Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current): Review & Buying Guide (2022)

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current): Review & Buying Guide (1)

With the rise in popularity of the adventure bike in the noughties came the realisation that 99% of off-road styled adventure bikes never went off-road in their lives. In which case, why bother with knobbly tyres, spoked wheels and massive ground clearance? Why not just build a pure road bike that combined the best bits of adventure bikes (upright riding position, pothole-surfing suspension, easy power delivery and torque-tuned engine) with the best bits of road bikes (proper tyres, easy-clean cast wheels, decent brakes and sleek styling)?

Kawasaki decided to do just that with the Versys 650 and 1000, although opinions were divided on the 'sleek styling' part – the early versions were never particularly easy on the eye, although they were pretty easy on the wallet, which counts for a lot. Most people (and Wikipedia) will tell you that 'Versys' comes from 'Versatile' and 'System'. Which is odd, since Kawasaki themselves say it comes from 'Vertex' and 'System'. Wherever the name comes from, the 650 version of the bike is a belter – easy to ride, easy to maintain, easy to thread through traffic or fling round twisty back roads, as the mood or need takes you. The Versys 650 is based squarely on the well-proven ER-6 platform, which as well as being an outstanding commuter bike and all-rounder, has also been the basis of countless race bikes in the Minitwins and Supertwins classes, proving reliable even when tuned to the max and revving far higher than in road form. In Versys form the engine's re-tuned for more low down pull at the expense of a little top end, but it's better for it, with far better flexibility which means less gearbox-dancing. 17in cast wheels take sensible-sized tyres, giving a wide choice of price/grip, and relatively plush suspension and decent brakes complete a versatile package.

The original 650 ran from 2007 to 2009, then a mild cosmetic update for 2010 (still with the stacked headlights) sufficed, until a major update in 2015. That brought sportsbike-style lights, beefier forks and KYB rear shock, a bigger fuel tank (21 litres, up from 19) and a tiny bit more power. Alongside the base bike, from 2011 there's been a Tourer version (sometimes called the LT), with additional panniers, hand guards and tank pad as standard. From 2015 that was joined by the Grand Tourer (or LT SE), which added a top box, spotlights, pannier inner bags, gear indicator and 12V accessory socket. ABS was optional on earlier models, but standard from 2016.

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current): Review & Buying Guide (2)

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current): Review & Buying Guide (3)

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current) Price

The first Versys of 2007 retailed at £4995 – four hundred quid more than the ER-6N on which it was based, and the equivalent of around seven grand today. By the facelift in 2010 it was up to a quid short of six grand –exactly the same price as its stablemate, the excellent Z750 – and by 2018 full retail was over seven grand, so it was never a particularly cheap bike. But over the years they've held their values pretty well (in fact used prices have barely changed in the past 2-3 years), and you'll struggle to find a clean early one in a dealer for under £2500, although you'll see high mileage (and usually pretty scruffy) examples on private sale for under two grand. If you can stretch to it, we'd recommend holding out for a good 2010-2014 model – nice ones start at around £3200 for a 2010 base model with reasonable miles, and go up to around £4000 for a late 2014.

There doesn't seem to be a big difference between the prices of ABS or non-ABS models. From 2015 on, there's a bit of jump in prices, with good ones starting from about £4500 and some dealers asking over six grand for a low miles 2019 model at time of writing. Shop around though – you can get a new one for £6500 with delivery mileage only.

Touring and GT models attract a premium of around 10%.

Power and torque

With just over 60bhp hauling more than quarter of a ton of bike and rider, you might expect performance to be a little flat, but it's not. Partly that's down to the re-tuned engine, which means you don't need to wring its neck like the ER6 on which it's based, but mainly it's lower gearing which means you lose a bit of theoretical top speed (if you 'need' to be doing more than 130mph on the road you're probably not looking at a Versys anyway...) but gain a lot of low down acceleration. That makes it a hoot in town, where dodging for gaps in traffic is pretty much squirt and go, and it also means less gearbox action out on the road, and especially powering out of tight bends. The downside of the lower gearing is a slightly 'busy' feeling at motorway speeds – you sometimes feel as if you'd like an extra overdrive gear.

