KAWASAKI VERSYS 1000 (2012 - 2015) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
Power: 116 bhp
Seat height: Tall (33.3 in / 845 mm)
Weight: High (527 lbs / 239 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £4,500 - £7,200

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Its odd looks will always raise questions, but the engine won’t, it’s a peach. There’s loads of low down, a nice spread of torque and the dollop of top end power should see it as the quickest bike in this category. It’s also extremely comfortable, will eat mile after mile all day long and handles reasonably well (up to a point, the front is questionable when pushed really hard). For under £10,000 it makes great value for money when compared to the competition. Overall it’s an accomplished all-round, reliable tourer

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Considering it’s such a big bike topping the scales at 239kg it doesn’t do half bad. It’s stable at high motorway speeds and is backed up by excellent ABS-assisted brakes. The only gripe is the feedback through the front end when pushed really hard. 90% of the time handling is fine and predictable, however, on the limit, the front end sends confusing messages: feedback isn’t 100% and it’s hard to sense how much grip is available. It’s still enough for peg-scraping angles of lean, but not with 100% confidence. The rear is fine and offers grip and feel when hard on the power.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

This is the Versys’ killer punch. Based on the Z1000, the four cylinder, in line motor is stunning and will out-grunt the legendary GS with ease. Compression has been lower compared to the Z1000 and the fuelling has been tweaked, which means the 1043cc motor makes 116bhp and 75ftlb of torque.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Considering the very reasonable price compared to pricier competition, the level of finish and quality is very high. The screen is only manually adjustable but that’s our only gripe. There’s no reason to question the reliability either as he Zed 1000 motor has proven bulletproof.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

This is a hell of lot of bike for the price. Being a big, 1043cc, all-round touring bike with a high level of finish, with ABS and traction control as standard makes it value for money compared to the pricier BMW GS. Triumph’s 1050 Tiger is priced closer to the Kawasaki but comes without any electrical rider aids.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

ABS comes as standard as does the ‘petal’ racing discs. More importantly there’s an all-new, three-way traction control system which combines the best qualities of the ZX-10 and GTR1400 systems – modes can be changed on the move with the throttle in the closed position. The rear suspension has remote pre-load adjustment and the forks are fully-adjustable. There’s also a huge list of aftermarket quality goodies which include hard luggage.

Specs

Engine size 1043cc
Engine type 16v transverse four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin tube
Fuel capacity 21 litres
Seat height 845mm
Bike weight 239kg
Front suspension 43mm fully adjustable
Rear suspension Single rebound and preload
Front brake 2x300mm four piston calipers
Rear brake 250mm disc single piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70x17
Rear tyre size 180/55x17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 50 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £200
New price -
Used price £4,500 - £7,200
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term 2 years unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 116 bhp
Max torque 75 ft-lb
Top speed 140 mph
1/4 mile acceleration 11 secs
Tank range 200 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2012: Model introduced

Other versions

None

MCN Long term test reports

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'Christ this thing’s big… I’m not sure what I’ve got myself in for here,' is what I told myself as I wobbled out of the MCN carpark for the first-time aboard Kawasaki’s Versys 1000 SE almost a year ago today.  A 1043cc inline-four-cylinder sports adventure bike weighing in at 257kg and shod wit

Read the latest report

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI VERSYS 1000 (2012 - 2015)

9 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI VERSYS 1000 (2012 - 2015) 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 1000 (2012 - 2015)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Engine: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
5 out of 5 Looks not for everyone but a stonking machine
21 June 2020 by Stuart appleton

Year: 2012

Annual servicing cost: £300

This is a powerful, smooth, comfortable bike for solo or two up journeys. I've been using it for the odd commute between Peterborough and London and even after spending a shift riding a BMW F800GT, I still look forward to the ride home on the Versys.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

The ride is magic carpet smooth, the brakes are ok for the type of bike it is.

Engine 5 out of 5

Super smooth and will pull from 40mph in 6th gear like its in 4th.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

I service the bike myself and tend to get through a set of tyres a year.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Heated grips are after market and could have really done with a centre stand.

Buying experience: I bought second hand from Superbike Factory in 2017. Although at first it kept cutting out and breaking down, Superbike Factory took it back several times but couldn't find the issue. When I sent it to a specialist bike electrician he found that the previous owner whrn removing its alarm had made a serious hash of the wiring, but this was rectified without much expense and has been faultless since. The electrician said that there is no way Superbike Factory would have known nor would have found the issue.

