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Kawasaki Versys: The Secret Dual-Sport Motorcycle
I was riding a Kawasaki Versys last week and thinking what a great dual-sport bike it was. It handled well, the seat was reasonably comfortable and was very nimble. I had ridden one once before and it was as part of a dual sport event so my “mistake” is easy to understand.
What is an error?
Well, looking for some details on the Versys, I went to Kawasaki’s website. Passing my cursor over the “Motorcycle” tab, it brings up a sub-menu which offers, among other things, “Sport” and “Dual Purpose”. Switching to this last option, another sub-menu offers three choices: KLR 650, KLX 250 SF and KLX 250 S. Where was the Versys?
Looking around I found it in the – in my opinion – very unlikely category of “Sport”. Wow, Kawasaki considers the Versys a sport bike? I never would have guessed. Just a kissing cousin of the Ninja 650R, right? I do not think so.
Granted, the Versys I drove last week had street tires on it. Nonetheless, the biggest giveaway was the seat height. Like any good dual-sport bike, this one is big, 33.3 inches they tell us. Toe height for anyone with my 29 inch inseam. And what about this front suspension: 41 mm 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 has 41mm up front. (God, what would that baby look like with knobbies?) Sure, the riding position on the Versys is much more upright than the Ninja, with much taller grips.
Kawasaki also tells us that the Versys is tuned for low-end torque, which is also compatible with dual-sport. And the compact 650cc parallel-twin helps keep the bike’s body lean, also a dual-sport feature.
Digging a little deeper, I found some interesting information. Even Kawasaki doesn’t know what to call the Versys. Apparently there was a time when they actually listed it under “Dual Purpose”. To quote a review on one website, “The Versys takes elements of dual-purpose, standards, adventurers and sports bikes; sharing characteristics with all, but fitting neatly into the category of none. “
That sounds like a pretty good summary. So with the acceptance that this is a bike much like many bikes but ultimately not really “like” any other bike, what is it like to ride? I thought you would never ask.
Let’s take it straight from the horse’s mouth (me being the horse). I carry a small digital recorder so I can dictate my thoughts to a particular bike on the spot as soon as I get off. Here’s what I thought to myself.
“It doesn’t pack a lot of punch in first gear, but in second gear it will set you back. Seat is quite comfortable. Mirrors are good, some of the best I’ve seen. It has big suspension, takes very bumps and that sort of thing. Put some knobs on it and it would be good in the dirt. Very light. Not really a travel bike. You can’t really load it all up very well. It’s a comfortable bike, good upright riding position. Little bikini fairing did a good job. A little windy at high speeds. Nice bike. Fun bike to ride.
So this is it. With a 5 gallon tank you’ll go far on the Versys and with dual sport tires you won’t need to stick to the pavement. At a price of around $7,000, it becomes a must-have.
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#Kawasaki #Versys #Secret #DualSport #Motorcycle