ducati’s efforts to create a lightweight bike really paid off.

The riding position and lack of bulk in the frontal area of this bike all contribute to its nimble, lightweight feel. The upright position has the added benefit of being good for riding in traffic because you can really see everything that's going on around you. Those folding mirrors make the bike wide so it may be tough to squeeze through tight spots. If you were in lane-splitting territory like California this might be a problem but that’s largely a non-issue in Canada. One benefit I found of this placement was that your body is not going to obstruct your vision at all when looking in the mirrors. I could see traffic very well from them. If you prefer a more traditional style you can purchase an optional inboard of the grips set of mirrors.

Once underway, everything feels likes it's right where it should be, the clutch provides appropriate feedback and the friction point is in the first third of the range. Speaking of the clutch, it's a racing-style dry clutch that requires a little more effort than the new 696 so if you're riding it at rush hour in stop and go traffic it might be noticeable. Because it’s a dry clutch it weighs a little less than an oil bathed unit and you’ll hear a characteristic bit of rattle from it. Ducati say that it’s “the popular preference of thousands of Ducatisti the world over.” I had several stops along the way during the test ride and the clutch didn't feel heavy to me despite the increase in effort required over the 696. Gear shifts are solid, smooth, and definite with no clunking noises when you engage the gear. Neutral is easy to hit at lights and the neutral indicator is clearly visible on the LCD display.

Note: The wires going into the LED signals (just in front of the clutch lever) that also serve as handguards look a little exposed to me. I'd try to wrap them up a bit tighter or tape them down so a stray finger or thumb wouldn't break them off.

When you start to crack the throttle a little you can hear, and feel, that desmo L-twin. It's got a distinctive sound and lots of low end grunt. The twin pipes are under the narrow and long seat. There’s plenty of room for roaming around. The power sounds a bit muted with the stock pipes but you can get some aftermarket pipes such as the slip on Termignoni's that will improve performance and lighten the bike a little; you'll get to hear a slightly more lively engine note too.

I'd want to look into aftermarket pipes if I bought one of these so that the sound matches the looks a little better. Another option might be the full race termignoni setup that sounds amazing and reportedly adds 6 hp. This system moves the pipes from under the seat to the right side of the bike. The full race system really uncorks a lot of volume and reportedly trims a whopping 7 kg (15.4 lbs) off the stock system.

The minimalist, GP styled, LCD display is tucked behind a tiny bikini fairing. You feel like you're almost sitting on the front wheel on this bike and you can really see 'all' of the road in front of you - without any obstructions. Combine that with a seat height of 845 mm (33.27 in) and you have a really good view of the road.

The digital LCD dsiplay features a digital speedometer and bar-graph LCD tachometer thats a bit tough to read at a glance. Luckily Ducati was thoughtful enough to include a red light shift indicator when you get a little too high up on the tach. That red light is a very noticeable indication that you need to upshift. A switch on the left handlebar can toggle through several different readouts, including a clock, oil temp, battery voltage, reserve fuel tripmeter and a lap-timer. In addition, the Hypermotard comes equipped to receive the Ducati Data Analyzer (DDA) data-acquisition system that is available as a Ducati Performance accessory.

Some may be worried about maintenance costs too. The Hypermotard comes with a standard 2 year, unlimited mileage warranty and is said to offer 50% less maintenance costs than older Ducati’s.

Room for improvement?

This is a supermoto styled bike that one could actually live with. The seating position is upright and easy on the wrists. While I like sportbikes I find them uncomfortable to ride on for more than a hour or so. I realize that makes me sound old but it's just the truth. Sportbikes are fun but their seating position places greater emphasis on aerodynamics than comfort. That is inarguable! The Ducati Hypermotard doesn't really place a lot of emphasis on aerodynamics. It is comfortable though. The Ducati offers a very high thrill factor while still being a bike you can ride comfortably in all variety of on-pavement riding. It attracts lots of attention too - just like sportbikes.

Some of the attention you'll attract is desirable and some of it might not be so desirable, particularly if you want to keep your licence. This bike looks fast sitting still so don't be surprised if you make some new law enforcement friends. In the city or on the twisties is where you'll be happiest on this bike but it's very capable on the highway too as long as you don't mind the wind blast. The lack of fairing and the high and upright position might make long distances at speed a bit tiring. That shouldn't be too much of a problem because with its 12.4 litre plastic gas tank mounted under the seat, you're going to need to stop regularly on any long distance trip. That's a pretty small tank that's going to limit any long distance riding where you're far from a gas station.

