You might find that an FZ1, ZX12 or Bandit 1200 is just what you are looking for, not to mention Suzuki's new SV 1000 or the Z1000 from Kawasaki. After all, you have one cruiser in the garage, why not add a more sporting ride to your stable and enjoy more than one type of riding.
I will predict, however, that once you sample what the above bikes can provide in terms of riding fun and increased performance, you won't be asking to borrow your old bike too often.
I would suggest either the 919 from Honda, Kawi's ZRX12, or the Bandit from Suzuki. All are reasonably comfy, powerful and fun. Be careful though, as these machine generate tons more power than the Vulcan.
Go to the Honda Hoot or somewhere where you can demo ride some of these. It's amazing how your perception of a bike can change after you actually ride the thing. I used to be scared of the V-max, but after test riding one, I wanted one.
Dude, you live in Milwaukee, like cruisers and need advice on what to buy? Whatever...
My suggestion, hold on until Bike Week in either Arizona or Daytona, hed there, go to the demo ride areas and stand in line to check out some bikes! Ride several, even the ones you "think" you don't like. Tons of really nice bikes out there these days, but you really need to ride them to see what you like!
As a slightly discontented ZRX 1200 owner, do as much comparison riding as possible before buying. You might find the inline 4 quite buzzy compared to a twin (especially at 70+ mph). While the ZRX is considered a heavy bike, the extra weight does help soak up the bumps and whatnot. It hides its weight, and serves me well for daily lane-splitting commuting here in SoCal. I do think the bike is a deal at $7900 msrp. However, the factory seat sucks. Get a Corbin.
If you trade your Shadow for a bike that's better than the Vulcan, you'll find yourself riding the Vulcan again. Ebay has a 95 Vulcan in Albuquerque for about $2250. Think of the fun of riding it home!
Of course it's amazing how a short demo ride can give you a false impression of a bike as well. Most demo rides are led rides for specified distances over preselected routes. In the usual 20 to 30 miles of not too challenging roads or speeds, you don't get the opportunity to assess a machines long term comfort or it's handling at the limit, etc.,etc.
But, I agree with you, it's better than nothing. and in many cases, you find out that the bike you were so hot on in the showroom, does not appeal to you at all, once on the road. It sure has saved me some money.
Cosider the 2002 VFR800. Now comes with hard luggage, comfy and it's red.
Corbin? I recently bought a Corbin seat and for the passenger, great. For the rider it sucks. The sweet spot is too far away from the bars. The seat rises at the tank which makes my boys cramped. They will fix it if I ride 5 hours up to Hollister. Now normally, 5 hours sounds good, but on my Corbin, I don't think so.
Corbin? Try Russell (kinda fugly, but supremely confortable) or Sargent (they do exactly what you ask, if you don't like it, well it's your own fault!). Both use your seat pan, so you never have a fitment problem. Sorry Mike (Corbin), you seats ain't what they once were...
For the most part, everyone is pointing you toward big bore "naked" bikes. All of the bikes in this class represent good value and should serve you well.
Another consideration, though stylistically it is the polar opposite of a cruiser, is the Suzuki V-Strom. Nice twin engine, suprising sporty performance (basically ALL print mags have said this), comfort for commuting and/or longer trips (two up if you wish), and hard luggage available all at a fair price.
If you get over the looks and read what has been written about this bike, you should consider it.
You didn't mention price, but what about the BMW R1150R? Another overall very competent bike that Burns had good things to say about on this site.
Any year Yamaha V-Star 1100. Not a monster in price or performance but coming from the Vulcan 750 you will be most impressed by the power and handleing pulling both commuter duty as well as the trips.
As was said in a previous post you should get to a demo ride and ride different bikes.
Both the Vulcan 750 and V-Star 1100 didn't fit my frame so I felt cramped but my Wife had over 28K miles on hers when she sold it for a H-D Road Glide. Most of those miles were put on during big mile trips 3K - 6K and the occasional 1K day.
She still gets weepy when she talks about her "Star". She loves her "Red Glider" but she wishes every day we could have kept it as a second bike. In her words, "It was just so much FUN!"
If you want a sportier ride with good touring capability, try a ZXR1200 or a Honda ST1300 or even an Yama FJ1300. However, if you want lots of torque, good acceleration and be really confortable on a long ride, go for a Kawa 1500 Nomad !!
It sounds to me that you have ridden long enough to consider most any kind of bike short of an all out big bore race bike.
I have experience with both the Bandit and the ZRex. The Bandit is more comfortable but with slightly less power and the brakes are a significant step down. Emotionally, I like the Rex best. Compared to the bikes you have ridden, both have quite a bit more powah. The inline four does vibrate differently than the V-twin but both do have their sweet spots.
After coming from a moderate sized twin, the 919 will have comparable power down low but when you rev it, STFB. It is nimble but the big bore bikes (Bandit/ZRex) are a more relaxed ride in that you have plenty of power without winding it up. If you do wind it up, all will go-the Rex in particular. The FZ-1 is super strong in this regard. The SV1000 without the fairing may be a great choice too. The SV1000S has kind of low handlebars, particularly coming from a cruiser.
I really like this type of bike but you will want to add a Givi top bag at least if you are use to having saddle bags.
All in all, I think the dealer that you buy from should be as important a factor as the bike itself-all of these bikes are terrific and quite capable.
You didn't state your budget. I'd try sitting on and riding all kinds of bikes. Bandit 12 or FZ 1 with luggage would be nice. So would a Road Star 1600. (you need a 2 inti 1 pipe to fit decent bags on R/S) . You might also try sitting on a Concours, or FJR 1300. Both comfortable sport tourers with hard bags. Concours is a really good deal at about $8k. Someone else suggested the V-Strom, reallly cool bike and luggage available. Have fun looking and ride the wheels off whatever you get!
One other thing about the Corbin seats. On their web site the show that the stock rear seat shell fits onto the Corbin seat. Well..... it will but it's a crappy fit. A gap shows up at the tail section and at the front, on the corners you can drive a truck thru.
I had always heard how great Corbin seats were. Geez.
Did they even use a VFR800 to when designing the seat for the VFR?
My stock seat I use more. I'm starting to realize what a great job Honda did. I use my Corbin only for two-up riding. My wife loves the Corbin's rear seat and the optional backrest. That, they did an excellent job on. Also, the finish and material on the Corbin was great.