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Kawa's cowboy custom

2010-10-15 07:38

STYLE: For the first time Kawasaki has launched a bike with the popular American bagger style.

JD van Zyl

First came the Voyager – Kawasaki’s first full-dress V-twin tourer. Now the company has launched its first “bagger” custom in the shape of the Voyager Custom, a head-on rival to the likes of Harley-Davidson’s Street Glide.

This is the first bike from the Japanese manufacturer in the popular American bagger style (referring to the motorcycle’s capacious luggage side-bags). And like its Voyager sibling the Voyager Custom, or Voyager Vaquero  as it is called the US – using a Spanish word for cowboy – comes crammed with creature comforts and hi-tech gadgets.

These include Kawasaki’s K-ACT ABS, electronic cruise control and LCD screens for the iPod-compatible audio system which makes light work of selecting a different playlist while riding. The Custom  is also treated to Kawasaki’s first fully electronic throttle actuation system which enables the ECU to control the volume of both the fuel (via fuel injectors) and the air (via throttle valves) delivered to the engine.

As you would expect from a bagger, the Voyager Custom boasts loads of storage courtesy of chunky side panniers which are curved on the top and flat on the bottom. To accommodate any modifications to the bike itself, the panniers open to the side and are secured using tiny latches – allowing owners maximum surface area for customised paintwork.

In keeping with its muscular appeal, the Custom sports a large beefed-up front cowling which makes the most of the chromed headlamp and the Louvre-style fog lamps with its flowing design. A short-style smoked wind deflector completes the bike’s sporty image.

Powered by the same 1700cc V-Twin as the standard Voyager, the Custom also boasts a 6th “overdrive” gear for relaxed highway cruising.

To move “relaxed” another notch higher the Custom is also treated to an electronic cruise control which can be activated when riding at speeds between 47km/h and 137km/h. Like in cars, this system is disengaged by applying the brake pedal or closing the throttle beyond the “zero-throttle” position. Buckets of torque – a whopping 136Nm of it available at 2750rpm – completes the image of laidback highway cruising.

The Voyager Custom is the fourth model in Kawasaki’s international 1,700cc line-up which includes the VN1700 Classic Tourer, VN1700 Classic and the VN1700 Voyager. At the moment the standard Voyager and VN1700 Classic are the only members of the quartet available in South Africa and it is as yet unclear whether the Voyager Customer will be coming to our shores.

What is your take on the Voyager Custom? Do you think it is significantly different from the standard Voyager to warrant Kawasaki bringing it to SA?

Kawasaki VN1700 Voyager Custom specs:


Engine type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke V-Twin
Displacement: 1,700 cm³
Bore x stroke: 102.0mm x 104.0mm
Compression ratio: 9.5:1
Valve/Induction system: SOHC, 8 valves
Fuel system Fuel injection:f42mm x 2
Ignition: Digital
Starting: Electric
Lubrication: Forced lubrication, semi-dry sump


Transmission: six-speed, return
Final Drive: Belt
Primary reduction ratio: 1.515 (50/33)
Gear ratios 1st: 2.933 (44/15)
Gear ratios 2nd: 1.900 (38/20)
Gear ratios 3rd: 1.407 (38/27)
Gear ratios 4th: 1.143 (32/28)
Gear ratios 5th: 0.967 (29/30)
Gear ratios 6th: 0.806 (29/36)
Final reduction ratio: 2.250 (72/32)
Clutch: Wet multi-disc, manual


Frame type: Double-cradle, steel
Wheel travel, front: 140mm
Wheel travel, rear: 80mm
Tyre, front: 130/90B16M/C 67H
Tyre, rear: 170/70B16M/C 75H
Rake/Trail: 30°/ 177mm
Steering angle, left / right: 35° / 35°


Maximum power: 54kW at 5000rpm
Maximum torque: 136Nm at 2750rpm


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