Top test: Kawasaki VN 1700 Classic

Top test, Kawasaki VN 1700 Classic

Kawasaki VN 1700 Classic

The design from a single source, as always. In addition, even more displacement, more punch from the lower speed range and a new chassis. The VN 1700 Classic is supposed to become the king of mid-size cruisers.

Of course it could have been easier, certainly.

Simply take the existing 1600, cylinder with a larger bore on it, and the VN 1700 would have been ready. But Kawasaki did not take the currently trendy low-budget route when laying the keel for the new UN, but has oriented itself upwards. On the flagship VN 2000.

The 1700 is basically based on its Big Block, so it also has a chain for the primary drive and semi-dry sump lubrication, which reduces the overall height. The primary drive also has a back-torque limiter, which limits the drag torque of the motor when overrun. Only the valves are not controlled by bumpers, but by an overhead camshaft.

Massive their appearance. A spotlight the size of a pasta pot; mighty tank, lush swelling forms, a seat cushion like a sofa. If you can’t find serenity here, where then? Especially since the engine became a real long-stroke engine compared to the 1600 series from the previous year. The 102 millimeter bore remained the same, but the stroke increased by a full nine to 104 millimeters. Kawasaki promises a full 15 percent more torque.

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Top test: Kawasaki VN 1700 Classic

Top test
Kawasaki VN 1700 Classic


Air filter and crankcase covers are very neatly styled

Not only because of the modest top performance of 75 hp. Speeds? Are feasible, theoretically up to 5700 / min. But the less of it, the better. After all, the maximum torque of 121 Newton meters is already available at 2800 rpm. Accordingly, the VN feels at home in the lower rev range and trains its pilots to change gear early and stroll at low revs.

Moved in this way, the 1700 cuts a really good figure. Carries the pilot as if on a gentle wave, accompanied by a sound carpet that spontaneously reminds of a helicopter. In addition, it depends very precisely on the gas and, despite the toothed belt to the rear wheel, has only minimal load change reactions, which makes it a pleasant companion.

For the first time at Kawasaki, an electronic throttle valve control, commonly known as ride-by-wire, is used here – and not in a super sports car. The rotation of the throttle grip is passed on to a pulley on the throttle valve housing via a cable, where a sensor records this movement. It sends a corresponding signal to the ECU, which controls the throttle valves via a servomotor. Works great.

The twin’s great running culture is also fine. Two balancer shafts leave only a pleasant pulsation from the roar and pounding. On the other hand, the technicians meant a little too well with the design of the gear steps. The sixth is a pure overdrive and is translated so long that it only makes sense to use it above 100 km / h. The fifth is enough to cruise on the country road. Whereby downshifting once for quick overtaking maneuvers is not a mistake.


The UN maintains great neutrality in an inclined position

Otherwise you feel in good hands, especially on the little streets that wind endlessly towards the horizon. In contrast to a pillion passenger, who only has a small seat available. However, the pilot, leaning back and relaxing, enjoys the handlebars that are well at hand and the comfortable seat cushion. Only the rocker switch, which does not allow the left foot any freedom of movement, disturbs the harmony.

The newly designed chassis gives the seven-hundredweight line a maneuverability that is surprising for cruiser standards. The VN sways casually from curve to curve and the chassis is extremely neutral. Bumps or edges in the asphalt leave the UN largely unimpressed. She masters switchbacks just as calmly. Simply let the speed spin down to idle level in second gear, and the flywheels that feel like millstone will fix it. And at the exit of the bend – potty potty – the VN buzzes cheerfully when opening the throttle valve without choking.

With all of this, the fork shows its gently appealing side. And the shock absorbers, adjustable in rebound and air pressure in the spring base, make the most of their 80 millimeters of spring travel when it comes to comfort. However, if you want to adjust the pressure in the spring struts to your needs, you have to rely on the well-stocked accessories trade or a gas station. Kawasaki does not supply a suitable pump with which this could be achieved. Whereby you can live quite well with the series tuning. The Kawasaki carries its rider relaxed even over second-class streets. He just doesn’t get a lot of feedback from the road. And if you throw yourself a little too briskly into the curves, you will reap footboards that touch down in good time. That in itself is not tragic as they fold up. In addition, their brackets, which are rigidly bolted to the frame, also come into play, which can quickly become uncomfortable. But the braking system also prohibits excessive sporting ambition. Because unlike the full dresser VN 1700 Voyager with its famous, ABS-assisted combination brake K-ACT, the Classic has to get by with two-piston floating saddles. And they provide a rather subtle idea. You have to work hard to squeeze acceptable deceleration values ​​out of them, which noticeably affects the controllability. Climbing along the blocking limit becomes a tricky affair. She just prefers the quiet tour. With a consumption of 6.6 liters (the VN 1600 was content with 5.7 liters), however, it tastes good. The 20-liter fuel drum, which should be a bit narrower in the knee area, is emptied after a good 300 kilometers.

