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 Kawasaki VN 1500SE 1990 – American Model : “Vulcan 88 SE”

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We wanted to give our first 2-cylinder motorcycle a special rebuild. We developed ideas but after making several inquiries, we found, disappointingly, that there were only a few minor accessories available for this motorcycle. We decided to make our own custom parts and gradually we bought the tools and machines to do so. The building process took until 1995 to finish, when we were finally satisfied with the end result : an extraordinary machine which we appropriately named the “Master Blaster” !

Sadly in 1999, for various reasons, we sold this bike. Later changes, that the new owner(s) made, are covered on another Project page. Here is an overview of our work :

Until 1993 we changed very little : we painted the edges of the cylinder fins gold and added a couple of emblems on the air filter covers.

 

 

In January 1993 we started making arrangements for our adventure : we wanted to drive the Alaska Highway with our own motorcycle. We felt that our Vulcan was completely capable to make this journey but some changes had to be made. We replaced the fuel tank with a larger tank from the VN1500A and had it special painted. We had heavier shock absorbers made to take up the extra weight from our baggage.

We designed and made an extra reinforced baggage rack and sissy bar to accomodate everything that we needed to take with us on our wilderness camping trip. In July our Vulcan was shipped by air to Vancouver, Canada and we flew there a few days later. We spent the first week driving to Vancouver Island, then back to Vancouver, and then via the Okanagen Valley, up to Dawson Creek B.C., the beginning of The Alaska Highway.

Then we started on our journey, following the Alaska Highway through northern British Columbia, Yukon, and reaching the end destination of Delta Junction, Alaska during our second week, then up to Fairbanks. We were challenged by the weather, varying from sunshine and 30°C, to snow storms and -10°C, with hail and rain inbetween!

Also, the highway added an extra, unexpected challenge because of on-going construction and repairs : there were no detours, you drove through it ! In our third week, we drove back along the Alaska Highway to Dawson Creek and then continued on to Grande Prairie, Alberta. During our last week, we arrived back in Vancouver with a couple of days to spare, giving us time to see some of the sights and to get our motorcycle checked in and ready for the return flight. We had a wonderful adventure, an experience that we will never forget!

Our Vulcan never let us down, and passed a rigorous test with flying colors! We drove a total of about 12,000km.

 

 

 We made a lot of changes to our Vulcan during the winter of 1993 – 1994. The exhaust was completely rebuilt : 2 separate pipes, the same length given a hard-chrome finish, and long turn-out mufflers. We installed a forward control set, a new set of passenger footpegs to match, and we added passenger “highway steps” which the driver could also use : 3 sets of pegs !
We had all of the engine covers given a hard chrome coating plus the new radiator cover and the new luggage carrier which we made ourselves. The original sissy bar was lengthened. The fenders also received special paint to match the fuel tank. We added new mirrors, painted the letters and numbers on the tires gold and added our souvenir license plate from Alaska.

 

 

 

We found a company who could supply us with a longer front fork and triple tree set of +12°. In the winter of 1994 – 1995 we installed it. Just what the bike needed ! We added a square head light, oval mirrors, different hand grips, made our own customized, stainless steel 8 inch risers with a 70cm wide dragbar, and a couple of other odds and ends. The bike still handled well, and we were pleased with the results.

 

 

When we started riding our Vulcan again in the spring of 1995, there were still a couple of things that we wanted to change, no matter what. We started looking around and found a “Cobra” seat which was much thinner. Then we started looking for a solution to get rid of the very ugly “saucepans” (air filter covers) and we found one, or two : Kuryakyn Hyperchargers!

We made a system to attach them, tuned the carburetors, and we had our “Master Blaster”! We added a few finishing touches to the sissy bar, and modified the radiator cover, adding our Vulcan's new name.

What a bike! A real pleasure to ride!

 

 

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