2006 Kawasaki VN800 Drifter
BEST bang for the buck for cruisers
The biggest gripe about this bike is it is chain driven, not shaft or belt, also it is carburated.
Chain maintenance is what everybody gripes about with this bike; the full fenders limit access to the chain, seems to give everybody a hissy fit who is not used to chain driven bikes, typical cruiser crowd. LOL Chain maintenance is an ease with a roller stand for the rear wheel, just put the wheel on the rollers, turn it and spray the wax on the chain, wipe off excess and you are done, no big deal, less than 2 minutes, chain tensioner is an ease too. Could never understand the whining about chain maintenance.
There were two versions of the Vulcan Drifter sent to the US; VN800 and VN1500, 1500 was first in the US in 1999, the 800 showed up starting in 2000, 1500 was ended after 2005 and the 800 after 2006. Maybe 120 pounds difference and maybe 7 to 10 HP difference, the 1500 had fuel injection and shaft drive the 800 did not.
The bike was made as a tribute to the 1940s Indian Chief, the 800 more closely resembles the old Indian since its single shock rear suspension is hidden under the fender, so it looks like a hard-tail, while the 1500 has dual shocks on the outside of the fender. Both have the same brakes, needless to say the lighter 800 stops quicker and is quicker accelerating off the line, though the 1500 soon catches up and passes.
Most people put on Indian stickers and assorted parts to make it appear like an old Indian Chief. When the Kawasaki name is covered or removed, most people don't know what it is, but most think it is a Harley, when they mention that to me I get insulted. LOL. The thing is MUCH more reliable than a Harley and runs a lot better. Don't blast me as unamerican, I also own a Victory Kingpin (American made) and all my cars are American made.
For cruising this is one of the best bikes you could ever get, and has enough power to haul two people easily and is nearly bulletproof. Mine is a single seater, best cruiser I have ever ridden, and the only bike I own I would let a novice rider take for a spin, it is that easy to ride.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th January, 2009