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current): Review & Buying Guide (4)

(Video) WE FINALLY RIDE THE KAWASAKI VERSYS 650 AND IT'S...

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current): Review & Buying Guide (5)

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

The Versys engine is tough. Very tough. Tough enough to be tuned for racing and thrashed mercilessly round the TT course without giving trouble. So given a bit of regular maintenance it'll go on more or less forever as a road bike. That said, you should still check a used bike carefully and make sure you see it started from cold, as it's not unknown for neglected examples which have been thrashed from cold every day on short commutes to burn a fair bit of oil – a good one should rarely need topping up between changes. Otherwise problems tend to be related to peripherals – failing electrics, poor connections etc. If there's a fundamental complaint it's vibration – not a surprise with a twin, but it can be very noticeable, especially on early bikes (2010-on had better engine mounts and suffer less). Kawasaki fitted foam pads to later bikes to reduce panel rattles – worth renewing or replacing if they've disappeared over the years. The gearbox rarely gives trouble in normal use, although you might catch the odd false neutral if you try and shift too fast or without the clutch.

The exhaust system has always been a weak point – corrosion is very common and complete collapse not unknown. Some owners treat that as an excuse to fit a new aftermarket exhaust, and there are several contenders offering replacement downpipes, slip-on silencers or complete systems. Black Widow are well worth a look, with full systems from just over £250 (genuine Kawasaki downpipes are £390 and silencers £535!).

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current) Economy

Decent fuel economy has always been a Versys strong point. It's easy to get 50+mpg and quite possible to get over 60mpg, and even if you're heavy-handed you'll struggle to get much worse than mid 40s. Combined with a decent sized fuel tank that means a range of 200 miles is achievable even on the earlier models (19 litre tank) and easy on the 2010-on version with its extra couple of litres. Some owners of later bikes reckon they get 240 miles from a tank on a regular basis.

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current): Review & Buying Guide (6)

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

Despite a kerb weight over 200kg, the Versys is stable and easy to manage at low speeds, and once rolling properly the weight just falls away – it's really very nimble and quick to change direction. The suspension's pretty soft on all models. For most riding that's not a problem, but if you start pushing in the bends like you would on a sportsbike, or pushing well past motorway speeds, it all gets a bit wobbly. The damping's a bit crude as well, managing to be soft half the time, yet still to crash over sudden bumps. You can make a huge difference to the front end by playing with oil weights and air gaps – you can nearly double the air gap with good results, and dropping to a good quality 5W oil is popular. There's a lot of good advice available on the owners' forums, including an excellent how-to guide for modifying the fork damping shims on versys.co.uk. There's not a lot to be done with the standard rear shock though. Hagon do a very good budget replacement at £299 and Wemoto offer a YSS version for £290. It's also possible to fit a shock from a mid-noughties Yamaha R1, but it has to go in upside down, and it will need a stiffer spring and a rebuild by a specialist to tailor the damping to your needs.

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current) Brakes

The Versys is designed to be easy to use, and novice-friendly, so that means a relatively soft braking set-up, designed more for feel than outright power. Swapping to harder HH-rated pads will give a bit more of a positive bite to the action, while changing the original rubber hoses for braided steel items will harden up the feel at the lever, at the expense of a bit of fine control. From 2015 the four-piston calipers offer a bit more outright power, but on ABS-equipped models you may find the system kicks in a little earlier than you might like.

