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KAWASAKI VULCAN S Vulcan S (2015-on) Review

Published: 10 January 2019

Updated: 10 January 2019

Kawasaki’s unique take on an urban cruiser

Side view of the 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S

Kawasaki’s unique take on an urban cruiser

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

The Kawasaki Vulcan S is a very practical and enjoyable cruiser and a great day-to-day bike with a low seat height, but it is aspiring to be something it can never be.

It’s a quirky-looking lightweight cruiser that will appeal to some, but for the majority of buyers it’s too left-field and tradition will steer them towards an established cruiser such as a Harley 883 or possibly even the Street 750, purely because of the name on its tank.

The Vulcan S ridden by MCN staff

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

Hit town on the Vulcan and its slick gearbox, light clutch and low seat makes it ideal for dealing with a lot of stop/starts.

After a while the slightly abrupt throttle response at initial opening is an irritation, but the engine is peppy and sounds surprisingly deep and throaty through to its low-slung exhaust.

The Kawasaki’s handling is sure-footed and with little bulk to haul around, the Vulcan is surprisingly nippy. Out of town the suspension is a bit soft and squishy, but this is to be expected on a cruiser.

Engine 3 out of 5

The Kawasaki ER-6 engine is very smooth, but when you fire up something like a Harley’s V-twin and feel it shake and pulse it fills the bike with character that you simply don’t get on the slightly synthetic Vulcan.

That said, it is hard to fault its power delivery or ease of use and it is also fairly rapid away from the traffic lights with a lovely light clutch action. Maybe not the best motor in terms of cruiser feel, but a very practical power plant and one that is very easy to live with on a day-to-day basis and economical.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The ER-6 motor is a tried and tested unit and as such there should be no nasty surprises on the horizon. Build quality is a little dubious on other ER models, especially when it comes to items such as fasteners, so use anti-corrosion spray liberally and often.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

It is hard to put a price on the Vulcan as it is somewhat unique. At £6499 it is cheap, especially when compared to the £8895 a Harley 883 Iron will cost you or the £8699 Yamaha want for the XV950R, but it is also less of a motorcycle.

The Vulcan’s main rival is probably the Harley Street 750, which is £6045, or Street Rod at £6795. In this context it is about on the money.

Equipment 3 out of 5

Where some cruisers make a point of their substance through lots of metal components, the Vulcan S does feel a little plastic-fantastic with its less pretty parts (exhaust, frame spars) covered by plastic shrouds.

You only get one front disc and the dash is pretty cheap-looking (it does have a fuel gauge and gear indicator), but on the plus side the footpegs are three-way adjustable and the levers can also be altered in their span.

Vulcan S front brake disc

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2015
Year discontinued -
New price £6,449
Used price £4,500 to £7,900
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £91
Annual service cost £150
Max power 60 bhp
Max torque 46.4 ft-lb
Top speed 100 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 57 mpg
Tank range -
Engine size 649cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel-twin
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 705mm
Bike weight 228kg
Front suspension 41mm forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Single rear shock, adjustable spring preload
Front brake 1 x 300mm disc with two-piston caliper
Rear brake 250mm single disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 18
Rear tyre size 160/60 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

  • 2015: The Vulcan S is launched
  • 2017: The Vulcan S SE arrives
  • 2018: The Vulcan S Café and Sport variants join the range alongside Touring versions of both.

Other versions

Priced from new: The Vulcan S comes in matt green for an extra £200. There is also a Vulcan S Special Edition (£6499), which has two-tone paint, the Vulcan S Café (£6649), which adds a small fly screen and Vulcan S Café Tourer (£7799), which comes with panniers, a tall screen and a sissy bar. In addition there is a Performance (£7149 in black or £7349 in green) as well as a Touring (£7449 or £7649). All can be restricted to make them A2-legal.

Owners' Reviews

2 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI VULCAN S Vulcan S (2015-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 VULCAN S Vulcan S (2015-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3.5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.5 out of 5
Equipment 4.5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Plastic fantastic

26 April 2019 by vpower

It's a great bike but the sum of the parts (except the engine) are at best cheap and poor quality. Most of the bike is plastic and, if you drop it, it will shatter. I would recommend but buy a second hand model.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
The front brake is good, despite having the cheaper disc fitted unlike the Z650. The back brake is poor to say the least.
5 out of 5
It's got a great engine although you have to rev it. There's quite a lot of torque and it's quite frugal if the revs are kept down.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Mine had a duff battery from new but otherwise good. The indicators wobble on the plastic mounts and will not tighten up.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Difficult to service as there's no main stand, and with the exhaust under the motor you can't lift there. You also need to remove the petrol tank to get to the plugs and air filter, and you need to bring it in for a 3500-mile service, at £140.
5 out of 5
It has a great display with many functions on the speedo, great suspension and fab seat. It handles really well, It's not a V-twin cruiser it is dressed like one ten years ago.
Buying experience

The buying experience wasn't bad, the shop was pleasant and did what they do best, fairly good PX and hassle-free.

5 out of 5

Happy owner

20 April 2019 by Dean Jardine

This is a great bike. I’ve had mine for a year, got it new with the full Arrows exhaust which sounds sweet. Think is one of the best motorcycles I’ve owned. It’s a great all rounder, a cruiser with sports bike performance. It handles great for a cruiser as it’s nice and light you can handle it easy at low speeds.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The brakes are good with abs standard which is peace of mind if you need to stop quick in all weathers. The ride quality is good, the suspension is easy to adjust for soft or harder whichever you prefer. The forward controls making riding easy and comfortable.
5 out of 5
The 650 parallel twin from the 650 ninja which is tuned for more torque . It’s a quick cruiser putting out 60 bhp and light weight makes 0- 60 in 4 seconds and top speed over 120mph which is reasonable.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
As Kawasaki you can trust it to last. I have traveled 5000 miles on her with no issue. Everything looks quality and feels nice.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
As a basic type bike running cost are low. Service cost are about £150 annually. With a 14L an average 60mpg which is good and can take you around 160 - 170 miles in a full tank.
4 out of 5
Buying experience

Got from a dealer with 0%apr for 3 years new at £7000 with Arrows exhaust.

Photo Gallery

  • Side view of the 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S
  • The 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S
  • The 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S clock
  • The 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S front wheel
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