Kawasaki positions its Vulcan 1700 Vaquero as “the pinnacle of elegance,” but it’s more like the height of street style, with its sculpted, frame-mounted fairing, cut-down and tinted windshield and blacked-out engine components. The streamlined saddle and dynamic graphics also hint at a hot-rod vibe, but the 1,700cc V-twin-powered Vaquero shares most of its foundation—as well as certain touring amenities—with the full-dress Voyager flagship bike. That means you’ll also see cruise control, floorboards, triple disc brakes with standard K-ACT ABS, belt drive, AM/FM audio and integrated hard bags on the more laid-back Vaquero bagger too.
Its 107.6 pound-feet of torque is nothing to laugh at, and that along with a healthy midrange, wide bars, strong brakes, and good weather protection are part of the reason the Vaquero makes for such a good touring companion. When we rode it at the launch—now nearly a decade ago—we were impressed with the overall package, saying, “Kawasaki has bet lots of time, work, and money on a cruiser that works better than the class image.…” The class image in this case was defined by the Harley-Davidson Road Glide, the Vaquero’s main competitor when it launched, but nowadays you’ll also find Yamaha’s big Star Eluder and the Indian Challenger—all significantly pricier—in the V-twin, fixed-fairing bagger class.
For 2020, Kawasaki has left the Vaquero bagger relatively untouched, save for the new Candy Imperial Blue paint color. It retails for a suggested $16,799.