KAWASAKI VERSYS-X 300 (2017 - on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£120|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Kawasaki Versys-X 300 can do it all, and isn’t that far behind its big brother, the Versys 650. You don’t have to make allowances for it’s a lower capacity. It can tour, commute, and even take on some light off-road.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The riding position is roomy, the clocks - with analogue rev counter - are neat and you've actually got some power to play with. You can cruise comfortably at 80mph and can even increase that to 90mph with no real issues. Sure, the revs are high and it’s a little buzzy, but your fillings aren’t being shaken loose.
It’s only really as you pile on the miles that things start to feel a little less rosy. The seat is too hard, which is probably due to Kawasaki making the padding thin to lower the seat height.
The handling is a pleasant surprise, too. It’s stable and can be thrown around with real confidence on the road. The fairly average Trail Winner tyres are the only limiting factor, but they cope well enough.
In town the clutch is light – one of the lightest I’ve ever tested – and the gearbox feels light but positive. The Versys-X 300 proves you don’t have to make dramatic compromises just because it’s a smaller, cheaper motorcycle.
How does it cope off-road?
This is a bit of a departure from the Versys tradition of cast 17in front and rear wheels and is the reason the 300 gets an X after its name. Why the change?
Kawasaki wanted to give the Versys some light off-road ability, not only to please the Far Eastern market but also to tempt UK riders who may fancy attacking the odd green lane.
The Versys is surprisingly good off-road. The tall riding position allows you to stand up and you can get your weight over the 19in front wheel, which boosts confidence. The power is linear, traction isn’t bad and it doesn’t feel like it’s about to fall apart.
The specs claim the Versys has a tall 845mm seat height due to added ground clearance, but don’t let this put you off if you are short of leg, as the narrowness of the parallel twin’s waist makes it feel considerably lower.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The Versys-X 300 uses the same 296cc parallel twin motor as the Ninja 300 and Z300 (although it has been made Euro4-compliant through new fuel mapping and a bigger cat), and houses it in a pleasingly large frame. Kawasaki claim can cover over 200 miles thanks to 66mpg and a 17-litre tank, too.
Compared to the Ninja 300, the Versys has a three-teeth larger rear sprocket (46 teeth) with the same internal gearbox ratios. On the Versys-X this makes the bike really revvy and at 60mph the parallel twin is buzzing away at over 7000rpm.
Thanks to the secondary balancer shaft there are no irritating vibrations, but it’s not very pleasant as it always feels like the motor is working really hard (I kept checking the gear indicator to see if I was in fifth and not sixth) and that is distracting and annoying. And it is a shame as the rest of the bike is really good.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
In the third week of 2018, the Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations (FEMA) issued a recall on bikes produced in 2017.
This was because vibrations could cause the socket of the brake/rear light bulb to fall out of the lamp assembly. This, in turn would result in a failure of the rear light, meaning a risk to safety. Check with you local Kawasaki dealer to make sure yours has been done.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Despite out-pricing it's main rivals of the BMW G310 GS and Suzuki V-Strom 250 at its inception in 2017, the Versys offers a better package than the competition and won our initial group test at the time - helping to justify its price tag. Also, once you begin to spec-up the GS, the prices become very similar.
The part-digital clocks show a huge tank range – leaving you to just sit back and enjoy the ride. The hand guards and attractive big-bike bodywork provides decent wind protection.
|Engine type||8v parallel-twin|
|Frame type||Steel backbone|
|Fuel capacity||17 litres|
|Front suspension||41mm non-adjustable fork|
|Rear suspension||Monoshock with adjustable preload|
|Front brake||290mm petal disc with dual-piston caliper|
|Rear brake||220mm rear disc with dual-piston caliper|
|Front tyre size||100/90 x 19|
|Rear tyre size||130/80 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£45|
|Annual service cost||£120|
|Used price||£3,400 - £4,300|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||39 bhp|
|Max torque||19 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI VERSYS-X 300 (2017 - on)
8 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI VERSYS-X 300 (2017 - 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£120|
Annual servicing cost: £70
I've been riding for 36+ years and bike technology has definitely come a long way in that time, so I'd start by saying don't be put off by the Versys X 300 'only' being 300cc. Feel wise, the Versys kind of reminds me of an XT600Z Tenere I had years ago, same sort of riding position, same handling characteristics, same 40 bhp. Ok, so the Versys doesn't have the same bottom end grunt, but like the XT it will quite happily chug away from sub 40mph in six gear, right up to 85+ without any issues. It's a very enjoyable bike to ride with no threatening attributes. It is physically light (unlike the XT) and easily manoeuvrable yet retains a 'big bike' feel. For me at least, the Versys X 300 is a cracking bike.