I was riding on a very windy day on a flat straight stretch of highway doing a little over the speed limit and I felt a little bit of a head shake. It wasn’t really dramatic or too unnerving but there was definitely some wobble. I talked to a couple other riders and I was the only person who seemed to experience it. I’ve heard headshake described as feeling like you're riding on a tightrope that’s being gently shaken from the other end. That’s a pretty good description of what I experienced. After relaxing my grip and slowing things down to the proper side of the speed limit I didn't feel it again. Fact is, it was just one short stretch that I felt it; but if you're going to be on the highway quite a bit, at and near the speed limit I'd look into getting a Ducati Performance steering damper put on or one of the many top-quality aftermarket ones. It's a very easy fix.

Another issue I have with the bike is its price. The 'S' version has a MSRP of $17,995. Admittedly, you can feel and clearly see the quality of the construction of this bike and I’m not saying this bike is overpriced for what you’re getting; I’m just saying that it is expensive. I'd be hard-pressed to shell out that kind of cash on any one bike. But if that price doesn't phase you I'd take a serious look at this intensely fun bike!

When I win a lottery it’s on my list of purchases to make immediately! This bike has a new spot on my favorite bikes short list. I'd better go get myself a loto ticket!

For more information on the Ducati Hypermotard visit the Ducati North America website here.

Some photo's courtesy Ducati.


I Dream Of Diesel

How does 105 mpg at 72 km/hr with a range of over 1000 km’s sound? Sounds impossible, right? Well, Hayes Diversified Technology (HDT), a US company that are the largest supplier of military motorcycles to the US Defense Department (according to information on their website) have a bike that will do just that, and it’s been tested too. HDT uses the very popular Kawasaki KLR 650 as a donor and beefs it up to military specifications. The most interesting modification though is a state-of-the-art non-turbo charged diesel engine. It’s not some Frankenstein backyard build up; these guys know diesel engines. Consider this as evidence; HDT Racing USA set new World and National Land Speed records for diesel powered motorcycles at the International speed trials by BUB in September 2007.

The real focus of this article is the KLR based diesel motorcycles though. For those unfamiliar with the KLR and the reasons why might have been chosen by the military and HDT as “the” bike to put a diesel engine into, consider these facts. The KLR has been in production for some 21 years and has proven itself to be a tough and reliable machine right out of the box. It’s a very versatile machine that can be used on-road or off-road and will be happy eating up the miles on either surface. It’s relatively cheap too. A 2008 KLR 650 from Kawasaki will only set you back $6,599 Cdn (MSRP). If the KLR were a shoe it’d most certainly be a cross trainer. That means it’s not the absolute best bike for carving up the twisty tarmac or navigating a narrow rutted path through the woods. What it does mean though is that you’re going to have a machine that can handle both of these comfortably.

 Now, having not been privy to the actual reasons behind the selection of the KLR it still seems obvious that if you can only have one bike, this one can do it all. 2008 Kawasaki KLR

Diesel engines in motorcycles aren’t all that common because diesel engines in motorcycles were thought not to be commercially practical, cost effective, or even possible given the power and size requirements of a motorcycle engine. HDT has changed that perception for many.

In 1984 all NATO military forces sought a long term goal of a “single battlefield fuel” to lesson the burden and logistical problems of supplying multiple fuel types. In 1997, in support of the “single battlefield fuel” goal, the US Navy announced that in the year 2005 they would not transport gasoline any longer; they would only supply “heavy fuels” such as diesel and jet fuel. After looking for suppliers of motorcycles that would suit their needs no motorcycle manufacturers took on the project. The US Marine Corps expanded their search, seeking all interested parties and offered to pay for the development of a diesel/jet fuel powered military motorcycle. Of the all the applicants, HDT was selected to continue development and testing to it’s final stages. HDT is now under contract with the Marine Corps to produce up to 522 JP8/Diesel Combat Motorcycles.

HDT has a few different models, the M1030M1 JP8/Diesel Military Motorcycle being the main bike of interest and the new “Bulldog”.

The M1030M1 JP8/Diesel Military Motorcycle has a 4-stroke, IDI single cylinder, liquid cooled 611cc engine. It produces 30 PS at 5700 RPM which, at 1 PS per 0.986 hp, is pretty darn close to 30 horsepower and 33 ft–lbs at 4200 RPM. The standard gasoline powered 2007 KLR has approximately 48hp and about 40.5 ft/lbs of torque. 18hp makes for a pretty sizeable difference even though the power comes on tap a little lower in the RPM range.

