- The boat
- In the saddle
- Road by night
VN 1600 is the novelty of 2003 in terms of custom. Since the first
Sumo 1500 presented in 1988, the custom largely won
in power, handling and braking. Unveiled
in its 1500 cm3 version at the 2001 Mondial du Deux-Roues, the VN evolves
again in 2003 by changing to 1600 cm3 with high power
at 70 horsepower, a new chassis, an extended wheelbase
and a lower seat. Five-day, 1,400-kilometer test
between Paris and the Ile de Re.
Undeniably, the VN 1600 imposes and imposes itself, in height, in
length and width, from the imposing headlight to the handlebars
indefinitely wide. We notice the wide footrests on the side
on both sides of the bike and the double gear change return.
The passenger seat looks like a mini-chair, wide and comfortable
while the usual rear folding seat is largely padded here
for the passenger.
On the other hand, the passenger handle has disappeared as on all
motorcycles of this type.
Solid wheels and gimbal reinforce the massive look.
All in chrome, it shines under the summer sun,
from the fuel cap, to the stems, through
front fork, rear shock absorbers, engine, speedometer…
so many mirrors for the landscapes and the setting sun.
In the saddle
Seated, the feet are flat on the ground. The arms spread
widely to grip the handles, and the body recedes to the bottom
saddle. The bust is here very straight, almost backwards, the
feet far forward to change gears or brake, arms in
Under the eyes, a huge chrome meter graduated to
220 km / h, half traditional, half digital with a gauge
gasoline, oil temperature, clock, totalizer
and a partial trip. The whole is surmounted by the witnesses of
neutral, indicators and full headlight.
Rectangular mirrors are easily adjusted
and offer a sufficient field of vision, without more.
v-twin snorts with a low and hoarse sound…
And we can then remove the ignition key! Yes, it allows to be
on that the keys will not scratch the chrome. When stopped, the contactor
turns without the key in the hand and then locks to prevent
Clutch, start … The motorcycle appears very heavy on
the first turns of the wheel and arms outstretched, attempted
first to turn like a bicycle, do not help
not. A full left turn then brings the right arm
in extension and only the fingertips can touch.
In short, this is not the right method for slow maneuvers
for those who would be tempted to give it a try. Here at low speed,
we counter-steer: suddenly, the handlebars become a feather and the motorcycle
steer with your fingertips and it goes by itself. Pleasure
starts at this moment: the maneuvers at speed
slow where one takes pleasure in tilting in the
roundabouts, until the foot rests touch the ground.
Close to the ground, we then have real sensations, that there is a lot
more difficult to get with a sportswoman in comparison.
The first is relatively short, because we meet quickly
at 70 km / h, and the engine then grazes; the second is happening but
will graze in the same way at 110 km / h. In the end, the speeds change
regularly and the motor quietly winds on the
last gear, even below 70 km / h.
well that goes everywhere and very well between the lines
of cars, despite the size. We tell ourselves that it will never pass
and without thinking about it, still looking far away, nothing touches. It rolls up
quiet all the time and you shift gears with … the heel to
downshift with the tip of the foot. Surprising at first, the method
is very practical in view of the driving position
The phenomenal weight and torque require minimal training
and control so as not to continue on your way in the middle of crossroads
or the car in front. Because the inertia of the mastodon
It’s incredible. It is almost forbidden to disengage here, or else
voluntarily to travel hundreds of meters
freewheeling on its momentum, while we were at
less than 70 km / h! In short, the VN 1600 takes you easily.
from Paris, direction Orleans, the VN 1600 takes its turns without
to look (especially without the tachometer).
In fifth, we feel, past 120 km / h, a very
net of the initial push, and the bike happily continues
on its momentum. At 140 km / h, it starts to pull noticeably
on the arms. At 160 km / h, it pulls frankly and it is then impossible
to take the usual dab position on sports cars or even
roadsters. At 180 km / h, the motorcycle still continues but the rider is
in agony. So he quietly returns to a rhythm
cruising located more at around 140 km / h,
to allow you to move forward comfortably.
back to departmental roads, the VN 1600 keeps the same pace,
but with a fairly low position, the virolos are linked with everything
immediately a strong incline: guaranteed pleasures !
As much at low speed, the motorcycle can seem heavy, as much at
higher speed, she really steers with ease
disconcerting and almost becomes a toy that we incline to
the desire to sway elegantly from bend to
The pleasure then comes from elsewhere … the huge headlight, visible
under the eyes, returns the landscape located on both sides of the
motorcycle with a wide angle and cinemascope effect: the effect is
The saddle, driver and passenger side, is well padded and
is comfortable, for the pilot as for the passenger.
It allows stages of 250 km / h in one go without any problem.
On the other hand, Kawasaki still lives up to its reputation
hard suspension settings; set to
two original, the bike is firm and accentuates the defects of the
road. But then all you have to do is turn the dial located on the
side shocks towards the 4, and the VN 1600 becomes an example
comfort without losing precision in fast turns.
front brake clearly lacks force and is insufficient to stop
the machine over a short distance, despite the double disc of 300
On the other hand, the rear brake, despite a simple disc,
as coupled to the gimbal, suddenly gives you the impression
to have been hooked from the back and stopped
also dry. The two used in unison are revealed
very effective to stop the monster launched in full
speed guaranteeing perfect stability. Here the front does
never dive! The motorcycle sits down simply and quickly.
The huge headlight does its job well by projecting a huge halo
on the road, even in the headlight position.
In full lighthouse, you can drive safely and with
Forget the trunk under the saddle; there is only one slot that opens
sideways to place the tool kit, and a block
disk. The dial on the tank prevents putting any
tank bag. You then have the side bags left.
The steering lock is performed directly on the steering column
and not with the main contactor. On the other hand, this is done perfectly,
even placed on the saddle, leaning slightly
forward and sideways.
We appreciate the side stand, which is positioned
and is easily removed and offers a good seat to
the motorcycle, whatever the terrain, and even on slopes.
an imposing external appearance, the tank is only twenty
liters. Enough to make a stage of 300 km without problem,
especially since the gauge is very precise. On the other hand,
there are barely forty kilometers left before the
failure once the reserve indicator light starts
to light up, especially since the same empty tank,
the last bar of the gauge remains on.
In the end, it consumes 6.2 l. on average at steady speed
of 130 km / h. Its consumption rises to more than 8 liters for those
who would manage to hold a 150-160 km / h over the distance (but
they risk losing their license).
VN 1600 shakes up habits with a distinctive driving position
custom and a Dantesque couple. This is not the motorcycle to make a small
arsouille among friends, but a motorbike that takes you very
away by winding, while being able to provide you easily
impressions and a pleasure that no other motorcycle will give you
the same way.
It turns out to be pleasant and above all "a trap
girls. "It only took a weekend to baptize two pretty
young women who came down with a smile from ear to ear,
despite initial strong initials on the bike: ideal
also for pleasant and safe baptisms.
- the couple
- maneuverability when stationary
- wind protection
Competitors: Honda VTX 1800, Suzuki VL 1500 Intruder, Yamaha Wildstar
Read also the customs comparison Kawasaki VN 900, VN 1700 and W800
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