- Rock’n roll attitude !
- In the saddle
- In the city
- Practical aspects
Rock’n roll attitude !
Sitting less than 70 cm from the ground, feet propped far forward and holding the wide handlebars of the VN 900, I taste the pleasure of riding in a “feet-first” position. The countryside is particularly pleasant in February and the small roads of the Var hinterland are the ideal playground to discover this Kawasaki as black as ebony.
If the "900 Kawa" evokes glorious memories of the ancients, today this displacement is reserved for two-cylinder customs. An engine that Kawasaki declines in three VN models which are: the “Classic” with running boards and superb spoked wheels, sold for 8899 €. Then the “Classic Special Edition” a very classy pure cruiser which is distinguished above all by its whitewall tires for 100 € more. Finally, we invite you to discover today the VN 900 Custom, the model tested, also sold for € 8,899.
No chrome or running boards here, but a solid rear rim and a 21-inch cast front wheel whose narrowness (80mm tire!) Contrasts with the more massive appearance of its blood sisters. The foot steps have also disappeared in favor of a pair of very forward footrests. However, the mechanical basis remains the same on these 3 machines with in particular a rigid “false” chassis which actually hides a “unitrack” single-shock rear suspension offering 103 mm of travel. The 41 mm diameter front fork inclined at 33 ° offers 150 mm of travel. The result of this inclination is a wheelbase as long as a day without bread: 1645 mm.
As a true self-respecting custom, the engine has a V-shaped architecture, which hides its liquid cooling behind large fins. They allow the use of a smaller radiator, which has been able to fit discreetly between the front cradles of the frame, where it is less visible. Let’s not forget that all these machines still more or less refer to the air-cooled Harley twin ….
In the saddle
Easy ! At just 685mm tall, you don’t have to be a giant to straddle the beast and put your feet flat on the ground. That’s good because casually it is heavy to handle at a standstill and you are not unhappy to be able to rely firmly on your legs in the event of a hard blow. 278 kg with full all the same! You have to look for the footrests placed very forward to put your soles. Once in place, the selector and the brake pedal fall well under your feet. The wide handlebars offer a pleasant position and a significant lever for maneuvering when stationary. You also benefit from an ergonomic and comfortable saddle. In short, we are pretty well installed.
Custom requires, the dashboard takes place on the large tank. There is no rev counter here, it is useless in view of the spirit of the bike. Just to its right is the small, lockable fuel cap, but not provided with a hinge, probably for aesthetic reasons.
Contact ? Under the tank of course !
In the city
Once underway, the engine is discreet, both in noise and vibration. To a request of the throttle, it responds with a slightly lazy revving punctuated by an intake noise. Nothing in common with the American released exhaust. You will not arouse the ire of your fellow citizens. The first pass easily, we take off smoothly. From then on, like the albatross, the NV gains height and confidence. His movements become easier, even at very low speed. The steering which was heavy when stationary does not engage and in fact we take advantage of the excellent stability to keep our feet on the footrests as long as possible. The turning radius is proportional to the disproportionate length of the machine, but this 900 is not a "truck" either and then on the terrace of the cafes, in the reflection of the windows, or parked in front of your yacht, it does. its effect …..
You’ve probably seen tough guys riding 150 chopper on the highway with huge handlebars, hands up and feet forward. Personally, it still puzzles me. Fortunately this VN 900 is much more user-friendly, with a very vertical bust and forearms just horizontal. So we can do the motorway, there are enough horses and autonomy for that without a doubt, but on this first contact, we hardly encountered any ….
Long, stable, offering good pick-ups, the VN 900 will not be difficult on expressways. No problem getting into traffic, or overtaking cars and other "retarded" with a gas stroke, without even downshifting. The double butterfly injection does its job perfectly. The very flexible engine delivers significant torque from low revs (8 mkg at 3700 rpm) and is not stingy with sensations, without having the character of a big Ducati all the same. The large mirrors make it possible to effectively monitor its rear. Everything is fine. In the fast curves, this custom poses no problem of handling, on the contrary !
