KAWASAKI VERSYS 650 (2006-2009) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Incredibly easy to ride, fun at low speeds and in some ways looks funky"

Kawasaki Versys motorcycle review - Riding

"Incredibly easy to ride, fun at low speeds and in some ways looks funky"

  • At a glance
  • 649cc  -  60 bhp
  • 48 mpg  -  152 miles range
  • Medium seat height (840mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

As the marketing driven name suggests the Kawasaki Versys is incredibly versatile, the jack of all trades. The Kawasaki Versys does everything well, but isn’t outstanding at any one thing. That said, the Kawasaki Versys is incredibly easy to ride, fun at low speeds and in some ways looks funky for 2007. At under £5000 for the basic model, the Kawasaki Versys is a versatile bargain.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Low speed handling is excellent making the new Kawasaki Versys ideally suited for town and city riding. Turns easily, very tight turning circle, you can just jump on the Kawasaki Versys and have fun, making the Kawasaki Versys ideal for new riders. However, when you up the pace well above the national speed limit the soft suspension starts to complain. Brakes are excellent if you can stop the front from burying itself into the road.

Engine 4 out of 5

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.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The ER6 has proven reliable so there is no reason to suggest the de-tuned motor in the Kawasaki Versys shouldn’t be the same. Keep on top of the cleaning through winter and your Kawasaki Versys should look as good as it did when you first wheeled it out of the showroom.

Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5

Under £5000 for an incredibly versatile bike? The Kawasaki Versys sounds like a bargain and it is. The Kawasaki Versys is ideal for someone new to motorcycles or getting back into biking. Insurance costs should be low on the Kawasaki Versys and it shouldn’t be too heavy on tyres. Expect around 50mpg and possibly more if you’re gentle with the throttle. Find a Kawasaki Versys for sale.

Insurance group: 9 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

Some parts of the Kawasaki Versys look far more expensive than the price tag suggests. The Kawasaki Versys  has side-mounted adjustable shock, Buell style underslung exhaust, both stolen from the ER-6, and now fashionable wavy discs. But the clocks are basic and other parts of the bike feel cheap by comparison. The Kawasaki Versys' fairing is OK up to 80mph but expect some wind buffeting and pressure passed 90mph. 

Click here for the 10 best parts for the Kawasaki Versys, as recommended by real owners at www.versys.co.uk.

Owners' Reviews

31 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI VERSYS 650 (2006-2009) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.6 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.5 out of 5
Engine 4.5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.2 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.8 out of 5
Equipment 4.1 out of 5
5 out of 5

365 day bike.

24 June 2014 by ThePornstar

What a bike! Bought mine to use for commuting to work all year round. Does about 200 miles for £25, fantastic traction in the wet, good for two up riding, will show up numptys on 600's if you know how to ride. Was sceptical of buy one at first, but... Read more after riding one I was hooked, way better that Hornet,Transalp or CB500. Have toured on it, did a trackday and didn't shame myself either! This is not my only bike, and I have had many bike sportsbikes and I can safely say you will never get bored of ridding it. Only faults, shite front brakes, clock buttons don't work after a while, std exhaust rots and keeps blowing fork seals, but that could be the 3rd gear wheelies..? All in all I'd give it 10/10 as and everyday hack, yes it's a bike ugly but that means no one will nick it.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Perfect budget all-rounder?