But this faux pas is forgivable, especially since at the end of a long tour, when the sun has cleared its place, the bright headlights ensure that the serenity of the day does not fall by the wayside in the dark.




the display in the speedometer can be conveniently operated from the right handlebar switch

Topping up with engine oil is extremely easy thanks to the easily accessible and large lid

Easily accessible the side stand is placed by the driver’s seat

The hand levers The reach for clutch and brake can be adjusted


The fuel cap is not fixed to the tank, which is cumbersome when refueling

For luggage transport there is neither a small storage compartment under the bench nor any hooks for belts

6000s-Maintenance intervals

Technical specifications

Water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 55-degree V-engine, crankshaft lying transversely, two balance shafts, one overhead, chain-driven camshaft each, four valves per cylinder, rocker arm, dry sump lubrication, injection Ø 42 mm, regulated catalytic converter with secondary air system, alternator 655 W, Battery 12 V / 18 Ah, mechanically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch, six-speed gearbox, toothed belt, secondary ratio 2.250.
Bore x stroke 102.0 x 104.0 mm
Cubic capacity 1700 cm³
Compression ratio 9.5: 1
Rated output 55.0 kW (75 PS) at 5000 rpm
Max. Torque 135 Nm at 2750 rpm

landing gear
Double loop frame made of steel, telescopic fork, Ø 43 mm, two-arm swing arm made of steel, two spring struts, air pressure supported, adjustable rebound damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 300 mm, double-piston floating caliper, disc brake at the rear, Ø 300 mm, double-piston floating caliper.

Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 16; 4.50 x 16
Tires 130/90 16; 170/70 16
Tires in the test Bridgestone Exedra G 572/722 “E”

Dimensions + weights
Wheelbase 1665 mm, steering head angle 60.0 degrees, caster 169 mm, spring travel f / h 140/80 mm, permissible total weight 525 kg, tank capacity 20.0 liters.

Service data
Service intervals 6000 km
Oil and filter change every 12,000 km / 4.3 l
Engine oil SAE 10W40
Telescopic fork oil SAE 10
Spark plug NGK ILZKAR7B11
Idle speed 950 +/- 50 / min
Air pressure front / rear
Solo (with pillion passenger) 2.0 (2.0) / 2.5 (2.8) bar
guarantee           two years
Colours             black
price                12,495 euros
Additional costs    around 180 euros


The early years: Z 440 Ltd. Belt Drive. Drop tank, step bench, curved handlebar

Frankenstein’s daughter, GPZ, ZX-R. Not only since Toni Mang, the Greens have primarily stood for racing and corresponding racing rolls. But not only. Custom bikes also have a long tradition at Kawasaki, and over the years they have developed an extremely successful repertoire of choppers and cruisers. It all started in 1980 with the Z 440 LTD. This year all Japanese manufacturers had long forks in their range for the first time. Choppers were a must. It was not uncommon for them to be potent four-cylinder engines with fat rear tires, buckhorn handlebars and stepped seats. In 1990, Kawasaki rammed a real stake with the VN 15 – the largest chopper on the market at the time, equipped with a drag torque limiter. At the time, Milwaukee irons didn’t have much more to offer.


In 1990 the VN 15 had the position of today’s VN 2000 as the largest V2 cruiser on the market

The displacement range spanned from the EL 252 to the VN 15 in the nineties, from the muscle bike eliminator to the fat cruiser. At the end of the nineties, eight different model variants of this species were in the Kawasaki range. Too much. Within a few years, the model flood was reduced by half. The extremely successful VN 900 can look back on the longest line of ancestors in this family, while the one on the no less good
VN 800 sold. And it had its debut in 1995. With the VN 2000, Kawasaki has the largest V2 cruiser in its range.


