Kawasaki Versys 650/reviews

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Kawasaki's brilliant Versys has been given a new look with different lights and new bodywork for 2010. The updates to the often over-looked Versys come a year after the rest of the ER-6 range was revamped and improves the looks with new front and rear lights and a modified radiator cowl. The 62bhp 649cc parallel-twin motor remains unchanged, as do the chassis and suspension.

The updated cosmetics give the bike a slimmer, sleeker look and Kawasaki claim to have worked hard raising the quality of finish. The new front lights are stacked above each other, the new rear light is LED and – like the new Z1000 - there is also a new front mudguard.

In line with the Versys’ reputation as a consummate practical machine, there are a number of detail changes along these lines, including revised mirrors with improved visibility and new accessories such as handguards, heated grips and a 12volt outlet. Revised footrests with hollow rubber inserts reduce vibration.

Versatile, Distinctive, Affordable and Just Plain Fun Now and then, a clean-sheet idea that just plain works appears from out of nowhere, and everybody wonders why nobody thought of it before That's the Kawasaki Versys®. Following its debut just a couple of years ago, the world's motorcycle press unanimously embraced the Versys' unique combination of utility, versatility, affordability and just plain fun - and they haven't stopped singing its praises. Motorcyclist magazine named it "Motorcycle of the Year," and the Versys made top 10 lists around the world. Luckily, the brains at Kawasaki who dreamed up the Versys are not afraid to mess with success, so for 2010, there's even more to love.

Fresh new bodywork showcases the Versys' athletic-looking steel trellis frame, gull-wing swingarm and compact engine, with a newly sculpted shape that shows off the bike's dynamic flexibility and strength. A new stacked dual-beam headlight leads the way, with a bigger, three-way adjustable windscreen atop it that gives more options to more riders. Out back there's a bright new Z1000-type LED tail light, and between the head and tail lights all sorts of pieces have been restyled to reflect the Versys' quality, including the radiator shrouds, mirrors, turn signals, engine covers and rear fender. Functionally, the Versys was tough to improve upon, but adding rubber bushings to the rear engine mounts, and topping the footpegs with hollow rubber inserts to better isolate the rider's feet from engine vibration, resulted in a smoother, more relaxed ride.

The Versys' compact liquid-cooled fuel-injected 649cc parallel-twin engine was the perfect powerplant for this light and nimble do-anything bike right from the start: Lively enough for advanced riders and predictable enough to inspire confidence in rank novices, the torquey twin delivers a deep ribbon of torque in the lower and middle parts of its rev range, making the Versys a perfect commuter and relaxed traveling companion. Its surprising genius becomes readily apparent once the roads turn twisty, because despite its comfort and civility, the fun-to-ride Versys also offers genuine sportbike handling. And excellent fuel economy combined with a big, 5-gallon fuel tank lets you go a long way between gas pumps.

Long-travel high-tech suspension is critical to the Versys' multi-role mission. A Showa rear shock with two-stage damping firms up progressively as the wheel moves through its stroke, providing an initially plush ride that firms to near-sportbike levels as suspension loads escalate. The bike's short, compact engine makes it possible to use a longer-than-average gull-wing swingarm for reduction of throttle-induced suspension movement and excellent handling. A dual-sport inspired, adjustable 41mm tapered-tube inverted fork up front soaks up bumps big and small, and like the rear end, firms up nicely as the pace increases.

Absolutely key to the Versys' success, a comfortable, carefully designed cockpit provides a mostly upright, natural seating position and features stepped seat constructed to provide optimum comfort for both rider and passenger. And the bigger new windscreen and upgraded passenger seating carry the comfort theme forward on the latest Versys. An easy-to-read and informative instrument panel allows riders to quickly scan the gauges and keep their eyes on the road. Possibly the most versatile motorcycle out there, Versys excels at almost any task it's given, from gridlock traffic jams, to canyon carving, to long-distance touring.

The Versys is one of those machines that exceeds the sum of its parts. Its name, derived from “vertex” (Latin for pinnacle, summit, top) and “system,” hints at its goal of offering a truly superior platform that maximizes fun in any number of street riding situations. One ride is all it takes to confirm that the Versys delivers on its any-street promise.

