First introduced to the U.S. in 2008 as a non-California compliant 49-state model, Kawasaki’s Versys 650 immediately earned praise from journalists, experienced riders, and commuters who could appreciate its practical blending of a nimble sporting motorcycle – and – a truly comfortable chassis. Motorcycle.com’s loudest complaint about the original Versys was merely that it wasn’t legal in California, and even that fact couldn’t stop it from earning 2008 Motorcycle of the Year honors from one of the largest U.S. print mags.

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Kawasaki made the Versys legal everywhere in 2009 when it achieved California compliance. The 2010 update saw numerous small tweaks aimed at taming vibrations and minor cosmetic changes with the styling of its headlight while also eliminating an area of the upper fairing that loudly resonated, causing its panels to vibrate against each other at certain revs. The 2013 model Versys 650 gained ABS brakes in North America, a feature the rest of the world got in 2012.

2008 Kawasaki Versys Debut

This brings us to the rugged Italian island of Sicily for the press launch of the upgraded and significantly re-styled 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS and 650 LT sport/adventure motorcycles alongside their bigger brother, the Versys 1000 LT.

Versys 650

Upright seating and relaxed footpeg positions yield an accommodating ergonomic triangle suitable for commuter use or touring jaunts. The LT version pictured here adds saddlebags and hand guards to the standard Versys ABS.

The 2015 Versys 650 LT was a hugely entertaining motorcycle to hustle along the tight, twisty Sicilian roads that are so familiar to older race fans, being the actual surface and several segments of the original route used for the legendary Targa Florio. Unsurprisingly, the new LT also remained comfortable and unflustered over the cobblestone streets, rough country lanes – and everywhere else on the island – something a modern superbike could never hope to achieve.

I’ve always suspected that the Versys’ riding position, particularly the bend and positioning of its handlebars, was just about perfect for transitioning back and forth through tight curves, making it seem like the Versys has honest sporting prowess baked right into its soul. That is something Versys class competitors like the Honda NC700X or Suzuki V-Strom really can’t offer, as they simply lack the nimbleness, feedback, and outright pace when the going gets truly fast. Those performance traits seeped-through every pore as we flogged the 650 LTs over the serpentine volcanic roads along the slopes of Mt. Etna.

The face of the new Versys is much more handsome than the awkward schnoz of the previous version. Additional wind protection is provided by a larger and adjustable windscreen.

The face of the new Versys is much more handsome than the awkward schnoz of the previous version. Additional wind protection is provided by a larger and adjustable windscreen.

Kawasaki wisely decided to update the homely face of the Versys 650 with a new upper fairing and sleek side-by-side headlights inspired by Kawasaki’s Ninja models. The new “Kawasaki Face” effectively transforms both the 650 and the (previously hideous) Versys 1000 directly into, dare I say, pretty motorcycles. As an added bonus, the new fairing upper is larger than the outgoing version and mounts a taller and wider windscreen that can now be height-adjusted without any tools.

The added protection of the larger fairing and screen were much appreciated, as the press ride took our group through chilly temps and a fairly heavy rain shower. Weather management was fairly effective, diverting water into areas of the slipstream that channeled around instead of splashing-into me. Also appreciated, were the LT model’s standard hand guards which reduced the soaking around my hands and wrists, as well lessening the wind-chill factor. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me: better looking and more effective.

Kawasaki switched to a new one-piece exhaust design that they claim boosts high-rpm power. I really didn’t notice much of a difference in thrust during our ride; what I did notice was that the 2015 model’s redline has actually been lowered by 500 rpm to 10,000, a fact Kawasaki didn’t mention in the technical briefing. Another one they didn’t mention: the 2015 engine’s compression ratio is now listed as two tenths higher, from 10.6:1 to 10.8:1. They did, however, mention that the bike’s ECU tuning has been tweaked to improve fuel efficiency, but they did not have details to share.

Definitely worth sharing is the fact the 2015 model received a half-gallon fuel capacity boost thanks to a new tank with a wider top section. Coupled with the ECU tweaks, Kawasaki claims the 2015 model’s 5.5-gallon tank will take it farther than ever. I average right around 140 miles between fill-ups on my own 2009 (5-gallon) Versys, but I’m a very aggressive rider. The average commuter or tourer should see close to 200 miles or more between fill-ups on a 2015 model.

