No, really, look past the looks of the Kawasaki Versys 1000, which has never seen much acclaim, especially in its first form between 2012 and 2015. Also, don’t stare at the numbers in the tech file. Forget faster, flashier and often more expensive competitors such as the BMW S 1000 XR or other Multistradas. And don’t think of the Kawasaki Versys 1000 as an ‘adventure’ travel bike either. The Versys is not exactly a bike that you buy with your heart, or because it will take you to places where you will not encounter a cat or dog.
What the Kawasaki Versys 1000 is, is a motorcycle that you can buy with your full mind with peace of mind, in the knowledge that you are buying a versatile (‘Versys’ stands for ‘Versatyle Systems’), fast, comfortable and reliable tourist that punches above its weight when you factor in its price, especially against the glitzy competition. In that sense, it is important to go for the most recent model possible if your portfolio allows it. Not that the first version of 2012 has become a completely dated loft, but over the years the Versys has evolved into a more complete engine. The 1.043cc four-in-line with two mappings comes from the Z1000 and has evolved over the years only in terms of Euro standards. What did change (besides the appearance) was the electronics, with better ABS and traction control from 2015. From 2019, with the SE version, there was also a model with electronically controlled springs.
How does it drive?
The word we would use is ‘correct’. It lacks the thrill of the competitors on the more premium end of the high-powered spectrum, but you can effortlessly squeeze 300km stints from its 21-litre tank without stopping. One point of criticism is vibration at higher revs, especially in the 2012 model. The 2015 saw its block suspended in extra rubbers, but still did not remain vibration-free. The windshield isn’t flawless either, in the sense that it can add some turbulence to taller riders and also distort the view of the road. Driving slowly is not his forte, but once on the open road he steers nicely and precisely, as long as you don’t go too crazy. Then the suspension dares to miss some damping to really go hard.