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Functionally, there’s little to fault about the long-running Vulcan 1500.
Stylistically, however, it’s none too cutting edge.
Kawasaki remedied this situation for the ’96 model year with the introduction of the Vulcan 1500 Classic, a fat-tired retro-redraft of the biggest V-twin in production.
This was not just a matter of slinging on some puffy bodywork and breaking for lunch—Kawasaki engineers rolled up their sleeves and got downright greasy.
New cylinder heads draw mixture from a single carburetor positioned in the center of the 50-degree V, and repositioned exhaust ports allow for a more graceful staggered dual exhaust system that sweeps down the machine’s right side.
Round, chromed air filters sit on either side of the engine to conceal the carburetor.
For Classic duty, the cam timing, valve lift and compression ratio have all been backed off incrementally, with the objective of boosting low rpm power.
To make sure that the engine behaves itself at ultralow rpm, the gear-driven counterbalancer has been upped in mass substantially to net a 25-percent increase in the engine’s flywheel effect.
Relative to the basic Vulcan 1500 from whence it sprang, the Classic has taller ratios for the top three transmission gears.
For the ’97 model year, all 1500s will adopt the Classic’s gearing.
Besides the functional changes, the Classic’s engine has also been extensively restyled.