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2019 Versys 1000 SE LT+: MD First Ride

If your Reading Mode hasn’t switched to Off, we are about to tell you what it was like to ride the new Versys. Does all this electronic wizardry improve an already excellent bike? Does it work as advertised?

The first thing you notice about the big Versys is the comfortable riding position. The rider is upright and relaxed with good leg room and an easy reach to the tall, wide bars. Both the bars and the foot pegs are rubber-mounted (the foot pegs are also topped with rubber) and the seat proved extremely comfortable while putting more than 700 miles on the Versys in two days (including a non-stop trip, except for fuel, from Sedona, Arizona to the author’s home in Southern California).

The range of adjustment in the windscreen height is useful and the air passage-ways provided in the screen, and below it, virtually eliminate back pressure on the rider’s torso and reduce buffeting at high speeds. Together with a very smooth engine (there are two counter-balancers), the bike is an excellent place for long distance tours (we have not yet tested with a passenger — we will do so in our longer-term evaluation). At speeds close to triple digits, vibration never became an issue for the rider.

That smooth motor is tuned for excellent low-to-mid power delivery with decent top end. The motor is fantastic, frankly, being both fast and controllable with nigh perfect fuel injection mapping. Very refined feeling … and quick.

The new quick-shifter works well, although the usual rules apply. In other words, clutchless up-shifts are best when power is on, and clutchless down-shifts are best when the throttle is closed.

Like the older Versys 1000, the bike is surprisingly nimble while maintaining excellent stability at high speeds. It drops into corners with very little effort, but transitioning through “S” curves reveals the weight of the bike (566 pounds with the 5.5 gallon fuel tank topped off).

Our first impression is that the electronic suspension works extremely well. The rapid response of the system and its almost infinite adjustability had us feeling confident whether cruising on the highway or hustling through fast corners, both with and without luggage aboard. The system felt very natural, and works with the rider rather than against him/her as some of the older, slower reacting systems seemed to. The damping changes made by the rider at the left hand grip really make a noticeable difference, and the suspension components themselves move smoothly with low stiction.

It is hard to test the effectiveness of Kawasaki’s Cornering Management Function (KCMF), but we were able to trail brake into corners, and get on the gas early exiting corners without drama and with the tire contact patches feeling firmly stuck to the tarmac.

The new LED headlights are very powerful and a welcome change from older, dimmer technology. The new TFT instrument display is supremely legible … with brightness and contrast unavailable on prior display technology. We hope every bike switches to this type of display.

Special mention goes to the progressive cornering lights, which proved to be far more than a gimic. As you lean into a corner, one, two and then three bright LEDs come on with the increase in your lean angle to light your way through the bend. Together with the very bright LED headlights, this feature really improved our confidence riding on curvy roads at night on our way home from the press launch.

The gear ratios work well, particularly with the broad spread of torque offered by the engine. Redline is at 10,000 rpm, and the bike loafs along at 80 mph with only 4,500 rpm on the tach (and no annoying vibration whatsoever). Shifts were quick and positive … with a clutch or without.

The new radial-mount brake calipers and radial-mount master cylinder offer outstanding power and modulation … a big step up from the older Versys 1000. These brakes would not be out of place on a production superbike.

We loved the original Versys 1000 for its nearly unrivaled combination of comfort and performance … the new bike is better.

The electronic cruise control activates easily, and intuitively from the left hand grip area, although we had some trouble increasing or decreasing the selected cruise speed with the plus and minus rocker switches. We will evaluate this further as we test the bike near the MD office. The grip heaters worked great, and were appreciated as the temperature dropped on our long ride home from the press launch. The new, larger handguards completely blocked the wind from the rider’s gloved hands, which, together with the heaters, allows the rider to wear lighter, less bulky gloves in cold weather.

We didn’t have enough time to get comfortable with the Rideology app, so we will do further testing and report on that when we post a full ride review later.

So Kawasaki has indeed improved the excellent Versys 1000 with the 2019 SE LT+ model. The already excellent 1,043cc engine is even smoother operating, and features even better fuel injection mapping for seamless throttle response. Comfort has been further enhanced by the bodywork changes, including the new windscreen and larger handguards, together with heated grips and electronic cruise control.

The electronic suspension and upgraded tires mean the new Versys handles even better, and allows the rider to change basic suspension settings on the fly (when transitioning from sport riding to touring during the same ride, for instance). With the longer travel suspension (5.9″ at each wheel), there aren’t many bikes that compete with the Versys as a do-it-all machine.