The Versys received a rubber-isolated upper-rear engine mount for the 2010 model, but Kawasaki has now isolated the pair of front mounts in a continued attempt to quell the natural vibes of the 180-degree crank in its 649cc parallel-Twin powerplant. While they were at it, they swapped the handlebar mounts to rubber-equipped units as well. The 2010 modification was of only minor benefit, as it made marginal difference to overall vibration levels.

Vibration-reduction strategies on the new Versys nicely shield a rider from objectionable tingles.

Vibration-reduction strategies on the new Versys nicely shield a rider from objectionable tingles.

However, it took less than a mile of riding to discover that those two new rubber engine mounts and the isolated bars have taken the Versys 650 ABS and LT models into entirely new territory: parallel-Twins that actually feel smooth in the real world. The overwhelming impression compared to previous models is one of refinement – no rattling noises, no tingling body parts, just nice, usable thrust easily accessible for whatever a rider desires.

Speaking of rattles and rider annoyances, older Versys models seem to suffer from overly notchy shifting that could occasionally even be described as clunky. Kawasaki didn’t make any claims for gearbox refinements, but I and a couple fellow editors believe our 2015 test bikes were noticeably more smooth and quiet when shifting compared to any previous Versys we’d ridden. So that’s a definite positive.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT Preview

Now for a definite negative: The bikes we tested were all equipped with a full complement of Kawasaki accessory items, including electric grip warmers with three heat levels. The problem is that the right grip gets much warmer than the left grip. In high-heat mode the right grip got uncomfortably hot during our rainy 55-degree test ride, while the left grip felt nicely warm. The disparity remained consistent at other heat levels, the right grip comfortable at medium heat with the left grip barely warm, etc. It’s an issue that several other editors noticed as well, so it’s tough to blame it on a one-off or poor installation.

This knob for the hydraulically adjustable shock preload allows easy tweaking to accommodate various loads.

This knob for the hydraulically adjustable shock preload allows easy tweaking to accommodate various loads.

The Versys in my garage has lived almost its entire life with its rear spring preload maxed-out and the shock’s rebound damping slowed as much as practical. But even with the rebound damping adjuster maxxed, my bike will still spring back like a pogo following large impacts and G-outs. Prior to the press ride, I was worried Kawasaki’s deletion of the rear rebound damping adjuster would result in even more of a pogo effect from the 2015’s new KYB shock. But after a full day of riding, I am glad to report that even without an adjuster, the new rear shock’s rebound characteristics are not any more pronounced than what I experience on my own bike. Furthermore, the remote adjuster for spring preload is a great addition compared to the old ramped collar, allowing easy roadside adjustments with the twist of a wheel. Its right-side location requires a little throttle juggling to fine-tune while in motion.

The new Separate Function Fork (SFF splits damping and preload functions to separate sides, one leg changes rebound damping, the other leg changes spring preload) works well with the rear shock, with the same amount of control and slightly less harshness than the previous model. A decent suspension coupled with a narrow chassis and an upright riding position have always made the Versys greater than the sum of its parts, and the 2015 model’s suspension changes have resulted in an improved ride without suppressing the bike’s fun-loving personality.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT Test

The Versys 650 has always been great at the around-town shuffle.

While tweaking the suspension and handling, Kawasaki reached-out for a new tire. Dunlop responded with a Versys 650-specific version of the Sportmax D222. Like most modern sport-touring tires, grip levels are very impressive in the wet or dry. The D222s offer easy turn-in and quick response across the center of the tread, and I think they make a good match for the Versys’ personality while offering what should be a respectable service life.

Easily my favorite 2015 dynamic upgrade is the new Nissin front brakes. The calipers use a look-alike “monoblock” style based on the appearance of modern supersport units, but they are really the same bargain basement two-piston pin-slide type caliper design as used on previous models. The real benefit comes from the well-matched pairing of a new front master cylinder with a higher leverage ratio, and more aggressive brake pads offering much more initial bite. The spec may not be terribly impressive, but the response and power represent a definite and confidence-inspiring braking upgrade, especially when speeds start to rise into the fun zone. All 2015 Versys models are equipped with standard ABS which works nicely in front but may be a little too intrusive and even a little clunky feeling in the rear, which uses a new caliper and larger 250mm rear rotor.

Kawasaki is getting its design money’s worth out of these Ninja 1000 bags. They look just as good on the Versys as they do on the green bike.

