This text was initially revealed within the February 2002 challenge of Bike Cruiser.
When I lastly switched off the sunshine in my workplace in Los Angeles it was 7:30pm on a Tuesday. I wanted to be in Eureka Springs, Arkansas to attend the Vulcan Riders and Homeowners (VROC) Annual occasion on Thursday. Downstairs in our storage a brand new Vulcan Imply Streak was ready within the fluorescent den—bone inventory, aside from a small Fireplace & Metal windshield that had arrived that afternoon. After I stepped into the mirrored elevator in my well-traveled Cordura swimsuit, the considered the enchanted hours forward took my breath away. There are few issues in life that flip my change like mounting a motorbike for a long-distance trip. And though the breaker wouldn’t be open lengthy, the miles can be many and of their midst I knew I’d discover peace.
The Imply Streak is Kawasaki’s newest version to a line of 1500cc V-twin-driven cruisers that dates again to 1987, and it’s additionally a contestant within the present V-twin efficiency cruiser conflict, which incorporates Harley’s V-Rod, Honda’s burly VTX and Yamaha’s Street Star-derived Warrior. The Imply Streak’s launch into the mosh pit was shadowed by Harley’s supply of its futuristic 1100cc hyper cruiser. Of us had been bumping into this latest Kawasaki Vulcan on their vendor’s ground although, and desperately needed to know greater than the magazines had been capable of finding time to inform. We did carry out a full take a look at (October 2001 challenge) and located the Imply Streak agreeable and effectively appointed, though not as robust because the V-Rod, VTX or Warrior when it got here to off-the-line grunt. The end result felt unlucky to me. Sure, this new class requested to be judged in dyno graphs and dragstrip information, however ought to sheer output undermine all the opposite niceties we like in our cruisers? The Imply Streak was essentially the most comfy and some of the effectively completed of the brand new class, to not point out the efficiency cruiser with the bottom MSRP ($10,999), but it was popping out the underdog amidst the extra aggressive designs.
So I started to surprise how it will price if we gave it just a little push within the horsepower division. Therefore my second purpose for dashing out to Arkansas. Our Imply Streak had an appointment with Dave Rollins, proprietor of Thunder Manufacturing, who can be on the occasion coaxing just a little extra poop out of the VROCer’s Vulcans. We’d adapt Kawasaki’s accredited Stage 1 package, which would come with Vance & Hines Professional One exhaust in addition to an air filter system and an digital Energy Commander to enliven the injection. Then I’d have a pair days to trip the bike round Arkansas to see how it will style at 80 hp as an alternative of the inventory 63 claimed by the manufacturing facility.
Ah, however my quest wouldn’t finish there. As a few of you would possibly bear in mind from the final challenge (“Out to Launch”) I’d already dedicated to a grudge match on the AMA ProStar World Finals in Gainesville, Florida towards Speedvision commentator Larry Maiers. My plan for the Imply Streak was to see how far it might stretch. After the VROC rally, the bike can be shipped to the Thunder store in Phoenix, Arizona, the place it will be torn down and given a Stage 2 therapy. This package would retain the prevailing mods however add to the recipe a port-and-polish, larger pistons, bigger throttle our bodies and extra assertive cams. I needed at the very least 100 ponies out of this bike earlier than I ticked the sunshine tree.
BEYOND THE FRAY
It takes so lengthy to get away from the hustle once you’re headed east out of Los Angeles that by the point you’ll be able to lastly see the celebrities, you’re midway to Arizona. I pulled the bike off the Interstate once I lastly bought past the grind and simply sat there within the stillness of the desert. It’s all the time exceptional to me that huge parts of Southern California have erased their geological scenario. Grass doesn’t develop out right here. Simply desires.
It got here shortly this time, the peace. I rode till 2am and readability was already taking maintain. Every part in my life is smart wanting in from on the market, and I perceive my place on the planet. On the first signal of weight in my eyelids I checked into an ambiguous Finest Western simply over the Arizona border and slept extra soundly than I had in months. I’d began out from the workplace with a brand new gel butt pad on the bike—a product I’d been which means to check, however discarded it after a pair hours (it felt like frozen pizza) and located the inventory seat exceedingly comfy for lengthy stints. I’d clock 1100 miles the following day to show it. In reality, I wasn’t uncomfortable in any respect on the crazy-fast journey and the small accent windshield supplied simply the correct amount of wind safety with out mucking up the traces of the bike.
