KAWASAKI VERSYS 1000 S (2021 - on) Review


  • Smooth inline-four engine
  • 17in wheels for good road handling
  • Perfect for touring one or two up

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £150
Power: 118 bhp
Seat height: Medium (33.1 in / 840 mm)
Weight: High (562 lbs / 255 kg)


New £12,999
Used £8,800 - £13,000

Overall rating

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

For 2021 Kawasaki took the bold step to drop the base Versys - their road-going adventure bike model - from their range, replacing it with this Kawasaki Versys 1000 S.

But then for the 2022 model year, the base model Kawasaki Versys 1000 was confusingly reintroduced to the lineup.

The outgoing Versys 1000 came with angle-responsive ABS and traction control and cruise control for a very reasonable £11,300, meaning a £1699 price hike for the S model.

The Versys 1000 S isn’t as sexy or thrilling to ride as rivals like the Ducati Multistrada V4, the shock isn’t great and the dash underwhelming, but if you are talking a value for money mile-muncher, the Versys S still hits the mark and that’s exactly what its buyers are looking for.

2021 Kawasaki Versys 1000 S

Ride quality & brakes

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

For demolishing miles the Versys S is excellent and with the screen (which is the accessory ‘larger’ item and is 90mm higher and 140mm wider than the stock one on the 2020 Versys) on its highest setting, riders over six-feet tall will feel little buffeting.

The seat is sumptuous, the hand guards help the heated grips do their stuff (annoyingly their power level isn’t shown on the dash) and there are few vibrations. However while not having the SE’s semi-active suspension will save you £1900, the S’s conventional items may leave you a little annoyed.

When you start to ride at a brisk pace, solo or two up, the S’s conventional shock lacks that support you get from the semi-active units varying their damping levels and is a bit of a disappointment.

There is a remote preload adjuster, which will get a workout should owners start to load the Kawasaki up, but it is the one time you miss semi-active suspension, which allows the preload to be altered while on the go at the push of a button.

There again, the forks are fine and the price difference between the SE and S easily buys a quality aftermarket shock to replace the Kawasaki unit.

2021 Kawasaki Versys 1000 S rear


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

The S’s motor is identical to the SE and that means you get four integrated rider modes (Road, Rain, Sport and one user-defined one) as standard alongside an up/down quickshifter.

A lovely smooth engine, it could be argued that the 1043cc inline four isn’t the most thrilling to use, but for touring it ticks every box and delivers economy figures in the high 40s mpg range.

In fact, it is such a smooth motor you never really feel the need to mute the Versys’ power, so while the new four rider modes are all very well and good to have, in reality you only need ‘Road’.

The up/down shifter’s action could be slicker, especially at lower revs, but it works well as the revs increase and the ABS and traction control are noticeable only by the fact they seldom make their presence felt, which is a good thing.

2021 Kawasaki Versys 1000 S engine

Reliability & build quality

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

You shouldn't worry too much about Kawasaki Versys 1000 problems - it has been around for nine years now and is a solid machine with a proved track record of reliability.

The inline four motor has a service indicator on the dash (this arrived in 2019) to help remind you when it is time to get it looked at, which is helpful if you forget it is every 7500 miles. Owners report the finish is generally fairly high, although we don't have any reviews of this new bike.

Build quality on the Versys 1000 isn't the most modern-looking for 2021, but it's functional. Think of the Kawasaki as the value end of the scale of sports tourers.

Our Kawasaki Versys 1000 owners' reviews show nothing to concern you at this point.

Value vs rivals

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

When you consider the base model BMW S1000XR is £14,290, KTM 1290 Super Duke GT is £17,249 and Ducati Multistrada V4S is £15,495, the new higher spec Versys S still represents good value for money at £12,999 in stock trim or £14,699 in fully-loaded GT as tested here.

The KTM Super Duke GT is essentially a standard Super Duke with a taller screen and slightly more upright riding position, but it's a real animal to ride when you turn the wick up and its LC8 V-twin engine is infinitely more characterful than the four-pot in the Kawasaki.

And the Ducati Multistrada V4 is in another league altogether - as it should be for the price - with its intoxicating Italian V4 power and sportsbike-esque handling, despite being tall, upright and comfy over distance.

In its new S guise the Versys isn’t now left lacking in terms of spec (aside from its disappointing dash) and if you do want a bit of extra bling, spend £1900 more to gain the SE with its Skyhook semi-active suspension.

It remains the best value 17-inch wheel adventure bike on the market, however the gap has closed a bit due to the upgrade and the S is £1699 more than the outgoing Versys 1000 model, which is quite a hike.

