Pros: Price, chopperesque style, full instrumentation, easy to ride, smooth strong motor with deep sounding exhaust.
Cons: Seat, ugly motor, rust, rear drum brake, lack of aftermarket parts, LACK OF QUALITY!!!
I've owned my Vulcan 750 since October 1997. It is my first and only motorcycle. I wish I could say it's been a wonderful experience, but it hasn't. I like the bike a lot when it works, but I've had 2 major problems. One of which dealership mechanics could not figure out for 2 years (more on this later).
The main reasons I purchased this bike were the price, the layout, and the low maintenance features. I got it for $5400 including assembly. It is a good size for a new rider. It feels bigger than a Sportster, but smaller than the larger displacement bikes. It has full instrumentation (including tach., fuel gauge, high beam indicator, and several other warning lights) on the handlebars where you can see them. The handlebars are tall and narrow like a chopper. Being fairly tall, I find this more comfortable than the low-wide bars on the retro bikes currently in style. The bike is very smooth for a V-twin. When running around town, the bike has a low growl to it that is very pleasing. Kawasaki put a hollow box between the exhaust pipes (hidden from site) that allows for a very deep, but not loud sound to the bike. I like the stock sound of this bike much better than some of the Hondas I?ve ridden. When driven on the highway for a period, the bike will become very quiet and even smoother. The 750 has a drive shaft, so you don?t have to clean any chain lube and it has automatic hydraulically adjusted valves that save you money during a tune-up.
That was the good, now for the minor quips. The motor is ugly. Especially when compared to newer cruiser motors. The foot peg to seat relationship is a bit cramped for me (I?m 5?-11?, 220 lbs). Also the seat will flatten considerably after about an hour of riding. Not bad for shorter trips, but very uncomfortable for anything over that hour. The rear drum brake locks up very easily. The trim rings around the speedometer and tach. keep pitting and rusting. The bike was garaged and covered for the first 3 years I had it and never in the rain, yet they still began to rust, probably because of the morning dew. The last 2 years, the bike has been kept under a waterproof tarp, and these trim rings are terribly rusted and pitted. I need to scrub them for an hour to get them looking respectable. No other part of the bike has a problem with rust. I try to keep it clean and wax it at least twice a year. The lock on the small storage compartment fell of on one trip. It didn?t show any signs of loosening, it just fell off.
Now for the major quips?. I don?t trust this bike for long trips and the dealership service in northern NJ sucks. About 18 months after I got the bike, I went on a trip to the shore with some friends, about 70 miles from where I live. I had not had a single problem with the bike up to that point. As we started our trip home, we had to stop to wait for a draw bridge. I turned the bike off since it was a very hot day. When I went to start the bike, it would not fire up. There were loud back fires as the motor turned over. I had to leave the bike there and ride home on a friend?s bike. It was a week before I could get the bike to a dealership because it was so far away. I dropped the bike off at the beginning of July. A month later, they were finally able to look at the bike. I couldn?t get details from the dealership. All they said was they needed to call Kawasaki to get an OK to do the work under warrantee. This took another month. 3 weeks after that, they were able to actually fix the problem. All this time, almost three months, I called 2-3 times a week for an update. It was ridiculous. When I asked what the problem was, all I got was that they had to remove the engine from the motorcycle and rebuild the lower part of the engine. No details. I asked how this could happen on a year old motorcycle. They could not give me an answer. I believe the dealer took his time with my bike because I did not buy the bike from them. The dealer I purchased the bike from went out of business a month after I purchased it, so I had to go to a different dealer. When I bought the bike to the dealer, the first thing they asked me was, ?Did you buy the bike from us?? I don?t understand why this makes a difference. I am there now as a customer. Every time I took the bike to a dealership, they asked this question.
When I got the bike back, it worked fine for a month or two. Then the second problem began to develop. On occasion, when starting the bike, the front cylinder would not fire. This would last a minute or two then the cylinder would fire up. I took the bike in for the fall tune-up and mentioned the problem. The dealer said the tune-up would fix the problem. It seemed to for a few weeks, then the problem came back here and there and then disappeared for the winter. I took the bike in for the spring tune-up. All seemed fine for a while, and then the problem reappeared over the summer. It was an intermittent problem. Sometimes the bike fired right up. Other times it would not start at all. It seemed to be worst when the humidity was high and I was driving in the city. Some days the bike would be fine at the beginning of a ride, but loose the front cylinder during the ride and start stalling. One time I lost most of the power on the highway for a mile or so, then got it back. Talking with my mechanical friends, they thought it was the carburetion. I took it to the dealer again. They figured it was the carbs also. They worked on it and charged me $200. On the ride home, the bike ran worse than it did previously. It stalled 3 times on the ride home. I would have driven right back to the dealer (I should have), but I didn?t have a ride home and had no one to call. When I did have a ride, the bike seemed to work OK. I had a catch-22 problem. When the bike worked, the mechanic could not find a problem. When I had the problem, I could not safely ride the bike. When I got it to the dealer, they could not work on it right away. When they did get to look at it, the bike worked. They thought I was crazy. I took the bike on short trips from that point on. Over the winter, the problem subsided, but did not go away completely. The next spring, I made an appointment at a different dealer (much farther away) since the last dealer couldn?t fix the bike. They couldn?t look at the bike until early June. The week before the appointment, the bike was awful. It wouldn?t start. The day before the appointment, we had some of the nicest weather of the year. The bike ran perfectly. I got it to the dealer. He thought it was the carburetion since it seemed to be affected by the weather. He said he calibrated the carbs and the problem should be fixed. It was great the day I got the bike back. The next day, it would not start. I called this new mechanic and he said to bring it in. I had no way to get it there. I needed a trailer and didn?t have one. When the bike started next, I rode to the dealership. On the way there, the bike began to sputter. I thought this was it, a mechanic would finally see the problem. When I got to the dealership, the bike ran perfectly again. AAARRRRGGGGG!!!!!!!
From that point, I basically put the bike under the tarp and started it here and there. Last fall, a friend recommended a mechanic to me. I figured I?d give it one last shot. I got the bike to the mechanic. He figured it was the carbs also. I told him that they?ve been adjusted numerous times without help. I thought it was something more serious. He said he?d look at it. He gave me a call with the estimate ($210) and said the carb for the front cylinder could not be set properly because a piece in the carb needed to be replaced. He did his thing and after 2 years the bike is working fine (knock on wood). This guy is great. If you live in Northeast NJ and have a Japanese Motorcycle, bring it to Pete at Supercycles in Old Tappan - (201) 666-1370. For a second opinion, go to this web site: http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~lists/archive/vfr/199609/msg00393.html
Now that I've found a real mechanic, I?m beginning to trust the bike again. I sometimes get this feeling, like? what?s next. I can?t afford a new motorcycle just yet, so I?ll hold onto this one for now. If the bike runs without incident thru next year, I?ll probably put some money into it and fix its few minor problems. I know several people who have had this bike. Some had no problems and others had several less serious problems. Along the way, I did a lot of research on the internet and in message boards. I found a 50-50 split negative to positive comments about the reliability of this bike.
Thank-you for reading my novel. The only way to pass on my frustration with these problems was to fully explain them. I hope this helps. My final comment is that if you get a good one, you?ll probably love riding this bike.