versys radial brake mod and more

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by Hoghead, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. I have been unhappy with the stock Versys brakes, and been trying for some time to machine a new bottom leg casting to carry radial callipers rather than use a scabbed on bracket as is the practice here in Thailand. I have now put this on the back burner pending trial of the latest mod.

    My buddy bought a Versys with a lowering kit and the more I looked at it, the less convinced I became that simply raising the forks up in the yokes is the ideal way to maintain geometry when lowering the rear. The forks can only be raised about 22mm while the rear is lowered 41mm

    If you must have a lowering kit, it seems that the ideal solution is shorter forks. You will give up the long travel length of the Versys fork, however I am a street rider and can live with less travel. Once you decide on shorter forks, radial brakes are easy

    The solution therefore was to use a Speedy lowering kit with radial calliper, ABS, ZX6R forks. Given a 41mm lower rear with Speedy's kit the ZX6R forks work perfectly with 8mm of stick up over the top yoke. I used the genuine lowering kit from Motorwerk in the USA at 127.00 USD rather than a Thai copy from an unknown alloy as this is a critical suspension part and I am not about to chance the 2500 b Thai clone

    Since all our Versys in Thailand have ABS, I had to use 2013 ZX6R forks as this is the only year with the ABS sensor on the fork leg. I may have been able to weld on a ABS sensor bracket to earlier years but did not pursue this. The bonous is that is is the latest Showa big piston, separate function forks, with a spring rate of .90 kg/mm and perfect for my 78 kg weight.
    Master cylinder is a Nissin 19mm radial

    Not a simple bolt on but not difficult either. It is all installed on my bike now and I will write a compete report with pics, instructions, PN's, and cost once I have a bit more time.
    I am chuffed
  2. Thats some really good research and elegant engineering solution Hog head well done ,The ZX6r forks should be better for compression , rebound and compliance than the originals too so another benefit
  3. Yes these are the latest BP-SFF (big piston seperate function forks) and should be a vast improvement over my re-valved stock forks

    The 2013 has a .5N/mm lighter spring rate than the earlier BP forks, and according to both the Racetech and Sonic spring rate calculators is perfect for my weight.
  4. Where did you source Ninja 636 forks? Carry them over from Canada or the US? The ZX6R fork swap is a very popular mod for folks who race the EX650. Must be expensive as hell to get them here in Thailand but those big piston forks should certainly make a huge positive difference in handling :thumbup:
  5. The 2013 is expensive due to being so new and the ABS is an option which narrows the shopping field.
    500.00 USD on Fleabay with 5000 miles.
    Non-ABS forks are a lot cheaper

    Our Thai Versys (or is that Versies) all have ABS so I had to use 2013 ZX6R forks as this is the only year with ABS. I did not look into using non ABS ZX6R forks and welding on the ABS sensor bracket. ZX10 forks are a common ER6 mod, but no ABS. Later ZX10 BP (big piston) or Z1000 forks have a too large OD fork leg to fit the lower yoke. Other forks may well work but I can only comment on what I used or researched.

    Non-ABS ZX6R BP forks may have the boss for the ABS sensor there and just not machined like Kawi does with other models. Since I have never seen a ZX6R here in Thailand I cannot confirm. If so then this opens up the shopping choices. The Versys and ZX6R ABS sensor is identical

    shipped via so I made out my own customs declaration (wink wink nudge nudge)
    Freight and duty was 310.00 USD including the unneeded rotors and some other small stuff

    I think about 1400 USD for all the bits, but not including the 250.00 rotors that I did not need, and I have not bought the stainless lines or fender yet. Good thing that I did not add it all up until you asked or I may not have proceeded.
    I better sell the old Versys bits to recoup that cost

    Anyone want some re-valved, dual leg Versys forks, 310mm rotors with ABS ring, new EBC-HH pads, new front fender, and calipers?
  6. The ZX6R or ZX10 fork swap is common on the ER6 as you say.

    The difference here is that I used the shorter fork, to compensate for the 41mm Versys rear end lowering kit rather than the bodge of moving the fork legs up in the yokes. Radial brakes was the goal and the lowering kit was a means to an end.

