Kawasaki Versys is here

Discussion in 'Kawasaki Big Bikes Thailand' started by TonyBKK, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Finally! The waiting is over! The 2011 Kawasaki Versys has arrived! :clap:

    Took the "scenic" route home and managed to put 50km on the odometer so far.

    First impressions-

    The Versys is geared noticeable lower than the ER6n / Ninja 650R making first gear power wheelies a cinch. Driving over manhole covers, potholes, etc in Bangkok I find the suspension on the Versys soaks up the bumps much better than the ER6n/Ninja 650R. This bike is TALL! The seat is tall, the bars are tall. Riding through traffic in Bangkok I felt like I was "above it all" :mrgreen: Definitely the tallest bike I've ever owned.

    I had the privilege of riding JG's BMW F800GS on the Lampang-Chiang Mai highway and then out to Mae Rim last Sunday so it's quite interesting to compare the bikes.

    Very similar height and seating positions. In fact similar screens and instruments are quite similar too. Both are parallel twins. I'm not clear on the displacement of the BMW... The F650GS and F800GS apparently share the same engine? So is it an 800cc twin or a 650cc twin, or? :?: The Versys has a 17" front wheel while the F800GS has a 19" front wheel and tubed Pirelli Scorpion tires. I replaced the Dunlops on my Versys with Bridgestone Battlax BT021's as I've never been a big fan of Dunlop tires and I've heard nothing good about the stock Dunlops on the Versys. Despite the bigger front wheel I found the BMW was easy to turn and quite stable through high speed corners.

    The suspension on the BMW was absolutely amazing. The Lamphun-Chiang Mai highway is mostly made up of concrete slabs and the joints between the slabs are often not terribly smooth or level so it's a great place to test a bike's suspension. When I've ridden the Ninja 650R and ER6n on that road the chassis is easily unsettled by the bumps in the road while the BMW went through the bumps like a hot knife through butter. SMOOTH is the only word that comes to mind when I think of the handling of the F800GS.

    My only grumble about the F800GS is the very low redline (I think it redlines around ~9000 RPM or something like that?) and what seemed to me like a lack of power... IanBungy made a comment about how easy it is to power wheelie the F800GS but even with a nearly empty tank and scooting way back onto the pillion seat I could not get the front off the ground in first gear without using the clutch...

    The Versys is geared very low. Even though I'm still breaking her in, wow, grab a fistful of throttle in first and the front wheel comes up easily, even with a full tank of gas. The Versys redlines at ~10500RPM but I'll wait until I have a couple hundred km on the clock before I take her there. It's the same engine as the ER6n/Ninja 650R but different cams and gearing give it a lot more low end grunt and less top end. Personally, for riding in Thailand I think more torque down low and less top end is a good compromise!

    Love the gauges! Big white analog tach and digital speedo are very easy to read. My one complaint, as with the ER6n and Ninja 650R, is the lack of a temperature gauge...

    The little screen seems quite effective. I've only had the bike up to ~140km/hr and at least up to that speed the screen does a good job. The screen is adjustable and right now it's in the lowest position.

    I'll be taking the Versys on a tour to Prachuap Kiri Khan and Khai Sam Roi Yot National Park this weekend so will be able to give more feedback after the trip.

    Let the Good Times ROLL!

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  3. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    Well guess what, guess who's over-delivering ONCE AGAIN... Kawasaki Chiang Mai, that's who! I just got a call, picking up my black Versys tomorrow!! 5 days early!
  4. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    Congrats Tony!! You must have written your post just as I got the call from the dealer!

    I know it's been discussed many times but how are you breaking her in? I think I'll do the "hard and quick" way again tomorrow, going through all gears and all RPMs (as far as possible) many times, lots of engine braking and hard acceleration for 20kms or so, then changing the oil. No redlining of course. Going to make an idiot of myself tomorrow on Canal road again ;)

    How is the height? Big / small issue?

