Taller riders will love the Kawasaki’s cosseting riding position, compared to a lower, less knee-friendly sports tourer. It’s roomy, comfortable, vibe-free and there’s excellent all-round wind protection, thanks to that new aerodynamic nose, adjustable screen and wide, two-litre bigger fuel tank. Mirrors are big and clear and the new ‘fat’ bars are perfectly placed to give you a nice feeling of control. It’s 11kg heavier, thanks to its stronger subframe (to take the new optional luggage system), new wheels and centre stand. That extra bulk actually makes for a more comfy ride on the straights and flattens bumps in your wake, but handling is still surprisingly good. If you push hard you can get it bouncing and wallowing, even with its new forks and rear shock (complete with its stronger rear spring). It can get a bit ‘crashy’ over severe bumps. The Versys 1000 steers predictably, is agile and the new Bridgestone T30 sports touring tyres offer loads of confidence-inspiring grip in all surface and weather conditions.
New cylinders, cylinder heads, injectors and air filter boosts power from 116bhp to 118bhp. There’s so much grunt you never need to trouble the slick gearbox, once you’re in sixth, but if you want to play there’s enough grunt to get the front wheel hovering out of tight corners in second and third gear. The new slipper clutch, which has a light lever feel, works superbly at smoothing-out on/off throttle inputs, as well as reducing engine braking into corners. A three-stage traction control gives you a helping hand in slippery conditions and if the going really gets tough, a softer power and torque ‘map’ is available at the touch of a button. Kawasaki also claims the 1043cc, inline four-cylinder motor is 5% more fuel efficient and we managed 44mpg.
The paint finish is superb and the general build quality is top notch. The previous model was bomb-proof, so expect the same with this version.
You get a lot of metal for little money, as well as ABS, traction control, a centre stand, an adjustable screen, slipper clutch and remote rear preload adjuster.
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There’s a decent level of equipment in standard trim, but there are two other Versys 1000 versions available in the UK. The Tourer has panniers (and liners) and handguards. The Grand Tourer is fitted with panniers, a top box, handguards, fog lamps, gear position indicator, 12v power socket and engine protectors. The optional gear position indicator is really useful, as are the heated grips, which work well, even if these add-ons look a bit tacked-on – but let’s remember you’re not paying BMW money here.