Wednesday was lengthy, little doubt, and I landed in Amarillo for what remained of the night time. I used to be excessive and couldn’t sleep so I watched The Climate Channel and made notes concerning the bike. There are a number of important variations between this new mannequin and the Vulcan Traditional line it was born from. It’s method quicker for one factor, however it’s additionally extra secure. I’ve ridden a 1500 Traditional by these components the place the wind blows the stickers off your helmet, but the street is so straight and empty you’ll be able to’t assist however velocity. (Properly, I can’t.) Bother with the unique Vulcans was they’d get a sluggish headshake going when you pushed them arduous, particularly when the rear was weighted with baggage. The more moderen fashions are improved, true, however none examine to the Imply Streak for high-speed stability. Word: This bike is unhealthy for my driving report.
John Hoover’s Customized Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Traditional
The God of Thunder turns tangerine
My average-size comfortable baggage was simply tailored though there are not any appointed hooks. (I used the rear peg brackets and taillight stems.) Fortunately there’s numerous house between the fender, rear brake caliper and the pipes. I had solely troubles once I rode the VTX cross-country with the identical baggage. You do have to hold luggage excessive on all these bikes although, for the reason that small rear fenders wish to suck saddlebags towards the wheel. I used to be additionally driving the Imply Streak with a magnetic tank bag and the clear, broad tank made an ideal mount. The fantastically styled tank solely holds four.5 gallons of gas (one-half gallon lower than the Vulcan Traditional FI) however extra environment friendly injection and total lighter weight truly present an extended vary. I might simply trip 145-mile stints earlier than stopping, and I used to be driving arduous.
On my remaining day I wakened late and spent a while looking movie and spray paint earlier than heading out to the Cadillac Ranch. I needed to the Imply Streak amidst the colourful, upended relics however it required sneaking by a people-sized gate on the sting of the sphere. The Imply Streak’s entrance finish went in okay, one finish of the bar at a time. However simply once I thought I used to be in like Flynn my comfortable baggage wedged. A lot for stealth. Since I couldn’t put the kickstand down, I needed to wrangle the saddlebags off by sitting backward on the bike. I then shot by the gate like a cork, adopted by a stream of bemused vacationers. I chuckled over the scene many occasions over the last leg of the trip from the Texas Panhandle to Arkansas.
The bike had finished amazingly effectively as a straight-line touring mount however the final 80 miles on my path to Eureka Springs required sport be added to the experiment. The unlit twisties had been a problem for me since I used to be just a little buzzed from the drone, however the Imply Streak absorbed the hilly terrain as if it had been a choice. Steering is mild, however not too fast and the response is all the time predictable. I bought to tune the brakes on the market within the hill nation for the reason that quick tempo I’d been setting had gummed my sense of velocity. The Imply Streak’s triple-piston calipers on twin discs up entrance mixed with a single twin-piston disc on the rear provide astounding stopping energy with out the light-switch really feel related to comparable programs discovered on fashionable sportbikes. I used to be working the air-adjustable rear shocks with about 10 psi, which offered simply the correct amount of stress for me to trace a quick, secure line with out skittering over irregularities.
Eighteen miles in need of my vacation spot I used to be pulled over by a battalion of Arkansas lawmen. The 4 Sheriffs and one State Trooper that surrounded my bike had been undoubtedly impressed that I’d ridden from California in lower than two days, however gave me a whopper of a ticket anyway. They didn’t purchase my story about how cops in my house state use a mix of coloured lights, not simply little blue ones once they needed you to cease. Earlier than escorting me on, they informed me to be further cautious on the “crooked roads” forward and I assumed that was fairly darn humorous till I handed an indication a couple of miles later that mentioned “Crooked Street Forward.”
I’d talked to my boss over the howling winds of Oklahoma earlier that day and he requested me the way it was going. I mentioned, “Positive, besides I’m virtually there.” It wasn’t that I used to be sorry to be on the VROC rally (one thing I’d appeared ahead to for months) or that I used to be on this extremely charming and historic city (I’d spend the following couple days fantasizing about shifting there). It was falling out of the spell of the street that saddened me—the dimming of lucidity and the return to the restlessness I really feel in on a regular basis life.
FASTEST WAY TO FAST
It took about seven minutes for the inventory exhaust on the Imply Streak to get replaced by the Professional One system. Steve Rice, who handles Kawasaki’s cruiser press relations in addition to the Company’s drag racing effort (unusual combo, huh), was on a mission. Hastily he’s on the bottom with Chip Ellis, Kawasaki’s 600-hp Humorous Bike pilot and I’m standing there having a espresso pondering this type of service is basically fairly cool. Rice and I each needed the package on the bike as quickly as attainable so I might have satisfactory seat time. I rode it within the pouring rain with simply the pipe and got here again with the opinion that I couldn’t inform if it was a lot quicker as a result of it was a lot louder. Loud is usually mistaken for energy, and though I’m certain the pipe provides a slight increase there’s no satisfactory strategy to learn it. So we rolled it over to the Thunder Manufacturing truck for some extra definitive enhancement.
