Kawasaki Versys 650 Review: The Tourer we all need?

By Sriram Sridharan, February 07, 2018
4 out of 5
Description :

In our country, road conditions are very unpredictable. You never know when your butter smooth tarmac develops mood swings and all of a sudden transitions into rough patches, broken bits and potholes. But on the other hand our country also has a large variety of scenic vistas and very diverse fauna that demands to be seen in person on a dedicated road trip. But being made to do that on uncomfortable sportsbikes or underpowered comfortable ones? No sir. The answer to the touring fantasies of the Indian motorcyclist crowd can be best addressed by the category of adventure tourers. They are as good off the road as they are on it so that you can be least concerned about the road surface ahead of you. Now here comes the third problem, price! The only adventure tourers available till now were the 16 lakh+ options from BMW, Aprilia and Ducati, the GS1200, Caponard and Multistrada respectively. Not counting the Pulsar AS200 because that’s just an NS with a redesigned fairing. Thankfully, a glimmer of hope came when Kawasaki took a hit at the stagnant segment with their Versys 1000 and later it’s  in December 2015. The Versys 650 was already  a well-established motorcycle overseas and it was based on the Ninja 650 platform. This enabled Kawasaki to bring the motorcycle through the CKD route which kept prices low. Let’s take a better look at what the Versys has special to offer.

Looks and Design:
Versys is a portmanteau of two words, “Versatile” and “System” highlighting the fact that the motorcycle functions well in diverse conditions. The older first generation Versys, although a very capable motorcycle, wasn’t the best in terms of appearance with its alienish vertical headlamp cluster. Only BMW’s can pull off a face like that. The second generation Versys, launched in 2015 has a more contemporary design that is heavily inspired from Kawasaki’s Ninja siblings. It can actually give the Ducati Multistrada a run for its money in terms of aesthetics. The front is dominated by a large, aggressive head cowl that can be best described as a cut off section from the Ninja 300. It boasts of sharp lines, a similar twin headlamp setup and a prominent sharp protrusion on its chin below as seen on the ZX10R. The windscreen of the Versys 650 is shaped like a thin and tall plateau with a wide range of adjustability to effectively protect the rider from the wind and elements. A large bikini fairing also flows from the sides with similarly aggressive cut-off sections and creases. The fairing also holds the clear lens halogen indicators Strangely enough the Versys 650 comes with Upside-down forks up front which the other 650 twins, the Ninja and ER6N don’t come with. 

The Versys 650 comes equipped with a massive 21 litre fuel tank that highlights its massive potential for touring.  As you would expect it’s a metal tank just like the other two 650 siblings. The tank gets an aggressively designed shroud over the front section that connects to the bikini fairing. The “Kawasaki” and “Versys” logo are situated on this shroud. Below the massive fuel tank lies the Versys 650’s twin cylinder powerplant. The engine is almost 50% concealed by the bikini fairing and the belly pan which is quite a lot by adventure tourer standards. The engine gets an all-black finish with a medium sized radiator unit up front over the curvy s-shaped exhaust headers. A prominent cross member runs across, over the engine block of the Versys 650 giving it a very functional and robust appearance.

The Versys 650 gets a double pipe diamond type frame construction identical to the ones on the Ninja 650 and ER6N. The Tubular sections of the frame are visible only between the engine and the fuel tank. The Versys 650 comes with a split seat construction which resembles its sibling 650’s but are far more comfortable units. The rear shock is offset and gets an extended control unit for easy adjustment. It also gets a trademark Kawasaki Green finish over it. There are two massive grab rails available for mounting luggage accessories or for the pillion to hold comfortably.  The Versys 650 has a very sleek tail section with an LED tail light cluster resembling the headless batman logo as seen on their Z1000. A medium sized tail fender is located below it that also holds the indicators in place. The Versys 650’s exhaust is the same stubby mid-mounted as seen on the Ninja 650 as are the 6-spoke rims. Even the speedometer cluster is the same with an ana-digi twin pod console.  The only difference on the Versys is the addition of an ABS light in the tachometer. 

Engine and Performance: 
The Versys 650 comes with a 650cc liquid cooled parallel-twin engine that also does its duty on the Ninja 650 and ER6N. Kawasaki has however managed to tune this engine to produce an extra 5 bhp from the previous generation Versys. The Versys 650 puts out 69 Bhp of Power at 8500 RPM and a meaty 64 Nm of torque at 7000 RPM. The electronics package is fairly basic with just the Electronic Fuel Injection coupled with the ECU of the motorcycle. The powerband of the Versys is very much biased towards the lower-mid  RPM range. The mid-range punch is absolutely stonking allowing the motorcycle to propel to 150+ speeds like it was a complete non-issue. A strong contributor to that performance is the presence of the dual throttle valve system. The Versys 650 briskly sprints to 100 from standstill in around 4.6 seconds very similar to the Ninja 650. It’s top whack is a little above 200 kmph but it feels pretty stressed on crossing the 180 kmph barrier and pretty much runs out of steam on crossing 200. The engine’s payload although does enable it can cruise comfortably at 100+ speeds without breaking a sweat which is precisely what this kind of a motorcycle needs. In cruising speeds, the fuel efficiency is consistent at 24 km/l which gives it a massive 400 km+ fuel range.