    I admit to passing by the BMW dealer's last week to compare - I've always been a big fan of BMW but personally I think they've dropped the ball on design over the last 5 years [exception the amazing S1000RR - I just have no need for a racing bike, unfortunately]. 5 years ago the F650 GS looked like a spaceship ready to launch - 2010 it looks pretty much the same as back then, except they've uglified all the headlamps. F800GS was the nicest one, it's a bit more powerful than the Versys; but I was put off by the large front wheel. I am rather fond of the 17" on the ER-6n. I guess the F800GS will have nothing on the Versys on the road - but from all reports it's way more capable when things get dirty.

    Anyway back to the Versys... woo hoo!
  5. johngooding

    johngooding Ol'Timer

    Congratulations on your new bike Tony, looks like it is going to be a good one for you and may stay in your garage a bit longer than the previous Kawas.
    Just for the record, the F800GS does have an 800cc engine. It is something like 782 or 792cc, I am not going to go and check. The F650GS in the last couple of years has the same 2 cylinder 800cc engine, but in a lower state of tune. Confusing I know, because virtually every other bike from BMW uses the correct engine displacement in the bikes name. Riding your Ninja 650R for the last couple of days, including a trip up the very clean and fast 118 to Chiang Rai and back, I find it very willing and responsive and fast enough, but as you say, it does jump about when the tarmac is not smooth, or if crosswinds from lorries etc. Safe but more tiring. Leads me take my weight on the legs for the bumpy bits to protect my more delicate bits from big bumps via the tank and seat. Sounds like the Versys will be better in that area, although you did not actually say how it was on the bumps relative to the BMW. Certainly a big price difference, and value for money the Versys would get a lot more stars than the BMW.
    Looking today at the S1000RR in the showroom, now that looks like a real bike.
  6. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Hi Tony, congrats to your new 'baby' :clap: !!! Well you've gone already through the whole 650 range of Kwakasaka :lol: , what happens if they bring out the ZX6 I wonder...... :mrgreen: :mrgreen: hahahaha, keep on buying and riding !! Cheers, Franz
  7. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    Yeah the Dunlops will have to go first thing; online reviews are terrible: They are described as expensive and bad. One versys review even calls them a hazard in the wet!

    See here: http://www.tyretest.com/motorradreifen/ ... index.html

    @Franz: I am certainly hoping to keep this bike a few years. Switching every year is an expensive hobby ;) actually that's what made me look at the bmws...
  8. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Well, I don't know if it's "considerable" but I'm the kind of guy who likes to see how hot my bike is running... There IS an overheat warning light and there are of course aftermarket temp gauges available. Just a minor annoyance really. Ride On! Tony
  9. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    Just picked up my bike, did 30 all-revs kms and now first oil change.

    I have to say I didn't know what to expect, but I was _very_ surprised at a number of things. So some notables comparing it to my beloved ER-6n:

    - Suspension is a great thing to have
    - Seating position is totally upright, so I can see over traffic, and it's a very relaxed position too
    - I expected this to be harder to ride than the ER-6, at least in the beginning as I am getting used to the height. Well - not so. The Versys seems even easier to ride than the ER-6n, I guess it has to do with the relaxed gearing - or the position? Not sure but this bike is going to be a whole lot easier to handle in city traffic than the ER-6 which is a huge surprise to me.
    - Height is no issue at all. Both feet on the ground no problem (I'm 5'11 / 180cm).
    - Less engine braking than the ER-6n - also less "bite"? I am not 100% sure but it seems much more civilized. I am not sure I am giving up on power or if it just seems that way. Well.. Ok I guess it's 65HP vs 72 (claimed, less in real life).
    - Higher speeds seem much slower than on the ER-6 thanks to the much better wind protection.

    I guess this is my first touring bike, and as I found out, I am quite clueless about touring bikes. Or was ;)

    On closer inspection the one downside is that the ER-6n looks better. It's just a sharper design. The Versys is pretty, no doubt, but I think my old flame beats her handily on the beauty meter ;) on all other accounts... I don't think I could go back.

    David caught me in the act at the dealer's ... hoping he's going to post the picture he took there... thanks, David!
  10. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Indeed I did catch Nikster in the act....

  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    In the flesh in Chiang Mai: some photos from today's delivery....