This didn’t take lengthy both and I used to be impressed not solely with the simplicity of making use of the Stage 1 package but in addition the affordability (about $570 with out the pipe). You find yourself with a pleasant wanting air filter cowl as the one exterior change (save the exhaust, which is critical for optimum outcomes). The small Energy Commander module is hidden behind the left sidecover. I’ve come to consider this as Everyman’s Hop-Up: One thing instantly gratifying that doesn’t tamper with the engine internals.
The Imply Streak’s change in output was apparent the following time I left the car parking zone. “Right here you go,” I assumed as I tore off into the Arkansas nationaspect. “Now you’re sitting fairly amongst efficiency cruisers and you continue to value lower than the others do inventory.”
That night time Kawasaki placed on a cocktail party for the VROCer’s that rivaled most black-tie occasions I’ve attended. Black leather-based was essentially the most notable distinction, and once I walked by the doorways of the historic Crescent Lodge & Spa I used to be overcome with the scrumptious odor of it. Good humor and camaraderie set the temper for dinner and it was fascinating to place faces to the names I’d solely chatted at over e-mail. VROC is a proud membership and robust in its loyalties. It feels tight-knit the way in which a wholesome household does, and I used to be honored to be accepted in Eureka Springs, which is to this membership what a kitchen is to kin.
I introduced at dinner that I used to be searching for somebody to trip with the following day and the Dallas Fort Value Chapter was fast to take me underneath its wing. I used to be much more excited that this specific group of women and men was well-known for his or her ability and urge for food for quick corners. We had a ball, albeit a cold one. Sure, this sharpened Imply Streak was much more enjoyable to trip, and sure, I completely suggest the improve (though I personally would store for a quieter pipe).
GOING FOR THE GUSTO
Most of my driving over the following couple of weeks appeared to be on the mirrored elevator again at our publishing workplaces in Los Angeles and evidently, it wasn’t very thrilling. My thoughts stored wandering to the Imply Streak that had been dropped off on the store in Arizona for the Stage 2 modifications. After all these ideas led me to fantasize about racing the bike on the Gainesville World Finals which rendered a goofy grin simply shy of manufacturing drool.
I flew out to Thunder’s fast-growing facility the afternoon the engine was to be reassembled. In just a little over three hours Dave Rollins and his sons Travis and Trent slipped the brand new pistons into the marginally expanded sleeves, utilized the cams and throttle our bodies then buttoned up the instances. There was one thing very intense about watching that massive motor being introduced into the gaping gap within the Imply Streak’s body. Lower than an hour later the bike was working and prepared for the dyno.
On the primary graph, horsepower on the rear wheel was peaking within the 90s, we’d all been hoping for a triple digit. It wasn’t till the following day when the motor had cooled and injection had been absolutely dialed that it hit the mark. The bike was packed for the races working 100.6 hp and 105 foot-pounds of torque. Thunder had produced an similar Imply Streak for my opponent Larry Maiers to trip. The remaining was as much as me.
Studying the Artwork of Bike Drag Racing
Out to Launch
OFF TO THE RACES
Positive, I’d had a good time at Rickey Gadson’s drag race college, and I’d finished fairly effectively, however it had been virtually two months since I’d shocked a heated tire and I’d by no means finished it in entrance of a whole lot of individuals. So I used to be just a little nervous, however then I’d consider ol’ Maiers and what a bit of cake it was going to be to beat him and my coronary heart would ease up. Then the telephone name got here. Maiers had determined he wasn’t minimize out for drag racing (yeah, so what?) and would I thoughts if he despatched somebody in his place? Properly. That somebody turned out to be our Speedvision present’s producer, Greg White, 30-some years youthful than Maiers and brimming with aggressive hormones. I additionally knew White was a veteran bike street racer. My date with clear blue sky was off. This was truly going to be a race.
Each of us took benefit of the take a look at and tune day on the Gainesville Speedway the Thursday earlier than the races started, making as many runs as attainable so we might hone our strategies. Aside from a blast down a busy avenue in Phoenix the night time the motor was first put in, this was the primary time I’d ridden the improved Imply Streak. And sure sir, it pulled like a bull. An air shifter fitted on the monitor was managed by the horn button—undoubtedly a nicety since my optimum launch rpm was about 4500 rpm and I’d shift slightly below the limiter at about 5800, which left little time to reel within the outdated clodhoppers. I used to be happy with my end-of-the-day runs (low 12s) and left the monitor feeling fairly assured.