26 February 2014 by rosst1989

I bought my bike three years old for £3900 with 4k on the clock, FSH, hard luggage, heated grips, a touring screen, data tool alarm and in excellent condition. 10 months on and I've covered just over 6500miles with a decent mix of motorway, Sunday... Read more blasts, weekends away and city commuting. So far it's taken everything in its stride... OK, the engine is never going to set the world alight. It's a 650cc parallel twin designed to be economical and user friendly. However it certainly feels more powerful than the numbers suggest (circa 60bhp) with genuinely useful midrange at real world road speeds and a top speed approaching 120mph. I'd be lying of I said I never wanted more power but I'd also be lying if I said it was dull. The sound it produces is inoffensive and tends to be drowned out by wind at anything over 60mph but is pleasant enough. I'm sure an aftermarket end can would solve (or ruin - depending on your outlook) the noise issue but I'm leaving it standard for now. Suspension is adjustable front and rear but mine has stayed on the stock setting and seems fine. Handling is very easy and predictable although the front end in particular offers little in the way of feedback. It certainly hides its weight well and is good fun on twisty B roads. The ride quality is OK although it feels neither sporty nor plush - I guess budget suspension is to blame here. Either way I find the bike perfectly comfortable for at least 2 hours in the saddle, the only complaint being the distance between the seat and footrest is a little cramped for my 6'0 frame. Equipment is adequate and includes a digital fuel gauge and two trip meters. The Versys does not come with a centre stand nor is it available as an aftermarket accessory as the exhaust can is in the way. This is one of the more annoying aspects of a bike that is otherwise perfectly capable of touring. Mine came with the optional Givi panniers, which fit plenty of gear (including a full face helmet in each) and are easy to remove. It does stick out further than the mirrors though and is something to watch when filtering in traffic! (Luckily I am yet to make this mistake.) In terms of reliability the bike has been practically flawless. There was an issue whereby the exhaust failed on a weld a couple of weeks after I bought it but that was a cheap fix covered under the warranty anyway. Other than that it has been perfect. Quality wise, one has to accept this is a budget bike and if ridden all year round (as mine has been) bits will get a little rusty. On my bike this has mainly been a couple of welds on the subframe and pannier rack and the bracket holding the rectifier in place. General fit and finish is perfectly good in my opinion. Value is where the Versys really excels. Insurance is cheap and even when ridden in a spirited fashion it will return 55mpg. It really is a lot of bike for the money too with plenty going for around the £3000 mark and tidy, well loved, low mileage examples rarely fetching over 4k. One (potential- depending on your annual mileage) downside is the short service intervals, which are due every 3750miles or annually. (Which ever comes soonest.) for me this means the bike needs servicing twice a year. On the plus side the service costs are fairly reasonable so it's swings and roundabouts. How many bikes are there on the market that will happily top a ton, handle well, ride just as well in town commuting as they do loaded up touring and will still return a real life 55-60mpg? Not very many. How many do all this for less than 4k? The Versys is pretty much in a class of its own!

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

The best all rounder for the money

20 August 2013 by VersysGuy

The best all rounder for the money in this price range. Very reliable although Kawasaki could learn a thing or two from Honda on fit and finish. Great handling for a bike of this type. Responsive engine, agile, fun to ride and very, very comfy... Read more ergonomics.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

52k miles and counting

01 October 2012 by locktab

Done 52319 miles in 2 and a half years and so far been one of the most reliable bikes I have ever owned (much better than my BMW R1200GS. Would love to know if anyone else has done more miles? Read more

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

First Bikes

28 February 2011 by moonbear

First motor bike I ever owned. Passed my test and bought one. Got a great deal with all the touring kit did 8k miles in the first year. Found the vibrations in the foot pegs, but other than that great bike.... chopped it in for a Cb1300 as I wanted... Read more more power. But would recommend this bike to anyone as a commuter or just a weekend blast.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

Versatile, it is.

31 January 2011 by Anonymous

I got my Versys brand new, fitted with Kawasaki panniers and the flip top touring screen. It is a pre facelift 2009 model. I have had it for just over a year now and put 2000 miles on the clock. I suppose the obvious thing to start with is the... Read more looks, and I think it is fair to say that there are more visually appealing bikes in the Kawasaki range. However I think it looks distinctive and striking, especially in the orange colour I have. Looks are always subjective and lets be honest this bike is all about the riding experience and not the pose factor. Let me get this straight from the start this is a very good bike and it really can do pretty much any thing, the name of the bike fits well with the reality of the bike. However there are a few irritations so lets deal with those first. The back brake is poor and has the kind of power that you might think is acceptable on a 150KG 125, used in isolation it is not good however when used in conjunction with the front brake it is ok and is easy to live with when you have got used to it. The mirrors do not hold position and I find that I am constantly adjusting them at motorway speeds. Lots of reveiws talk about the vibes on this bike but I have to say I have not noticed any excessive vibration on my bike, however the fairing did start to make a hell of a rattle at about 5000 RPM when it had done about 1100 miles, this was easily sorted by inserting a couple of bits of inner tube in a couple of places. Not the end of the world but something you don't expect to have to do on a modern brand new bike. These are not serious faults but they are disappointing and not what you would expect to encounter on a well developed and well engineered machine. Over all the faults listed above do not detract too much from the riding experince. The engine is a peach and is very torquey and responsive, but when you are giving it some don't be tempted to hold a gear for too long as it is a little breathless above 9500 RPM, you can make quicker progress by grabbing the next raio at 9000 RPM and riding the torque rather than trying to wring it to the red line. I have seen an indicated 122 on the clock so I think the perfromace is very acceptable. The economy is great, at touring speeds on a trip to Wales last year I averaged 68 MPG for the whole trip and I was enjoying the ride not riding for economy, not bad considering my size and weight (6 ft and 19 stone). The handling is light and easy and I don't know why but I find it very nice and confidence inspiring to ride in the rain compared to some bikes I have had. It will take a very good rider to get the better of you on twisty roads on a sports bike as it is easy throw about and gives great feel and confidence to the rider. The seating position and position of the pegs and bars are just right for me and I find the bike is very comfortable to ride. apert from the niggles mentioned earlier the bike seems to be well put together and cleans up very nicely and still looks like new but I have to admit that while I am not averse to riding in the rain in the summer I do not subject my bikes to winter riding so it hasn't had a coating of road salt to deal with. So there you go' overall a very good bike and it is only the little niggles that I have mentioned that stop me from saying it is a great bike. If you are in the market for a genuine do any thing bike that won't cripple you financially then the Versys really should be on your short list.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Change of Ride