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current): Review & Buying Guide (7)

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current) Electrics

There's nothing very complicated about the Versys' electrical system, and no really major flaws, except maybe the voltage regulator. It's a very basic, old-fashioned item, and it's unknown for them to fail, taking the battery and generator with them. Long term owners swear by changing it even if it's not currently (ha!) giving trouble, with the Compufire 55402 being a popular replacement, although you can also use a Shindengen Mosfet reg/rect as fitted to late model Yamahas and Triumphs in particular. Either way you'll probably have to change the main connector to the generator, but that's no bad thing as the original is a weak point. Otherwise no major dramas. Early bikes are shopwing age-related woes, as you might expect – poor connections, corroded wires, bad earths. There are some examples of wiring rubbing at the headstock area as well, potentially damaging insulation and/or breaking wires.

Comfort over distance and touring

It's no armchair, but most owners seem pretty happy with the comfort level, even with the handy 200+ mile tank range available.The riding position's fairly upright, but not so much as to load your bum and spine too much, and the little flyscreen is surprisingly effective at legal speeds. It's maybe a little cramped for long distance two-up touring but most owners seemed to do most of their mileage solo. If you do decide to nip off for a two-up trip you need to be careful about overall weights – up to 2014 the max permissible payload was just 180Kg, so most or all of that will be taken up by two adults in full kit, leaving little or nothing for luggage. From 2015 the limit went up to 215kg thanks to the revised model's beefier subframe. The seat height's pretty tall as standard, and there are plenty of options for kits to lower the rear suspension, usually by around 40mm. If you go down this route, you really need to lower the front suspension too, by dropping the yokes over the forks by around 30-40mm. If you don't lower the front as well, you'll really screw up the otherwise sweet steering. Once lowered, you may find you need to shorten your sidestand to suit. The other option for the vertically challenged is Kawasaki's own low gel seat – as well as being lower it's a bit narrower at the front, which makes a huge difference.

Rider aids and extra equipment / accessories

There's only the one rider aid – ABS. It was an option on earlier bikes, becoming standard for 2016. It's a fairly basic system and experienced riders might find it cuts in a bit early, but that's better than cutting in too late... Few Versys owners heavily accessorize their bikes, although heated grips and a properly fitted chain oiler are worth having (although not worth paying extra for if you don't have to...). Top boxes are also popular, both for slimline commuting and as a useful addition to the Tourer's panniers. Beware though –Kawasaki say you shouldn't use a top box and panniers at the same time on 2007-2014 models, although many owners do with no problems. From 2015 the subframe's stronger, as already noted, and it's not a problem to have panniers and top box. If not already fitted, it's well worth investing in a front mudguard extender and a rear hugger – makes a big difference to the amount of muck that gets thrown about.

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current): Review & Buying Guide (8)

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current) verdict

Despite being viewed with a bit of bemusement when it first appeared, the Versys 650 has gradually attracted a dedicated following, and it's not hard to see why. It's a proper do-it-all bike, just as happy commuting all week as it is carving a few backroads or heading off for a weekend fully loaded. There are plenty to choose from, so we'd advise buying the best one you can afford, and be more concerned about condition than mileage – although the finish is pretty good, once they get furry it takes a LOT of effort to get them looking sweet again, so bear that in mind when you're looking at a potential buy. With such a long model life there are plenty of sources for parts, both aftermarket and second-hand, and lots of knowledgeable owners out there, keen to share their experience. We'd suggest versys.co.uk and kawasakiversys.com for starters.

Three things we love about the Versys…

  • Outstanding reliability
  • Easy maintenance
  • Low running costs

Three things that we don’t…

  • Suspension's a bit soft
  • Vibration on some earlier bikes
  • Easy-rust exhaust

Kawasaki Versys 650 (2007-current) spec (2010 model featured)

Original price

(Video) Kawasaki Versys 650 (2022) | Test Ride and Review, Walkaround, Soundcheck | VLOG 329

£5999

Current price range

£2500-£6000

Capacity

649cc

Bore x Stroke

83x60mm

Engine layout

Parallel twin, four stroke

Engine details

DOHC, liquid cooled, fuel injection

Power (claimed)

63bhp (47kW) @ 8000rpm

Torque (claimed)

