Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD: A former owner’s review
The Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD
) 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 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.
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