With its new Showa forks and KYB rear shock (with remote preload adjuster) the supple ride quality belies the Kawasaki’s budget price tag and handling is soft, but agile and reassuring. New Dunlop D222 sports touring tyres (which are actually a cheaper, single-compound version of the French firm’s RoadSmart) offer decent grip, while uprated front brake pads, ABS and a 30mm larger diameter rear brake disc give you more confidence on the brakes. The improvement in rear power will be a blessing when carrying a pillion. The Versys 650 is comfy on the long haul and the new taller, manually-adjustable screen and wide tank protect your head, shoulders and knees from high speed windblast. A new 21-litre tank is two-litres bigger than before and if the on-board computer is to be believed, the motor is nice and frugal, returning 56mpg.
The 649cc parallel twin-cylinder engine has an extra 5bhp and 2ftlb of torque (200rpm further up the revs). It’s still packed with lots of low-down and midrange grunt, but really you’d be hard pushed to notice the extra oomph over the old model in isolation. In fact it feels a little less spritely, due its heavier new wheels, fairing and sturdier subframe (to take the new accessory pannier and top box fitting system), which adds a hefty 8kg to the Kawasaki’s all-up weight. But you do notice the lack of vibes from the motor. They used to run through you like an electric shock and blur the mirrors on the old models, especially the ’06 original, but not now, thanks to the new front rubber engine mounts.
Read through reader reviews of the previous-model machines and you’ll see nothing but glowing reports, so expect more of the same dependability for this bike. It’s a well-finished machine and there are no clues to its budget price tag. Nice touches include the petal brake discs, ‘banana’ swingarm, remote preload adjuster, adjustable screen and ABS.
The Versys 650 is now better value than ever. It’s more versatile and can be used for everything from popping to the shops to travelling across Europe.
Insurance group: 9 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
Standard equipment is sparse, but there’s a wide range of accessories available. In the UK there’s also a ‘Tourer’ version, with panniers (and liners) and handguards and a ‘Grand Tourer’ with panniers, liners, a top box, hand guards, fog lamps, gear position indicator and a12v power outlet.