Vulcan 900 as a first motorcycle?

I’ve really been thinking about it. Two wheels over four. It’s justified by gas savings but really it’s about fun.

If you remember, I solicited scooter advice a couple months ago - I went looking early this week and ended up at the motorcycle end of the showroom.

My #2 choice, based on riding comfort, is the Vulcan 900, first choice was the Hyosung GV650.

It’s $450 more for the Kawasaki but it’s a significantly bigger engine (I’m 350 lbs). More in front of my brain, though, is the Kawasaki name, the known reliablity compared to the relatively unknown Hyosung. Hyosung is up-and-coming but Kawasaki is a very well known quantity. The reviews I read for the Vulcan are very shining - say it’s a good starter bike.

I know the a common thing is to buy a beater for a first but I’m hesitant to buy potential problems. Searching Craig’s list suggests that anything made in the last decade only saves $1000 to $2000 off new. I guess getting the new one with warranty all looks attractive to saving $1000 or going to a 25 year old model and risking a bunch of unknown wear-and-tear issues.

What think you?

If he doesn’t show up soon ask Red Barchetta. I seem to remember him buying a Vulcan 900 or at least some Vulcan.

I (well, I owned but the ex operated) had a Vulcan but I think it was a 500 or 700. I really liked it, and he seemed to as well. Of course he fell in with the Harley crowd and would ride nothing else now I am sure but they can be snobs about that kind of stuff…

I’ve had a 2008 Vulcan 900 Classic (I believe Classic has swept handlebars and floorboards, while the Custom has straight bars and pegs) for the last two months.

Quite a few motorcycle sites suggest starting on something <500, preferably a 250. I’m a decently large man too, though, and the 900 felt just right.

It is indeed a very good bike. It looks beautiful, and although I haven’t been able to open it up all the way yet as I’m still breaking it in, there’s definitely plenty of power. It ought to be more than enough to pull you along, and since it would be your first two-wheeler I’d hesitate at going any higher than that.


  • My bike was improperly wired and the stater (alternator) shorted out within two weeks. Warranty covered it, but new bikes definitely may not be in pristine 100% working order. Once it got fixed, however, it’s been just great.
  • The fuel gauge sensor is way off; it drops to E when I’ve used up a gallon off a full tank. As I understand it, though, fuel gauges are notoriously inaccurate on motorcycles in general.
  • It’s comfortable enough, but I haven’t taken it on trips longer than 15 miles yet. I suspect the stock seat that it comes with would probably hurt after a while. The swept handlebars allow for pretty good riding posture, though.
  • It is pretty heavy. I’m strong enough that I was able to catch the bike the few times it’s tipped over, but you’ll want to assure yourself you can handle the bike before buying it. When it’s upright, holding it between your legs is easy as anything.

I’m up to 400 miles on it, so it most definitely hasn’t been fully broken in yet, and this opinion is coming from a newbie rider. But I don’t regret getting it at all. Other than the electrical failure, which I’m more than willing to chalk up as a fluke, it’s a solid bike. Although obviously I can’t speak to your dealership, I got mine from a Kawasaki-only dealership and they’ve been nothing but helpful with whatever problems come up.

Oh yes. In my thread on getting a bike, I was deluged with recommendations to buy used too. I don’t disagree that it’s a good idea to do so for your first bike, but as you’ve noticed resale value is pretty strong right now because bikes are soaring in popularity.

It’s up to you, I think. The upside to a used one is that it’s already past its break-in period, which has been something of an annoyance to me. All the manufacturing kinks have been worked out of it already. It is cheaper, although not by much these days. If you ding it, it’s not as bad as if you dinged a new one. The upside to a new one is the warranty and the knowledge that it’s not got any wear-and-tear problems, plus if you like owning new vehicles there’s definitely that attraction.

Hey Belrix, as ShelliBean alluded to, I bought the Vulcan 900 Custom as my second bike after about 3-months of riding experience. It’s a great bike that strikes a near-perfect balance between size, weight, and power (plus it looks great to boot).

With that said, I’d be leery of purchasing it as my first bike. For sure, it can (and has) been done, but it’s always a risk. And while compared to larger cruisers, the 550lb dry weight is relatively light, that’s still 550lb more than you’re used to having idling between your legs. It’s amazing how heavy that can feel when it’s tipped just a tad more than it should be.

So as far as larger cruisers go, it’s probably one of the most friendly to newcomers, but that’s not saying a lot. I started off on a GZ250 (300lb) and am so glad I did. There were a few close calls where I almost dropped it, but it was light enough that I was able to deal with it pretty easily…had it been a larger bike, I’m sure I would have lost it.

Also, have you taken the MSF course? I highly recommend it, as not only will is it incredibly informative, but it’ll give you a better idea of what kind of horsepower you should be looking for in a 1st bike.

My two cents: unless you are a skinny little girl don’t get a 250. You may get better quicker but you’ll tire of it and want something more powerful before you are two payments in.

I’ll bump my own thread a bit: Update

Take the riding course and do what you are going to do.

Put your mind on the riding and being safe, not what we say.

One second of stupid or inattention will ruin your day.

And have fun, sensible fun… :cool:

The Vulcan might have a larger engine, but it only puts down about 42 HP versus the Hyosung’s ~65HP at the rear.

Torque isn’t much higher either at 48 lb-ft vs. 45 lb-ft, all though it might be at a bit lower rpm.

Numbers are from dyno sheets found on the web, not manufactures specs.

You know the saying: “There’s two kinds of riders…”

Wait, so in order to save about four dollars on gas a day you bought a new a 7500 dollar motorbike. So, 7500 dollars; 200 commuting days a year; 4 dollars saved per commuting day; 800 saved per day; 9,3 years before you have saved any money.
Not counting repairs and bike lessons, that is.

A bike, in addition to your car, may be fun, but saving money it aint.

:: shakes head::

You also forgot to “count” car repairs, or even car replacements, if necessary.

Plus bikes being hella fun = priceless

Well, if Belrix was going to sell his car and ride only the bike, yes. But that isn’t the case. He still has to own a car, including payments,taxes, repairs, etc .

I’m sure bikes are fun, but Belrix started out by saying the bike was to save money, and that I don’t get.

Not knowing Belrix, why does he have to own a car?

First sentence in my OP, guys, “…but it’s really about fun.”

Here’s my math, I’m buying about a tank of gas every 10 days for my mini-van. $190 a month or so (maybe 1000 miles a month @ 20 mpg). 600 miles of that is just back-and-forth to work.

I have to have a full-sized vehicle because I have every-other-week custody of my kids and dropping three kids at school balanced on a motorbike isn’t a real option (though it might be the basis of a pretty good circus act).

So - cutting my car travel in half (my non-custodial weeks) saves ~$95 a month in gas for it. Assuming the bike picks up the other half, 500 miles at 50 mpg is $35 a month. Net savings $60 a month in fuel.

If I ignore maintenance on the bike (assuming maintenance saved on the van balances the new maintenance on the cycle) then it’s a net cost of about $80 a month to make the payments.

$20 a week.

I know people who spend twice that on Starbucks every week.

It’s a lot of fun for $20 a week, well worth it, IMO.

GusNSpot, see linked thread. I took the MSF course (and Maastricht, I got the dealership to further discount the sale price of the bike by the cost of the safety course).

FWIW, I bought my very first bike at age 18. It was a brand new '76 KZ900 Kawasaki. It was about the fastest bike (86HPx486 lbs.) around at the time. I was a cocky kid. It saw an indicated 142 mph not long after I got it.

It was a miracle I survived.

What was the question?