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Is Kawasaki Versys the Ultimate Dual-Sport Adventure bike?

The name Versys comes from the conjunction of the words “versatile” and “system”. It is not just a detail, but a definition of the entire Versys line of motorbikes. Motorbike giant manufacturer Kawasaki borrowed the best from every bike they manufactured. The result of that skilful combination is a motorbike that excels in every terrain possible. Factory specs are quite amazing, and 2019 additions establish the line as a go-to for many riders. Fasten your helmet and zip-up your leather jacket as we review this great line of machines. I will tell you everything you need to know about the Kawasaki Versys and also about some amazing aftermarket accessories.

Kawasaki Versys Series

The Kawasaki Versys line shares technical details with some of Kawasaki´s all-time best-selling bikes. It´s got the frame, wheels, engine, electronics and brakes of the Ninja and the ER-6N. Kawasaki introduced the first incarnation of the Versys to the European and Canadian market in 2007. The following year, 2008 it hit the US market with huge acclaim. By the year 2010, it got its first revamping in esthetics, functionality and manufacturing features. The headlight saw some changes as well as the rearview mirrors. Five years later, in 2015, the model got a second major makeover making a definite transition into the touring section. Kawasaki abandoned the old headlight design and went for the more modern twin-light design. The Kawasaki Versys has been one of Kawasaki´s best-selling bikes in the world.

Kawasaki Versys

Kawasaki Versys 1000

It is the largest model available of the Kawasaki Versys series with a powerful 1043cc engine. This malleable beast makes 120hp, and by just opening the throttle, you will feel the adrenaline pumping. It is not a small bike at all, but it is very light for its size at only 549lbs. The first thing I did, as I do with all the bikes, I test is to take it for a spin in the local traffic. The Kawasaki Versys 1000 responded just fine, the improved mirrors are big but set at a different height than cars. Since the seat suffered a modification and is set at 33 inches, I was able to reach the floor at traffic lights. With 40 inches of width, I was able to cruise between cars and enter the highway where I could set the bike free in no time.

The open road is where the VerSys 1000 shines the most. It features traction control with three levels and power control with full and low settings (the low takes about 25% off). Speeding up to the 70mph line, I could see how the rubber mounts for the engine work as a marvel. The riding is smooth, and the riding position allows for long miles before getting tired. It was a great experience, the Versys is a great bike with ABS being stock and the Bridgestone T30 for grip and security. One of the cons of the bike was adjusting the windshield. I had to stop at the side of the road, get down and loosen the screws by hand to move it up or down.

Kawasaki Versys

What´s new for the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ 2019?

The new incarnation of the Kawasaki Versys 1000 brings some great new additions that improve overall performance.

  • Semi-Active Showa Suspension
  • A taller windscreen for the open road
  • A full-colour TFT display plus an analogue tachometer
  • Smartphone Bluetooth connectivity to use with the Rideology App
  • Kawasaki´s electronic cruise control is now a factory standard
  • The package of lean-angle detecting ABS is also a factory standard as for 2019
  • Enhanced electronic support allowed by the new electronic throttle valves

Kawasaki Versys

Kawasaki Versys 650 

The Kawasaki Versys 650 is the smaller sibling of the Kawasaki Versys 1000 and advertisement says it is a “dual-purpose” bike. I read that right before testing the bike, so I set out to try just that. The 649cc engine is capable of 69hp, and with a weight of 476lbs, it can give you a nice adrenaline rush to open the torque. The testing bike was metallic moon dust grey, which is a beautiful colour, although I missed the 2015 yellow (no longer available). Driving in the city traffic was a joy because of the bike´s 33 inches of width. The size is optimum for swerving through cars and with the big rearview mirrors in the right position it was easy to manoeuvre.