For 2008, Kawasaki made the biggest changes to the venerable KLR that they’ve made in, well, a very long time! For 2008 the KLR is slightly down in the hp department at right around 44 hp at 6500 RPM and 37 ft-lbs of torque at 5500 RPM. HDT have of course come up with a diesel powered version of the new KLR too. Now, I’ll say from the start that because of increased requirements of their military contracts HDT is not making these bikes available to the public currently but they do intend to offer them up for sale which when you read a little further I’ll think you’ll find is exciting news!

The new HDT model is the MD670F “Bulldog” and it’s got a slightly bigger diesel engine than the military spec bike. Bumped up from 611cc to 667cc, the single cylinder diesel has got right around 35 hp at 5400 RPM but 43 ft-lbs of torque way down low at 3300 RPM. So you give up 9hp on the Kawasaki gasoline engine but you gain 6 ft-lbs of torque at 2200 RPM lower on the tachometer. Not to mention the phenomenal fuel economy means you’ll practically never have to stop to fuel up. The Bulldog gets a staggering 105 mpg at 72 km/hr with a range of over 1000 km’s. You’ll likely get less than this figure which is probably a little optimistic but even if it’s somewhere close this bike is still in a league of it’s own.

If you want to keep updated on the status of the MD670F “Bulldog”, HDT asks that you sign up for their newsletter which you can do here.

According to HDT here are the specifications for the MD670F “Bulldog”:

ENGINE:
Type: 4-Stroke, IDI, single cylinder, liquid cooled.
Displacement: 667cc
Power: 35 PS @ 5400 RPM
Torque: 43 ft-lbs @ 3300 RPM
Lubrication: Wet sump
Air Filtration: High capacity, 3-stage, oiled foam, reusable
Transmission: 5-speed, constant mesh, return shift.
Final Drive: Self lubricated, sealed, O-ring roller chain.

WEIGHTS and MEASUREMENTS:
Dry Weight:369 lbs
Max Width:37 inches
Max Length:85 inches
Max Height:49 inches (w/o mirrors)
Wheel Base:57 inches
Ground Clearance:10.7 inches

PERFORMANCE:
Acceleration: 0-30 mph (53 kph), 3.1 sec
0-60 mph (106 kph), 9.3 sec
Gradeability: 60% (32 degrees)
Turning Radius: Less than 7 feet
Maximum Speed: In excess of 100 mph.
MinimumConstant Speed: Less than 3 mph.
Fording Depth: 24 inches
Fuel Mileage: 105 mpg @ 45 mph (Tested)
Range: 630 miles @ 45 mph

Now – the big questions… What will it cost and will it be available in Canada? Those are two unknowns at this time but don’t expect it to be cheap. It’s likely going to cost a lot more than a standard KLR. As for Canadian availability; they’ll certainly be available in the US at select dealerships or though HDT directly before they are here. So when the time comes that HDT starts selling to the public and you simply must have one it may mean that you have to import one. Or hopefully HDT will allow some dealerships to sell them. Maybe we'll even get a Canadian flag edition instead of this US flag version - Don't hold your breath!

When or if we hear any news from HDT on the BullFrog we'll let you know!

Link to HDT.

Mid Range Cruisers - Part II

This is Part II of our two part series on mid-range cruisers (we're focusing on bikes in the 650-900 cc range). We finish up by looking at the 2008 models in Canada with bikes from Yamaha, Honda, and Hyosung.

Yamaha:


Yamaha’s offerings in the middleweight cruiser market are a little smaller displacement when compared to Kawasaki and Suzuki. Luckily they also come with a slightly lower price tag along with it. The Yamaha cruisers come with 650cc. The next size up puts you into a 1100 cc bike. Three models are offered: the V-Star 650 Custom $7,299, V-Star 650 Classic $7,699, and V-Star Classic Canadian Edition $10,099.

