Kawasaki Versys-X 300 test


40 horses at 11,500 rpm 25.7 Nm, 175 kilos with full tank, two colors, € 5,799

An easy and sparkling little trail: what if life on a motorcycle was as easy as a good Knacki Herta ?

Stop injustice and discrimination! Of all the motorcycle segments, that of the big trails is on the rise: all the manufacturers are getting started and are hoping from this niche that it can bring them back some market share stolen from the icon of the genre, the Mona Lisa of the two-wheeler versatility, the BMW R 1200 GS.

Thus, between the new KTM 1290 Adventure, the Honda CRF 1000 L Africa Twin and even the Suzuki 1000 V-Strom which had the right to its big blow of ripolinage recently, the segment is bushy and the purchaser has what to fill its need. versatility, which, in addition, is good for his ego since these motorcycles enhance the image of their owner by distilling a delicious scent of adventure.

But, as we said above: stop injustice and discrimination. Because the new biker, him, how it takes to flatter his ego and start the bike on a real Swiss Army knife that will serve him in all circumstances. Well, it’s simple: with the A2 license for all, those who govern us, driven by their love of neighbor, take care that the novice rider has reasonable access to power. In fact, you may have noticed that at the last trade shows at the end of 2016, both in Cologne and Milan, the trail sector from 250 to 410 cm3 has grown very seriously. Kawasaki has not left its part to the cat and therefore arrives with the Versys-X 300, whose engine comes from a known base, since it was already working on the Z300 and Ninja 300. It was just Euroquatrified (c ‘ is a new verb from the first group: j’euroquatrifie, tu euroquatrifies, nous euroquatrifies, etc ….) for the occasion, unlike his two cousins ​​who remain Euro 3 and whose descendants, at present, are uncertain.

Kawasaki Versys-X 300 review

The small-displacement market having a global resonance (less in Europe, moreover, than in Latin America and South-East Asia, their two business poles) and the legislation being disparate, this Versys-X will exist in many countries. ‘other countries with an engine capacity of 250 cm3, more favorable, sometimes, question of license, VAT or insurance. Still, between the Honda CRF 250 Rallye, Suzuki V-Strom 250, Royal Enfield Himalayan 410 and a probable future KTM 390 Adventure, this Versys-X 300 wants its piece of the pie and could even tickle the Honda CB 500 X as well as the unlikely Benelli TRK 502.


In post-modern parlance, the letter X stands for spread legs (!) Or extreme sports. This is obviously the second philosophy that Kawasaki engineers adhere to and the X is there to signify the Versys 300’s ability to venture off-road. To do this and unlike its big sisters, the Versys 650 and Versys 1000, it has spoked rims and a 19-inch front wheel, the others remaining at 17 everywhere.

The 300 differs from its big sisters by its 19-inch front wheel

Another differentiating factor: the displacement does not appear on this bike. Admittedly, we cannot say that the line is extremely modern and opens the doors of MoMA to it alone. Discreet in its gray livery, more sparkling in green, the Versys-X 300 does not quite take up the characteristic features of its big sisters, especially in terms of optics. There are rather the folds that have been seen on the Z family. Anyway, the "Manga" style is fine in the Kawasaki universe.

The Versys-X incorporates the characteristic features of the family

Anyway, this trail is well equipped: generous saddle extended by a large luggage rack, small shoe surrounding the lower engine, mixed tires (IRC Trail Winner GP): a small motorcycle that has the attributes of a big.

In the saddle

And that’s what we say to ourselves when riding in the saddle: it is perched at 815 mm and like any trail, this threshold, very far from being insurmountable, acts as a bit of natural selection for those who have the foundation very close to the ground. Nevertheless, the tank is very narrow in its rear part, which helps to put the feet firmly on the ground … for the 1.80 pilot..

The generous saddle is extended by a large luggage rack

Once at the controls, we see that the bubble is not adjustable, nor the levers, but that the rest is complete: command of warnings to the left stalk and above all, a dashboard which has everything one of which biker might dream. Clock, fuel consumption and range indicator, gear engaged, two trips, fuel gauge and water temperature, that’s the total. What could one ask for with a foolish demand? A shift-light maybe? We will talk about it again in three paragraphs below, where the motor character will be studied, what do I say, dissected, in our section "on departmental".

