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Monday, March 30, 2009

Kawasaki Versys

The 649cc parallel-twin engine as the ER-6n, albeit with some changes to the camshafts and the exhaust headers to produce more grunt lower in the rev range. Smooth and responsive thanks to the use of dual throttle valves in the fuel injection system, the engine is most fun above 4000rpm, where it delivers a zippy surge of power that starts to peter out past 8000rpm. It’s a busy sounding engine, with not much intake noise and a good-natured growl from the stubby underslung exhaust, however it does get chuggy and rough if you let the revs drop below 3000rpm in the higher gears and then try to pull away again. Past that mark, though, it smoothes out beautifully. And although it likes to rev just as much as the ER-6 does, the rewards aren’t as good at the top end. Keep the Versys in its midrange and you’ll get a lively response to any throttle demands, whether it is going for that gap in the traffic, or firing the bike out of a mountain bend. And I’d wager you’ll be doing a lot of both should you buy one, because the Versys is the kind of bike that encourages you toget into it and have a go. As with the engine, the chassis is largely the same as that used on the ER-6n, with some significant changes. The front half of the frame, with its steel tubing that triangulates over and across the cylinder head, is similar, but the rear sub-frame has been beefed up with the addition of trellis style bracing. The rear swingarm isalso chunkier and cops the banana look on one side, tohelp cater for the Versys’ greater wheel travel. The distinctive side mounted rear spring damper idea from the ER-6 has been retained, but the front forks are inverted items. Adjustment on both is limited to spring preload and rebound damping. Ifanything though, the suspension response is the weak link in the bike’s performance. While the Versys feels light and flickable, and steers and handles really sweetly, the excessive firmness of the suspension lets the package down. On smooth roads it wasn’t so much of an issue, but over the bumps and holes found in typical country tarmac, the suspension often felt harsh and unforgiving as it transmitted too many shocks through to the rider.

It’s not a matter of stability, as the Versys can berailed around corners and is great for cutting through traffic congestion. The problem here is comfort. I played with the damping adjusters to see if I could tune it out, but was never able to improve things terribly much. The ER-6 had similar issues and it’s a budget ride, like the Versys, so cost is probably a major factor here. On the upside, access to the adjusters at both ends is good, with the rear shock being very easy to get at. It may have trendy wave discs all round, but the pairof sliding two-piston brake callipers used on the front, and the single-potter on the rear, are also nods to the Versys’ pricepoint. Don’t let the looks fool you,though—they work very well, and the addition of span adjusters not only on the front brake lever, buton the clutch leer as well, is a smart touch. BEYOND FUN The Versys not only makes an excellent funbike, it’s a solid day to day proposition as well. The riding position is terrific, fostering a feeling of total control, and this should be the case for a variety of different sized pilots. The wide bars have a sensible bend, the tank allows plenty of knee grip and the footpegs are smartly placed. The only thing I wasn’t so hot on was the seat, which is on the small side and too hard—my butt was complaining after an hour. The seat looks like a two piece job, but it’s actually a single piece unit, and there’s no storage underneath apart from small cavities for the toolkit and owner’s manual.Pillions get a reasonable looking perch and sturdy grabrails, and when you’re not sharing, the trellis tubes under the sub-frame provide plenty of anchoring points for ocky straps, with additional loops on the pillion pegs. Put next to my Suzuki DL650, the Kawasaki is definitely slimmer,and less bulky. It feels sportier due to the slightly more aggressive riding position, and is taller in the seat as well as being quite a bit lighter (181kg dry compared with 194kg for the V-Strom). However, I’d rate the DL as the more comfortable over the long haul, as its seat is better, the ride position roomier and the suspension plusher. With its 19 inch front wheel, the Suzuki is a true all roader, while the Kwaka’s 17s and sports tyres peg it to the tar.
With just a big white-faced tachometer, a few idiot lights and a single LCD screen for the speedo, fuel gauge, two tripmeters, odometer and aclock, the instrument array is simple and very legible. The mirrors are also pretty good—they get a bit vibey at speed, but are generally okay. The Versys has an adjustable windscreen, although it’s much smaller than the Suzuki’s perspex slab, and quicker to shift as well. You get a choice of three positions, and all of them effectively shove aside some of the windblast, but the price is a fair bit of helmet noise. Fit and finish is generally very good, and the Versys looks like itmight cope with everyday wear and tear better than the ER-6, which has a lot of painted surfaces in vulnerable areas. Some points worth mentioning were the less than perfect fit of the plastic trims under the grabrails and over the rear light, the boot scuffing evident on the footpeg guards, and the ugly look of the muffler from the left side—it’s been well done on the right where the exhaust exits near the tyre, butthe other side looks like an old breadbin. For the money Kawasaki’s asking—$10,990 + orc—the Versys is well in the ballpark. Then again, it would want to be given it is upagainst theclass leading V-Strom 650 that has ABS for $500 less. Buyers might also be considering Euros such as Aprilia’s Pegaso and even BMW’s new G 650s or theF 650 GS. Against these, the Versys has the advantages of price and (in some cases) power and , while I won’t be trading in my DL, some may prefer the slimmer Kawasaki to the bigger Suzuki. They’ll be getting a great little bike. The Versys is quick, and it is pretty comfortable. Most importantly, though, it’s bloody simple to ride, which gives you more available brain space to relax and enjoy the road ahead and the countryside around you.

7 Comments:

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so much for high throttle credibility. versys is clearly a kawasaki motorcycle.

highthrottle said...

Yes your right sir/madam, we are sorry..It was mistake from our end..

Thanks.

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