The Kawasaki Vulcan 900 is a popular cruiser motorcycle that carries a 900 cc V-twin fuel-injected engine available in three different models for the 2021 model year: Classic, Custom, and Classic LT.
Many people wonder whether the Vulcan 900 has ABS, and that’s one of the several questions we’ll be answering about this fantastic Kawasaki motorcycle.
This article answers the question “Does Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Have ABS?”…
Does Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Have ABS?
No, unlike its fellow Kawasaki siblings, the Vulcan S and Vulcan 1700, the Vulcan 900 does not have ABS despite many calls from riders for Kawasaki to consider adding it to this cruiser.
The front brakes of the Vulcan 900 are a single 300 mm hydraulic disc, and the rear brakes are a single 270 mm hydraulic disc.
This partially explains why the Vulcan 900 is available in the US market where ABS is not a requirement, unlike other markets such as the European Union.
What Is ABS?
An Anti-lock Braking System is a safety device fitted for the vast majority of modern vehicles.
It is a special braking system that is designed to prevent the driver or rider from losing control of their steering when they apply the brakes, especially in an emergency stop situation.
When ABS is installed and active, it will allow the driver to retain control of the vehicle and steer it properly even while braking.
A car or motorcycle’s ABS is formed of a series of sensors that detect when wheels might be about to lock up during braking.
It is when wheels lock up and stop spinning that the driver may start to lose control of the situation.
When the ABS sensor detects the locking upcoming, it sends a signal to the ECU and instructs that wheel to release the brake pad intermittently, which allows the wheel to keep spinning enough to allow the driver to retain control.
This action is sometimes referred to as “pumping the brakes.”
How Does ABS Optimize Maneuvering?
In order to keep traction in your wheels, they need to have both rotational and translational velocity. That means they need to both roll and have a forward direction.
Keeping this in balance is what allows you to retain control and maneuver the vehicle as and when you need it.
Traditional brakes worked by seizing up the wheel and slowing the vehicle via friction.
When traveling at low speeds and braking from a safe distance, this system worked very effectively.
The problems came when you applied the brakes hard when traveling at higher speeds, or when effecting an emergency brake.
Wheels that aren’t rotating don’t have proper traction with the road and you can’t maneuver them.
By pumping the brake, the ABS system releases the wheel from the brake pad, allowing it to retain at least enough spin for the driver to maneuver the vehicle left or right.
This crucial difference means that one could apply the brakes hard, but also pull over to the side of an obstacle in front to avoid hitting it, all without losing traction.
In other words, the ABS allows the wheels to retain both rotational and translational velocity.
For motorcycles, in particular, ABS is especially useful for retaining control and maneuverability in wet road conditions.
By automatically managing the brake pressure, it allows even less experienced riders to stop more safely on wet roads.
More experienced riders claim they can achieve the same or better effect without ABS, but proponents of ABS argue that this ability shouldn’t be contingent on riding experience alone.
Does Weight Or CC Decide If It Needs ABS?
Both the weight and size of the motorcycle in question do have a significant bearing on the need for ABS, at least according to safety experts and legislators.
In terms of bike weight, the general rule of thumb was that the heavier the motorcycle, the more important that it is to install ABS.
There is some argument about this, however, not just based on the bike weight, but also that of the ABS system itself.
Proponents of motorcycle ABS systems argue that all bikes should be fitted with it so that they can benefit from shorter stopping distances and greater control, especially in wet or otherwise tough conditions.
Others disagree, pointing first to the additional weight of an ABS system. With older models, this was a valid point because they were derived from car ABS systems.
Newer models, however, have ABS units as light as 1.5 pounds, and small enough to be easily concealed within the bodywork of the motorcycle.
The size (cc) of the bike is also a very relative factor.
Bikes under 125ccs, even in strict environments like the European Union, aren’t required to have ABS installed.
This is because they are typically lightweight machines such as off-road bikes, scooters, mopeds, and other similar models.
ABS brings no net benefit to riders of these bikes, and in fact, can sometimes be a hindrance.
For bikes over 125cc, however, it is believed that ABS is a beneficial addition.
Can You Drive In Snow Without ABS?
Technically, yes you can, but to do it safely requires more skilled and experienced hands.
The key thing to remember is that snow is a surface on which there is very little friction.
That being the case, locking up the wheels where you lose any ability to safely maneuver your vehicle is extremely hazardous.
Experienced motorcycle riders would know how to safely reduce speed, pump the brakes manually and prevent lockups from occurring.
Pro-ABS engineers point out that going without ABS or purposefully deactivating ABS in the snow is a dangerous idea and shouldn’t be attempted.
It is therefore probably right to say that while it is physically and technically possible to drive in snow without the benefit of ABS, it is not something that any rational or safety-minded person would recommend doing.
Are There Any Vulcan Models With ABS?
Yes, there are.
In fact, most Kawasaki Vulcan models come with either ABS as standard or as an optional extra.
The Kawasaki Vulcan S Sport Cruiser, for instance, features ABS, as do the Vulcan 1700 Vaquero ABS bagger cruiser models and the Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS touring cruiser models.
Currently, the Vulcan 900 is the only one not to offer ABS as an option in the Vulcan range.
What Is The Difference Between Having And Not Having ABS In A Motorcycle?
The first difference is the amount of control you can guarantee when riding and then having to perform emergency or sudden braking maneuvers.
When you have ABS, you have the safety net of shorter stopping distances and the ability to brake hard without your wheels locking.
Many would see this as a positive feature.
On the other hand, another difference is that not having ABS forces riders to learn to rely on their own skill for braking and maneuvering.
Some critics of ABS in motorcycles point to the fact that new riders start to use ABS as a crutch.
Depending on ABS too much from too early on just means that riders never learn how to brake properly.
It could even mean that new riders ride more recklessly, thinking that ABS will always save them.
Can I Add ABS To My Vulcan?
The short answer to this question is yes, you can.
Those who are concerned about their Vulcan 900 lacking an ABS system can pay to have one installed.
As we mentioned further above, the typical weight of a modern ABS system is only 1.5 pounds, and it can be well concealed within your Vulcan 900 so others wouldn’t even know it’s there.
The only visible sign will be the presence of the ABS tone wheel, which is arguably the most visible sign that a motorcycle has been fitted with ABS.
Some governments and safety organizations point out that a motorcycle that has been originally fitted with ABS will always be safer and more reliable than those who have it retrofitted with an aftermarket system.
OEM systems have the advantage of rigorous and thorough testing to ensure that this ABS works with this particular model under any conditions.
Aftermarket parts are affordable, and there are many high-quality options, but there’s less guarantee that they are optimized to the specifics of your Kawasaki Vulcan 900.
Therefore, if you want a Kawasaki with ABS, then you should choose one of the other models mentioned above that come with ABS as standard.
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