The Kawasaki Versys-X 300 speedometer

And before it comes to that, a feeling emerges from those first moments on board. That Kawasaki didn’t mention the displacement on the machine makes sense. Because on board, you don’t really feel subjectively on a "small 300", but almost on a 500 because the big guys don’t feel like a toad on a matchbox on the handlebars. Only the narrowness of the rear tire, when following another of these machines (the rear is 130mm wide) reflects the modesty of the project; a Honda CB 500 X fits 160/60 x 17 in comparison. She got a little ass, that Versys-X.

In the city

A knock on the starter. Very discreet sound at low speed, soft control and selection, flexible engine, which resumes at 2000 rpm on a trickle of gas without hiccuping. All good, that. Compared to the version of the engine that fitted Ninja and Z 300, the Versys-X’s gearbox has shorter ratios. We attacked at breakfast (a surprise attack sometimes gives better results) one of the Kawasaki managers presses between the coffee and the scrambled eggs: "Hey, your 3rd gear, it’s reduced by 12 or 17%? Here, pass me the jam ”. And we got no response. It’s shorter, there you go. Okay, we’ll do with it. And yet: on the Kawasaki.fr site, the comparison between the gear ratios of the Z, Ninja and Versys-X 300 gives identical values, except that the trail does not mention its secondary gear ratio.

The flexibility of the engine and the reduced width are an asset for the city

In fact, the flexibility and the gearing down of the small vertical twin mean that you can get into sixth very quickly and put your left toes on strike. Because at 50 in 6th, the Versys-X is already running at 3750 rpm and is perfectly capable of crossing a city without downshifting. For the rest, the good news comes in waves: precise braking and easy to dose, very correct turning radius (without entering the field of exceptional), as for the overall width, it remains contained (860 mm ), even if this test carried out in the countryside to the south of Ajaccio did not pose the same constraints as moving up the line on the ring road. But we must remain confident. Under the saddle, an ad hoc space is provided to house a U-lock. Well, that.

On motorways and main roads

As we have just said, the Versys-X is running short. While the red zone is located at 12,000 rev / min and the maximum power arrives at 11,500 rev / min, know that, the fifth goes up to a little over 130 km / h and that in sixth, the speed is 9750 rpm. At that moment, the little twin screams, not his disapproval, but his joy of living. Very well, but he screams anyway. So the motorway is possible, but not necessarily recommended, it’s only a 300 after all. Some vibrations are noticeable at high rpm and the stability of the machine is good. But hey: to cross France (Europe, the World …) in a duo with luggage, in a hurry and on the main roads, there is better.

The 300 lacks a bit of

We couldn’t test the top speed, but it shouldn’t exceed a good 150 km / h. Enough to take plums !

On departmental

90 km / h in sixth is already 6,750 rpm. It’s already calmer. We realize three things: one, the departmental ones, this is really the favorite terrain of this machine.

The departmental roads are the favorite playground of the 300

Because, little two: it’s super easy. Very supple engine, incredible agility (thank you for the narrow tires), neutral, healthy and balanced chassis, the Versys-X is typically the kind of machine within everyone’s reach. So, admittedly, the engine is no lightning war in the first half of the tachometer (maximum torque, 25.7 Nm, is perched at 10,000 rpm). But at a leisurely pace, without wanting to panic the clock, just looking to enjoy life, the landscapes and the beautiful scents of honeysuckle in the aisles, the Versys-X seduces with its naturalness. With it, we start to whistle old tunes, yes, that’s it, the music of the Knacki Herta pub, because in fact, no frills, a small motorbike, nice roads, a nice little band, sun, what more ? Frankly ?

Unless, small three of our presentation, the group in question is led by Bruno Langlois, multiple winner of Pikes Peak (among others, in a well-rounded list!). Obviously, Bruno had to keep some on hand so that we, poor fellows, have the pleasure and the sufficiency to succeed in following him, but the fact remains that 40 horses well taken on the small Corsican roads, it does not have fun. not the land.

