Retrograde Engineered by Icon 1000



2015 Kawasaki Vulcan 650S

Dethgrip started life as a beauty

The height of ergonomic mediocrity executed in a low-slung cruiser-ish chassis. You may recognize her from previous hits such as “I Wanna Rock Your Baby Ninja, Baby” or “Like a Versys”. For the “Vulcan S” album, Kawasaki set the auto-tune to stun and went with a 42-position seat, almost forward controls, and layback apes. Not exactly the buzz saw rock we’d come to expect from our favorite “Let the Good Times Roll” band, but a solid sales success none-the-less. From an ICON point of view, what she lacked in blistering guitar, she more than made up for in ease of availability, i.e. we got her for free.

Dirty Ovaling

Given her inline twin birthmark, we felt it only right to build her for dirty ovaling. It so happens the ICON garage team had been challenged to a flat track rumble versus the Speed Merchant gang. With the Kawi coming in at half the displacement of the SM Sportsters, the Vulcan would require a metric f-ton of work in order to be competitive. We set things to rights with aggressive chopping, retro-engineering, and a scientific calculator the size of a bagel.

We fixed it, though.

Originally she was blessed with a set of 41mm conventional forks. A wise, albeit conservative, choice from our favorite heavy-industry company. While team green engineers definitely know their way around container ships and diesel-electric submarines, their approach to the stock 650’s front end was…conventional. The thing is, when one crafts their own home-cooked springer forks, they should really consult a professional. We didn’t. But we did consult three different fabricators. They worked the lime lady like a rented glove. Through much trial and even more error, we got the geometry fully sorted. We then attached $6000 worth of Nitron piggyback clickers to help atone for our trigonometric sins.

Proper wheel sets are key if you want to put your competitors into the wall, so we ham-fisted two 19" front Harley CVO wheels into her sparrow-like frame. And she liked it. A lot. Continuing our digressions, we covered the contrast-cut seven spokes with our favorite turn-left rubbers. History will note we’d been running Maxxis DTR-1s on ICON builds since before they were un-discontinued, back when you had to source them through Midwest feed & grain stores in trade for a vial of mom’s expired opioids. It was a different time when dirt was still dirty and not sole alive but Gary gave a damn about the beauty of blue groove.

Thanks to our partners for participating in this bike build

Major Tom

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Slow Burn

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New Jack

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