Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Technical Section => Make / Model Specific Discussions => Kawasaki KLE 400/500 & Versys => Topic started by: Metaljockey on June 12, 2008, 06:39:38 am

Title: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Metaljockey on June 12, 2008, 06:39:38 am
Perspective
Let me say up front that I am not a road bike rider. The only road bikes I have owned was a CB900F and an XJ750 (and an XZ550 but I pushed it more than I rode it). All of these are too old to compare to modern bikes.
The bikes I do know well are all off-road biased 250 EXC, CRF250, DRZ400, 640 Adventure and lastly of course the Best Bike in the World, the 1200 GS, which leans more to the road bike side..
So keep in mind where I'm coming from when I review the Versys.

Looks

It's a damn pleasure to look at. I've got the 'burnt orange' one.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307730374_bpxyT-L.jpg)


I've fallen in love with that colour. When it's clean, it's very pretty. It also comes in metallic blue, silver and black.

The bike is just plain beautiful, everywhere there are design cues that tell you someone worked hard to make something special.

Have a look at the graceful yoke neck holding the handlebars up. A thing of beauty.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307723024_dmYAc-L.jpg)



Check out that fat swingarm, with the offset, almost horizontal shock openly displayed on the side of the bike.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307719630_xpSPZ-L.jpg)


On the American version, the spring is red.

(http://www.kawasakimotorcycle.org/images/sport/08-versys.jpg)

I like it, I think I'm going to have mine done in red too.


The L.E.D. tail light is a work of art too.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307725664_VjsMw-L.jpg)


Overall the bike has a very perky upright look, with a short wheel base.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307732690_VvbuR-L.jpg)


There is one (possible) flaw in the aesthetics - the headlight. It is huge, juts out forward and is shaped like a skull.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307727537_UCfS2-L.jpg)

Somehow, it is starting to grow on me though, it makes a statement.

The side panels are just a pleasure on the eye.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307725295_KUN7C-L.jpg)


The trellis frame, which I quite like, can be removed if you don't intend using the passenger pegs. It cleans up the rear even more.



Damn, I've run out of time. I'll continue later today on the performance, ergos and extras.


Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Nico on June 12, 2008, 07:00:10 am
Nice writeup.

Check out the forum at www.versys.co.uk. Lots of info, and even a free service manual to download.
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Colyn on June 12, 2008, 07:31:36 am
I like this bike too.
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Roné on June 12, 2008, 07:40:59 am
I too have one - can only decribe in one word - AWSOME
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Welsh on June 12, 2008, 08:07:17 am
And a wheelie machine of note, IDR had one with a micron pipe, LOUD :peepwall: :peepwall:
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: malJohann on June 12, 2008, 08:58:02 am
It also comes in metallic blue, silver, black and green.

Fixed.
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: IDR on June 12, 2008, 09:37:11 am
And a wheelie machine of note, IDR had one with a micron pipe, LOUD :peepwall: :peepwall:

 >:D >:D >:D

Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Metaljockey on June 12, 2008, 10:27:15 am

Performance

It goes like stink.

It's a 650 parallel twin and can do 200km/h. I checked.
It runs very easily and freely at 170km/h. Check out the pretty headers.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307726811_sfpEJ-L.jpg)


The only twins I've ridden is boxers and V's and of course the Yammie parallel two stroke 350. This motor feels very different to those, maybe not that much different from the two stroke. It picks up revs very rapidly, and the gear ratios is so short it feels like each gear is stronger than the previous one. It reminds me of the Triumph Tiger triple that I one owned. Very linear power and a hunger for revs. Fantastically entertaining.

The short wheel base makes it pick up the front wheel very easily, too easily in fact.

It only redlines at 10 500 revs, but I shift at 7 000 already, no need for the rest. The gearbox is a peach. I have not had a single false neutral to date. When you say shift, it shifts.

The one thing that does disappoint though is the injection mapping. It does not roll on and off smoothly. There's a jerk off of closed throttle that makes it a little uncomfortable to ride in slow traffic. It also snatches when the revs are too low. Off course here I may be over critical because I compare it to the 1200 which has the torque to roll on smoothly from less than idling speed.

Fuel consumption is surprisingly good, my last tank gave 20km to the litre. Some one with less of a 'ry die kak uit hom uit' riding style will no doubt get even better consumption. My 1200 averages 18km to the litre.


Handling

The handling is befok. I really leans easily and confidently. Every time I'm leaned over in a turn I wish for a half brick or something to come by so I can crank it over more. Very gemaklik. You never get the feeling that you are approaching the edge.

