Kawasaki Versys 1000 Test Ride Review
2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Kawasaki Versys 1000 Review

Bike Tested: 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 15.75 lakhs

The Versys 1000 is not only fast but will also conquer all Indian terrains effortlessly

We have seen motorcycle travel enthusiasts touring on the jumbo Kawasaki ZX-14R as well as on the Suzuki Hayabusa. Not just locally or near by outskirts but a good distance of 1000+ kms across the state. What simple point we are making is today there are motorcyclists who have entered that premium luxury segment of motorcycle touring. And boy oh boy what heighten sense of pleasure I’m sure these riders must be experiencing. Only catch, bikes like the ZX-14R or the Busa are not the ideal machines for going the distance with your home loaded on the rear seat; and the pillion being out of question. Kawasaki had brought in many of the big boys here in India and the Versys 1000 was due on cards. Year 2015 saw the bike land here on Indian shores, ready for pure magical touring days ahead. It is the answer to all those who have been craving to own a litre class motorcycle for sport touring agenda.

Motor Quest: Kawasaki first unveiled the Versys 1000 at EICMA 2011, with sales starting from 2012. The bike was given an update last year, being showcased at the Intermot show. Kawasaki launched the Versys 1000 in India earlier this year and the name is derived from the word versatile.

The Kawasaki Versys 1000 has just the right elements for pure eye candy

Styling – If you happen to see the previous model of the Versys 1000, in a split second you will realise that the Kawasaki factor was missing on that bike. The styling of the headlamps and curvature of the front in all bikes of Kawasaki have their distinct cool quotient echoing out loud. That’s the first thing the manufacturer has brought down on the table. The new styling of the dual lamps and the design dynamics are totally new and cool on this 2015 version. Now we can say that it grins at you in that trademark Kawasaki look. It has a similarity to its elder brothers under the same line but nevertheless the Versys 1000 is unparalleled of all. Unique in stance and magnificent in appearance. The position of the name and brand are apt. And the bike looks clear and polished in this rebirth form. Nowhere did we felt that Kawasaki has gone overboard on turns or tabs.

This litre bike is well proportioned and has top notch quality all around

On first look we did feel the fairing might not be strong enough for taking on some vibes and hits but we were proven wrong. For looks can be deceiving, the fairing is mounted well to give you a strong attached feeling and the fibre is of sturdy quality. I think it is rightful to say that Kawasaki has never compromised on build quality. Rear end too has been given a clean and crisp development. Right from the grab rails to the positioning of the saddle mounts, everything looks in balance., specially the saddle mounts. It blends in so well that even without the box, the bike looks delightful. Nothing sour hits you in the eye.

The Versys has a semi-digital instrument cluster where the tachometer is analogue

Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – The Versys 1000 comes with pretty standard controls which we are accustomed to after riding other bikes from the company. On the left switchgear you have the selectors switch to toggle through the dash along with the pass button, horn, high and low beam switch with turn indicators and hazard lights. On the right are the very obvious, kill switch and ignition start up. You can just push the arrow and bring the values on the display; whichever you are looking for. There’s the odometer, trip meter, average as per fuel consumption, range, fuel gauge, temperature, thermometer and clock are the stuff seen on that plush screen. Warning indicators are located on the top side of it. And the nimble face tachometer adjacent on the left.

High quality buttons are easy to get used to, these control power modes

The selector switch also gives you control over the KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control). You can choose the power delivery and traction setting as per your requirement. Just press SEL for more than a second and it goes in the toggle mode. H for the full power option; L cuts the power by 25% and determines how hard the throttle comes on, makes the power delivery smoother. KTRC modes – 3 being for rain, 2 for street urban riding and 1 for aggressive street riding. You can also turn traction control off to let yourself loose at times. You can also add a 12V power outlet to either sides or on both, suit yourself. You can even order an after market gear indicator to use in that socket, comes useful at times. So this pretty much sums up the cockpit of the bike, simple and tasteful from Kawasaki.

Very few bikes come close to offering such splendid comfort like the Versys 1000

Ergonomics – The seat is nice and slim in the front, wide little behind. It is quite comfortable for the rider as well as the pillion. Overall length is quite long, there’s plenty of space for two people. Now of all, I am 5’8″ and I had no trouble handling the bike. I must admit that my feet don’t reach the ground flat but the overall structure of the bike is such that even a guy under 5’8″ will be able to handle this big machine. The rubber mounted foot-pegs and foot-peg plate keeps all the vibrations to none. And my reach to the handle bar is just right as per the thumb rule (generally we sit on the bike and close our eyes; then we raise both hands and drop towards the handle where we feel is right, the closest you reach your mark the better for you). Tall riders will find joy on this bike but someone below will also find satisfaction in the ergonomics. Putting the bike on the main stand can’t get easier than this and the Kawasaki mirrors give you a clear, obstruction free view of who you are leaving back in the dust. In add-on accessories, we think the lever guards mounted on the handle will give an adventure touch to the motorcycle.