This is the pleasant surprise of this essay. We roll there at all speeds, whether it’s a senator’s train or a little fluff with friends. Here the VN 900 shows all its talent. Before tasting it, we never imagined such a wide range of services. Strolling on the handlebars of a custom, it’s obvious and this Kawa does it very well, but to follow the turns at a sustained pace, we expected much less! As surprising as it sounds, the front wheel placed very far gives this bike a front end that inspires confidence in the rider. Careful at first, you quickly get emboldened and thanks to its very low center of gravity, you don’t feel the pounds.
With its 21-inch front wheel fitted with a very narrow tire (80 mm, we remind you!) And its relatively reasonable rear tire (180 mm anyway!), The VN 900 Custom swings easily. The footrests then begin to sing on the asphalt, clearly and gradually indicating the limits not to be exceeded. If we insist, it is an outgrowth of the frame provided for this purpose that comes into contact with the bitumen.
Large and pleasantly padded, the saddle takes care of your seat. Surprising for those who are not used to it, the driving position is not tiring, once your feet are firmly planted in the front. Despite the good work done by the suspensions, the passage of the lying gendarmes often turns out to be a little painful, because the pilot can only very with difficulty relieve his back by lifting himself on the footrests, like one on a "normal" motorcycle. . In fact, it’s the backbone that takes everything, at least what good suspensions haven’t filtered out. Apart from these conditions which are often critical on many bikes, the comfort is at a very good level. A small annoyance, however, for the little ones or those with small hands: the large diameter handlebars associated with a pair of winter gloves make it more difficult to tighten the handles. These motorcycles were originally designed for American giants with big paws! Last pleasant detail, the vibrations are very discreet.
Its performance is perfectly suited to the style of the motorcycle. No question of entering the curves standing on the brakes with such a machine. Under these conditions, the front 300 mm double piston caliper disc is perfectly supported by the rear equipment, also with parallel double pistons (diameter 270 mm). Winding at a good pace, we use both, with strong rear braking capacity that takes the strain off the front. No complaints, provided you assume that this is a custom we are talking about.
Custom to the end of the handlebars, the VN 900 features a clean, maintenance-free secondary belt drive. There will therefore be no projection of sludge, "specific" to a channel so to speak..
Those who would have opted for black hoping thus not to have to make the chrome regularly will be at their expense on the other hand. Matte black is indeed very messy. Dust quickly wreaks havoc there, wiping off with a wipe of a wipe, but if you want to catch the eye with your machine, you’ll need to be a fairy housekeeper. Otherwise other than that, there is little fault to be made with this motorcycle more dedicated to the futile than the useful. Note a large tank all the same, which, given an appetite it seems reasonable, should space out the chores of fuel pump.
With this 900, Kawasaki offers a well thought out and very pleasant intermediate custom. Talking about mid-size displacement being a 900cc may seem absurd, but the term nevertheless fits very well in this category where having double the displacement is not uncommon. Offered at € 8,899, it will value its owner for a reasonable price with the added bonus of a moderate maintenance cost. Considering its power, its simplicity, it shouldn’t ruin you in tires, gasoline, or overhauls. You will have a "rock’n roll attitude" on its handlebars, but your end of the month shouldn’t be "rock’n roll". !
- healthy cycle
- good covers
- motor flexibility
- unique and messy color
- intake noise under acceleration
- a little more driving character
Competitors: Harley Davidson Sporster 883 custom, Honda 750 shadow spirit, Hyosung GV 650 Aquila, Moto Guzzi 940 Bellagio, Suzuki 800 VZ et VL intruder, Triumph Bonneville America, Yamaha 950 XVS.
The VN 900 technical sheet
Read also the customs comparison Kawasaki VN 900, VN 1700 and W800
Read also the customs comparison Kawasaki VN 900, VN 1700 and W800
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