Mighty versatile and capable, the Kawasaki Versys has always been one of the understated gems of motorcycling industry. Though reasonably priced the world over, it has homely appearance may have handicapped its sales success in spite of its all-around excellence.
For 2015, the middleweight Versys gets a major make-over, including an ensemble of new clothes that significantly ramps up its curbside appeal. Moreover, it adds greater legroom, new suspension and brakes, updated instrumentation and extra load capacity. As its name implies, the 650 ABS includes antilock braking, while the 650 LT adds detachable hard-shell saddlebags and hand guards.
The new styling of the Versys transforms an ugly duckling into something much more swan-like, now appearing quite attractive and fully modern. The nose fairing gains contemporary side-by-side angular headlights, and it’s topped by a larger windshield that is now adjustable over a significant 2.4 inches of travel by loosening hand-twistable knobs. A larger fuel tank looks better and holds 5.5 gallons of petrol. Full up and ready to ride, the Versys is claimed to weigh 476 lbs.
The tight seat-to-footpeg distance of the old Versys has been addressed with this new edition. Pegs are moved nearly an inch (20mm) forward and 15mm lower. A new stepped seat is placed at 33.1 inches from the ground. A new rear subframe incorporates saddlebag mounts and increases passenger+luggage capacity by 66 lbs to a total of 462 lbs.
The new Versys retains a relatively long-travel suspension but uses new componentry. Up front, a 41mm Showa fork has provisions for adjusting spring preload in its left-side leg and stepless rebound adjustments in its right leg. The Kayaba monoshock out back boasts hydraulic preload adjustments to accommodate various loads, but it lacks damping adjustments.
The standard ABS brakes feature new twin-piston Nissin calipers (rather than the previous Tokicos) biting on 300mm petal-shaped rotors up front. Kawi curiously describes the Nissins as “brake block-style,” but we’re told they are not actually monoblock (one-piece) calipers, and (judging by the photos) they appear to be simple two-piece pin-slide units like their predecessors. Also new is a more-aggressive brake pad compound, said to offer stronger initial bite, and new front and rear master cylinders, perhaps (hopefully) with a higher leverage ratio. The rear gets enlarged from 220mm to a big 250mm brake rotor.
Now, what we like to request Kawasaki is to, please bring this to India, with a semi fairing and all the versatility, The Versys might just fit the Indian landscape bit more than the competition. Come on Kawasaki, give us a Diwali gift and if you are at it,can it come in yellow please.