There are probably less than 40 Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter cruisers in Australia but one owner, Norman Hall, recently caught up with two other Drifters.
“There are lots of interesting and rare motorcycles to come across that can put a smile on your face,” says Norman of Melbourne.
“The Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter is just one of those bikes that you will be lucky to ever come across.”
Murray Sayle of Kawasaki Australia says the Kawasaki Drifter was imported into Australia for the 1999 model year.
“There were approximately 50 units sold in 1999-2000. There was one 2000 model year unit sold, sales were slow … and it was not imported again after 1999.”
There have been a few private imports but not many.
If we assume that 75% of Drifters are still on the road and ridden regularly then there are probably less than 40 of them across all of Australia, Norman says.
“Until last week I had only seen three Drifters, other than my own, though between a friend from the Vulcan Baggers Group and myself we had placed roughly 26 spread across Australia,” he says.
“With the aid of Rhett, a new Drifter owner, we arranged a small get together of three of these rare bikes and took them for a spin from Melbourne down to Flinders and back.
“After our impromptu photo session we headed for a coffee and to spin a few stories about our relatively rare bikes.
“Between fellow Drifter owners Rhett, Colin and myself we speculated that this may be the first time ever that three Drifters have ridden together in Victoria in the last 20 years.”
Inherited pride and joy
Norman inherited his Drifter back in 2013 after his father, Kerry, passed away.
“It was his pride and joy,” he says.
“The Drifter will remain in our family for sentimental reasons and my youngest son has already placed dibs on it when I die, or sooner if he has his way.”
Since receiving the bike Norman has ridden it about 25,000km through Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, ACT and New South Wales.
“Because this bike is rare, one of the downsides (or upsides) to owning and riding it has been the constant conversations with strangers wherever I go,” Norman says.
“Until the new Indians started to become more common place, most had never seen its like. As well as the ride, the constant waves from kids in cars and thumbs up from drivers helps keep a big smile on my face when riding.
“The Drifter has also proven to be one of the most reliable bikes I have ever owned and only on one occasion did it have any issues that slowed my ride.
“The problem ended up being one wire under the tank with an intermittent contact but the Drifter still got me safely from Newcastle to Melbourne before the problem was found.
“Kawasaki were ahead of their time with this bike with its unusual design, ultra-smooth gear box, responsive engine and smooth ride. It remains a better ride than most other bikes I have been on that are much younger.”
Norman first rode an old Honda C90 at the age of 15. After many years of not riding due to the usual work, marriage, kids etc excuses he returned to riding and in recent years owned several Yamaha V Star cruisers. He also owns a 2017 Indian Roadmaster.