In Roman times, Vulcan was the god of fire. In the 1960s, Vulcan came to be known as the home planet of Spock on Star Trek. And in 1984, Kawasaki began using the name Vulcan for its line of cruisers, which over the years have ranged from 399cc up to a ground-pounding 2,053cc. These days, Vulcans come in two sizes, 900 and 1700, with several models to choose from in each class, all powered by liquid-cooled, fuel-injected V-twins with belt final drive.
The Vulcan 900 was introduced for 2006, and is currently available in three styles: the Classic ($8,699) tested here; the Classic LT ($9,699), which is touring-ready with a windshield, saddlebags and passenger backrest; and the Custom ($9,199), with forward-mount controls, a drag-style handlebar, cast wheels (21-inch front) and blacked-out exhaust.
Old-school curb appeal is the Classic’s calling card. It rolls on wire-spoke wheels shod with whitewall tires, which match the matte black-white two-tone paint job. There’s enough chrome for sparkle—on the dual slash-cut pipes, on the beach cruiser-style handlebar and on trim pieces here and there—but the engine, frame, fork, seat and headlight nacelle are in bad-boy black.
The Vulcan’s 903cc 55-degree V-twin has a single-pin crankshaft for that classic rumbling sound, but a gear-driven counterbalancer keeps vibration in check. On Jett Tuning’s dyno, the Kawasaki cranked out more than 50 lb-ft of torque between 2,200 and 4,600 rpm, with a 54.3 lb-ft peak at 3,800 rpm. Horsepower increases steadily with revs, reaching a maximum of 48.1 at 5,700 rpm.
With 5.3 gallons of capacity, the Kawasaki’s teardrop-shaped fuel tank is the largest of the four. Based on our 43.6 mpg average, the Vulcan can travel 231 miles between fill-ups—the best range in this comparison by a good margin.