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2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS Review

Kawi's Big Bore Touring Cruiser Takes on the World

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 3 Star Rating (4 Reviews)


2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager

An action shot of the 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS.

Photo © Basem Wasef
From Harley's Electra Glide Classic and Suzuki's C109RT to Yamaha's Stratoliner Deluxe and Victory's Vision Tour, there's a solid variety of big-bore touring cruisers out there for riders looking for a laid back long distance bike.

How does the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS stand out in the crowd? Read on to find out.

The Goods: Bells, Whistles, and Bags

The 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager (priced at $17,299 and $18,399 with ABS) is a heavyset touring cruiser intent on getting its riders from point A to point B in optimum comfort with a dash of retro style. Unlike the pushrod-actuated Vulcan 2000's engine, the Voyager's liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 1,700cc engine utilizes single overhead cams (like the Vulcan 900) for quicker revving and better mid-to-high range power. Torque is claimed to be 108 ft-lbs at 2,750 rpm. The single-pin powerplant is mated to a six-speed transmission, with belt final drive.

The ABS model utilizes the same setup as the Concours 14, though the Vulcan's operates in only one mode. With or without ABS, the bike is equipped with 4-piston dual 300mm front brakes, and 2-piston rear units. The 45mm fork offers 5.5 inches of travel, and the rear suspension uses an air adjustable preload and 4-way rebound settings to adjust for load and handling characteristics.

Mechanical components aside, the soul of any touring bike are its luggage amenities and creature comforts— and the Vulcan 1700 Voyager has both in spades. Top-loading side cases offer 10 gallons of volume each, and a lockable 13.2 gallon top case is roomy enough for two full-face helmets while also serving as a passenger backrest. Two small storage compartments can be found up front, and an available iPod jack fits within the left cubby.

The cockpit is framed by a tall windshield, and features a 2-speaker audio AM/FM/WX system that's XM and CB compatible, with iPod controls on the left switchgear and cruise control on the right.

Swing a Leg Over: Large and in Charge

2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager

A view of the Voyager's cockpit.

Photo © Basem Wasef
Climb aboard the Vulcan 1700 Voyager and push off the side stand, and you'll immediately feel some significant heft; at just under 900 pounds, this is one seriously heavy bike. But crank up the big v-twin and punch the transmission into first, and this bike's heft dissolves as quickly as its retro style speedo spins. In fact, once at speed the Voyager turns surprisingly easily, though that easy turn-in also makes it feel somewhat vulnerable to crosswinds. During canyon rides through Angeles National Forest, the Voyager was capable of reasonable lean angles for a bike of its size, though forethought is required when attacking twisting roads; despite its frame-mounted fairing that reduces weight on the front forks, this is still big, heavy bike that doesn't change direction too eagerly.

The exhaust note has a loud-ish, mechanical quality (though it's still an entirely different beast in contrast to Harley's famous potato-potato rumble), and decent acceleration can be produced when the V-twin is pushed closer towards its 6,000 rpm redline. Though the transmission has a fairly clunky shift action— typical for bikes in this class— fifth and sixth gears are both overdrive ratios, allowing for highway cruising at low engine rpms. Kawasaki's K-ACT system works well, allowing a small amount of skid before ABS intervenes and brings the bike to a halt.

The array of buttons on the left grip may seem overwhelming to some riders, and it takes some deliberation to remember the unusually placed horn button. But the Voyager's long distance amenities are many, including a well-padded saddle, spacious floorboards, smooth ride quality, and a windscreen that offers solid protection. Sound quality from the 2-speaker system may not be audiophile quality, but there's also no lack of wattage at interstate speeds.

Improvements to the 2010 model include better exhaust pipe shielding and radiator ducting in order to shield the rider from engine heat, though some warmth is still perceptible on warm days. At least leg shields can be opened or closed to enable varying levels of venting to the leg area.

The Bottom Line: Know Your Apples and Oranges

2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager

The 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager is priced at $17,299, and $18,399 with ABS.

Photo © Basem Wasef
There's a natural desire to compare bikes like the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager to Harley-Davidsons, and that instinct is understandable... but not quite justifiable. Though they may look similar at a glance, Harley-Davidsons and metric bikes are worlds apart when it comes to design philosophy. Whereas Harley adheres to air-cooled engines and vibrational characteristics that are nostalgic at best and primeval at their worst, Japanese bikes usually aim to achieve higher levels of refinement (which sometimes comes at the expense of personality)—- and Kawasaki's Voyager is no exception.

It may exude less charisma than a similarly equipped Hog, but the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager does what it intends to do rather well, offering a comfortable and capable touring bike with plenty of amenities. The sum of its parts-- especially the distinction of its torquey V-twin that happens to produce an unshy exhaust note-- the Voyager manages to offer incrementally more personality than its smaller stablemates in the Vulcan 900 family.

Kawasaki's Vulcan 1700 Voyager deserves a spot on any short shopper's list of metric touring bikes. But when you're looking for a new ride, do yourself a favor and resist the temptation to compare apples to oranges; if you find yourself shopping outside of the Harley mold, chances are the Voyager will satisfy your long distance needs.

>>Click here for a 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager Photo Gallery

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 4 out of 5
Kawasaki made some headway, Member raw6464

Kawasaki fixed the stalling with an ECU recall. The free fix 2009/10 for the heat is marginal at best. The 2012's have a new duct with fans to address the heat... let see if that's free. I have a 2009 with the 2010 free heat update but the bike is still unbearable in hot weather at stop lights or in traffic. I hope the 2012 fixes it. My radio was marginal at best also... but was fixed with an antenna inline preamp and a 37"" antenna replacing the stubby rubber ducky antenna. At the end of the day if the bike ran cooler I would have no negatives... after the ECU and antenna fixes.

12 out of 12 people found this helpful.

See all 4 reviews

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