Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 LT Q&A

My latest bike is the Vulcan 900. This pic shows a topbox but I don't actually use it, I just wanted to see what it looked like. I made a few crude mods for my comfort. I'm too old to ride whatever the manufacturers throw together.

I have a website about it at http://www.microverse.on.ca/cd175/Vulcan%20900.htm

Any questions, comments etc. are open to all even if you don't have an id with Google blogs.

36 comments:

  1. Hi Robert,

    Interresting reading :-), I like straight, plain talk, i'm only a techie with computers, not a mechanic LOL.
    Anyway, I bought last year(April 2008) 2 new 2007 - 900 Vulcan Classics (His and Hers), my girlfriend prefers riding herself rather than being a passenger, and i like it that way.
    Had a 1995 GPz 1100 before this so the riding, like yourself, has slightly changed, and i am still getting used to it.
    Last year for our first year riding, we live just outside Ottawa, next to the Gatineau Park, and our mornings are usually pretty cool, as I started saying last year was a pretty crappy summer with rain most of the work week, but even without a windshield we managed to survive the season and had 2 trips to Montreal and one to Toronto. So season one finished us around 8000km.
    Had the first oil change done by the dealer, but have done my fall and spring ones myself, so I am curious as to why you are using the 10W-40 (I said I wasn't a mechanic eh??)
    I am going to try and stay within the 3000 to 4000km range for doing oil changes like a good boy, and also because of the 5 year warrenty I have, so I may as well get started properly and ask lots of Questions!!
    We also just got our Winshield (from National Cycle, our pretty cool sissy bar / Backrest/luggage rack from Givi (Yes Givi!!)and also some Crash bars (or Highway Bars) from RoadKrome. My Girlfriend hasn't installed the crash bars yet, too busy with other stuff like...Life, but should do it soon. The rest she put on last week curtisy of the sale of my GPZ which was actually a swap for all that stuff!!
    Are your bags Kawasaki or another brand (We are still undecided on that side!!)

    Well got to run, Day is finished and the weekend is here, have a safe ride.
    Jaime
    (jaime2001sastre@gmail.com)

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  2. Oops, I just realized that I didn't have the settings right for my Q&A blog. Hopefully that's fixed and now everyone can post comments and I will receive a notification as soon as it happens.

    The only problem with 10W-40 is that you shouldn't use it over 40 Deg. C. I also happen to have a lot of 10W-40 (the car, Mary Ann's Burgman, and my Honda CD175s)

    If I was going south in the summer, which I try not to do, any more (too hot), I would go to 20W-50, but it has the limitation of not going below 0 celsius. Around here, I can go riding down to -5.

    To cover all temperature ranges I might go out in in one year, I could use 10W-50, but that oil has enough of the chemicals that modify viscosity, that they dilute the oil in my opinion. Also, some people must agree with me because you rarely find much 10W-50 oil in the stores.

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  3. Re: July 31, 2007. I decided to bend (or straighten out) the heel shifter...

    Any chance you could post a picture of that modified heel shifter?

    pauldibartolo@comcast.net

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  4. If you click on the picture of my Vulcan above, it will zoom in where you can see the modified shifter clearly. Anyway as clear as you can in a picture. Two problems, I guess. It's now at about 45 degrees, so it looks cockeyed. I wanted to bend it back at 90 degrees, but I couldn't do it with my skills and tools. And secondly, it is still not completely out of the way if I want to move my foot back while riding. But I am OK with it like that, at least I'm not always knocking it into neutral when I take off.

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  5. Hi Robert,

    I really enjoyed reading your comments especially since I just bought an '08 900 Classic LT. I was wondering about the suspension. What setting does it come from the factory set at? What would be the best setting to use with my wife sitting on back. Here in New Brunswick some of the secondary roads can be a little rough.

    Take care,

    Kevin

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  6. I only recall it was set about in the middle when I bought it new, and I changed it to 7, which raises the suspension highest. In my opinion, because of the rising rate linkage this actually should be the softest setting. I don't have any trouble reaching the ground, the bike is stable, and the floorboards theoretically grind the pavement less. This is also best for a passenger and rough roads. I have never changed it back since then, I just leave it at seven.

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  7. Hi Robert,

    I was able to get the suspension adjusted to #7. Bike seems to sit better. Seat is still uncomfortable after an hour but I have ordered some sheepskin to put on the seat. Hopefully this will help.

    Ride safe,

    Kevin

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  8. Thanks for your journal entry. I'm a Vespa 200GT rider and looking for an upgrade, serious upgrade. I'll be 60 next March and I'm planning on a motorcycle trip with my two older sons up into Canada in June 2010. I've never owned a motorcycle and have only ridden one a couple of times.

