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News of Honda’s CRF250L Rally came first, then Suzuki’s V-Strom 250/ABS broke cover, and now it’s Kawasaki‘s Versys-X 300 that’s come to light in Milan. The first obvious advantage is the greater displacement of the Kawi’s ADV-Bike engine.

At 296cc the Versys-X takes advantage of the current trend of 300cc bikes in the market and immediately one-ups Honda and Suzuki with a bigger beginner-sized ADV bike. The liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve parallel-Twin should prove a better performer than either the Honda or Suzuki. BMW’s G310GS also debuted at EICMA, and at 313cc it holds a slight displacement advantage, but with one less cylinder. In any case, 2017 is shaping up to be the year of the mini-ADV with a torrent of small-displacement adventure bikes suddenly entering the market.

Kawasaki hasn’t released any performance figures yet, though we suspect they’ll be similar to the Ninja’s claimed 39 hp and 17.5 lb-ft, but likely tuned for low- and mid-range torque. The engine is paired to a six-speed transmission with relatively short gearing and a long sixth gear. Fuel economy figures are not yet available but Kawasaki claims a maximum range of nearly 250 miles from a full 4.5-gallon tank. Like the Ninja 300, the Versys-X comes with an assist and slipper clutch for a lighter lever pull and reduced back-torque during aggressive downshifts.

The engine is mounted to a new backbone frame specifically designed to handle the rigors of unpaved roads while also being capable of supporting a passenger and luggage.  The long travel suspension is comprised of a 41mm telescopic fork and a bottom-link Uni-Trak rear shock, both tuned for a balance of off- and on-road performance.

The 19-inch front wheel is equipped with a 290mm petal-style brake disc while the 17-inch rear wheel uses a 220mm disc. Bosch supplies its 10M ABS unit. Both wire-spoked wheels come wrapped in multi-purpose tubed tires with an adventuresque tread pattern.

Ergonomically, the Versys-X offers an upright riding position with wide handlebars for added leverage. Kawasaki hasn’t listed the seat height, an important detail for an adventure style bike, but notes the fuel tank has a slim design to make it easier to for the rider’s feet to touch the ground.

Though it shares branding with the larger Versys models, the 300 has a more off-road inspired style and a single headlight. Air ducts alongside the light help to cool the upper cowling while the larger ducts in the side panels help vent heat from the radiator.

Other features include a multi-function LCD display with gear position indicator (a first for Kawasaki’s 300 models), and an aluminum rear carrier four luggage hooks, vibration-damping rubber cushioned pegs.

The 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 300 will be offered in Candy Lime Green/Metallic Graphite Gray or Metallic Graphite Gray/Flat Ebony color combinations. U.S. availability remains to be determined.

Follow the rest of our 2016 EICMA show coverage

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