I was riding a Kawasaki Versys last week and thinking what a fine dual-sport bike this was. It handled well, the seat was reasonably comfortable, and was very agile. I had ridden one once before and it was in connection with a dual-sport event, so my "error" is easy to understand.What's that about an error?Well, looking for a few details about the Versys I went to the Kawasaki website.
Hovering my cursor over the "Motorcycle" tab it brings up a sub-menu that offers, among others, "Sport" and "Dual Purpose." Mousing on over to that latter option, another sub-menu came up with three choices: KLR 650, KLX 250 SF, and KLX 250 S. Where was the Versys?Looking around I found it under the--in my opinion--very unlikely category of "Sport." Wow, Kawasaki considers the Versys a sportbike? I never would have guessed. Just a kissing cousin to the Ninja 650R, right? I don't think so.Granted that the Versys I rode last week had street tires on it.
Nevertheless, the biggest giveaway was the seat height. Like any good dual-sport bike, this one is tall, 33.3 inches they tell us. Tippy-toes height for anyone with my 29-inch inseam. And how about that front suspension: 41mm according to Kawasaki. The same as the KLR 650 and just 2mm less than the other two dual-sports. But then, the Ninja 650R also boasts 41mm up front. (Gosh, what would that baby be like with knobbies?) Of course the riding position on the Versys is much more upright than on the Ninja, with the grips much higher.
Kawasaki also tells us that the Versys is tuned for low-range torque, so that is consistent with a dual-sport as well. And the compact 650cc parallel twin helps keep the body of the bike slim, also a dual-sport characteristic.Digging a little further I came up with an interesting bit of information. Even Kawasaki is unsure what to call the Versys. Apparently there was a time when they did indeed list it under "Dual Purpose." To quote from a review on one website, "The Versys takes elements from dual-purpose bikes, standards, adventure-tourers and sportbikes; sharing characteristics of all, but neatly fitting into the category of none."That sounds like a pretty good summation. So with the acceptance that this is a bike a little like a lot of bikes but not ultimately truly "like" any other bike, how is it to ride? I thought you'd never ask.
Let's take it straight from the horse's mouth (me being the horse). I carry a little digital recorder so I can dictate my thoughts on a particular bike on the spot as soon as I get off. Here's what I told myself."It doesn't have a whole lot of punch coming out of first, but going into second it will throw you back. The seat's pretty comfortable. The mirrors are good, some of the better ones I've seen. It's got big suspension, takes bumps real well and that kind of stuff. Put some knobbies on it and it would be good in the dirt. Very light. Not really a traveling bike. You couldn't really load all that much on it very well. It's a comfortable bike, nice upright riding position.
The little bikini fairing did a pretty good job. A bit of a wind blast at high speeds. Nice bike. Fun bike to ride."So there you have it. With a 5-gallon tank you'll go a long way on the Versys and with dual-sport tires you wouldn't need to stick to pavement. At a price point around $7,000, this becomes a must have.
read more: Kawasaki Versys Review