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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Versys v. Versys: New 650 and 1000 Coming to the USA


The perfect motorcycle? It has to be an intricate balance of performance, utility, comfort and value. And if you asked 100 experienced riders what gets closest, a surprising number will tell you the Kawasaki Versys. They aren’t crazy. It’s a righteous mix—good handling, decent wind protection, a surprisingly comfy saddle and riding position, class-leading fuel range and handling that lets the bargain-priced 650 Twin keep up with any sane person on a twisty road. What more do you need?

Plenty, said Kawasaki as it introduced a heavily revised 2015 Versys today in Cologne. Kawasaki Motors USA isn’t releasing details (or photos!) of the USA version till the big AIME show in October, but the European press release reveals significant changes to the motor, chassis and styling.


Kawasaki Versys 650 with optional luggage

In the motor department, the 649cc parallel Twin gets a power boost to the top end (to about 69 horsepower) while keeping the same low and midrange power characteristics. There’s also a claimed boost to fuel efficiency, which coupled with a half-gallon increase should give the Versys a cruising (or even sporting) range of well over 200 miles.

But the styling is what the public will really like. Gone are the oddball stacked headlamps, replaced with a sportbike-ey fairing that fits in better with Kawi’s lineup. A new subframe allows integrated hard-bag mounts and is sturdy enough to allow a topcase and saddlebags. There’s a larger windscreen with an easy-to-use adjuster.


Kawasaki Versys 1000

Suspension and brakes are also improved. The fork now offers separate adjustment for each leg and there’s a remote preload adjuster for the rear shock. The brakes get new discs, calipers and pad materials.

It sounds to me like Kawasaki improved the Versys without changing a good thing too much. We’re looking forward to riding the revised machine, but we’re really looking forward to the 1000, which is also coming to our shores. We told you about it when it was released in 2011 as a Europe-only model, so we’re excited to finally get our hands on one. The 2015 version gets some of the improvements of the 650: a slight bump in power, “clean-mount” luggage and a redesigned faring and windscreen. We’ll let you know USA pricing and availability in October.


Kawasaki Versys 1000 with optional luggage


Kawasaki Versys 1000


  1. Bill says:

    I love the look, but I’m done with chains and sprockets.

    • Razz says:

      Shaft drive would have made this the total package for me, but it is so close on everything else I will have to go for it unless the FJ-09 somehow trumps it. This is the bike (1000) I have been waiting for. My main ride now is a 94 VFR, great bike for what it is and I will certainly keep it, but this Kawi looks very good to me. It has everything I want except shaft drive, and does not have all the extra electronics that I prefer to not have. Well done for sure.

  2. richE says:

    Every company keeps making these adventure tourers and not enough buyers, left overs sitting in showrooms everywhere, seat heights to high/bikes to heavy and to ugly. Best bike is klr650 in that class

    • Terry Cox says:

      Sorry but a KLR 650 is not the same class. It’s a single cylinder low horsepower motorcycle built to be capable of some easy off road riding. Not a good highway machine. It is in the class of the other 650 singles, Suzuki DR650 and Honda 650.

  3. TwoWheelsFTW says:

    Bring back the stacked headlight pls!

    • KenHoward says:

      I don’t think that would work anymore, with the wider, more-effective fairing and windscreen.

    • falcpdoug says:

      I am om the other side of the head lights. My next bike will have to have two lights. Less close calls and better road view at night. Never should have sold the Tuono.

  4. Stuki Moi says:

    I’m sure it’s supremely comfortable, and with the Ninja 1000 motor it has about the best big-bike engine in bikedom, but the 1000 does look a bit like someone took a perfectly good looking standard, and swapped the subframe for a La-Z-Boy…..

  5. Joe Bogusheimer says:

    I’m not super picky about motorcycle looks. I rode an ’02 DL1000 V-Strom for 11 years. I had considered the old Versys 1000, but it was just too freaking ugly and awkward looking even for me. It had styling that looked like it was inspired by a communist-era MZ or something like that. Fell from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Severely beaten with the ugly stick.

    I’m glad to see the new one is much better looking. Hopefully they’ve also rectified the poor front end feel that many reviewers reported.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      A bike styled like “a Communist Era MZ” will be the ultimate hipster ride………

  6. John says:

    Weird thing. I now notices that the klx 250 is gone from the the webpage. Is there a new, bigger, better repIacement coming? Or a gaping hoIe in the Iine?

