New for 2008, the Versys made its debut to rave reviews by the motocycle press. It is a 649cc, four-stroke, parallel-twin, liquid-cooled, 6-speed, chain driven motorcycle with a seat height of 33.1 inches. Admittedly, Kawasaki says it’s style and positioning is hard to define. Sporbike? Commuter? Tourer? It can be all of them. The Versys is a naked street fighter with engine characteristics and styling designed to appeal to the most advanced riders, yet the bike is predictable enough to inspire confidence in less-experienced motorcyclists.
Big Comfort, Long Travel Suspension, and Innovative Styling: Means, One Versatile, Fun, Street-Savvy Motorcycle.
This bike carves up mountain passes like a race bike, but is still comfortable for hours of touring.
It is capable of tackling all types of roads, while combining all-day comfort with sports performance.
The new 2008 Kawasaki Versys is a machine which occupies a hard to define sweet spot in the motorcycling universe. This agile commando, with it’s nimble design, wide handlebars, six-spoke super bike inspired wheels, adjustable height windscreen, and a comfortable cockpit were combined to create a motorcycle that just begs to be ridden wherever the pavement might lead.
Modified exclusively for the Versys motorcycle. The compact liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 8-valve, 649 cc parallel twin engine, delivers smooth power that’s well suited for “off the line” acceleration, While the new cams haven’t turned the Versys into a veritable torque monster, acceleration feels more responsive than the Ninja 650 R, whether zipping through traffic or carving up a tight, bumpy canyon road.
It’s suspension offers the next level in sophistication: an advanced Showa rear shock featuring a free piston and two-stage damping valves for progressive compression damping which firms significantly as the shock moves through its stroke. This allows a longer wheel travel with a feel that is initially soft like a dual sport, but firms to near sport bike levels as suspension loads escalate. Of course, this advanced shock is fully adjustable and connected to a beautiful aluminum (gull wing) swing arm, that is longer than average, thanks to a short/compact engine and chassis.
Up front, the Versys suspension continues the high tech approach with a fully adjustable 41mm tapered-tube inverted fork that combines the best of off-road and sport bike suspension action for a stiffness balance that is a perfect compliment to the chassis settings. In addition to a more comfortable ride, the long-travel suspension’s soft stroke allows easy control of the chassis running angle by shifting the rider’s weight.
Complimenting the able suspension is the carefully designed cockpit that features a two-piece seat constructed to provide optimum comfort to both the rider and passenger. An easy to read and informative instrument panel allows riders to quickly scan the gauges and get their eyes back on the road. Capping off the comfort list is an adjustable windscreen that can be raised or lowered to three positions in 20 mm increments.
Although they definitely are two different motorcycles, we can’t help but think that the Versys may end up stealing some showroom sales from the Ninja 650 R. For only $500 more than the Ninja’s $6399 sticker price, you’re getting a lot more versatility and even a bit more performance with the Versys, a combination that’s hard to overlook.