Why the Versys 1000 makes for a breezy ride
Kawasaki Versys’ engine is its crowning jewel, to say nothing of its impressive handling and comfortable seating
Every time I step off an adventure tourer, I am left with a sense of conviction about their aptness for our roads. They have the ability to gobble serious miles without compromising on comfort and also have a touch of sportiness sewn in. And that is where motorcycles like the Kawasaki Versys 1000 appear to make a strong case for themselves.
Firstly, it is the sheer size of the Kawasaki Versys 1000 that captures your attention, leaving you a little intimidated as well. With its new ZX-6R inspired face, the Versys 1000 is a little easier on the eyes, but it is still not what you would call pretty.
Step to the side and it becomes even more apparent that this motorcycle is built to chew miles all day long. The 21-litre tank, massive fairing and spacious seating are all indicative of the Versys’ touring orientation. But there is no getting away from the fact that the bodywork is so huge that the relatively small 17-inch wheels make the motorcycle appear disproportionate, despite running sport-bike tyre sizes.
The other advantage of so much real estate is what is possibly the roomiest and comfiest rider and pillion seat in the class. The ergonomics are pretty relaxed, with a slightly pared-back footrest and an easy reach to the bar. That, along with the windscreen, takes the fatigue out of spending a whole day in the saddle.
Engine & Performance
The Versys’ engine is the crowning jewel of the whole package; it is the same engine that also powers the Ninja 1000SX, however, it makes less power and torque in the Versys. Nevertheless, 120hp and 102Nm are decent figures.
When you fire up the engine, the sweet hum at idle feels like the calm before the storm. Once on the move, the loud intake howl is accompanied by a surge in acceleration that belies this motorcycle’s size and weight. You get to unmentionable speeds in no time and the engine doesn’t feel strained at any point. Slot the slick gearbox in sixth, and the Versys transforms into an effortless cruiser with enough juice in reserve to pull a quick overtake, sometimes even without down-shifting. Even in the city, the engine’s tractability and heat management is impressive, making it capable of dealing with a city commute, if necessary.
The 2019 update to the Versys 1000 also brought in IMU assisted, three-step traction control (TC) and lean-sensitive ABS. Adding another layer of safety are the two power modes — Full and Low. The ‘Low’ mode chops power down to 75% and also softens the power delivery. This makes riding this big Kawasaki quite easy, whether in the wet or dry. However, we did find the TC to be too intrusive in some situations and it cuts power rather abruptly. A smoother throttle action does help to an extent, but Kawasaki needs to refine the system further so that it doesn’t upset the chassis the way it currently does on loose and slippery surfaces.
It is not just the performance but also the way this 255kg motorcycle handles that impresses. Get past the initial trepidation of riding a tall motorcycle and you will be surprised to see how well this motorcycle takes to the bends. There is oodles of grip and feedback through the chassis while the 17-inch wheels make life easy during quick direction changes.
The suspension does a pretty good job of absorbing undulations, and the ride quality over bad roads is comfortable enough despite the firm edge. Adjustability, however, is limited and one can tune the 43mm fork and monoshock for preload and rebound only.
For those wondering if they should wander off-road on this Versys, the motorcycle can only handle a mild trail. Because, the 17-inch wheels, fat tyres and 150mm of ground clearance aren’t encouraging specifications to venture off the beaten path. The 310mm discs do a good job of hauling down the motorcycle to a stop while the ABS is well-calibrated to prevent unnecessary intervention.
At ₹11.44 lakh, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 is nothing but a steal for the kind of performance it offers. Not to mention the sweet sound and character of an inline-four engine. In fact, at this price point, its biggest competition comes from its sibling the Ninja 1000SX. It may not have the ergonomics, suspension travel and all-day comfort of the Versys 1000 but it is more powerful and better equipped. That said, the Versys offers unbeatable value for someone looking for a supremely comfortable and fast road-biased touring motorcycle.