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Kawasaki KLE 650 Versys
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 Versys ride.
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 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 plumbing.
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 highway use.
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.
Sleek, flickable chassis
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 control.
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.
The front cowl, instrument panel, and headlight unit are mounted directly to the frame, minimizing its effect on handling.
An adjustable windscreen helps reduce wind
noise and helmet buffeting, creating a serene space behind which to enjoy
A taller windscreen is also available as an option.
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
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.
The stepped seat was designed with different
thickness and firmness of urethane, optimizing comfort for both the rider
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