Expect low-to-mid 40s mpg — meaning you will be close to 200 miles down the road before needing fuel in most instances.

All this technology comes at a price … the Versys 1000 SE LT+ carries a U.S. MSRP of $17,999. It should be available now at U.S. dealers. The only color option available for 2019 is pictured, which Kawasaki calls Metallic Flat Spark Black / Pear Flat Stardust. Among the many accessories offered by Kawasaki, is a color-matched 47 liter top case to go along with the standard saddlebags. Take a look at Kawasaki’s web site for additional details and specifications.


See more of MD’s great photography: Instagram

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111 Comments

  1. DaveA says:

    I’d have bought one of these the day they originally came out if they had cruise. Now they do…too bad I bought something else. Maybe this winter…

    IMO this might be the best all ’rounder going right now (for pavement). I like it a lot, even though it’s ugly.

    EDIT: I’m 51, and as such I’m supposed to complain about technical advancement, so er, get off my lawn or something.

  2. Fred N says:

    Reading the story in full today, I would like to thank the Authors for the pictures of the striking Arizona Lands. The colour’s are amazingly beautiful.
    Also, could I suggest a comparison between this bike and the base Honda Goldwing bagger.
    I think the Kawasaki would fill a similar touring role for a cheaper ask.
    Missing some fruit, but a better all round bike ?

  3. DorsoDoug says:

    My 2016 Versys 1000LT cost $8k plus tax in March. I’ve got 2,600 miles on it so far. It is a very good motorcycle. The gripes on the interweb are no gear indicator (not an issue w me especially with the flat torque curve) and no cruise control. I have a Kaoko throttle lock coming this week. Except for the wind buffetting, which persists even with an aftermarket windscreen, I’ve really enjoyed the bike and know I will continue to do so. If I could get a 35% discount on a 3 year old ‘19 LT SE+, I’m thinking I would give it strong consideration. The handling is quite good on the ‘16, I’m sure the updated model is better.

  4. Fred N says:

    Please give us a windscreen that just works.
    One that is not made just for a 5′ person, but that too and up to 6’4″ or more.
    I fail to see why design & style must be a lot higher priority than function.
    Every so often there is a new release review of an existing bike where the ‘newer’ model has a higher screen height. Honda CB500X, Suzuki V Strom for example.
    Naked roadster bikes don’t have this issue of poor design when used in their designed element.

    • Superlight says:

      I find irony here, as these Adventure bikes deliver practicality at the expense of any “style”. They may work great, but they all look like farm implements to me. And naked roadster bikes don’t have these “problems” because there is no bodywork present.

      • Anonymous says:

        Some of us are more interested in what a bike does than what it looks like. But you, Mr Superlight, won’t see much of us because while you are riding your fancy Ducati sports bike in the soft, easy conditions it is suited to, where there are plenty of people to see you so you can say, “Look at me, I’m so cool,” we will be far away, out in the real world where real motorcyclists ride, and laughing about the soft guys like you.

    • TimC says:

      I don’t understand how this can be such a persistent problem. Wind tunnels aren’t exactly new, and by now, neither is CFD.

  5. Rapier says:

    I’ll take it in plain. I missed if Burns mentioned it comes in a plain variety. Actually I will probably end up with the original version and put some top loading aluminum side cases on it. A necessity for me if your living off
    the bike for weeks.That’s what I should have done instead of buying Her Majesty the Stelvio.

  6. TF says:

    Very nice, I would love to test ride one. It looks like they have all the bases covered. This bike is definitely on the short list when the time comes to replace the Multistrada.

  7. wjf says:

    The masses seem to want a simple design, easy to work on, less stuff to break, reliable, comfortable and effort put into looks….what are the manufacturers to do….

  8. Doc says:

    I know a lot of people want all the latest gadgets and that’s fine but I tend not to gravitate towards such things. Just complicates things and and manufacturers just don’t give it away. Probably increases weight too. But with that being said if I had to pick something, I think ABS would be the smartest choice. That could be a lifesaver. Cruise would be okay depending on the bike. But the rest of the riders “aids”, in my opinion is nothing more than fluff. You can keep it.

    • steveinsandiego says:

      hey, doc, i agree. i rode 5 bikes spread over 20 years and 225k miles. i never felt a need to add stuff, except luggage – leatherlykes on suzi 1500 intruder and kawi 1600 classic, givi top box on vstrom 650, tailbag on ninja 650, nothing on my first bike, a 96 800 intruder. all bikes stock throughout, and each one was extremely reliable and fun to ride.
      oops, forgot to mention that roadhouses were included on my ever-so-slightly used intruder 1500.

