2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero Preview

A black bagger from Team Green


The bagger scene – once largely the realm of Harley-Davidson’s Road Glide, Street Glide and Road King models – grew by at least two models last year with the introduction of Victory’s Cross Country and Star’s Stratoliner Deluxe.

For 2011 Kawasaki continues the bagger segment growth trend with its Vulcan 1700-based Vaquero.

A blacked-out color scheme distinguishes the Vaquero from its Vulcan brethren while creating a turnkey custom look. The engine, air-cleaner cover, wheels, fork assembly and tank cover all get the blackout treatment; chrome accents (engine guards, exhaust, mirrors, etc.) provide just enough gleam to tactfully offset the Vaquero’s dark matter.

The 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero adds yet another player to the expanding cruiser bagger market segment.

Building on the blackout theme is the Ebony paint scheme; but if an all-black bike is a bit much for you the Vaquero is also available in Candy Fire Red.

As part of the Vulcan 1700 Vaquero’s name implies, the same 52-degree, SOHC, 1700cc V-Twin that motivates the entire 2011 Vulcan line (including the Voyager, Classic and Nomad) powers the Vaquero.

The 1700cc big Twin in the 2011 Vulcan 1700 Voyager, Classic and Nomad also powers the Vaquero.Introduced in 2009 as an all-new upgrade over the Vulcan 1600, the big 1700cc (103.7 c.i.) lump utilizes a single-pin crank for that genuine “Big Twin feel,” and overdriven fifth and sixth gears keep engine rpm low while a claimed 108 ft-lbs help you bomb along at freeway pace.

Dual 300mm front discs with twin-piston calipers and a 300mm rear disc with a two-piston caliper help reel in that healthy torque.

The Vaquero’s 28.7-inch seat height is the same as on the Vulcan 1700 Voyager and Nomad, while a 5.3-gallon fuel capacity is shared across the Vulcan lineup. A claimed ready-to-ride curb weight of 836 pounds for the Vaquero is within a hair’s width of the Nomad’s weight.

The Vaquero’s frame-mounted fairing is essentially the same fairing used on the Vulcan Voyager, but on the Vaquero the windshield is “chopped” to enhance the bike’s custom look. Accessory fog lamps can take the place of the faux louvers flanking the headlight.

The Vaquero is ready for overnighters with its lockable, side-loading, 10-gallon capacity (per bag) hard bags. A “chopped” frame-mounted fairing – repurposed from the Vulcan Voyager tourer – lends to the Vaquero’s bagger look that’s highly evocative of Harley’s Road Glide.

Also Harley-like is an ignition key that’s removable once the Vaquero is started. The impetus behind this is to prevent the key(s) from nicking up the finish around the ignition area.

Tucked inside the appearance-defining fairing is a centrally placed LCD readout flanked by analog speedo and tachometer dials; analog fuel and temp gauges round out the instrument package. The dials feature large numbers and chrome bezels to create a muscle-car atmosphere in the cockpit.

A robust sound system consists of an AM/FM/WX tuner pumping out the sounds through twin speakers and is compatible with iPod, XM tuner or CB radio units. Additional radio controllers are located on the left switchgear for convenience, while electronic cruise control switches are mounted on the right side switchgear.

The cockpit and sound system is generally the same as on the Vulcan Voyager.

Kawasaki offers optional accessories to personalize and increase the creature comfort level of your Vaquero. A few of these Kawi-approved goodies include: grip heaters, dual gel saddle, solo seat, heated solo seat, rider backrest, quick-release backrest, passenger floorboard kit, saddlebag liners, luggage rack, quick-release solo luggage rack, rear engine guards, auxiliary riding lights, DC power sockets, headset kit, GPS mount, billet handlebar clamp, engine cover, saddlebag top and side rails, front fender trim and more.

The Vaquero gets the blackout treatment to help distinguish it as a new model different from the rest of the Vulcan line. Long and low lines, hard bags and fairing with muted windshield leave no doubt the Vaquero takes inspiration from Harley-Davidson bagger stalwarts, the Road Glide and Street Glide.

The 2011 Vulcan Vaquero should hit Kawasaki dealer showrooms by late October and will retail for $16,499.

Related Reading
2009 Kawasaki Vulcan Voyager
2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700/LT Review
2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide vs. 2010 Victory Cross Country
2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Classic vs. 2010 Triumph Thunderbird

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