Authentic Kawasaki Accessories are available through Kawasaki dealers.

For 2010, the new Versys builds on the strengths of its predecessor, with updated styling and a number of upgrades aimed at making it more practical and fun to ride than ever! Cosmetic revisions give the new Versys a sharper appearance and help reflect its nimble, sporty nature. Improved vibration damping and upgraded passenger accommodations enhance touring and two-up comfort, while revised mirrors, new tie-down hooks and a host of other detail upgrades mean it’s better equipped than ever to provide maximum rider enjoyment.

A truly versatile platform that maximizes enjoyment in several different types of riding, the Kawasaki Versys™ is difficult to explain and impossible to categorize. One ride is all it takes to prove the Versys is much more than the sum of its parts.

Bumps and potholes are a reality in every day riding, so the Versys’ long-travel front fork and rear shock are well damped to cope with these challenges. Its upright riding position and wide handlebars provide a very comfortable place to spend a day on the road, while its 17” wheels and sport tires make it an excellent choice for aggressive sport riding. The end result is a machine that truly offers the suspension compliance of a dual sport, the responsiveness and grip of a sportbike and the all-day comfort of a light tourer.


New for 2010: - A new fairing, stacked dual headlight, new front fender and mirrors, and a Z1000-style LED tail light, give the Versys a bold new high-tech look - A larger windscreen provides a larger still-air pocket for increased comfort; three-position adjustability makes it adaptable to fit a variety of riders and climates - Revised passenger grab rails, new seat cover material, and a little fine-tuning of the passenger seating position make the Versys even more fun for passengers - Rubber bushings at the rear engine mounts and hollow rubber-covered footpegs result in reduced engine vibration and a more comfortable ride - Revisions to the muffler, clutch cover, sprocket and alternator covers, radiator shrouds, swingarm pivot covers and rear fender all contribute to the Versys' bold new high-quality look

649cc DOHC Parallel Twin-Cylinder Engine - The most compact engine in its category helps reduce the dimensions of the entire motorcycle - Triangular crank and transmission shaft layout keeps it short front-to-back - A semi-dry sump oil system reduces overall engine height - The narrow, chrome composite-plated aluminum cylinders help reduce engine width - This one is tuned to deliver smooth, responsive power in the low- to mid-rpm range for exceptional roll-on response - ideal for negotiating city traffic, tight backroads and anything in between - A 180-degree crankshaft and a balancer shaft produce an uncannily smooth engine - Oil jets on the connecting rod ends spray oil on the undersides of the pistons to aid cooling - An under-engine muffler with 3-way catalyzer aids mass centralization for light handling and great looks

Liquid Cooling - Engine temperatures stay consistent for long engine life and sustained power in tough conditions - Closer engine tolerances mean more horsepower - Coolant routed through the engine cases reduces the number of external hoses

Digital Fuel Injection (DFI) - A pair of 38mm Keihin throttle bodies with ECU-controlled sub-throttle valves mean optimum performance and ridability - Sub throttles, located behind the main throttle valves, give the Versys precise throttle response and great feel as well - An automatic fast idle system makes starting and warm-up easy, even on cold days - Precise fuel injection provides great fuel mileage, and the 3-way catalyzer significantly reduces emissions

Digital Capacitor Discharge Ignition (CDI) System - Microprocessor-controlled timing never requires adjustment and is ultra-responsive to the engine's needs - Powerful, spark plug-mounted "stick" ignition coils are compact, light and reliable

Six-Speed Transmission - Versys' racing-style cassette transmission uses a compact layout that's easily removable as a single unit from the engine cases for much easier gearbox maintenance

High-Tensile Steel Trellis Frame - The Versys' exotic-looking trellis frame is small, light and narrow at the knees and pegs for excellent comfort and control - 3D computer analysis in the design process achieved optimum stiffness balance for superior ride and handling