The bike loves twisty, rolling A and B roads which are best tackled in line with the posted speed limits. Personally, I'm no longer interested in getting from A to B at break neck speed, so for me it's a good real world bike which I can ride at a relaxed pace, enjoying the journey without worrying about my licence. As other reviewers have mentioned, the seat isn't the best. It puts a lot of weight on your tail bone, but I knew the seat was a potential issue when I bought the bike. Bar risers have helped change the way I sit slightly which has helped a bit, but I will probably get it re-foamed and re-shaped over the winter. No complains in the braking department - they do the job just fine.
What a little gem. Hard to believe it is 300cc and it definitely likes to rev. There is a lovely howl at the top end, and with a bit of judicious gear changing you can hustle along at quite a respectable pace. It's quite satisfying being able to use all of an engines performance to full effect. That said, when you're not in the mood, mid range short shifting works just fine. Clutch-less up shifts are a breeze and I like the slipper clutch which allows me to bang down through the gears without fear of locking up the rear.
It's only done 700 miles in my ownership (2,000 miles total) but so far so good. Nothing has corroded, nothing has broken, nothing has fallen off. Build quality is good - it's not quite Honda good (hence the loss of one star), but if you're going to keep it clean, properly oiled, greased and garaged like I do then it should stay looking good for a while.
I will change the oil and filter myself this year so running costs will be pretty cheap before it's due the first 6,000 mile valve adjustment next year. I'll use a local non-franchised dealer for that so the valve adjustment service shouldn't be too much cause for concern. Fuel wise I'm getting just shy of 70mpg so as far as I am concerned it runs on the tears of squirrels. Tyres will be cheap and will give good mileage, tax and insurance are cheap and oil changes are cheap .
I went for the basic, no frills version as I didn't want the tiny (and in my view almost useless) flimsy Kawasaki plimsole holders (paniers), too small top box or the liquorish OEM crash bars. My four stars are based on the standard basic kit - I know lots of bikes have rider modes, adjustable this and twiddlable that but sometimes less can be more. I like the simple combination of analogue tacho and digital dash. I didn't think I'd use the gear shift indicator, but I do, and I like the fact there's a fuel gauge and a numerical indication of remaining range. Grumbles wise, LED lighting would have been good but I guess Mr Kawasaki has stocks of filament bulbs he wants to use up first. As for farkles, I have fitted SW Motech crash bars (cheaper than a new fairing panel) and centre stand (which should be OEM fitment in my opinion), as well as a set of Givi monokey panier racks. I also fitted a cheap (£10 from Ebay) waterproof double USB socket (I used a genuine Kawasaki relay which just plugged straight in to the wiring loom), so I have USB charging for £30 - that's a good £100 less than Mr Kawasaki's dealer prices. I also fitted some cheap adjustable levers - the stock clutch lever seems to require a freakishly large hand, which mine isn't. The screen works just fine for me (5'9") with a peaked Arai Tour-X helmet - there is no buffeting or adverse wind noise.
Buying experience: Mine is an '18 plate with
Gear ratio could have used a little more thought from the designers. Switchable ABS is a must for an adventure bike. Wheel sizes make finding better off-road tires difficult.
Everyone complains about the seat. More comfortable than my KLX lol.
Performs wonderfully given the funky gear ratios. This little bike wants to go!
Only at 1300 miles at a month and a half in winter, but so far no issues. This is a surprisingly fun little bike. Having ridden a 1200GS in the past, this fiery little beastie is a breath of fresh air!
Dealer charges too much. I’ve been informed that, locally, to avoid warranty issues specifically with Kawasaki, you should have the dealer do all servicing. I know of no other company that has this issue. Not even BMW. With such a wide service interval, not a huge problem for me.
ABS is a must as my son rides it and, well, I’m a dad. Crash bars are actually half decent and acceptable. Handguards are a joke for off-road use. No bash plate, but needs one badly due to the exposed breakables. Luggage is small and kind of cheap compared to the offerings on the larger models but looks okay. Nice to have an available center stand. I’ve chosen to go aftermarket for all of it. The oversized fairing isn’t too big and, with some creativity, should serve for extra storage space and farkle mounting points.
