Test ride: Charming easy rider – Kawasaki Vulcan S

Motoring journalist Andy Russell rides the Kawasaki Vulcan S

I first came across Kawasaki’s Vulcan S a few years ago when my younger son fell in love with it at Motorcycle Live.

Sitting astride it, his face beaming, he clearly thought it was a two-wheeled wonder. I just wondered ‘Why?’ … Why anyone would want to ride it!

Talk to anyone who has ridden the Vulcan S and they extol the virtues of this fun, low-slung cruiser-style motorbike. It’s a popular model on the demo fleet and sells well too.

So, given the chance of a test ride, I quickly hopped on. With that low seat – it is just 705mm – it is easy to hop on and get comfortable. The only issue is getting used to the high footpegs and gear lever but the riding position soon becomes second nature.

This is a bike that suits smaller riders and, whether you are riding or wheeling it about, the Vulcan S does not feel like a bike that weighs 229kg.

Power comes from a detuned version of the 649cc parallel twin also used in the Versys 650, Z650 and Ninja 650.

It produces 61PS at 7,500rpm and 62.4Nm of torque at 6,600rpm but pulls willingly from low revs so there’s no need to rev it hard to make decent progress. It suits this cruiser’s laid-back, relaxed character and adds to its charm.

It has enough poke to get past slower traffic when you wind it up but is more country road cruiser than mega mile muncher.

While the engine happily copes with motorway speeds, that riding position and the higher bars means there is a lot of wind resistance at 70mph which could become tiring on a long ride.

Far better to take the scenic route, bimbling along at a more leisurely pace.

The single 300mm front disc brake, with dual-piston caliper, and single-piston 250mm rear disc have good feel and are more than up to coping with the Vulcan S’s performance.

I was surprised at how stable the Vulcan S felt when cornering which soon inspired confidence on twisty roads.

I found the ride a little firm – you can adjust the single rear shock’s preload – but the shapely, supportive seats helps cushion you on poor roads.

In a world of hi-tech gizmos, the Vulcan S is relatively simple which also adds to the charm. I like the straightforward instruments – a proper rev counter and digital panel for speed, gear, fuel level, clock and mileage.

I’m happy to admit I was wrong about the attraction of the Vulcan S. It’s a niche model that will appeal to riders wanting a motorbike that looks different and is fun to ride. It can tackle longer journeys but would be equally at home commuting urban streets as cruising country roads.

This easy rider soon becomes second nature and that’s why it feels so right. It’s a bike that would encourage you to go for a ride just to put a smile on your face.

So why would anyone want to ride a Vulcan S? - Why wouldn’t they?!