At Kawasaki, we know that no
stretch of road has ever been ridden the same way twice. Choice of line,
angle of corner approach and exit, nuance of brake and throttle, weight
transfer, rhythm and timing – just some of the personal signatures of each
and every ride. For enthusiasts, and particularly for Kawasaki riders, at
the very heart of motorcycling lies the singular enjoyment of the ride – not
merely negotiating riding conditions, but revelling in them. Like a surfer
on a wave, we make each ride our own.
With the Versys we set out to create a
motorcycle that would empower riders to explore fully their individual
riding style and find true inspiration on all types of road, in or out of
town. Riders who have experienced a wide range of riding conditions and
already know plenty about how they like to ride will be very excited by what
the Versys has to offer – an added dimension of ride controllability.
We wanted the Versys rider to be able more
than ever to take charge of their riding experience. So the suspension
settings and riding position of the Versys are specifically designed to
respond to weight transfer decisions by the rider, particularly adjustments
to forward-rear balance while in motion.
Rider-machine synchronicity has always been a
prime Kawasaki design consideration, and to enhance rider feeling on the
Versys we paid special attention to optimising feedback; in fact, the Versys
could well be the most communicative bike you will ever ride. Completing the
package is an engine tuned to respond to your command at any rpm, especially
down low, so you’re never left short when you want power on the ground.
With the distinctive handling characteristics
of the Versys, riders will find that they really can call the shots, nailing
their chosen line with ease or altering their track with equal aplomb, even
mid-corner. And with a set up devised to complement riders’ personal
technique and natural instincts, striking a great riding rhythm – be it
perfectly stringing together a series of tight bends or moving effortlessly
through traffic – quickly emerges as a definitive characteristic of the
Dynamic ride control to enhance your riding
experience – that’s the any-street promise of the new Versys.
Triangular layout of the crankshaft and
transmission shafts makes the engine very short front-to-back.
The key to the Versys’ compact size is its engine. Our engineers knew that,
for the trim package they were pursuing, an In-line Four would be too wide
and a V-Twin too long. The only engine design that offered both good power
and the requisite compactness was a Parallel Twin.
The Versys’ 649 cc liquid-cooled power unit
is far and away the most compact engine in its category.
The compact design and surprising performance
is the result of an engine loaded with high technology. Ninja technology and
know-how abounds in the Versys, and that explains why this compact and
lightweight machine can outperform so many of its competitors.
Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, 649cc, Parallel
Twin with fuel injection delivers smooth, responsive performance, especially
in the low and medium rpm ranges.
Plated, linerless aluminum cylinders are
lightweight, and the narrow cylinder spacing reduces engine width.
Simplified cooling system routes coolant
through the engine cases to the cylinder and head to reduce external
Compact radiator with high-density core
provides efficient cooling.
Large-bore 38 mm throttle bodies feature
sub-throttle valves and fine-atomizing injectors to deliver instant cold
starting, excellent power characteristics and good fuel economy.
ECU controlled sub-throttles ensure smooth,
linear power characteristics. Auto-fast idle system simplifies starting and
ensures the catalyser reaches optimum temperature quickly.
The combination of efficient fuel injection
and a 3-way catalyser inside the muffler make for very low emissions which
pass the stringent regulations.
180° crankshaft drives a balancer shaft for
silky smooth engine operation. Oil jets located in the rod big-ends direct
oil to the undersides of the pistons for added cooling.
Semi-dry sump design reduces engine height.
There are two oil pumps; one scavenge pump and one pressure pump. Scavenged
oil is stored in transmission cavity, away from the crankshaft area.
Triangular layout of the crankshaft and
transmission shafts makes the engine very short front-to-back.
Transmission input shaft, output shaft and
change drum are contained in a “cassette”-style package that both allows a
compact layout and facilitates transmission maintenance.
The smooth-shifting 6-speed transmission has
a gear for every situation, from low-speed city traffic to high-speed
The transmission is equipped with Kawasaki’s
exclusive Positive Neutral Finder. Just lift the pedal from first at a stop
to find neutral easily , every time.
Attractive bend of the exhaust pipes ensure
the optimum tuned length between the cylinder head and silencer for best
performance and torque characteristics.
Under-engine muffler improves mass
centralisation and lowers the bike’s centre of gravity.
Lightweight plug-mounted “stick” ignition
coils deliver a hot spark while saving space.
The base frame construction and stiffness
balance were set to offer a high level of feedback to the rider.
Designed for the discerning enthusiast, the Versys’ riding position, engine
characteristics, chassis balance and suspension settings were all selected
to maximize rider exhilaration on the street. With superb control and
feedback, the Versys achieves a high level of rider confidence in numerous
street riding situations and accommodates a variety of riding styles.
Sleek, flickable chassis
The key to the Versys’ sleek chassis is its compact Parallel Twin engine,
which allows the use of a slim, lightweight frame. Together with the
forward-located seat position and the under-engine muffler, this
engine-frame combination delivers a highly centralized mass distribution,
which contributes to the highly agile package. High priority was given to
achieving chassis settings that deliver a high level of feedback, better
enabling the rider to recognize the bike’s limits.
The highly compact engine and under-engine
muffler contribute to mass centralization. The front cowl (including
instrument panel and headlight unit) is mounted directly to the frame,
minimizing its effect on handling.
The base frame construction and stiffness balance were set to offer a high
level of feedback to the rider.
The bike’s tall seat height and long-stroke
suspension result in a higher CG. The resultant increase in agility makes
the Versys even more fun to control.
