Kawasaki Versys 1000 KTRC ABS (2012- current): Aiming at riderĘs real needs from a big on-road bike.

Engine: The four cylinder, in line,  liquid cooled 1043 c.c. engine delivers 118 bhp/ 9000 rpm and 10.4 kgm/ 7700 rpm (75.22 lbs ft) torque, claimed figures.
     There are two engine mappings available, L (Low) and F (Full). Additionally engine response is controlled by KTRC (Kawasaki TRaction Control) in three modes. Level one is the least intrusive, level three is the most intrusive, theoretically speaking, aimed to poor traction conditions. The traction control may be deactivated.

     Actually the four cylinder engine will require just 1200 rpm to provide surge-free acceleration. However engine rpm should be increased to about 2500 in order to obtain decent acceleration. At the lowest spectrum of the powerband the linearity and the smooth engine response of the four cylinder engine are impressing. ItĘs the only engine in this bike category providing a real velvet feeling.
     Concerning the L program, power provided is up to 75% of the Full power mode. Actually its adequate for everyday use, it will not be exciting to the rider though.
     With F mode selected, the lowest powerband up to 4000 rpm is adequate for commuting. Indicatively 4000 rpm correspond to 108 km/h (67 mph). The oomph provided is linear throughout the powerband, power is really usable, in a rider friendly manner. Thus despite the engine capacity, rider should rev the engine hard on really fast rides. Engine performance will be satisfying to very expert-fast riders then. The rev limiter intervenes at 10300 rpm.
     The sound of the engine is nice. Fuel consumption and ambient temperature indications are provided on the display. An indicative fuel consumption figure is 8 l/ 100 km (35 mpg Imperial), tank range is 260 km ( 162 miles). Because itĘs a 1000 c.c. engine, on full throttle rides, cruising at 200+ km/h (124+ mph), or on traffic jams, fuel consumption is increased substantially.
     Riding position: The saddle height is great, 845 mm, ( 33.3 in), it will be satisfying to higher than average stature riders. Pillion is seated quite higher than the rider, the saddle provided is soft, roomy and comfortable. As a whole, the space provided to rider and pillion is large.
     The dimensions of the bike are increased, which is normal for such a bike. The width of the bike is average for the standards of the category, the fuel tank is the widest spot on the bike.
     The weight of the bike is considerable, 239 kg, (527 lbs), nominal wet. It will be difficult to be tamed by female riders, at least those who donĘt play basketball, lifting weights and practice shot put at the same time! Rider is placed in and over the bike, riding position is neutral, riderĘs arms are slightly stretched to the front.

