KAWASAKI VERSYS 650 (2010-on) Review

Published: 12 March 2010

"A Jack of trades, and at under £6000 a bit of bargain all round bike"

Kawasaki Versys

"A Jack of trades, and at under £6000 a bit of bargain all round bike"

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

There wasn’t much wrong with the old Versys, it just needed a few minor faults addressing which Kawasaki have done. They have reduced the engine vibration which was a major fault and improved the bike cosmetically, whilst adding more extras like heated grips. It’s a jack of trades, and at under £6000 a bit of bargain all round bike.

- Video: 2010 Kawasaki Versys first ride

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

You can be forgiven into thinking the new Versys isn’t up to much in terms of performance but you would be wrong, the parallel twin had some real punch and on paper produces are respectful 64 bhp. It’s got plenty of torque to loft the front easily, and prefect for darting around town and still has enough top end revs for fun and a top speed around 125mph.    

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

We have not head any horror stores regarding the parallel twin engine, some have even ended up on track in the popular mini twin series without any major problems. Kawasaki has improved the looks and feels of the new Versys, giving it a few design tweaks and given the bike a greater feeling of quality. It certainly doesn’t feel too budget, like some bike feel in this category.

Insurance, running costs & value 5 out of 5

As the name suggest for under £6000 you have a very versatile bike which is just as happy raising a smile on a wet cold commute to work as it is fully loaded taking on a two up touring trip to the coast at the weekend. In terms of value and being able to perform in so many ways it has to score 5 out of 5. Find a Kawasaki Versys for sale.

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

Equipment 4 out of 5

ABS is optional, so are heated grips and the 12v socket, but in basic form you get a lot for the money. The new screen is three way adjustable, mirrors and indicators are larger and most importantly Kawasaki have rubber mounted the engine to reduce vibration a similar trick they performed on the ER-6N and F last year. Compare and buy parts for the Versys in the MCN Shop.

Owners' Reviews

11 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI VERSYS 650 (2010-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI VERSYS 650 (2010-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.2 out of 5
Engine 4.3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.3 out of 5
Equipment 3.7 out of 5
5 out of 5

04 November 2016 by Paul Sutton

It's just a great all round bike with character, comfort and fun. It might not be the fastest bike out there but that is not why you buy a Versys, it's no slouch mind you either but I don't think I have enjoyed riding a bike so much since I was 16.... Read more If you are considering buying this bike you won't be disappointed - you will probably wish you bought one years ago !

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Plenty of adjustment to suit rider preference as standard set up was a bit soft for me but a few careful tweaks and feeling the difference was perfect !
Engine
4 out of 5
A little bit lurchy in slow traffic but I found taking most of the slack out of the throttle cable helped a lot to give a bit more control and feel taking care not to take all the slack out obviously!
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
So far so good - 4 months old wth 3.5k miles on no reliability issues and no corrosion showing yet and I ride in all weathers !
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Returning an average of 65 mpg can't complain about that. Will give more the more sensibly you ride !!!
Equipment
4 out of 5
Should have an engine temperature gauge - I am still disappointed that it doesn't. Otherwise it has what you need for this size/style of bike.
Buying experience

Dealer bought brand new. Got the LT package free. Excellent service as always from GT Superbikes

4 out of 5

We love this all-rounder with understated character

01 September 2016 by Kamikazenaz

If you're looking for a genuine off-road adventurer, there are probably better bikes. If you're looking for a stylish commuter, there are probably better.. etc. But this does everything and I really enjoy riding mine to work everyday. My only... Read more complaints are with the rear suspension, which wallows noticeably at speed in tightening corners but seems a combo of old tyres and set-up on mine, and the brakes seeming slightly mis-matched for bite front and back. But what you get is an all-rounder of the sort that is hard to beat. Motorway 70(ish, give or take)mph and there is superb wind protection in a comfortable stance. Everyday commute and she bends on a pin, for a tall bike. Putter along in traffic, but also rip open mid-range for over-taking. I really enjoy this bike, take a test ride and you'll understand why. I almost went for a more-famous Africa Twin at twice the mileage and more cash...