V-Star 650 Custom - MSRP $7,299
V-Star 650 Classic - MSRP $7,699
V-Star Classic Canadian Edition - MSRP $10,099

vstarcustom_1
The V-Star Custom comes with an air-cooled SOHC 2 valve, 70 degree V-twin engine with a displacement of 649cc with peak torque occurring way down at 3,000 rpm. Power is delivered through a wide ratio, five-speed transmission and shaft final drive. For brakes you’ve got a single, two-piston, 298mm disc up front and a drum in the rear, making for inexpensive repairs and adequate stopping power. The front tire is a 10/90-19 and in the rear you have a 170/80-15. It’s got a 16 liter tank and weighs 513 lbs (wet). For suspension you’ve got a 41mm front fork and in the rear you’ve got a hard tail look with a 7 step spring preload adjustable link monocross suspension. The V-star comes with dual chrome right side mufflers reminiscent of Harley Davidson styling.

The V-Star’s engine has been designed to produce its strongest torque and horsepower in the typical legal riding speeds (50-120 km/hr). It’s got a tank-mounted speedometer, odometer, and tripmeter displays.

It’s got a few other small touches that are nice too such as forward-mounted rider footpegs, bungee cord tie-down points near passenger footpegs to keep scratches to a minimum, locking helmet holder, and a removable passenger seat for that custom solo look. A confidence inspiring low seat height of 27.4” means that most riders will be able to place both feet firmly on the ground.

yam_vstarclassic
The V-Star 650 Classic and Classic Canadian Edition each share the same engine as the V-Star Custom. The biggest differences between the Classic and the Custom visually are the fenders, front wheel, and headlight. The Classic has long fenders for a look that’s well, classic. The Canadian Edition adds some unique paint, emblems, and some extra chrome bits. The Custom has bobbed (shortened) front and rear fenders with a larger wheel on the front; a 19”. The Classic and Classic Canadian Edition have a 130/90-16” in the front instead of a 19” like the Custom.

According to Yamaha this are the extra’s that you’ll get with the V-Star 650 Classic Canadian Edition:

Special Canadian Edition value added features:
- Special deep black lacquer paint with cream coloured inserts, classic gold coloured V-Star tank emblems, two tone seat with chrome studs, chrome Star accessory turn signal peaks (4), Chrome Star accessory headlight peak, Chrome Star accessory master cylinder cover.

Special Canadian Edition value added customer bonus:
- Star series bike cover, Star series Canadian Edition ball cap, Star series Canadian Edition travel mug, Star series Canadian Edition vest pin, Star series Canadian Edition vest patch.

Link: Yamaha Canada

Honda:

Each of the 2008 models here have many of the same great features such as a powerful 745 cc V-twin liquid-cooled engine, valanced fenders, a broad, low-slung seat (detachable passenger section on the 750T and 750C), and wide tires rolling on traditional spoke wheels. Honda claims its bikes feature superior metallurgy, high-tech engine and chassis design, and low-maintenance features such as shaft final drive which all contribute to Honda reliability.

c2_blue
The engine features three-valve cylinder-head design that utilizes two sparkplugs per cylinder to improve combustion efficiency and power output. The cylinders are finned cylinders to enhance appearance and give a big-bike look. They have an aluminum radiator mounted between the frame rails (for a clean look) that provides consistent engine temperatures for optimum performance and long engine life. Wide-ratio five-speed transmission and shaft driven for ease of maintenance.

The suspension is pretty much the same across the board too with a 41 mm fork, 117 mm (4.6 inches) travel in the front and dual shocks with five position spring preload adjustability providing 89 mm (3.5 inches) travel in the rear. For brakes you get a relatively standard for the class, front single 296 mm disc with dual-piston caliper; rear drum. Seat height is 658 mm (25.9 inches) on the 750T, and 750C. The 750C2 has a slightly lower seat height at 652 mm (25.7 inches). Each of the bikes has a fuel capacity of 14 litres.

Tank-mounted speedometer with a chrome instrument housing. The footpegs are solid aluminum with wide rubber trim bands that give it an aftermarket look. The handlebar is low and wide for a comfortable feel, and is mounted on rubber-cushioned risers to reduce vibration.

Some other features include a 14-litre fuel tank, 60W/55W halogen headlight, and large custom-styled taillight and attractive retro-styled turn indicators. Steering-head lock and helmet lock provide added security when parked. 1 year, unlimited mileage, freely transferable warranty.

VT750T Tourer – MSRP $10,099.
750T
The Tourer adds a standard windshield, saddlebags and backrest. For tires you get a 120/90 – 17” front and 160/80 – 15” rear. Curb weight is not available yet on Honda’s site.

