Kawasaki is 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.
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 when they completed work on their first factory and because dedicated exclusively to motor cycle production with the Kawasaki Pet and the 125B7. 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 Kawasaki is exporting a wider number of motorcycles that are easily competing with Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha. 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 minor upgrades over the next twenty-odd years, and in 2009, they unveiled the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager as the first Japanese full-dress V-Twin touring bike. It became a virtual flagship model for the company. The new 1700 Voyager 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.