49.4 lb-ft (61Nm) @ 6800rpm

Top speed

130mph

Transmission

6 speed, chain final drive

Average fuel consumption

53mpg tested

Tank size

19 litres

(Video) 2008 Kawasaki Versys 650, Review and Test drive

Max range to empty (theoretical)

220miles

Reserve capacity

Approx 40 miles from fuel warning flashing (no reserve tap)

Rider aids

ABS (optional)

Frame

Steel diamond

Front suspension

41mm inverted forks

Front suspension adjustment

Adjustable preload and rebound damping

Rear suspension

Monoshock, direct operation

Rear suspension adjustment

Adjustable preload and rebound damping

Front brake

300mm wavy discs, twin piston Tokico calipers

Rear brake

220mm wavy disc, single piston Tokico caliper

Front tyre

120/70 ZR17

Rear tyre

(Video) Five Things I HATE About My Kawasaki Versys 650: A One-Sided Kawasaki Versys Review

160/60 ZR17

Rake/Trail

25°/108mm

Dimensions

2125mm x 840mm 1315mm (LxWxH)

Wheelbase

1415mm

Ground clearance

180mm

Seat height

845mm

Kerb weight

206kg

Looking for motorbike insurance? Get a quote for this bike with Bennetts motorcycle insurance

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FAQs

Is Kawasaki Versys 650 reliable? ›

The Versys 650 is a fun bike for the 'real world'. On the twisty roads it handles very well. The bike gives you a lot of confidence. The ride quality is great.
...
Summary of owners' reviews
Reliability & build quality:4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Value vs rivals:4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Equipment:4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
4 more rows

Is the Versys 650 a good touring bike? ›

I can tell you that versys is one of the best touring bike currently available in market at this price band. If someone is looking for a good tourer for road use then versys is the best bet and if you are looking for bit of off-road then v-storm 650 looks better.

How fast is the Kawasaki Versys 650? ›

Kawasaki Versys 650 BS4 has a top speed of 157.79 kmph.

Is the Kawasaki Versys 650 a good beginner bike? ›

Kawasaki Versys 650 Bike Overview

It is a bike that allows you to have a lot of fun and it is an easy, tamed ride for beginners mainly due to the brilliant brakes.

How long does a Kawasaki Versys 650 last? ›

Any motorcycle that is well serviced and maintained has the potential to last in excess of 30 years. As a Kawasaki it will require less intervention than a chinese built motorcycle which are cheaply built to a very low standard.

What is high mileage for a Kawasaki Versys 650? ›

The mileage of Kawasaki Versys 650 is 21 kmpl. This is the claimed ARAI mileage for all the variants of Versys 650.

Is the Versys 650 comfortable? ›

Ergonomics: Back in the day, the Versys 650 was one of the most comfortable bikes in the segment, and we're happy to report that it still is. The seat is wide, long and roomy for the rider as well as the pillion. The rubber-mounted footpegs help to keep the vibrations to a minimum, and they feel good as well.

Does Versys 650 have cruise control? ›

The People Versys Kawasaki

For 2022, the midsized Versatile System gets a bunch of upgrades to boost it into the modern era – electronic cruise control being not one of them.

What type of bike is Versys 650? ›

The Kawasaki Versys 650 is a middleweight adventure-touring bike, targeted at both new and experienced riders. The motorcycle is hauled by a parallel-twin, liquid-cooled 650cc engine which produces 64 PS maximum power at 8,500rpm and 64 Nm peak torque at 7,000rpm.

Does Versys 650 have slipper clutch? ›

Versys 650 is available in India at a price tag of Rs. 7.36 Lakh.
...
Safety.
ABS - Anti-lock braking systemYes
Slipper ClutchSelf Ventilating Dry Centrifugal Clutch
Traction Control SystemYes
2 more rows

Where is the Kawasaki Versys made? ›

Kawasaki Versys 650
2020 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT, with rear saddlebags and handguards
ManufacturerKawasaki Motorcycle & Engine Company
Production2007–present
AssemblyRayong, Thailand Manaus, Brazil
PredecessorKawasaki KLE500
19 more rows

Is versys a sport tourer? ›

The Kawasaki Versys 650 LT returns with electronics and fairing updates for 2022. The popular adventure-style, pure-street, sport-tourer based on the Ninja 650 continues its mission to provide all-around performance at a four-figure price.