  9. WillieB says:

    All I want / need is a Ninja 1000 with a center stand. Hello Kawasaki….

  10. bmbktmracer says:

    So, I see we’re all in agreement then.

    • mickey says:

      LOL…some people are going to love everything about it

      Some people are not going to like anything about it

      The rest of us, the vast majority are in the middle somewhere…we like some things about it, and we don’t like some things about it

      No different than any other motorcycle

  11. Anonymous says:

    Lose the ridiculous “rider modes”, keep the electronic cruise control and ABS, add shaft drive and subtract at least 4 grand. Now it’s worth a look, a test ride and perhaps my hard earned money.

  12. SeTh says:

    19″ front wheel?

    • Smaug says:

      17″ It’s not an adventure bike, just a sport-touring bike with long-throw suspension.

      • SeTh says:

        Actually, it would help the looks. 17″ with long suspension looks funny. Kept me from buying a Versys 650 or CB500X

        • bmbktmracer says:

          I agree. It’s like keeping the stock tires on your Super Duty with a 6″ Skyjacker suspension lift.

        • Kent says:

          Tire selection for a 19″ wheel is also a bit better. I have a 650 V-Strom, and love that I can have a choice of hardcore rain tires, DOT knobbies, good grippy street tire – everything but hardcore race tires.

  13. MotoVelo says:

    The green one (Europe) looks really nice, this one looks quite dull to me by comparison. I know it’s superficial (and of course personal), but if it looks better then it is better.

  14. GP says:

    I guess that the point of all of these electronic suites is to be able to make the bike feel very “different” than the last time you rode it. Fully adjustable suspension is a must at this price point, but I would much prefer widely adjustable ergonomics to full electronic “ride mode” adjust-ability. Also, some of us still want exciting performance, but are getting tired of having to step on a foot peg to mount a bike.

  15. SausageCreature says:

    I wish they had retained a base model V1K with similar features and spec to the 2018 bike.

    I like the styling updates. They’re relatively subtle. Evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but effective nonetheless. My only complaint about the previous model is that it was just too ugly. The new one is definitely a step in the right direction. At least to my eye.

    But I don’t quite understand moving this bike so far upscale, at least not without providing a cheaper base version and saving all the gee-whiz stuff for an upscale version. The old model had everything I needed, and then some: ABS, traction control, ride modes. Sure they were previous-gen versions of these features, but that’s plenty good enough and more than most bikes in the price range gave you. The thing that had me considering a V1K in the first place was the tremendous bang-for-the-buck factor. That’s gone now. If I wanted to overspend for features I don’t really need, I’d just buy a Multistrada or Superduke GT.

    Oh well, I’ll just keep an eye out for remaindered 2018’s on sale. The discounts might just be enough to make me forget about the older model’s inferior looks.

    • Smaug says:

      There ARE two models available. Base model is $13k, and lacks all the electronics, but still has ABS and the bags. My initial impression was: “Wow, $5k is a LOT for electronic doo-dads.” But upon further reflection, almost all of them are worthwhile. Cornering headlights is a safety feature. Quick shifter will save the forearm when a fellow inevitably gets stuck in traffic. Self-adjusting suspension? That’s pure gold: when the road is bad one moment and good the next, the rider can keep his eyes and mind on the road. LED headlights is apparently also only on the + model. My only real gripe is that for that much money, they should have also thrown in the top case (which would cost them probably less than $50) and it should have brake light integration. The only thing REALLY missing (to me) is shaft drive, but that would push the weight up to 600 lbs., which is a lot, on a tall bike.

      https://www.kawasaki.com/motorcycle/versys/adventure-touring/versys-1000-lt?&cm_mmc=Google-_-K.com_Vehicle_Model_Desktop_broad-_-b-_-%2Bkawasaki%20%2Bversys%20%2B1000&gclid=CjwKCAjwiZnnBRBQEiwAcWKfYgoDG9No7OFxbneUXKGhxCQ2T3_trX79wG2WrYBsSXww84RTp_rKhRoCGE0QAvD_BwE

      • SausageCreature says:

        Go back and read what I wrote. Note that I said the styling of the 2018 (and prior) bike was a big turn off.

        Now click on the link you provided, and see that the base model V1k LT is the 2018 model (and listed as such on the site). There is no base model for 2019, only the SE LT+.

        The “base” (i.e. 2018) model is still on the site *for now* but it’s not a lower spec model of the new bike. It’s the old bike.