The 1000cc powerplant is a super smooth operator with terrific refinement levels

Performance – The 1.0-litre inline-four motor strapped on a twin-spar aluminium frame is a heavy duty machinery. This refined mill from Kawasaki now packs a bragging 118 BHP of power; increase by 2 horses over its predecessor and delivers a torque value of 102 Nm. Now what does this mean? It shows that Kawasaki has left no stone unturned as far as it comes to the motor of this bike. The performance of this engine is crisp right from the start. As you ascend higher you unravel the potential this machine holds. If only I could wish for something then it would be Kawasaki to deviate the heat from the bike further away. Not that the current blow bothers considering we were in jeans and not the preferable riding pants. And this situation arises only in the traffic. So not much of an issue worth a thought.

The Versys 1000 can make a locomotive train look standstill, it’s so fast

Open the throttle to be shocked, the Versys 1000 moves like a cannonball

The 6-speed box offers very effortless gear shifts on the Versys 1000, it also comes with a slip function for those aggressive downshifts when you want to ride this bike fast. I was expecting the clutch to be a little hard but it turned out satisfying, being lighter than the intensity I had imagined. That of course makes the quick shift rides a little less painful. The exhaust sound is an envious note to its competitor. In fact, all exhaust notes of Kawasaki’s 800cc plus bikes are music to the ears. I don’t think there is a need to go for an aftermarket hooligan when you have a superior device hooked on from the factory itself.

Doing the double ton requires no effort as the Versys 1000 does it swiftly

With a lot of power on board, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 offers thrilling performance should you feel the very need for speed. Open the throttle hard and fast, and it leaps ahead with supreme urgency, rushing to its 10,000 RPM redline in no time (the redline seems less by Kawasaki standards as their engines usually hit upwards of 13,000 RPM). If you aren’t used to riding big bikes, the Versys will surely scare you silly the first time you twist your right wrist hard but fret not because the traction control system (KTRC) quickly intervenes and cuts power in minute doses to prevent any and all of that wheel-spin. Reaching the ton from standstill takes a mere 3 odd seconds and if you keep the throttle pinned, 200 km/hr is seen in a jiffy. Over our 700 odd km ride in three days, we got a mileage of 16 km/l which is good considering the performance on tap.

In spite of the tall height, the Versys 1000 is stable at high speeds

Riding Dynamics – The most important thing in bikes like the Kawasaki Versys 1000 are the suspension and brakes. Sure, power and other factors need to be kept in tone but if the machine has a set back in these two departments, then there’s no purpose in terming them as an adventure sport or sport touring motorcycle. The next generation KYB inverted front forks and the rear monoshock are simply fantastic. The suspension travel is little more than what you get in street bikes and at the rear, you can adjust as per your requirement. Keep it hard on tarmac riding or to tackle fast corners; rush it towards S if you are riding off-road or have a rough trail ahead. Consider to keep it on the most ideal setting with respect to the number of riders and luggage on the bike.

The chassis gives an excellent balance; this bike loves the road less travelled

The twin-spar aluminium frame has been proven extraordinary for this bike. It is the reason why there is more ground clearance and enough room to put a main stand on the bike. The swingarm too seems to have gone under rework to give an improved feel in the overall experience. A quick mention about the tyres, the Battlax from Bridgestone are just the right rubber for this motorcycle. The dry and wet grip with suitable traction control mode selected works best hand in hand. They are not meant for off-road purpose but if by your skill you can work your magic then good for you. Light rough trails it can anyways take on.

Top notch braking hardware helps to stop quickly with confidence

The petal style rotors is a trademark Kawasaki giving, they dissipate heat quickly. Tremendous braking power on this set up given by the Japanese manufacturer, with front and rear ABS as standard. And off course you can use the adjustable lever to keep the setting you feel apt for your style. We love the part that you can adjust the spring load-up on the rear without any tools, makes this machine such a versatile player. Riding on a smooth tarmac highway is in everyone’s grasping. Twist of wrist and phoof… you are gone. It’s the off-road abilities that have left an impressive mark on us. When we rode this bike right atop a mountain, we didn’t have to try hard and make much effort to manoeuvre the bike. Just switching between couple of gears back and forth, and easily we made the summit. It’s here at least I thought that this body is not meant for these kind of indulgence but I was proven wrong (although I presume you have a particular skill set and experience to sail through situations like these).

