It was a bold but ultimately successful move when Harley-Davidson decided to take a crack at the learner-approved market. The American brand launched its Street 500 in 2015, and the bike has stayed around the top of the sales charts ever since.

Also launched in 2015 was Kawasaki’s Vulcan S, another model designed to give youngsters a taste of the open-road dream.

In the first quarter of 2020, Harley-Davidson sold 205 Street 500 units, making it the third best-selling road bike in Australia. Meanwhile, the Vulcan S landed in sixth place with 158 total sales.

Both are priced from just under $10,000 before on-road costs and are similarly equipped from standard. So, what’s the difference?

The Harley-Davidson is motivated by a 494cc liquid-cooled V-twin that delivers 36hp (27kW) and 41Nm, weighing in at 233 kilograms (wet).

Meanwhile, the Kawasaki Vulcan S weighs in at 226kg and benefits from a 649cc liquid-cooled parallel twin, producing 35kW and 53Nm.

Both feature fairly basic dials with LCD screens, however, the Vulcan shows more information like dual trip metres, remaining range, fuel consumption and an ‘Economical Riding Indicator’.

The Vulcan’s wheels measure 18-inches (120/70) and 17-inches at the rear, while the Street 500 makes use of a 17-inch (100/80) front, and a 15-inch (140/75) rear wheel.

Harley-Davidson Street 500 specifications

Type: Liquid-cooled, Revolution X V-twin
Displacement: 494cc
Power/Torque: 27kW @ 7100rpm, 40Nm @ 3500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed, belt final drive
Tyres: Front 100/80-17, rear 140/75-15
Seat height: 709mm
Wet weight: 233kg
Fuel capacity: 13.1L
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited kilometre
Colour: Vivid Black, Performance Orange, Black Denim, Barracuda Silver Deluxe, Vivid Black Deluxe

Kawasaki Vulcan S specifications

Type: Liquid-cooled, eight-valve, parallel-twin
Displacement: 649cc
Power/Torque: 35kW @ 6600rpm, 53Nm @ 5600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed, chain final drive
Tyres: Dunlop Sportmax 120/70-18 front, 160/60-17 rear
Seat height: 705mm
Wet weight: 226kg
Fuel capacity: 14L
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited kilometre
Colour: Metallic Flat Spark Black

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