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"

  • At a glance
  • 903cc  -  53 bhp
  • 55 mpg  -  165 miles range
  • Low seat height (685mm)
  • £7,149

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.

Value & Running Costs 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

10 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.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.7 out of 5
Engine 4.8 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.9 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4.3 out of 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.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
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

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
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

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
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!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
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!!!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
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!!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
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
5 out of 5

ZZR1100 to VN900 and couldn't be happier!

11 April 2010 by timrfa

After coming to the conclusion that my knee could no longer live with the ZZR (this being classed as a roomy bike cut down the replacement options somewhat), I started looking at adventure tourers like the Ktm's and the Bmw's, but none really lit a... Read more fire under me. Loved the look of the Griso and the Triumph Scrambler but sitting on them soon ruled them out. Then I saw the 09 custom with the black pipes and thought very nice, but am I still too young at 31 (and after the ZZR) to go sedate. Simple answer, the best money I ever spent. Absolutely the most comfortable and relaxed miles I have ever done on two wheels. As for speed you don't ever feel like you want to rush, and there is plenty there to overtake most traffic anyway. She handles great and I haven't managed to ground the pegs yet. Anybody worried about the weight will be glad to hear it feels like it is carried really low and gives loads of slow speed confidence. I am putting K-Drive panniers on her, but am going to try and resist the temptation to over-bling! Downsides: None really, just adjustments to the class. Remembering to put my feet forward to the pegs instead of down onto the road! Driving her home 300 miles from the dealer in sub zero conditions bought home how much a fairing cocoon's you from the wind chill. Thought I was going to have hand's like Ranulph Fiennes afterwards. Heated grips are on the list. Brakes are what could be classed as a bit lazy, but that is only to be expected after coming from a bike with the same weight but an extra disc. If you find yourself liking the looks, then at least try a test ride before dismissing the idea out of hand. You just might find yourself smitten! I would like to say a big thank you to Lloyd Cooper Motorcycles in Watford for putting in all the effort of finding me an 09 model when everybody else just said can't get one, but here's the 2010 model.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
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

I love my VN900 Custom!

29 November 2009 by bordersmike

After lots of years on sports tourers, this is my first cruiser. I've always hankered after a Harley but wasn't prepared to pay over the odds for the brand name on something that is inadequate in the stop, go and build-quality departments. I really... Read more can't fault the VN Custom in any of these respects, plus it handles very well for a 250kg custom thanks to its 21" front wheel. Not so sure about the finish on the 2009 MY bike, though - I got a good deal on my chrome-laden metallic black 2008 bike registered in April 2009. Despite 4-star scores for ride/handling, equipment and engine, I've rated it 5-star overall because it's a great package and exactly what I wanted.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 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

The only cruiser you'll ever need

30 July 2008 by insolentminx

What can I say? I've had my '07 Custom for nearly 8 months and I love her. Not only is the Custom the best looking sub-1000cc cruiser available, but it's extremely affordable, very comfortable, handles fabulously and performs wonderfully.... Read more Considerably cheaper than the basic HD Sportster, the Custom has a bigger engine, bigger fuel tank (i get 200 miles out of mine), looks better, is more comfy and draws more attention than the boring HD. I've spent about £1500 on extras from the US on mine and will keep her until she dies. By far the best looking bike on the road. The only down-sides: Stock exhaust is very quiet, stock seat is uncomfortable after 2-3 hours in it, and the skinny front tyre can easilly get caught following tarmac tracks. Otherwise i'd highly recommend it to anyone if i wasn't a little anxious that they would become as common as muck. I've not seen another on the road since December.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
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 BIKE

26 June 2007 by Nush

Another awesome cruiser from Kawasaki. Handles like a dream, very stable, accleration awesome, very comfortable beautiful bike. Recommend to anyone who wanted a cruiser bike. Read more

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
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
Read all 10 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2007
Year discontinued -
New price £7,149
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 10 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
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