Friday was a unique story. White and I had been entered in three courses: Avenue ET, Professional ET and Sizzling Rod Cruiser. The primary two classes are based mostly on prediction, and gained or misplaced relying on how shut you get to your personal estimated time. ET is an particularly enjoyable class as a result of it doesn’t matter how briskly your bike is…simply your pondering. Sizzling Rod Cruiser is pure head-to-head racing, and fortunate for us, the sphere was too small to permit disqualifying. I didn’t accomplish that effectively on my first couple of lights. I jumped one and slept by the following. My occasions had been far and wide and it messed with my head that White was pulling quicker runs. One minute I used to be the Queen of the World and the following I’d misplaced my cool. I used to be nonetheless having enjoyable, however White was wanting like a giant pin pointed at my balloon.
Our showdown was scheduled for Sunday and I used all my competitors runs on Saturday getting my launch again so as. Gadson would sneak in just a little teaching when he wasn’t busy making an attempt to nail down one other championship for Kawasaki. My final run of the day yielded a 12:12, my quickest time but on the Imply Streak. I used to be prepared for that White boy.
Ready in line for an hour to get a 12-second thrill isn’t very thrilling. Or that’s what I’d assume whereas I used to be sitting there. Then I’d transfer shut sufficient to breathe the smoking rubber and my coronary heart would pound and I’d assume, man, I can’t take this drag racing—it’s simply too intense. And at last, every time I’d tick that quarter-mile beam all I might assume was I wanted to be again in line so I might do it another time.
I hadn’t misplaced in Avenue ET but, however I choked in my race early Sunday morning, which I supposed was finest, because it gave me extra time to psyche out White earlier than our grudge match. We knew we wouldn’t go far within the precise Sizzling Rod Cruiser class as a result of as fast as our Vulcans had been, they weren’t as much as the 10-second quarter-miles the professional bikes had been working. However then once more, I wouldn’t get on a type of bikes that had been stretched with excessive mods and trip it again to California both. The Imply Streak felt as strong because it ever had and I trusted it simply as a lot.
White and I had each grown keen on ready consistent with the Sizzling Rod Cruiser riders although. We had been few, however we had been enjoyable. In all my days of overlaying races I’ve by no means witnessed such a jovial perspective between rivals. When it lastly got here time for the large showdown, the group insisted we go first so they would not miss it. A pat or two on the again and we had been shifting towards the burnout field.
When folks say, “That is the second I’ve been ready for” they often aren’t speaking about one thing that can final exactly one second. However right here it was. Every part slowed down once I was lastly dealing with down the monitor and dumping the clutch for that massive tire spin. I pulled out of the burnout and took a deep breath. Out of the nook of my eye I might see White jabbing a WWF-style finger my method, however it didn’t break my focus. After heating the tire I did just a little follow launch to see how effectively it attached earlier than shifting into the groove and inching as much as the primary beam. The primary set off will mild the highest staging bulb on the tree, and that is the place I sometimes cease respiratory. I pressed myself towards the tank, introduced the revs up and waited for White to stage. We had been working a professional mild on this class, so as an alternative of a three-light countdown there was just one full flash earlier than inexperienced.
I knew I’d gotten mild as a result of I by no means noticed it. My launch was wholesome and I didn’t lose any traction on both finish, however White was proper there. I pressed myself deeper towards the bike and watched the tach. A shift on the incorrect rpm would value the race. I tripped the quarter-mile beam at 12.19 seconds—only one⁄10 of a second earlier than White’s 12.29 (his finest run of the weekend). What a race, certainly. We had been each babbling like a few five-year-olds once we arrived again on the paddock.
Early the following morning I needed to fly again to the grind, however I’d’ve given absolutely anything to get on the Imply Streak and trip it again to Los Angeles as an alternative. I had no doubts about its reliability, and as a touring mount, it had already confirmed its energy. I did really feel just a little higher understanding I’d get the possibility to log extra miles on this machine although, because it was already slated for a long-term take a look at and had but to obtain cosmetics. At this stage of attachment, I wasn’t inclined at hand the Imply Streak again to Kawasaki anytime quickly. Perhaps Dave Rollins might set up a 12:1 compression package and I’d trip it within the ProStar opener subsequent season. Ah, there’s the drool.
From the jet I stared down on the empty countryside and the threads that bind it and realized I wasn’t actually going house. The fount of my contentment has nothing to do with 4 partitions and fuzzy slippers. For me, it’s the seat of a bike that gives serenity. And the open street is my entrance door.