    • Kagato says:

      Kawie is most likely skipping a year–usually a sign of leftovers in the dealer stock. I keep hoping they will bring the Sherpa 250 back.

      • John says:

        I want an all new Sherpa 350-450. That would be awesome.

        • John says:

          What in the world would cause this comment to go into moderation??? ^^^^

          • MGNorge says:

            I actually have quite a few of mine indicate going into moderation but it doesn’t bother me. It seems random and obvious a way to watch that things are Kosher. No big deal, I wouldn’t fret it.

  7. eddioe says:

    I liked the look of the last two generation Versys, unique. Though I always thought if the seat height was about 1″ lower it would appeal to more riders. I’m liking the looks of the new design, but it does have a slightly more generic look. The integrated luggage/panniers attachment apparatus (like on the 1000 Ninja) is awesome, soooooo clean and intrusive. Just fantastic job. Gear shift indicator, bigger dash with peripheral hookups, love it. I sort of wish they left the stacked headlights as I hate side by side lights when you only have the low beam on and everyone thinks the other light is burned out! Still, looks like an attractive sold package. I’ve never bought a new bike, as you can get so much more for your money buying used because there are a ton of near new low millage bikes out there. However I might make an acceptation this time and buy a new 2015 Versys in the spring. The bike just speaks to me.

  8. DCE says:

    I’ve been wailing for the V-1000 in the USA since 2011; don’t know why it took so long. If the 2015 version has the same ergos as the previous (one of the best fits – on paper – for me) and a price that is just as good, then I’m in! Better rear suspension/ergos/smoothness than the 650 version; definite V-Strom competitor; oh yea!

  9. J Wilson says:

    Kawi’s update deletes those funky round headlights for their more-usual insect-like face; I agree with above that somehow it does look better. For a class that’s chasing the GS/BMW style (german earthmover, GS’s remind me of some huge Krupp earth mover), you just have to expect more of the same.

    But I really do admire the luggage systems they’re using with permanent hard mounts in the tail frame. Lots of models talk about their ‘removable saddle bags’ which leave those TV-aerial racks in place, which actually look worse than leaving the bags on. Not so with Kawasaki, bravo.

  10. Sentinel says:

    I’m disappointed that the 1000 is weighing in at over 550 lbs., that just kills it for me. I love what they’ve done with the 650. This is the Versys 650 I always hoped they’d make. It’s one of my top pics if I were to purchase a new bike anytime soon.

  11. Craig Jackman says:

    The Versys 1000 has been available in Canada for a couple of years. Yes it’s ugly, but it’s really comfortable and goes really well. I would buy one but my Gen 1 V-Strom keeps on going! Like the new luggage on this too. Pricing, if it’s anything like it’s been here the past couple of years will be competitive with the new V-Strom and V-Strom Adventure.

  12. Dave says:

    I’d take this over the V-Strom 1000 in a heartbeat! If the thing has Cruise Control on it – wow – golden.

    Looks great! For mild fire-road and dirt road stuff it would be fine. In other words 99.5% of the riding I do……

    It really looks like they put some time into the wind management. This is the preferred riding position for daily and touring stuff in my mind. Keep the cruisers / barcalounger touring bikes / standards / sport bikes……..etc.………

    They all have their place to be sure. But as a bike I’m going to ride day in and day out – something like this is perfect…..

  13. gootie says:

    just cant get over all the comments on the looks of a new motorcycle on this site, if the bike is ugly must make the rider ugly, I look good on whatever I ride, I like the looks of the new bikes here myself

  14. red says:

    my 2c. First versys iteration was funky looking. Second try refined it and looked good. This is a step backwards looks wise to generic japanese sport fairing. the windshield will probably work better though.

    I’ve spent time on these and they are great modern ujm. function over form and I’m sure this one will be no different. Like the > hp!

  15. Denny says:

    Now, this is what I call motorcycle – utility first. It will probably give good run to Strom 650 and that is good. Styling is bit too jazzy for my taste, but it goes with the time I guess.

  16. Starmag says:

    Love the function, hate the styling. Still better looking than the last versions though, but that’s not saying much.

