2006 Kawasaki Vulcan® 800 Drifter
Mid weight cruiser/HUGE bang and fun for the buck!By (I am an Owner) on Jan 05, 2009
OK, the economy is in shambles it is hard for everybody, so buying a bike may not be in the mind of many, but for gas mileage a bike might be a great choice for some.
I currently own 5.5 bikes, the 0.5 being a 50cc mini. My latest bike in my stable is the 2006 Kawasaki Drifter 800. I am not ... a large man, merely 5'7" and 185lbs so my inseam is rather short. LOL What got my attention about this bike was first: The Looks. I already had 4 bikes, one of them a large American made cruiser, at over 1600ccs that American cruiser is heavy and not the easiest thing to flick around while lane splitting(legal in CA), and it is also a looker, but the Drifter 800 really caught my eye as it sat in front of a motorcycle shop as I went by each morning. I stopped in and sat on it one afternoon, it was used and in somewhat rough shape, but I was smitten. I looked online until I found one in great condition and a reasonable price. I am VERY HAPPY with this decision, the bike was made as a tribute to the American cruisers of the 1940s, and the 800 looks more the part than does the 1500 since the unilink suspension is hidden under the rear fender making it look like the hard-tails of the 40s. It also weighs about 130 pounds less than the 1500 but is only about 10 horsepower less, though the 1500 does have fuel injection and shaft drive the 800 does not. The 800 does have the better valve drive, as my personal motorcycle mechanic says: "This bike and engine are nearly bullet proof, just make sure you don't over rev them and they will last a lifetime."
The bike is a single seater which adds to the old look, and it is very comfortable. It is no speed rocket, you will be throwing sparks from sliding the floorboards far before hitting the traction limit of the tires while going through turns, and with a windshield added you might be able to get up to 90mph, with a tailwind. But that is not the point of this bike, it is a cruiser and what it does, it does very well. It is extremely easy to ride, while sitting comfortably the bikes handles easily, has a good amount of torque from stop and has great brakes. People constantly ask what it is, many are confused and thinks it "looks like a Harley" since Harley is the only large American cruiser to be around for so long. Personally, I think it looks like what it is a tribute to, an Indian Chief. It is such an easy bike to ride, it is the only bike in my stable I would let an inexperienced rider friend take for a spin, my other bikes all require years of riding experience to handle. I find myself drawn to this bike when I grab a set of keys for a ride. The looks stand out, but the bike is also amazingly functional, it's biggest problem is keeping the chain oiled, with the large fenders you can see very little of the chain. However, that being said, it is quite a tribute to say it's only problem is keeping the chain maintained!
If you want a cruiser, make sure you find one of these Drifter 800s to look at and ride first, you will probably forgo a larger cruiser once you take a spin on one of these.