Single Shock Rear Suspension - A distinctive aluminum gull-wing swingarm controlled by a lay-down single shock complements the distinctive frame design, with an integrated line flowing from steering head to rear hub - The short, compact frame and engine design allows the swingarm to be longer, which improves overall handling - The Showa shock has adjustable preload and rebound damping, and uses a free piston and two-stage damping valves for smooth action during initial compression that becomes firmer near the end of the stroke for a more planted feel

Long-Travel Fork - A 41mm long-travel inverted fork combines the best of dual sport and sportbike-type suspensions, to deliver excellent performance over a wide range of conditions - Tapered, relatively short outer tubes help provide the ideal stiffness balance to complement frame stiffness and chassis settings - Fork height, spring preload and rebound damping can be adjusted to fine-tune the suspension to specific conditions, riding styles and loads

Petal Style Brake Discs - Dual 300mm front petal discs with two-piston calipers in front and a single 220mm rear petal disc with a single-piston caliper in back provide plenty of stopping power - Same rotor design as found on the Ninja® supersport machines, petal design rotors offer improved cooling and warp resistance

Six-spoke Wheels - Like the ones you'll find on the Ninja ZX™-6R and ZX-10R, these six-spoke wheels use less material between spokes so rim thickness is reduced along with overall wheel weight - Lighter wheels increase overall performance - suspension, handling, acceleration/deceleration and initial turn-in

Comfortable Ergonomics - Each section of the two-piece seat was designed with a different thickness and firmness of foam to optimize comfort for both rider and passenger - The passenger seat and grab bars were designed to provide a natural seating position for added comfort - An easy-to-read instrument panel has a large analog tachometer and digital readout for the speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer, dual trip meters and clock. White LED backlighting provides increased visibility at night

2010 Kawasaki Versys Technology



The Versys is one of those machines that exceeds the sum of its parts. Its name, derived from "vertex" (Latin for pinnacle, summit, top) and "system," hints at its goal of offering a truly superior platform that maximizes fun in any number of street riding situations. One ride is all it takes to confirm that the Versys delivers on its any-street promise.


Designed for the discerning enthusiast, the Versys offers a unique package, comprised of long travel suspension & sporty 17" wheels, a slim, upright riding position and a compact Parallel-Twin engine tuned for low-mid range torque. Highly acclaimed for its versatility and a playful character best understood by riding it, the Versys features engine characteristics, chassis balance, and suspension settings, all selected to maximize rider enjoyment on the street. With its superb control and feedback, the Versys offers a high level of rider confidence in numerous street-riding situations and accommodates a variety of riding styles.

Long-travel suspension & sporty 17" wheels The combination of long-travel suspension with stiff spring settings is one of the keys to the active control offered by the Versys. In addition to being easily able to cope with a variety of road conditions and offering confidence-inspiring feedback to the rider, the Versys allows riders to consciously control the bike's forward-rear weight balance - adding a new dimension of controllability for riders to explore.

Slim, upright riding position A slim, upright riding position with wide handlebars offers both a naturally relaxed posture and great controllability, and allows riders to experiment with a number of riding styles. Whether riding in the hills or navigating city traffic, the clear, unobstructed view afforded by the tall seat height and upright position, make it easy to see and avoid potential problems on the road ahead.

Compact Parallel-Twin engine tuned for low-mid range torque A compact Parallel Twin engine tuned for low-mid range torque delivers a satisfying surge of acceleration from starts and out of corners. The controlled response of the carefully tuned engine offers riders the confidence to get on the gas at any rpm.


For 2010, the new Versys maintains the essential package of its predecessor, but new styling and a number of other upgrades mean it is more fun to ride than ever.

Refined styling & finish The new Versys has new sharper styling, better reflecting its nimble, sporty nature. A number of cosmetic changes give it a slimmer, sleeker look, and the sculpted new bodywork adds to the Versys' dynamic image. Like an athlete, the new model exudes flexibility and strength. Further, a more refined finish contributes to its higher-quality appearance.

Additional upgrades Enhanced tandem comfort, revised mirrors with improved visibility, new accessories mean the new Versys is better equipped than ever to provide a fun street riding experience.