    A red one


    A black one


    A few close ups..


    I personally don't particularly like the headlight look.








    Versys admirers & contemplaters...

    another possible contemplater.
    although somewhat temporarily handicapped. :lol:

    Testing the suspension setup on Hoghead's new bike
    that he had yet to even see.


    A BIG WELCOME & 3 CHEERS for the Kawasaki Versys.
    I am sure it is going to be an absolute winner for touring in the North & Laos & Cambodia & wherever in the region.
    :clap: :clap:

    Congratulations to all those guys who picked up new bikes today. According to Pikey there was 8 of them.

    We look forward to what should be many enthusiastic Versys reviews & trip reports.
  12. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Nick, Robert & whoever got it today, congratulations !!!! :clap: :mrgreen:
    What a beautiful bike :smile1: and a big ray of hope, maybe now other suppliers get a shameful coloured head..... :oops:
    Good on you Kwaka, will also show on overall salesvalue and marketshare....... :clap: :clap:
    Nick, looking for a testride with you soon......cheers, Franz
  13. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    > I found my inner calf muscles rubbed against the end of the footrests when the bike was stationary.
    True, noticed that too.

    > I found that my right calf muscle banged against the rhs grab handle which runs along the side of the seat when I dismounted.
    You need to stretch more ;)

    > I noted that where the tank meets the seat is unprotected and seems very vulnerable to scratching from, say, belt buckles, zips etc.

    Thank the Lord for the invention of tank pads 8)
  14. Hoghead

    Hoghead Ol'Timer

    I bought a red one, and aside from stopping by Bungie's on the way home no km as of this morning but will be rectifying the problem shortly. To be clear is is NOT the red one those 2 lard asses are perched on

    Similar comments to Nick, however I was a bit surprised at the torque form such a small engine. Needless to say I have not wound it up yet but it seems to have sufficient usable street-able power.

    I held off from putting down a deposit as I wanted a test sit due to my 30 inch legs, but no problems touching tippy-toed so out came the chequebook. It is fairly narrow at the seat area so given that my short legs are not splayed out, and it works for us shorter riders.

    The front fairing/headlight style is a bit strange and I am hoping that it will grow on me - or maybe I am just too old and stuck in traditional styling.

    Like the big alalogue tach, and do not really give a toss about the speedo anyway

    I am used to cracking the throttle on downshifts, and this Kawi coughs/stutters when doing so - perhaps a FI issue?
    In any case I suspect that a Power commander 5 is in the cards so this should go away

    Hate the Jap style turn signals

    Now to figure out a luggage solution without resporting to the Givi/Kawi hard bags and top box
  15. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    Some comments:
    Headlight: I love radical designs - I am not in any way into classic styles (except on actual classic bikes) - but I also think the headlight assembly is off. It's much better than the 2009 - but great design it's not. Especially in the Kawa shop, I see it next to the ER-6n, and the ER-6n front just looks killer. It's hot. The Versys seems to be targeted towards an older audience... or whatever. In any case, could and should be better. Can't argue with the function though, wind protection is great and headlamp seems to be brighter than ER-6n.
    Well admittedly my ER-6n was horrible at night because the Puig windscreen reflects light from the headlamp straight into the driver's face. Yet another reason I am not a fan of Puig, seems like an obvious design blunder even though this was their 2nd generation ER-6n windshield...

    The rear lamp is cooler than the ER-6n, makes up for it a little bit :)

    I love the instruments too, analog tach makes a lot more sense to me than analog speedo, and speedo is easier to read in digital IMO.

    Anyone know where I could get a black powder coated panniers rack in CM? Preferably aluminium... Going to get some Ortliebs to go on the bike for ultimate comfort, I'll finally be able to ride into town without backpack. Very much looking forward to that.