        • RyYYZ says:

          The Canadian Kawasaki site has a ’19 LT model, so it does exist, apparently. Maybe Kawasaki USA is not bringing it in?

          • SausageCreature says:

            Well, son of a b. You’re right. It’s even a fairly attractive shade of orange, to boot. If Kawasaki isn’t bringing the base model to the U.S. (and you’d think that they would have at least mentioned it by now if they were), then that’s a real shame.

            Maybe 2020, but since it’s obviously already being produced and isn’t here for 2019, I don’t like the odds.

        • Smaug says:

          Nice catch, you’re right! That is pretty shady to advertise them alongside each other like that… But if you don’t like the doodads, why not save the $5k and get the ’18? The other differences are pretty minor…

  16. Mikey says:

    Seriously, I have to refer to the owners manual every time I want to adjust the digital clock. Now we have rider modes?
    Give me ABS and a smooth throttle response, I know how to do the rest.

    • Smaug says:

      Buy the base model, then, and save yourself $5k.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        But do you get cruise control?

        That’s the one feature “everyone” has been clamoring for, on touring oriented bikes, for the past half decade.

        • RyYYZ says:

          The 2019 LT base model on the Canadian Kawasaki site does list cruise control as one of its features.

  17. Hot Dog says:

    Whew, I’m suffering information constipation. This thing’s got way too many electronic doodads for me. Who needs a “Mood Swing Indicator” or a “Hurt Feelings” mode anyways? I’d probably soil my drawers looking for the “Engage Kegel Exercise” button. If it has a “Social Media Teleport”, you’ll hear a lot of comments about how it looks like the south end of a horse heading north. I’m grateful to have lived in the day when riding was governed by my wrist and some common sense.

  18. viktor92 says:

    Too turistic for me, sadly today there’s no inbetween, or RRR or this adventure-like bike with fairing. And nakeds are no go for me, aside they are all ugly.

    EDIT: ZX14R, my dream bike

    • Smaug says:

      Then just buy the ZX14 and customize it yourself. No need to bitch about this one; it’s irrelevant to you.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        Does anyone make a well sorted electronic cruise control for the ZX14R now? Without it, in many parts of the country, you may as well just ride down to the police station and turn over your license right away….

        • Smaug says:

          That’s a very good point, about cruise saving speeding tickets. I never thought of it that way for a bike, but it’s just as true as it is on a car.

          • Stuki Moi says:

            Speed is SOOOO effortless on the 14, that I can’t see how anyone, even the most careful and/or timid (as if anyone timid would pick that as his bike….), can avoid inadvertently drifting into near triple digits, even if all he is out to do, is just cruising down to the store.

            The Connie masks speed like little else, as well. But there is, or at least used to be, a an (Aussie I believe) outfit selling cruise control for it. The VVT on the Connie (as well as the slightly smaller and “weaker” engine) also makes it easier to tame with a trottle lock. On the 14, a fractional millimeter off on the throttle is, in 6th, the difference between being legal, and going to jail.

  19. bradleyA says:

    I’ve seen traction control save people more than once on touring bikes. A friend of mine went a little too hard into a corner (with a passenger and luggage) that had sand near the apex. The back stepped out quite a bit, but the TC saved it.
    Power is increasing all the time, and 160HP doesn’t do much good in the rain. Having a rain mode coupled with TC can make a massive difference when touring in different weather.
    In Utah it can go from 70F in the city to a freak snowstorm in the mountains during a ride. I’ll take all the help I can get.

    • Ralph W. says:

      The problem with TC is it can save you in some situations but prevents you from saving yourself in others. But that only applies if you have the skills to save yourself. In slippery conditions on tarmac, such as in a heavy downpour or there is sand, gravel or mud on the road, I use a lower gear for the same speed to keep the revs up for more power and quicker throttle response. If the front wheel slides you can use the throttle to spin-up the rear wheel so it also slides. If the front grips and the rear slides, or if both wheels slide you can maintain control of the bike. But if the front slides and the rear grips in a corner you are in trouble. You can use the throttle for rear-wheel steering in slippery conditions. But again, it only works if you have the skill to do it. I learnt excellent throttle control skills by doing a lot of dirt riding, including trials riding, when I was young. A lot of riders don’t have that experience. TC restricts your use of the throttle, which is not a good thing in some situations.

  20. Pablo says:

    No mention of the self healing paint Dirk?