I went on the highway with great results but noticed a little noise from the Nissin callipers in the rear wheel. Other than that, the rubber mounts for the engine proved a great addition to reducing high-speed vibration. A special note needs to go for the bike´s suspension. I went on side roads to test the “dual purpose” advertising and, to my surprise, the advertising was right. The Kawasaki Versys 650 held the balance and took the curves on dusty old roads with ease and elegance. On the downside, it almost feels like the suspension is a little too soft with the Showa forks, especially for offroad scenarios. But well, you can´t win them all, can you?

Kawasaki Versys

Kawasaki Versys 650 specs

The specs for the 2019 incarnation of the Kawasaki Versys 650 are slightly different than its predecessors.

  • Engine – 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled 649cc with 4 valves per cylinder parallel twin
  • Frame Type – High-tensile steel, double pipe diamond frame
  • Fuel System – DFI (Dual Fuel Injection) with two 38mm Keihin throttle bodies
  • Transmission – positive neutral finder, 6-speed gearbox
  • Suspension – 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork (front) and single offset laydown spring (back)
  • Tires – ZR17s 120/70 and 160/60 (front and back respectively)
  • Brakes – 2-piston callipers, dual 300mm petal-style discs (front) and single-piston calliper with single 250mm petal-style disc (back). Both feature ABS
  • Overall length, width and height – 85.2in x 33.1in x 55.1in
  • Seat height – 33.1in
  • Fuel Capacity – 5.5 gallons
  • Curb Weight – 476.3lbs

Kawasaki Versys 650 price

For 2019, the MSRP for the Versys 650ABS is of $8,299. It is the base model and was the one I got for review. The Kawasaki Versys 650LT is the next model featuring saddlebags with KQR mounts. It also features hand guards for more wind protection. Although this might seem like a simple detail, when hitting the open highway with the base model, I really missed them.

Kawasaki Versys

Kawasaki Versys 650 seat height

The first thing I noticed when I jumped in was that the seat height at 33 inches was just right. It allowed me to see over the roofs of cars, but also to put both my feet on the ground at traffic lights. This is not a minor detail in a bike that weighs 476lbs. Maintaining balance with only one leg or the tips of your toes is close to impossible and could end with a tragedy.

Kawasaki Versys 650 accessories

Kawasaki offers four accessories for the Kawasaki Versys 650 that can be bought separately. If you go for the Kawasaki Versys 650LT, you will also get the saddlebags that are easily attachable and detachable with the KQR mounts.

Kawasaki Versys

Led Light Bar – This accessory is perfect for those who live in foggy places and love the adventure of the dual-purpose bike. This led-light bar integrates to the front of the Kawasaki Versys and provides enhanced visibility. It consumes very little power from your bike thanks to the RFT that allows maximum output with minimal consumption.

Frame Slider Set – The slide pads are made from a rugged and light material called polyurethane plastic. They can be attached to the sides of your bike to minimise damage in collisions.

Tank Bag – This is the perfect accessory for the highway since most of us have to pay tolls as we ride. Reaching for your wallet might mean even taking off your jacket. This solves it all for you and is very easily attachable to the gas tank of your Kawasaki Versys.

Soft Top Case – In case you choose to spend a little less and not go for the Kawasaki Versys 650LT, this is a great option. You will have to sacrifice the companion seat, but you can carry up to eight litres in a very secure way.

Kawasaki Versys

Useful aftermarket accessories (for all your bikes)

These are some accessories I came across not so long ago but have drastically changed my riding experience. I installed them on all my bikes.

Smart Turn System

I drive a car and also ride my bikes regularly. This combination left me with a bad habit: leaving my turning lights on. Especially when riding in the city, I take turns and wait for the automatic system to disengage them. The result is me giving other riders and cars false turning signs. This little device works very much like your car does, and cancels the turning lights on your bike when you have completed the turn. Needless to say, it is a definite must especially if you drive a car and a motorbike.

Smart Turn System

Smart Break Module

Just like with the STS, I came upon the SBM by chance. I was riding a borrowed bike because a friend of mine knows I´m a bike journalist. I don’t want to expose myself as a journalist since everybody wants me to ride their bike and give feedback. It gets annoying with time, and you want to have a low profile and ride. But this bike, in particular, had this device already installed and I thought it was amazing. It senses your speed is decreasing (without using your brake) and engages the brake light. I thought it was amazing especially in the open road where we often only release the throttle to slow down without using brakes. I had it installed in my four motorbikes since I discovered them.

