The end result is a bike that weighs 60 pounds less than the Voyager and looks remarkably familiar, despite cutting a unique profile of its own. Familiar to Harley aficionados will be the side profile of the engine compartment, except the primary drive is on the right side, while the “cone” cover (not the cams) is on the left. Fender fillers are taken right off the bagger menu, while it eliminates the added spotlights of its more hardcore big brother, much like the Street Glide, on the Vaquero the lights are replaced with some snazzy louvers.
"The vaqueros seemed to treat them with a certain deference but whether it was the deference accorded the accomplished or that accorded to mental defectives they were unsure"
All the Pretty Horses
Riding it is what really counts though, and the Vaq doesn’t disappoint. Dropping 60 pounds off of a bike is like getting free horsepower, and while the Vulcan isn’t crazy fast, it’s got a nice fat slice of midrange torque that comes on past 2,500 rpm. Power is delivered in a smooth but soulful manner; you can feel the counterbalanced engine throb under load, in a good way. The gearbox is similarly designed with a good, chunky feel that is absolutely positive as it clicks through the gears. Not that you’ll be doing much of that. The six-speed box is geared way tall, with both Fifth and Sixth gears overdriven. Paired with a motor that likes to stay in the midrange, we have yet to find a purpose for Sixth; you can use it, but it just feels weird.
If you see someone riding a horse, and don’t have the money to buy one, don’t get a donkey for yourself
Handling is on the light side, especially for such a big rig. It turns in readily and holds its line through corners, easily using up its ground clearance, but having plenty for most people. Though you sit low in the machine, it feels like a tall bike when carving corner after corner, falling in a bit, and liking the rider to feed in some throttle and motor out. At 6-foot, I had some buffeting from the short shield, but nothing more than the norm. Thankfully there is a range of windshields in various heights, all taller than the blacked-out shorty that comes stock. The seating accommodations are quite nice, with a relaxed position and a nice reach to the boards that should fit most. The bars are a bit close for a chimp like me, but bars are always the easiest thing to fix. Deciphering what all the bar controls did was a challenge. The display controls on the right are directly above the cruise control, while on the left, the radio controls were stacked near the horn and the turn signals. I got it before the end of my ride, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few beeps and accidental station changes when changing lanes. The problem is that all the switchgear feels roughly the same, especially through gloves.
Out on the open road, there was plenty of time to fiddle with all the buttons, flick through the songs on my iPod (connected via optional accessory), check to see how good the gas mileage was…which was tough, since the range-to-empty gauge goes off of instant fuel economy not history, so the estimate can swing wildly on a road with some character. The sensitive steering isn’t all that apparent out on the open road with wind gusts doing little to upset the apple cart. With standard cruise, good speakers, and a nice muted rumble, it’s a fine ride for whiling away the miles.
So what is all this cowboy crap, you ask? We don’t know ourselves, but riding through the hills of south Texas, I might have heard a little whinny from beneath me…but that might have been from the BBQ we had for lunch. B