Saturday, November 1, 2014

2010 Kawasaki Voyager 1700

April 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Motorcycle Reviews

Go to the “Kawasaki Voyager 1700″ Overview Page>>

Story by Neale Bayly. Photos by Adam Campbell.

Riveted in the moment, breathing slowly, and trying to absorb the intensity of Mother Nature’s splendor while buzzing on my man-made mechanical steed, I have attained my own motorcycle nirvana. Rolling out of Lone Pine, California, as the sun lights the gleaming white snow on Mount Whitney two miles above us, I’ve found it. I’ve found the perfect speed and mental attitude to fully appreciate the new 2010 Kawasaki Voyager as we head south through the majestic Owens Valley.

Having ridden for the past couple of days from Irvine, California, to the Alabama hills, and then into Death Valley with photos and video in mind, in this moment I find the big Kawasaki touring rig’s sweet spot. With the real whe work all done, this is a pure pleasure cruise, and rumbling down the picturesque highway I don’t want it to end.

With the tachometer reading right around twenty five hundred rpm, and the speedometer needle somewhere between 67-71mph, the throttle is barely cracked. I’m  comfortably seated in the broad, sculptured saddle, the engine simply purrs, and the full touring fairing is deflecting the cool air as we roll effortlessly down the two-lane highway. It’s like being on a giant conveyor belt with some gentle vibration and a light breeze programmed in for physical stimulation, while the rest of the sensory department gets stunning, postcard-perfect mountain backdrops to enjoy.

To my right, the Alabama hills provide a golden base for the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Crest, as vivid blue dry-salt lakes shine brightly to my left. Low flat land rolls up to a softer mountain range that pushes up into the cloudless sky, and the air at this altitude is refreshing and energizing. Turning on the sound system, I decide to over-stimulate my highly engaged grey matter with a little music from my iPod.

2010 Kawasaki Voyager

I missed the press intro for the Kawasaki Voyager 1700 when it was released in 2009, so while the new 2010 is essentially the same machine with some minor revisions, it’s new to me. Replacing the venerable Vulcan 1600 with an improved 1700cc power plant, the new 52-degree V-twin now kicks out 108 ft-lbs of torque at 2750 rpm, which is about a 15% increase. It’s also making 20% more horsepower and this peaks at 5,000rpm, with the rev limiter kicking in a thousand rpm beyond that. Compression ratio for the large 102mm pistons is 9.5:1 and they run in a 104mm stroke. These figures are a little different to the other models sharing this platform;  the Voyager is the mildest of the bunch.

A single overhead camshaft opens and closes four valves per cylinder, while two 42mm throttle bodies feed fuel and air into the big cylinders at the bidding of the digital fuel injection system. An electronic valve provides the perfect cocktail by reading throttle position, load, and the air pressure and temperature. All this ought to provide near perfect fueling anywhere from idle to red line, but there were a couple of times when the system felt like it was not performing as it should.

Coming off a long straight road where I had been running on a constant throttle, the bike had a minor coughing fit when I got back on the throttle after a stop sign. But this happened after filling the gas tank in Death Valley, and I can’t say it wasn’t a case of bad fuel because it only happened that noticeably on the one occasion. At other times it felt like we experienced a brief lean condition, which could have been the wind pushing the big rig around. For the rest of the time it performed flawlessly, and when in its sweet spot the bike is as good as it gets on two wheels.

2010 Kawasaki Voyager
Power goes to the rear wheel via a six-speed transmission and belt drive. The combination is more efficient than the old shaft drive system Kawasaki seemed to be fond off, and the two highest gears are overdriven. This makes for a very relaxed ride at highway speeds. Realizing this corresponds to the bike’s peak torque output explains why rolling down the road around 70mph is so effortless. The engine uses twin counter balancers, so the vibration from the single-pin crankshaft is minimal until the engine starts approaching the red line. Then it starts to let you know it’s there.

Acceleration on the big Kawasaki is measured and predictable, and the bike responds better to planned inputs when overtaking. Visually, the big V-twin engine is a real looker. Masquerading as an air-cooled lump, it is liquid cooled with finned cylinders and nice chrome accents on the cam covers and lower end of the engine. The rest of the engine parts have a matte black finish, which really helps make the chrome parts stand out.