Twin test: Kawasaki Versys 1000 S vs BMW S1000XR

Kawasaki Versys 1000 S vs BMW S1000XR

One of the main rivals to the Kawasaki Versys 1000 S is the BMW S1000XR. The BMW is a chunk of change more expensive than the thrifty Kawasaki, but is also arguably the bike to beat in the world of road-biased, sporty adventurers. We took both machines around the UK’s toughest test route, the MCN 250 to see which would come out on top.

Seeing as this comparison is focused quite heavily on price, we should probably start by addressing the elephant in the room. Is the Kawasaki’s £12,999 price tag cheap in the first place?

In the adventure bike market it could certainly be argued that it is because despite upping the price by almost £1700 in its transition from base Versys to Versys S, the Kawasaki still sits very much at the value end of the ladder when you take into account its spec.

To get anything similar from BMW you need the £16,225 XR TE, Ducati’s Multistrada V4 will set you back £15,495 and a KTM 1290 Super Duke GT is £17,249 (although it has a few extra bells and whistles). So in this context, let’s say it is a reasonable price, even more so at £139.58 per month on PCP (Feb 2021).

In the cold light of day, it is very hard to argue against the Versys as being the better value bike and the one more suited to its role as an adventure tourer, especially two-up.

Kawasaki Versys 1000 S on the road left side

The XR is fun and delivers a proper sporty ride but in base trim it lacks so many of the bits that modern motorcyclists expect and that means inevitably you will end up with the TE, which is another whack of cash whereas with the Versys you can buy the S and be happy (although most still opt for the fully-loaded GT model).

If you are moving from a sportsbike the Versys will feel like a downgrade. Not only it is heavier than the XR, it is bulkier with a taller screen, squishier seat, softer suspension and more relaxed motor that lacks the BMW’s free-revving nature (all traits that make it a far better machine than the BMW when it comes to covering miles).

If, however, you still have that lust for a sportsbike but your wrists are telling you the days of clip-ons are behind you, the XR doesn’t feel like you have traded running shoes for carpet slippers. Its firmer ride, more compact position and noisy and a bit vibey motor give it real spirit at the expense of creature comforts.

Which is the better value? You can have a stock Versys S for £3226 less than an XR TE and the only things you will be lacking is semi-active suspension (which you can have on the SE), hill start and keyless ignition. So if you are happy with these compromises, at 46mpg that gives you 27,480 miles of fuel already paid for, which will get you to Cape Town and back!


4 out of 5 (4/5)

The S is effectively an SE with its Showa semi-active suspension replaced by conventionally-damped units.

2021 Kawasaki Versys 1000 S dash

That said, compared to the outgoing Versys you now get heated grips, cornering lights, an up/down quickshifter, four integrated rider modes that link to the traction control system (it only had two non-linked power modes before) and a TFT dash with smartphone connectivity built in to go with the cruise control and angle-sensitive ABS and traction control that the old bike had.

In terms of Kawasaki Versys 1000 specs, it is hard to think of anything that it is missing aside from possibly hill start control and active cruise control. The dash, however, is a touch disappointing in comparison to rival units as it is mainly black and white (the background colour can be changed) with only small bits (the N for neutral or a bit of background) actually colour.

Base model Kawasaki Versys 1000 launched for 2022

In 2021 Kawasaki released an entry-level Versys for 2022. Joining the S (£13,099) and and SE (£14,999) models, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 price is £10,399 for a standard version and it won’t have cornering lights, TFT screen or the integrated riding modes of its siblings.

The standard machine does offer the accessory option to add an up/down quick shifter, large windscreen, heated grips and hand guards plus the accessory pannier and top case luggage options common to the other machines in the 2022 Versys 1000 range.


Engine size 1043cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 16v, inline four
Frame type Twin-tube, aluminium
Fuel capacity 21 litres
Seat height 840mm
Bike weight 255kg
Front suspension 43mm, Showa forks, adjusta-ble rebound and spring pre-load
Rear suspension Single rear Showa shock, ad-justable rebound and (remote) spring preload
Front brake 2 x 310mm petal discs with four-piston radial calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 250mm single disc with one-piston caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 49 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost £150
New price £12,999
Used price £8,800 - £13,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 118 bhp
Max torque 75.3 ft-lb
Top speed 140 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 225 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

    • 2012: Original Versys 1000 launched with Z1000-based motor, quirky styling and dual purpose tyres. Great to ride and stonking value.
    • 2015: Major update with new styling, engine upgrades (up 2bhp to 118bhp), a slipper clutch, road tyres, traction control, and an 11kg weight increase (mainly from a sturdier subframe to take extra load).
    • 2019: Facelift: full ride by wire, cornering ABS and traction control, riding modes, cruise control, a bigger screen and styling upgrades. SE model has electronic suspension, heated grips, colour TFT screen, a ‘Rideology’ app and a host of minor mechanical and electronic upgrades.
  • 2021: The Versys 1000 is replaced with the Versys 1000 S and the SE gains Showa Skyhook semi-active suspension.

