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What’s a BUBF?

The BUBF (Butt Ugly But Fast) and the BUBIF (Butt Ugly But It’s Fast) are 1500cc Vulcan 88, 88SE, and L Models (the A, B, and C series, respectively). These bikes are unique having a 1470 cc total displacement; over square bore and stroke: 102.0 x 90.0 mm; 9:1 compression ratio; V-twin cylinders, 4-speed transmission (sorry, no way to put a 5-speed in a BUBF :(), shaft drive, and liquid cooled engine. Each cylinder is served by a Keihin CVK36 carburetor which helped to foster the STOCK versions' reputation as the fastest scoot in the carbureted Vulcan family.

See for a quick and complete specifications listing for the BUBF.

The Vulcan 88/88SE/L’s have simple, straight lines, unlike the more elaborate retro style design of the Vulcan Classic which has only ONE carburetor serving both cylinders.

TECH TIP: Access Kawasaki PDF specifications, 1500A10, 1500C04. You will need Acrobat Reader to view these files. Kawasaki has not made PDF specifications available on-line for the 1500A1 through 1500A9, nor 1500B. Go to and follow the owner and vehicle information links for other model years.

What do A/B/C mean in relation to the 1500?

The A/B series of 1500 Vulcans were first manufactured in 1987 (VN1500A1/B1). The A series continued manufacture through the A13 in 1999, the last year the A was manufactured. The B6 appears in the service manual through 1992, but appears to only have been sold in the U.S.A. through 1990(B4).

The C series (C3 and C4, 1996 and 1997 respectively) were sold in the US for a relatively short time.

The A/B/C are essentially the same bike having Kawasaki twin carburetors, and a V-Twin engine. The B series is much like the A except for its wire spoke wheels, ROUND air intake covers, smaller (3.2 gallon) gas tank, and larger main jets. A’s have oval shaped air intake covers and 4.2 gallon tank. The B’s rear fender sweeps up and out while the A’s curves down following the rear tire lines.

The C is similar to an A with the addition of wire wheels, different stock handle bars (one piece drag style), and gold "wings" on the Vulcan gas tank emblem. Any mention of the 1500L model name (again, similar to the 88 and 88SE) should be taken to mean the C series Vulcan. It is sometimes called the "L".

TECH TIP: KAW has three ways of "identifying," our 1500A scoots. Using the BUBF "A" is the slang method: Marketing uses "Vulcan 1500-88"; Service and parts use "VN1500-A9" where the "A" is the "series" and the "9" is the 9th year (1995) in the series. The 1500-88E and 1500L are similarly identified.

The VIN number is used for title and license plate registration, and warranty tracking by KAW. A 1995 BUBF "A series" VIN number looks like "JKBVNAA10SA02XXXX" (17 characters in all), where "XXXX" is a number unique to that bike. The VIN number is part of the information contained on a label attached to the side of the steering head. The tag is easily read by turning your handlebars to the far left and reading the VIN number off the label. Be aware that the engine has its own separate serial number.

TECH TIP: The wire wheels from a 1500C can be swapped with those on a 1500A. To swap tires, you will need the rubber bands that go over the spokes ends inside the rim, and inner tubes, but the tires generally will swap with no complications. I have wheels from a 1500L on my 1500A (as well as the handlebars) and like both way more than the stock 1500A buckhorns and cast wheels. Troll around and see if some 1500L owner is sick of his look....
wiredgeorge ~V~2420 96 1500A Leander, TX

TECH TIP: The business I called about pricing spokes / re-lacing was: Wheel Works 12787 Nutwood Garden Grove CA 92640 1-714-530-6681 About $85 (1998 price) for a set of spokes , doubled to have them re-lace.
Cash Register ~VROC~ 1033

TECH TIP: The C2 that I got [in Japan] (the same as Toa's and a few others [in New Zealand and Australia] is a bit different than the states model. I believe the differences are (correct me if I am wrong as I don't know the states model that well)

  1. Buckhorn bars instead of drag bars [US model has drag bars]
  2. The rear turn signals are mounted to the passenger backrest instead of off the fender
  3. The rear brake light is above the license plate instead of visa versa
  4. Two horns are mounted below the headlight, instead of one at the side
  5. The wiring to the lights is different (headlight switch goes from off to dim to fully on)
  6. It was already coastered when I got it and I think it was stock that way
  7. The owners are much more handsome <g> [wide open for debate]

The similarities include the wire spoke wheels and a golden winged tank badge.

Hope this doesn't confuse things more. Ken Ritchie at wrote on 12/20/02 12:35 AM:

What maintenance and mileage maintenance can I do?

In addition to the pre-ride check-out of tire pressure, oil, gas, and coolant level, plus a quick check of the brakes and turning indicator lights, there are additional important checks you can make between periodic dealer maintenance and/or the work done by the self-maintainer.