  21. bmbktmracer says:

    Anyone know sales figure numbers on this bike? I can’t imagine anyone buying one, as it’s so ugly and completely devoid of “cool”. But, a lot of people must be buying them if they went to so much trouble and expense to whizbang the crap out of the thing.

    I also don’t get ride modes. My car has these idiotic modes and I just pick the one that’s the least annoying and stick with it. Why anyone would want to get used to the dynamic response of their motorcycle and then change it seems crazy to me. When it rains, I just twist the throttle a little slower. Have we become so stupid that we can’t do that anymore without the help of a computer?

    • todd says:

      The point is to be able to charge you additional for something that has no production cost attributed to it. This is pure profit that goes back to the manufacturer. Also, when cross shopping products, people tend to buy the one with more checked feature boxes even if they will never use those features.

      • Smaug says:

        The *production* cost of the electronics isn’t much. However, I’m sure the *development* cost was huge. They’ve got to recoup that in the asking price, and of course it never hurts to make money either.

        Kawasaki is on a roll, these days:

        Original Versys: Home run
        Concours14: Very good FJR competition, for a lot less money
        Versys 300: Sweet bike; just needs tubeless wheels now.
        Z900RS: Beautiful, esp. the “Mad Max Edition”
        H2: Next-level power; supercharging really upped the ante, didn’t it? (if you can afford it)
        Ninja 1000: Only classical sport-tourer around 1,000cc. Everyone else’s offerings are either 20% bigger or smaller.
        Ninja 400: The perfect engine for a learner bike; light weight. Only the seat ergos need improvement.
        Z400: has no competition; even better learner bike than the Ninja 400
        W800: Also beautiful, and was a very gutsy move. It’ll fail, but I give them props for having the guts to build it!
        Vulcan S, with adjustable ergonomics.

    • Smaug says:

      “I also don’t get ride modes. My car has these idiotic modes and I just pick the one that’s the least annoying and stick with it. Why anyone would want to get used to the dynamic response of their motorcycle and then change it seems crazy to me. When it rains, I just twist the throttle a little slower. Have we become so stupid that we can’t do that anymore without the help of a computer?”

      Let me help you understand: Can you react within 1 millisecond when you unexpectedly lose traction? Or this: can you change your suspension setting immediately when the road changes from a frost-heaved, pot-hole mess to smooth? No, you can’t. Whether you think those features are worth the money is the real question, and luckily, there is a base model for folks like you.

    • fred says:

      Friend, if you can’t imagine that other people have different tastes, wants, needs, abilities, and resources than you, your imagination needs a serious overhaul. IMHO, it’s a wonderful thing that the various bike manufacturers have enough imagination to build a variety of bikes for a variety of people.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      It has traditionally been a big seller in Europe. It’s to big for Asia, and too small for America. I bet all the new electronics, are mainly due it being developed to compete for tech obsessed European Adv riders’ wallets.

  22. fred says:

    124lb lighter than a Concours 14, and $2400 more expensive. No doubt it will be worth it to some people. It’s great to have choices. I guess I’m spoiled, as I expect a bike to be smooth at 80mph. As someone who has played around with suspension settings over the years, my opinion is that the easier it is to adjust the suspension, the better. Officially, I’m opposed to all the electronics, but the truth is that it is nice to be able to transform a bike just by playing with a few switches. Cruise is for wimps, but on long rides, there are times the being a wimp really seems like a great idea.

    TL;DR – I’m not in the market for this bike, but wouldn’t turn one down as a loan, gift, or prize. 🙂

    • John says:

      Really, cruise is for wimps? Uh not sure what that means since I’m not a macho man but expecting to spend 18 grand on a bike and it didn’t have it, I’d be walking the other way.

      can’t imagine buying this bike, altho nice, when you can get a Tracer GT for thousands less.

      • Smaug says:

        Tracer GT is not comparable, for two-up.

        • fred says:

          Actually, all bikes are comparable. Unless you have unlimited funds, you compare all the possibilities to the available resources, and buy the one that wins the comparison. Different people, different winners. How can you say that the Tracer GT is not comparable, when John just compared them, and declared that, for him, the Tracer GT is the winner.

          In my personal comparison, my C14 wins against both of these bikes. Not that it’s better, but it’s better for me, for now.

  23. VLJ says:

    Retain the bags, headlights/cornering lights, center stand, heated grips, cruise control, ABS, hand guards, adjustable seat height, adjustable windshield, 5.5-gallon tank, and improved throttle response. Add a remote preload adjuster out back, and a second color option, such as the orange model shown in the picture. Ditch all the other electronic helpers and endless menu options. Drop the msrp at least $3K.

