How the Kawasaki Versys Performs for me…


Well after a 2600 mile trip on the new bike, I can sort of formulate my thoughts on how the Versys performs.

Most of you know that I am coming off a 1250 Bandit which is probably one of the most underrated motorcycles of all time. I loved riding my Bandits and the combined miles on the two I have owned is over 100,000. Now that said, I have to qualify why I wanted another motorcycle.

The Bandit when fully loaded weighs near 600 lbs. That’s with gas and other liquids, hard bags, a top box and gear. When I have dropped that bike, it ain’t easy to pick up…period. Last year i dropped it on a horrid dirt road and had a hell of a time getting it upright even with help. It’s a beast. So, every year I get older and feel like I need to consider a lighter machine.

Enter the Versys.

It’s 100 lbs lighter. Wet weight is around 425, where the Bandit before hard bags and top box is about 525. It’s flickable, has a wonderful power band and handles great on any surface. It can also be tweaked to fit nearly any sort of riding style. There are wonderful OEM and aftermarket mods that can be added to tweak it for a perfect personal fit.

It’s a tall bike, right outa the box. The seat height is 33.1 standard. That is quite tall for many female riders. I talked to several people on forums, and discovered that the best lowering kit came from Motowerk
. It had rave reviews. It doesn’t lower the bike by much, only 1.85 inch or 31.25 but that was enough that I can get my toes down now. I am 5’6″ and my inseam is 30 inches on a good day. :D

I demoed a standard Versys in 07 on the track and after riding my lowered version, I don’t notice any difference to speak of. It handles great in the twisties thus far, but I’ll be able to tell more as I ride it more, especially on some of our Sierra Nevada roads.

I do notice that it’s more tippy than normal. I believe the dealer was supposed to have lowered the kickstand when they lowered the bike, however I need to call then and see. It seem really upright to me, more than it should be and when i put gas in the bike in 50-60mph gusts it seemed like it could easily blow over. That’s something I will further investigate now that I am home.

The stock windscreen seems nearly pointless. I was buffeted in any position, but maybe that because I sit up fairly straight. I found myself having to tuck over the tank bag in the high winds to keep myself on the bike! :eek: I hear that you can actually flip it upside down for better protection or just buy an aftermarket touring screen, which I will most likely do. But I will give the screen a flip and see if it helps.

As to the power. I don’t feel like I am suddenly on a power diet with the Versys. It seems to have plenty of power and I never had the throttle pinned on my original journey. It always had more to give even traveling at 95mph on an empty highway in NV. I did find it’s rpm sweet sport is over 5000. It performed best on the tight twisties of Hwy 168 between 6000 and 7000 rpms in 2nd and 3rd gear. It was responsive and flickable. I do believe it will be fairly easy to drag a peg on this machine. It seems to like a mean lean. Now that doesn’t mean you have to ride it aggressively. You don’t. It’s a great little cruiser.

Headwinds will eat the mileage on this bike and crosswinds as well, but not so much. With normal riding I was getting about 40mpg, but headwinds cut that in half and cross winds by about 1/3. The gas gauge is great, showing one bar as having 1.9 gallons and when that one bar is blinking it’s down to .09. Best to get gas at one bar!

At to mods now in order of importance.
Heated grips
12V powerlet.
Handguards
Windscreen
Kickstand fix and center stand

I also need to fix my tank bag placing magnets down the middle of the bag. Because the tank is narrow and the edges of the tank cover plastic, the usual tank bay won’t adhere without feeling insecure. I’ll be fixing that NOW!!

We are all a bit different in how our needs are met by riding. But I can’t say enough good about this little Versys. It’s a wonderful mid sized machine with an upright seating position, great powerband and a huge fun factor!



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