No matter where you happen to go in the world, Kawasaki’s a name that’s firmly embedded in the popular culture of today. Founded in 1896 by Shozo Kawasaki, the Japanese company initially built sea faring steel ships, marine steam turbines, locomotives, freight cars, passenger carriages bridge girders, and electrical generating plants. Twenty-two years following its start, Kawasaki got into designing airplanes, and after many years of research, it was Kawasaki that actually built Japan’s very first metal aircraft. World War Two sidelined Japanese industries from building anything except those that might aid in their nations quest for Victory, but from the ashes of combat and loss, Kawasaki would emerge like the Phoenix of lore and become one of the world’s biggest global players specializing in top-quality engine design across multiple platforms.
By 1950, Kawasaki had turned its attention towards motor cycles with their first model making its debut in 1954, known as the Meihatsu. Saddled with a KB-5 engine that delivered low rpm, the company improved upon the original design and released a souped-up version of the Meihatsu in 1956 called the 125 Deluxe. Capable of achieving a top speed of 81.5 kilometers per hour (50.6 miles per hour) at a motorcycle industry magazine test, the 125 Deluxe set a speed record for its category. In a separate test the Kawasaki KB-5A engine displayed phenomenal durability by running for 50,000 km without breaking down. The company was indeed off to a promising start in the late 1950s, but it was the 60s when the Kawasaki name would really begin to shine.
In 1960, Kawasaki completed work on their first factory dedicated exclusively to motor cycle production with the Kawasaki Pet and the 125B7 employing some of the most advanced materials of the time. The sleek curved surface compositions of these two motorcycles gave them a high-sense of design, further enhancing Kawasaki’s growing reputation. 1966 welcomed their most notable effort to date, the popular 650cc W1 model. Impressive sales in the U.S. market gained Kawasaki some much-needed world-wide recognition as one of the premier big bike manufacturers worldwide.
Now exporting a wider number of motor cycles, especially the air-cooled two-stroke triple cylinder H1 Mach III (nicknamed the Bronco, it topped off at 124 miles per hour) in addition to a whole slew of off-road bikes that were easily competing with Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha, Kawasaki had at last joined the ranks as a true leader of speed bikes. Continuing to master their craft, Kawasaki released its first cruiser bike, the Vulcan 750 in 1984. Designed in a classic retro style - but intended to handle like a contemporary motorcycle - the Kawasaki Vulcan packs plenty of acceleration equipped with a liquid-cooled, 498cc, four-stroke, eight-valve parallel twin engine.
The Vulcan line enjoyed a host of various permutations over the next twenty-odd years, and in 2009, they unveiled the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700, the first Japanese full-dress V-Twin touring bike, a virtual flagship model for the company. In addition to the 100cc jump in displacement from 2008s 1600 line, the new 1700 models now have a six-speed transmission, a belt instead of shaft drive, and a brand new chassis decked out in plenty of sparkling chrome. It’s no wonder the 1700 Vulcan’s have been hailed as ""Kawasaki’s future in cruisers.""