    Maybe I will hang on to the stock parts and have the option of flogging off this mod should I decide to sell. There is no reason why this would not fit an ER6 with a Z1000 top yoke - all the other parts would remain the same
  7. Correction - it is 47mm lower on the rear with the Motowerk kit. With the ZX6R forks 8mm above the top yoke, it is 6mm lower at the rear for slightly slower turn in.
    Not as slow if one used the Versys fork and only moved it up 22mm while dropping the rear 47mm per local practice and the Motowerk instructions

    I would rather have it a bit higher at the rear but this is the best compromise with these forks
    Will test ride it first so see if there is any discernible difference, but I do not think my butt is that sensitive
  8. More pics and technical article to follow but here it is so far

    Stripped of the body work, R pannier, and fender

    The Motowerk lowering kit on a R-1 shock with custom spring

    Radial caliper on Versys 300mm rotor

    Shorter ER6 kickstand to compensate for the lowered bike

    Showa BP-SFF (Big Piston Separate Function Fork)

    Versys & ZX6R forks
  9. I use a ladder and ratchet strap to support the front end - easy and safe. I did however put a floor jack under the header for safety
  10. A fiberglass Porsche Speedster replica.
  11. I used the one you see here as a mould buck so that I can make another body

    The one for Mrs Hoghead has been built for 2 years and I have been ignoring it. Finally off my butt and it is going to the interior shop this week then all I need to do is finish the engine FI system.
  12. I can make up this 6mm lower rear with a tire change to 180/55/17 but at this point do not think that I will be able to tell the difference.

    The flip side is that the fatter tire will make it turn in slower, but the 6mm increased height will make it turn quicker. Add to this that the lowering block mounts the shock higher which changes the rear suspension geometry as the shock rear mount is now further above the straight line between the swingarm pivot point to rear axle.
    My mind boggles at the conundrum that I have created, or perhaps as the Thais say "I think too much"

    Would look cool with a fatter tire though another 500 USD
  13. Wow! Speechless. I'd rather spend the time riding my doubt we can talk about this on the next GTR Mekong boat trip.
  14. lack of feel and power.
    Sure the stock brakes will lock the wheel until the ABS kicks in, but compared to "good" brakes they are sadly lacking. Fine for the intended purpose of the bike but if you intend to push it, or simply want something better, it can be improved upon.

    Kawi saved money on the Versys and ER6 by using single sided push and scrape type calipers, rather than opposed piston types. Lots of bikes use this type of caliper, usually to gain clearance with spoked wheels. In fact I am going to recycle the Versys caliper on my Royal Enfield simply because I cannot get an opposed caliper to fit the spoked wheel.

    Radial VS conventional calipers is another part of the "better" brake equation. It would be far cheaper, and a great improvement to use a Nissin opposed piston conventional style caliper in place of the stock Versys unit c/w a radial master cylinder and Tim has done this on his ER.

    The radial calipers are only part of the equation, and this needs to viewed as a system rather than just new calipers. You need a 19mm radial master cylinder in order to gain the "feel" and ability to modulate the brakes under hard use. Needless to say EBC-HH pads are a must

    Radial calipers are mounted in the same plane as the rotor and therefore are less prone to flex under hard use. Look at any high end bike or sport bike and see what they are using for brakes - all radial. You can buy a bracket in Thailand to mount a radial caliper in place of the conventional one. It is common in Thailand to see 1000 USD Brembo radial calipers mounted on this crap bracket while using the stock master cylinder. This is a shoddy bodge at best and cheesy bling for those that do not understand the advantages of a radial caliper.

    Is it worth the money? Perhaps not but I just like to fiddle with things because I can.

    Remember the motto - "if it is worth doing it is worth overdoing"
  15. Project done now but for fiddling with the fork oil level and waiting for the Z1000 fender to arrive from Japan. Once I confirm that the fender works, I will post the technical writeup
    Some more pics:



    Also applicable to non-ABS Versys and ER6

    The more I looked at Versys lowering kits,, the less convinced I became that simply raising the forks up the maximum 22mm in the yokes is the ideal way to maintain geometry when lowering the rear 47mm via a lowering block.

    If you must have a lowering kit, it seems that the ideal solution is shorter forks. You will give up the long travel length of the Versys fork, however I am a street rider and can live with less travel. Once you decide on shorter forks, radial brakes are easy and the quick fix for the compromised stock Versys brakes.

    Sort of looking through the other end of the telescope – I wanted radial brakes, and lowered the rear to make it all work.

    The solution was to use a Motowerk rear lowering block with radial caliper, (ABS in my case) Showa BP-SF (Big Piston Separate Function) Kawasaki ZX6R forks.