5 out of 5 I tried them all
30 June 2016 by Nigel

Version: GT

Year: 2016

First the bad: When you first come to a halt you need to be ready for putting your foot down, this is a tall bike. Similar story when doing tricky U-turns on a slope etc BUT with the wide bars, it's really not really that much of issue once you get used to it. On the subject, it's a big bike but doesn't feel it, at all. As soon as I sat on it, It just felt right. Fog light's are OK, not amazing. Headlight, not great! OK it's not terrible just wish it had twin dual beams. The good: I wanted power and to feel plugged-in to the bike. I'm in Scotland and the kind of roads here demands a bike that has plush but stable ride quality and absolutely on-it handling. Tight twisty B roads with downhill sketchy hairpins (with bumps/gravel/sheep) or open sweepers, motorway (awesome), even in town, this bike bosses everything. All day comfy, 200+ tank range, luggage, 3rd person view, but the gem of this bike is the handling, it destroys a back road, I mean absolutely walks it. Just rolls into a turn laughing at you. That and the motor that's as powerful as you'd want in a sit up bike, it'll get somewhere stupid fast and without much effort. Also not a problem stretching your arms when you twist the throttle, but is equally happy just ambling about enjoying the view. I've got the carbon grey one, it's understated and slightly sinister. Doesn't draw too much attention to itself parked up and I like the flashing red light on the dash.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Brakes have plenty bite, I use two fingers on the lever and for a relatively heavy bike, it stops as fast as I dare. Ride Long travel suspension soaks up everything and somehow still gives great feel. The front wheel doesn't feel too far away, feels connected. Unlike the big KTMs, Super Ten, Africa Twin (oh god no!). Comfort I can sit on the massive seat all day. Tones of padding, textured and slopes slightly forward, so you stay put and if you decide to move around, you can. Unlike the Multistrada, Tiger Sport, BMW S1000XR, you're legs aren't cramped and it'll still lean all the way to the (proper 180 section) tyre edge before decking the pegs. Reach to the bars and bar height is perfect for me.

Engine 4 out of 5

Being a bit critical here, there's a slight hunting in full power mode on a steady throttle at 3 thousand revs. Typically noticed at about 30-40mph, just dump it up into 6th and it's gone. She purrs like a kitten in 6th with hardly any revs. Power Twins just don't do it for me, two bikes ago I had a blackbird, mega smooth power from the off, ballistic top end. This thing isn't a million miles off and more importantly has the same feel. You really don't need low power mode, it's mega smooth low down. Some reviewers said the throttle is snatchy and that it has too much engine braking. In 1st gear yes. Solution? Change up! Seriously, learn how to ride a thousand cc. That's what they're like! It'll sit in 6th doing 30mph no problem, but I'll usually ride through a small village in 5th, the thing just purrs along. When you see the national sign, drop a couple, or not, either way it's all good. Don't buy this as your first bike unless you're mature enough.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Not had it long enough to comment on overall reliability, but it's a tried and tested engine on a tried and tested platform AND it's Japanese. Rear subframe paint scratches easily, aside from that it's got better quality fasteners and overall finish than my previous Triumph Tiger 800. It jumped out of (didn't find the next gear) once when I had it pinned. It's not happened again.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Averaging 51 mpg.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Factory panniers fit tight to the bike and have cut outs so people can see the indicators. Makes them a funny shape, but they're really good quality (Givi). Top box is awesome. It's a V47 with Kawasaki written on it. Why would anyone want brick shaped hard luggage? They're about as aerodynamic as, well a brick. These are great up to 80+ and in the wind, the bike handles wind really well btw. I'm 5 10 and the stock screen is fine, no buffeting, but still feel like I'm riding a bike. Know what I mean?

Buying experience: Kirkcaldy Kawasaki, totally spot on.

5 out of 5
09 February 2016 by Golly65

Year: 2014

Traded in my 2013 ZZR1400 which I absolutely loved, but age and size ment that a change was required. Test rode a couple bikes, but the Versys 1000 beat the Triumph & BMW in both looks, comfort and power

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Do know where the "vague" front end handling comments come from. Although not a sports bike, you can certainly keep up with most of them 😜

Engine 5 out of 5

Great engine for the size, with plenty of torque though mid range.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Not had the bike long enough to give it 5 out of 5

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Great fuel economy, even in full power and hard riding

Equipment 4 out of 5

As usual, standard exhaust is quiet and can not be heard at speed, why more desirable cans can not be fitted as standard on a £10k bike "baffles" me. A gear indicator would also be of use, however these are both easily fitted with after market products.