2010 Kawasaki Voyager

Holding the big motor in place is a double-cradle steel frame with a box-section, single-tube backbone. A beefy looking 45mm conventional hydraulic fork lives up front and provides 5.5 inches of travel. It straddles a sixteen-inch front wheel with a 130/90 series tire. Braking duties are taken care of by a pair of 300mm rotors squeezed by four piston calipers. The version of the Voyager you see here in these pictures comes with ABS, which is an $1100 option at time of purchase.

The Voyager is fitted with what Kawasaki calls “K-ACT”, a linked braking system that is also used on the Concours 1400. Applying the rear brake pedal activates one of the front discs, while pulling the front brake lever works both the front discs in a conventional manner. Pressure sensors on the master cylinders read the bikes’ speed, and make necessary adjustments to the front/rear brake bias accordingly.

The system is disabled at speeds under 12 mph, and the ABS cuts off at 4 mph. This makes U-turns a lot easier when you have to rely solely on the rear brake to make the maneuver. Having used the system on a skid pad while testing the Concours, I consider it a fabulous safety feature that, hopefully, you’ll never need.

2010 Kawasaki Voyager

Air assisted shocks are used in the rear, and a 170/70 series tire wraps around another sixteen-inch rim. The shocks are adjustable for rebound damping and provide a very compliant ride. The front fork is typically cruiser soft, so it’s a good job the brakes don’t work it any harder. Still, during my time on the big cruiser we got to experience a wide variety road surfaces and I have no complaints about the way the suspension dealt with them.

Start pushing the Voyager on a twisty road and its 886-pound weight makes itself felt, but handling is super light and responsive thanks to the comfortable, wide bars at sensible speeds. Besides, hustling along canyon roads is not what this motorcycle is about. The 5.3 gallon tank gives you close to a 200 mile range before looking for fuel, and the sophisticated on-board computer tells you how many miles you have left before fill up time.

2010 Kawasaki Voyager

Sitting comfortably in the pilots seat, the initial view inside the fairing is pure old school. Good-sized round analog dials rimmed with chrome rings read engine and road speed, while a slightly larger multi-function LCD display in the middle gives a plethora of information to keep the savvy traveler on course. Featuring a gear position indicator, remaining fuel range and average fuel consumption indicators (over 40mpg for my bike during the trip) and dual trip meters, and odometer, you are not going to be short of information on the Voyager.

There is also a traditional fuel gauge to the left of the speedometer and a temperature gauge to the right of the tachometer. Over on the right handlebar is the switch for the cruise control. There are no surprises with the way this works, and touching either brake puts you instantly back in control of the throttle.

2010 Kawasaki Voyager

The old-fashioned looking radio not only pulls in FM and AM signals, it handles Satellite radio, an iPod and the on-board CB radio. This is a neat feature that is apparently making a return, and by simply installing a headset provided by Kawasaki before we left Irvine, we were easily able to communicate with each other as we rode. It’s a simple system that cuts out the music when someone starts speaking, and will be a great asset to those traveling with their fellow Voyager riders, or those wanting to communicate with truckers and other CB users. We had a lot of fun with the system and the headphones gave great in-helmet sound when listening to the radio or my iPod. The sound system also allows you to listen to music through the bike’s speakers located in the fairing, and this didn’t quite offer the same quality of sound. Not that it was bad, the headphones just do a better job.

The sound system can be operated with buttons on the radio, or by a series of switches on the left handlebar. These are a tad complicated at first, but some familiarization before hitting the road makes them a lot easier to use. There are a lot of options available and you don’t want to be learning them on the move. You can listen to music even when off the bike by putting the ignition switch collar to the accessory position. This is a nice feature when you are pulled over admiring the view and want a little music to enhance your experience.

2010 Kawasaki Voyager

For the long-distance rider the full fairing has a large windshield and plenty of protection. Frame mounted, the fairing provides more stability in high winds than if it were mounted to the handlebars. This also helps contribute to the light steering. The leg shields have adjustable vents to allow you to control airflow and the bike has better heat protection for the rider than the ’09, according to Kawasaki. Luggage capacity is ample, and the large trunk can take two full-face helmets, or 13.2 gallons of whatever else you customarily take on trips. There is an additional 20 gallons of storage space available between the two side cases, and these have a refreshingly easy top opening system which — like the trunk — is fully lockable.

2010 Kawasaki Voyager

The Kawasaki Voyager is traditionally styled, and the bike exudes quality with deep,  lustrous paint and liquid-smooth chrome. It’s available in a choice of Metallic Diablo Black and Metallic Imperial Red, or Metallic Midnight Sapphire Blue and Metallic Moondust Gray. The price for the non-ABS version is $17,299, and with ABS it’ll run you $18,399. It comes with Kawasaki’s traditional 36-month warranty and is available at dealers now.

