• 1500 Drifter Specifications
  • 800 Drifter Specifications
  • Vulcan Drifter Calendars
  • Drifter Seats
  • Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter


    Motorcycle numbers have been increasing over the past 10 years. It is unusual to drive down any street or road in America and not come across at least one motorcycle, even in the dead of winter. While this is a good thing for the motorcycling community, it has become increasingly more difficult for bikers to differentiate themselves from the rest of the "pack".

    $50,000 customs have begun to look like clones of each other. Herds of brand-named bikes appear on every street differentiated only by a few bolt-on chrome gadgets. Brand specific clubs further promote sameness.

    Into this bland landscape comes an unexpected hero, Kawasaki. With the introduction of the Vulcan Drifter line in 1999, Kawasaki gave bikers a new and different choice at prices most can afford. Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter
    The 1940's retro styling won't appeal to everyone, but that really is the point. The Vulcan Drifter may rarely be seen on the street, but when it is – it attracts a lot of attention. This tribute to the 1940's Indian Chief is about as true to the spirit of that great motorcycle as any we've seen in recent years, including the recent attempts by the now defunct "new" Indian MC company.
    Kawasaki produces two very different versions of this motorcycle, but both sport the deep, nicely curved fenders reminiscent of the original Indian Chiefs.
    Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter 800 The Drifter 800 has a hardtail look about it. A 36mm carburetor feeds the 805cc v-twin. The single overhead cam and single-pin crankshaft provides for that classic v-twin rumble one would expect from this retro styled cruiser.  The chain drive furthers the look.
    The Drifter 1500 with its dual rear air shocks is equally attractive. No carb here, the 1500's 90 c.i. liquid-cooled v-twin is fed by an advanced fuel injection system. The chain is gone from this model as well. In its place a low maintenance shaft drive does the work of moving the bike down the road. Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter 1500
    The rear suspension is unique to these models. The fender floats with the rear tire. While this allows for the sleek design of the rear fender, it also means saddles, racks,saddlebags etc. have to be specifically designed for these bikes.

    One of the difficulties of owning a unique bike is the somewhat limited selection of aftermarket accessories. Drifter owners have proven to be resourceful and you will find most of what you need to personalize this bike.

    With more than four years of experience on the 1500, we find very little about the bike not to like. It is very comfortable; controls are well placed and can be adjusted to suit your choice of riding position. It is a powerful, smooth running, low maintenance and highly reliable machine.

    We don't like where the ignition switch sits, in front of the engine low on the frame. But there are sufficient aftermarket remedies for this and any other warts you might find.



    Vulcan Drifter 800

    Vulcan Drifter 1500


    Four-stroke, SOHC, V-twin, 8 valves

    Four-stroke, SOHC, V-twin, 8 valves







    Bore x stroke

    88 x 66.2mm

    102.0 x 90.0mm

    Compression ratio







    Keihin CVK36

    fuel injection with dual 36mm throttle bodies


    Digital with Kawasaki Throttle Responsive Ignition Control





    Final Drive




    High-tensile steel, double cradle

    High-tensile steel, double cradle


    31.5 degrees / 6.2 in

    32° / 6.5 in.

    Front suspension/wheel travel

    41mm hydraulic telescopic fork / 5.9 in.

    41mm hydraulic telescopic fork /  5.9 in.

    Rear suspension/wheel travel

    UNI-TRAK® single shock system with seven-way preload adjustment / 4.1 in.

    Dual air-assisted shocks / 3.9 in.

    Front Tire

    130/90x16 tube required

    130/90 x 16

    Rear Tire

    140/90x16 tube required

    150/80 x 16

    Front brake/Rear brake

    Hydraulic disc / Disc

    Hydraulic disc / Disc

    Overall length

    98.0 in

    100.2 in.

    Overall width

    39.6 in.

    38.6 in

    Overall height

    44.3 in

    43.9 in

    Ground clearance

    6.3 in.

    4.9 in.

    Seat height

    29.9 in

    28.7 in.

    Dry weight

    542 lbs

    670 lbs.


    63.6 in.

    65.2 in.

