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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After almost 45,000 miles from Tennessee to Texas on my beloved 06 900 Classic I decided it was finally time upgrade to a bigger bike that I could take even longer jaunts on the open road and ended up getting a 09 1700 Nomad. After 1500 miles here are my impressions & comparisons so far.


Ergonomics:

At first glance both Vulcans appear to be similar in size but once you throw a leg over (hoist a leg over in the case of the Nomad) you immediately feel the differences in their proportions. My 900 sat some what low and tapered in where the seat meets the tank to allow room for stubby legged folks like me to plant their souls firmly to the pavement when sitting or standing over the bike. The floor boards were within easy reach but still had decent room to stretch my kickstands out and relax the old knees without requiring pegs. I can't speak for the stock bar position though since I had 16" bars for most of the time that I owned it.

When mounting the Nomad the first and most noticeable difference is the extra 2-3 inches of seat height. Doesn't sound like much at first but with my average 5.8" frame (most of it torso) It does take a bit of extra technique (and stretching =) for me to throw my foot over it without scuffing the seat or the opposing side hard bag with my large riding boot. Apparently I wasn't the only one either as I noticed a couple of rubber skid marks running across the plastic bag lid from were others didn't quit make the vault over. Once on the bike I noticed that my right foot was a little less sure footed as my heal could not touch the ground even with my thick soles. This is when you also begin to appreciate just how wide the 1700 chassis is as well and realize you are on a behemoth of a bike. I admit I was a little intimidated to try and pick up the monster up with my stance being so wide and my right foot almost dangling to reach the ground but even with the sharper than average resting angle after a moderate heave I was caught off guard by how easy it was take the 800+ lb. Vulcan vertical. I would say noticeably less effort than the 1600 Nomad and Tour Deluxe sitting next to it. Even on my tip toes the bike feels light for it's class and well balanced. The next thing I noticed is the more compact ergonomics. The seat is very plush and supportive for a stock set up and the bowl like shape almost makes me feel like I am being cradled inside the bike. This takes some getting used to at first but once I stopped fighting it and allowed myself to relax It felt much more natural. However there have been occasions when wearing tight jeans that I have found the more cramped space around my crotch to be a little uncomfortable after a few hours and have taken extra minute or two during fuel-ups to "let the boys stretch" if you know what I mean =). However this may also be attributed to my Grasshopper back rest witch pushes me a little forward then usual when I have my fully packed tour bag on my rear seat. No complaints from my passengers though. My friend that had spent some rear seat time on my 900 could only rave about the extra passenger amenities including the grab bars and floating floor boards. In fact after working the late shift the night before she mentioned the ride being so smooth she had to fight the erg to take a nap back there during the straiter portions of our ride =). Speaking of the floor boards the Nomad is all cruiser but has a closer standard riding position. With the wider seat and rider back rest I almost feel like I am sitting in a chair compared to my laid back 900. It ='s a less fatiguing ride on my back and joints but I find myself using my crash bar pegs more often then I should to stretch my yams out. I prefer the more forward floor board mount position on the 1700 Classic & LT and will eventually see if I can put those on my Nomad instead. Being used to Ape Hangers the standard bars took some getting used to as well. They are comfortable and offer a well balanced riding position but I think some 1-2 inch risers are in order so I can lean back a little on the long highway bouts.


Ride & Performance:

Both 900 and Nomad chassis offer a very different ride experience and both engines have opposing performance characteristics witch in my opinion have their own pro's & con's depending on the situation. When I characterized my 900 as a whole I like to call it a "jack of all trades" But where it really shined was in the twisty Ozark back roads where I live. I'd be hard pressed to find another mid-sized cruiser that was as fun to muscle around the corners all day at 50-mph and still have a decent ride on the highway at 80-mph. However as my riding took me from day rides to weekend road trips and aspirations of 2-up week long excursions it was apparent my riding needs had changed and I would need to get a bike that was a little stronger in the touring department. The new Nomad seemed to have everything I was looking for. 6 speed, cruise control, & more storage but still had the basic classic cruiser look & ride I enjoyed on my 900.

The first thing you notice on the 1700 after take off is how nimble it is once you get it going above 5-8 mph. The compact frame really shines in this arena. It's hard to believe a bike of this weight and size could be as easy or easier then my 900 to navigate around town (provided I don't have to tippy toe a bunch of stops and starts)!. Parking lot maneuvers are a breeze as well unless you need to back her up. The passenger floorboards don't offer much clearance for my short legs when they are down and are still a little cumbersome even when they are folded up. taking it slow is the key here and wearing shoes/boots with good grip. Once you get the Nomad up to speed there is no mistaking you are on a touring cruiser. Where my 900 was all feedback when it came to accelerating and suspension. The 1700 is very smooth & refined, almost to the point I have to glance at the speedo every few minutes to make sure I haven't passed the speed limit. Thank goodness for that cruise control =). The exhaust note is very satisfying and pleasing compared to the buzzier 900 and it seems to get better as the miles wear on. As many have mentioned before there is some engine whine on the 3rd & 4th gears. After re-adjusting the belt and switching to synthetic oil it has subsided a bit but most bikes in this class have engine noise as well. I imagine some louder pipes would drown out much of it if you are so inclined to do so. More noticeable though is the gear box when shifting down to 1st. It seems to get quieter as the engine warms up but It doesn't bother me that much since 2nd has enough torque to use 1st on dead starts only. Speaking of torque the Nomad has an abundance of it! Not as much of an "instant gratification" kick like the 900 but more of a "roll on" acceleration. I have often cruised through hilly terrain and passed slower vehicles only to look down and realize I was in overdrive gear the entire time =0 This might help explain why the average MPG is only 35-37 (according to the display) but I have to admit I thought having a computer controlled throttle and overdrive would = better highway milage at least . Smaller bumps on the road are smoothed out nicely compared to the 900 but the limited travel on the rear shocks means that bigger bumps & dips are felt more abruptly on the 1700 although I haven't really tried all of the suspension settings yet. On the Highway the 1700 as expected is much smoother and makes the miles seem much shorter (especially 2-up). When heavy crosswinds pick-up the taller/shorter chassis tends to wobble a little more witch can be a little annoying over long periods of time but it's not unmanageable. The Nomad windshield does a better job of managing airflow,reducing buffeting, and is more adjustable then the 900 Kawi shield. I originally intended to only use it for highway rides but have since decided to keep it on permanently. On the corners the Nomad is not as sporty as my old 900 witch I expected given it's size ,weight, and suspension. Although It's short wheel base makes it pretty competent and easy to throw around. The width however means you'll find yourself slowing down a bit on sharper turns to keep from scraping the boards witch bottom out pretty quickly if you're not mindful of them. I realized later though I wasn't actually going that much slower, it just felt that way due to the lower revving engine and smoother ride.