As suggested by this author, on a weekly or more frequent basis, you should check your hydraulic fluid levels (Clutch , Front, and Rear Brake hydraulic levels); check tire treads for wear and stones, nails, etc. stuck in rubber or between treads. A quick look at your brake pad wear (without removing the calipers from the frame) is a good practice.

Every 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometers), you should check and adjust where applicable: your spark plugs, clutch hydraulic fluid level, your rear drive fluid level, and change your oil. You should check your battery water level regularly and more often in hot weather to avoid damage to the battery and your having to replace the battery prematurely. The service manual calls for a 12V 20 (amp hour) battery. Your motorcycle dealer or good battery dealer familiar with motorcycle batteries can provide a good replacement battery of the proper power and SIZE when the time comes to buy a replacement.

When you buy a battery, make it a practice to have the dealer fully charge the battery. Or, fully charge the battery yourself BEFORE YOU USE IT IN YOUR SCOOT. Using a partially charged new battery will set the maximum charge limit at the level it’s first used and the battery will never hold more charge than the first day you installed and used it.

Undue clutch slippage may be caused by a worn clutch spring. The procedure for checking and replacing the clutch spring (Kawasaki part number 92144-1295) is in the KAW Service Manual and the Clymer’s Manual. This is also an excellent link with pictures that can be accessed through a VROC Archives "search".

As referenced in the Kawasaki Owner’s Manual (which every owner/rider should have as a minimum for reference) and the Service Manual, there are several other checks to be made every 3,000 miles such as carburetor synchronization, air suction valves, idle, etc. Some of these checks require special tools which are available through your dealer and third party parts distributors. The author suggests you have your dealer or a qualified mechanic perform these maintenance checks if you don’t want to buy these tools to do the checks yourself. return to Master Table of Contents

TECH TIP: Steering Head Maintenance: If the Bearings Go BAD: Alas after trying to grease them up with some improvement initially the prognosis is surgery with replacement. I rode the bike Sunday about 40 miles with no problems then the friction in the bearings must of created some major heat cuz at a couple of right turns it just flat bound up. I had to jerk it back and forth to loosen it enough to take a left then we chatted with some friends till she cooled down enough to go further. Needed a second stop in less miles so Kilo declared it needed replacing.

We ordered the parts this past Tuesday to the tune of $60.00. They'll be in next week, Wednesday or so. We're thinking of doing the job ourselves, but we really don't have the tools (torque wrench and special Kawasaki tools for removing/installing bearings) to do it. So likely after that it'll be off to the shop. Just for your records and future bearing jobs my present mileage is 28,236. I know of Tweek's Classic and Wag's 800 Classic needing bearings here in NC, but I've no clue what the mileage was at the time. I got to ask.

BabeNthWnd v 3113 (The Kawasaki 1500A9 service manual suggests new grease every 2 years or 12k miles, whichever comes first. I suggest more often if the bearing get a lot of water or dust. -Manjo V1111)

Which tools do I need to maintain my bike & which tools are nice-to-have?

For changing your oil, spark plugs, tightening miscellaneous nuts and bolts, you should have a set of METRIC box wrenches; both a Philips and standard blade screw drivers, standard pliers and needle nose pliers. Many of these tools are similar to the basic tools in the tool kit you should have stored in a compartment just behind the rider’s seat (under the pillion pad) that’s accessed after you remove the seat from the bike. The B’s tool kit is under the p-pad, but it’s accessed at the rear of the p-pad.

For more involved maintenance you should have a set of standard METRIC sockets and socket wrench. A deep (and narrow) 18 MM socket for taking out the deeply recessed second spark plug on each cylinder is a good tool to have. Some standard spark plug sockets have side walls that are too thick to fit into the deeper and narrow spark plug recess to get down to the spark plug itself. A torque wrench is also useful. A 10 ft-lbs. to 75 ft-lbs. torque wrench for tightening spark plugs (12.5 ft-lbs.), oil drain plug and oil screen plug (14.5 ft-lbs.), and engine and frame bolts (25 – 45 ft-lbs.) should take care of many jobs.

Where can I get a Service Manual (and/or Owner’s Manual) for the BUBF?

Your dealer has or can order you the service manual (and/or a replacement owner’s manual) for your bike. Both are important for general reference and specific information on your bike year. Clymer has sells a BUBF manual #: M357 1987-1998 Kawasaki VN1500 Vulcan. This is the BUBF (non-Classic) version. In any event, don’t leave home without your owners manual.

TECH TIP: Source for shop manuals is Motocom They deliver (promptly) and take Visa. I've used them and they're faultless, at least they were for me.
Toa #1614 (KS'96 BUBF Sport Cruise, Wellington, New Zealand

TECH TIP: I have the Clymer book in question for our BUBF’s. It is not bad. I find that with Mother KAW’s maintenance manual they are perfect. One compliments the other.
Ken ‘Gods Sky Pilot’ Byars VROC #2491

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