    Fuel Capacity


    5 gal

    MSRP (2006)




    Vulcan Drifter 800

    Vulcan Drifter 1500



    V-Twin 805cc Engine with Gear-Driven Balancer
    - Torque from idle to redline
    - Smooth and reliable
    - Balancer allows use of single-pin crankshaft without the heavy vibration

    1,470cc OHC V-Twin
    - Engine design evolved from the Vulcan® 1500 Classic
    - Exhaust system has a single fish tail muffler on the right side


    Gear-Driven Engine Balancer
    - Counter-rotates at engine speed to cancel vibration
    - Allows use of single-pin crankshaft without the heavy vibration

    Four Valves Per Cylinder
    - Better breathing for more power and low-end torque
    - Single overhead cam design is simple, lightweight and practical

    Four Valves per Cylinder
    - Boosts low-end torque


    Hydraulic Valve Lash Adjusters
    - Keep valves quiet with no maintenance, no adjustment required

    Liquid and Air Cooling
    - Finned cylinders and heads combine with liquid cooling to provide exceptional thermal control
    - Maintains consistent engine temperatures for long engine life and sustained power during hard use
    - Automatic fan keeps things cool even in traffic

    Liquid Cooling
    - Maintains consistent engine temperatures for long engine life and sustained power during hard use
    - Auxiliary fan keeps things cool, even in traffic

    Five-Speed Transmission
    - Ratios designed for great acceleration and relaxed highway cruising
    - Exclusive Positive Neutral Finder

    Five-Speed Transmission
    - Five-speed transmission combines great around-town acceleration with relaxed highway cruising


    Positive Neutral Finder (Kawasaki Exclusive)
    - Just lift the shift pedal from first at a stop to find neutral easily, every time

    36mm CVK Side Draft Carburetor With K-TRIC Throttle Position Sensor
    - A throttle-position sensor monitors engine load, allowing its micro-computer to determine the best ignition timing for more power and better fuel economy

    Digital Fuel Injection
    - Provides excellent engine response and power with less fuel consumption
    - Two different systems are switched and used automatically according to engine load for accurate fuel injection control

    Dual Throttle Bodies
    - Dual 36mm throttle bodies use one injector for each cylinder, with a separate intake tract for each throttle body
    - Four nozzles at the tip of each injector, with two nozzles aimed at each intake valve

    Idle Speed Controller
    - Helps stable idle and good throttle response at ultra-low engine rpm

    Double-Cradle Frame
    - Right down-tube unbolts for easy engine access
    - High-tensile steel for strength and light weight

    Double-Cradle Frame
    - Right down-tube unbolts for easy engine access
    - High-tensile steel for strength and light weight

    Tank-Mounted Speedometer with Turn Signal Indicators and Caution Lamps
    - Compact design complements the bike's clean look
    - Clean-design locking gas cap
    - Modern instrument cluster with nostalgic style

    Five-Gallon Fuel Tank
    - Rounded-edge finish for clean, upscale look
    - Larger capacity for extended cruising

    Transistor Controlled Breakerless Ignition with Digital Timing Advance (TCBI)
    - A hot spark at all engine speeds for easy starting, smooth running and good fuel economy
    - Virtually maintenance-free

    Shaft Drive
    - A reliable and quiet, low-maintenance system

    41mm Front Fork
    - Excellent rigidity and 5.9 inches of travel
    - Wide fork pitch for classic look

    Hydraulic Clutch Release
    - Easy to operate and maintain

    Disc Brakes
    - Front and rear disc brakes provide sure stops

    Disc Brakes
    - Solid 300mm disc with twin-piston caliper up front for style and quiet braking
    - A single 270mm rear disc with twin-piston caliper located below the swingarm

    48-Spoke Custom Wheels
    - Chromed steel rims and spokes with "spool-style" polished aluminum front hub

    Self-Canceling Turn Signals
    - Automatically shuts off after eight seconds or after traveling 213 feet

    UNI-TRAK® Rear Suspension
    - Single shock absorber with seven-way cam-type preload adjuster


    Sleek Swingarm Design
    - Triangulated, steel swingarm looks like a "hard tail"
    - Engineered for rigidity and provides precise handling


    Other Reviews/info of Interest:

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