Dirty Sean’s favorite motorcycle of them all was introduced to Europe in 2007 and made its way to the U.S. in 2008 by popular demand. It was upgraded in 2010, and now the Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS gets a major makeover. Pricing and full details will be released at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida, in mid-October, where the new Versys and its big bro Versys 1000 will be on display.
The most noticeble change is the horizontal dual headlights replacing the previous model’s stacked lights. Kawasaki reshaped the upper and side bodywork and added a chin spoiler below the twin headlights to reduce air resistance while improving wind protection and comfort. The new fuel tank now holds 5.5 gallons, a half gallon larger than on the previous model.
The 649cc parallel Twin engine has been retuned for improved low- and mid-range torque and better fuel efficiency. The new exhaust header pipes and under-engine silencer also contribute to improved high-rpm performance. Kawasaki claims an output of 68.4 hp at 8500 rpm and 47.2 ft-lb. at 7000 rpm.
The Versys 650 maintains its tall, upright riding position. The wide handlebars are complemented by repositioned footpegs mounted 15mm lower and 20mm forward from their previous position for a more relaxed posture. The new windscreen is 1.7 times larger than the previous screen, improving wind protection. The screen can be adjusted within a 60mm range by simply loosening two knobs.
A new rear frame increases the Versys 650’s maximum payload to 462 pounds, up 66 pounds from the 2014 model. Kawasaki is offering a new color-matched 47-liter top case and 28-liter panniers with a new clean-mount system that holds the bags closer to the centerline.
New twin-piston calipers grip the 300mm dual front brake discs while the new rear caliper now grips a 250mm disc (compared to the 220mm disc on the old model). The Versys 650 is available in some markets with anti-lock brakes, which uses a new, lighter and more compact ABS module.
The Versys 650’s long-travel suspension has been updated with a new 41mm separate function front fork. Rebound damping can be adjusted on the right fork cap while the left fork cap adjuster tunes the preload. Kawasaki also updated the offset laydown rear shock with a remote preload adjuster making it easier to change the setup when carrying a passenger or luggage.
Other updates include a new instrument cluster, large passenger grab handles and stronger 17-inch wheels.