Kawasaki has earned a name amongst superbike enthusiasts in a way which no other bike manufacturer has. The Kawasaki Versys 650 carries forward the tradition, says Nagendra Sharma in this review
With the sheer variety of models launched in India, it has captured the imagination of bikers very well. Right from the entry level Z250 to the Ninja ZX-14, the Kawasaki range is full of nakeds, street bikes and tourers. Kawasaki has launched the Versys 650 some time back and we spent a few days with this tourer to learn more about it. Here is the Kawasaki Versys 650 Review.
The Versys 650 looks pretty similar to its bigger sibling, the Versys 1000. The large proportions along with a tall stance are identical as well. The front fairing has got a pair of sleek looking headlamps and on top there is an adjustable windshield. The chiseled fairing gives the bike a mean yet sophisticated look. The turn indicators are mounted below the headlamps on either side. The switchgear is standard but is of good quality and build. Ditto with the handlebar grips, levers and bar ends.
The fuel tank which is well contoured blends well with overall design nicely. The tail of the Versys 650 is sharply raked and the step seat goes well with this styling. It has grab handles on either side. The taillamp is an LED one, similar to the ones seen on other Kawasaki 650 bikes. The short exhaust pipe is neatly tucked below the front footrest. The Versys looks good from all angles and in black colour it also looks mean enough.
The instrument cluster is not complicated and is similar to its other siblings. It has an analogue tachometer and a digital speedo, tripmeter and fuel gauge. A gear indicator is sorely missed here and would be very helpful. There is underseat storage too, though it’s limited to placing the tool box and maybe the bike documents. There are two helmet holders on either side which are very helpful as you can lock the helmets while the bike is parked. The rear grab handles also have hidden sockets below to mount hard panniers, which are available as accessories. The grab handles also have lugs for bungie cords that assist in tying luggage such as bags or lose bundles.
The Versys 650 becomes a centre of attraction in traffic due to its tall stance. It is currently available only in Metallic Black colour. We would’ve preferred more colour options and we think Kawasaki may introduce them at a later stage.
The Versys 650 is fitted with a 649cc parallel twin, liquid cooled engine with fuel injection. It makes 67.5bhp of power at 8500rpm and 64Nm of torque at 7000rpm.
This is the same engine that powers the Ninja 650 and ER6n, however the Versys steps down a bit on power and in turn offers a wider spread of torque to make it more rideable in different conditions. The engine also has an intelligent ECU thats adjusts the idling as per atmospheric conditions.
The engine fires up with a refined exhaust note and settles to a soft idle. It feels extremely smooth and there is seamless delivery of power. It does not shoot off in a crazy way unlike some other bikes in this category but the Versys never feels out of breath and reaches triple digits in under 5 seconds. A heavy wringing of the throttle can see the front wheel in the air, even in second gear. This despite the bike weighing 216 kgs, which is not exactly light. The Versys 650 is very easy to ride in city conditions at slow speeds too because of the even spread of torque. The gears feel a bit clunky and that was the only glitch here. The gears slot well but I would have preferred it to have a smoother shift.
The Versys is a tall bike and those with medium height need to nearly jump to straddle the bike. Short riders will find it difficult. Once you are on the bike it feels extremely comfortable. The seats have a wide base with comfortable cushioning, one of the best things on this bike. The handlebar position is set high and its width makes for a perfect riding position. The footpegs have an ideal placement too, neither set too forward or back. Not only the rider but the pillion too will find it extremely comfortable. Now, this is a rare affair and pleasing your better half in being comfortable, riding pillion, is a tough job for many. The only challenge is while mounting the bike, where the pillion has to step on the footrest to be able to mount the rear seat.
The ride is where the Versys 650 excels. A fantastic suspension system aids this. The pliant ride helps in the bike remaining firmly planted on the road. The long-travel 41mm Showa front forks are outstanding. They can be adjusted for pre-load and damping. The rear suspension is a monoshock which also has preload adjustment. This can be adjusted by simply turning a knob which is easily accessible. The Versys 650 is a sort of dual sport machine and can handle a little bit of off-roading but the tyre set up preferably calls for tarmac riding. For off roading, a different set of tyres is recommended. The 170mm ground clearance and suspension pose no challenge in otherwise taking it off the road.
Despite the tall proportions, the Versys handles brilliantly and takes bends with ease, almost like a sports bike. Sudden direction changes also are handled with aplomb. To aid this, the braking is excellent too. The ABS works flawlessly and has a good bite. The bike is easy to ride in traffic conditions, without much effort.
The Versys 650 returned a mileage of 18km/l in city riding with traffic. On the highway it returned 22km/l, that too at speeds mostly beyond 120km/h.
The price of the Kawasaki Versys 650 is Rs 7.2 lakh (on-road, Pune). The pricing is pretty good considering the equipment it offers.
Your search ends here if you are looking for a long distance tourer which is also ridden for daily commutes as well as weekend getaways. The Versys 650 comes across as a very well-rounded motorcycle. It is versatile and hence gets its name -- Versys. We found the Versys 650 very good value for money as well. It is well-equipped and good looking. The Versys 650 has great ride and handling and a seamlessly performing engine. Frankly, this is one bike which we had a hard time letting go.
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