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A couple years ago, I wrote a “review” of my then bran’ new C50. I decided to do the same with my new Vulcan 1600 Classic, however, since this is primarily a C50 forum, I decided my “review” would compare the C50 with the Vulcan 1600 head to head.

First of all, this is my second 1600 Classic, the first one was purchased slightly used (06 model) near the end of last season.

My current one, was purchased bran’ new about 2 weeks ago. It was an 07 “leftover” and my out the door price, everything included (except taxes, of course) was 8800.00. In case anyone is curious, my 06 was severely vandalized in the storage facility that I kept it in over the winter. (yes, I was fully insured)

When I took delivery of my 07, it had less than 2 miles on it; it now has almost 1500 miles accumulated over the past 2 weeks. This, combined with the almost 2000 miles I put on my 06 before I stored it for the winter, is the basis for my comparison with my C50, of which I put almost 20,000 miles over two seasons.

First of all, on “looks”

In my opinion, the C50 is THE most beautiful cruiser available at any price. Nothing else, in my eyes, comes close to the classic beauty that epitomizes the C50, plastic fenders, fake chrome and all.

The transition from the C50 to the bigger 1600 Classic, is a small one. The seating position reminded me of the C50 as did the steering and handling characteristics. On the road, at a steady pace, you will have to remind yourself it isn’t the C50. They are that close.

The differences you will notice is the power. Provided you are in the proper gear, acceleration is outstanding compared to the C50, and if you are in the wrong gear, it is still outstanding. As a matter of fact, unless you are drag racing someone, it is pretty much impossible to be in the wrong gear. 4th gear works smoothly at 20 m.p.h. and 3rd goes smoothly from 10 or 15 m.p.h. all the way up to 70+

In 2nd or 3rd gear at high revs in the Suzuki, a release of the throttle gives a very strong braking effect, not so with the big Vulcan, which gives a smooth transition from a lower gear when letting off the throttle.

Likewise, downshifting with the C50 requires a couple blips of throttle with clutch pulled in so engine speed matches gear…. This is not so pronounced with the Vulcan, which has dampers built in to minimize shifting transitions.

This is not to say that you can downshift from 4th to second with a good result, but it IS to say that from 4th to 3rd, even at high revs, if you forgot to “blip” the throttle, the transition is amazingly smooth.

This is hard to relate to, coming directly from the C50 because the Suzuki SCREAMS to be up shifted. And DEMANDS to be “blipped” That is not to say that the C50 cannot hold onto a gear for a long stretch, it certainly can, but anyone that owns a C50 knows what I mean when I say it screams for the up shift.

Part of this is undoubtedly related to the dampers on the Vulcan, but it is also due, I believe to the C50 being geared very low.

Being geared low is why the Suzuki screams for up shifts, it is also why so many owners say they wish they had a sixth gear, BUT it is also why the Suzuki has so much grunt from a standstill.

The C50 has so much grunt in 1st gear, that I believe it beats the Vulcan 1600 from 0 up to about 40 M.P.H. (as long as you stay in 1st gear)

Sometimes I believe it equals the 1600, and sometimes, I feel the Vulcan edges it out in 1st a little tiny bit. But my point is, after riding two different 1600 Classics, it is so close, that without a stopwatch I cannot say for sure, because the off the line power of the Suzuki C50 is THAT strong!

Keep in mind; I am speaking only of first gear, because in every other gear, The big Vulcan does exactly what you would expect a cruiser with an engine twice the size to do.

I love to corner very hard, and I never miss an opportunity to scrape my floorboards.
The 1600 Classic hits corners as nice as the C50, and feels much the same when doing so.

Although the two handle pretty much the same when moving along and cornering, be aware that the much heavier weight of the Vulcan must be treated with respect. The little mistakes you make with the C50 when going very slowly and when stopping will not be tolerated with the much heavier Vulcan.

I remember a couple times with my C50 when the only thing stopping it from falling was strength. Did that ever happen to you? Slowing down, perhaps with a little TOO much front brake, and or stopping short with front brake and the front wheel not perfectly straight?

What you the felt, were the forces of momentum and gravity calling your baby to the ground. Not so big a deal with a lightweight, but a disaster waiting to happen on a BIG HEAVY bike.

Well, this happened to me a few days ago on the big Vulcan as I was hopelessly trying to stop it from falling, it kept getting closer and closer to the ground and the only thing that saved me (and my big heavy baby) was an eighty year old man standing nearby who with the help of my now shaking knees and white knuckles was able to get it back in upright position. By the way, when this happened, it was so close to the ground, that the automatic engine shut off, actually shut off the motor. This is a safety feature that prevents a bike that ACTUALLY hits the ground from running around in circles.

What I learned from this is the bad habits I picked up from riding a lightweight cannot be done on a heavy weight.

The Vulcan 1600 Classic has a self adjusting hydraulic clutch. The clutch lever has a 5 way adjustment to allow for large or small hands, as does the brake lever. It works the same as the Suzuki adjustment lever found only on the brake.

It also has self cancelling turn signals and hydraulic valve lash adjusters, so, valve checks and adjustments are a thing of the past.