What BHP is a Kawasaki Versys 650? ›

The Kawasaki Versys 650 is powered by 649cc BS6 engine which develops a power of 65.7 bhp and a torque of 61 Nm. With both front and rear disc brakes, Kawasaki Versys 650 comes up with anti-locking braking system. This Versys 650 bike weighs 219 kg and has a fuel tank capacity of 21 liters.

Is a Suzuki V Strom 650 good first bike? ›

The V-strom 650 is a great beginner bike. Light, forgiving, easy to handle at low speeds...

Is the SV650 a beginner bike? ›

The Suzuki SV650: The Beginner Bike For Pros. It's simple, it's fun, it's reliable, and it's shockingly affordable. Ask any seasoned veteran to recommend a first bike and chances are they'll point to the Suzuki SV650.

How long does a Kawasaki Ninja 650 last? ›

The Kawasaki Ninja 650 can last for well over 75,000 miles before requiring an engine rebuild. This is dependent on several factors such as maintenance, style of riding and ownership habits. Based on an anual mileage of 5,000 miles per year a well-kept Ninja 650 could last over 15 years.

How fast is the Kawasaki Versys 1000? ›

Kawasaki Versys 1000 mileage is 16 kmpl (approximate). In terms of performance, the 1000cc adventure bike can accelerate from 0-100 kmph in around 3.1 seconds. Kawasaki Versys 1000 top speed is 240 kmph (speedo-indicated).

Will there be a new Versys 650? ›

Kawasaki's venerable Versys 650 sport-tourer has been updated for 2022 with traction control, updated styling with an adjustable windscreen, and a new TFT display with Bluetooth connectivity.

Is versys comfortable? ›

That said, the Versys offers unbeatable value for someone looking for a supremely comfortable and fast road-biased touring motorcycle.

How much horsepower does a Kawasaki Versys 1000 have? ›

The 2021 Kawasaki Versys 1000 ABS SE LT+ is the highest spec adventure bike from the venerable Japanese manufacturer. The engine of the bike, a 1,043cc inline-four, is shared with the friendly and easy to ride Ninja 1000 ABS. In both bikes, it produces 118 HP and 75 lb-ft of torque.

Is the Kawasaki Versys fast? ›

The Kawasaki Versys' parallel twin is stolen from Kawasaki's popular ER-6. But Kawasaki has tweaked the motor, it has more torque but less top end power. Still expect top speed around the 125mph mark and there's more then enough low down on the Kawasaki Versys to have fun with.

Which Kawasaki has cruise control? ›

Electronic Cruise Control is featured on Kawasaki's Vulcan 1700 / VN1700 Series cruisers and JET SKI ULTRA 300X and 300LX personal watercraft.

Does the Kawasaki Versys have cruise control? ›

And the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE has more interesting things in its favour. It has a big inline four-cylinder engine that revs up nicely and has a fat torque curve. It comes with cruise control, an IMU, and really nice fairing protection. Plus, it's as comfortable as they come.

What is the weight of a Kawasaki Versys 650? ›

2021 Kawasaki Versys-X 650 Specifications

476.3 lb.

When did the Versys get abs? ›

VERSYS 650. The Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS comes into the 2016 model year with a host of updates, including dramatic new styling, more power and torque, improved comfort as well as rubber-mounted engine and handlebars, plus new suspension to maximize your riding fun.

What CC is a Kawasaki Versys? ›

1,043cc INLINE FOUR-CYLINDER ENGINE.