    1. Motowerk WR lowering kit
    Alternatively source a quality ER6 shock of your choice and do not use the Motowerk kit.

    2. 2013–14 Kawasaki ZX6R forks with ABS option. See notes for other fork choices

    3. ZX6R front axle c/w spacers to match your forks.

    4. 108mm radial calipers. Caliper bolts are fine thread and not easy to find so make sure you get these too.

    5. Nissin or Brembo 19mm radial master cylinder.

    6. 1 ea. 115mm long wheel bearing spacer #90152-0242

    7. 2 ea. #6500 sealed wheel bearings

    8. 2 ea. 47 x 32 x 8mm seals. 7mm thick will also work

    9. #34024-0103 - ER6 side stand or modify your existing stand

    1. Bore the wheel to accept the larger 6500 bearings.

    2. Bore one side of the wheel to clear the OD of the bearing spacer. The other side of the wheel is already large enough.

    3. Bore the lower yoke to accept the larger fork tube. I had to bore 1mm for the fork I used. No worries as there is lots of meat in the Versys yoke. Versys top yokes are 50mm.

    COST in USD
    2013 ZX6R - ABS forks used on Ebay 500.00
    Wotowerk lowering kit 127.00
    2013 ZX6R axle used on Ebay 25.00
    Machine work (cheap in Thailand) 39.00
    03-04 ZX6R calipers, rebuild kit, powdercoat, EBC pads 180.00
    Nissin radial master cylinder new on Ebay 117.00
    Powdercoat clutch lever black to match M/C N/C at mates rates
    Z1000 wheel bearing spacer (Thai price) 18.00
    ER6 Kick stand (Thai price) 15.00
    Wheel bearings and seals (Thai bearing supply house) 10.00
    Re and RE tire (Thai rates) 3.00
    Stainless ABS brake line kit ( 350.00 )

    A great reference for parts cross reference is

    This mod works in conjunction with the Motowerk 47mm rear lowering kit, (or ER6 shock) and a 2013-14 ZX6R fork with ABS. The stock Versys fork is 780mm from axle centre to fork tube top, with a 12mm stick up in the top yoke, therefore 768mm effective length. When the rear is lowered 47mm, the front needs to be 721mm effective length. (768 – 47 = 721mm)

    The 2013 ZX6R fork is 735mm axle centre to top of the tube, so a 14mm stick up will yield the same 721mm effective length. Unfortunately 14mm is not possible as there is not enough clamping area on the fork and 8mm stick up is the maximum. With 8mm stick up on the fork tube, the front is now 727mm effective length or 6mm higher than the rear compared to the stock geometry.

    Fork tube stick up is measured to the top of the fork leg and not the cap.

    A front fork 6mm higher than the rear is not ideal and I would prefer an equal height or slightly higher rear but this is the limitation of the fork clamping area at the yoke. A higher front fork length will result in a slightly slower turn in. I do not feel any discernible difference with the 6mm higher front, but I do not think my butt is that sensitive. One could make up with a 6mm taller 180/55/17 rear wheel, but the wider wheel will make it turn in slower offsetting any gain from the increased height.

    The local practice, and the Motorwerk instructions, lowers the rear 47mm and the front can only be lowered 22mm maximum before running out of clamping room at the yoke. This yields a rear 25mm lower than the front, and is a large effect on the geometry of the bike. The 6mm lower rear using the ZX6R fork while not ideal, is much more acceptable and a far less effect on the overall geometry.

    I have a 2011 (Gen 2) Versys 650 with ABS so I had to use 2013 – 14 ZX6R forks as at the time of writing this is the only years with ABS. If you have a non ABS Versys then you can use 2010 and newer ZX6R Showa Big Piston forks. I did not look into using non ABS ZX6R forks and welding on the ABS sensor bracket. Early ZX10 forks will work as well, but no ABS. Later ZX10 and Z1000 BP (big piston) forks have a too large OD fork leg to bore the lower yoke. Other forks may well work but I can only comment on what I used or researched so do your homework.

    2013 non-ABS ZX6R forks has the boss for the ABS sensor and just not machined like Kawi does with other models. This opens up the shopping choices and you may be able to do better than my 500.00 cost. The Versys and ZX6R ABS sensor is identical

    I weigh 78 kg and a bonous is that the 2013 ZX6R is the latest Showa BP-SF (Big Piston, Separate Function) fork, with a spring rate of .90 kg/mm and perfect for my 78 kg weight. Pre 2013 BP forks are .5N/mm heavier

    See the Sonic spring rate calculator for your weight and riding style.

