Kawasaki VN900 custom
I'd wanted a bike for quite a while, but once my Dad got his license and had it for a while I thought there was no way Mum could argue when I got mine! I flew through the CBT and DAS in a month and got my full license at the end of 2007. I wanted a sports bike originally, but when I saw some of the power figures I decided a cruiser would be the safer option... Plus they're cool as hell and are the epitome of motorcycling. I looked at Harleys, (the ones I could afford) and was tempted by the Sportster, but then I saw this beauty at the NEC show. I fell in love. The 21" cast front wheel, the swept drag bars, the forward controls, the large staggered slash-cut pipes, the huge tank... a real thing of beauty, and a big bike compared to the tiny Sportster.
We got on great, slow speed control felt very easy for such a big bike and a novice rider, but after a month or two I started to notice problems.
The pipes were too quiet, the seat was uncomfortable after an hour or so in the saddle, the power was good but for a 900cc I felt there wasn't enough kick to it.
I joined a UK bike forum and a US Kawasaki forum for information regarding these issues and general cruiser riding. My UK bike forum was a little too sports bike orientated and I felt more at home amongst my fellow Vulcan riders... sadly this also opened my eyes to the addictive and expensive world of customising and modification.
I started modifying and customising in the early months of 2008 and I think I've pretty much finished now as I have her just how I want her. Maybe with a spare couple of grand I'll get a set of custom wheels, but that really is a little excessive at the moment.
For a chrome laden cruiser rider, I might shock you to say that I ride all year round and don't baby her at all.
I've been to France on her twice so far, (the 200 mile tank range helps!), been involved with various rallies, and also rode it in the National Rally where I finished in 18 hours, 12 of which we were battling with torrential rain.
I get a lot of attention from bikers of all types and ages when on it (which I love), and it really turns heads wherever I go, mostly due to people wondering what the hell that racket is!
It's my perfect bike and I really couldn't be happier with it. It's a joy to ride and makes me grin whenever I hear that V-twin bubbling to life.
From stock, here's what I've done so far:
- The first change was to change the indicator and taillight lenses to clear ones.
- I then removed the badges from the tank. They looked ok, but were a bit tacky. Plus once I'd seen how the bike looked without them on the forum, I had to have mine off!
- Next I added some engine bars made by a German company called Hepco & Becker. They're completely different to traditional oval shaped engine bars and I wanted some to fit in with the more modern/sporty style of the bike. Thankfully they work too! I had a little spill on a patch of ice a few weeks ago and they saved me an awful lot of damage and possibly injury!
- The horn on the bike was pathetic, so I installed a Fiamm AM-80 air horn. It sounds just like a car now.
- Shortly before my first bike trip to France I ordered a Saddlemen Profiler gel seat. It took half the day riding around France to break it in, but boy is it comfy! Definitely worth the money over the stock seat. Plus it's got flames stitched into it! :D
- Next, out with the bulky mirrors and in with some Arlen Ness Slingshot mirrors continuing the modern, sleek styling.
- Then I got rid of the large foot pegs, brake pedal and shifter and installed a set of Kuryakyn Pilot & Mini-Pilot pegs giving a minimalist look but also improving comfort on my tootsies.
- After feet came hands, and I installed some ISO grips to brighten up the dull black rubber grips, and add a little vibration dampening.
- A specially shaped piece of chrome fills in a blank area on the speedo console and really cleans up the view from the rider's seat.
- The front brake master cylinder cover was replaced with a chrome version with a flame pattern etched into it.
- The flat black rear brake reservoir cover was completely swapped out for a chrome replacement.
- I then added a full LED accent kit from StreetFX. It's taken me about 5 hours to wire everything up and position the lights. I've got 4x 6 LED pods and a 20 LED strip under the tank; a 22 LED strip and 2x 6 LED pods under the rear fender & 2x 20 LED strips and a 6 LED strip under the bike itself. I'm actually showcased on the StreetFX website too.
- As nice looking as the stock slash cut pipes were, they were too quiet for me. I removed those and installed a set of Cobra Speedster Shorts. These babies completely change the look of the bike and make it sound amazingly, (loud)!
- To give me a little boost, I switched the stock restrictive airbox for a free-flowing Kuryakyn Pro-R hypercharger. Mostly for looks, to be honest… it’s a beauty!
- Then to equal out the fuel injection due to the more free-flowing system, I installed a Cobra Fi2000r (similar to a Power Commander)
- After a little hiatus, I wanted to completely change the front end look of the bike so I fitted a Highway Hawk Triple Headlight. It had to have a custom bracket made to fit, which a friend fabricated from a spare stock headlight bracket.
- Sadly the halogen bulbs only have one filament, so I fitted 2 Bullet lights to the engine bars and these serve as my high beam. They’re not as good as a standard high beam, but they do give extra light and we all have to sacrifice a little function for form every so often!
- I originally installed chrome saddlebag brackets to support a cheap set of saddlebags I bought. But the supports really looked out of place with the bike’s clean lines, so a few months ago I splashed out and got some Easy Brackets and a new set of Saddlemen Cruisin bags. These Easy Brackets replace the large bracket on the fender with just 2 bolts onto which you just ‘drop’ a corresponding bracket attached to the bag. These can be locked and removed quickly and easily in a matter of seconds; switching from tourer to cruiser instantly.
- I’ve also just received a custom speedo face in the mail which I've attached and highlighted with blue backlighting. Now I’m done… promise.
My showcase page on the StreetFX website: http://www.streetfxseries.ca/motorcycle/photos/insolentminx-04/index.htm