    All the hard luggage I have seen had two out of three problems:
    - Ugly
    - Crappy
    - Expensive
  16. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Robert Called in Late afternoon Yesterday to let Us take a look and I was Very Impressed! If I didn't already have the Tiger I would Buy one Myself. Beautiful and i quite liked the Deep Red Colour! Here is a Proud Robert and His New Versys!
    I had a Sit on it and Really Loved the layout and the Dash. I think it is a little lower and Narrower than My Tiger and felt pretty Nimble. Fantastic Value for Money in My Eyes. All the Best to everyone Who Brought one! :clap:
  17. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    First ride impression, I am still not over how different this bike handles from the ER-6n. I've seen the torque curves but I didn't really know what that means in real life - well now I know.

    The Versys handles easier than the ER-6n - it loves the twisties just as much but requires less effort in steering, and is much more forgiving when you find yourself in the wrong gear in a turn. No problem on the Versys as the torque just pulls you along very nicely even at lower RPMs.

    All in all I think the engine performance is a bit of a toss up - on the Samoeng loop where you can't go very fast (speaking in absolute terms - we gave it all she could take, thanks Franz ;) ) the Versys is perfect. I imagine - though it remains to be seen - that I'll feel the missing 7HP more on straights and long curves.

    I wouldn't go back to the ER-6n now for a couple reasons though: Super comfortable seat... what do they call those on cars, captain's chairs - thats what it feels like. Super comfortable riding position. Sitting perfectly upright you're the master of traffic and twisties. And great wind protection. More nimble handling both in the mountains and in traffic.
  18. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Was again a pleasure to ride with all of the GTR guys on the Samoeng Loop !!
    Must say I'm very impressed by the looks of both Nikster's and Hoghead's Versyses. Seatheight is perfect for someone around 180cms tall, I got both feet flat down on the road. Instruments are clearly readable and the overall seating position is good.
    So Nick, when you are done with running Mrs. Versys in just give me a call for a weekend run to Nan......there we can repeat it but a a little faster pace..... :happy5: :happy2:
    Have fun all of you happy Versys owners with this nice bike !!! Cheers, Franz
  19. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Mr Mechanic has a nice brand spanking new red one for rent already.




    Price 1,500 baht a day.
    Contact Ms Gung or Miss Yui or Miss Aom or Mr Benz at Mr Mechanic.
  20. Captain Wally

    Captain Wally Ol'Timer

    YESSSS! :happy2:

    I was hoping they'd get one or two before I arrive in Jan. :clap: :clap: :clap:
  21. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Cheers Mate,

    Yes, enjoyed a fantastic tour on the Versys this weekend and not sure why you still think it's a "compromise"... I mean, a compromise between what and what? I know you want Kawasaki to sell the KLR650 in Thailand but that's simply not going to happen until the bike gets FI and it's anyone's guess as to when that might happen.

    Personally I'd take a Versys over a KLR 650 any day. IMO the Versys is basically a jacked up Ninja 650R/ER6n with much better suspension, a much more comfortable seat, lower gearing, bigger tank and funky looks. (FWIW I'm not a big fan of the headlight design either, but it WORKS and in the grand scheme of things the look is not something I really care about all that much.)

    Haven't had a chance to edit all the pics yet and will post up a proper trip report once I do, but for now I leave you with a few teasers :wink:






    Is the Versys a touring bike? I guess that depends on your definition of "touring bike". When I think "touring bike" I think BMW LT or Yamaha FJR1300 or Triumph Sprint ST, etc.

    For me the Versys is more "sport touring" with a dash of adventure riding thrown in the mix. What you get in the end is not easy to place in one tidy category. It's a bike that can do a lot of things, hence the name.

    One criticism I read somewhere was that the Versys can do many things well but not any one thing very well... So far that's not been my experience, then again I haven't tried any real off road riding with it. I expect that, compared to say JG's BMW F800GS that the Versys, with its weight and 17 inch front wheel will be left far behind once you really get off road. It's certainly NOT a dirt bike! Then again, the Beemer costs more than double the Versys...

    Compared to the ER6n and Ninja 650R the Versys is just a better bike. Not that there's anything wrong with the ER6n or Ninja 650R mind you. But IMO the better suspension components of the Versys provide much better handling. The nice wide seat and good wind protection makes the Versys more comfortable than it's shorter siblings as well.