Kawasaki is getting its design money’s worth out of these Ninja 1000 KQR bags, which are now showing-up on several of their models. They look just as good on this green Versys 650 LT as they do on our white test bike.

Both the Versys 650 ABS and the LT tested here have received a stronger rear subframe that can support more weight. It was designed to easily integrate optional single-key Kawasaki Quick Release (KQR) hard bags which – along with handguards – are standard on the new 650 LT model. Those KQR bags can also be combined with an optional same-key KQR 47-liter Top Case for a total capacity of 103 liters. Like most modern designs, the bags are quick and easy to mount and remove. The mounts blend into into the subframe so as not to compromise the bike’s appearance when riding without bags. Even with an aggressive pace over bumpy roads, there was no detectable flapping or shifting of the bags and no sense of torsional twisting through the subframe. That means Kawasaki did their engineering homework. It also means that adding lightly-loaded bags will have an almost undetectable effect on the bike’s handling. Another nice touch in the new subframe is its clean integration of passenger grab-handles, a feature that is sure to please anyone who finds themselves perched way up there on the rear saddle, a position my wife says feels more like sitting on a high-barstool which makes her somewhat uneasy as a passenger on my Versys. I blame it on the wheelies.

Given its displacement, modest power and practical pricing it’s logical to assume a 650 Versys would be viewed as a “beginner” or “budget” bike, something that makes the following facts all the more interesting: The average Versys owner is a 40-year-old male who is a highly experienced rider and has an above-average household income. The reason for that is simple. Experienced middle-aged riders tend to value comfort, and if they are not cruiser types, they also tend to value real-world performance … and that is precisely what a Versys has always offered.

Riding Gear: Arai Helmet - Signet Q “Zero Red” / Alpinestars Gear - Mono Fuse Gore-Tex boots / Bogota Drystar jacket and pants.

Riding Gear: Arai Helmet: Signet Q “Zero Red” / Alpinestars Gear: Bogota Drystar jacket and pants / Mono Fuse Gore-Tex boots

I’m not alone in my praise for the Versys though; there are a lot of publications attending this combined U.S. / Europe introduction, and the buzz from those editors less familiar with the Versys carries a tone of pleasant surprise regarding how much fun this otherwise unassuming motorcycle is to ride. Other editors who were already familiar with its charms are also saying mostly nice things. In fact, the Editor-in-Chief from a large competing publication summed it up nicely during our mid-ride lunch, proclaiming: “The Versys 650 has always been quietly brilliant.” Like me, he put his money where his mouth was when he bought one a few years ago.

Leggy riders will appreciate the extra room afforded by the Versys’ upright layout. Even if its seat-to-peg distance remains slightly shorter than ideal for long distance riding, it still has more legroom than any full-on sportbike, and Kawasaki has now repositioned the 650’s footpegs 15mm lower and 20mm further forward relative to the previous model’s.

However, Kawasaki also tried to keep the top of the seat relatively low in the interest of a moderate 33.1 inch stand-over height which is actually just over 5mm closer to the ground than the seat on the outgoing model. Combining the new seat with the lower pegs means net vertical seat-to-peg distance is 10mm longer than last year. Unfortunately, I’m used to the original “sportbike” pegs on my ’09 Versys, so the difference is actually negligible for me. From 2010 on, Kawasaki added thick rubber vibration-isolating pads to the tops of the pegs, eating-up several millimeters of precious legroom in the process. Every little bit helps on longer rides, so I do appreciate their effort. Of course, a change back to the pre-2010 no- rubber-topped pegs would free-up even more legroom … hint.

First Test: 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT

The 10mm increase in seat-to-peg distance means large-limbed folks like Editorial Director Alexander can unkink a little.

Some things in life are free! The bagless 2014 Versys 650 ABS retailed for $7,999, and the new 2015 version -with all the upgrades described above, minus the new bags and hand guards- is still $7,999. It’s great when a new model year vehicle holds the line on price, but all the more impressive when the price stays the same while upgrades are heaped on top. Kudos to Kawasaki for that little trick. Want the integrated hard bags and handguards as well, then get the Versys 650 LT for just $700 more.

At the end of the day, riding this new version has done nothing to change my long-standing assertion that, given riders of equal skill, there are very few motorcycles capable of pulling-away from a Versys 650 over a twisty road. Of the bikes that could (KTM Super Duke 1290 R, BMW S1000R, Superbikes, etc), none would be nearly as affordable to buy and insure, nor as friendly and easy to operate for everyday use.