I fitted a Maxxis 150 rear in a hurry to get the bike through roadworthy.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307720231_p7FMA-L.jpg)

It is supposed to take a 160 though, I believe it will handle even better when it has the fat takkie on.


The front brake is very natural and won't catch you unawares. I thought the back brake to be iffy, but after adjusting it it's much better. Just not overly effective in slowing the bike down.

It feels lighter than a Dakar. When the tank is full, the rocking of the fuel can move the bike around.

The turning circle is a little wider than I would like, but for anyone riding a KTM it will feel smaller.

The suspension, although long travel, is quite hard, I assume like road bikes should be. After setting the rear to the lowest pre-load, things were a lot better. I am not really aware of the suspension while riding anymore. I like the fact that it dives very little under hard braking. It has a funny short and twitchy action when jumping speed bumps and the like, I will probably just have to work at it some more until I get it right.

It is very stable through high speed corners, and not overly jittery over bad surfaces either. I have noticed that wind affects it quite a lot more than the GS, but that is to be expected.


Ergonomics

The seating position is A1. One hell of a comfortable seat, nice upright position so you have lekker visibility over other traffic and even the seat to peg ratio is ok for me. I don't have much time for the 'monkey humping a rugby ball' position that is par for the course in road bikes today. In fact, the only reason I considered the Versys, was because of the upright seating position.

And I need to stress, it is an excessively comfortable seat, more comfortable than the GS. The pillion seat is also shaped so that you don't have your passenger sliding up your arse all the time. Well thought out. Ladies, check out that hump, you know you want it.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307728963_mrVVz-L.jpg)


The handlebar is also nice and wide like I like them. I got the bike with an MX bar fitted, but I put the stock bar back on so as to be able to fit the bar ends again.

The screen is crap, Over 140kph you are fighting. This is what the stock screen looks like.

(http://www.raptorsandrockets.com/images/Kawasaki/07_Kawasaki_Versys_6r.jpg)



Extras

I fitted a Kappa screen that I sourced from Topbox (and may I say what a pleasure it is to be able to get things locally). It is identical to the Givi.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307732690_VvbuR-L.jpg)

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307729715_MBure-L.jpg)


I was afraid it may be too big, but it turned out fine, and it transforms the bike. It works. I have no qualms to use the bike for touring now. I would say it is the first must do on this bike, get a proper screen.
Check out the quality.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307728216_3omRd-L.jpg)


You may have noticed a pair of extra passenger pegs set high up; I fitted those for the kid.

Seeing as it is used as a taxi and runabout I also got a topbox from Topbox (excuse the pun). Quite the modern look, actually reminds me of Marvin from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307734698_Qesrz-L.jpg)

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307734220_ZHRSv-L.jpg)

I'm thinking of pulling that Kawasaki sticker off to clean things up a little. Should I start a poll?


It also came with an aftermarket pipe that looks much like the stock one. It makes a serious noise though, bit of a screamer, doesn't sound like a twin at all. Maybe someone knows what make it is, I don't.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307719108_GAL9d-L.jpg)


The only other extra I will fit is a pair of hand protectors, I am not used to riding without them and feel a bit naked. I also find that on top of it being cold, the wind blasts my fingers closed. I'll probably look at getting light duty bark busters ala the 640 to sort that out.


The bad

Beautiful as it is, the bodywork is fitted with crap push-connectors. This makes it rattle in various places. If it was a BMW, I would have taken it to the dealer in disgust.  Now I just pad here and there with sticky foam strips. There is still one or two to fix though.

The left mirror blows back in the wind. It is not fixable by tightening and I will look for after market mirrors, I am not keen on the square look anyway.

I'm trying to think of more negatives but there just isn't any. It's a flippen well sorted bony.


Dual Sport?

I don't know. I haven't ridden enough gravel to say. To date I have only done 2000km on the bike.

There are some things that count against it though:
- A smaller front wheel than a GS
- The exhaust sits right under the bike, prone to serious damage
- No belly plate at all
- The power delivery is too viscious
- Snatching at anything under 2500 revs will not allow technical stuff

The air intakes sit nice and high though. Right on top of the motor.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307726287_3feVh-L.jpg)


It may well still turn out to be a lekker gravel road bike, although I think that the short wheel base may make it twitchy.


Conclusion

The short version - I love it. It helluva fun to ride and is put together well both aesthetically and ergonomically. When you get on it, it feels absolutely natural.

I got the bike to serve as my daily runabout, and to be used by my wife on the longer, more road biased trips. It is ideal for both.