The Kawasaki Versys-X 300 on a curve

And there, the Versys-X reveals another facet of its personality: like a two-stroke (for the speed range, not the explosiveness), it runs hard between 9 and 12,000 rpm in a roar quite pleasant and above all, it is distinguished by a balance, ease, security and ultimately, a fairly impressive level of efficiency. It was spared nothing: downshifts to over-revs, braking on the angle, footrests on the ground in curves, total improvisation and each time we came out with the banana! Easy, obvious, it builds confidence quickly, the IRC Trail Winner GP tires have a downright amazing grip in the dry (this brand has a bad reputation on the white stripes and in the wet, however, this aspect remains to be confirmed)..

Still, we returned with confidence in both fast and tight turns and at no time during this ride did we want a bigger cube !

The Verys-X works hard in high revs


We’re going to talk more about any road, because the suspensions, although they have decent travel at the front and rear, they are not very adjustable (the preload at the rear, only). On the other hand, the ground clearance is still 180 mm. The standing position is quite natural, with a handlebars not set too low and which would break the back, as well as recesses in the tank which allow to form a good body with the machine. And the good flexibility of the engine is obviously an ally: moral of the story, to go quietly to get closer to a deserted beach or to hunt down a great morel spot, the Versys-X does the job. This is also the magic of trail running.

The Versys-X can s


Classic, obviously, given the positioning: a good steel beam, a classic fork (diameter: 41 mm, travel 130 mm), a rear shock absorber adjustable in preload (travel: 148 mm). Nothing exciting. But when it’s well designed, it gets the job done. It’s the case.


Considering the low power and the weight contained, no need to take out the heavy artillery based on Brembo 28-piston calipers! Here, a single disc at the front (diameter 290 mm, 2 pistons) and another at the rear (diameter 220 mm, 2 pistons).

Is the whole satisfactory? Yes. Bluntly, even. Considering the target and the way the majority of customers will roll, it does it really well. Good dosage, progressiveness and power are there and ABS (a Bosch 10 M central) has the merit of not triggering often.

Braking is simple, but perfectly suited to the performance of the machine

Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds? Yes. Afterwards, as we are paid to cut our hair in four, we can say that the rear brake triggers the ABS fairly quickly (but a coupled action allows effective slowing down) and by following Bruno Langlois (so, on the program, pig rolling and trapper braking that less than 1% of users will do one day), there was indeed once or twice we saw each other in the wall, before realizing that the excellent front end of the Versys- X still allowed you to jump into the turn with a good chance of getting out.

So: the brakes are fine.

Comfort and duo

First test, blank: the day before the test, during the press conference, I discreetly allowed myself to stick a finger in the saddle (no, it’s not dirty), waiting for a “slouch! »Sensual and comforting. Instead, the noise turned into a "splonk !!" "And I almost hurt myself.

This first impression was unfortunately very quickly confirmed the next day. How hard this saddle is! It’s a shame, because that’s the only major flaw in this little machine and nothing too complicated to modify. But still, the Versys-X hurts the ass and that’s a shame, because the level of comfort could be good with a (non-adjustable) bubble that effectively protects the shoulders of a tall driver and that the suspensions have nothing caricature or too dry in their operation.

The Verys-X saddle is quite firm

No duo during this test: by the greatest of luck, we drove on the same route as with the KTM 1090 Adventure and the same conclusions apply: Corsica is always fierce, does not sleep before the wedding and his brothers are armed. Suddenly, muzzle and solo rolling.

That said, the space on board is relatively generous for a small displacement and originally, Kawasaki equipped this Versys-X 300 with very large grab handles. On the other hand, this saddle ….

Consumption / autonomy

According to Kawasaki, the Versys-X is the only 300cc motorcycle to have a range indicator on the instrument panel. Cool ! As a result, we can constantly measure its radius of action, as much as with 17.5 liters in the tank, there is much to come !

At the end of a day of testing on winding terrain, in the wheel of an opener who won Pikes Peak (excuse me!) Where the red zone was frequented for more reason, I got away with it. an average consumption of 4.5 l / 100 (value of the on-board computer). More reasonable colleagues did 3.9 and during the route scouting, the Kawasaki team did 3.7, which is more in line with actual consumption..

The 17.5 liter tank allows

As a result, range, under reasonable use, can approach 450 kilometers, which is perfect for taking this Versys-X off the beaten track. She only asks that, indeed.


300cc, 40 horsepower: this is a technical sheet that one could dismiss with a disdainful glance. How, in fact, to win the kiki contest with such a blunderbuss? But from kiki to keke, there is only one vowel.