Kawasaki has done a great job with the Voyager if you are looking for a bike in the heavy-duty touring category.  It is priced competitively, with a number of sensible upgrades from last year’s model based on customer feedback. It is also sophisticated, with modern conveniences and safety features. But with a truck load of looks and personality, it is still capable of giving the raw, visceral experience long-distance touring riders are looking for.

2010 Kawasaki Voyager

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Author: Neale Bayly (49 Articles)

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Originally from England, Neale is a full time freelance blogger and journalist who lives his passion motorcycles through writing, television production, and video creation.

Comments

17 Responses to “2010 Kawasaki Voyager 1700”
  1. avatar pete akers says:

    Ive been on a bike ever sence I was 12 years old, Im now 57 so I gess you could say Ive got some time on a motor cycle,but Ive never owned a full dresser.I have also traveled cost to cost and border to border on two wheels and this july Im going one more time from tulsa, okla to vergina beach ,vergina to visit my brother.on my 12 year old Harley Davdson Heritage it is still not a full dresser. the next bike that I get is going to be one of your Kawasaki voyager 1700.s wish me luck on my trip ok and I hope and pray that getting a new kawasaki bike will be very soon.Your truly pete

  2. avatar Rick Robinson says:

    I have owned the 2009 Kawasaki Nomad and, while the seats are the best stock seats I have ever sat on, the performance of the 1700 line was not reliable. First, rider foot placement on the flat footboards on the Nomad and Voyager models was uncofortable for me verses the position of the 1700 LT, which are further forward and angled. Second, there were recurring performance problems that Kawasaki was not able to overcome. One problem was with the ECU they are equipping the 1700s with. Once mine was replace, most of the slow return to idle problems and galloping idle problems were nearly eliminated, but still reared there ugly head from time to time. 40 miles per gallon? I don’t think so. There were times I was only getting 28 miles per gallon, and after 11,000 miles, I was only averaging 32-34 miles per gallon. I did reach a high of 56 miles per gallon while riding in the BlackHills of South Dakota, but that is because you rarely exceed 55 miles per hour in the hills and rarely get out of 4th gear. The more you used the sixth gear, the more your gas mileage suffers. I had great expectations of the 1700 series bikes, but once you get past the features of the bike (cruise control, computer readout, six speed) the varying engine performance, particularly were it is associated with fuel systems, became a huge disapointment, with Kawasaki unable to fined a cure. I have taken a 2010 Nomad for a test drive to see if the problems have been overcome and as I approached the first stoplight, I put in the clutch to coast to the red light and the engine died, just like my 2009. Apparently, they still have not fixed the electronic fuel delivery problems.

  3. avatar Adam says:

    This review told me nothing. If I were looking for features on the bike, I could just go to Kawasaki’s website. Everyone is an internet “blogger” now, but this guy just doesn’t tell me anything. The Voyager has been out for a year, is there still the reported belt wine? Did you ask the dealer or Kawasaki about the rough starts? Has the reported heat problem been repaired? Thanks for giving me no additional or supplemental information about the bike. I’d like my five minutes back.

  4. My husband and I have a 2010 1700. We love it. It’s our second bike. The only issue is that my passenger floor boards are too close to the driver boards. My husband keep hitting mine with his heels. But, he’s trying to compensate. We love the silver/navy blue colors. We’ve had nothing but compliments on the design. Trust me, he researched these bikes for the last 3 years.
    My question is this: Even though the bike is Ipod friendly will it accomadate an MP3? My daughters want to get him the MP3 for Father’s Day and want to know the compatability on this. Please let me know ASAP….Thanks again.

  5. avatar Dennis McDaniel says:

    Worst ergonomics on a motorcycle i had ever seen! i ve been riding & owning for 44 years. seat very uncomfortable. top heavy. transmission sounds like a bucket of bolts. If this is kawasaki’s flagship then they have been bombed and sank! i took a 4,000.00 loss on mine just to get rid of it!

  6. avatar william bilotta says:

    I’ve owned my 2010 Voyager ABS for about four months now and I can honestly say I wish I hadn’t purchased it. For starters, the bike has an intermittent problem with stalling when I pull in the clutch and the rpm’s start to fall, sometimes all the way to zero and I have to restart the bike. Dangerous and embarassing.

