The Vulcan 500 was a cruiser motorcycle from Kawasaki. Cruisers had a more relaxed riding position that worked well at moderate speeds and on medium-length trips. The Vulcan 500 went out of production in 2009 after a nearly 20-year production run. The Vulcan 500 was a good beginner's motorcycle that had the look of being more powerful than it was. Its only problem: Riding with an extra passenger could overtax the small engine, particularly going up hills.
As the name implied, the Kawasaki Vulcan 500's engine had a displacement of 498 cc. It had a bore and stroke of 74 by 58 mm. It was an eight-valve, DOHC, four-stroke engine that was liquid cooled. This reduced wear on the engine and decreased maintenance compared to air-cooled engines. The parallel-twin design was based on Kawasaki's 500-cc sport bike, the Ninja 500R. The 32-mm CVK semi-flat slide carburetor ensured rapid throttle response and precise fuel metering. The final drive used an O-Ring chain.
The 500 had a 62.8-inch wheelbase and a ground clearance of 4.7 inches under the engine. It was 91.3 inches long and 32.7 inches wide. The front tire was a 100/90-19, while the rear tire was a 140/90-15. The front brake used a hydraulic disc, while the rear utilized a mechanical drum. It had a double-cradle steel frame. The last of the 2009 models came in only one color: Metallic Imperial Red.
Minus the weight of gas and other fluids, the Vulcan 500 weighed 439 pounds. Add fuel, oil, transmission and brake fluid, and that went up to about 472 pounds. The Vulcan 500 wasn't the lightest bike on the road, but it still came in at about half the weight of some of the biggest touring bikes available at the time.
The Vulcan 500 cames with a 4-gallon tank and a tank-mounted speedometer. Kawasaki didn't provide official mileage data, but it got between 45 and 50 mpg on the highway. Given the size of the fuel tank, that provided a respectable 180 miles between refueling stops.
The 500 cames with a six-speed transmission with the "positive neutral finder." Shifting up from first while stopped always placed the vehicle in neutral, removing the risk of an embarrassing and potentially dangerous shift into second gear.
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