At first glance, the Kawasaki VN1700 looks like a Harley Davidson clone. But when you look closer, you realize there is world of difference between the two. The VN1700 is one of the world’s first cruiser bikes to sport a full electronic throttle actuation system, which controls the volume of air and fuel delivered to the engine, resulting in smoother engine response.
The bike is powered by a liquid cooled, 1700cc, 8 valve V-twin engine, which allows the VN1700 to deliver at least 15% more torque than Kawasaki’s VN1600DD. The valve system is inspired by the valve system on the VN2000. At the same time, it is based on a SOHC arrangement, giving you a more direct feel of the engine. Note that the VN1700 has ABS for a more secure braking.
The bike’s detailing is one of its high points
The chrome ignition switch, the looks on the V-twin engine and other detailing features add to the bike’s charm. The instrument panel contains an LCD display and you can control it through a switch on the right handlebar. The panel features a gear indicator, odometer, clock, fuel range and fuel consumption indicator.
On the other hand, the gears feel a bit too far out and they have a heavy feel. The bite point on the clutch is also vague. This may pose problems when you are doing tight maneuvers. Those who have ridden a Harley say the engine on the VN1700 doesn’t feel as raw. But we don’t think that’s a problem because some people actually prefer smoother engines. It could actually swing the deal in favor of the VN1700, over other cruisers.
The VN1700 shares many features with a Harley
In many ways, the VN1700 is a lot like a Harley. So we were not surprised to find a radio on VN1200. The sound quality is surprisingly good and it sustains even at high speeds. At the same time, the sound is not as clear for the pillion rider. The engine also gives out a lot of heat (expected, since it is a 1700cc engine) which you may welcome in winter but not in summer.
We noticed that the bike’s frame starts to vibrate when you go over 80 mph but it manages to remain stable. The suspension feels a bit under-damped and it may create problems for you on rougher roads. In fuel efficiency, the VN1700 is actually better than a Harley, delivering 40 miles to the gallon. Kawasaki has also graciously provided a 4.4 gallon tank so that you won’t have to refuel for at least 150 miles.
Final thoughts on the Kawasaki VN1700 Voyager
Kawasaki claims this bike is inspired by sports cars of the 60s. We think the inspiration is more contemporary. To be more exact, we think the VN1700 takes after HD’s Electra Glide Ultra. But on the other hand, the VN1700 costs at least £4,000 less than the Electra. So here the Voyager has a leg up.
Let’s not forget Kawasaki motorcycles have a consistency that HD has not managed to achieve on its bikes. Final words? The VN1700 Voyager is a reliable bike. The only thing it doesn’t have, is the legacy of the HD. If you are okay with that, go ahead and buy the VN1700. You won’t regret it.