Smart Brake Module

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Kawasaki Versys 300

The smallest incarnation of the Kawasaki Versys might fool many as an entry-level motorbike. It has a 296cc 2 cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid cooled, DOHC engine that is capable of some serious torque. This is why I differ from people naming it an entry-level bike. It is more like a fun bike for experienced riders with which you can do all kinds of things.

adventure bike for beginners

Kawasaki Versys 300 review

City traffic was a delight in this bike because of the smoothness of the engine. The clutch´s transitions, the short ratio bottom cog and the predictable throttle pickup were nothing less but wonderful additions, too. The dual fuel injection, Kawasaki´s system found in all the line, gives the throttle a crisp, fast response.

As I went on to the open road, the bike´s response changed a little and some vibration appeared at 55mph. By the time I really pushed on it to reach 80mph at 9500rpm, the whole bike was humming with the wind. Although the vibration was high, I didn´t get any numbness in my hands when I got down.

After having some high-speed fun, I tried alternate roads to see how it performed off-road. The response from the factory-included ABS proved to be a great addition although it only has one disc in each wheel. The 41mm Showa telescopic fork really showed off in addition to the Uni-Track shock to take turns pushing the bike a little. All transitions felt natural and a ride that started in the city ended up in gravel without major changes for the rider.

Kawasaki Versys

Verdict

The Kawasaki Versys line is a do-it-all kind of bike that has been improved throughout the years. Starting on the big Kawasaki Versys 1000, the spirit is maintained down to the Kawasaki Versys 300. The idea of creating a bike that can handle the open road as well as daily commutes in city traffic is tackled perfectly. Also, the lower models are bikes that can handle city, on and off road with ease and smooth transitions.

Kawasaki´s aim of versatility with the Versys line of motorcycles is a reality. Although some of the models had certain minor design flaws (the humming, the noise), they are really impressive bikes. Unless you are a chopper fan who drives only Harleys, or a dirt professional you will not be disappointed by the Kawasaki Versys line. I would really recommend it for people who want to have one bike or to make a great addition to a collection.

dual-sport bike

What do you think of it? Did you ride one yet? I´d love to read your comments. Also, feel free to share this article in Social Media and dedicated forums, so you can help others make the right buying decision.

Happy riding! 

Smart Brake Module

A device that flashes your brake light when engine braking and down-shifting to warn drivers behind.

Smart Turn System

Best motorcycle turn signal module, that cancels turn signals automatically.

HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU FORGET YOUR TURN SIGNAL ACTIVATED?


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3 Comments

  1. Dean

    11. March, 2019 at 18:15

    Ride a 2018 Verseys 650F AND LOVE IT. Best of both worlds as a touring bike but maintaining a sport bike feel when riding. Fitted the STS system and it made life so much easier.
    Did raise the front of the seat by about 13 to 15mm as the factory fit pushed me forward. Since making mod I noticed straight away that cornering was alot better due to my piont of gravity.
    Only gripe is factory accessories are way too expensive and have either made own brackets to fit GPS on gone aftermarket for DC power outlet.
    Result would definetly by another.

  2. Dan N

    12. March, 2019 at 1:31

    You asked: Is Kawasaki Versys the Ultimate Dual-Sport Adventure bike?
    Regarding the 650 and 1000: the answer is a resounding NO. The 17″ front wheel just doesn’t make the grade, off road.
    The 300 is a great dual-sport, but is on the small side for the way “adventure bikes” are used.

  3. Fabian Menendez

    14. March, 2019 at 21:41

    I am the owner of a Versys 650 2013. 35,000kts, 5,000km of gravel sand. a marvel. 120/90/17 forward 150/70/17 back. Metzeler Enduro 3. Greetings.

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