5 out of 5 A nice all rounder.
12 October 2015 by Ron W

Year: 2015

Ticks all the boxes. Great as a daily commuter. Comfortable with long legs suits touring. Surprisingly nimble for a tall bike when attacking the twists and turns.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

It's like riding your favourite lounge chair. Stiffen up the easily adjusted suspension and it inspires confidence through the corners. Front brakes had a nice progressive feel. The rear brake lacks bite for a bike this size. Seven hours in the saddle had me getting off feeling fresh as a daisy.

Engine 5 out of 5

Likes to use the top end of the rev range, but has plenty of down low torque if you're feeling lazy. Lopes along at 3900rpm/100km-h. Engine sounds much nicer and feels a bit more free with the aftermarket Akrapovic slip on. Tried the low power setting once and changed it back to full. Not needed even heavy rain as the traction control does a good job without feeling intrusive.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

5 months of riding both as a daily commuter plus several weekend tours haven't shown anything untoward yet.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

19km/l commuting. 21.5km/l touring. 17km/l when being playful. Not bad for a 1000cc bike.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Misses a helmet lock and gear position indicator as standard. At 179cm, for me the screen could do to be a bit lower in the down position and a bit higher in the up position. Tends to buffet either the chin or top of my helmet. Would definitely suit a taller rider. I will try the Kawasaki accessory touring screen.

5 out of 5 Go buy one
05 August 2015 by Sean dyson

Version: Grand tourer

Year: 2015

Annual servicing cost: £100

Superb bike for the money panniers and top box are made by givi and are quality fuel consumption is excellent pulls like a freight train at low down revs gear change is slick and smooth and the induction roar when you open it up is intoxicating

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Comfy and grat stoppers

Engine 5 out of 5

Smooth and pulls like a train at low revs

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

No dramas in this department

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Service intervals recommend are after 600 miles is 4k for oil & filter change and brakes cleaned and then 7.5k

Equipment 5 out of 5

Full luggage Bought heated grips Added sat nav

Buying experience: Bought from a dealer as he gave me a corking price for my 2010 bike but as i found out to my horror the service department was full of class clowns that for me were dangerous

4 out of 5 I bought one
28 April 2014 by geezerh

I traded in my SX as getting on now as although initially the riding position was ok started getting groin ache. My big gripe with the SX was a rattle between 2 & 3K revs in every gear, they all do it! This detuned motor seems to have got rid of that, yippee. I have owned a BMW GS an an RT, but never really liked the engine, that aside the price of these machines is outrageous. I know the Kwaka will never go off road but in reality who does? This bike ticks all the boxes for me comfy smooth handles really well on the twisties, loads of after market stuff, great value, mine is green, seems to be an abundance of white ones out there.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5 Versys 1000
27 May 2013 by Goulash

One of the best bikes out there. It does the lot, touring commuting, fun round the twisties. Get past the looks and buy one before everyone else does!

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 buy 1 an see
25 September 2012 by

I bought my versys 1000 two weeks ago from KJM motorcycles .I test rode the bike wife my wife as pillion on some twisty back roads and thought it was very good .I had a 2010 zzr1400 before and i loved it but my wife said it gave her a sore back on longer trips and wanted something more comfy.We had versys out at weekend and thought it was great and very quick big bike and the comfort is second to none .I then got it out on my own and had a blast with the boys on the sports bikes and lets just say it wont be left behind and as for the vague comments about the front end i cant see anything vague about it and it felt very safe on the corners and they were not slow ones .The wind protection is good too and very stable in high winds too nothing more to say but go get one you wont be disappointed !!! 25th september

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5 Test Ride
26 February 2012 by grapple

Irode this bike yesterday on full power mode with the highest amount of traction control as you say the power is instant low down very responsive,riding position is very good with extreamly comfortable seat i rode on a variety of roads conditions were wet/muddy/dry in places brakes are far better than on my current bike ie greater cornering speed with good feedback the only thing i would like to see is a higher screen & hand gaurds which are avaliable,weather protection is very good after the test ride i only had mud on the tips of my boots & it returned 42.2mpg yes im very impressed also the dealer said i could take it out again on a dry day they could not be more helpfull with lots of payment options.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
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