MCN Fleet: Is Versys a match for GS?

MCN Sports Editor Michael Guy compares Kwak’s comfort to the iconic BMW.

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Last year I covered 16,000 miles on a BMW R1200GS Adventure, the epic round-the-world mile-muncher. In eight months of ownership it never once disappointed, and that included a few 600-mile days across the Alps. When I took delivery of the Versys 1000 this year I was expecting it to feel a poor relation to the GS, but after 1200 miles that simply isn’t the case.

The GS was a luxurious place to be wide seat, great wind protection, an overwhelming sense of mass and stability, plus enough creature comforts to keep you occupied on the longest journey. But even putting the Versys up against this revered benchmark, it doesn’t disappoint.

The ergonomics of the Kawasaki are mightily impressive, plenty of legroom means knees aren’t too bent and the footpeg, seat and handlebar relationship appears spot on for my 5ft 10in frame. The stock screen, like the GS, is adjustable, but even on its highest setting it doesn’t give the level of wind protection you’d expect.

The characters of BMW’s 1200 boxer twin and the Kawasaki’s 1000cc inline four are worlds apart, but in reality they both offer the same easy and relaxed cruising at fast motorway speeds. The Versys engine is ultra-smooth, there are no vibes which means tingle-free hands even after hours on the bike. It also delivers near-identical MPG to the BMW – it’s currently just over 44mpg – but it lacks the huge range of the GS with its 30-litre fuel tank. 

My gut feeling is that the Versys would handle a long day in the saddle with ease. The addition of a higher screen and hand guards would make the experience easier still, but even in bog-standard trim I would be unfazed if I was told I had to ride to the south of France in the morning. So to answer the question – it’s a yes. The Versys is capable of munching big miles to same degree as the BMW. It will deliver near-identical MPG and will leave you feeling fresh when you disembark at the other end. It may lack that last few per cent of refinement, luxury and long leggedness, but it’s also £3251 cheaper.

Click here for more on my Kawasaki Versys 1000 bike.


Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider