KAWASAKI VN900 CUSTOM (2007-on) Review

Published: 12 April 2007

"Laid back, chopper style is down largely to its distinctive, cast alloy big 21-inch front wheel"

Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Riding

"Laid back, chopper style is down largely to its distinctive, cast alloy big 21-inch front wheel"

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Over recent years Kawasaki has created an impressive portfolio of cruisers and Kawasaki VN900 Custom is one of its best yet. The Kawasaki VN900 Custom's laid back, chopper style is down largely to its distinctive, cast alloy big 21-inch front wheel. But other differences between the Kawasaki VN900 Custom and Kawasaki VN900 on which it is based include the high-rise drag bars, which not only look good but prove very comfortable, along with the forward highway pegs.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

For a custom, the Kawasaki VN900 Custom is impressive through bends. Scraped metal is unlikely and stability is excellent. Out back, the Kawasaki VN900 Custom's rear remains planted thanks to Uni-Trak suspension that offers seven-way adjustable spring preload and 4.1 inches of travel. Ergonomically, most should be comfortable. The Kawasaki VN900 Custom also accommodates a passenger with a gunfighter-style seat that is designed for comfort and style. And with a decent 5.3 gallon tank close to 180miles on the Kawasaki VN900 Custom is possible before fill-ups.

Engine 4 out of 5

Although the Kawasaki VN900 Custom's SOHC, 55-degree, V-twin is just 903cc the amount of torque and power delivered belies those small dimensions. The Kawasaki VN900 Custom's gearchange is snickety smooth and there’s a decent amount of grunt up to 3000rpm. Beyond 3500 the Kawasaki VN900 Custom engine loses some of its pep, but at cruising speeds, even when the speedo reads 75, buzz is absent and the Kawasaki VN900 Custom continues to deliver a silky-smooth ride.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Kawasaki customs are usually a cut above the norm and the Kawasaki VN900 Custom continues that tradition with dream chrome, good paint and neat detailing and build quality. The Kawasaki VN900 Custom's motor is understressed and has so far proved reliable.

Insurance, running costs & value 5 out of 5

The most impressive aspect of the Kawasaki VN900 Custom is not just the new shiny bits and pieces, but how Kawasaki managed to change the appearance while retaining its appealing price tag. At around £5500 the Kawasaki VN900 Custom delivers aesthetics, performance, and refinement normally found in motorcycles that cost thousands more. Find a Kawasaki VN900 for sale.

Insurance group: 10 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

On top of all that, other neat touches on the Kawasaki VN900 Custom include an instrument cluster which not only offers classic styling but also all the requisite dials and lights to keep the Kawasaki VN900 Custom rider informed, including a fuel level indicator and a digital clock.

Owners' Reviews

14 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI VN900 CUSTOM (2007-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI VN900 CUSTOM (2007-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.8 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.6 out of 5
Engine 4.7 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.9 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4.2 out of 5
4 out of 5

Kawasaki VN1700 Voyager Custom

27 May 2016 by Charles Quinn

I owned a VN900 for four years. I also tested a Suzuki M50 (M800), Yamaha XV950, Triumph America and Harley Sportster. The Kawasaki was the best overall. It was my daily commute, weekend ride and tourer. The longest trip I did with it was 3,500 km in... Read more a week, fully loaded with camping gear, and it handled everything very well indeed. Can't think of a better sub-1000cc cruiser.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
Most people hate the seat but I could tolerate it. The riding position is very tiring over long distances although a small screen helps. Massive rake and long fork travel mean it's comfy at the front, but the rear suspension is harsh. Increasing preload helps a bit. The brakes are terrible -- front is weak and wooden and the rear locks up so easily it's hardly worth using. But handling is surprisingly good and light, and there's plenty of ground clearance.
Engine
3 out of 5
Definitely not going to set the world on fire, but it's unstressed and smooth cruising at reasonably high speeds. Some say it needs a sixth gear but as it won't even rev out in fifth I'm not sure what the point would be. Has decent grunt off the line.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
In four years and 45,000km from new I never had a problem, although stators frying is apparently a common issue. There's not much to corrode as most of what looks like chrome is actually plastic. Fasteners are a bit cheap and I had an issue with an exhaust heat shield clamp that would rattle loose, but that's it.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Servicing is straightforward enough although intervals could be longer. Oil filter change requires typical cruiser fiddling, in this case removal of regulator/rectifier. Not a big deal. It's very fuel efficient -- on long trips I wouldn't hit reserve until after 300km and then you have 4L of the 20L tank left, so a 400km range is possible.
Equipment
3 out of 5
No frills, though it does have a fuel gauge. No storage space whatsoever. I fitted the Kawasaki cafe screen, which does the job of killing some windblast without spoiling the bike's look. A braided front brake line will increase feel but not overall stopping power. I switched from a 180/70 rear tyre to a 170/80 and it handled better -- I reckon that was the tyre it was meant to have, as it also fills the rear fender better and corrects the speedo a bit, and Kawasaki just put the 180 on so they could say it had the widest rear tyre of any mid-sized cruiser, back when such things were fashionable.
5 out of 5

01 May 2016 by radar1963

love this bike would highly recommend anyone to buy Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
excellent build quality compared to the yamaha
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

corker of a bike

29 October 2015 by big lew

Fantastic bike for the money, good range of accessories on the market well made bike. Standard seat could do with improvement in terms of padding, and 1st gear is too geared down for general pulling away. Once used to it. It becomes a dream to ride Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Service £100-180 Tyres £120 45-60mpg £20 to fill fuel
Engine
5 out of 5
Well made
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Never let me down. Well maintained
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
Standard headlight on custom VN is slightly high and not enough adjustment
Buying experience

