New Kawasaki's VN1700

The new, chopped-down, touring VN1700 Voyager Custom is the third bike in Kawasaki's Voyager line-up to hit the UK and neatly fills a gap between the fully-dressed touring Voyager and laid-back, unfaired Classic.

Very obviously the Japanese V-twin – Kawasaki’s first full dress machine since the 1986 1200cc Voyager – is not only pitched directly at the Electra Glide, it’s designed to look very much like it too. Even the white-on-black clocks with their serif font are in the same style as Harley’s so the look from the cockpit is as American as the bike’s profile.Having said that, generally it’s been well executed as the bike looks the part, to the point where it is indeed mistaken for an Electra Glide, although in practice it’s not quite as kitsch as the American original.

As befits a flagship, the bike comes equipped with a number of new systems including Kawasaki firsts. K-ACT (Kawasaki Advanced Coactive-braking Technology) ABS is designed for smooth braking control and effective, confident braking. We would actually like to see ABS on all three of these bikes. It shares Kawasaki’s first fully electronic throttle valve system with its sister bikes for smooth engine response and easy starting in all conditions. Electronic cruise control and an impressive audio system compatible with iPod are also standard.

A number of features on the Voyager are intended to make long-distance touring as relaxing as possible for rider and pillion. The large, stylish fairing with its integrated lights is mounted to the frame so that any wind buffeting is transferred to the frame rather than the handlebars, helping to reduce rider fatigue on long trips. The windscreen was actually too high for all of us — nobody could look over it, which is the ideal on wet days. It’s not adjustable. We’d either install a shorter screen or cut down the existing one.
2011 Kawasaki VN1700 Voyager Custom specs


Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke V-Twin
Displacement 1,700 cm³
Bore x stroke 102.0 x 104.0 mm
Compression ratio 9.5:1
Valve/Induction system SOHC, 8 valves
Fuel system Fuel injection:φ42 mm x 2
Ignition Digital
Starting Electric
Lubrication Forced lubrication, semi-dry sump