Chassis dimensions provide a balance of
flickability and high-speed stability. With a wheelbase of 1,415 mm, the
Versys can still be considered a “short wheelbase” model, and accordingly it
delivers a high level of agility.
Long travel suspension and sport 17” wheels
Not all streets in the real world are made of circuit-smooth pavement. Road
imperfections (bumps, potholes) are far from rare. While the Versys was not
designed for off-road use, its long-travel front fork and rear shock were
specially selected to cope with any street conditions it may come across,
and, along with its 17” wheels, enable aggressive sport riding.
Both the front fork and rear shock combine
long travel with stiff springs. Standard off-road style long-travel
suspension allows a bike to fly over bumps and ruts with ease, but this type
of suspension was deemed to be too mushy for the kind of riding we wanted to
offer. Likewise with sport bike suspension, road holding is superb, but
performance is best on relatively smooth roads. Combining both long travel
and stiff springs yields the benefits of both off-road-style and sportbike
suspension, offering excellent road holding in a wide range of street riding
conditions and superb feedback, enabling aggressive sport riding.
The outer tubes of the 41 mm inverted front
fork are tapered and are relatively short (even at full compression, a large
portion of the inner tubes remain visible) to provide the ideal stiffness
balance to complement chassis settings.
The fork is adjustable for rebound damping
and spring preload.
Fork height is 8mm adjustable within the fork clamps, allowing the rider to
tailor the Versys for different riding styles.
An aluminum gulltype swingarm was chosen in order to accommodate the longer
stroke of the rear suspension. The use of aluminum helps reduce unsprung
In addition to being lighter, using a
non-link type rear shock offers more direct feedback from the rear wheel,
contributing to greater rider “feel.” The excellent feedback clearly
communicates the bike’s limits, increasing rider confidence.
The ability of the rear suspension to soak up
bumps and ruts was the key to being able to ride over road imperfections
like rocks and potholes, etc. Consequently, a great deal of development time
was also devoted to the tuning of the Showa rear shock unit.
The high-grade shock unit makes use of a free
piston and 2-stage damping valves to ensure smooth action at the initial
part of the compression stroke and firmer damping near full compression,
giving a more planted feel.
Careful attention to the tuning of the rear
suspension ensures the Versys can be ridden aggressively and with confidence
through city streets, be they paved, brick or cobblestone.
Rear shock is adjustable for rebound damping and spring preload.
Attractive 6-spoke, 17”, supersport-style wheels give the bike a light look
while reducing unsprung weight to contribute to the bike’s quick steering.
A 110mm front tire was considered, but in the
end a 120mm tire was deemed to offer a better balance of quick steering and
front wheel traction.
Dual 300mm petal style front disc brakes are
gripped by twin-piston, pin-slide calipers for superb stopping power. The
petal style, drilling, and 5mm disc thickness all contribute to low unsprung
weight for enhanced handling characteristics.
Rear 220mm petals style disc with
single-piston, pin-slide caliper provides excellent feedback to the rider.
Slim, upright riding position
When engineers considered the kind of riding they wanted to offer, and the
speed range most often used in everyday riding, a naturally relaxed posture
care of a slim, upright position with wide handlebars was deemed ideal.
Because it would have a great impact on rider control and enjoyment, a
substantial amount of development time and effort was devoted to fine-tuning
the riding position.
The short-style tank positions the rider
closer to the front wheel for increased controllability and offers a greater
choice of forward-rearward sitting positions.
The seat’s slim design and the knee grip
characteristics of the tank afford good freedom of movement, allowing the
riders to change seating position on long rides.
Wide handlebar gives the rider excellent
Complementing the wide handlebar, the
footpegs are positioned low and slightly forward of the seat.
Wide, rubber covered footpegs help reduce
unwanted vibration and offer increased freedom of mobility.
When combined with the long-stroke suspension, the upright riding position
and higher seat height offer a commanding view of the road ahead –
especially advantageous when navigating city traffic or winding roads in the
The front cowl, instrument panel, and
headlight unit are mounted directly to the frame, minimizing its effect on
An adjustable windscreen helps reduce wind
noise and helmet buffeting, creating a serene space behind which to enjoy
The windscreen has three different height settings, allowing riders to
tailor its height to suit their preferences.
A taller windscreen is also available as an
The stacked dual headlight with dual position
lamps on the left and right gives the Versys a unique face. On low-beam
setting only the upper lamp is lit; both lamps light up on high-beam
For riders who prefer longer excursions, a comfortable seat, relaxed riding
position, large volume fuel tank, protection from the adjustable windscreen
and enhanced touring potential make the Versys a very capable long distance
Along with the comfortable seat, the relaxed
position enables rider to spend long hours in the saddle.
A 19-litre fuel tank combined with excellent
fuel economy offers an ample touring range.
Reinforced trellis sub-frame was designed to
accommodate aftermarket saddlebags. The sub-frame’s additional strength
contributes to increased stability when carrying luggage or a passenger.
Thanks to the under-engine muffler, the
bike’s profile can stay relatively slim even with the saddlebags attached.
Passenger footpeg stays and grab bars double as tie-down points for securing
The stepped seat was designed with different
thickness and firmness of urethane, optimizing comfort for both the rider
Passenger position was also designed to offer a natural seating position.
Passenger grab bars are located in a natural position, further increasing
The comfort afforded by the slim layout
(possible thanks to the under-engine muffler) also extends to the passenger.
A further benefit of the under-engine muffler is that heat is kept away from
All new instrument panel features white LED backlighting for increased
visibility at night. Features include a digital speedometer, analogue-style
tachometer, digital fuel gauge, odometer, dual trip meter, and traditional
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