VT750C Aero – MSRP $8,699.00
750C
For tires you get a 120/90 – 17” front and 160/80 – 15” rear. Curb weight 250 kg (553 lb) including required fluids and full tank of gas.

VT750C2 Shadow Spirit - MSRP $8,799
c2_black

Sleek 1-piece gunfighter-style saddle (does not feature the detachable passenger section as on the 750T or 750C). It’s got a big 90/90 – 21” front tire and a 160/80 – 15” rear tire. Curb weight: 243 kg (536 lb) including required fluids and full tank of gas


Link: Honda Canada

Hyosung:

Hyosung may not be a name that initially springs to mind for most Canadian motorcyclists. They started out producing Suzuki motorcycle designs under licence for the Korean market and started producing their own bikes in 1987. If that’s not enough to get your attention, the MSRP price of the Aquila 650 of $7,895 and very Harley V-Rod like styling might be. If you’re in the market for a sport cruiser this one is worth a look.

aquila650
It's got a 647cc four-stroke, water-cooled DOHC 8 Valve, 90-degree V-twin, 52.4 KW (72.1 HP), fuel tank: 16 litres. 5 Speed – belt driven. The horsepower numbers are fairly impressive when you look at the competition and combine that with a relatively light machine (claimed dry weight of 216 KG) and this bike suddenly looks and feels like a powerhouse.

Korean made 41mm upside down (USD) forks in the front and a twin shock rear suspension. In the front you get a 110/70-17” tire and in the rear you have a 180/55-17”. For brakes, there isn’t too much information on the Canadian distributors website other than that its got two disc front brakes (We’ve seen reference to them being 300mm) and a rear disc brake as well.

Warranty: Two Year - Unlimited

Link: Hyosung Canada



Mid Range Cruisers – Part I

If you’re looking for a cruiser there’s a ton of bikes to choose from in the Canadian marketplace. Every major manufacturer seems to have a large range of cruisers to choose from. You can get everything from 250cc cruiser on up to a 2300cc beast. We’d have to write a book to review every model from every manufacturer. Suzuki has 17 cruiser models in its 2008 lineup as an example! 17!

But if you’re looking for a mid-size cruiser in the 650-900cc range, the market thins a little. A cruiser this size will get you where you want to go and will leave you with a lot more change in your pocket than their larger brethren. Not only are they cheaper to buy but, and this can be a big expense, they’re cheaper to insure. They’ll also use less fuel which for many riders is a concern as well. You can use all that extra cash to buy some accessories to personalize your bike. Accessories will add up fast! You’ll quickly see that MSRP number climb when you want to add some personalized touches to the bike.

Kawasaki:

Kawasaki offers pretty much the largest displacement mid-range cruiser with their 900cc engine. Most others offer between 650 to 800cc. So if you want the biggest of the mid-range you might want to take a closer look at Kawasaki. Kawasaki has the Vulcan with a 900cc engine which is offered in three different styles. You can get a Vulcan 900 Classic, Vulcan 900 Custom, and Vulcan 900 Classic LT.

kawivulcanltVulcan 900 Classic LT - $10,499

The specifications on the bikes are very similar. Each bike has the liquid-cooled 4-stroke 55 degree v-twin engine with 903 cc of displacement, 5-speed transmission, double cradle high-tensile steel frame, 41 mm telescopic fork in the front, Triangle swingarm with Uni-Trac single shock (7-position spring preload adjustment in the rear, single 300 mm disc with twin-piston caliper in the front, and single 270 mm disc with twin-piston caliper in the rear. The cruiser market typically uses either a shaft drive or belt, Kawasaki chose to go with a belt drive system for these bikes and it offers reliable performance and low unsprung weight.
kawivulcan900customVulcan 900 Custom - MSRP $8,999

They each feature a very visible large black faced speedometer centrally located on the gas tank. All the models also have big double right side slash cut chrome mufflers. The LT adds some popular accessories such as a large touring windshield, and studded leather saddlebags featuring quick release snaps under chrome clasps. Some of the distinctive features of the 900 custom are it’s chrome drag-style handlebars, teardrop shaped tank, raked out front end, and that huge 21” front wheel.
kawivulcanclassicVulcan 900 Classic - MSRP $8,949

What about the ever-important how fat is your back tire question? They each get a 180/70-15 for the rear. The front tire on the Classic LT is a 130/90-16, the Custom is an 80/90-21, and Classic gets a 130/90-16. The Custom is the only model with a maximum power rating listed on Kawasaki’s site and it’s listed at 54 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, so the other two probably have pretty close to the same if not identical power rating. They have a listing of all the accessories you can get for the bikes but have conveniently left out the cost. Contact your local dealer for a price list before you add on too many things because you might get some sticker shock on some of those shiny chrome bits. If you’re buying a new bike you should negotiate a discount on accessories. It’s fairly common to get 15-20% off regular prices on any accessories you buy with the bike without even having to ask.