    Winner.

  24. todd says:

    Bring back the simple (sport) touring motorcycle. Or, I’m perfectly happy with an old K75S.

    • My2cents says:

      I spent a little bit of time on a K75S and it was likely the best motorcycle of the day and certainly BMW’s best motorcycle. To be competitive today it would only require a 4 valve head and 6 speed transmission.

  25. iggy says:

    To be fair, this isn’t a 560 pound VFR800, FZ1, or Ninja 1000. Think of this as the new generation of FJR, ST1300, or Concourse that weighs just 560 pounds.

    • Motovelo says:

      Well yes, pretty much the same as my VFR (about 520 lbs., which I am quite happy with), except perhaps for the active suspension, cruise control, hand guards, more upright position, slipper clutch, quick shifter, hard bags and top case, LED lights, cornering lights, gear position indicator, ABS, adjustable windshield, traction control and I’m sure a few other things (some I do not need or want). Sounds like it has a great motor, but it ain’t no V4. I also have a Ninja, and Kawis are bullet proof, but it’s a Tracer GT I will be adding soon.

    • KenLee says:

      Without shaft drive it’s not a new generation of FJR/Concours. Adding shaft drive only, the weight would be plus 30 lbs… Even more with big electric windscreen (10 lbs), full fairing (6 lbs?) and bigger tank.

      • Smaug says:

        +1.

        It’s nice to have options, and Kawasaki has a LOT of options, these days.

      • todd says:

        30 pounds for a shaft drive?!? Maybe 5 – 8 at the most.

        • KenLee says:

          If you don’t belive, just check specs of old Suzuki GS 550 M Katana and GS 650 G Katana. This is the same bike and the only difference is plus 4mm bore and shaft drive in 650. The difference in weight is 17 kg / 38 lbs.

          • todd says:

            Ok, I was just going by the weight of the rear drive, not the whole bike. I’ve had both Yamaha and BMW rear drive units and shafts in my hand. They don’t weigh much more than a honda cush drive hub with steel sprockets and chain.

          • todd says:

            So far I found a site that shows they are the same weight (motorcyclespecs) and one that shows the chain drive version being 15 pounds heavier than the shaft version.
            http://www.suzukicycles.org/GS-series/GS550E.shtml

      • PatrickD says:

        I really don’t see the appeal of a shaft drive.
        The ability to modify the gearing of a bike with a sprocket change is always a good option and one that changes from rider to rider.
        The shaft drive of the R1200GS Adventure I owned was also leaky (onto the rear tyre on a roundabout, btw – almost killed me) and the required oil changes were a bigger hassle than checking and lubricating a chain.
        Anyone that thinks they didn’t need oil changes should check the oil that comes out, especially the first oil change.

        • Jeremy says:

          Yeah, I think I’ve changed the gearing on every bike I’ve ever owned. Chains have always been my preference for that reason, though I understand why a lot of riders would opt for a shaft.

          • mickey says:

            Really? I’ve never altered the gearing on a motorcycle I’ve owned, but have replaced lots of chains and sprockets due to wear. I would never buy a bike meant for long distance/ cross country riding that didn’t have shaft drive.

            There is a reason cars don’t come with chain drive ( although Honda did make one from1959-1964 I think)

          • fred says:

            I’ve swapped sprockets on a number of bikes. The older shaft-drive bikes are not near as nice as the newer ones. I slightly prefer chains, but shafts and belts work fine also.

            The new chains last a long time with a little TLC, but some people really don’t like getting their hands dirty.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a pretty nice riding position for a farkler bike. Ugly as hell, but I guess that’s the norm now. Too much electronic crap. Nice size tank, good suspension travel.

  27. Grover says:

    It’s got everything but the kitchen sink. That’ll probably come in 2020.

  28. gpokluda says:

    I have to agree with everyone else regarding the amount of tech piled on this bike. Just too much. Over the top. However you want to say it. Last summer, when I shopped for a new bike, the last thing on my mind was lots of tech. Two fellow riders where I work (who are mid-40’s) are looking for new bikes this summer. I can guarantee tech is not at the top of their list. Kawasaki, please bring back the KLR650. It would make a lot more sense than the Versys.

    • TimC says:

      MY LAWN

    • Stuki Moi says:

      I’m almost sure Kawi will release a Versys with the new 400 engine, as a KLR replacement. I’m almost equally sure, that will be one heck of a bike for those who don’t want one of these newfangled, gigantic, two wheeled computers.