28 August 2010 by boroboy

Recently sold my 800 VFR,great bike, now own an 09 Versys,early indications are this is a fantastic bike,being vertically challenged i thought i might struggle with the hight but i find it really works for me, no problems at all, i get i little... Read more nervous when pulling up alongside other riders because i have to fully adjust myself to put a leg on the floor, but i manage it non the less. i still needed the luggage capabilty and the panniers are good looking and carry decent loads, i am still getting used to the engine, but even so i am getting fantastic MPG, i aint a geek so i dont know exactly what it is but i know when i am riding quicker than normal i still get a good distance between fill ups. I find that i can turn it in quite tight and fast wich suits me fine and the almost lack of any wieght is ideal for the twisties. The back brake lacks any real feel though, so i am having a look at what i can do, overall i am delighted with the bike, i will more than likely buy another sports bike,but hopefully i may just keep this along side so i can have the best of both, just dont tell the wife!!!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Excelent Bike

25 January 2010 by nolanyusof

I had use this bike for almost 2 years now and the odometer has shown up to 114K km. So far the bike was excelent in all area. Easy to handle and fule economic for long distance ride. It is value for money to get VERSYS as your bike. Read more

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Too much for your money!

12 December 2009 by GeorgER

I had an ER-6n for almost two years and I loved it! Unfortunately, due to its naked nature,it wasn't too easy to take long trips. So, I decided to go for Versys, since I had already tested it and I was amazed by its sporty character! It is by far the... Read more sportiest bike of its category! Its engine delivers more power than you 'd expect but that doesn't follow up to high revs as with the ER. I 've adjusted the Mivv Oval Carbon exhaust and a PiperCross air filter and these modifications magnitude the lower and mid rpm range. Versys shows its best, when it's ridden fast on mountain country roads! Totally deserves every single penny!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Can't Beat It

12 September 2009 by streetsahead

I have a 56 plate Versys in Black which has now done 15000 miles. My other bike is a 56 plate Fireblade. Apart from Sunday morning blasts, I seem to take the Versys out more than the Blade, possibley because it is just so versitile. Recently did... Read more 1400 mile trip around Scotland all on A & B roads. Thew bike was faultless ( see below only concern) and returned 60mpg fully laden. It does polish up well but some of the welds are very poor quality, especially on the frame with 'splatter' eveident in places. Certainly not up to Honda standards. Great handling, no, really great handling, cant be faulted for ride either. My only grip is that the fuel injection suffers 'jerking' at aroung 4500 rpm which causes a hesitancy. Only does it when riding at a constant speed, ie not accelerating or de accelerating. My Street Triple did it, only much worse so I got rid of it. All in all, great bike and well worth the pennies. Streetsahead

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
Read all 31 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2006
Year discontinued 2009
Original price £4,995
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 9 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 60 bhp
Max torque 43 ft-lb
Top speed 128 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 13.6 secs
Average fuel consumption 48 mpg
Tank range 152 miles
Specification
Engine size 649cc
Engine type Parallel twin, 6 gears
Frame type Tubular Steel
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Seat height 840mm
Bike weight 181kg
Front suspension Preload, rebound
Rear suspension Preload, rebound
Front brake 2 x 300mm discs
Rear brake 245mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17 in
Rear tyre size 160/60 x 17 in

History & Versions

Model history

2006: Kawasaki Versys launched.
2009: Kawasaki Versys GT launched.

Other versions

2009 - Kawasaki Versys GT. Comes with colour-matched panniers, purpose-built pannier rack and an adjustable flip-up screen. ABS or non-ABS versions available.

Photo Gallery

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  • Kawasaki Versys motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki Versys motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki Versys motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Kawasaki Versys motorcycle review - Instruments
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  • Kawasaki Versys motorcycle review - Exhaust
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