2021 Kawasaki Versys 650 Test Ride Review
We review the 2021 iteration of the versatile Kawasaki Versys 650.
Bike tested: Kawasaki Versys 650; Road Test No. 1278; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 7,98,480/-
The Versys 650 remains largely untouched for 2021, still carries massive road presence!
The Kawasaki Versys 650 has been in our market for about half a decade now, and it has been a great option in the touring space since. The Japanese giant has shown belief in the model and has launched its BS6 or 2021 model in India recently. For 2021, Kawasaki has left the 650 relatively untouched, and its largely because the package was already pretty neat. However, times have changed and so have the expectations of the ideal customer. Recently, we got to ride the 2021 Versys 650, and we tried to find out whether it is still a good option for the touring bug in you and whether it justifies the hike in the price. Here’s what we think about it!
MotorQuest: Kawasaki first unveiled the Versys 650 to the world, at EICMA 2011, with sales starting soon after. The bike underwent an update in 2014 followed by a major overhaul in 2015. In India, it was once the only Kawasaki bike to be sold through the KTM network that had ABS, and the Indian audience seemed to like the bike as it sold well at one point too.
Styling: The Kawasaki Versys 650 has been a good-looking, radical and sporty tourer offering since 2015, and it has kept roughly the same design for 2021. The bike looks exactly how it used to in its BS4 iteration, and this has its own positives and negatives. Starting with the good bit, the 2021 Versys 650 is probably the most radical touring bike on offer in India and it gives its competition a good run for their money, world-wide as well. The twin headlamp setup along with the air cutouts, sporty fairings, long suspension, and the glossy green accents, make the Versys 650 excellent to look at.
The Versys 650 is good-looking but shows its age in some places
Additionally, the LED taillamp looks great and the well-integrated grab rails add to the sportiness. Coming to the bad side of things, the Versys 650 has started looking a little aged now. While the headlamps look great, they are still halogen in a world full of LEDs. Even the indicators use normal bulbs, which is not something you’d want after spending a good chunk of your money. The mirrors don’t look premium too and look a little out of place. The green mono-shock has now become white too! Moreover, there are no colour options to choose from.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear: Like the aesthetics, the instrument cluster and switchgear of the 2021 Versys 650 remains exactly the same as before. Right in front of your eyes is a semi-digital cluster with an analogue tachometer which enthusiasts will dig. Underneath the tacho is a small LCD display which shows information like real-time mileage, eco mode, range, clock, gear position, trip meters, odometer and the obvious, speed. The setup is pretty basic and feels old, especially in these modern TFT times. The story is the same for the switchgear as it sees no update and gets basic switches along with a hazard light switch. Even though the quality levels are good, this is one criterion where we felt the Versys shows its age and it could definitely use an update here.
Ergonomics: Back in the day, the Versys 650 was one of the most comfortable bikes in the segment, and we’re happy to report that it still is. The seat is wide, long and roomy for the rider as well as the pillion. The rubber-mounted footpegs help to keep the vibrations to a minimum, and they feel good as well. Like any other tourer bike, the Versys 650 gets tall handlebars which, coupled with the centre-set pegs, result in an upright riding posture. Among other things, the bike also gets a tall adjustable windscreen upfront which helps deflect the air and the adjustable levers are a nice touch too. Also, the mirrors do a decent job and one can easily see what they’re leaving behind. However, there is one major issue with the Versys- its seat height. At 840 mm, the 650 is a tall bike for the average Indian and most people will find themselves tip-toeing.
Performance: For 2021, the Kawasaki Versys 650 gets the same 649cc parallel-twin motor which now meets the BS6 norms. Talking numbers, this motor makes 66 PS of peak power and 61 Nm of peak torque. Compared to before, the 650 has lost about 3 PS of power and about 3 Nm of torque, which is not uncommon in these strict norms. However, this isn’t too evident once things get into motion. The motor feels butter smooth from the get-go. The torque is well distributed throughout the rev-range, but if you’re looking for a kick in the pants fun, the Versys misses out on it. This is primarily because the motor feels linear and pulls throughout from as little as 2000 RPM.
Engine characteristics of the Versys are pretty versatile for a middle-weight adventure-tourer motorcycle
A pro is that this makes the motor very versatile in the city as well as the highway. Mated to the motor is the same slick 6-speed gearbox from before, and it gets a slipper clutch too. However, we found the clutch a little hard for our liking, especially in city commuting. Among other things, the Versys does a decent job at keeping its temperament as we didn’t face any heating issues. The top speed of the bike is around 170 km/hr and it takes 5.4 seconds to reach a ton. Lastly, the bike returned 21 km/l during our test, which rounds the total range to about 400 km for the massive 21-litre fuel tank.
Riding Dynamics: The 2021 Versys 650 features top-notch equipment, even though the setup is relatively the same as before. It gets 41 mm Showa USD forks upfront and an off-set monoshock at the rear, both fully adjustable. The suspension travel on offer is good too as the former offers 150 mm and the latter offers 145 mm. The overall setup is good and the Versys’ versatile suspension can tackle anything you throw at it. The ground clearance at 170 mm, though, is a little less than what we usually get in touring offerings. In any case, the Versys definitely won’t thud anywhere.
218 kg is a lot, but the Versys is surprisingly easy to ride
Unlike other tall tourers, the Versys enjoys spirited riding. This is because the bike gets 17-inch wheels at both ends and the diamond frame, which is a proven combination. The wheel size hinders the off-road capabilities a little, though, but Kawasaki claims the Versys to be a tourer and not a hardcore ADV. Braking-wise, the bike keeps the same setup as before too. It gets twin 300 mm front petal discs and a 250 mm rear petal disc paired with NISSIN callipers. The bite and feedback are good and the Dunlop rubber sticks well to the tarmac too. The only thing that limits the Versys’ superb riding dynamics is its weight. At 218 kg, the Versys is pretty heavy and one can feel it while riding slow.
Verdict: At Rs. 7,98,480/- (on-road, Mumbai), the Versys 650 is one of the most affordable middleweight touring bikes in India. This also makes it one of the most value-for-money mile-munchers in the market. Surely it could use some updates like LED lighting, a TFT display, more electronics etc. but that would result in a price bump and we, Indians, aren’t too fond of that. All in all, if someone is looking for a capable mile-munching machine which can take you from A to B comfortably, the Versys 650 is a great bike to consider.
* Engine is versatile and powerful
* Comfort levels are high for the rider as well as pillion
* Good riding dynamics with long-travel suspension is a boon
What’s Not So Cool
* Aesthetics could use an update
* Instrument cluster looks outdated
* Off-road capabilities could be better
* Engine: 649cc, Liquid-Cooled, Parallel Twin
* Power: 66 BHP @ 8500 RPM
* Torque: 61 Nm @ 7000 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed
* 0-100 km/hr: 5.4 seconds
* Top Speed: 170 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 21 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Double Pipe Diamond
* Suspension: 41 mm Showa USD Forks, Offset Monoshock (Rear)
* Tyres: 120/70/17 (Front), 160/60/17 (Rear)
* Brakes: Dual 300 mm Discs (Front), Single 250 mm Disc (Rear), ABS
* Length x Width x Height: 2165 mm x 840 mm x 1400 mm
* Wheelbase: 1415 mm
* Ground Clearance: 170 mm
* Seat Height: 840 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 21-litres
* Kerb weight: 218 kgs