Kawasaki goes big for ’04
September 29, 2003
Filed under Features
Introduces Vulcan 2000, ZX-10R
The third and final Japanese-based OEM to recently preview 2004 motorcycles in Las Vegas, Kawasaki held its dealer meeting Sept. 15-17 at the Hilton, where Kawasaki Motors Corp, USA (KMC), revealed a new two liter cruiser, a new liter-sized super sport, and a couple of revamped road models.
Throwing a bone to the camp who think
bigger is better, KMC introduced the anticipated Vulcan 2000, featuring a 2,053cc V-twin engine KMC says will make the bike “accelerate harder in any one of its five gears than any existing V-twin cruiser on the market.”
The motor features a bore of 103 x 123.2mm, forged pistons, alloy-steel connecting rods, 220mm flywheels, and dual cams within a one-piece crankcase.
Styling includes a four-bulb, projector-type headlight encased in a chrome Nacelle lamp —what KMC says is a first in a production cruiser — a V-shaped chrome instrument panel mounted on a stretched, 5.5-gallon fuel tank, and a bucket-type saddle with locking passenger seat.
A 200/60 radial tire propels the machine.
Prices for all Kawasaki motorcycles remained unannounced as this issue of Powersports Business went to press.
Probably equally important to many of KMC’s 1500 dealers, and likely be a solid contender in the liter-bike wars, the Ninja series will again be expanded next year as dealers receive the all-new ZX-10R.
Kawasaki says its engineers used a “stack” design for the ram-air equipped 998cc inline four. The crank axis, input shaft and outer shaft are positioned in a triangular layout to reduce engine length and the generator is placed behind the cylinder bank to reduce engine width — a good thing since the manufacturer says the frame is no wider than that of most mid-class sport bikes. Exhaust is expelled through a catalyzed titanium oval-shaped muffler wrapped in a sheet of aluminum.
Speaking of the frame, the all-aluminum “twin-tube backbone” truss is constructed of thin-walled castings and pressed aluminum sheets welded together. The twin backbone of the frame arches over the engine rather than around it, as is conventional. The chassis rides on fully adjustable 43mm forks in the front and a “gull-type” aluminum swingarm connected to Kawi’s Uni-trak linkage and fully adjustable shock in the rear. Footprint is provided by new six-spoke wheels with 120/70ZR17 front and 190/50ZR17 rear tires.
Kawasaki’s intentions with this bike are obvious. Not only because of the stop watch in the cockpit, but because KMC actually says it “anticipates that numerous privateers will be eager to race the ZX-10R,” and says it plans a contingency program to be unveiled just prior to the 2004 Superbike race season. Tom Orbe, vice president of marketing, claims the bike “will provide riders with more than enough power and handling to take on the competition.”
Introduced last year, the Ninja ZX-6RR returns for 2004 with upgrades including new cams, larger intake valves, a revised intake system and new gear ratios for the six-speed transmission.
KMC engineers changed the shape of the combustion chambers, redesigned the piston crowns and added molybedenum coating to the skirts to — as Suzuki said it hoped to do with its 2004 GSX R series: reduce friction and mechanical loss for more useable power. Further changes include smaller intake ports, larger intake valves, altered oil pump gear ratios and revised camshaft profiles.
Another Vulcan cruiser, the Mean Streak, returns for 2004 with displacement bumped from 1470cc to 1552cc, making it a 1600. The real news about this bike? It’s also being sold by Suzuki in 2004, labeled as the Marauder 1600 (See Suzuki, Page 26).
What makes this cruiser different from Suzuki’s Marauder? Most noticeably, valve cover housings, rear fender and available colors.