    • Smaug says:

      KLR650 was too heavy for anything but gravel road riding. (I had one, an ’08; traded my FJR for it, so I had high hopes indeed!) I think Kawasaki is right to leave it with the Versys 300, 600 and the KLX250.

      • gpokluda says:

        Gravel bike? That’s funny. There are several thousand KLR650 riders (myself included) that would be happy to school you otherwise.

  29. Jeremy says:

    I’m not sure why, but the older I get, the less I appreciate all of the electronic wizardry. If I raced or still did even just the recreational track days, sure, serve it up. On a track bike.

    But on a big sport touring bike? I’m sure it all works brilliantly, but does it really provide that much value over the LT, which was already really good and cost $5K less? Have potential buyers of this sort of bike really been crying out for any of these virtual doohickeys other than maybe the cruise control and advanced ABS? Maybe my opinion would change if I actually rode the bike, but most of this stuff seems out of place on a bike like this.

    That said, I do like the LT+. It looks nice to me and seems like a great tool for its intended mission.

    • al banta says:

      I sure agree with what you have to say. Who needs all that stuff? ABS is all I want thank you!

      • Stuki Moi says:

        The reason for cornering abs, is that a disproportionate number of motorcycle accidents are due to riders running wide in turns when suddenly faced with an obstacle. Especially on wet, or otherwise slippery, roads. Out of fear of locking up the tires, in particular the front.

        So cornering ABS is there to let people train to simply mash the brakes in the rain, even when leaned over. Just as standard ABS did for straight line braking. For most riders (as in, not Marquez and his weekend riding buddies) current electronics render that (disconcerting to say the least, if you’ve ever tried it….) course of action safer, in statistical aggregate, than any amount of trying to finesse, swerve, “lay her down” or similar such antics. Just grab the brakes with all you’ve got, and trust the bike to do as good as can be done. In reality, modern tires have much more grip, even on slippery roads, than most riders tend to assume.

    • Bob K says:

      I hear ya Jeremy. I’m at that age too and simpler is more enjoyable to me.
      .
      The electronic nannies, I can do without. Gimme the ABS and the cornering lights and I’m good. My H2 SX SE has the progressive cornering lights and the dual high/low LEDs and it is freakin’ great. Exactly what I’ve been wanting for decades after seeing cornering lights on a Caddy.
      .
      The electric suspension, I can see as useful on this bike. Having had my own longer travel (than sport bikes)suspension bikes that can be hobby-horsey-like, the electric suspension and TC can really provide extra stability in turns by keeping the chassis from becoming unsettled by hobby-horsing when a rider isn’t being smooth with their technique.

  30. Kermit says:

    I will say, I like the scenery in the action pics. Love the Southwest.

  31. Tom R says:

    “Economical Riding Indicator”. Jeez, is this thing a Kawasaki or a Prius?

    • Neal says:

      My Z800 has one. Its just a little icon on the dash that shows up if you’re in the bottom half of the tach. The top half is the best half though.

    • Tom R says:

      Does anyone actually “obey” it?

      • mickey says:

        Lol…it’s not an obey thing, just a little dash light that comes on if you are using the throttle judiciously. You wont see it getting on the expressway, but once tou get settled in and cruising ( even at high speed in the high speed lane) it will probably be on since you aren’t twisting the wick, but just cracking the throttle open a little bit.

  32. Dino says:

    Oh snap.. I always kinda liked the Versus 1000, but this steps up the game.. A bit TOO many electronic gizmo’s than my list has, but everything else is checked off.
    bigger tank, decent weight, heated grips, cruise control, dual low beams and high beams… Cornering LEDs are a bonus.
    I would not have asked for electronic suspension, active such and such, and the quickshifter. But they might be fun to play with.
    I think I have drunk the koolaid, because I don’t really see the “beak”. I see a spoiler-like chin I guess? not a full on, Spy-vs-Spy beak like the new Vstroms and others. Might be time to part with my Old 2002 Vstrom…..

  33. Ralph W. says:

    One of my favorite bikes – well it was but now because they have overloaded it with electronics I don’t want it anymore. I’m not interested in other people’s opinions on the electronics. I don’t want it, don’t need it, don’t want to pay for it, and that is not how I want to ride. Sorry Kawasaki, you’ve lost me as a potential buyer. I’ll keep the bikes I’ve got.

  34. Neal says:

    Impressively ugly and ambitiously priced.

  35. DP says:

    An excellent presentation by editor!

