Kawasaki Versys 650GT
An impressive package
You could easily be mistaken for thinking the 650 was the Versys’s bigger brother, the 1000, when it’s in this fully-dressed Grand Tourer guise – it’s an impressive, and imposing, package, and all for under £8000.
The Grand Tourer is a Uk-only model and comes with colourmatched panniers (with inner bags), a matching topcase, handguards, huge fog lamps, a gear indicator and a 12v power outlet. The standard 650 Versys will set you back £6749, which means all this extra loveliness costs you £1250. But it’s not just the boltons that give the Kawasaki a superior feel. The screen is adjustable, as are the levers, and it’s the only bike on test to boast adjustable suspension front and rear. The bodywork looks and feels solid, and the panniers and topbox match the bike perfectly – rather than looking like they’ve been stolen from Toys R Us (like the Honda). Yes, the Kawasaki is the most expensive bike on test, but it feels like it, too. You can see where your money has been spent. However, the gear position indicator looks like an afterthought, it doesn’t need to be that large and is way too bright at night. And you are either going to loath or love the big LED fog lamps – though they are undeniably impressive at night.
The air of luxury does evaporate slightly on the move, as the Versys is noticeably more vibey than our other two bikes. Above 80mph, or when revving it hard, you really notice the vibrations through the wide bars and pegs. It’s not annoying, but it is noticeable compared to the smooth Suzuki and the low-revving Honda.
But we all agreed if we had to embark on a long journey we’d all grab the Kawasaki key first. You sit very much in the bike, and it’s a comfortable place to be, with a low seat and the wide bars perfectly spaced so that nothing is too much of a stretch. The manually adjustable screen and large fairing are more effective than the Honda’s, too. The handguards offer some wind protection as well as looking good, and with a 21-litre fuel tank you can push to almost 200 miles before needing to fill up. But while the Kawasaki’s tank is seven litres bigger than the Honda’s, the Versys is more thirsty, meaning fuel stops arrive at the same time.
Through the bends, the Versys punches way above its weight, handling surprisingly well, although the fork dive is excessive under heavy braking. But unlike the other bikes on test, the forks are adjustable. Put simply, it’s a lot of bike for the money.
‘Compared to the low-revving NC and smooth SV, it’s noticeably vibey’