A man is shown driving a black 2022 Kawasaki Vulcan S down a desert road after visiting a Kawasaki motorcycle dealer.

The Handcrafted God of Fire: A Closer Look at the Kawasaki Vulcan

Riding is one of the most accommodating pastimes you can find because it lets you, the rider, make what you want out of it. You get to choose to ride solo, taking in the breathtaking scenery and losing yourself in the ride to escape the hustle and bustle of your daily life. Or, you can nurture the camaraderie and community of riding by venturing out with friends, or riding two-up and sharing the experience with others. Every ride is what you make it.

This sense of adventure and the thrill of making every ride something unique, regardless of the destination, leads many to a Kawasaki motorcycle dealer in search of an iconic cruiser like the Vulcan. This Kawasaki cruiser has been a staple in the fleet for decades, garnering acclaim for its classic styling and versatile performance that appeals to riders of all skill levels. Its well-roundedness makes it the perfect canvas for adventurers in search of their next muse.

The Vulcan: 38 Years and Counting

Kawasaki turned heads in 1985 when it debuted its first V-Twin cruiser, the Vulcan 750. With a 749-cc four-stroke, liquid-cooled engine delivering 66 horsepower at 7,500 RPM, the Vulcan 750 offered plenty of thrills, and eventually made its way to America to compete directly against Harley-Davidson. However, tariffs on motorcycles with engines larger than 700 cc forced Kawasaki to tame the powerhouse by outfitting it with a 699 cc V-twin for the American market. Fortunately, even the downsized engine was potent and engaging.

The Vulcan 750’s immediate success as a V-twin cruiser prompted Kawasaki to expand the family, with the manufacturer appealing to new rider needs with the entry-level Vulcan 400 in 1986. The bike’s 399 cc engine produced 33 horsepower and 24 lb-ft of torque, making it powerful, but not overwhelming or intimidating to riders honing their skills in the saddle. The balance was much appreciated.

From there, Kawasaki continued to expand the Vulcan family, capitalizing on the appeal of cruisers and differentiating the Vulcan lineup from the more modern Ninja models with its classic styling. Kawasaki’s no-compromise approach set the stage for success, with the manufacturer continuing the tradition today and answering every performance and style need with an incredibly diverse Vulcan lineup. That lineup includes everything from sport cruisers like the Vulcan S to baggers like the Vulcan 1700 Vaquero.

A woman is shown driving a 2022 Kawasaki Vulcan S on a desert road.

Value in Its Heritage

What does the Vulcan’s expansive history mean for riders today? It reveals several critical elements that are important when buying a motorcycle, whether it’s your first or your tenth. First and foremost, it shows Kawasaki’s keen awareness of rider needs and its commitment to responding to those needs with the ever-evolving and extensive Vulcan lineup. The cruiser isn’t just a one-off powerhouse. Kawasaki didn’t stop after the Vulcan 750’s success in the 1980s. Instead, Kawasaki has consistently made the Vulcan accessible to riders of varying skill levels, ensuring everyone can enjoy the performance and styling of this icon.

The Vulcan’s long tenure in the Kawasaki lineup also means there’s an incredible community of Vulcan riders and plenty of aftermarket support. Unlike newer bikes, the Vulcan has had nearly four decades to prove itself and build a loyal following. Riders have responded in kind, establishing a robust community of support. In turn, buying a Vulcan gives you a front-row seat to this community and a lifetime of support, whether you’re looking for maintenance assistance, modification recommendations, or insights as a first-time Vulcan buyer.

A Modern Family of Cruisers

After nearly four decades, the Vulcan continues to offer an incredibly versatile lineup of cruisers with broad appeal. The models boast distinct styles and elements that enhance their performance and reflect their purpose, but share the Vulcan name and the reliability, affordability, and accessibility that comes with the Kawasaki brand. It’s an incredible combination and a modern twist on the Vulcan’s rich heritage in the industry.

The Entry-Level Road Warrior: The Vulcan S

The Vulcan S is widely praised as the perfect entry-level cruiser because of its affordable price tag, easy customization, and powerful 649 cc parallel-twin engine borrowed from the potent Ninja family. As a sport cruiser, the Vulcan S features a distinct style, with models like the Vulcan S Cafe featuring three-tone paint and sport striping that distinguish it in the fleet. The sportbike chassis and suspension ensure the Vulcan S lives up to expectations, while exclusive features like the Ergo-Fit seat make the Vulcan S accessible to riders of all heights, offering 18 configurations for the best fit and instilling confidence in the saddle for every mile ahead.

The Potent Cruiser: The Vulcan 900

Where the Vulcan S shares more design similarities with a sportbike, the Vulcan 900 stays true to its roots as a classic cruiser. Kawasaki guarantees as much with the Vulcan 900’s handbuilt design that transforms the bike into a work of art, whether you opt for the Classic, Custom, or Classic LT. While the Classic is eye-catching, the Custom is even more so with its lower center of gravity, custom styling, pinstripe wheels, teardrop tank, and wide drag bars. The Classic LT puts a different spin on the classic cruiser, adding a sculpted seat with a passenger backrest, leather saddlebags, and a signature two-tone paint scheme.

The Bagger: The Vulcan 1700 Vaquero

The Vulcan 1700 models are excellent powerhouses that build on the classic cruiser design but encourage riders to expand their horizons and explore beyond the city limits. The Vulcan 1700 Vaquero is the first of these long-distance bikes, earning its place as a bagger in the Vulcan family. With a 1700 cc engine, the Vulcan 1700 Vaquero is king of the baggers and easily satiates every need. Its electronic cruise control system guarantees that you can genuinely enjoy every ride, giving you plenty of time to appreciate the Vaquero’s head-turning style with its blacked-out engine, chrome accents, and unique bodywork that put it in a class by itself.

The Long-Distance Adventurer: The Vulcan 1700 Voyager

The last member of the Vulcan family is the Vulcan 1700 Voyager, a cruiser that does double duty as a long-distance cruiser. The Voyager name comes from its former Honda Goldwing fighter, the Voyager XII, that ran from 1986 through 2003. Kawasaki wants you to know that this is a serious touring bike in the same vein.

Powered by a 1,700 cc V-Twin engine, the Voyager also features electronic cruise control and Kawasaki’s Advanced Coactive-Braking Technology, similarities it shares with the Vaquero. However, the Voyager differentiates itself with an expansive suite of modern technology that heightens your experience in the saddle and makes traveling more enjoyable. These technologies include everything from a standard AM/FM radio and powerful speakers to SiriusXM satellite radio, navigational tools, and Garmin GPS compatibility. Kawasaki gives you everything you need and more to go the distance in style.

A close-up of an engine on a black 2022 Kawasaki Vulcan S.

The Meaning Behind the Name

The Vulcan has a rich history in the Kawasaki lineup, debuting nearly four decades ago in the mid-1980s. Over the years, Kawasaki has fine-tuned the Vulcan family to offer broader appeal, as we see from the current Vulcan lineup with the sport cruiser, classic cruiser, bagger, and touring cruiser. There’s a Vulcan for every riding style and performance need.

More importantly, Kawasaki doesn’t force you to compromise or settle for anything less than extraordinary with the Vulcan. It’s one of the many reasons why so many are drawn to the Kawasaki brand, but there’s even more behind the Vulcan than this. It can’t be ignored that the hand-crafted Vulcan models live up to another heritage: Vulcan was the Roman god of fire and metalworking, and the patron of craftsmen. The ties are undeniable, adding yet another layer of appeal to the incredibly potent and versatile Vulcan that sits on the showroom floors of Kawasaki motorcycle dealers worldwide.