    All the 4 piston Japanese (and Triumph??) radial calipers use 108mm mounting bolt spacing. European calipers are 100mm so be sure to get the right ones. The 03-12 ZX6R Calipers all bolt up to the stock Versys 300mm rotors. 03-06 ZX6R are Tokio calipers. 07-10 ZX6R went to Nissins which are a much better caliper.

    The 2013 to date ZX6R has 310mm rotors. If using these rotors, it will require either 5mm spacers under the pre 13 calipers or the mating calipers for the fork/rotors used.

    At the time of writing I am not clear on the compatibility of the 2013+ Nissin monoblock calipers on the ZX6R with our 300mm rotors. I suspect if you use these calipers you will need the matching 310mm rotors, but this is unconfirmed

    There is nothing to stop you from using 108mm Brembo calipers and a 19mm Brembo MC if cost is no option or bench racing bragging rights are important.

    I had to use a 1mm washer under the 04 caliper mounting surface to clear the stock Versys 300mm rotor. I bought these calipers 3 years ago and not knowing any better at the time sourced 04 Tokio calipers that I rebuilt and powdercoated. Caliper rebuild kits were 78.00 USD from the UK, plus powdercoating. The Nissin is a better caliper so best to spend more for low mileage Nissin calipers. If I did this again I would not use the Tokio caliper

    EBC – HH pads provide the grip and highly recommended for street use.

    The stock Versys 14mm master cylinder is too small for the extra 4 caliper pistons, and a 19mm radial master cylinder would be best. The new Z1000 has a 19mm master with an integral trapezoidal reservoir for a stock look. For the best feel and control, a Brembo MC outperforms the Nissin. Cross reference the PN to see what will work for you.

    I used a new Nissin 17.5mm 07-08 ZX6R radial master cylinder with remote reservoir, simply as the price was right on Ebay. Not having done enough research, the thought was that if it was good enough for the ZX6R it would be good enough for me but in retrospect I should have bought the 19mm master.

    The stock Versys fender on a fabricated bracket will fit but looks splayed out from the front. A 2013-14 ZX6R or 2014 Z1000 front fender will fit the fork better, but it is too short and will allow detritus to be thrown up at the engine and radiator. Even with a fender extender it may be too short, given that Riders fit extenders to the longer Versys fender due to road debris. I have bought the Z1000 fender and am still working on this.

    Wheel spacers are 13mm x 25mm ID and common to a host of Kawi’s so search the Cheap Cycle parts cross reference provided– mine are 2012 ZX6R.
    The axle seems unique to the 2013 ZX6R and best to buy the axle c/w spacers

    The wheel bearing spacer is nothing more than a 115mm long aluminium tube. I used a #92152-0242 Z-1000 spacer as it is made in Thailand. Do not assemble the wheel without this spacer or the bearing will fail. See the parts cross reference for alternate models

    Axle OD is now 25mm VS the stock Versys at 20mm, so you need new wheel bearings and machine the wheel to fit. Bearings and seals were bought at a bearing supply house as there are international standard parts. No doubt the Dealer will be more expensive

    Do not worry about machining the wheel for the larger bearings as the factory uses a common casting and does the same

    Motowerk lowering kit:

    Local Thai suppliers have ripped off Motowerk’s design for the lowering kit. I bought the genuine one from Motorwerk as this is a critical suspension bit and I am not about to trust some 80.00 Thai copy using an unknown alloy.

    I have a 2011 Versys 650 with ABS, so I bought the WR series for an ABS Gen 2 Versys. If you have a Gen 1 or non-ABS then see the Motowerk website

    As I already had the custom sprung Yamaha R-1 shock, I used the Motowerk lowering kit. In retrospect I should have just bought a quality shock for an ER6 and would do so if starting fresh. Make sure that the shock is valved and sprung for your weight and riding style.

    Tidying it all up:
    I have Acerbis hand guards and had to water jet a 60mm longer bracket to clear the radial master cylinder. While I was at it I made the other side 20mm longer to get rid of the dodgy spacer.

    Now that you have lowered it, the sidestand is too long. Either cut the end off the Versys unit and weld it back on shorter, or use a #34024-0103 ER6 stand. Motowerk sells a big foot kit to shorten the stand, but here in Thailand the ER6 stand is 15.00 USD so easy and cheap for me to buy a new stand

    The stock rubber brake lines will work, but you are in so deep by now, you may wish to go for a set of braided ABS 350.00 (ABS is more expensive) stainless lines.

    Protect those expensive new forks and brakes with a fork slider kit. I made my own simply because a ZX6R kit is not available in Thailand.

