Due to a U.S. tariff on imported motorcycles larger than 700 cc’s, Kawasaki limited the original Kawasaki Vulcan to 699cc until the tariff was lifted in 1986. The Kawasaki Vulcan 750 was powered by a liquid-cooled, DOHC, V-Twin engine producing 60 horsepower. The Kawasaki Vulcan’s five-speed gearbox sent power to the rear wheel via a shaft drive. The Vulcan 750 stayed in Kawasaki’s model line-up for 23 years, finally ceasing production after the 2006 model year.
In 1990 Kawasaki introduced the smallest of the Vulcan models, the VN500. Powered by an air-cooled 498cc parallel-Twin engine, the Kawasaki Vulcan 500 was an entry-level model that remained in Kawasaki’s model line-up until being dropped in 2010.
Kawasaki introduced two other Vulcan models in the 1990s, the Vulcan 800 and the Vulcan 1500. Launched in 1991 the Vulcan 1500 was the first heavyweight cruiser from Kawasaki. Powered by a liquid-cooled, SOHC, 1470cc, 50-degree V-Twin engine putting out a claimed 84.6 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,800 rpm, the Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 was powerful enough to stay in Kawasaki’s model line until its final year in 2008.
In 1999, the Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Drifter became Kawasaki’s attempt at recreating the past. The Drifter was a modern interpretation of one of the most famous cruisers in American history, the Indian Chief. The large valanced fenders are an obvious clue of the Drifter’s design influence. The Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter was powered by a liquid-cooled, 1470cc V-Twin engine, and it was joined in 2000 by the 800 Drifter using an 805cc V-Twin engine. While they looked like authentic rigid frames, the Drifter hid a rear mono-shock suspension. The Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter was produced until 2006.
Kawasaki Vulcan models continued to flourish in the first decade of the new millennium and included the Vulcan 900, Vulcan 1600, Vulcan 1700 and Vulcan 2000.
The Kawasaki Vulcan 900 replaced the 800 model. All three 900 models, the Classic, Classic LT and Custom are powered by a 903cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC V-Twin engine with a belt final-drive.
The Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 was powered by a 1552cc liquid-cooled, SOHC, V-Twin engine and included three variations on the theme: the Classic, Nomad and Mean Streak. The Vulcan 1600 began life in 2002 and was replaced by the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 in 2009. The Vulcan 1700 featured a larger displacement engine, a ride-by-wire throttle and a six-speed transmission. The Vulcan 1700 came in four models: standard, Classic, Nomad and Voyager and presently continues in Kawasaki’s model line-up.
The Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 featured the largest displacement engine in Kawasaki history. The liquid-cooled, 2053cc V-Twin engine produced and amazing 141 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,800 rpm. The Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 came in standard, Classic and Classic LT models.