The Vulcan erupted onto the scene in the 1980s as Kawasaki answered the call for more affordable American-style bikes.
The Vulcan series ranges from the mid-sized Vulcan S to the 900 Vulcan Classic to the 1700 Vulcan Classic Voyager.
Between the range of sizes and Kawasaki’s commitment to upgrading the Vulcan each new model year, they’re the best bang for your buck cruiser series around.
But just how long will a Kawasaki Vulcan last?
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Here is the Short answer to How Long Kawasaki Vulcan Lasts:
A Kawasaki Vulcan can last for well over 75,000 miles, providing its owner stores and rides it properly and maintains it per the owner’s manual which includes regular inspection and lubrication of critical components. Based on an annual mileage of 5,000 miles a Vulcan can last over 15 years.
How Many Miles Can a Kawasaki Vulcan Last?
A well-cared-for Vulcan can last a considerably long time and generally speaking the newer the model, the longer it will last.
This is due to advances in the industry and improvements made to the Vulcan with each generation. That said, many of the vintage models are still on the road after over 100k miles.
Of course, one of the key variables that will determine how long your Vulcan will last is how you ride it.
The Vulcan is a heavyweight cruiser, to be sure. It’s built for long-hauling highways and ripping-up city streets.
What it’s not made for is revving high to wheelie in first gear.
No shame if that’s your bag – the point here is that a Vulcan used for touring or commuting has a pretty good chance of crossing 100,000 miles.
Meanwhile, for the Vulcan whose rider turned her to a rat-roller of a stunt bike, that 75,000 number is starting to look optimistic.
The quickest way to kill your Vulcan early is by redlining and stunting, an aggressive style of riding will cause components to accumulate wear and tear much faster.
On the flip side, if you ride it responsibly and keep up with maintenance, your Vulcan could last even longer than that 75k projection.
But don’t take our word for it; below are a few real-life examples of Vulcans with high miles on the odometer:
“When normal routine maintenance is done properly, I would not expect to replace any major engine components for at least 100,000 miles. Maybe even twice that much.”
“As long as you do regular maintenance, I don’t know why you wouldn’t get well over 100,000. There are plenty of [Vulcans] with that kind of mileage still going strong.”
“My daughter and I bought a pair of [Vulcan] 900s last Fall. They have 40,000 and 60,000 miles on them, and the same couple originally owned both. I got a good package deal but wondered how close they were to their expected life mileage[both still going strong!].”
“Maintenance is the key. Oil and air filters with regular oil changes. Brake fluid and coolant changes. And don’t forget to grease those Zerk fittings and bearings on both the tire and steering neck once every 3-4 months. Spend some time and tighten all screws, bolts, and nuts. While doing this, you might notice any oil or water leaks. Take care of those pronto and keep on riding.”
NOTE: To any readers considering a brand-new Kawasaki Vulcan, breaking your new bike in correctly will help esnure it hits the high numbers.
The break-in period is typically considered the first 500 miles of your Vulcan’s life.
Consult the owner’s manual for your respective year-model Vulcan to confirm the proper break-in procedure.
Here are a few brief tips for sufficiently breaking in your Kawasaki Vulcan.
For the first 500 miles:
- Use all gears to their rev limit for short periods without hitting the redline.
- Hold your Vulcan’s gearbox in the suitable gear per Kawasaki’s spec guidelines.
- No hard stops.
- No belligerent starts.
- No instantaneous RPM acceleration.
- No low rev-lugging while riding in high gears.
- No high engine speeds.
- No high revs in low gears.
- Keep your Vulcan in the proper RPM range for each gear.
- Don’t twist your throttle beyond three-quarters.
How Reliable Are Kawasaki Vulcans?
The Kawasaki Vulcan series is as reliable as most contemporary cruiser competition. No bike is perfect, but the Kawasaki Vulcan stays on the road and out of the shop as often as its competition for a much lower price point.
The Vulcan is a quality-built cruiser from the moto brains that engineered some of the highest performing machines on the market.
The Kawasaki Vulcan was engineered to be a straightforward, American-biker-styled heavy-hitting cruiser at an affordable price.
It might have a smaller number on its tag, but that doesn’t translate to fewer miles on the road or more breakdowns by any means.
For a closer look at the engineering behind the Vulcan’s dependable performance, take the Vulcan S 650, for example:
What makes a Kawasaki Vulcan S 650 reliable?
- The Kawasaki Vulcan S rocks the exact engine to the Versys 650 and the Ninja 650.
- Kawasaki tuned the Vulcan S motor to perform better at lower RPMs.
- The Vulcan delivers more torque from bottom to top of the RPM range.
- It maxes out at 6600 RPM 63Nm.
- The result is more pull than you’d expect from a 61HP engine, and this untapped power means just minor wear and tear on its components, resulting in one of the most reliable cruisers on the market.
The parallel-twin liquid-cooled engine rocks the street while minimizing vibration for a twin-engine.
Minimal vibration is another critical attribute of a dependable motor.
The Vulcans all have instant power from the lower RPM range up, and at peak RPMs, they become rockets.
This means that if you’re riding it responsibly, your Vulcan never breaks a sweat and can go for miles.
Kawasaki’s unique engineering and attention to quality engine build make the Vulcan a reliable cruiser.
What is Considered High Mileage for a Kawasaki Vulcan?
