2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom Special Edition

A bargain factory custom for only a $400 premium

The Vulcan 900 Classic Special Edition.


The knock on Kawasaki’s Vulcan 900 has been clear: it lacks personality. As Basem stated in his review of the 2008 model, “A solid, well-priced touring cruiser that's just a bit lacking in personality.” Kawasaki heard you, Basem – and they’ve released the 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom Special Edition to address your criticism.

Kawasaki Vulcan 900

A $400 upgrade over the Vulcan 900 Custom’s $7,699 sticker price, the Special Edition takes the mechanical blueprint of 903 cc liquid cooled V-twin, 5-speed transmission, belt drive, 300 mm front/270 mm rear twin-piston disc brakes and adds a bit of flair. The pipes are blacked-out, as are the air cleaner and engine cases. “Aggressive Orange” valve covers dress the engine. The body gets a mean-looking coat of Ebony flat black paint, with intricate tribal orange and white pinstriping to add to the custom look and feel.

The Custom trim level comes with 41 mm front forks at a 33º rake/7.2” of trail, a 21” cast front wheel and 15” cast rear wheel. Rear suspension is Softail-style single-shock, hidden under the seat for a hardtail look. Slightly forward-set footpegs and a gunfighter-style seat contribute to the sporting cruiser look.

Compared to the current Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 “custom,” the Iron 883, Vulcan 900 Custom Special Edition is a mild custom at most. But the tweaks to the Custom’s cosmetics really make a big difference, transforming the slightly generic bike into a real looker. That’s a lot of bang for $400, and well worth a look if you’re considering a Vulcan 900.

(Ed: Does the Custom Special Edition Vulcan 900 simply tick a stylistic box or does it scratch an itch that could otherwise be satisfied by something like a Harley-Davidson? This is an age old question that has plagued motorcyclists for decades, and one I'm fairly confident goes like this: People who love Harley-Davidsons will always flock to Harley-Davidsons, whether they're the same 'ol aged models or refreshed versions that come with more modernized underpinnings. Brand loyalty is a hugely powerful thing in the motorcycle world, and one that serious aficionados take very seriously, particularly when it comes to Harley-Davidsons. As for whether a decorated Vulcan can draw an otherwise Harley-loving person to the Kawasaki brand, I'm fairly skeptical of that degree of pull. One thing is certain: Harleys and Kawasakis (or any other Japanese cruiser brand, for that matter) are dramatically different motorcycles on a number of levels, and will continue to inspire different kinds of riders for very different reasons. And that, my friends, is what makes motorcycling such an endlessly entertaining endeavor — we love what we love, and there's never a shortage of options for practically everybody.)