Vulcan Custom - 20 liter tank, 549 lbs dry weight, 12 mth warranty

Vulcan 900 Classic - 18 liter tank, 558 lbs dry weight, 12 mth warranty (brochure indicates both 20 and 18 liter – article posted before confirming with Kawasaki to confirm which is accurate)

Vulcan 900 Classic LT - 18 liter tank, 595 lbs dry weight, 24 mth warranty.

Links:

Kawasaki Canada


Suzuki:

At first Suzuki’s cruiser line-up takes a little more effort to get a handle on because they don’t use the cubic centimeter (cc) engine displacement size most people are accustomed to, or maybe that’s just me. The navigation of the site makes it a little challenging to compare models unless you use the “choose a model” feature in the shopping tools portion of the site. If you look closely you’ll see that Suzuki uses the cubic inch measurement within the model name so if you’ve got a 50 in the name you get an 805cc engine. An 805cc engine is what you’ll get in the Boulevard S50, Boulevard C50SE, Boulevard C50 T, and Boulevard M50.
suzukiboulevards50Boulevard S50 - MSRP $8,299

The S50 comes classic cruiser styling and the lowest MSRP of the bunch at $8,299 and with that you get the same engine as each of the other bikes, a powerful 45 degree liquid cooled v-twin engine that produces lots of low end and mid-range torque. The front wheel is a bit larger than the 16” that comes on the others, with the S50 you get a 19” front wheel. You get a speedometer but it isn’t tank mounted and foregoes the LCD fuel gauge. Instead of dual pipe right side chrome mufflers, you get a single pipe right side chrome muffler. The rear-suspension is also a notable difference on the S50 where you get Swingarm, oil damped, 5-way adjustable spring preload rather than the hard tail styled 7-way adjustable link type suspension. You also get a smaller tank at 12.0 Liters. The S50 is the lightest model on the scales with a dry weight of 443 lbs.

The M50 comes with a link type rear suspension with truss style swing-arm and a single shock absorber with 7-way pre-load adjustability. This design gives it a stylish hard-tail appearance with the comfort of a soft-tail. Shaft driven; you won’t have worry about the maintenance and grime associated with a chain. 16” front and 15” rear tires. You’ll get a single 300mm front hydraulic disc brake up front and a single drum in the rear. It’s got low-rise bars, sculpted rear fender and slash-cut chrome mufflers so you’ll feel right at home with the custom cruiser crowd. The tank is a bit smaller than the C50’s at 15.5 Liters. (540 lbs dry weight) The front tire is a 130/90- 16 while the rear is a 170/80-15.
suzukiboulevardm50 Boulevard M50 - MSRP $8,799

The C 50’s come with the same fuel injected v-twin engine as the M50 (single over-head cam, four valve per cylinder) mated to a five speed transmission but feature more classic cruiser styling. Crave the open road? You may want to take a closer look at the C50 T or C50 SE with their aerodynamic windshield and backrest to keep you and your passenger comfortable for those long journeys. The C50’s feature a raked front end, wide pull-back handlebars, 17.0 liter teardrop tank, valanced rear-fender, and dual right side chrome muffler. These bikes are equally capable for the long haul or the city street riders.
suzukiboulevardc50Boulevard C50 - MSRP $8,599

Each of the three models has a spoked 130/90-16 in the front and a 170/80-15 in the rear with polished aluminum hubs, a tank mounted speedometer with LCD fuel gauge. Suzuki’s website does show a wide range of accessories available for each of the machines but with no pricing information. Suzuki’s standard 12 month warranty applies to each of the bikes.
suzukiboulevardc50t_1Boulevard C50 T - MSRP $9,999

Boulevard C50 SE - MSRP $9,799

Boulevard C50 (542 lbs dry weight)
Boulevard C50 T (567 lbs dry weight)
Boulevard C50 SE (567 dry weight)

Links:

Suzuki Canada

Here's a link to Part II of our coverage of other manufacturers with mid-range cruiser offerings.