Race Bred: Muzzys' Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Custom Motorcycle

A Vulcan cruises through Kawasaki's race shop. From the June 2000 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser magazine. By Evans Brasfield.

Aftermarket manufacturers can take two routes when it comes to developing parts for a motorcycle. In the past, firms often designed their products on the basis of a test mule. Once the prototyping was completed, the bike would be sold or, in some cases, returned to the owner who had been kind enough to loan his bike. Today — thanks to the rapid growth in the cruiser market — more companies customize and display motorcycles as a means of showing the creative possibilities afforded by their products. The Muzzys Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic shown to the right is a prime example of a clean showpiece that any cruiser owner would be proud to showcase.

The first thing most people notice about this Classic — with the bike's big 21-inch front wheel and chopped rear fender — is its decidedly non-classic look. The folks at Muzzys styled this bike that way because they believed the accessories shouldn't outshine the overall bike. As famed customizer Denny Berg has said, the viewer's eyes should flow over a motorcycle. Anything that the focus returns to repeatedly detracts from the sum effect of a bike. And the effect of this bike is one of speed -- but not in a bullet-bike way. This Classic harkens back to the chopped-up, hopped-up bikes of the 1950s. The result is stunning. It's difficult to just glance at this Classic without sweeping from front to back, as if it were riding past.

The front end's makeover began with a Vulcan 800 fork and triple clamp. Swapping the beefy stock fork and its fat tire with the svelte 800 items dramatically alters the bike's look. All the non-sliding stock parts were dipped in chrome before being mounted to the 1500 chassis. A set of prototype Muzzys turn signals cleans up the lower portion of the triple clamp. Atop the steering stem, a Fire and Steel drag bar narrows the bike's front profile, pulling back to greet the rider; while at the business end of things, the Vulcan 800's 21-inch wheel and its diminutive fender give the bike a more raked-out appearance. Embellishing the long, low look is Muzzys 2-inch fork-lowering kit.

Out back, the chopped rear fender complements the sportier front end. Muzzys' in-house development department flush-mounted a LED brake light. A Corbin gunfighter seat (with a Muzzys logo stitched into its hump) adds to the bike's purposeful countenance. A set of Progressive Suspension shocks drops the rear an inch, tucking the meaty Dunlop tire up into the fender. Even without lowering, the juxtaposition of its tires would make this Classic look like a drag bike.

Since Muzzys has a long racing heritage, the big Vulcan received a horsepower injection to match its styling. Under the polished billet aluminum air filter, the stock carburetor and a special Muzzys jet kit sucks up as much of the local atmosphere as possible. Although the engine's internals weren't massaged, the less restrictive intake definitely helps it pump more effectively. A Dynatek Dyna 2000 milks the maximum power out of the mixture. Downstream, the spent combustibles exit via a pair of Muzzys lean, long and throaty drag pipes. Thumbing the starter button elicits a bark that lets any onlookers know that this Vulcan 1500 means business.

Kawasaki owners know that Muzzys isn't just a performance company, though. This Classic received a generous helping of Muzzys dress-up items. The stock floorboards were tossed in favor of Muzzys billet forward controls. The rear fender rails were also graced with billet covers while a pair of Pro-One flush-mount billet turn signals replaced the original-equipment items. But perhaps our favorite addition is the Muzzys prototype billet license plate holder tucked in next to the rear wheel just above the pipes.

With the long-standing race-team relationship between Muzzys and Kawasaki, we thought the best place to photograph this performance-oriented Vulcan Classic would be on the Daytona Speedway. After all, it was Muzzys-tuned Kawasakis that brought riders such as Doug Chandler and Scott Russell to victory on the track's famed high banking. Looking at this custom on the Speedway, we think it fits right in.

RESOURCES

Dunlop Tire
P.O. Box 1109
Buffalo, NY 14240
(800) 548-4714
www.dunloptire.com

Dynatek
164 South Valencia St.
Glendora, CA 91741
(626) 963-1669
www.dynaonline.com

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.
Kawasaki Fire and Steel Accessories
See your local dealer
(800) 661-RIDE
www.kawasaki.com

Muzzys
62910 Peerless Ct.
Bend, OR 97701
(541) 385-0706
www.muzzys.com

Progressive Suspension
11129 G Ave.
Hesperia, CA 92345
(760) 948-4012
www.progressivesuspension.com

Pro-One Performance
2700 Melbourne Ave.
Pomona, CA 91767
(800) 884-4173, (909) 445-0900
www.pro-one.com

For more articles on custom bikes and articles about how to customize and modify your motorcycle, see the Custom section of MotorcycleCruiser.com.

Photography by Dean Groover
Fat forks wouldn't work with this Classic's new 21-inch wheel, so a Vulcan 800 donated its fork.
The Fire and Steel drag bar sets the theme for this clean cockpit.
This racy Vulcan Classic would look strange with floorboards, so a set of Muzzys billet forward controls were bolted on.
The new Muzzys billet fender rails bolt on to the 1500 Vulcan Classic in minutes and radically alter — and improve — the look of the back of the big Kawasaki.
It feels like home.
The Progressive Suspension shocks drop the rear of the bike one inch. Take a gander at the trick Muzzys license plate holder. Hey, nice pipe!