The Versys 1000 will make you explore places you had never ever thought of

Rider inputs are thoroughly required on sharp corners and turns to swiftly pass them at high speeds; on moderate terms. Honestly this gene of motorcycle has not been on Indian soil before this time. So for anyone it will take a while to embed riding adventure and surely this machine will show you new doors in your endeavour. To be concise, I am not sure if comparing the Versys 1000 to the likes of Triumph’s Tiger series is the right thing to do but in his own individuality, it’s a blunt instrument of a prodigious rider.

A terrific package from Kawasaki, the Versys offers all an adventure biker wants

Verdict – Even before we rode the bike we knew by the end of the day we are going to find ourselves in all smile and envy position. Kawasaki has brought in the Versys 1000 at the right moment. The black horse is standing tall among its competition. Kawasaki’s trademark styling and stance makes this machine so fashionably applauding. And the standard features of a pure sports tourer cum trail rider makes this bike a great buy for you cowboys out there. The motorcycle sits in the price range of Rs. 15 lakhs, higher than the likes of the Triumph Tigers. But if you understand the zest of motorcycle touring on a Kawasaki, then every penny you spend is going to deliver some bundles of joy to you. In one line, you get style + performance + distinct characteristic and add to that the 2015 refreshed look, the Versys 1000 LT leaves an impression of a majestic sport tourer in that litre class segment.

The USP of the Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT are its touring specific features. You can mount the saddle in under 3 seconds. The rubber mounts makes the bike a vibe free ride. Long runs are fatigue free because of the extra comfortable seating position. And reliability of the Kawasaki package is an instant seller.

There is so much to explore, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 is a perfect companion

What’s Cool

* The new front design and dynamics
* State-of-the-art suspension
* Rubber mountings to eradicate all vibrations
* Super soft comfortable seating
* Easy luggage mounting system

What’s Not So Cool

* Slight wind noise on top side of the helmet (perhaps an aftermarket windscreen can erase this)
* Only available in black colour in India

Alternatives: Triumph Tiger, Suzuki V-Storm

The Kawasaki Versys 1000 can help you reclaim your life

Kawasaki Versys 1000 Specifications

* Engine: 1043cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline-four, 16-valves
* Power: 120 PS @ 9000 RPM
* Torque: 102 Nm @ 7500 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed with slipper clutch
* 0-100 km/hr: 3.1 seconds
* Top Speed: 240 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 16-20 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Twin-spar aluminum
* Suspension: 43 mm KYB inverted forks (Front), Horizontal back-link monoshock (Rear)
* Tyres: 120/70/17 (Front), 180/55/17 (Rear)
* Brakes: 310 mm dual petal rotors with four-piston callipers (Front), 250 mm petal rotor with single-piston calliper (Rear), ABS

Kawasaki Versys 1000 Dimensions

* Length x Width x Height: 2240 mm x 895 mm x 1400 mm
* Wheelbase: 1520 mm
* Ground Clearance: 150 mm
* Seat Height: 840 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 21-litres
* Kerb weight: 250 kgs

Yours truly can’t get his eyes off the Versys 1000, now waiting for Versys 650

Testers’ Note:

“I wasn’t all that excited when I went to pick up the Versys 1000 but a km in the ride and my opinions changed completely. This bike might not look fast but it goes like a rocket. A bit heavy initially, one gets used to it quick and the seats are just fabulous. Love the hardware that Kawasaki has put in and all the systems work in sync beautifully. I sat pillion and loved the comfort but with the side mounted saddles, it’s difficult to climb onto the rear seat.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“I found the Kawasaki Versys 1000 to be huge but a very comfortable, practical (except for the seat height) and a good performing motorcycle. The in-line four revs go on like a lullaby (fast but redline comes in quick) as the bike sounds really very sweet. This Kawasaki machine has created a personal benchmark for me for any other adventure class motorcycle I would test further.” – Dhanil Vira, Road Tester, MotorBeam.
“The Versys 1000 sports touring motorcycle is that kind of treatment for bikers which can fix your insomnia problem in the first few kms itself. It is so smooth and spacious that it feels like you are sitting on your mother’s lap. Well is there any need to discuss about the power of the Versys 1000? We don’t underestimate the power of our mother, right?” – Aziz Akolawala, Motorcycle Travel Enthusiast, who ran away on the Versys 1000.
“The bike is great, it is a dream on long distances. Suspension is good, power is great, two up with luggage is a breeze. A friend tried it off-road, he was happy with its capabilities. Mileage is a good 20 km/l, have not ridden above 120 km/hr but can go triple digits on the flick of the throttle.” – Rahul Gavand, Versys 1000 owner, Mumbai.
“This bike is the best sports tourer that I have ridden till date because of its ground clearance and with the bad condition of Indian roads, I love riding the my Versys 1000 without even thinking about the horrible state of the tarmac. With the traction control and ABS, I need not worry even on wet roads and during hard braking. This bike is a keeper.” – Avijit Edbor, Versys 1000 owner, Goa.