And those who know also know that the truth is elsewhere. Simplicity is a virtue, lightness a delight, naturalness and improvisation are simple pleasures, but so essential.

For low fuel consumption and maintenance costs (service every 12,000 km), the Versys-X returns simple and effective joys.

To switch it who wants a motorcycle with a little look and a very upright driving position, just like the user who has the luxury of living only on the departmental roads, for the beginner who will learn like the experienced biker who wants to relax , the Versys-X 300 unveils a great range of skills. And it takes us back to our fundamentals: what if the simple joys of motorcycling were as invigorating as a Knacki Herta ?

The Versys-X is simple and efficient

Strong points

  • Real versatility
  • Ease of handling
  • Fun driving
  • Small, supple, sober and sparkling twin
  • Chassis balance
  • Simple, cheerful and invigorating like a Knacki Herta
  • IRC tire grip in the dry

Weak points

  • Wooden saddle
  • Some vibrations high in the towers (but at the same time: it lives!)
  • Limited extension on major roads
  • IRC tire grip in the wet to be confirmed…

Kawasaki Versys-X 300 technical sheet

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: 170 km of small and varied roads south of Ajaccio (Corsica)
  • Motorcycle mileage: 640 km
  • Problem encountered: none…

The competition: Benelli TRK 502, Honda CRF 250 Rallye, Honda CB 500 X, Suzuki V-Strom 250

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15 thoughts on “Kawasaki Versys-X 300 test

  1. Thank you Herve for this more than complete test .

    Indeed, before buying a CF moto, it is better to let some time pass and to have a little perspective on the aging (although the quality of the CF moto quads does not seem to be that bad. ).

    See also the quality of the network and after "why not" ?

    You made my mouth water …

    To all of you

  2. Owner of a CF650MT since 2019, I can give you my first impressions. If I chose this model of motorcycle it is because I liked its design from the start. After 14000km on its handlebars, I remain enthusiastic: handling, engine torque in duo and times, pleasure of driving on the road and highway, suspensions … total satisfaction. The hardness of the saddle felt during a test has disappeared, replaced by a comfort saddle. My 1.83cm is well protected behind the bubble raised to its maximum. The question now remains: what will the resale price of the motorcycle be on the second-hand market?

  3. It’s mostly you. wink

    Of course, the back shell mimics the Diavel a bit. But it’s mostly because it’s so short.

    The rest are very rocket.

  4. Quotewaboo
    It’s mostly you. wink

    Of course, the back shell mimics the Diavel a bit..

    A little yes…

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    I think you are not objective.

    The Rocket has its own and much more elegant aesthetic.

  6. I think you are not objective.

    The Rocket has its own and much more elegant aesthetic.

    The Diavel is sportier.

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  7. Oue…

    We can not deny that the Diavel aesthetically inspired some motorcycles anyway.

    Small displacement chinoiserie, but also on the side of MV Agusta, and all the same the rear of this Triumph.

  8. The Tuono did a lot for those super-short curls but … the Speed ​​Triple too…

    No wonder we find the spirit on the Rocket.

  9. A big shouilla, a more compact version would have been perfect. But if I had the means to afford a muscle bike like this, she would be a candidate for sure.

  10. On the other hand, the design is flawless. It turns away from the custom (the old model was a bit kitsh I think) to go towards the super muscular Roadster, without falling into too sporty lines. Super harmonious, hats off to the designers!

  11. A little disappointed, given this first test, the linear behavior of the engine, this 900 tiger, like the 800 forgot to get its claws out. To try but it will be difficult to fight against the CP3 engine of the 900 Tracer!

  12. The finish and the chassis are not comparable to the Tracer, which is justified by the price difference

  13. Quotephilippe30
    A little disappointed, given this first test, the linear behavior of the engine, this 900 tiger, like the 800 forgot to get its claws out. To try but it will be difficult to fight against the CP3 engine of the 900 Tracer !

    I’m afraid you read between the lines or just focused on the term "linear".

    Rather linear acceleration doesn’t mean the engine lacks character. We also point out many times in the test the good personality of the new three cylinder. ..

    The mechanics are demonstrative without showing aggressiveness at certain speeds, that is all.

    Which is also an advantage in Off-road…

    The Tracer is 20 hp more powerful and does not have the same versatility at all.

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