Buying experience: Bought from a local dealer here in Oregon at a highly discounted price with a surprisingly good trade in on my old V-Star.
Annual servicing cost: £60
don't want to repeat what others have said but will add some points. firstly this is not my only bike i have some big bikes mt-01, fjr 1300, bonnie america. i got this bike for the miles of tiny lanes and b roads where i live, you have to take the bike for what it is a cheap versatile m.c, of small cc, that said, this bike is a very good all rounder. and very capable little bike which can surprise and delight. the only thing holding it back is the really uncomfortable seat. it copes with two up riding very well, power aside. but it has gears to cope. i have never ridden a small bike that is as good two up but had bigger bikes which were worse! breva 750 for instance. i'am 17st and my wife is 9st .
ride is good , the suspension is not soft like most bikes of this type, great for back lanes and b roads. brakes are ok not really lacking better than a xt 660 i had.
given 5 because i don't think anyone could do a better job with a 300cc twin! not loads of torque but very flexable little engine. which is happy sitting at 55- 60 but can do more quite easily . top gear from 35 to flat out. even when you think its all over it has a little top end rush at around 10,000rpm great! low gearing but it does make it more flexable in all situations. well done kawasaki. and doesn't seem to mind being revved.
entry level quality, but hope i can make it last with tlc. only done 2k so far in a short time. but cant see why it shouldn't be reliable. does spray crap all over engine and top box even with fender extender.
cheap to run, and does 81mpg with good mix of riding. easy to keep the eco light on. may not so be good with just town work, but still good.
dash is good with lots of info for an entry level bike. i have added, givi crash bars to protect plastics, givi hand guards better than kwaka ones. mra x screen that i already had, makes exellent screen extender with no buffeting. sheep skin for seat, still bad. oxford heated grips very good. extender fender pyramid plastic helps. already had big two helmet kawasaki top box on handy. needs bash plate. standard tyres ok for road and light off road dry tracks only, not great choice for more off road type tyres like the trail bikes of old had. also had center stand on a must.
Buying experience: good deal from kawasaki bournmouth. 2017 bike with 55 miles on it three years old. they fitted the extras free and gave it its first service. and dropped price by £300. best deal and best bike available at the time. very happy. good dealer.
Too much breakable plastic, seat too hard.
Always want more torque, less revs.
Valve adjustments should be longer apart. Senter stand should be standard equipment on this style bike.
Rear rack is favorit, like the farring and wind deflector glass shield. Want steal crash bar protection for farring and metal skid plate. All at 365 pounds wet.
Buying experience: Bought from dealer in June 2019, it was a 2017 Demo bike, 465 miles, green, $4285 all total out the door. Im a very happy customer. It will run 100 mph ! Love the easy slipper clutch, 6 speed tranny ( 15 tooth sprocket easy option ) like the 387lbs.wet weight 29"-17" tires ( might rather have cast wheels, no tubes ? ) Im 62yrs. Old, owned over 60 different motorcycles thruoghout life and different rideing adventures. I am the customer transitioning to the easier lighter to handle bike that I can backup, role around or pickup when I drop it. I really like the 41/2 gallon gas tank and the ability to run fast for distance on the HWY. Fun Fun Fun !!!
Annual servicing cost: £100
A pleasure to ride as a down size if option. Light and responsive, I’ve ridden it to Le Mans and done some decent green laning, it really can do it all.
Good fun in the twisties , brakes are adequate, surprisingly good off road.
It can cruise on the motorway at 80mph. You have to get used to the revs. This engine needs and loves to rev to get the best out of it. It will however pull from 30 to top speed in 6th on the flat so it’s geared to suit.
I can’t comment on reliability but the finish has stood up to the mud and stones ok so far. I have fitted a sump guard which is a must if you intend to go off road. The finish is not up to the likes of Honda.
100 quid for the first service. The bike will always return 70 -80 mpg even if I thrash it.
What you expect from a new bike on the dash. I had a 12v socket fitted which was handy.
Buying experience: M and p in Swansea sold me the bike for 3950 new. Bargain and great service.