    I'm sure we'll have many more reviews coming in over the next few months.

    My advice- go ride one! I think you might be pleasantly surprised. I know I was- it's BETTER than I expected!

    Let the Good Times ROLL!

  22. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    19" wheel good or offroad certainly, but for road I prefer a 17" front wheel. As an inexperienced off road rider I think I'd prefer something a lot lighter like a KLX250 for any serious off road riding...

    Check it out- some of the guys here in Bangkok are already modding their Versys!

    Yoshimura exhaust, custom paint and radiator guard (hard to see).


    Ride On!

  23. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    Green!!! Nice ... but they should have used the black side panels (instead of silver) and a black logo for an authentic look :)

    I am thinking white would look awesome...

    Oh yeah totally agree on the 17" wheels. That's undoubtedly one reason it handles so well in the mountains.
  24. ThePedroDB

    ThePedroDB Member

    I collected my Versys late afternoon (yesterday) from Kawa Surratthani and headed for the Samui ferry. Arrived safely home @ 20:15 hrs via lots of flooded/sand washed roads in the dark and drizzle. Now can't sleep - hence the late night www session.

    My new toy is sitting outside awaiting it's first wash and some sunshine to go and play in. Initial thoughts are very positive! Will provide a more complete report after we've got a bit better acquainted. Quite simply though, it's light years ahead of the previous bikes I've owned in Thailand.

    I almost don't want to make this comparison (as I'm sure some Triumph fans will STRONGLY disagree) but it does remind me quite a lot of a Triumph Tiger I had a demo ride of a year or so ago. Similar riding position, similar 'sewing machine' smoothness to the engine etc. The Kwacker is almost 1/3 of the price of the Tiger though... so, although it may not be truly comparable, there's no contest where your wallet is concerned.

    @Hoghead, tks for your thoughts. Much appreciated. Delighted to hear that your V is excelling itself in most areas. I wish you many happy and safe Kilometres together! Re: extra power. As a friend of mine used to say though "You know you have enough power when you have too much!". Hope you find a way to get the gains you're looking for without too much $$$. Will let u know how I feel about more performance in due course (i.e. if I think I need more too) but I wouldn't want to do too much 'tweaking' in case I ended up with significantly reduced reliability and/or fuel consumption. For me personally, and especially with the sandy roads of Samui, the standard output will probably be more than adequate. Never say never though... Tyres will definitely be my next thing. I'm strongly considering a set of Pirelli MT60R's. I think they will be just the ticket for my locality.

    @Davidfl, tks for the KTM links. A jolly good read and glad to see that they are (finally) appearing but what I probably should have said earlier was "I'd like KTM to start manufacturing here (so I can get one for a realistic price) and have a decent cross-country dealer network". Not sure what the pricing will be like but I suspect it will be BMW/Harley money. Sadly, too rich for my tastes. Furthermore, I wouldn't want to have to go to Bangkok for a service! I think I'd need a more local dealer. I used to live very close to a main KTM dealer back in the UK and I did need to visit them rather more than I would have expected with a new bike (640LC SM)... Maybe one day. You can't blame a chap for dreaming. Can you?

    Will post some pics of my V when I finally get some decent sunshine (just heard Thunder again...) and work out exactly how to do that via this forum. Can't find an 'Upload Photo' option to save my life at the moment... Maybe there isn't one!

    Best Regards To All

  25. ThePedroDB

    ThePedroDB Member

    Finally worked it out and got a Photobucket account. Der....

    Here I am in Kawa Surratthani just before heading for the Samui ferry;


    Before anyone mentions it. Yes, I agree, 'Converse' are not the most protective motorcycle footwear... A tad better than my flip-flops though!


  26. whitehead

    whitehead Ol'Timer

    Congrats Pedro! As you were the first to get pictures of the bike in Thailand I am glad you now have your bike.

    I have been running around Bangers on mine this last week. Its a great fun bike and surprisingly nimble in traffic. Am aching to get her out for a good ride but I have a full diary these next few weekends.

    I think the people at 7/11 are sick of the sight of me popping down every 5 minutes on it for something else I "forgot"

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