1987 Kawasaki 454 LTD
A very fast bike that is capable of more than its engine displacement would lead you to believe
The seat was torn - this is a common problem, as to access the battery, you need to pull the seat off, which rubs against the padded backrest, eventually tearing the faux stitching.
The kickstand makes a rather annoying rattle against the muffler.
Occasionally my gauges won't lift off of zero, such as in 20 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures.
This is a very interesting bike. It has the body of a cruiser, yet has the engine from the Kawasaki Ninja 908. (Minus two cylinders, but other than that, precisely the same. Liquid cooled, DOHC.)
The most interesting aspect of this bike, I have found, is its transmission. It has six gears, the final being a very smooth belt drive. The gearing itself is quite interesting, as it is designed for very fast acceleration and pulling away. That said, if you start this bike in 6th gear at 30 MPH, at roughly 2,500 RPM and try to floor it, your acceleration will be very poor due to the way it is tuned, but if you are at 4,500 RPM or greater (to over 9,000 RPMs), the acceleration is going to blow your mind. Due to the close arrangement of the six gears, you will be shifting quite frequently.
The seat is controversial, but I have little in the way of complaints. I am 6' tall, and don't have any trouble driving it. The suspension provides for a nice ride, and if your tires are inflated properly the handling isn't bad, and it will go wherever you point it. Due to the low center of gravity and the way it behaves at lower RPMs, I would recommend this bike for beginner riders, but advise them to keep the RPMs low.
Due to its massive acceleration, it is very, easy to get carried away while driving this bike, and find yourself going far faster than you anticipated within a few short seconds of applying the throttle - the roll on power for this bike is nothing short of extreme, and it is *very* easy to get caught off-guard and by surprise by the power, because it behaves so civilly at lower RPMs, that when it raises RPMs, your eyes are glued ahead instead of at the speedometer.
The maintenance on this bike does not have to be performed often on the belt drive, and it is considered reliable. I cannot say for certain how much to invest in this, as I purchased mine for $700, and had to have a few engine problems fixed, but 25,000 miles will do that.
The noise from the exhaust/engine is interesting - it is very quiet as you pass by people, so if you are looking for a very flashy and noisy bike, you will need to add non-stock exhausts. That said, when you are riding it, there is a lot of bass roaring noise, but when you get past 3,500 RPM, it starts to raise in pitch until it sounds more like a crotch rocket at around 7,000 RPM.
This bike is lightweight, but a larger gas tank or slightly differently positioned footpegs might be a good idea to invest in, depending on your preference/riding style. (Seriously, your gas mileage will vary quite a lot depending on how you ride it.)
The bike is considered something of a classic. I would recommend it for just about anyone - from new riders to people who want a commuting bike that still has a lot of get up and go.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th February, 2011