Vulcan 900 Classic

Pros: Lighter weight, Lower seat hight, Sportier handling, Better MPG, Throttle "feels" more responsive. Fun to ride.

Cons: Buzzier exhaust, More vibration, Slower acceleration, Skinnier seat sometimes feels uncomfortable, Valve adjustment required.


Vulcan 1700 Nomad

Pros: More horsepower/torque, 6 gears, Cruise control, 11 gallons of storage, Good windshield, Better than average seat, Passenger back rest, grab rails, & floor boards, Smoother engine & ride, Throaty exhaust.

Cons: Disappointing MPG, Requires premium gas, More engine/gearbox noise, Shallower lean angle, Instrument glare on windshield, Stiffer clutch lever, Riding position sometimes feels more cramped, Engine heat (Pro come winter =).
 

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Thanks for the comparo, as I am also considering moving up to the Nomad (or 1700 LT). Since the "first year bugs" should be worked out, the desire is increasing, although I will keep the 900 as opposed to taking a bath on it. Since I have had cruise on HD's, that would be nice, but the aftermarket seems to not offer much for Nomad exhausts. The neighbors would probably pass out from shock if I pulled up on a quiet bike. For another $1K, though, the Nomad offers much more than the 1700 LT.

By the way, there is an outfit that makes 3M clear plastic to put over the saddlebag lids to protect them. I know the HD ones are precut, but I don't know about metrics. I will post the link if I can find it.

Thanks again. It's good to be back, as I had to take a break from leisure stuff to work on learning Koine Greek (ugggh!).
 

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Enjoying midlife Crisis!
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Matt7even, a friend of mine bought the identical bike to yours this year, saved a bundle on it as they were bringing in 2010 models and wanted to clear his off the floor. He had the exhaust heat modification done to 2010 specs under warranty. Not sure if your 09 is done yet, but likely worth doing if Kawi will pick up the tab. My friend says the heat distribution is much improved with the fix, the dealer replaced a few parts with current 2010 OEM parts, the invoice was around 500 dollars which was fully covered.
 

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Not sure what to make of that review TBH. Sounds like you found more things not to like .

So appart from it is a bit more comfortable at 80mph , what did you like?
 

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Take it to the Limit
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I am looking at the 1700 Nomad as well.. Although my brother rides a 2000LT and oh the power.. Decisions, decisions.. Thanks for the comparison..
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Not sure what to make of that review TBH. Sounds like you found more things not to like .

So appart from it is a bit more comfortable at 80mph , what did you like?
I tried to be as objective as possible when comparing the two bikes while interjecting just a little bit of my own experience adjusting to the new bike. Make no mistake I am very happy with my new Nomad! It's got gobs of power, runs very smooth, and has a good package of creature comforts for it's price (especially after the factory rebate). For my current needs it's a better all around bike but I don't want to make the broad statement that it is necessarily a better bike than the 900. It's just different.
 

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Matt
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455 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I agree the 2000 is a monster of a bike BD. I parked next to one on my 900 and was drooling over it as I was talking to the owner. He said he loved the engine but he was admiring my ride as well because he was looking for something that was easier to handle and got better mpg. He joked about trading with me and for a second there I almost thought he might have been halfway serious!

My view on "more power" is that eventually I always want more of it =). My Nomad has more then I will ever reasonably need and I am trying to resist chasing the horsepower rainbow like I did with my 900. Telling myself if I just added these pipes, or this air kit ect. I will be satisfied but a few weeks and a few hundred dollars later being back where I was originally and still wanting more. My two cents is horsepower fades but cruise control is forever =)
 

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C'mon, Cobra, let's see a new exhaust for the 1700 Nomad, perhaps like the new complete speedster duals system for the HD tourers. Maybe it's in the works.
 

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I tried to be as objective as possible when comparing the two bikes while interjecting just a little bit of my own experience adjusting to the new bike. Make no mistake I am very happy with my new Nomad! It's got gobs of power, runs very smooth, and has a good package of creature comforts for it's price (especially after the factory rebate). For my current needs it's a better all around bike but I don't want to make the broad statement that it is necessarily a better bike than the 900. It's just different.
Thats fair enough.

Beware brand loyalty . That way leads to disapointment.
 

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Just got off the phone with Cobra. Although no complete system will be offered, they are working on two styles of slip-ons muffs for the Nomad/Voyager. One will be the Tri-Oval slip ons; the other, I don't know. Projected release date is the end of June. I was kind of hoping for the Speedster Duals complete system, but the slip-ons might give them some bark. If I am not mistaken, I believe the 1700's don't use O2 sensors. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
 
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