Annual servicing cost: £120
I got a 2018 model new for 3900 from m and p motorcycle in South Wales. I want to take a step down form my usual 1 litre horse power and try touring and green laning maybe be with a bit of TET chucked in. this bike has been such an impressive all rounder, I have toured through France, scratches along back roads and done some proper muddy green laning on it and have a lot of fun. I sometime miss the bhp but thrashing the little Kawasaki is very satisfying.
Handles in the twisters really well. Handles trails well enough.
Incredibly flexible for only 300cc’s will hold 80 on the motorway all day. Will pull in 6th from 35mph. It’s is low geared though
Only a year old so no problems . Quality of the finish is entry level. The plastics near the pegs have scuffed a bit from a combination of mud and standing on the pegs. all the co trolls feel like decent quality.
Regular servicing is required due to high revs but it’s simple and cheap. First service cost me £100 Genuinely does over 70 to the gallon in my commute. Which is dual carriageway and B roads.
Usual dash options you would expect on a new bike. 12v socket is a nice option.
Buying experience: Great support by m and p swansea and great support by Cornwall Kawasaki for serving.
Version: w/ ABS
Annual servicing cost: £250
Not my first motorcycle, and I've been looking to downsize a bit while having a reliable commute motorcycle. Something that can do everything, just doesn't have to be the Top-Of-The-Class. I have been commuting for one month how, quite happy with the results. Lightweight, EFI, decent power (40hp), averaging 62mpg, absolute fun running through the gears, doesn't vibrate, upright position. Quirks: Hard seat, limited luggage options (Still looking for a GOOD trunk), low gearing (thinking about swapping out the front sprocket 14-tooth to 15-tooth). I've owned a Honda Rebel 250 in the past. Commuted for a couple years on that (27,000 miles) but was always apprehensive about hills and riding into a headwind. With the X-300, I'm unconcerned. I've literally NEVER been in a situation where I did not have enough power to maintain the speed limit. Even in Texas (85mph), I still had room to spare. It's not a speed demon, but 95% of my commute is 40-45mph, and it's very happy in that range - comfortable too. I've only ridden it a month, and no weekend trips yet, we will see how it does. (Previous bike was V-Strom 1000, loved it, commuted a lot, but my son convinced me to sell it to him) Overall, got a great deal on a new 2017 (still showroom model), insurance is CHEEEEAAPP, MPG is great, least-expensive commute I've had since the Rebel.
Great brakes (disc front and rear) and lightweight - stops FAST, and not as worried with ABS built-in. I know people say you can disable it for off-road use by removing the fuse, but 90% of my riding is for commuting to/from work, so I've left it.
Engine starts, runs smoooooth. It is an absolute blast to leave the stoplight, run up through the gears and NOT find yourself accidentally going 145mph. It's fun, yet safe. 40hp is decent for hauling me to work and back, but I've yet to be in a situation where I ran out of power (unofficial top-speed=100mph). Engine loves to rev, is extremely happy at 6k rpm at 55mph, redlines at 12,800.
Excellent quality, solid, everything works. Still new to me (showroom floor 2017 model) so I'll report back later on changes.
Only had one oil change ($50), and I'll do some my self, but maintenance seems to be very easy for this model. Mileage about 62mpg average, giving me almost 250-miles per tank. Insurance is cheap.
So far, purchased one aftermarket trunk, still not easy to mount (universal brackets were a joke.) Still hoping for larger trunk and availability of other accessories. Tough to find them in stock. Tires are great. I'd love the windscreen to be slightly taller. Simple hand-guards would be nice too.
Buying experience: I found my bike as a floor-model demo 2017 (bought in 2019) that STILL nobody bought it. Got it for $750 off, and only had 100 demo miles on it. Dealer was A) happy to sell it, and B) I added a nice +4 year extended warranty with it for the difference. I ended up with a great commuter, inexpensive, great mileage, lightweight, comfortable upright seating, and FUN FUN FUN!
Annual servicing cost: £150
Overall I like the bike. It is comfortable and keeps up with traffic. Where it is weak is in build quality. I have owned the bike for a year. It was pre-registered so I got it with 14 miles on the clock. It has been on wet roads about three times but despite cleaning it after each trip the spokes are pitting and the exhaust is rusting.
For its size the engine is very good. It revs quite highly and can feel quite buzzy but overall good.
The bike has panniers but they are very narrow and only hold 6lb each which is next to useless.