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
I loved my Bandit, but long-distance there is no contest, Versys wins. Bandit used to corner much sharper, but I had cracking tyres on that so I can't say until after another 2000 when I change these flattened ones for some Michelin Pilots.
Engine
5 out of 5
No problems, I didn't think I would like a parallel twin after a straight four but very smooth, has it's own little growl ( and a bit of afters if you know how to make the exhaust burp) but generally approach it with the expectations from a work-horse and let it surprise you, not the other way around.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
I've done about 10,00 miles on a 15,000 miler bought second-hand. I've only had chain and sprocket replaced, and oil changes done by myself.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
What I spent last time, but had spent quite a bit for top-box, panniers, etc so probably not truly reflective of cost.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Bought second-hand, I wasn't sure that the heated grips were add-ons as they're supposed to come with the bike..dealer probs making some money there. Screen was the biggest difference from my previous, and really noticeable on long haul, but remember for this price you get a lot of bike, and therefore the choice to remove/add/improve what you want.
Buying experience

Bought from Rochdale Honda, my second second-hand bought from them, never an issue with service or stuff on offer. I must say re: booking, once a mechanic went missing so had to re-schedule while at work, but they are bike guys and cannot fault their knowledge and friendliness. I go from South Manchester especially avoiding Hunts on Stockport Way.

4 out of 5

Not a bad allrounder

15 May 2016 by Artman

Nimble, comfortable and cheap to run. Doesn't look too bad either in black/silver. Would I buy another, yes I probably would. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Can ride for approx. 2 hours before numbness sets in. Not a grand tourer but have travelled to France on it without any real discomfort. Have road pilot 3s fitted and handling and breaking is very self assured and inspires confidence
Engine
4 out of 5
Not the fastest out of the blocks but rev it and it does move. Smooth delivery through the gears and in town or out on clear roads I'm more than happy
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
No reliability issues at all. Just a shame with the vibe noise around plastics at 4000 revs.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Do all my own servicing
Equipment
4 out of 5
For what you pay one can't really complain. Have fitted Road Pilot 3s, OEM tyres are less confidence inspiring particularly in the wet. Have also fitted a Givi taller screen (better when it rains) and hand guards (again, better when it rains)
4 out of 5

08 March 2016 by Scott A

Extremely well-balanced bike that doesn't do anything poorly, and does a lot very well for the price. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Feedback from the front brakes feel odd, but the double discs bite plenty hard when you ask them to. Stock suspension is respectable quality and can be ridden quite hard. I would probably prefer a shorter, stiffer fork to get more out of the sporty side of the Versys, but when that long stock fork is happily soaking up all the bumps of everyday riding I can't complain too much. Those complaints aside, everything else about the Versys is pure fun. First, the Versys is incredibly agile for its size and weight, likely due to the short wheelbase, sporty rake, and low centre of gravity. Once you replace the stock tyres, you can throw this bike back and forth with a huge amount of control and confidence. The wide handlebars and agility also make the Versys very forgiving in corners compared to other sport bikes I ride, allowing mid-corner corrections with no problem. The real fun of the Versys, however, is that you can ride it any way you'd like. Grip with a knee and hang off on the sweepers, then get up and over the handlebars and push the bike down to the road, supermoto-style in the tight stuff. Straight up and down touring? No problem, totally comfortable all the way over until you're scraping pegs. The sheer versatility of the Versys has kept me coming back despite the fact that I now also own two "better" bikes that cost twice as much.
Engine
3 out of 5
Once broken in, the Versys engine revs smoothly and playfully between 3-7K RPM delivering some solid, solid fun. Below 3K, it tends to lug a little, and above 9K the 650 starts feeling underpowered, but everything in between is a blast. The early torque curve also means that the Versys jumps out to 30mph faster than comparably sized sport bikes. That said, the engine is the biggest limitation on this bike. Most sport bikes will leave it in the dust above 60mph and I often find myself looking for a bigger handful of torque popping out of corners. I would love to see this same platform with about +20HP and a nice boost to mid-range torque. Still, the sweet spot for the Versys is anything between 15-80mph. This engine is perfectly suited for anything from dicing backroads, or cruising comfortably along at 80mph on the slab. Depending on riding style, my mileage ranges from 45-55mpg, often over 200 miles per tank.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
10,000+ miles with only one failed part (kinked chain @ 8,000 miles) and an engine that has only gotten smoother with time. You get what you pay for aesthetically, and Kawasaki didn't exactly go over the top
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Stupidly cheap to insure. The insurance co's seem to think this is an old man's bike, but that shouldn't stop you from riding like a hooligan while paying 1/3 the rate you would for a similar motorcycle. Maintenance is fairly inexpensive, being a Kawi, and everything is accessible enough that you can mostly DIY.
Equipment
3 out of 5
OEM tires are junk, and the windshield of the 2010-2014 model is nearly useless. I switched to Pirelli Angel GT tires after a few thousand miles and never looked back. There are plenty of mods and aftermarket parts available. For newer riders I highly recommend the engine guards, which not only cheaply protect your bike from drops and crashes, but look great on the Versys too.
5 out of 5

