Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager Custom ABS review


Kawa makes the clone ….

With her very sleek lowered silhouette and plethora of equipment, this slanted-eyed American is largely inspired by the Harley Davidson "bagger" style. Yet under its false retro airs, the VN 1700 hides a strong technological content.

A hi-tech Nippon custom which offers itself the "American" label in some ways ….

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager Custom ABS


The spec sheet does not specify the opening angle of the V2 of this kawa, but to the eye it looks furiously like 45 ° like its "inspirer" from Harley Davidson. To make the imitation even more perfect, the cylinders and cylinder heads are generously finned despite the presence of liquid cooling, which is therefore very discreet.

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager

However, the mechanics have nothing in common with a Harley. It is decidedly more modern. Judge for yourself: liquid cooling against air cooling, 1 ACT and 4 valves per cylinder against only 2 valves and tilted distribution and as a bonus an electronic accelerator instead of cables on the American model. In the game of seven errors, we quickly find a lot of differences between the pupil and the teacher so to speak. It is also not only in his engine that Mr. Kawasaki has put technology: we thus find a front and rear coupled braking with an ABS and a brake amplifier, as well as pneumatic shock absorbers for example and heaps of other accessories that we will talk about later ….

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager engine

In the saddle

We are royally installed on the handlebars of this monster of 383 kg with the full. The large saddle is comfortable and low which makes it easy to keep balance without being too heavy on the weight. It is also likely that in this category, the quality of the machine can be judged in part by its weight…. In fact, unlike sports cars, manufacturers deliberately don’t try to be light. The wide handlebars offer good leverage to maneuver the steering which is thus not too heavy despite the size of the machine. On the other hand, to be rigid, the handlebars have a large diameter which will be a bit of a nuisance for bikers who do not have lumberjack paws, especially when wearing a pair of winter gloves. However, all of these US-designed bikes are intended for king-size hands and the VN 1700 is no exception. For total comfort, the beast is equipped with running boards that provide a comfortable driving position. Once in place, we discover a dashboard worthy of an old American car, with 4 dials and 2 displays, it is complete.

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager speedometer

The multifunction digital display, placed in the middle of the instrument console, is controlled by buttons on the right stalk. It
includes a gear indicator, a watch, an odometer, two trip odometers, as well as remaining range and average consumption indicators. When you push the switch to the right, the screen displays "ODO" (total mileage), then "TRIP-A" (partial A) and "TRIP-B" (partial B). The audio system (and iPod) controls are located on the left stalk. The audio system then displays the same information as the iPod screen.

On the left, the lockable glove box also has a charger. Well sheltered behind the fairing, hide the two PA speakers. They make 40 W and their volume automatically adjusts to the forward speed of the motorcycle…. The ignition key is clearly visible on the top of the tank, just in front of the cap, it can even be removed to drive so as not to damage the beautiful paint (black only).

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager tank

We shoot it to see what happens ?


The big, long-stroke twin (102 X 104 mm) snorts smoothly. The idle is low and the sound of the engine is like that of an ocean liner. A sort of quiet force emanates from him. It must be said that its modest power allows it to display a very low rpm. Stalled at 6000 rpm, the red zone is located 1000 rpm after its maximum power speed, speed at which this nice juggernaut develops 73 hp, or 43 hp / L.

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager on the road

A guarantee of reliability and peace of mind. Advantage of this characteristic: a curve curve necessarily very flat with a maximum of 136 Nm from 2750 rpm. Here is which promises a great smoothness of operation as we will discover it immediately. Parked on the stand with a gear engaged so as not to fall, the NV is waiting for me. I get on it for a photoshoot and hit the starter. In the process, a colleague sits behind me to take a few duo photos. I slowly let go of the clutch without accelerating and we take off smoothly. As I am about to turn around 50m further to join the photographer…. I realize that I have just started in 2 seconds without accelerating and without the engine protesting. When we tell you that this engine is as flexible as an ocean liner, it is really not usurped !

