Kawasaki Versys 1000 driving report


Kawasaki Versys 1000 driving report

Driving report: Kawasaki Versys 1000 (with video)

Kawasaki’s all-rounder now with a large four-cylinder

No half measures: For the Versys there is now double the ration – namely in cylinders and (almost) in performance. The new, versatile 1000 series is twice as much fun?

Pounding single-cylinder, rumbling two-cylinder or hoarse roaring three-cylinder – all these engine concepts were previously available to anyone interested in a mix of fun bike and comfortable everyday companion. Friends of a silky smooth running, strong inline four-cylinder looked into the tube here so far. Kawasaki is now closing this alleged gap with the new Versys 1000, which carries the well-known and widely praised (here slightly modified) engine of the Z 1000 in a new frame.

Well, Honda already has a similar type of bike with V4 in its program with the Crossrunner and will soon be adding one more with the Crosstourer, but the latter will be significantly heavier and more expensive, and the former can do things with the 800 V-TEC engine The performance characteristics and the consistent implementation of the concept are not entirely convincing.

S.o the (recently revised) Triumph Tiger 1050 is more likely to be seen as the main competitor than the BMW R 1200 GS or the Ducati Multistrada. With just 15 millimeters more ground clearance than the Z 1000, 17-inch cast wheels and suspension travel of just 150 millimeters at the front and rear, one would hardly take the Versys’ serious enduro ambitions away. A fun bike suitable for travel?

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Kawasaki Versys 1000 driving report

Driving report: Kawasaki Versys 1000 (with video)
Kawasaki’s all-rounder now with a large four-cylinder


The quick test after swapping places proves: Even backbenchers travel comfortably.

As usual, the four-cylinder starts spontaneously at the push of a button and emits a very discreet four-cylinder sound despite the use of only one rear silencer. The single muffler became possible and could even be kept relatively compact, because an opulent front silencer under the engine takes on the main task and also helps to centralize the masses. The strut that was moved upwards and placed above the swing arm together with the lever has cleared the space required. But let’s go now. The non-adjustable clutch lever hardly requires any manual force. First gear in, brawny pulls off the four-wheeler from idle, storms energetically gripping through the speed range – the promised strengthening in the lower range seems very credible. This effect is intensified when driving off by the shorter first two gears; Levels three to six have a longer ratio than the Z 1000.

The four-wheeler grabs pleasantly smoothly, but spontaneously, when the accelerator is commanded, the cultivated run is only somewhat tarnished by noticeable vibrations of 6000 to 6500 rpm. Is the cause of the completely rigid screw connection of the motor in the frame (apart from a rubber mount)? This hardly detracts from the enjoyment of exhausting the power, especially since the 118 hp engine is not a nasty gripping beast even in the uncastrated full power setting. If you still feel overwhelmed or want to be on the safe side, you can both reduce the power from full to low and set the traction control to level three at the push of a button on the handlebars, which makes accelerating on adverse road conditions a worry-free matter. In this low-power position, the engine only provides around 70 percent of the power and is noticeably more reluctant to accelerate, has a much tougher effect in the middle and lacks real revving at the top.

Basically a dispensable option. The KTRC traction control used in the new ZZR 1400 (which can also be completely switched off), on the other hand, makes perfect sense in position three. While levels one and two only intervene discreetly and very late in favor of maximum propulsion (very rarely in normal driving mode), level three switches after the query of the four parameters slip (comparison of front and rear wheel speed), engine speed, driving dynamics takes place every five milliseconds and driver input to three-way control if slip is reported. Here, the ignition timing, spray supply and intake air are readjusted and the engine output is reduced until the rear wheel has traction again. A forced start on a sandy parking lot shows that the system regulates quickly and reliably, only noticeable in the form of a more restrained propulsion than expected. Incidentally, the already existing sensors of the Bosch ABS of the latest generation are used here, as is also the case with the current ZX-10R. As expected, the blocking prevention takes place flawlessly, with fast, fine and barely noticeable control processes that run hard along the blocking limit and thus enable high deceleration values. To do this, however, the brake lever must be actuated with a little force. The easy-to-dose stoppers of the Versys are based on “ordinary” four-piston calipers (not radially screwed as on the Z 1000), which are not too snappy, but still have a very good effect. OK then. After all, not every single pull on the lever has to bring the fork to its knees.


The disc can be continuously adjusted by 30 millimeters after loosening two rotary knobs.

The powerful 43 mm upside-down fork, which can only be adjusted in preload and rebound damping, offers a new, complex interior that is supposed to improve the damping behavior when changing from compression to rebound. In practice, the more sporty, taut than spongy acting spring elements work well and also put nasty potholes away, at most on washboard slopes you would want a slightly more sensitive fork response.

The handling of the fun tourer, which weighs 239 kilograms, is surprisingly successful. The Versys turns in very easily, falls playfully into an incline and remains quite neutral in curves. This is where the funbike genes come into play; the mounted Pirelli Scorpion Trail support this with great grip and neutral cornering behavior. The long wheelbase of 1520 mm and the flat steering head angle of 63 degrees (Z 1000: 1440 mm and 65.5 degrees) are actually aimed at more stable straight-line stability, which the Versys also proves at a short-term possible 235 km / h. Even the wind protection of the manually adjustable windshield is more than okay and largely relieves the strain on the head and upper body. The wallet of future Versys buyers is also significantly relieved, by exactly 11,995 euros. But where else is there such a comfortable fun bike with a beefy four-cylinder??

Technical specifications


Pressure from below: The Versys engine does not see its purpose in high speeds.

Water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, a balance shaft, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, bucket tappets, wet sump lubrication, injection, Ø 38 mm, regulated catalytic converter, mechanically operated multi-plate oil bath clutch, six-speed gearbox, O-ring chain.
Bore x stroke 77.0 x 56.0 mm
Cubic capacity 1043 cm³
rated capacity 86.8 kW (118 hp) at 9000 rpm
Max. Torque 102 Nm at 7700 rpm

landing gear
Double tubular frame made of aluminum, load-bearing engine, upside-down fork, Ø 43 mm, adjustable spring base and rebound damping, two-arm swing arm made of aluminum, central spring strut with lever system, adjustable spring base and rebound damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 300 mm, four-piston fixed calipers, disc brake at the rear, Ø 250 mm, single-piston floating caliper, ABS, electronic slip control.
Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17
Tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17

Dimensions + weights
Wheelbase 1520 mm, seat height 845 mm, weight with a full tank of 239 kg, tank capacity 21 liters.
Two year guarantee
Colors brown, white
Price 11,995 euros
Additional costs around 180 euros

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