My Motorway Versys

02 January 2016 by Steve

With just over 11,000 miles in 6 mths I couldn't have chosen a better bike. 95% done on the motorway at a cruising speed that has allowed me to get 200+ miles from a FULL tank. It just eats up the miles and loves the long rides. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
My only complaint is the seat. After 5hrs my butt cheek gets a bit numb.
Engine
5 out of 5
After a quick running in period and some careful cruising on the motorway, the engine is now giving me some brilliant returns. 200+ on a FULL tank.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
The 'earlier models are known for engine vibes and mine is no different. After 5hrs I think everybody would feel something. But that said, I can't think of owt else.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
But I've had it in every 6weeks because of the mileage. 11,000 in 6 months
Equipment
4 out of 5
It's the basic model, no add ons so basic.
Buying experience

Bought from Blades of Swindon. Shop soiled, last years model, old stock. £5,000 on the day.

5 out of 5

Versy's 650 Grand Tourer review.

19 August 2015 by Steve Groves

Fantastic all rounder, comfortable, brisk and corners well. The bike is fitted with Dunlop tyres, brilliant grip in the wet but oh, goodness, hard riding and soft tyres; don't expect a high mileage. Fit Maxxis; took my big Suzuki around the I of M... Read more with Maxxis tyres, brilliant. Ditch the Dunlop's.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
If you can ride a bike, this will corner with the best of them. Don't be fooled by its small size and light weight. It can move when required, simply sort out the suspension.
Engine
5 out of 5
Power to weight ratio is spot on. 69bhp and 216Kg equals a truly fun package.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
These engines have been around for some time now without any major identified problems. The fact that this 'small' engine has been going for so long says it all really. Only a twin yes, but in the right hands a peach.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
I do use my bikes, tyres probably the most expensive item. Any dealer service will surely cost you money.
Equipment
5 out of 5
The Grand Tourer is perfect for one up long distance touring. Passenger; go for the Versys 1000. Different ball game. I have ridden in many countries and would not hesitate to ride on this bike. I have short legs so went for the lowered gel seat option. Cost extra mind.
Buying experience

Bought from D&K Newcastle under Lyme; superb. I have bought bikes from them previously. Great after care when needed. Staff helpful and all bikers. Nothing too much trouble as far as I am concerned.

4 out of 5

19 June 2015 by guzzi850m2

It's a almost perfect poor man's do it all bike and perfect for Thailand (I live there). I fell very comfortable on it and the screen gives good wind/rain protection at higher speeds. You have to push it if you really wants to move fast but it's fun... Read more to ride a bike where you can use all the power (on the road) and fun doing it. Very cheap to maintain since it's made here, so parts are very cheap and service as well. On-board fuel calculated km/l is very optimistic, on my bike it sometimes says +22 but are more at app18/l in the "real" world.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
This bike is an all rounder and it does all of it very well, well maybe not serious off-roading, I never tried that, maybe with a pair of more rugged tires it can do some gravel road riding.
Engine
4 out of 5
The engine have been on the market for almost 10 years and they have re-mapped it for 2015, power delivery is still very good but don't expect miracles from a app 65HP engine.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
The screen is very very well designed and takes the worst of the wind force when riding fast, well done. In the sometimes mad Thai traffic I have locked up the front/rear wheels a couple of times before the ABS kicked in but I suspect with better tires that would not had happened.
4 out of 5

28 May 2015 by DP2412

Read more

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

Too good

04 May 2012 by enf005980

I am in love, i am saving money for a new versys 650 but just one detail, here in Texas they cannot sale it..... I could not find even one used for sale 2010 or 2011! Read more