A Versys 650 LT gets Playful

From a face that only a loyal owner could love to an attractive mount – all in one model year. Here, Sean demonstrates the angle of optimum protection from the elements.

Before wrapping up my review of the 2015 Versys, this author must offer a confession: As a former member of Kawasaki’s marketing team from 2006 through 2013, I helped chase or guide the press rides for almost every new Kawasaki streetbike during that period. I became very much enamored with the Versys platform, and it had nothing to do with the fact that Kawasaki was paying my salary. Au contraire, the issues or flaws that might damn one of their machines are well known to me, and any potential for bias occupies my mind to the point of distraction. You hereby have my promise to tell it to you straight, without rose-colored glasses, always.

I actually bought a 2009 Versys a few years ago. The reason the 650 earned my long-term love is this: Motorcycle press introductions involve days of riding over several waves of journalists, and OEM staff riders are often able to choose their mount from any bike in that manufacturer’s stable. At 40+ years old, with frequent aches from old racing injuries, and now weighing far more than I should, my motorcycle choices were largely influenced by two considerations: comfort and handling. After riding every Kawasaki streetbike, rapidly, I discovered that nothing in Kawasaki’s lineup could touch a Versys for long fast-paced days in the saddle. I ended up choosing to use a Versys – exclusively – for every introduction towards the end of my time with Kawasaki, including leading very spirited road rides at the launches of the Ninja 300, Ninja ZX-6R and Ninja 1000, all of which took place over some of the best twisty roads in the country. Even when technically out-gunned, a Versys always fit right in at the Journalist GP. Furthermore, I ended every one of those rides un-cramped and with a smile in my heart. The Versys honestly earned my bias. VERsitile SYStem, indeed.

Kawasaki

+ Highs

  • Now smooth and with better brakes
  • Still practical, comfortable, nimble and fun to ride
  • Jack of all trades and almost masters them!
  • No 2015 price increase
– Sighs

  • Not an 800 Triple or 90-degree V-Twin
  • Wartlike gear-position indicator looks cheap
  • Accessory heated grip kit provides unbalanced warmth

Related Reading
2008 Kawasaki Versys Road Test
2010 Kawasaki Versys Review
2012 Kawasaki Versys Review

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Kawasaki Communities

  • MrBlenderson

    It sure looks nice with the integrated bags. This will definitely be my next purchase.

    • Max Wellian

      I’m planning on going with the 1000cc version. Though the Yami FJ-09 seems like the better value and keeps popping up in my thoughts.

      The one question I have about either new Versys is: What’s with the bag shape? Seems like they wasted a lot of useful space making them less boxy. But when I’m packing a saddlebag, boxy is just what I want. Seems like these boxes will require a lot of fancy packing to use all the cubby holes surrounding the boxy bags I plan to stick in them.

  • ted kolter

    Thanks Alexander. Your expressed previous experience with Kawy helps me understand the Versys a lot better. Have never ridden one. All of a sudden it is on my short list for my next bike. I’ve preferred a small(?) displacement tourer for a long time. I did many 2300 mi. round trips on an sv 650 through the mountains & the interstates. Packed for camping! Not sure if you could actually see the bike other than the front wheel. Still cruised all day at 80 just fine.

    • Gary S

      Like the look and mostly a city rider. The lengthened pegs and seat sounds like it may be a good/crampfree fit for a 6’2″ rider. Problem has not been straddling the ground, it is more an issue with leg cramps from shorter hieghts.

  • Old MOron

    Sigh, how am I supposed to narrow my list if every new bike is great?

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      Give up and purchase one of everything. But get two Versys 650s!.

    • Razedbywolvs

      By color.
      Red if you like talking to cops.
      Black if you like washing your bike.

      • Kenneth

        And white if you like being mistaken for a cop.

    • martalli

      Since this motorcycle journalist is saying that he bought one of these himself and this is as good or better, that should be a clue. Honestly, you should first think about what kind of bike you want: cruiser, tourer, etc. That will narrow your choices a lot right there and then you can look through reviews. That said, I’m very happy with my NC700X, but since I like that style of bike, the Versys would be a great second choice for me…

  • Kevin

    Nice informative write up, Sean: I really like the way the riding suit matches the bike, did Kawi supply it or you? Either way it looks great:

  • Chris_in_Kalifornia

    Sounds even better than before. Being only 5’6″ with a 28″ inseam, I can tell you that I like low and narrow seats. I am not, however, a recliner rider. I think they should add an optional rack to the back of the “naked” version like the one that was standard on the 04 Vstrom. That way you can carry a small amount of cargo and remain narrow enough to make it easy to zip through rush hour traffic. Love the bigger tank. Would also love a belt drive. If/when I get in the market for a new bike this will definitely be on my short list.