    The Vulcan 900 LT seems like the perfect bike for me. I ride my scooter to and from work every day that the roads are dry, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

    Thanks,
    Mike

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  9. Here's advice for anyone switching from a Vespa 200 to a Vulcan 900, there is no tachometer to tell you when to change gears, but you don't need to worry about over-revving, it has a rev limiter.

    For anyone who starts with commuting on nice days and takes their first long distance tour, bring a rain coat and pants, and put them on before it starts raining. Waterproof boots help too. I would also recommend good ear plugs.

    For anyone going from riding alone to riding with one or two other bikes. Find out what staggered formation is and do it. Do not crash into one another. Fill up with gas at the same time, even if your tank is not completely empty yet.

    For anyone riding to Canada from the USA or vice versa, I have been told you need a passport now. Look out for forest fires in British Columbia, traffic in Ontario, maybe some rain and fog as you get near the Atlantic.

    That must have covered at least .01% of everything a person would need to know. The other 99.9% is what makes travelling fun.

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  10. Hi Robert,
    I purchased a new 2009 Vulcan 900 LT today and should be able to pick it up on Monday or Tuesday. I'm way excited (and nervous)to get it out on the road and learn how to ride it. It is a beautiful bike and I'll do my best to keep it that way.

    As I mentioned, my sons and I hope to tour up into Canada next summer and go through Banff National Park. From everyone I have talked to about Banff, they said it was the best part of their trip and next time would skip everything else and spend all of their time in Canada.

    Mike

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  11. Hello, Robert,
    Really enjoyed your diary. I can really appreciate singing in the helmet. Many bikers don't experience the neat experience that a full face helmet offers--keeping you warm on cold rides, much better safety, and singing in the helmet. Better than the shower. I also enjoyed your adjustments as you put on the miles. Many riders here in southern PA have pulled their batteries and are waiting for the first warm day in April! They should read your stuff. I have some sheepskin that I didn't know what to do with, but now I know. Keep writing.

    --Vince

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  12. I recently tweeted and stumbled upon your post. Really your post is very informative and I enjoyed your opinions. Do you use twitter or stumbleupon? So I can follow you there. I am hoping you post again soon.

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  13. I have a 900lt and sure have enjoyed it. I had tired seat trouble but have bought a Air Hawk seat cushion and have not looked back It has been so comfortable that I do not even notice the ride. I am glad I found it. I ordered it fro Cli-MaxridingGear.com They got it to me in a hurry

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  14. Here is a link to my blog

    Lost Motorcyclist blog, Motorcycle topics

    I am at over 40,000 km now, and my original front tire is really worn out. I also use an Airhawk seat. I have a slightly narrower size than the Vulcan seat but it still seems comfortable.

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  15. Thanks for all the info you have put down for us to read, I for one found it very helpful like your friend Mary Ann I too ride a Burgman 400 love it for going back and forth to work which is a round trip of 50 miles but I have been looking for a Mid size Bike to take on longer trips that will be a little more comfort and have been looking at the Vulcan 900 classic LT and a few other bikes but keep coming back to this one because it seems to be a better fit for me I am 6 foot tall and weigh close to 245 Lbs I have book marked your site and will keep an eye on all the rest of your ideas and info, but just wanted to say thank you and happy trails to you. Ray

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  16. vn900 custom 2010 great bike i love mine.purchased in december saved 3000.

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  17. Hi Robert,
    Thanks for your blog on the Vulcan 900 LT. I ride a 900 Custom and am always looking for information and opinions on the 900 series. You write very well, it's nice to read plain jargon- and slang-free English on the web and your comments always seem honest and objective. I'll be looking at your other blogs too. Keep up the good work. Charles

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  18. I got a 900 Classic about 7 months ago. I made a few mods to it and the best thing I did was put on overdrive pulleys. I blog at http://blackmanwhaling.blogspot.com. I had a Yamaha 535 before but this bike is the best. My friends have tried to talk me onto a bigger bike but since I add the overdrive pulleys life is great. I got them from scootworks.com. Check them out for yourself.

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  19. i recently started ridding a vulcan 900, 5.3 fuel gallons, however i seem to barely get about 110-115 miles and the gauge seems too low, i refuel even though my warning light hasn't light. i was expecting to refuel at about 200-230 miles. any advice? thanks.

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    Replies
    1. My 2007 Vulcan had a fuel gauge that read empty when there was still a couple of gallons left. The float arm was bent wrong. Kawasaki changed the arm later on (I don't know when) and my new fuel level sensor works just fine. I replaced my old fuel level sensor with a new one this year because the old one stopped working, and compared the parts. There was a big difference between the bends on the float arms.

