First ride: Chris Walker Kawasaki gives the Versys 1000 a mean makeover


1 of 24

Winter can be a tricky time when it comes to new bike sales, but Chris Walker Kawasaki have come up with two tempting reasons for riders to part with their cash over the festive period. Taking the Versys 1000 and 650, the Grantham-based dealer has created two limited edition models – the wonderfully named Kawasaki Versys 1000 Black Ops and Versys 650 Special Ops. And fair play, both bikes totally transform the slightly challenging Versys’ looks into something far more menacing as well as adding a stack of extras at a massive saving.

The Black Ops is a standard Versys 1000 with £2606 of bolt-ons that include black Kappa aluminum panniers and top box, Oxford heated grips, SW Motech crash bars and sump guard, an adjustable MRA screen, spot lights, brush guards, radiator guards, a tank pad, a carbon Akrapovic can and Pirelli MT60 Corsa tyres. And all this for £11,995 (£500 less without the Akra), which is just £1696 more than a stock bike, meaning you are getting £910 of kit, all fitted, for free. The bike’s warranty isn’t affected, you get the standard tyres as well, and there is even a tempting PCP plan to go with it! And as only 20 Black Ops bikes will be made, it’s exclusive as well as great value. But do the extras enhance the riding experience?


Looking a the chunky Pirelli tyres I was a bit concerned what they may do to the Versys’ handling, but despite their tread pattern the MT60s retain the Kawasaki’s stability and have more than enough grip thanks to a soft rubber compound. The trade-off for such cool looks may be a bit of extra wear, but in winter slime their tread may actually be beneficial! Speaking of winter, the Oxford heated grips are nuclear hot on their highest of five settings and the MRA screen can be adjusted to shelter even the tallest of riders from icy blasts. Add to this the crash protection and quality luggage and not only is the Black Ops cool looking, it’s also a brilliant winter commuter!

I love what Chris and his team has done with this bike. They have transformed the looks of the Versys in a cool and edgy way that Kawasaki would never have thought of and all for a very reasonable budget. The Black Ops is only £195 more than Kawasaki’s official Versys GT model yet has more extras and looks a million times better! If you are considering the GT, I’d give Chris a bell first.

Versys 1000 Black Ops highlights

  • Hard Kappa luggage
  • Crash protection
  • Oxford heated grips
  • Pirelli MT60 Corsa tyres
  • Tall MRA screen, brush guards, spot lights

Kawasaki Versys 650 Special Ops

The Special Ops gains the same extras as the Black Ops, just minus the Akra can, radiator guards and bash plate. It costs £7995, which is £896 more than a stock bike but you get £1702 of extras fitted. The Versys 650 GT is £8499, which is £504 more than the Special Ops! The Special Ops is available on three-year 0% finance or a three-year PCP plan of £100.30 a month, £1000 deposit and £4398 final payment. Like the Black Ops, only 20 will be made.

The facts

Price: £11,995 (£11,495 minus Akra)

Engine: 1043cc (77x56mm) liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16 valve, inline four

Frame: Twin tube aluminium 

Seat height: 840mm

Suspension: 43mm inverted forks, preload and rebound adjustable. Rear: Monoshock, adjustable preload and rebound.

Brakes: 2 x 310mm petal disc, four-piston calipers; 250mm disc, one-piston caliper. ABS

Colours: Black

Available: Now 

Weight: 260kg (wet, est)

Tank capacity: 21 litres

Power: 118.3bhp @ 9000rpm

Torque: 75.2ftlb @ 7500rpm