The “storage area” is as tiny as the C50’s. It comes with a tool kit.
It has two shocks, in plain view that can be pumped up with air. It has 4 positions on each shock for adjustment. I use position #3

The spark plugs are in plain view, and unlike the C50, you can change them without having to remove the gas tank.
It has lousy gas mileage, about 30 miles to the gallon verses the 50+ m.p.g. that I got with the C50, and to make it worse, the big Vulcan requires premium gas.

The ignition of the Suzuki not only shut off the motor, but also locked the steering fork with one swift motion. Not so with the 1600 Classic. Ignition is above the speedometer. Locking the forks is done in a separate keyhole on the front underside of the bike. Not too convenient.

C50 has two trip odometers, Big Vulcan has only one.

Front brakes on the 1600 Classic are at least three times stronger and require only two of my arthritic fingers to lock the front wheels. (Be careful)

Rear brakes on both work comparably in spite of drum verses disk.

The protruding turn signal lights on the Kawasaki are well made and very sturdy and will not break off if you look at them cross eyed.

The C50 appears to have a longer cruising range with its 4.2 gallon tank and excellent gas millage (about 200 miles verses the Vulcan 1600 Classic 5.3 gallons and lousy gas mileage.

Unlike the C50, it has tubeless tires. First thing I did was get an emergency tire repair kit. Impossible with a tube.

If I had both bikes, I would ride the C50 around town; it still has great performance and great gas mileage and weighs less. I never felt underpowered with the C50, and in truth, it had more power than I needed. The Vulcan has even more power I won’t use.

The added weight gives the Vulcan a LOT more stability on the highway, I fact I have put many highway miles on it, something I avoided with the Suzuki.
 

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Very interesting to compare a bike twice the engine size with the C50. I was at Suzukifest at my dealer yesterday and sat on both the Nomad and the Vulcan 2000 Classic. If I had 14 Grant with me, the 2000 would have been mine :lol: I am 6'5" and the first feeling just sitting on either one was - it feels heavier and more comfortable, especially the 2000 had amazingly comfortable seats (I think they are gel-packed from factory, at least that's what they felt like). For me it almost reduced the C50 to a toy.

I was wondering why the Nomad had a choke lever, though, even though my sales guy confirmed she's - of course - fuel injected. Guess that might be a way to manually enrichen the fuel?? (CJ ???)

I knew about the lousy gas mileage but wasn't aware they require premium fuel ?? :shock:

Love these Kawas; if I would ride more and longer distances, I would go for one of them right away. But as the recreational rider I am, and all the $$$ I put into the C50, I will keep her a good while longer, thanks especially to the DJ drive that makes the bike that much more versatile and drivable on the slab.

Thanks again for the interesting comparison! Moe
 

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I happened to be near a dealer yesterday with a few minutes to spare so I dropped in to check one out. It has all the features that I appreciate on the C50 plus valves that I don't have to adjust. The only drawback for me is the lower gas milage and premium gas. I have the funds with a trade-in of the C50 but as much as I would like a 1600 Classic I will enjoy my C50 with Dan's drive mod for awhile longer. However, your post is making waiting more difficult. Thanks for the comparison write-up.

Cheers!
 

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I think your gas mileage will improve. When we got our Vulcan 1500 we were hitting mid 30's. Now after 3000 miles, we're consistently getting 40-43mpg. It's rare that I get 50mpg on the C50, I'm usually around 45mpg. If I take it easy and don't use the windshield, 50 is possible, but any highway riding and windshield on, my miles go down. My last tank was only 43mpg where I'd made a couple runs up the interstate at 75-80 indicated, and had the shield on.

Moenko, that choke lever is for cold starts. Our 1500 has it to. Not sure why it's needed in a FI bike, but it's there, and it works. Pull out that knob, start it up, let it fast idle for a minute, push it in, and you are ready to go. It's also got an idle adjustment knob that is real easy to reach.

Lfigrad- I feel the same way about our 1500 as you do about the 1600. It's such a nice bike, smooth ride, lots of power. My next bike is going to be a 1600 or a 1600 Nomad, but it'll be a few years before we can afford one, so for now, I ride the 1500 when I can, and enjoy the heck out of my C50 on a near daily basis.
 

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I kept my 04 Volusia when I bought my 05 leftover 1600 Classic. Both are dressed essentially the same with windshield, bags, highway bars and pegs; the works. I basically concur with all that Lfigrad posted except that I only get 42 mpg with the Vol and I get 37 with the Vulcan. If I ride two up with either the mileage will go up about 5 mpg.

We're planning a trip from Lyons, GA to Mobile, Al (about 440 miles or so) in June and the wife wants to take the Vol. It honestly doesn't make that much difference to me as I enjoy both and we'll be taking back roads; however, if I were choosing I'd probably take the Vulcan. She likes the blue/silver paint job on the Vol better than the beige Vulcan, I think. I hope to do more M/C trips with her in the future, so I'm naturally bowing to her wishes.

I rode when the weather was down into the high 20's this year and never used the fuel enrichment knob on the Vulcan. Never needed it. However, when I rode the Vol in the low 30's I'd have to use the choke all the way through town. Then, after a 20 mile trip, when I would pull the clutch the Vol would stall and I'd have to choke it to restart.

I think I like each one just a little better than the other.
 

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Thanks for the fair comparison of these two bikes. Too many contributors try to compare altered bikes or poorly tuned bikes or obvious give biased reports
I too have been considering trading up the cc's to a Vulcan, In my opinion one of the prettiest bikes around but you've confirmed again what I've been reading. While my stock C50 has consistently given me 53 mpg before the DJ upgrade (I only have about 1K miles on it so I can't fairly say now); I should expect upper 30's to 40 mpg with the Vulcan. Averaging about 10K miles a year it would be about 188 gal. on the bull and about 260 gal. with the Vulcan.
Or a difference of about $288.00 per year.
My other concern is the weight. I have experience an Indian chief, 3 HD and other heavy bikes. Being average size they rode great on the highways, but I never liked wrestling them on the back roads. At my age the only wrestling I'm interested in involves a woman of questionable morals but then again with my gas the milage isn't the same.
 

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Bob Penn said:
At my age the only wrestling I'm interested in involves a woman of questionable morals
:biglaugh:
 

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I am currently lusting over a used Nomad.
http://www.powerbrokersinc.com/show.aspx?vid=1126777&stockno=T13656

I am put off a little by seat height. 28.3in. I have a 29 inch inseam on my best day and I am so used to me lowered (2in) C50. I believe the shocks on the Nomad are air adjustable. Can you let some air out and get that seat height down to say 27.5? Also I've always wondered, why does Kawasaki have a 1500 and a 1600? Curious.
Viper
 

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I MADE THE SWITCH TO AN 04 VULCAN IN O4

I GET ABOUT THE SAME MPG AT AROUND 40

LOOKS-I LIKED THEM BOTH
I RIDE 2 UP 90% OF THE TIME
THERE IS NOTHING CLOSE TO THE SAME AFTER LOOKS-THE VULCAN 1600 CLASIC DOES EVERYTHING BETTER IMO,AS IT SHOULD WITH DOUBLE THE CC"S

IT STILL GOES BACK TO WHAT YOU LIKE AND WANT IN A BIKE
I LOVED MY VOL-BUT I'M NEVER GOING BACK DOWN IN POWER
 

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Quoting Jodie:

"We're planning a trip from Lyons, GA to Mobile, Al (about 440 miles or so) in June and the wife wants to take the Vol. It honestly doesn't make that much difference to me as I enjoy both and we'll be taking back roads; however, if I were choosing I'd probably take the Vulcan. She likes the blue/silver paint job on the Vol better than the beige Vulcan, I think. I hope to do more M/C trips with her in the future, so I'm naturally bowing to her wishes."


The answer seems clear to me. You ride the Kawie and she rides the zuki.
~FF~
 

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472viper said:
I am currently lusting over a used Nomad.
http://www.powerbrokersinc.com/show.aspx?vid=1126777&stockno=T13656

I am put off a little by seat height. 28.3in. I have a 29 inch inseam on my best day and I am so used to me lowered (2in) C50. I believe the shocks on the Nomad are air adjustable. Can you let some air out and get that seat height down to say 27.5? Also I've always wondered, why does Kawasaki have a 1500 and a 1600? Curious.
Viper
The standard setting for the air shocks is no air at all. When you add air it doesn't raise the bike up. It's like the preload spring on the C50. You can buy aftermarket shocks that are a bit shorter to lower it, and you can get a lower seat.

I'd bet that you could touch just fine on the 1600 or Nomad. We almost bought a 1600 but my wife who is 5'4 couldn't completely flatfoot the 1600- about a half inch away. It's really not any taller than the c50 with a stock seat. For her the difference was more the width of the bike vs the height.

I think there is a 1500 and 1600 because at one point they were going to phase out the 1500, but it sells so well, they decided to keep it.
 

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I like the idea of the shorter shocks ($$$$$$$$). Stock seat height for the C50 is listed as 27.5. Nomad, 28.3, not much differences but yes, the Nomad seat at the front is noticably wider and that takes up some inseam. And like I say I'm used to riding a 50 that is lowered two inches, different shocks might do it.
Viper
 

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472viper said:
I am currently lusting over a used Nomad.
http://www.powerbrokersinc.com/show.aspx?vid=1126777&stockno=T13656

I am put off a little by seat height. 28.3in. I have a 29 inch inseam on my best day and I am so used to me lowered (2in) C50. I believe the shocks on the Nomad are air adjustable. Can you let some air out and get that seat height down to say 27.5? Also I've always wondered, why does Kawasaki have a 1500 and a 1600? Curious.
Viper
Do it, do it, do it.......................................
 

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....................you guys are killing me :lol:
Viper
 

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When I am on the interstate doing 80mph, I get around 45-47mpg. However, when I keep it under 60mph, I get better than 53mpg.
I love the C50, but I am lusting over the burnt orange M109.
 
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