    Second, the heat produced by the engine can be unbearable. If the ambient temp is above 80F and you’re not cruising on the expressway you will feel the heat. God help you if you get stuck in traffic. The bike quickly heats up, the fan kicks on (doesn’t seem to help) and then you start to melt.

    Third, the radio reception fades in and out. I spoke to a supposed higher up at Kawasaki who alledgedly rides a Voyager and he agreed that the reception does fade in and out but “that’s just the way it is.” Nice answer. I gave up on the radio and I only use my Ipod. BTW, you’ll need to purchase the Ipod cable for $108.00 in order to use an Ipod.

    Fourth, the belt does chirp and there is a noticeable gear whine especially in third gear.

    And now the dash is starting to rattle. The plasti-chrome bezels around the instruments have started to loosen up so for the time being I’ve had to install pieces of carboard to try and quiet the noise. There is also a rattle inside the dash but I’m not tackling that problem. Let Kawasaki pay the dealer to fix it.

    The seat is comfortable and the engine produces enough power for me when it’s not stalling. The saddlebags and trunk do hold plenty of stuff, no shortage on space there.

    My advice is to hold off until Kawasaki decides to fix these problems which at this time it looks like the only problem they are recognizing is the engine stalling.

  7. avatar Paul Pierre says:

    I have my Voyager since june 2009, as for the heat problem on the driver and passanger right side(exaust), you have to ask your dealer to order an upgrade kit, it includes a new front cylinder pipe covers and also insulator to diffuse the heat for the driver and passangers right side. Please specify that the temperature in to hot because there is no recall it is on an case per case demand.

    As for the rattle in the crankcasem i have 14,000 miles and it sounds like a bag of bolts when i change speed. Not always but when it starts it lasts for quite a while.

    Did anyone check the silk screen logos on the motor, air filter, carnkcase, clutch covers, mine are all peeling off.I asked my dealer to order some new covers to change them and he agreed.

    Now the drivers seat. The first row of stitches is tearing so now i can see the white foam in my seat through the crack. The seat will also be changed.

    Last but not the least is the mirors, the chrome on the rear side is already having little rust spots appearing, so two new mirrors are beeing ordered.

    Hope this can’t help everybody out there.

    Yours truly.

  8. avatar admin says:

    Thanks for the insight Willian. We will let you know if we hear about any fixes.

  9. avatar M. Brotherton says:

    The BIG thing right now is the heat from the exhaust/engine on the right side. It is worse than ANY Harley I have seen!! My wife says it “cooks” her right foot too!
    And YES, mine too , cuts off sometimes when pulling in the clutch to come to a stop. and “spits” back sometimes when you are coming to a stop.
    It does handle very well though, kinda disappointed in the power ( I used to have a Yamaha Venture 1300 V-four). It is just NOT as rider freindly and comfortable as my Venture was. They SHOLUD have made it on the KN2000 frame where it would have been more roomy! And the gas mileage SUCKS!!! Don’t know what Kawasaki was thinking when they gave out THEIR numbers!!!
    Would I buy it all over agin…NO!

  10. avatar William Bilotta says:

    Update: To date I’ve sent two certified letters to Kawasaki addressing the stalling issue. The first letter went unanswered. I requested to have the ECU replaced, Kawasaki denied my request.

    This past Monday I received a call from Rick in Kawasaki’s customer service and was told a new ECU is being shipped to my dealer. I asked if this will fix the stalling issue and was told, “I don’t know.”

    The ECU will be replaced today and I will update afterwards.

  11. avatar John says:

    I got the 2010 voyager. Had it in the shop for three months for stalling out. The heat from the engine is so hot when I was wearing shorts I got second degree burn on my left calf. My wife will not evev get on it any more becouse of the heat. I have put 6000 miles on it and now that they fixed the stalling problem the only problem is the heat. I guess it would be a great bike in Alaska

  12. avatar Dennis says:

    I’ve had my 2010 now for about 4 months and have about 4,000 miles on it. I really like this bike. I haven’t had any stalling issues some ofyou have complained about, in fact, I am totaly impressed with how this engine runs, especially at highway cruising speed. I’m getting 43 mpg (and I’m a pretty heavy rider). The only problem mechanically that I’ve had is every once in a while if I cruise down a long hill and come to a stop the engine has died. It’s onlyh happened 3-4 times, so it’s not something I can complain about. The only other issue is the radio and antenna setup. I’ve determined the amplified antenna is worthless and is only there as a figurehead. The signal is coming from the amplifier just underneath it. So if you do lose it, (the antenna mast) I wouldn’t pay the $110.00 the dealer wants for this piece of hardware that’s worth probably somewhere around 5 bucks or so. I’m also not happy with the fact that there’s nothing to this radio without spending another thousand dollars or so. There’s not even a headphone jack, which I think is ridiculous for a large cruiser like this. The engine, is smooth and powerful – the transmission is a little noisy, particularly at low speeds though. Changing the oil to a 20w50 blended does seem to help at quieting the transmission. I purchased a mustang seat for it, and that really does help on the long rides.