  17. Sam Jones says:

    I’m sure the new Versys (both 650 and 1000) are great bikes but my money’s still on Suzuki’s V-Strom(s)…something about that V-twin mill and all the new 650’s I see at BMW rallies…

  18. Xootrx says:

    I love my Versys 650. I still think it’s ugly as sin from the front. From the side, it’s actually not that bad. But who cares? I bought it to ride, not to pose. I just got back from a three day trip to Colorado, and I had a blast. The bike does everything it’s claimed to do. The midrange is amazing. There’s nothing like running along in 6th gear at 60 mph, and rolling it on to pass someone without having to downshift. And I currently get over 200 miles per tank nomatter how I ride (45 mpg ridden hard, up to 60 mpg ridden easy). The other two riders had Goldwings, and I was able to keep up with them, no problem. I like the looks of the newer models, and I hope Kawasaki doesn’t engineer the fun out of this little guy. From what the article says, it doesn’t look like it. Great little bike.

  19. xlayn says:

    V1000 an I4, given that is not a racing machine or performance one, how would it come to had it in twin (at the expense of less square machine (thin)) or tripple?

  20. Randy says:

    I think the 650 is far improved and is the better looking of the two. I just don’t understand this tendency of all these flat plastic covers. Remember the first Chevy Avalanche with a TON of crappy flat black cladding all over it?

  21. Gronde says:

    Ant idea what the 650 will go for?

  22. Eric says:

    I didn’t think it was possible to make the Versys any uglier but somehow our friends at Kawasaki pulled it off. The whole bike looks very cluttered with a slapped-together look, especially in the yellow. Yuck.

    Others like it so beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder – just not this one.


    • Hot Dog says:

      Really? You must be of the round tank, ape hanger, feet forward sort. This thing is frickin’ gorgeous!

      • iliketoeat says:

        I don’t know about that. I think to see that these bikes are freaking ugly all you must be is not blind. Kawasaki makes some of the ugliest bikes around. The only company that’s even worse is Suzuki, but it’s pretty close.

        • Hot Dog says:

          They told me I’d go blind but I just can’t stop. I think the 650 is really nice with it’s new cat eye lamps and fairing design. I like smaller displacement bikes that can have equipment strapped all over for a couple of weeks of exploring and camping. Thank goodness they didn’t make this some cookie cutter, boutique, mundane pretty boy. Nice job Kawi!

        • BARRY WELLINGS says:

          Ugly??? Looked at any BMW’s lately? Or just about every Honda.

          • iliketoeat says:

            Honda designs suck too. In fact, almost all Japanese designs suck. BMW isn’t necessarily “pretty”, but at least it’s actually designed, rather than just slapped together from random parts. The problem with these Kawasakis (and, again, with essentially all other Japanese bikes) is that there is no visual flow to the design, no single theme. They look like they were designed by 20 different people, each of them working on one little piece without knowing what any other part of the bike will look like. And then they cobbled it all together. There isn’t a single line on these bikes for the eye to follow, just random creases, random shapes appearing everywhere for absolutely no functional or aesthetic reason or purpose.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            “There isn’t a single line on these bikes for the eye to follow, just random creases, random shapes appearing everywhere for absolutely no functional or aesthetic reason or purpose.”

            Japanese designs are all about fangs and claws and crouching and stuff. Tigers, dragons and beasts laying in wait, on the prowl, etc. You just don’t get it. 🙂

    • tla says:

      this is a huge visual improvent over the 1st gen Versys. I have one and still can’t love it. It’s good I don’t have to look at it while I’m riding it!

    • Eric says:

      Jeremey covered it for me. I like clean, simple lines, not oragami. Think Ducati Scrambler or Guzzi V7 – even the new Yamaha 1300 standard. Most Japanese bikes look like attack beetles on steroids. And for BMW, they make one good looking bike, the R Nine T.

    • Tim says:

      I think the look is definitely improved. I had a Versys and it is a great all around motorcycle. The only thing I take exception to in the article I the comfy saddle comment. If you buy one, replace that thing or get an Air Hawk pad ASAP.

  23. 2ndderivative says:

    I wonder if the 650 will still be able to fit an aftermarket centerstand? That’ll be enough to pull me away from the CBR650F.

  24. Jeremy in TX says:

    The Versys is finally a good looking bike! Nice job Kawasaki.

  25. Tony in Texas says:

    The 1000 looks good, but the 650 looks like some alien with a very large head! Sorry, I just can’t get past the looks of the 650 to have any positive comments…..

    • Norm G. says:

      the 6 does look a lil’ busy. almost like the parts count is through the roof…!?!

      don’t try to burn the microfiche on anything but a DVD (4.7GB).


      a CD just ain’t big enough.

  26. mickey says: beak lol. Bet the 1000 is an awesome piece to ride cross country … on the highway

  27. Mr.Mike says:

    First comment. There can be only one.

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