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  20. Anybody know if the two accessory connectors located under the seat, on my 09 Vulcan 900
    custom, do they stay hot all the time? Or do
    they operate key on hot key off dead?

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    Replies
    1. Can you plug in an accessory to test it? Probably way more reliable to do that than to trust an answer on the internet- even on this high quality blog.

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  21. Hello Robert,

    Jaime here again(Posted a long time ago..), been reading your blog from time to time and didn't have time to say that we were also supposed to try and drive across Canada in Summer of 2012. I suppsoe I could have asked you some questions had I kept up my reading.. Anyway..
    Initially we wanted to try and get our bikes shipped to Edmonton from Ottawa, fly out there and go from Edmonton via Hwy 16 all the way to the #5 then down to Kamloops then Vancouver, and come back ThroughKamloops and this time take the Trans-Canada all the way!!
    Well that didn't work as the best price we could find to get our bikes to Edmonton was close to $3000!! WOW

    So my girlfriend said Forget that!! We are going to France!! But summer is comming and I am looking at taking a couple of days and seeing how far I can go alone, so I am planning on going to Thunder Bay and back and figure 5 days from Ottawa? I think I will be taking it easy following hwy 17 all the way, have you tried that road?? An option I also though about was from North Bay head due North towards Kapuskasing-Hearst-Nipigon then back on 17 to Thunder Bay :-) What do you think??
    Forgot I also had an actual question; I have had a couple of Tank bags now on the Vulcan and Yes I did get the Magnet ones and yes I have scratches!! What would be the best to get them out, same as with a car? Will waxing and Buffing do the trick?
    Thank you very much for the fun Blog!! I should learn how to blog too, before I get to my retirement...

    Jaime

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    Replies
    1. I have taken highway 17 many times, I have never taken the northern route (#11), it looks even more lonely and isolated than #17, and I think it's also a bit longer.

      I'm sorry that I can't give you an answer on buffing and waxing out the scratches. I didn't get scratches on my tank from the trip out west, I don't understand why you would get scratches when I didn't. Anyway, without seeing the scratches, I could not really say whether buffing would work to your satisfaction, but I think it would be worth a try because it is not very harmful to the paint unless you do it wrong. I think there is a bit of skill and experience involved in doing a really nice job. I'm not an expert, but I usually am satisfied with the work I do for myself.

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  22. I have done a lot of reading about cruisers lately. I currently have a Suzuki GS500F and while it is a great little bike around town, on the open highway and freeways, the cross winds make it feel as if the wheels are going to be blown out from underneath you.
    I am not after a speed bike but one with some grunt and a little more power and weight that I have now.
    I have read a lot of your posts with great interest. You enjoy your riding and have clocked up some miles.
    How did you find the 900 on the open road? Do cross winds affect you as I have experienced.

    Regards,
    LOUIE - louiedownunder@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. I should write a blog entirely about cross winds on a bike, it's a big subject. My Vulcan, I believe is better than many fully faired motorcycles in resisting a cross wind without having to lean as much, but the handlebar mounted fairing sometimes will move the handlebars about in a worrisome way in the turbulent wake of big trucks.

      To deal with cross winds, you need to lean the bike purposefully, but then if the winds are unsteady you need to be able to change the lean angle quickly, and for that you must use "counter steer". I think all bikes, no matter the weight are affected by winds, in that they must lean. But I don't think there is very much danger of the wheels being blown off the road, even though it feels like it might happen sometimes. The best bikes for wind are low and do not present large surfaces to side winds. The wind can blow through naked bikes better than big loaded down touring bikes.

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    2. Many thanks for your reply. I am sure you could write a book on this subject especially after the miles you have ridden.
      Keep safe. Louie

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  23. Hi,

    Your Blog has inspired me to plan a cross country from Vancouver to St Johns. I have a 2006 Vulcan 900 and was considering a larger bike like a Vulcan 1700 but realize it is possible on the 900. My caveat with this bike is high revs at highway speeds between 100 - 120km/hour causing vibration. I am considering replacing the Front or Rear pulley to reduce RPM for the long trip. I am a seasonal rider and more of weekend warrior than a full time rider like yourself. I have done some long 3 day rides and up to 600 - 700 KMs in a day.

    It will be a few years before I can take 1 month off of work in order to plan my cross country tour. Do you think it is plausible to ride from Vancouver to St Johns in 2 weeks, with 2 weeks return through the USA?

    Also with your Bike reaching 100K, how is it running?

    Jason

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    Replies
    1. I would not call a Vulcan 900 at 120 km/h "high revs". Maybe for a Harley at the same rpm it could be considered high revs. The Vulcan does not have a Harley engine, it has many features that permit it to easy handle these revs. Water cooling, overhead cam, four valves per cylinder, short stroke design, rubber front engine mount, internal counter rotating balance shaft etc.