    As much as this is an advanced motorcycle for what is supposed to do, I figure the 4-cylinder is not the best choice of engine, which is conducive to extra weight and less than nimble handling. For future Kawi should be contemplating 2 or 3 cylinder in line instead.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      This 4 is the best sporty big streetbike engine in production. It’s straight up sublime. At least with the cable throttle they used to use. Per Dirck, it doesn’t seem as if Kawasaki’s RBW is losing much in translation.

      • bmidd says:

        As long as you like numbing engine vibes. This inline 4 has more vibes than any other inline 4 of the same displacement I’ve ever ridden.

    • Bob K says:

      The engine isn’t where the extra weight is coming from. Look at the Z1000 and see how light it is compared to it’s direct competition.
      .
      The extra weight is the larger tank and beefier frame and especially beefier rear subframe so it can handle a passenger and 3 pieces of hard luggage without breaking on crap roads. Also, the extra tech, like the long travel electric suspension, handguards, large fairing with corner lighting and big cushy seat.

  36. ApriliaRST says:

    Way, way too big to stand a chance of being selected as my next motorcycle. Did anyone read past p. 1 and discover the weight? I’m sure it’ll perfectly match enough other riders’ idea of what a bike should be to be a sales success, tho.

    • Dino says:

      566 lbs. with full tank, not bad. and the tank is 5.5 gallons? also not bad.

      • ApriliaRST says:

        Quite a bit more weight than I want, so I’m going to hold out for a certain mythical Yamaha… cough cough T7.

        • Bob K says:

          If weight is such an issue, why buy Aprilia? They’re they heaviest out of all the sportbikes on the market.

          One thing that’s useful about touring bikes is that a little heft is advantageous by providing stability. Light bikes get pushed around by wind blast from trucks, crosswinds going north/south through the plains states and just going in a straight line for 1000 miles, the extra sprung weight allows the bike’s suspension to work better and provide better comfort in the rebound stage by being able to counter the movement and stay planted instead of wanting to float or move to harshly. Also the heavier bike is less twitchy which is also fatiguing when having to work to control the bike instead of the bike practically being on auto pilot. I’ve got over 1/2 million miles on various bikes all over North America, sport, naked, adv, ST and cruisers. The heavier bikes are always less fatiguing for 12-18 hour days.

  37. Chris says:

    For the love of God and everything American and sacred, IT’S GOT A BEAK!

    (There, I said it so the rest of you guys don’t have to.)

    • DP says:

      Thanks a lot Chris!
      May it be that “beaky” vogue is coming to the end?

      • motowarrior says:

        BMW popularized the beak, and they are not about to let go of it. BTW, I have owned several beak bikes and loved everyone of them.

  38. mickey says:

    As a touring rider I really appreciate the last 2 pics. Thanks. Beats the cornering pics that everyone argues about rider position.

    About 2+ inches too tall for me in the saddle, but I bet it is a very nice motorcycle. As ADV’s go the looks are pretty good. I’d prefer the understated to the Orange.Lots of gimmicks to play with.

    As an older guy, I will never understand the value of a quick shifter on a touring motorcycle.I mean how long does it take to pull in the (reduced effort) clutch and move the shift lever? 1/10 of a second? On a racing bike I understand, but on a street bike made for riding vast areas of the country? Seems ridiculous to me.

    • Dino says:

      optional lower seat available, so that might help.

      I agree with a quickshifter.. a bit unnecessary on touring rig, no matter how sporty. I’m sure it might be handy once in a while when dusting some other vehicles at full power.. might be quite fun. but manually clutching would the rule I think.

    • ning says:

      I can see it being useful when you’re resting your left hand (and probably sitting up straigher) and and want to change gears.

      I sometimes do clutchless shifts (via manual throttle control), but it’s definitely pure laziness, so that I don’t have to reach down to the clutch briefly…

    • RollinWithTheHomeys says:

      Value is a concern for a motorcycle? 😉

      Also an older guy my baby boomer arthritic hands like clutchless shifts and the aids can make them even more buttery smooth.

    • Bob K says:

      I have the quickshifter on my H2 SX SE and couldn’t care less about it. 95% of my shifts are done at low throttle loads instead of frantic speeds. So that 95% of the time the QS provides no value to me. It works much better when hammering it. So for the 5% of the time I’m hard on the gas, it works, but honestly, I’m not on the track and I can spare an extra 1/10th of a second using the clutch, which I actually enjoy doing. And I also prefer to save the dogs on the gears by not going clutchless. Sure it works, but there is a price to pay for doing it.