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

2010 Versys

22 July 2010 by Phaelok

Well, I turned up at Kawasaki Bristol at 3pm in the afternoon for my allotted ride with my girlfriend and the new versys. My route took me from the dealership down the M32, M4 and M5, turning off the Clevedon junction to head out towards cheddar... Read more gorge. The route back involved a couple back lanes and the versys coped admirably with all I could throw at it. A first impression when sat on the bike is this is going to be a comfortable ride, and it is. The seat is extremely plush and whilst I had no immediate discomfort, it seemed to be all day comfy. I would consider a gel seat as my bum did get a bit numb just from being sat on it for ages... Wind protection is astounding. I often wondered how people could wizz past me down the motorway at 80mph constant when I could only do 70 maximum. Wind would try to rip my face off constantly. With the versys there is no drama; 80mph cruising could be covered all day. Her ladyship was also impressed. Its the first time she has let go of me completely, placing her hands on her lap. Compared with the SV she was holding on for dear life. She found the seat comfortable and much more so than the SV, and the riding position much roomier. This bike has furthered her confidence in riding as a pillion. With regards to the ergonomics, the sizing of the bike is adequate for my lardy self, and the bars are not a stretch or awkwardly placed. The foot position is perfectly acceptable and its easy to get onto and be comfortable. Everything seems to fall into place naturally. As for the engine, all I can say is wow. It suits my riding style perfectly. I am lazy with the throttle and the torque just kicks in when I need it, powering out of corners. Setting off from the show room saw me surprised by the instant pick-up and acceleration. I had opened the throttle as if on the SV, it certainly woke me up! Two up the torque is plentiful, carrying myself and the lady with no fuss at all. There’s enough poke from the engine for overtakes I wouldn’t have even attempted on the SV. Though the bike is down on power on paper compared to the SV, it certainly doesn’t feel it. Still in-keeping with the engine subject, the vibrations have been mentioned by many a review and I will agree they are noticeable. I became used to them over the course of the test ride. However when cruising at 70mph the vibes were certainly noticeable, to the point I tried to prod for another gear. There were two options, power through it up to 75mph or down to 65mph. Emma also commented on vibes compared to the SV, but on the whole conceded that the comfort much outweighed it as an issue. The vibes seemed to be most noticeable to me at 5k rpm, but sit above or below, or power through and its perfectly fine. Moving onto all round ability, as aforementioned I took the bike down the motorway and through country roads and back lanes. The bike coped admirably in all situations. I had attempted roads on the versys I would never have attempted on the SV. The suspension was lovely and plush, wafting over road imperfections with notable state of comfort. Hitting a pot hole however, would see the suspension react harshly, feeding it back through the bike to rider and passenger. On the whole whilst riding I noticed suspension producing a see-saw effect. Under braking, the front began to dive a lot more than on the SV. This could be a trait of tall bikes, because I have never ridden one – which means I would need to get used to it. The handling is neutral and I managed to throw the bike into some corners comfortably, with the bike remaining composed for a range of bends. From only riding a cruiser, naked and semi sports bike the handling on the versys is confidence inspiring. It has a weird sensation of ‘falling’ into corners; however feedback is adequate for the speeds undertaken. One instant observation when leaving the dealership is the back brake is pants, whilst the front brakes offer plenty of initial bite. I can make a direct comparison with these brakes as I have exactly the same system on the SV. The brakes on the SV seem more balanced, with the front providing enough power when braking hard, but no initial bite. The rear on the SV is strong in comparison with the versys, making back brake maneuvering on the SV easier. The versys provided a few head bumping moments when braking due to the bite present on the front end. The rear could do with the same sort of power, if not a little less. Perhaps changing pads and over to braided hoses would help somewhat… On the whole this bike is an impressive bit of kit, whilst it might not be much of a looker (though it is growing on me), its ability far outweighs its visual aesthetics. It’s a similar story to some BMW’s, many also look ugly and squinty with an asymmetrical design, but function far outweighs its looks. I was so impressed with the bike I didn’t want to go back to the showroom with it. Fortunately there were no other test riders after me, so I was able to stay out longer – and I relished the chance. I was supposed to be out for an hour, I returned two and a half hours later.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
Read all 11 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2010
Year discontinued -
New price £6,549
Used price £3,400 to £8,200
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 9 of 17
Annual road tax £82
Annual service cost £330
Performance
Max power 60 bhp
Max torque 43 ft-lb
Top speed 128 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
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 845mm
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: Original Versys launched
2010: Updated model introduced
2011: Available as Versys ABS [£6,834], Versys Tourer (incl. panniers, varioscreen and tank protector) [£6,937] and Versys Tourer ABS [£7,294]

Other versions

None

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