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Thread: 2007 Vulcan 500 Ltd - First bike

  1. #1

    2007 Vulcan 500 Ltd - First bike

    Bought my first bike in March 09 and thought I'd pass along my comments about it as a first bike.

    I'm a new rider even though I'm in my early 50's. Wife finally relented. Took the MSF class in 2008. Bike in the class was a Honda Rebel. Since I planned on riding to work (about 25 miles each way), I wanted something a little bigger and heavier so I opted for a Vulcan 500 Ltd. The local dealer had 09 models but they also had gotten a shipment of new 07 models of various Kawa's, including a black 500. I saved a chunk of change (and got black as opposed to the red of the new models) and took one. So far, I've put almost 2000 miles on it. Two oil changes (second one I did myself) and one 600 mile checkup.

    The 500 is a cruiser with a 498cc engine with a six speed transmission. You won't win any speed records with it but it is very stable and easy to maneuver. I routinely ride 70 on the highway. After the break in period, of course. The bike weighs in at about 440lbs dry weight so even a lightweight like me can push it around the garage.

    The transmission is pretty smooth. Only beef I have is that sometimes, if you have to do a fast stop from high speed, make sure you get it all down into first otherwise, you'll need to monkey it around to get moving around in second gear.

    The shift pedal is a little close to the left peg, in both height and forward distance so you need shoes/boots without high toes. A problem is shares with the Honda Rebel. If you're long-legged, you might find the position of the pegs push your knees up too much. My son's a bit taller than me and he found it uncomfortable. For me, it works fine, even on long rides.

    Gauges and controls are easy to read and reach. Speedo is mounted on the tank. There's no tach so you gotta figure out when to shift by sound alone. Takes some getting used to but as I didn't have a tach in the MSF class, it's the only way I've ever known. The engine, a de-tuned Ninja 500 engine, is pretty quiet so it can be hard to tell when to shift when you're wearing a full helmet. No gas gauge but it does have a trip odometer.

    The 500 is comfortable to ride. The seat gets a little uncomfortable after you've been on it for a while so you might want to invest in an Airhawk or gel cushion. I don't like the seat buttons on 07 model...newer models don't have them.

    Gas mileage is excellent. Stated mileage from Kawasaki is 50mpg. Since most of my riding is highway, I get about 58mpg!

    I've already done some customizing, starting with getting the OEM windshield. I've also put on Kuryakyn ISO grips (an easy 20 minute job), throttle boss and a small clock on the handlebars. I highly recommend a throttle boss...it'll save your hand from cramping as much.

    While the 500 doesn't have as many custom parts available as some other bikes, you can find them, both OEM parts and from third parties. I highly recommend Paul Andreasen's Motorcycle Mods Page for some cook mods. http://www.en500.us/. He's got a good mod for easing the close shifter problem by using a shifter from a Yamaha Banshee ATV. Pretty cool.

    Anyway, I really like my bike. While I'm sure I'll want something a little more powerful and heavier for my next one, the 500 is a great starter bike. Fun to ride, very forgiving and a great value.
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  2. #2
    RiderCoach 10,000 Posts! SoCal LabRat's Avatar
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    Wolverine, thanks so much for the review! I'd love to get one of these for my daughter. She's small and I think it would be all the bike she'd really ever need.
    ~Teri
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  3. #3
    Hittin' The Twisties
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    Thanks for posting the info. Great looking bike!

  4. #4
    Flirting With The Redline 6000 Posts! Afflo's Avatar
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    Very enjoyable writeup :thumpsup:.

    I sat on one while Teresa was bike shopping. It was a bit cramped for my legs, but not as bad as I thought it would be (and far better than the Rebel sitting next to it). For being the "bargain priced" Vulcan, I was really impressed by the details; it didn't look as cheap as the Virago 250.

    You say "you won't win any speed records with it." I've always heard that the Vulcan 500 is quite the rocket compared to most any cruiser under 1000cc's, with that Ninja sportbike engine so cunningly chromed up under the tank.
    2011 Triumph America, made perfect with another Corbin Seat.
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  5. #5
    Contributor We've stopped counting... Chuck's Avatar
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    What a great review...and great first post. Welcome to BBO!

    With regards to "speed records" keep in mind this engine, being the same engine as in the Ninja 500, loves to rev and you'll find loads of power in the upper RPM range.

    I love my Vulcan and am going to be sorry to see it go, but it just doesn't get ridden and needs to go to a good home...**AHEM** ncgal_in_mo...

    I've done a bit of work to mine as well. LED directionals (all four) including load equalizer and solid state flasher, LED brake/tail light, converted rear directionals to operate as brake/tail lights in addition to directionals, added a tach, saddlebags and OEM windshield...

    There's a company called Scotworks that makes a whole line of accessories for the Vulcan...including a belt drive conversion kit fo it. Scootworks

    Anyway, welcome to BBO And thanks again for a great review!


    2007 Kawasaki Ninja 650R SOLD!
    2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 500 SOLD!

  6. #6
    Flirting With The Redline turboz's Avatar
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    I've always liked the 500 LTD. It's one of the few NOT trying to look like a Harley. Nice write up.

    '06 Ninja 650R
    '85 Shadow 700 Project bike

    "Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window."

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by turboz View Post
    I've always liked the 500 LTD. It's one of the few NOT trying to look like a Harley. Nice write up.
    I get a few snobby chuckles at work from all the Harley riders. I just laugh 'em off.

    By "not winning speed records," I'm pretty sure the engine wasn't designed to push around 500lbs, especially off a stop light. Still, at higher speeds, it moves pretty good.

    Now, if this crazy Wisconsin weather would settle down, I could ride a lot more.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by WolverineInWI View Post
    By "not winning speed records," I'm pretty sure the engine wasn't designed to push around 500lbs, especially off a stop light.
    You weigh 80 lbs? Go get a sandwich!

    The dry weight of a Vulcan 500 is about 430 lbs. Between me, the bike, and my packed touring luggage, that engine is pulling around 750 pounds, and it will do 80 on the highway without breathing heavy.

    I could probably beat a lot of bikes off the mark, if I was interested in whacking the throttle open hard. I'm not, so I satisfy myself by passing them on the road later, usually on a hill.
    2004 Kawasaki Vulcan 500 -- Boudicca
    2002 Suzuki GZ250 -- Friday (sold)
    1987 Kawasaki KZ305
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Tashabear View Post
    You weigh 80 lbs? Go get a sandwich!

    The dry weight of a Vulcan 500 is about 430 lbs. Between me, the bike, and my packed touring luggage, that engine is pulling around 750 pounds, and it will do 80 on the highway without breathing heavy.

    I could probably beat a lot of bikes off the mark, if I was interested in whacking the throttle open hard. I'm not, so I satisfy myself by passing them on the road later, usually on a hill.
    OK, OK! I give! Like you all, I love my 500. Next trip is a 4 hour ride to see my son on the western side of the state. Tasha, how do you load your 500? Sissy bar with a pack and/or saddlebags?

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