In the city

Sure, with its 1665mm wheelbase, heavy saddlebags and pounds, you’ll find better companions to parade through the city, but frankly, crossing the city in this 1700 is no hardship. The extraordinary smoothness of its engine, its low saddle and its natural stability from the first few meters make it a reassuring machine. Everything is gentle here and at no time does one fear being surprised without being able to control the situation. Even in this place where it could show its weaknesses, the VN 1700 reassures you with the quiet strength it exudes. Soft controls respond well. Everything is under control.


Comfortably installed behind the large fork crown, you engage the sixth and let yourself be rocked by the purring of the engine. The gear engaged indicator then reads "OD" for Overdrive because sixth gear is effectively overdrive. A little sweetness in this rough world, it doesn’t hurt.

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager on highway

Quiet, we push the button of the cruise control which operates between 50 and 140 km / h (47 and 137 exactly because it is set in miles per hour from 30 to 85 MPH). This is the royal road. The asphalt tape scrolls, it feels like driving on a flying carpet. The older ones may suffer from the lack of a windshield here replaced by a simple small "cap" at the top of the bubble. Those there will be able to afford the high bubble of the "short" travel version.


This is where we will take full advantage of the elasticity of the big twin and the comfort of the rear air suspensions despite their reduced travel (only 80 mm compared to 140 for the fork). The electronic accelerator is completely transparent.

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager on highway

Moreover, its main virtue is to facilitate the implementation of a cruise control, as has long been the case in cars. It should be remembered in passing that the majority of cars, even low-end, have been fitted with "ride by wire" for a long time! The same goes for the coupled and amplified ABS braking (as on all cars again) which is again as discreet as it is efficient, despite the colossal weight of the beast. As soon as you remember kilos are forgotten as soon as you ride. The bike swings easily and holds its place in fast curves. Only the limited ground clearance will curb your enthusiasm. Even in sixth, the times are correct and sufficient to comfortably overtake.


While we imagined ourselves in a bad position here, the VN 1700 will again show off its balancing act. Only limited by its ground clearance, its pilot easily swings it from one curve to another and even in very tight sequences, it does not sulfur the martyr, on the contrary. The only caveat is that you don’t forget that you have more than 400 kilos to swing, including you, which means keeping a small margin for anticipation. Thanks to its well-thought-out geometry, it demonstrates handling that is quite convincing for its size. Both braking and accelerations are perfectly up to the task and will allow us to maintain a perfectly suitable rhythm, undoubtedly well beyond what customers interested in this type of machine will do. Here again the comfort will be perfect.


Mentioned many times since the start of this test as it is an integral part of this type of motorcycle, the comfort of the pilot is excellent. On a more general level, the double balance wheel balances engine vibration to nothing or almost nothing, and that’s no complaints. For the duo we will be a little more reserved, even if we only tested it very briefly during this first contact.

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager en duo

Passengers will certainly appreciate the smoothness of the engine and its acceleration, the absence of vibration and the flexibility of the rear air suspension, adjustable in 4 levels. However, the saddle feels a bit tight for long stages and the lack of a grab handle or backrest leaves it feeling like second class as the rider travels first. To be completely fair, the driver will have to opt for the Voyager version "very short". Equipped with the same fork crown whose shutters have given way to a pair of fog lights. this version gives more care to its passenger by offering a magnificent backrest integrated into the large top case as well as a wider seat base. The said passenger also benefits from a pair of running boards instead of footrests. In the "for two is better" series, we therefore recommend the Voyager rather than the Custom Voyager to very frequent travelers. You will still have to spend 2000 € more for a 2011 model ….


With more than half a ton to brake as a duo, it was not to be missed. To achieve the excellent result that we were able to see during this first contact, Kawasaki went all out: 300 mm double disc + 2 front 4-piston calipers and single disc of the same diameter + 2-piston rear caliper. This front / rear equipment works together according to a principle called K-ACT (Kawasaki Advanced Coactive-braking Technology) "coactive" braking with ABS. Pressure sensors detect the amount of braking force applied by the driver. Then, based on the speed of the bike when you start braking, the ECU determines how much force is needed to optimize the braking efficiency. The amplification is done via front and rear hydraulic pumps which increase, if necessary, the pressure in the front right caliper (action on the rear brake pedal) and / or on the rear caliper (action on the brake lever before).