Other versions

The Versys comes in Tourer or Grand Tourer versions. Tourer adds 56l panniers, inner bags and a tank pad for an extra £800 while the Grand Tourer ups this further with a 47l top box and inner bag, fog lights, GPS bracket and frame sliders for £1700 over the stock bike’s £12,999. The Versys 1000 SE is the top of the range model and adds Showa Skyhook semi-active suspension and costs £14,899. It also comes in stock, Tourer or Grand Tourer guise.

MCN Long term test reports

MCN Fleet: Waving goodbye to Kawasaki’s Green Giant

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 with com

Read the latest report

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI VERSYS 1000 (2021 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI VERSYS 1000 (2021 - 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 1000 (2021 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Engine: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £150
3 out of 5 Review of the kawaski versys 1000S
18 December 2023 by Paul brown

Version: S

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £150

Should have been fitted with hill start,also chain adjustment could have been made easier like the adjustment on the Z1000SX this is the reason for my marks

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Brakes are excellent,adjustable screen helps cut wind buffeting,seat comfort ok for around 200miles

Engine 4 out of 5

Engine should be at least 1200cc, as this is one of the heaviest bikes in lts class, riding solo with or without luggage is fine, but carrying a pillion with luggage it could do with a little more power that a 1200cc engine would give it.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Some parts fur up top of yokes and some nuts and bolts

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Running cost are the same as most bikes not to expensive fuel economy.is its strong point around 200 miles a tank

Equipment 5 out of 5

The luggage that this bike comes fitted with is excellent as it gives you around 35kgs it also has heated grips, quick shifter, cruise control,adjustable screen 3 different rider modes, bluetooth cornering lights,lean angles duel screens, also night and day color screns

Buying experience: I bought the bike new from a dealer the price should have been 15,000 pounds but I payed 13,000 pounds as the bike was pre registered but had no mileage, I also bought a lowered seat, and a suspension lowering kit, this is why i bought the S model and not the SE because I would have had eletronic suspenion issues

5 out of 5 Old man's review
09 August 2022 by Rod

Version: s

Year: 2021

Easier to live with than the very fast KTM 1290 SAS I had before it. I made a laminar lip to reduce wing noise a bit. Screen never gave any buffeting unlike the KTM. Has plenty of torque in the right part of the rev range. Seat should be more comfy but it may just need more then the 8000 km of riding I have done. Air Hawk on the seats helps. I've only had the lean angle down to 36 degrees but the handling and the rider modes, ICU etc are all good things. Had a Ninja 1000 2018 for 10000 kms but it wasn't as comfy and didn't seem to be a better handler. QS isn't great but isn't needed in normal riding. Works above 4000 rpm OK.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Ultimate all rounder for road. Not off road.

Engine 5 out of 5

Very smooth, but my other bike is an MT 01.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

All the body work is a bit fiddly if you have to take it off,

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Fairing bits are a bit expensive. Mine fell over in a huge freak wind gust and damaged a left side bit which cost $400A

Equipment 5 out of 5

Michelins seem good but the stock tyres were OK.

Buying experience: $21600 Ride away with heated grips.

4 out of 5 Replaced aging GTR1400, no regrets so far!
08 August 2021 by Gordon

Version: 1000 S

Year: 2021

The comfort seat isn't! Water flows from the hand guards onto your gloves in heavy rain due to the partial lip on the upper edge!

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

The pillion seat gets a thumbs up from my wife, I find the rider seat uncomfortable after about 40 minutes. Suspension excellent as are the full LED lights. TFT screen seems good. Love the quick shifter but have no opinion yet on the lean angle lights, however, it might be useful to be able to turn them all on manually in poor visibility. Overall, very happy with Versys. I'm sure there are better adventure tourers available but at what price?

Engine 5 out of 5

Not turbine smooth like my previous GTR1400 but still excellent, in all modes. Enough power for me but others may want more.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Only ridden 1000miles so gave 5 as nothing has gone wrong and no reason to expect otherwise.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

50mpg+ even in sports mode, reasonable price for radiator guard. Didn't opt for engine bars as seemed expensive compared to after market prices.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Again, enough for me but the SE has the Skyhook suspension, at around £2k more. Wasn't prepared to pay that.

Buying experience: Bought from Kawasaki Autorama, Batley. Very good experience dealing with Brian. Current lack of stock in the country makes deals harder but I was well looked after.

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