  • Vrooom

    Seems like all heated grips do that, though this one has it bad. Hard to think of a reason not to own this bike, or it’s 1000cc cousin. That would make a good sport tourer. Slap a 19″ front wheel and skid pan on it and you’ve got yourself a gravel road bike too.

  • http://www.gtgmobile.com/ Patrick Shaughnessy

    An excellent review, thank you Sean! I saw it at the motorcycle show in San Mateo, CA a few months ago. It was absolutely brilliant! I respectfully disagree that the gear shift indicator looks wart-like. But, pretty good deal if that’s all we have to quibble over. :–)

    Disappointed that the MPG seems to be dropping. My wife’s ’09 (the Smurf as she affectionately calls it) averages lows 50’s. But, she is a far more conservative rider than most others!

    Lastly, the tank bag that was displayed with the news models is superb looking and exceptionally practical. We’re looking forward to see if it will back-fit an ’09.

    Thanks again for a great read!

  • Mark Vizcarra

    Is there going to be a Shootout between this and the new FZ-09

    • panthalassa

      kind of a different weight and price class, particularly if you outfit the yamaha with bags. they’ll probably compare the fj-09 to the larger versys 1000, not the 650.

      • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

        Consdering the FZ is really between the two, expect those to be comparisons with the Kawis as bookends.

        Because what better excuse do motojournos need to spend a week riding 3 bikes they love?

  • Reid

    And thus is revealed the best value-for-money light touring motorcycle available at the moment.

  • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

    You use heated grips at 55 degrees? As far as walking away on twisty roads, I bet a new GS would do it.

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      I do indeed at 55 degrees… in the rain.

      • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

        I’ve heard the GS embarrasses sport bikes…As far as the grips go, I turn on mine around 40 degrees, seat around 32…

        • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

          For sure, there is no doubt a well-ridden GS or Versys, or Honda Rebel is capable of embarrassing the guy who just bought a GSX-R 1000 as his first bike. Motorcycles, more than any other vehicle, are disproportionately affected by the skill of their riders, so these match-ups should always consider rider skill. I’m not betting against a decent rider on a superbike against a decent rider on a Versys or GS. The superbike is simply capable of going so much quicker in the right hands, but those hands are the catch. An inexperienced rider or or just about without a well developed skill set is likely to go quicker on an SV-650 than a GSX-R 1000, unles we’re talking about straight lines or right-angle stop-start “urban” riding.

  • John

    I think you mean the Targa Florio in Sicily not the Mille Miglia.

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      Indeed I did, thank you for catching that. I’ve fixed it in the text, but take full responsibility for the original error.

  • CrashFroelich

    This article struck a chord with me. The description of the Versys’ capabilities in the twisties when running with sport bikes reminded me of my 2010 Z1000, except I make the super motos eat my dust. She’s a lot lighter than the liter version, too.

  • TalonMech

    I may bbe the only one who preferred the 2012-2014 model. The new one is nice looking, but not as distinctive. Looks like a scaled down multistrada IMO. I do agree the first gen was butt ugly though.

    • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

      First gen didn’t bother me any more than the second. However, the new styling seems like blatant capitulation. I understand Kawi wants it to appeal to more people, but why take ALL the “interesting” out of it. I felt that’s part of what made the Versys what it was and the most interesting bike in the lineup.

      Perhaps they want to reserve all of the styling attention for the H2.

  • Kurt Sunderbruch

    Glad to see I’m not the only Versys enthusiast out there. I have two, one here and one in the UK, for less than it would have cost me to own one GS. Mine have shared space with a number of more expensive bikes (Aprilia, BMW, and Ducati to name a few), but I keep coming back to the Versys for the pure joy of riding it.

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      As a journalist, I feel quite guilty about being so overwhelmingly positive about the Versys 650, but also as a journalist I feel compelled to be honest about every vehicle. The Versys 650 simply is THAT good, it isn’t hyperbole.

