New Kawasaki 1600 Mean Streak Motorcycle for 2004

Kawasaki upsized its Mean Streak performance cruiser motorcycle to 1600 for 2004. By _ Art Friedman.

Kawasaki Motors Corporation, the Kawasaki motorcycle distributor for the United States, has now shown its 2004 Mean Streak, which gets the "1600" (actually 1552cc) engine for 2004.

We now have photos of the American model, which come in the three colors shown here -- blue, green, and black.

The 2004 Kawasaki motorcycle models. headlined by the new 2053cc Vulcan 2000 V-twin were unveiled unexpectedly early in Europe, which caught the U.S. distributor by surprise. As a result, we knew that there would be a 1600 Mean Streak, but we had not seen the U.S. color treatments until the Kawasaki dealer show, held in mid-September.

The bike itself is little changed aside from the engine, which has new valve covers and reshaped cooling fins. The Mean Streak 1600 engine has been hopped up slightly from the version released in early 2003 in the Vulcan 1600 Classic. The Mean Streak gets different camshaft profiles and pistons (though it retains the same 9.0:1 compression ratio as the Classic. According to European info, the cylinderhead has also been revised compared to the Classic.Kawasaki sources say the 1552cc version of the Mean streak has slightly more low-end power than the 1470cc engine in the 1500 Mean Streak. The most significant chassis change from 1500 to 1600 is a stiffer swingarm. It also gets redesigned master cylinder housings for the front brake and hydraulic clutch and new mirrors. Because new and old bikes are virtually the same, virtually all accessories designed for the 1500 should bolt right on to the 1600 Mean Streak.

We have not received official pricing info yet, but the Mean Streak 1600 is espected to be close to the 2003 1500, which was $10,999. That is also the price of the newly announced Suzuki VZ1600 Marauder, a very similar motorcycle built by Kawasaki for Suzuki under the companies' two-year old alliance. It is the first street bike that the two companies have shared.

_If you have questions or comments about this article, email the author at _ Art.Friedman@primedia.com _or at _ ArtoftheMotorcycle@hotmail.com.

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