Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD

Mon, March 29th, 2010

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1996–2009 Kawasaki Vulcan EN500C LTD
The Vulcan 500's vertical twin, sourced from the EX/Ninja 500, is uncharacteristically peaky for a cruiser, but if you're okay with that and keep reved, it will keep up with (and perhaps even pass up!) many larger, torquier cruisers.
It is okay by cruiser standards. Fortunately, lighter weight works to the bike's advantage.
With the EN500C, Kawasaki managed to remake the busy, awkward, cartoonish looks of the earlier EN450/500 'A' Series into a much more tasteful, elegant design that is traditional, yet does not make the parallel twin look out of place. A few small details are still a bit over-styled, but that that's a quibble.
The 500 twin can take all sorts of abuse, and the Vulcan is solidly built, given its low price.
If you physically match the Vulcan 500's ergonomics, it's the cheapest cruiser around that's powerful enough to keep ahead of rush hour traffic or tour the Interstates, though it needs a better seat.
Some may say that it's not a 'real' cruiser because it doesn't have a V-twin with low-down grunt, but I find that kind of iconoclasm endearing.
Despite its reputation as a beginner bike, I quite like the Vulcan 500 LTD, especially given what else you could buy for the money.