Is it a better commuter than the GS? One would think so as it is lighter and smaller, but no. The smooth low revving torque of the GS is just effortless in traffic. Is it a better tourer than the GS? No, but pretty damn good and half the price. Brand new they are R65 000, I got mine with 4000km on for R52 000.

And still, damn nice to look at.

(http://metaljockey.smugmug.com/photos/307731564_3ngRp-L.jpg)


Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: LuckyStriker on June 12, 2008, 10:42:21 am
Thank you MJ

I have seriously looked at this bike and was really looking forward to reading your review
unfortunately the lack of proper dirt capabilities lets it down for me
this is very sad because the bike looks so bloody awesome and I could actually see myself on one (and I can afford it!)

For a commuter I would love one but I don't want to take it to Mozambique...
If I could afford more than one bike, this would definitely be in my garage as well
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: tok-tokkie on June 12, 2008, 10:43:37 am
I remember when you said you were interested in getting one.  It is good to read that it has turned out so well.
I like the exhaust down there.  Not good for off road but it really tidies up the look of the bike.  (The R1 & new FireBlade ones are hideous {don't mention the new VMax}) but yours excellent looking.
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Leo on June 12, 2008, 08:17:21 pm
Thanks MJ

Nice write up.

I have also given this bike some serious thought. The 1100 GS I bought for commuting is just proving to be too heavy on juice, and knowing your riding style = 20 km/l is really impressive.

I am seriously considering selling the beast and getting a 650 that's alot lighter on juice  ;)

The "orange" colour is also striking - me like a lot  :ricky:
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Roné on June 12, 2008, 09:35:59 pm
where / who is Topbox & what is was the price of that screen?
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: michnus on June 12, 2008, 10:50:33 pm
Topbox? How de hell don't you know TOPBOX? (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=961) He is mister Kappa, and all the fancy helmets.  :eek7: ;)
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Etienne2T on June 12, 2008, 10:56:33 pm
Even I know who topbox is, and i have only been here for like 14 days
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Metaljockey on June 12, 2008, 11:13:27 pm
where / who is Topbox & what is was the price of that screen?

Check for Topbox under the members or use Michnus's link, he is in Cape Town and I've never had anything but excellent service from him.
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Oppad on June 13, 2008, 12:28:46 am
Very informative MJ, thanks. Would also like to have one hanging around, alas...Hope it provides you with as much fun as your off-roaders do
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: topbox on June 13, 2008, 03:56:43 am
This bike unlike the KLR is sold in Europe and this dramatically increases the number of accessories available.

Some of the Kappa stuff for it:

(http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u98/topbox/products/KawaVersysKD405ST.jpg)

This is 1 of three Kappa panniers that fit.
The bracket for the other 2 is shaped differently.


(http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u98/topbox/products/KawaVERSYS.jpg)

There are further luggage options @ www.krauser.de
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Ama ride ride on June 13, 2008, 09:10:58 am
MJ

Thanks for the review. Suddenly I also want one... ;D
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: IDR on June 13, 2008, 09:16:06 am
Thanks MJ, glowing review! :thumright:

I have always wanted one - but making space in the garage between the Z and the KLR is a bit tough... anyone want my Z?  ;D
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Stev0 on June 18, 2008, 06:16:08 pm
Thanks MJ, glowing review! :thumright:

I have always wanted one - but making space in the garage between the Z and the KLR is a bit tough... anyone want my Z?  ;D

only if its a 350Z
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Roné on June 18, 2008, 07:02:15 pm
MJ you forgot about the smoothness of the motor :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Kykdaar on August 21, 2012, 08:19:39 am
An old thread, but I just had to say - great review man :thumleft:

Got one exactly like this, Burnt orange, Givi screen, aftermarket pipe, topbox.

What a great medium-sized road bike.
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: DR BIG 750 on August 21, 2012, 07:25:48 pm
Agreed  :thumleft:
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Metaljockey on August 21, 2012, 10:03:05 pm
An old thread, but I just had to say - great review man :thumleft:

Thanks man. I can't believe that was 4 years ago already. I still ride mine daily. Rode it today as well. Still a pleasure. Still turns heads.
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: durtseeker on August 26, 2012, 09:57:44 pm
A friend of mine has one of these and he is struggling to get tires for it. 
What duel tires are available that will fit the Versys?
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: Swanniebraai on November 20, 2012, 06:23:47 am
Does the wind not bother the pillion because of the higher seating position?
Title: Re: So what's the Versys like?
Post by: DR BIG 750 on June 05, 2013, 06:36:10 am
Nice writeup.

Check out the forum at www.versys.co.uk. Lots of info, and even a free service manual to download.
where do find the manual I need one for the versys