  • sgray44444

    I’m kicking myself for buying a Vstrom adventure last year! This bike looks like it’s more my style- sportier. And now that I can stand the looks (actually, I like the looks) I might have to take a hit on the Strom and konvert to green. I wish the 1000 was this good looking (and light).

  • jon

    I like that Kawasaki is getting the 650cc water cooled parallel twin in so many bikes. The 650 Ninja, the Versys, the ER6N (no longer available, but I like that model too), and the new Vulcan S. I’ve heard good things about this mid sized motor. I rode an old Ninja 500 for a few years, and loved that mill. One feature of this engine that was talked about when the 650 Ninja arrived on the scene, and that some may not know about, is that it uses, what Harley-Davidson used to call, a “trap door transmission”. Meaning that, should you ever break a gear, you do not have to split the cases for access to the gear cluster. You remove an engine side cover, and the whole gear cluster can be removed. On the pre 2004 Sportsters, agood tech could have the trans gears on the bench in under an hour.

  • Sabrina Kielreuter

    I have brought the versys650 already and I can’t wait until it will be delivered. Im still Looking for a mounting System for my Garmin 390 like you have in your Review. Andy idea wehre I can get it from?

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      I’ve sent an inquiry to Kawasaki Europe on your behalf, asking for details on the mounts they fitted. I will let you know if they give a response.

  • johnny mars

    I am a V-Strom 1000 owner/fan, but this bike trumps that bike for way less money. My next bike will be a middle-weight adventure bike, but now there’s so much to choose from: Triumph 800, V-Strom 650, FJ-09, BMW, KTM, Ducati, MV……and now this little gem. I’m going to wait a little longer for Yamaha to throw down an FJ-07 adventurer challenger, so I can narrow my choices down to Kaw vs. Yamaha. Competition is good!

  • johnny mars

    Traction control?

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      Brain, seat of the pants, and right-wrist only.

  • Lee Runge

    This bike is very tempting. I actually enjoyed the 650cc motor in the DL650 I owned more than the Tiger 1050 I purchased to replace it. This combines the use-it-all 650cc engine capacity with the handling of the Tiger 1050. I find the smaller engine better for normal roads as you can actually wind it up without being over 100mph (as much) as the 1000cc options. That 1000cc triple was more motor than one could use on the typically low speed limits of the east coast.

    Sean, great review! (video as well).

  • IanF

    The aftermarket heated grips on my KLR650 exhibit this behavior of the right grip being much warmer than the left. I recently replaced them and the new set does the same thing as the old set. They are identical grips receiving identical amounts of current. The temperature variation is due to the insulating properties of the plastic throttle tube and the heat sinking properties of the empty metal bar on the left with its air space extending all the way through. The only thing to do is to fill the left bar end with some insulating foam and/or just keep a loose grip on the throttle hand.

  • OldFart

    if they were going to make it look more like a ninja 650, as you can see from the redesign of the front end, then why didn’t they just add the saddle bags, move the foot pegs down and forward just a bit, and put that FJR ODR on the Ninja 650 and call it a Ninja 650 ST for sport touring.

    • SekritDox

      Then you probably won’t be surprised at how little work one has to do to convert a Ninja 650 to a Versys 650 clone, especially using OEM parts…

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      Because the Versys has superior suspension components and more travel, a better ride all-around, and a much more responsive motor than the Ninja 650. Riding the two bikes back-to-back it is really no contest, the Versys owns the Ninja 650.

  • DCGULL01

    I’m very glad that Mr. Alexander opted for full disclosure, as he often finds a way to mention the V word in any type of ride review. But, he did hold himself to a high standard of comparison as well. At 51, I’m well past the point of ‘more is better’, yet, I still want alot of the best attributes of many types of motorcycles, and, finally, I want just 1 bike to meet those somewhat disparate needs. The Wee Strom,and, now, the Versys 650LT along with a Yamaha’s FZ-07 and my current favorite steed in the stable- Triumph’s Street Triple R, work in my dilemna.

    But, the Kawi comes with the fewest compromises, and, needs the least modifications to acheive all of my goals. Fun, daily driver with storage, that allows me to bring my wife or daughter along. But, it needs to be able to keep up with my sportbike friends on the weekends, and, must be able to complete (successfully) a Saddle Sore 1,000 or more. Of course, low maintainence is a must, with zero defects after being dropped is on the list.

    So, now, I wait until someone decides that buyers remorse is greater than depreciations pain-so, I can have one for $7,000.00. I think time is on my side.