Years sold: 2002-2008
MSRP new: $10,999 (2002) to $11,299 (2008)
Blue Book retail value: $4195 (2002) to $6500 (2008)
Basic specs: A sohc, fuel-injected, 50-degree V-Twin cruiser that displaced 1470cc in 2002 and 2003, then was pumped up to 1552cc via a bore increase from 2004 until it went out of production at the end of the 2008 model year. The 1500 made 63.7 horsepower and 74.4 foot-pounds of torque, good for a 13.47-second quarter-mile at 97.49 mph and a 112-mph top speed. On several occasions, we rode a 1600 Mean Streak but never put one on a dyno or ran it through the quarter-mile.
Why it won: As with numerous other bikes we have featured here, neither the 1500 nor 1600 Mean Streaks ever won a Ten Best award, but that is not an accurate reflection of their fun factor. Despite being built on Kawasaki’s not-particularly-scintillating 1500/1600 baseline Vulcans, these were some of the most capable cruisers on the market at the time, with inverted cartridge-style forks, upgraded air- and damping-adjustable shocks, oversized dual front disc brakes with six-piston calipers, sticky sport tires on 17-inch wheels and numerous engine hop-ups that included hotter cams, higher compression, bigger valves in freer-flowing heads and larger fuel-injection throttle bodies. The end result was a bike that could hold its own on a sinuous backroad in the afternoon and look the part when cruising Main Street later the same day.
Useful resources: Type “Kawasaki Mean Streak” into any search engine and you’ll get pointed to a lot of information about these bikes, which are beloved by the riders who own them. If you’re into forums, check out www.vulcanforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15641, or try
www.RiderForums.com/general-mean-streak. You’ll also find a few used “Meanies” for sale, as well as a wide variety of aftermarket gear for these cool cruisers.