The used market considers a Kawasaki Vulcan high mileage after 35,000 miles based on the assumption that all cruiser style bikes are pushed hard past the redline and ridden hard like in the movies. The truth is that mileage has little bearing on a Vulcan’s lifespan compared to factors like owner maintenance and riding habits.
If the Vulcan’s previous owner who had your Vulcan kept the bike indoors and maintained it frequently, chances are it will last for well over 75,000 miles.
If you’re in the market for a used Vulcan and you find a high-mile prospect in good shape, don’t be put off by the odometer reading, what’s more important is how the previous owners took care of it.
- Can they provide service receipts and documents?
- Does the bike look like its been well looked after?
- Did they keep the engine free of corrosive grime and rubble?
- Did they ride it reasonably, or did they rip and roar down the street doing wheelies?
- Did they use ethanol-free gas to reduce engine crud buildup?
- How often did they ride their Vulcan?
What Are the Best Model Years to Buy and Avoid?
To be clear, the latest is usually the greatest with Kawasaki as they continually improve their bikes.
That said, the 2004 Kawasaki Vulcan is a fan-favorite of cruiser collectors, so we thought we’d talk about what makes it one of the best:
Its power is fed through a chain primary drive with damper to a wet multi-plate clutch with a five-speed transmission which doubled as an oil tank for the state-of-the-art semi-dry-sump motor they used in this era.
The ’04 set-up may have only been 5-speed, but Kawasaki wasn’t shy about the fact that its fourth and fifth gears both functioned as overdrive gears.
It all accumulated into a final belt drive that Kawasaki ripped straight off their 1980 440 LTD twin.
Not to mention, the ’04 Kawasaki Vulcan had one of the meanest looking “triple-projection” front headlights in the game, I dare say to date.
The 1999 model Kawasaki Vulcan had a distinct issue.
While I have heard claims that the problem persisted to some of the following years, it was most prominent in the 99’s.
The main problem with the 99’s was that the oil pump would fail around 15,000 miles, though it failed as early as 4,000 miles, in some cases.
- noises coming from the clutch cover
- High oil pressure
- Sporadic starting issues
- Blaring clutch whine
- Tapping clangors from the motor
- Check engine oil light illuminated
Now, if you’re in the used market looking for a 1999 Vulcan, don’t let this slow you down.
Kawasaki isolated the issue way back then and upgraded the plastic pumps with metal pumps via recall.
It mainly affected the Vulcan 1500 Classic model, but if you’re in the market for one, most of the ones that previous owners didn’t replace under warranty were upgraded with after-market oil pumps. And if they weren’t, replacements are still easy enough to find.
What Usually Breaks First on a Kawasaki Vulcan?
The first thing to break on a Kawasaki Vulcan is the Regulator/Rectifier, particularly on the older year models.
These days, Kawasaki’s engineering has worked out much of the kinks of the early days, and the components hold up against engine heat much better than on earlier year models.
Symptoms of a failing regulator/rectifier on an early-model Kawasaki Vulcan:
- Sporadic starting
- Pulsing headlight
- Draining Battery
- Defective starter
- High-pitched whining sound during ignition
- Defective ignition
- Starter relay dying
Many of these old models were upgraded with aftermarket parts or modern OEM developments. Replacing R/R isn’t the end of the world; just be aware of that vintage-Vulcan vulnerability.
You may also be interested in our article: Are Indian Scouts Reliable?
Kawasaki Vulcan Maintenance Costs
The Maintenance costs of a Kawasaki Vulcan are relatively cheap compared to other brands.
The more you keep up with the maintenance, the cheaper the ownership costs are long-term.
Here are a few examples of Vulcan maintenance prices:
- $350 for a set of tires
- $125 for a stator replacement
- $80 for a new battery
- $100 for fork seals, bushings, snap rings, washers, seals, and fluid
- $100 for the wheel bearings front and rear
- $60 an oil change
- $100-$3300 for a full-service inspection (recommended)
There are other ownership costs to factor in, such as:
- Jacket = $200
- Gloves = $100
- Winter riding gear = $200-$500
- Rain gear = $75-$300
- Helmets = $100-$500
- Fuel = $15 a tank
- Storage = $?
- Insurance = average motorcycle insurance cost for a beefy cruiser like the Kawasaki Vulcan is $721 a year.
How Long Will a Kawasaki Vulcan Last Compared to Other Motorcycles?
|Model||Longevity (miles)||Base Model Price|
|Harley Road King||<75,000||$19,499|
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Yamaha Bolts Last?
4 Tips to Make Sure Your Kawasaki Vulcan Lasts Long
1) Wash your Vulcan with Kawasaki-Approved Products
Keep your Vulcan lasting long by keeping it clean, dirt and grime will cause components to break down much faster.
2) Stow Your Vulcan Suitably
Store your Kawasaki Vulcan away from dirt and corrosive elements like rain, UV rays, and moisture when not in use.
3) Ride your Vulcan Often and Per Owner Manual Guidelines
Don’t let your Vulcan sit around without prepping it.
Its old fluids will corrode in its lines and tank.
Old fuel and brake fluid can degenerate the lines of any bike.
4) Follow Kawasaki’s Suggested Schedule For Regular Service Maintenance
Basic maintenance is essential for the reliability and longevity of your Vulcan.
Service your Vulcan according to your specific model’s owner’s manual.