Suspension & Wheels

LONG-TRAVEL SUSPENSION & SPORTY 17" WHEELS Not all streets in the real world are made of circuit-smooth pavement. Road imperfections (bumps, potholes) are far from rare, and some streets are not even paved (such as cobblestone, etc). While the Versys was not designed for off-road use, its long-travel front fork and rear shock were specially selected to cope with any street conditions it may come across, and, along with its 17" wheels, enable aggressive sport riding. Further, the long-travel suspension provides an added dimension of controllability: the ability to consciously control the bike's front-rear weight transfer gives riders an additional riding element to explore.

o The long stroke of the inverted front fork and offset laydown rear shock allow experienced riders to actively control the bike's front-rear weight balance. Purposely increasing braking force to compress the front suspension before a corner reduces the caster, resulting in quicker steering. Alternatively, the rider can opt to brake less aggressively, maintaining the bike's attitude for a smooth, stable turn in. The Versys puts this choice in the hands of the rider, so the same corner can be enjoyed in a number of different ways. o Both the front fork and rear shock combine long travel with stiff springs. Standard off-road-style long-travel suspension allows a bike to fly over bumps and ruts with ease, but this type of suspension was deemed to be too mushy for the kind of riding we wanted to offer. Likewise with sport bike suspension, road holding is superb, but performance is best on (relatively) smooth roads. Combining both long travel and stiff springs yields the benefits of both off-road-style and sport-bike suspension, offering excellent road holding in a wide range of street riding conditions and superb feedback, enabling aggressive sport riding. o In addition to being tapered, the outer tubes of the 41 mm inverted front fork are relatively short (even at full compression, a large portion of the inner tubes remain visible) to provide the ideal stiffness balance to compliment chassis settings. o In order to accommodate the longer stroke of the rear suspension, an aluminum gull-type swingarm was chosen. The use of aluminum helps reduce unsprung weight. o In addition to being lighter, using a simple non-link type rear shock offers more direct feedback from the rear wheel, contributing to greater rider "feel." The excellent feedback clearly communicates the bike's limits, increasing rider confidence. o The ability of the rear suspension to soak up bumps and ruts was the key to being able to ride over cobblestone streets and handle road imperfections like rocks and potholes, etc. Consequently, a great deal of development time was devoted to the tuning of the Showa rear shock unit. The high-grade unit makes use of a free piston and 2-stage damping valves to ensure smooth action at the initial part of the compression stroke and firmer damping near full compression, giving a more planted feel. o This careful attention to the tuning of the rear suspension ensures the Versys can be ridden aggressively and with confidence through city streets, be they paved, brick or cobblestone. o Both the front and rear suspension have adjustable rebound damping and preload, offering riders a range of adjustability to experiment with should they so choose. o 17" wheels, front and rear, contribute to the bike's quick steering. The 120 mm front tire offers an excellent balance of quick steering and front wheel traction. Tire sizes are as follows: Front: 120/60ZR17M/C 58W Rear: 160/60ZR17M/C 69W


SLIM, UPRIGHT RIDING POSITION When engineers considered the kind of riding they wanted to offer, and the speed range most often used in everyday riding, a naturally relaxed posture and the high controllability of a slim, upright position with wide handlebars was deemed ideal. Because it would have a great impact on rider control and enjoyment, a substantial amount of development time and effort was devoted to fine-tuning the riding position.

o The combination of a compact Parallel Twin engine and a narrow, lightweight trellis frame enabled by the offset laydown rear suspension is the key to the Versys' slim riding position. o A short-style tank positions the rider closer to the front wheel for increased controllability and offers a greater choice of forward-rear sitting positions. o The seat's slim design and the knee grip characteristics of the tank afford good freedom of movement, allowing the riders to change sitting position should they so choose. Thicker urethane increases comfort and contributes to a seat height that places the rider in a position of fun controllability. The stepped shape of the two-piece seat also provides support for the rider when accelerating. o Complementing the wide handlebar, the footpegs are positioned low and slightly forward of the seat. o Together, all these points result in a very natural, relaxed position designed to offer the rider a high level of machine control. The upright riding position accommodates a variety of riding styles (lean-in, no-lean, lean-out), broadening the spectrum of riding enjoyment and also offers a high level of comfort, a great benefit for touring. This combination of comfort and control is one of the things that makes the Versys so much fun to ride. o When combined with the long-stroke suspension, the upright riding position and higher seat height offer a commanding view of the road ahead - especially beneficial when navigating city traffic or winding roads in the hills.

