2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S (bike review)

REMEMBER that time a retro cruiser rode past you, with its single seat low slung frame and wicked paint scheme? You, as a learner rider, instantly felt sad that the rules put that bike out of reach.

Well sulk no more, because the 2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S is everything you wanted in a classic cruiser, and it’s learner approved.

With a relaxed and easy seating position and your feet out in front on the forward controls, you could be forgiven for thinking you are aboard a full-size cruiser. And with a seat height of 705mm, riders short and tall are going to find themselves comfortable too.

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The Vulcan S feels long and with an overall length of 2,310mm, that feeling is justified. It’s overall width of 880mm makes it feel reasonably slim and nimble too, and it lends itself towards a slightly more aggressive riding style.

LAMS approved
2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S

Powered by a liquid-cooled, DOHC, eight-valve 649cc parallel twin featuring fuel injection the Kawasaki Vulcan S produces 35KW and 53Nm. More than ample power for cruising along on the 226kg bike.

With a fuel tank capacity of 14-litres and a claimed 5.5-litres/100km, this cruiser is going to find a lot of homes with potential purchasers who are steering away from public transport and looking for a more fun commute.

Alternately, there is also going to be a market for new riders and riders who want a cruiser with mid-entry level performance and mid-sized cruiser characteristics.

A 31-degree rake matched to a very contemporary black and green paint job gives the Vulcan some cool street appeal. The solo seat looks good and offers good support on nice sealed road surfaces.

2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S

Get it onto some country roads and in typical cruiser style, you will feel the bumps. Suspension duties are carried out by 41mm telescopic forks that give 130mm of travel on the front, with an offset laydown single shock linkage at the rear.

That setup offers an adjustable preload which enables 80mm of travel. Braking is handled by a 300mm rotor with dual piston calliper on the front, with the rear of the Vulcan S utilising a 250mm rotor with a single piston calliper.

These work reasonably well on the Vulcan S setup, with the 18-inch front wheel and 17-inch rear helping with the aggressive stance of the Kawasaki. Both front and rear are wrapped in Dunlop Sportmax D220 ST tyres.

The Kawasaki Vulcan S not only looks like a full-size bike, it’s a bike that learners can keep and stay on throughout their riding journey. There’s a neat LCD tacho that displays all the required information too, including speed, revs, fuel range, indicators, and gearing.

2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S
2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S

Everything about the 2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S is user friendly. From the standard type indicators to the easy to follow information on the LCD screen. The powerband is manageable and everything works well for your day-to-day riding life.

Options like the Vulcan S seemed a life time away when some of us started riding, back when the choices were bikes like the Kawasaki GPX and Honda CBR 250. These days, new riders seem to have a much greater selection to choose from.

Priced at $10,199 plus on-road costs, the 2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S does sit at the higher end of the learner bike pricing scale, and is pitched against the likes of the Yamahas 650 V Star, Royal Enfield 650 twins, and the Benelli 502C.

That said, the Vulcan S may just be the best way to get your feet up in the breeze and your fists in the wind while on a restricted license. Judge for yourself when you go and test ride one.

2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S
2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S

Our test bike was provided by Kawasaki Motorcycles Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S, contact your local Kawasaki dealer.


Riding experience
Style and comfort
Braking and handling
Technology and connectivity
Overall bike performance
Value for money


Pros - learner approved; great paint scheme; good sized bike; offers a mid range stepping stone.
Cons - tough market segment to compete in; you will feel the bumps on country roads.
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> learner approved; great paint scheme; good sized bike; offers a mid range stepping stone.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> tough market segment to compete in; you will feel the bumps on country roads.2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S (bike review)