    No, it’s not a $28,000 harley. It’s a $18,000 Kawasaki. It’s a nice bike for the price. And boy, do I get a lot of compliments on mine which is the red and black combination.

  13. avatar Luigi Stugotz says:

    The heat is a real problem with this bike. You stop for a red light and the fan kicks and it is unbearable… REALLY… even with the upgrade kit. The water cooling system is marginal at best. In 90 degree days the fan kicks in even at speed… not a good thing. A larger radiator and perhaps a forward blowing fan like Goldwings would certainly be a plus for this rolling oven. If you live in the south with a lot of 90 degree days I would not recommend this bike.

    All the complaints about the radio and stalling are also real. Kawasaki is just getting around addressing the stalling. Something they should have addressed immediately… instead they used the deny and stall approach. Some people are filing complaints about the stalling to the NHTSA which may have got Kawasaki off their butts. I don’t use the radio because it fades and garbles the audio.

    I don’t have any tranny or drive belt noises and have no complaints with them. Gas mileage does suck, the problem I have with that is the gas tank is only 5.3 gallons and you need to start looking for gas around 140 miles. Not a plus for a “touring” bike. The fuel gauge is worthless when you really need it… when your getting low on fuel. The LCD display “distance to empty” takes a hike and replaced with just the word “Fuel”, an on/off low fuel light and a fuel gauge swinging in the breeze. It is absolutely worthless… also… not good for a touring bike.

    It’s really sad that Kawasaki went to all the effort of developing and manufacturing a bike that should have been all the rage. But it is not. What good is a bike that stalls when you pull in the clutch and throws out so much heat you can’t ride it in the summer.

    All the pluses get trumped by all the minuses. I would not buy this bike again.

  14. avatar k winkler says:

    I bought a new Voyager last year(2009) in May and have taken several trips, I have had no issues with the bike whatsoever.

    I am 46 and have rode bikes since I was 5 years old and am use to every bike having “character” or “differences”, they offered some sort of additional insulation to help with the heat, but for me it has never been a problem so I did not take it in to have them add anything.

    I have never had any of the issues others have spoke of in previous posts.

    Love the bike, Kawasaki did a great job and saved me $6k so I didn’t have to buy a Ultra to get a full dress cruiser.

    I have owned 20+ bikes in my years, a lot of Kawasaki’s and this one is rock solid.

    80mph in the wind and the radio blasting…

  15. avatar Wan Azuar says:

    I purchased one last Oct 2010 and this bike is built for long haul ride. I did my breaking ride covering 600 plus KM in a day without feeling fatigue or tired and wanting to ride more of it the next day. My only issue on this bike is the heat and the small 20 litre tank. Recently there was a recall and they changed the ECU and that improves a little on the heat and it is now quicker and smoother engine.
    I will definitely keep this bike in my stable for a long time. The after sales support in Malaysia is wonderful.
    Thumps up Kawasaki Malaysia.

  16. avatar dave sadler says:

    just bought a 2012 voyager non-ABS, love it! been riding for 42 yrs.and my 87th. bike.last 3 were harleys, 07 flhx, 09 ultra, 11 flhx street glide!In my opion, this mach. is superior and thousands cheaper!only concern is the new syn, belt, noise in the 1st 3 gears? other than that, kaw has addressed the cooling problem with a little fan under the seat, did city riding in 85 degree heat, with no problems of rt. burning thigh, or crotch, like on my harleys!!handleing is smoother than HD too! I do agree a 6 gal. tank would be nicer, and recorded milage of 32 to 35, not the worst!!and mostly at 75 to 80 mph.!radio is great! and better than my HDs.too. I will be installing the rear speaker kit this week! great bike so far at 400 miles stay tuned…dave 05 20 2012.

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  1. [...] reading our man Neale Bayley’s account of his transcendental experience aboard “Kawasaki’s new Voyager tourer”, I’d been wondering what the bike was like to ride. Since it’s the only metric cruiser sized [...]



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