    If you have long legs you might want to look at footpeg lowering blocks as the Rider triangle is now shorter– Motowerk makes some nice ones.

    Adjust the front and rear suspension. If you do not know how to do this, get some help as it is critical to optimize performance.

    Be sure to burnish those new brake pads.


    The ZX6R or ZX10 fork swap is a common non-ABS ER6 mod and the same process as described above, but with a Z1000 top yoke, and cheaper non-ABS radial forks.

    With the advent of the 2013 and newer ZX6R with ABS it makes it easy for ABS equipped ER’s. The lowering kit is not required.

    The non-ABS Versys mod is also the same mod but with the cheaper non-ABS radial forks.

    Check the spring rate, and oil level, in relation to your weight and riding style.

    Chiangmai Thailand
    Feb 2014
  17. Wow. Outstanding work & explanation. Bloody well done I'd say.
  18. totally agree about the less than stellar Versys brakes. Is there a radial brake mod without lowering the bike?
  19. I forgot about this post..........

    Since writing this I changed the master cylinder to a Brembo RCS 19 - this is the one with the adjustable ratio, and a folding lever. Highly recommended and a step above the Nissin MC
    with the same bore size. Not cheap by the time you buy all the Brembo bits not included in the kit - reservoir, reservoir bracket, switch,.... but well worth it.
    WTF a MC kit is not complete is beyond me.

    Callipers were changed to the latest design Tokio radial with the silver bore plugs. Looks the same as the ones used by Kawi?? This came off my Mates MT-09 when he upgraded to the gold plug calliper which is touted as even better. Wayyyyy better than the older design Tokio radial
    This necessitated changing to the larger 310mm rotors, that I just happened to have from the ZX6R front end

    Finally happy with the brakes just in time to sell the bike
  20. You would need to find a radial mount fork the same length as the Versys. When I did this work in 2014 I could not find one, but that is not to say that one does not exist. I looked at machining new radial bottom legs for the stock stanchions but decided that was a bit too much work to retain suspension travel that I did not use.
    Not being able to find the right radial mount fork, led me to lower the bike.

    The non-lowering local practice if you want radial callipers is to use a Brembo radial calliper mounted to the Versys fork using a radial to axial adaptor bracket. If you think why radial brakes are better, it becomes apparent why using an axial to radial bracket is an exceedingly bad idea if you are hoping to gain the radial advantage. Compounding the bodge, this cheesy adaptor mod retains the stock 14mm master cylinder. If you want bling, bench racing rights, or just do not understand, it is a great idea. If you want performance it is an exceedingly bad idea.

    IMHO a better compromise is to use a 4 piston Nissin or Brembo axial calliper. This can be either on a bracket like Tim has done on the ER's, or better yet a direct mount axial 4 piston calliper. I recall that some Triumph callipers are a direct mount but did not look into this after I made the radial decision. The Versys calliper bolt CC distance is not unique, so you should be able to find a direct mount axial 4 pot calliper if you do not want to use an adaptor bracket.
    When you change to 4 pot callipers you need to move more fluid and the 14mm stock master is barely adequate, and not up to the task if you are looking for better brakes.

    Maybe research what the ER6 racers are using for callipers?

    The simple improvement is to change to EBC-HH pads and if this is not to your liking then:
    Upgrade to the Brembo RCS19 MC, or the budget Nissin 17 or 19mm in combination with a direct mount (no adaptor bracket) 4 pot axial calliper. Failing a direct mount calliper then use the adaptor bracket
    If you need the longer lever arm afforded by 310mm rotors to fit new callipers so much the better, but stock 300mm is OK

    I sill have the surplus Nissin 17mm radial MC that was replaced by the 19mm Brembo RCS. While not as good as the Brembo, it is up to the 4 pot task, and stock on earlier ZX6R's.
    Smaller piston = less lever effort, but less fluid moved compared to 19mm.. The Brembo RCS19 solves the effort issue by using an adjustable lever ratio - note that not all Brembo MC have the adjustable ratio.
    Buy the Brembo MC if you can afford it - if not PM me on the Nissin

  21. What about the fork on the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja® 650 ABS, think that would work? It has a 41mm (same as Versys 2013) hydraulic telescopic front fork on Dual 310mm petal-type rotors with radial-mounted four-piston monobloc calipers.
  22. #22 Hoghead, Sep 28, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
    Check the length. I think that you find that it is shorter than the Versys fork

Share This Page