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager brakes

To make it easier to control the bike in tight turns and in U-turns, the K-ACT ABS does not come into play if braking occurs below 20 km / h. Likewise, the ABS function is deactivated at less than 6 km / h. This may seem complicated, but it turns out to be perfectly clear and transparent on the handlebars of the VN 1700. Well done, because it did not seem easy with a machine of this weight..


Designed for travel, the Voyager Custom invites you to travel light. Its two rigid lockable saddlebags have a capacity of 35 liters each. Unfortunately, you will not be able to accommodate a full face helmet. On the other hand, you have two helmet attachment devices under the saddle, but admit that they are not really the same thing..

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager on highway

In terms of practicality, we regret the absence of heated grips, even as an option. To connect your iPod to the radio, you will need an adapter sold for € 133.00 with a foam support suitable for the glove box. The display of the bike will then tell you, the title of the song, the artist, the age of the captain and as a bonus will recharge the battery of your little tech bundle. Not given all the same. On the maintenance side, there is a secondary transmission provided by a new carbon belt narrower than the Kevlar models, but just as resistant and still maintenance-free.

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager Belt

Still on the budget side, we were unable to check the consumption on this ignition, but it should be in the low range of this type of machine, thanks to the availability of the 4-valve engine and its sophisticated electronic management. With 20 liters of total capacity, the VN should offer a good range.

Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager on departmental


Among the models in the VN 1700 range, this “Bagger” is really a great alternative for traveling in comfort. On its handlebars you will discover the pleasure of cruising by engaging the cruise control and overdrive. Whether you are driving quietly or at a slightly faster pace, you will fully appreciate this large, relaxing but also cheerful twin. Sold for € 17,599, it competes with the Harley Street Glide ABS at € 24,990. € 7,400 difference which deserves to be asked the question, even if you are a real biker at heart. Those who like originality can also have an eye on the American Victory line-up..

To make up your own mind, go to your Kawasaki dealer who will be happy to provide you with information, but above all to have you try out the beautiful one, on the occasion of the Kawasaki tour 2011.
This visit will be an opportunity for you to discover the other VN 1700s, such as the classic ABS at € 13,599, totally stripped and without coupled braking, but which retains the same engine and ABS. Those looking for a very good price / displacement ratio can also rush on the last remaining 2009 VN 1700s sold for € 10,999! ! ! Note also the VN 2000 which slips away discreetly and sees its price drop to € 13,999 on promotion. In short, if you like big twins, there is surely a VN for you !

Strong points

  • Driving pleasure
  • Comfort
  • Braking
  • Very complete equipment.

Weak points

  • Limited ground clearance
  • Saddlebags too small for an integral
  • Passenger a little neglected on the long haul
  • Head protection for adults.

Competitors: Harley Davidson Street Glide, Moto guzzi California vintage 16,490 €.

The technical sheet VN 1700

Read also the customs comparison Kawasaki VN 900, VN 1700 and W800

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4 thoughts on “Kawasaki VN 1700 Voyager Custom ABS review

  1. Always the same during press tests, you only have top-of-the-range machines, the most expensive and the most optioned / equipped ….

    What about the entry-level model with "normal" suspensions ?

    Ditto without optional assistance ?

    What about the duo? I have read elsewhere that the too long passenger handles on the front could hamper the passenger’s thighs …

    One last remark concerning the body colors: not only is it very limited (compared to cars) but in addition it is chargeable (175 €) if you want it other than white or black! However, all manufacturers also practice the same type of racketeering. ….

  2. I don’t see how you can practice TT even soft with a Tracer. The Triumph is a mixed machine with all the advantages and disadvantages of a road trail.

    Today we would like motorcycles to know how to do everything, to be cheap, too equipped, not sufficiently equipped, comfortable …

    Nowadays there are two types of motorcycles on the roads, roadsters and trails, there is something for everyone..

    GTs and customs are losing speed, aging customers, which does not encourage brands to invest in this niche, so no renewal and a clientele which, in spite of it, turns to the best sellers on the market..

    Hence my choice for a small bagger combining leisure and functionality after a nice trail but without charisma.

  3. Thank you very much for these answers. It’s so specific that I didn’t even expect to have an answer 🙂

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