Between the Lines: 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan Preview

Kawasaki hasn’t been quiet either, releasing its 2012 Vulcan cruiser lineup last month. The 2012 Vulcan 1700 Voyager received the lion’s share of attention, while the popular Vaquero bagger, the Nomad and the Classic round out the 1700 Vulcan offerings. Three 900cc Vulcan cruisers complete the 2012 cruiser lineup.

For 2012, the Voyager soldiers on with the same 1700cc liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-twin mill, said to produce 108 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm. If you opt for Kawasaki’s K-ACT II braking system on the ABS models, it adds $1000 to the base $17,899 MSRP. The highlighted change for 2012 is the addition of the Kawasaki Air Management System (KAMS) which routes radiator and rear cylinder heat away from the rider, toward the ground. Engine heat has been an issue with the Voyager in the past (it was an ongoing complaint during the last issue’s tour test), so we’re hoping KAMS will go a long way toward alleviating that.

The 2012 Voyager also introduces a new Navigation Audio Prompt that delivers navigation voice prompts from a Garmin Zumo 600 or 665 series GPS over the audio system or through Kawasaki Genuine Accessory helmet headsets.

The popular Vaquero bagger, meanwhile, gets a new color scheme for 2012. The 1700 Vulcan cruiser line also includes the 2012 Vulcan Nomad ($15,799) and the 2012 Vulcan Classic ($11,499). The touring-oriented Nomad brings floorboards, a touring shield, saddlebags and a backrest, while the Vulcan 1700 Classic is more stripped-down, with exposed rear shocks.

The Vulcan 900 lineup consists of the 2012 900 Classic, 2012 900 Classic LT, and the 2012 900 Custom. All three 900s are powered by a 903cc SOHC V-twin with a five-speed gearbox and a touch more rake than the 1700s. The new 2012 Vulcan 900 Classic SE brings big fenders, dual pipes, pullback handlebars, spoked wheels and whitewalls for visual punch. The 900 Classic variations range in price from $8299 to $8499.

The 2012 Vulcan 900 Custom starts at $8699, and received more significant changes, including briefer fenders, pulled-in bars with taller risers, and for the SE, a few blacked out elements, including the engine and the wheels. A taller 21 inch front tire, now leads while wider rear rubber (now 180mm) follows. Floorboards get swapped for footpegs and a standard toe-operated shift lever differentiates it from the other 900s.