KAWASAKI VERSYS 1000 (2012 - 2015) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£150|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Its odd looks will always raise questions, but the engine won’t, it’s a peach.
- Related: 2021 Kawasaki Versys 1000 S review
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 & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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 qualityNext up: Value
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 rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
|Engine type||16v transverse four, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Aluminium twin tube|
|Fuel capacity||21 litres|
|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||£96|
|Annual service cost||£150|
|Used price||£4,300 - £7,700|
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
2012: Model introduced
MCN Long term test reports
MCN Fleet: Waving goodbye to Kawasaki’s Green Giant
'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…
Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI VERSYS 1000 (2012 - 2015)
11 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£150|
Annual servicing cost: £100
A very nice bike with plenty of engine power and chuckable. Won't win any beauty contests though. I bought the Versys a couple of months ago with 35k on the clock. Coming off a R1150GS meant the seat height and riding position didn't need any getting used to and is great for tall riders. It's difficult to fault this bike except for the vibration through the handlebars that make the mirrors pretty useless at anything over 60mph. An all-rounder used to be something like a VFR but this also fits the bill. Powerful, easy to ride, nice handling, reliable, semi-sporty but superb for touring. What more do you want?
Other than the buzzing at cruising speeds, it's faultless. The brakes are plenty adequate and the engine smooth silk. It's capable of putting a smile on your face whether you're taking a quick Sunday afternoon blasts or belting out a few hundred miles on a tour. Suspension is adjustable which many seem to like and I'm happy enough with the standard setup on the softer side.
Bags of linear power all the way up to 120mph. Throttling down can be a bit harsh and a blip on down change is necessary to avoid clonks. For a big and heavy adventure bike it's got enough grunt there for most situations.
Bulletproof is the word most people choose for the detuned Z1000 engine in the Versys and I can't think of a more suitable word. Starts up instantly, runs smoothly, not too loud that the neighbours complain and feels very well put together all round.
Really only needs an oil change each year and if you do it yourself, get a proper tool. Fuel economy is good and parts readily available. These hold their value much like many adventure bikes do and are a real bargain for the amount of features they have.
I suppose the most impressive feature is having traction control, even though I never change it. Digital speedo, temp sensors and fuel gauge with a symbol for economic riding is there coupled with the analogue rev counter is for me the perfect combination.
Buying experience: Bought used privately so not much to say here. Paid 4500 with hard pannier cases, top box, centre stand, satnav bracket and power socket.
Annual servicing cost: £90
Very smooth, brilliant engine, just tip in for cornering
Can be changed from 75% to full
Traction control is excellent
Buying experience: Dealer £5990
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.
The ride is magic carpet smooth, the brakes are ok for the type of bike it is.
Super smooth and will pull from 40mph in 6th gear like its in 4th.
I service the bike myself and tend to get through a set of tyres a year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Averaging 51 mpg.
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.
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
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 😜
Great engine for the size, with plenty of torque though mid range.
Not had the bike long enough to give it 5 out of 5
Great fuel economy, even in full power and hard riding
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.
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.
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.
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.
5 months of riding both as a daily commuter plus several weekend tours haven't shown anything untoward yet.
19km/l commuting. 21.5km/l touring. 17km/l when being playful. Not bad for a 1000cc bike.
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.
Version: Grand tourer
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
Comfy and grat stoppers
Smooth and pulls like a train at low revs
No dramas in this department
Service intervals recommend are after 600 miles is 4k for oil & filter change and brakes cleaned and then 7.5k
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
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.
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!
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
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.