What are the benefits of a slipper clutch? ›

Advantages of a slipper clutch

– A slipper clutch reduces the effects of engine braking, preventing sudden forces to damage the transmission hence improving its longevity. – A slipper clutch allows the rider to concentrate on other things like body posture or others and now worry about accidental downshifts.

Do I need a slipper clutch? ›

Why you need a slipper clutch? Basically, race-track motorcycles use it as it helps to gain faster lap times. The rider can easily coordinate the speed and braking without losing traction. But considering the safety of the rider at high speeds, many manufacturers today have widely adopted the slipper clutch.

How does Kawasaki slipper clutch work? ›

When excessive engine braking occurs – as a result of quick downshifts (or an accidental downshift) – the slipper cam comes into play, forcing the clutch hub and operating plate apart. This relieves pressure on the clutch plates to reduce back-torque and help prevent the rear tyre from hopping and skidding.

Who is Kawasaki owned by? ›

Overview of Kawasaki Motors Corporation Japan
Location1-1, Kawasaki-cho, Akashi, Hyogo 673-8666, Japan
RepresentativeTakeshi Teranishi, president
EstablishmentDecember 15, 1953
Capital100 million yen
Business activitiesDomestic sales of motorcycles, Jet Ski® personal watercraft, and general-purpose gasoline engines
Oct 30, 2019

Does Versys 650 have abs? ›

Yes, Dual Channel ABS is available on Kawasaki Versys 650.

How much horsepower does a Versys 650 have? ›

When we tested the 2020 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT, an up-spec model with standard handguards and key-matched, quick-release 28-liter hard saddlebags, it sent 63 horsepower at 8,700 rpm and 43 lb-ft of torque at 7,300 rpm to the rear wheel.

Does Kawasaki make an adventure bike? ›

ADVENTURE STYLED

Upright seating, ample wind protection, and a convenient rear carrier make the Versys®-X 300 adventure motorcycle ready for any adventure.

What kind of bike is Versys 1000? ›

The Versys 1000 is the company's top-of-the-line adventure tourer. It shares an engine with the massively popular Z1000R and the sport-tourer Ninja 1000 SX.

Is versys a good adventure bike? ›

The Kawasaki Versys is more of an Adventure “Styled” Bike than a true Adventure Bike. The bike has a comfortable upright riding position and stepped seat that works well for 2-up riding. The charismatic twin-cylinder engine offers good power and smooth operation on the highway.

What type of bike is Versys 650? ›

The Kawasaki Versys 650 is a middleweight adventure-touring bike, targeted at both new and experienced riders. The motorcycle is hauled by a parallel-twin, liquid-cooled 650cc engine which produces 64 PS maximum power at 8,500rpm and 64 Nm peak torque at 7,000rpm.

What type of bike is Kawasaki Versys 650? ›

The Kawasaki Versys 650 (codenamed KLE650) is a middleweight motorcycle. It borrows design elements from dual-sport bikes, standards, adventure tourers and sport bikes; sharing characteristics of all, but not neatly fitting into any of those categories.

Is versys an adventure bike? ›

The Versys 650 is the flagship middleweight choice for the best touring motorcycle, further enhancing its reputation as one of the best all-in-one road riding bikes. With its slim chassis and lightweight frame, this Kawasaki adventure bike possesses a significantly smaller frame than the Versys 1000.

Is versys comfortable? ›

That said, the Versys offers unbeatable value for someone looking for a supremely comfortable and fast road-biased touring motorcycle.

Does Kawasaki Versys 650 have cruise control? ›

The People Versys Kawasaki

For 2022, the midsized Versatile System gets a bunch of upgrades to boost it into the modern era – electronic cruise control being not one of them.

Is versys a sport tourer? ›

The Kawasaki Versys 650 LT returns with electronics and fairing updates for 2022. The popular adventure-style, pure-street, sport-tourer based on the Ninja 650 continues its mission to provide all-around performance at a four-figure price.

Videos

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5. Kawasaki Versys 650 2020 Specs and Performance Review | You Should Consider This Adventure Bike
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