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Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD: A former owner’s review

The Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD (photo) was my starter bike. At 23 years old and I was ready to buy an R6 or CBR600 but once the price and comfort level hit me I decided on a smaller cruiser and I am still happy with the route I went with the Vulcan 500. I got a good deal from a Brazilian who was moving back home and needed to get rid of the motorcycle. The Vulcan 500 is reasonable priced by the dealers, but you can find some really good deals on eBay, in the classifieds, or my favorite is Craigslist.

The low weight and seat height make the Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD very manageable for a beginner and serves to make the bike peppier with a low center of gravity and lower mass. The long wheelbase makes it solid at freeway speed but can be a little cumbersome in parking lots and at low speeds. The Vulcan 500 also a narrow body for a cruiser which helps you get through traffic splitting lanes here in California.

I rode it all around California and frequently put over 400 miles on it in a day. My longest ride was from San Francisco down into Baja to La Paz. Nine days round trip and the only thing I added was a short windshield. The Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD seat is one of the better stock seats I have ridden. After about 4 hours you start shifting around trying to get comfortable but it is tolerable. A gel pad or Airhawk should let you ride all day without any soreness. The 500 is capable of two up riding, I did it a lot, but performance is noticeably decreased. The gas tank is 4 gallons and I averaged about 45-50 mpg for an average range of 180 miles.

The maintenance on the Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD is fairly standard. Change the oil every 5000 miles on synthetic oil and clean and lube the chain every 2000 miles. The dual shocks are easy to harden or soften with just a screw driver. Some people don’t like the look of exposed rear shocks but it is a real convenience to be able to change their performance on the fly with only a screwdriver. I put it down once at about 25 mph and even without engine guards the bike was not damaged that much. I replaced the dented tank and buffed out some scratches on the exhaust. The replacement parts were reasonably priced.

The Engine
The engine of the Vulcan 500 LTD is a parallel twin which is a bulletproof design. Being warm blooded, I hardly ever used the choke, and I had some cold morning starts. It is light weight and is pretty nimble and zippy.

A lockable compartment gives you a place to put a disc lock and some gloves. This came in handy when I went to an event on the Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD and did not want to carry my gear with me. A helmet lock on the left side of the rear fender will keep your helmet safe, but is in my opinion places your full-face helmet dangerously close to the pipes.

There is a good amount of add-on parts that compliment the whole Vulcan family and while the Vulcan 500 is slightly underrepresented, the standard parts like engine guards, windshields, luggage racks, and some good aftermarket parts are available to dress up the bike.


My Vulcan 500 is great. I decided to buy a motorcycle for the first time in my life and with the fact that I did not know how to ride a motorcycle. I fell in love with the sport for ever. The Vulcan 500 is perfect in size power and looks. I am very happy and will always buy Kawasaki. I recommend this bike for a starter bike and a longer term ride.
- Edwin

I had my Vulcan 500 for more then 7 years now, and its one of those bike, which you can just pick up and go, without any hassle. Maintenance for this bike is cheap, plus the inline twin engine gives you a pretty good pickup compared with other bikes in its class. I would have to say, its a pretty easy bike to handle, hence it would make a pretty good bike to start off with. I just choose not to let ago, after all this year.
- kumsworld

I bought my 06 Vulcan 500 a few months ago. I love it! I am alos looking for some louder pipes etc. I have looked everywhere online with no luck. I have a friend looking into ways to make it louder without getting new pipes. I will update once I find out for all of you looking to do the same.
- Patty

I have just purchased a brand new Kawasaki 500 Vulcan and I am surprised to find its hard to find some parts for it. Want to do alot of ad-ons. They tell me that since the bike is new, I hope thats true, alot of parts aren't avaible yet. Things like a lowering kit, custom seat, just can't find. Any help?
- Bonnie


Bought a new 2006 Vulcan 500 three weeks ago. I love it. Plenty of power when you need it! Fits me to a tee! I'm on the short side and it's hard to find a bike that I can sit flat footed on. Over all I give the bike a "10" It's just a fun ride!
- P Pogue.

I'm 50 and have just got back to riding bike's and I got a new 500 and Im very pleased with it. Nice looking bike, handles esay and plenty of power. 1,100. mls on her now, no prolbems.
- Ronald A.

I am a current owner and I love the bike. I also laid it down going about 20 and need to replace my tank but cannot find one at a reasonable price. Does anyone have any information on where to get decent priced parts?
- K. Hart

I did the same thing to my Vulcan. Bashed in the side of the tank and scraped up the paint really bad. I got my Vulcan tank from the dealer but it cost me a ton. My advice is to try eBay. You can find good deals on parts but you have to luck out, only a limited few come up a year. The other place is Bike Bandit. They have the OEM parts without the dealer markup. You will save a little bit but tanks are expensive.
- James

Can you buy loud exhaust pipes for it?
- Bill T.

I haven't looked for any but I have seen Vulcans with custom exhausts. I didn't hear it running but it looked good.
- James

I've had my 500 LTD for 3 years riding in NYC, and this bike has been a very reliable, cheap, and fun ride. My only complaint is the extremely whimpy sound of the stock pipes, even though they look pretty sharp. There aren't any custom pipes available for the 500 model. Is there ANY way to make it louder?
- Yury

re: louder pipes - i have talked to many and the only way to get the louder pipes are to knock out the baffles in the stock pipes or get slip ons - even the kawi dealers i talked to say to get custom slip ons made and put them on right now I am looking for some pre made slip ons to put on but I was also told once you do that you need to change the air filter and reset the carburator....so its not as easy as the rest of the big bikes the 500 is underrepresented....
- jenn

I have a 2005 vulcan 500 and have over 9000 miles on it and it is the best buy I ever made, and yes it has pleanty of power after 70mph with a top out speed for me at 115mph.Im 6\'00 and 195lbs.You will not be sorry if you get this bike I have made 1000 mile trips 3 times and it can cruise all day at 70 mph on the interstate. The best mileage I can get is 60mpg without my windshield and 57 with it on at 70 mph.
- Jimmie

I picked up a new 2006 500 LTD one week ago. One of the best things I've ever bought. Love it. Plenty of power, looks GREAT, rides great.
- Jon

Will it handle 65 MPH on a highway, and what reserve of power would be left for passing and staying ahead of trouble?
-M. Hughes

At 65 it has plenty of power left. The bike will do 90-95 mph and is pretty zippy because it is pretty light.

Will it do a wheelie?
-M. Hughes

No, the wheelbase combined with the engine output make it hard to get the front wheel off the ground, but a full throttle take off will make the front wheel feel like it wants to leave the asphalt.

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