Bought mine pre reg £6400 Brand new £7800

4 out of 5

VN900 Custom review

02 October 2015 by ianc2000

Great bike around town and country roads, can get a bit monotonous on motorways as I don't normally sit in the inner 2 lanes on my ZX9R. However, very comfy and has enough torque to be fun Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Its a cool bike, Brakes are ample with quality parts, get rid of the standard Dunlop tyres, I use Bridgestone Exedra Max (40 psi front and rear) not the recommended by Kawasaki, however highly suggested on the VN forums, eliminates "cupping" around the bends
Engine
5 out of 5
Reliable, adequate torque for a 900cc twin, lovely sound without the baffles
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
2 years owned, only problem I have had is a snapped cable, probably due to aftermarket ape handle bars, having replaced these with standard, and original cables, not had a problem
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
quality parts are quite cheap, I'm a Mechanic by trade, so I don't have labour costs, but they are easy to maintain
Equipment
4 out of 5
Loads of accessories available, depending how much Bling required, I have Clik lock saddlebags and a Givi rear backrest with carrier. Previously stated, ditch the Dunlop tyres (otherwise 5/5)
5 out of 5

3-year review

08 April 2014 by charlesq_70

I reviewed below just after I got the bike, but thought I'd do an update. The fact I'm still riding it after 3 years says plenty. Like many cruiser buyers, for a long while I thought of it as a stepping stone to a bigger bike. Now I'm convinced the... Read more 900 is just right for me. What it lacks in top-end power (and all mid-size V-twin cruisers are similarly lacking) it more than makes up for in grunt. Braking seems poor at first but is actually adequate with reasonable feel, just needing more grip strength than a sportsbike. Handling is very good in the cruiser style (more about shifting your weight than leaning the bike), ergonomics are not extreme and you're not locked into position as on some cruisers, and the bike isn't too heavy. The rear shock is crap (unless your'e very light, increase preload to max for best results) but there's still a reasonable amount of travel. And this is where the VN really scores over bigger bikes. The only way to go 'bigger' without adding weight is with a Sportster 1200 (actually physically smaller bikes and a bit lighter), but then -- or with any other Harley cruiser -- you're faced with a dramatic loss of suspension travel and ground clearance, which I just will not accept. The Vulcan leads the class in these respects, and believe me it matters (eg 140 mm ground clearance on the VN compared with 110 mm on a Sportster Custom). Any other bigger cruiser is way heavier, and if like me you ride every day and park on that street, that matters too. Incidentally my bike is outside 24/7, never covered, and still looks pretty much new. Admittedly I live in Brisbane, but it does rain a lot here too! I've had no issues with my bike other than a short-lived clutch cable which I blame on aftermarket levers and excessive feathering (fuelling is perfect so I've had to relearn my clutch technique). I could get 400 km or more from the 20 L tank if I ran it dry. The pipes are fully debaffled and after a year or so of mellowing sound wonderful but not too loud (for me anyway!). Some people hate the seat but it doesn't bother me -- although that might be the only category where a Harley would score higher. Are there better cruisers out there? Of course there are. Are there any better value or more practical cruisers for everyday riding? I doubt it.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Love this bike

24 February 2014 by Kippy

Would highly recommend Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Love this bike

24 February 2014 by Kippy

Would highly recommend Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Awesome Cruiser

03 November 2011 by GWalkaa

I bought this bike after completing my Direct Access and wow am I impressed. I was previously riding a Honda Shadow 125 and the stability of the VN900 is out of this world its responsive, agile and great looking which why it was the clear choice for... Read more me when upgrading to my first 'big' cruiser. Awesome stealth looks on my 2011 model with the matte black everywhere. Just hoping for some decent weather!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

What a bike

21 May 2011 by alexstuart71

Have owned this bike for just over a week and have covered a little under 1000 miles, mainly commuting up the motorway. Bought 2nd hand, 4 years old with only 1600 miles on the clock. In that time, I have returned an average of 60-63 mpg at... Read more motorway speeds, its very comfortable and holds the road like a dream. The seating position is excellent and I love this bike. I have owned a few bikes over the years, and to date, this far exceeds my expectations and will remain on the inventory for many years to come. Would recommend riding in low gears around town to ensure head turning reactions!!!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

A real feel-good bike

19 April 2011 by charlesq_70

I've owned cruisers, supersports and 'UJMs' and the VN900 is a very good bike by any standard. Japanese cruisers have come a long, long way in the last 10-15 years and a lot of the people who knock 'em might do well to check out a new one just to see... Read more how good they've got. At all sensible speeds this Vulcan handles outstandingly well -- in most situations I find it easier to ride than the CBR600F I traded it for, which is saying a lot. Great low-down torque for town riding, and I actually prefer the slower roll-on at highway speeds (more time to think about how fast you're going...). Luggage is an issue, can't really carry any without bolting extra bits on, but otherwise I just love it. And I found out the other day (the hard way) that if you drop it at walking speed or less it rests on the footpeg rather than falling flat! Result!!

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
Read all 14 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2007
Year discontinued -
New price £7,149
Used price £4,500 to £7,300
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 10 of 17
Annual road tax £82
Annual service cost £100
Performance
Max power 53 bhp
Max torque 60 ft-lb
Top speed 115 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 55 mpg
Tank range 165 miles
Specification
Engine size 903cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v V-twin, five gears
Frame type Tubular steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 20 litres
Seat height 685mm
Bike weight 249kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload only
Front brake 300mm disc with 4-piston caliper
Rear brake 270mm disc with 2-piston caliper
Front tyre size 80/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 180/70 x 15

History & Versions

Model history

2007: Kawasaki VN900 Custom introduced.

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Front view
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Front view
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Kawasaki VN900 Custom motorcycle review - Engine
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