Sometimes adding new features and software to an existing product works out well; sometimes it doesn’t. Ask Boeing or a Kardashian. Kawasaki’s pre-existing Versys 1000 was a nice-enough but completely nondescript motorcycle until the company decided to throw fresh gadgetry at it for 2019, to the tune of about 50% of the purchase price of the base model. Check the “LT SE+” box, and for $17,999, you’ll be getting: Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension (KECS), new ride-by-wire fueling with cruise control and Kawasaki Quick Shifter, new electronics including KCMF and KIBS (that’s Kawi Cornering Management Function and Kawi Integrated Braking System), controlled by the new 6-axis IMU, a new TFT color instrumentation dash like the one on the H2 SX SE, new smartphone connectivity with Kawi Rideology app, sweet new self-healing painted bodywork with LED headlights and cornering lights, heated grips, a centerstand, hard luggage… suddenly the Versys is a contender.
What’s not to like, really? Kawasaki’s “versatile system” Versys sisters – X 300, 650 and 1000 – are all just that, versatile bikes for all seasons. But now that there’s a lot more competition in the adventurish sporty roadbike segment than there used to be, the Versys 1000 felt like it needed to keep up with the Joneses.
Motorcycle.com recently got the chance to ride the new 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT at its world launch in Sicily, it’s a motorcycle that’s being offered in the U.S. for the first time. With aggressive styling that mimics Kawasaki’s Ninja model line, coupled with roomy, upright ergonomics and an extremely comfortable and effective handlebar bend, this is a machine which is well-positioned for entry into the rapidly growing Sport/Adventure Touring category, priced nicely at $12,799. This video gives a glimpse into our time with the new machine and sheds a little insight into how it lives up to the outstanding reputation of its smaller Versys sibling.
The Versys 1000 has actually been produced since 2012, but until now its unconventional styling coupled with a relatively soft U.S. motorcycle market have kept it away from our shores. Motorcycle sales are beginning to show serious signs of growth, with several European manufacturers claiming all-time records for the 2014 model year sales, and long-legged upright sportbikes like Ducati’s updated Multistrada, BMW’s new S1000XR, KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure R, Suzuki’s recently revamped V-Strom 1000 and other liter-plus adventure-themed machines comprise the hottest contemporary segment in motorcycling.
Along with the updated Kawasaki Versys 650 comes a similar update for its larger sibling, the Versys 1000. First introduced in 2012, the original Versys 1000 never made it to the U.S., but Kawasaki USA confirmed this afternoon that both Verses will be sold in North America. Full details will be revealed at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida, October 16-19, where the bikes will be on display.