Kawasaki is launching a budget cruiser aimed at the Harley Sportster market.
The bike will join the firm’s VN1500 family next year, say sources close to the factory.
The Japanese firm’s VN range already contains machine s designed to replicate several classic US designs. The basic VN1500 Classic is reminiscent of Harley’s FLST Heritage and Fat Boy models, the Drifter variant is a straight Indian replica and the Nomad aims at the Harley Road King. The latest version, with its stripped-down looks, gives the VN range a competitor in every sector of the cruiser market.
To keep costs down, the bike is expected to share as much as possible with the rest of the VN1500 range. The 1470cc fuel-injected motor, which is water cooled despite its cosmetic fins, will be unaltered – offering a less than stunning 64bhp. This might not sound like much, but is compares to just 49bhp from the 883cc Harley Sportster and 58bhp from the 1200cc version.
The Kawsaki’s extra capacity also gives it a significant torque advantage, with 84lbft at just 2800rpm against 64ftlb at 3500rpm from the biggest Sportster. The smaller Harley can only muster 49lbft – and you have to rev it to 4400rpm to get it all.
With around 40,000 sales worldwide each year, the Sportsters are not Harley’s best selling machines but do take up a significant proportion of cruiser sales. The firm is also expected to reveal a heavily revamped Sportster later this month when it unveils its 2002 range.
So far, it appears the bike may not be coming to the UK in its first year of production. A Kawasaki UK spokesman said: " I have seen nothing like this in any form so as far as the UK and Europe is concerned this concept has not been put forward. "
Fancy a cruiser? Kawasaki’s VN range starts from £5495 in our New Bikes Direct deals. See Bikemart TM for details.