     On the road: The suspensions feel relatively soft. The fork reminds of a Big Piston one, its 43 mm inverted, fully adjustable. The horizontal shock features a linkage, it may adjusted to rebound and remotely to spring preload. OE tires are Pirelli Scorpion Trail with dimensions 120/70-17 at the front and 180/55-17 at the rear. They are considered to be a touring choice, which doesnĘt affect handling. They suit to the character of the bike though.
     On town rides the user friendly and neutral character of the Versys will be helpful to the rider. The engine response and the agility provided will make town rides easier and calmer than what someone would expect.
     On downtown rides the tall saddle helps rider to supervise traffic. On low speed, the weight of the bike will be felt in the form of inertia. Steering lock is average.
     Filtering is relatively good. The height of the handlebar is the same with SUV mirrors, while the width of the bike is slightly larger than ideal.
     Comfort provided over street imperfections is just average for the standards of the category, it could be better due to the relatively long suspension travel 150mm, (5.9 in). The mirrors provide excellent rear vision, even riderĘs shoulders are not in view. However mirrors are located away from oncoming traffic, at the sides of riderĘs field of vision.
     On B-roads a satisfying mixture of stability and agility is provided to the rider. The neutral character of the Versys will not add any color to the rides, on the contrary rider will be unobstructed to admire the scenery and the nature.
     The smooth operation of the four cylinder engine combined with the conservative steering geometry, (1520 mm - 59,84 in. wheelbase, 27į rake, 107 mm - 4.21 in. trail), are the reasons to that.
     At the fast pace the F engine map should be selected. Engine rpms should be kept higher than 6000. Handling is very good up to a nimble pace of riding. The balance between stability and agility is preserved. Feedback to the rider is relatively good.
     If rider insists on faster riding, the weight of the bike will be gradually evident together with inertia. It certainly can be a very fast bike, its clear though that its not designed for such a use. At the limit of riding some edgy reactions may be noticed like a front end wobble. The bike is not neutral any more, despite the average steering geometry. Ground clearance becomes an issue to the rider, especially on high quality roads.
     The traction control is good for such a pace, in case of low friction factor roads the third level was selected. Even then, the system was very discreet when intervening, while the differences among the three levels are really minor concerning the riding limits of the big Versys. Additionally most of the riders that the bike aims to, would prefer a more intrusive traction control, since slides are not restricted, even beyond the normal levels.
     Maybe the traction control should not be installed directly from the GTR 1400 - ZX10R 2011, or stated differently, it could be recalibrated matching the character of the new bike. The difference among the three levels of the traction control is more obvious concerning wheelies!
     On the highway the top cruising speed will be that of 220 km/h, (137 mph). Air flow can be felt around the rider, especially on the shoulders. The torso and the helmet are well protected. If there is any aftermarket screen protecting the shoulders better, especially in the case that it doesnĘt look like a car windshield, it will be a valuable upgrade of the bike for high mileage riders. On the contrary the fairing is extended low, protecting riderĘs feet from the elements.
     The stability, the comfort to rider and pillion and the carrying potential of the bike are advantages in the case of the Versys, which becomes a talented touring bike. The top indicated speed is nearly 250 km/h, (155 mph).
     On dirt roads the Versys will be an obedient bike, its not the most suitable though. Initially she feels large and heavy, gradually the ground clearance will be a limiting factor.
     She will not impose considerable restrictions as long as dry and level dirt roads are selected. Its slightly taller, more comfortable than a large street bike then. Of course Kawasaki makes it clear that the Versys is not designed for dirt road use.
     The ABS brakes consist of 300 mm (11.8 in) rotors at the front together with four piston calipers and a 220 mm (8.66 in) rotor together with a single pot caliper at the rear. Petal type rotors are equipped. Brakes are good, progressive and user friendly. The diving of the front in case of hard braking is average, despite the relatively soft front end adjustment.
     Whenever the ABS intervenes, feedback to the rider is good, a minor pulsing is noticed on the levers. The decent operation of the ABS may be justified since the system derives directly from the ZX10R, like the traction control.
    Model history/optional/reliability/quality build: Up to 2012 the Versys was solely a 650 c.c. bike. Earlier on the KLV 1000 had been manufactured, which was a Suzuki V-strom 1000, on different colors. It was the outcome of a short cooperation effort between Kawasaki and Suzuki.
     Concerning the Versys 1000, the engine, frame and wheels are derived from the Z 1000 donor bike. They were modified though in order to match the character of the new bike. The engine was detuned so that it provides more torque at the lower part of the powerband, less top power though compared to the Z.
     There are lots of factory optional, e.g. a top case and side panniers, heated grips, engine protectors, an Acrapovic silencer etc. However a 12 V plug is only an optional choice and a centre stand or hand guards - radiator guard are not provided at all.
     The engine has proven reliable due to the Z 1000 and the Z 1000 SX career, while the initial engine design is even older than that. Build quality and finish are superb.
     Comments: The large screen knobs adjustors do not have to be that obvious from the front side of the bike. After all, to adjust the screen, the bike has to be stationary, which looks like a point to improve on the Versys. The holes at the end of the silencer remind of the Z series. The train perception design of the headlamp is still here. The small storage space under the seat will be adequate for a thin rain suit.
     Conclusively the character of the Versys 1000 is very different from that of the Versys 650, its clear the two bikes address to different types of riders. The smaller version is a nimble and joyful character, while the bigger version boasts the increased touring potential together with usability, that is for an 1000 c.c. bike.
     Additionally due to the smooth engine operation and the slower steering geometry, its not a very involving bike in terms of riding, at least for a 1000 c.c. motorcycle. No one should underestimate though the power of this engine.
Price: 13490 Euros

+ ‘ouring potential – general use

+ Electronics (ABS-traction control, two engine mappings)

- ‘raction control is not as intrusive as necessary, given the bikeĘs character.

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