SLEEK, FLICKABLE CHASSIS The key to the Versys' sleek chassis is its compact Parallel Twin engine, which allows the use of a slim, lightweight frame. Together with the forward-located seat position and the under-engine muffler, this engine-frame combination delivers a highly centralized mass distribution, which contributes to the highly agile package. High priority was given to achieving chassis settings that deliver a high level of feedback, better enabling the rider to recognize the bike's limits.

o The base frame construction and stiffness balance were set to offer a high level of feedback to the rider. o The highly compact engine and under-engine muffler contribute to mass centralization. The front cowl (including instrument panel and headlight unit) is mounted directly to the frame, minimizing its effect on handling. o The bike's tall seat height and long-stroke suspension result in a higher CG. The resulting increase in agility makes the Versys even more fun to control. o Chassis dimensions provide a balance of flickability and high-speed stability. (Although the Versys' performance is optimized for everyday speed range, it is quite happy to oblige riders who wish to travel at higher speeds.) With a wheelbase of 1,415 mm, the Versys can still be considered a "short wheelbase" model, and accordingly it delivers a high level of agility.

OTHER CONTROL-ENHANCING FEATURES o Triple petal disc brakes offer superb stopping power and feel at the lever. 5 mm thick front discs contribute to enhanced controllability.

WIND PROTECTION An adjustable windscreen helps reduce wind noise and helmet buffeting, creating a serene space behind which to enjoy high-speed riding.

o *NEW* The adjustable windscreen has three different settings (raised, standard, tilted forward), allowing riders to tailor its position to suit their preferences. (Adjusting the bolt-mounted windscreen requires a 4 mm hexagonal wrench.) o An optional tall screen accessory will be made available soon.

TOURING POTENTIAL For riders who prefer longer excursions, a comfortable seat, relaxed riding position, large-volume fuel tank, protection from the adjustable windscreen, and enhanced touring potential make the Versys a very capable touring partner. A number of optional accessories further increase the Versys' touring potential.

o Along with the comfortable seat, the relaxed position enables riders to spend long hours in the saddle. o A 19-litre fuel tank combined with excellent fuel economy offers an ample touring range. o *NEW* A number of new accessories further contribute to touring comfort: hand protectors, heated grips with 5 levels of adjustment, and a 12 V outlet. As with the previous model, taller windscreen, vario windscreen and frame sliders are also available. o In addition to the optional top-case, specially designed large-volume GIVI panniers are available as accessories. Each pannier can hold a full-face helmet and is rated for 5 kg (like the top case). o Passenger footpeg stays and the reinforced sub-frame were designed to accommodate the optional panniers and top case. The sub-frame's additional strength contributes to increased stability when carrying luggage or a passenger. o Thanks to the under-engine muffler, the bike's profile can stay relatively slim even with the panniers attached. o *NEW* Hooks added to the underside of the tail cowl provide additional tie-down points for securing luggage.

TANDEM COMFORT Sometimes sharing the ride is half the fun. The Versys has a number of features that make tandem riding enjoyable for both rider and passenger.

o Each part of the two-piece seat was designed with different thickness and firmness of urethane, optimizing comfort for both the rider and passenger. o *NEW* Passenger position was also designed to offer a natural seating position. Revised tandem grab bars are flatter, easier to hold and positioned further out for greater freedom of movement. o *NEW* Fine-tuned passenger seat/pegs/grab bar relationship offers enhanced passenger comfort. o *NEW* Rubber added to the passenger footpegs also contributes to the enhanced passenger comfort. o The comfort afforded by the slim layout (possibly thanks to the under-engine muffler) also extends to the passenger. A further benefit is that heat is kept away from the passenger. o Layout is such that a passenger can also be comfortably accommodated when the optional panniers are attached.