      Here is an indication of the low stress level. At 92,000 km, I have not yet done a valve adjustment on the 900, and I often ride it faster than 120 kph. True, it may burn a valve tomorrow (considering karma and the recommended inspection interval is 24,000 km), but even if it does, that is still a long way to go.

      I recommend you keep the stock pulleys, save some money, and possibly some grief, and ride it the way the engineers designed it. I figure that they know what rpms are normal for that motor better than I do.

      Some people can do a trip across Canada in two weeks on a motorcycle. I could have done it when I was younger. It would be too dangerous now, as I can fall asleep while riding. I used to be able to ride 22 hours straight without feeling drowsy. Also, I have problems with back ache, and I have to stop more often for the call of nature. Now, I'm what they call a senior citizen. The main advantage is I can get senior's rates on some motels.



      Mary Ann's Burgman was running a lot higher rpm than my Vulcan all the way to BC and back. It didn't have a problem either. And many ytears ago, when I took my two-stroke Yamaha 250 out west, it was cruising at about 7,000 rpm most of the way. The engine was designed to take it.

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    2. I mapped a round trip from Vancouver to St. Johns via Highway 1 and return trip that goes towards London, On and back through the USA. 15 543 KMs estimated at 173 hours. My plan is to ride 8 hours a day. Does this seem plausible to do in 30 days? I understand that the tight corners of the rockies will slow me down, but I should gain some good distance across the prairies.

      I am planning this over the next few years so I will be in my mid 40s, no way I have the stamina for 22 hours of riding! I find I tend to doze off driving long distance in my 4 wheel cage, never had that problem on my bike other than aches and pains from a long ride. I just want to make a realistic goal for someone middle aged average shape.

      As for maintenance, I like to follow the manual as best as I can. I will be checking my Valves by the end of this riding season probably will be up to 24000kms. Yes I have some low KMs for a 2006 as my bike was stored for 2 years while money and time was spent raising my little one. As she is growing up I have dedicated more time into riding again!

      Next trip Canada Day long weekend, my girlfriend and myself 2 up on the bike are going to the Sunshine Coast. Surrey to Powell River.
      The entire highway on the Sunshine coast wraps around the coastline!

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    3. The sharp curves on the Trans Canada Highway in the Rockies are not enough to slow you down significantly if you are driving within the range of normal traffic speed. (unless you happen to miss a corner and go off a cliff) Most corners can be taken without slowing down at all. The TCH is not at all like the curvy Sunshine Coast highway, which can slow down your average speed quite a lot. If you really do find the TCH too curvy to maintain a normal speed, its time to brush up on your cornering skills, which should not take you too long, if you manage to survive the Sunshine Coast trip. And I do not advise trying to make up speed on the prairies, that's where the RCMP training school is, and you are the homework assignment for the rookies.


      What really slows you down.

      Having an accident, running out of gas, flat tire, getting a speeding ticket.
      Riding with a passenger definitely slows the overall average for the day. Or riding with another person on a bike (consider gas stops, lunch breaks, special needs etc.)
      Getting lost, having to turn back on the same route, turning back because you don't have enough gas to make the next station.
      Missing a ferry. (Actually, ferries in general slow you down a lot even if you make them)
      Sleeping in, traffic jam in Montreal or Toronto, or anywhere on the 401, visiting people along the way, having to stop and take a nap in the afternoon.
      Stopping to wait for rain to clear up, road construction, got to wait for the flag person or an escort vehicle. Road closed, take a 100 km detour. Sign that road is closed 100km ahead, you don't believe it, you drive 100 km to find out its true and must turn back.

      It's not how fast you go, it's how much stopping you do. Your cross Canada trip in 30 days sounds like fun, but if things get too rushed, don't try to make up time by speeding, taking chances or riding when too fatigued. My best advice would be to just shorten the trip if you get to say, New Brunswick, and then see you don't have time to go all the way to Newfoundland. I'm sure the trip will be a lot more fun that way. I have turned back a few times, and still have great memories of those shortened trips.

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  24. Where is the coolant gauge in a 2008 Vulcan Classic LT? I am not able to find it.

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    1. I would call it the overflow tank. It is behind the left side cover. Here is a link to a discussion about it, with more details.

      http://www.kawasakimotorcycle.org/forum/kawasaki-cruisers/30607-preflighting-vulcan-900-a.html

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    2. To be more precise: If you look at the picture of my bike at the top of this page, there are two left covers. The black one (I have a flag decal on it), and below that a chrome coloured cover. It is the lower chrome coloured cover that hides the coolant overflow tank. On the overflow tank, you will find the upper and lower limit markers for the coolant. That is the coolant gauge I think you mean.

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