The VN 900 has quietly blossomed into one of the most popular Kawasaki models

MOTORCYCLE measurements


A great neutrality when leaning, but the brakes worth revising are on record at the end of the test procedure

Top speed (manufacturer information) 175 km / h
0-100 km / h 6.5 sec
0-140 km / h 13.2 sec
60-100 km / h 6.0 sec
100-140 km / h 7.7 sec
Speedometer deviation
Effective (display 50/100) 47/96 km / h

Consumption in the test
Country road 6.6 l / 100 km
At 130km / h 5.9 l / 100 km
Theor. Range of the country road 303 km
Fuel type normal

mass and weight
L / W / H 2550/1040/1270 mm
Seat height 730 mm
Handlebar height 1040 mm
Turning circle 6300 mm
Weight with a full tank 345 kg
Load 180 kg
Wheel load distribution v / h 47/54%

Driving dynamics

Handling course I (fast slalom)

Lap time 25.2 sec.
(Reference V-Rod 22.3 sec.)

Vmax at the measuring point 42.5 km / h
(Reference V-Rod 90.0 km / h)

With wide bends, the VN 1700 can easily be moved from the neutral position from one inclined position to the other. Only with tight bends like at the turning point do you have to steer clearly in the opposite direction.

Handling course II (slow slalom)

Lap time 36.5 sec.
(Reference V-Rod 34.2 sec.)

Vmax at the measuring point 42.5 km / h
(Reference V-Rod 43.8 km / h)

When changing lean angles quickly, the VN 1700 travels a wide arc. As soon as the running boards touch down, caution is required.
The mountings of the running boards can lever out the vehicle.

Circular path (average 46 meters)

Lap time 14.0 sec.
(Reference V-Rod 13.3 sec.)

Vmax at the measuring point 40.5 km / h
(Reference V-Rod 41.9 km / h)

Apart from the running boards that touch down very early, nothing disturbs the VN 1700. No unrest when driving over the bump and almost no righting moment when braking in an inclined position.

Brake measurement from 100 km / h

Braking distance 48.8 m
(Reference V-Rod 42.2 m)

The braking distance can only be brought to an acceptable value if the front and rear wheel brakes are actuated at the same time. However, a simultaneous dosage of both brakes at the blocking limit requires a high level of concentration due to a lack of feedback.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob


Two-cylinder, six-speed, 78 hp, weight 319 kg, vmax: 195 km / h, consumption k. A..  
Price including additional costs from 15,495 euros

Suzuki C 1800 R


Two-cylinder, five-speed, 114 hp, weight 384 kg, 0-100 km / h: 4.4 seconds, vmax: 210 km / h, consumption 5.6 liters  
Price including additional costs 14150 euros

Yamaha XVS 1900 Midnight Star


Two-cylinder, five-speed, 90 hp, weight 346 kg, 0-100 km / h: 4.6 seconds, vmax: 190 km / h, consumption 5.1 liters  
Price including additional costs 14795 euros




On the one hand, the torque values ​​suffer from the high weight. On the other hand, under the translation, which is still quite long even in fifth gear. On the other hand, the tuning of the engine and its smoothness are extremely successful. In contrast, the manual forces of the clutch are unnecessarily high. The long shift paths don’t have to be. Not to mention the background noise that accompanies gearshifts.

Landing gear:

The VN 1700 Classic is surprisingly manoeuvrable and quite precise. As long as it is not moved too briskly through curves. Above all, their great neutrality is easy on the nerves. However, if you are looking for a lot of feedback from the street, you will be disappointed on it, you feel a bit disconnected. Only the suspension struts offer adjustment options on the chassis, whereby their air cushion must be adjusted using a bicycle pump or at the gas station.

Everyday life:

The rocker switch does not give the left foot any freedom of movement on the step, which is tiring in the long run. Long-legged people also sit in close contact with the rear seat cushion. The light output of the headlight is good. If you want to take luggage with you, look into the tube due to the lack of fastening options. The fact that the range is only average is not due to the tank with its stately 20 liters, which can only be exhausted with great effort and patience at the petrol pump.


No ABS, average effect, moderate dosage. The brakes are not a highlight. This is all the more annoying as the fully faired touring sister Voyager has excellent stoppers. Here Kawasaki has clearly saved in the wrong place.


It consumes almost a liter more than its predecessor, which was still satisfied with 5.7 liters / 100 kilometers. Ride-by-wire or not. In addition, 6000 maintenance intervals put pressure on the budget.

MOTORCYCLE conclusion:

Anyone looking for a relaxed companion who takes the hustle and bustle out and slows down everyday life will find what they are looking for with the VN 1700 Classic. The calming pulsation of the big twin and the predictable chassis, these are the ingredients that are needed for cruising. Nevertheless, one would want more assertiveness from the engine. And more confident stoppers when things get tricky with all serenity.

With 448 out of 1000 possible points and despite the cultivated engine and chassis, the VN does not have a better price-performance rating than a 4.0 in view of the poor equipment and the average driving performance.

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