SHARPER NEW STYLING The 2010 Versys receives a sharper new styling package that better reflects its sporty nature. The updates include a more refined finish that gives the bike a higher-quality feel.

o *NEW* The new stacked dual headlamp design gives the Versys a slimmer appearance and speaks to its nimble handling. Using a single position lamp further contriboutes to the slim appearance. o *NEW* Sculpted bodywork of the new front cowling and side fairing adds to the Verosys' dynamic image. Like an athlete, the image is one of flexibility and strength. o *NEW* Revised radiator shrouds and swingarm pivot covers enhance appearance and contribute to the high-quality finish. o *NEW* Slimmer front turn signals compliment the sharp new image. Positioned higher and further forward they help make the bike more visible. o *NEW* Diamond-shaped mirrors contribute to the sharper styling. Positioned higher and further outward, they also offer improved rearward visibility. Revised mirror housings ensure a blur-proof view of the rear. New front fender design looks sporty. o *NEW* Revised engine covers contribute to the bike's new styling. o *NEW* New muffler end cap contribute to the sharper image. o *NEW* New LED taillight (shared with the new Z1000), featuring a transparent red lens, helps give the tail a clean, tidy look. o *NEW* Trimmed of unnecessary material, the new rear flap makes the tail look shorter, contributing to the bike's light look.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES o *NEW* Rubber mounts instead of rigid mounts used for the upper-rear engine mounts reduce vibration transmitted to the rider. o *NEW* Revised footpegs with new hollow rubber covers help reduce unwanted vibration. o The instrument panel features white LED-backlighting for increased visibility at night. Features include a digital speedometer, analogue-style tachometer, digital fuel gauge, odometer, dual trip meter, etc. Other o Under-seat storage space has room for a U-lock or similar device. o The turn signals also function as hazard lights.


COMPACT PARALLEL-TWIN ENGINE TUNED FOR LOW-MID RANGE TORQUE When tuning the 649 cc Parallel Twin engine, our engineers' first priority was to find a throttle response that balanced a powerful feeling and a quick-revving character. To optimize performance for everyday riding, care was taken to maximize low-mid range torque. When opening the throttle, riders will notice that the engineers succeeded in creating an extremely smooth and powerful engine character that offers both a high level of control when making minute throttle adjustments and a gratifying rush of acceleration in the lower rpm ranges.

o Intake and exhaust cams with short operating angles move the torque curve toward the lower end of the rpm range. o To achieve smooth power and torque curves, the exhaust system makes use of a balance tube. o Fuel injection settings for the Versys were selected primarily to deliver a strong powerful feeling when the throttle is opened. o Performance and feel were optimized for the mid-range (3,000-6,000 rpm). However, in the low-rpm range (below 3,000 rpm), power delivery is very smooth, and even above 6,000 rpm, power and torque curves continue on without dropping off suddenly. o The above settings result in a performance that favours the speeds most used in everyday riding. Corner pick-up is excellent: the powerful mid-range delivers a satisfying surge of acceleration and the flat, step-free torque curve and smooth engine response let riders open the throttle with confidence - at any rpm.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES o Triangular layout of the crankshaft and transmission shafts make the engine very short front-to-back. o Transmission input shaft, output shaft and change drum are contained in a "cassette"-style package that both allows a compact layout and facilitates transmission maintenance chores. o Semi-dry sump design reduces engine height. o Plated, liner-less cylinder is lightweight, and the narrow cylinder pitch reduces engine width. o Auto-fast idle system simplifies starting and ensures the catalyser reaches optimum temperature quickly. o Simplified cooling system routes coolant through the engine cases to the cylinder and head to reduce external plumbing. o 180° crankshaft drives a balancer shaft for silky smooth engine operation. o Oil jets located in the rod big-ends direct oil to the undersides of the pistons for added cooling. o With the large radiator and under-engine muffler, the Versys offers superior comfort from a heat dissipation perspective.