Ver­sys 650 GT

‘Some­how the Ver­sys al­ways man­aged to raise a smile and carry me home with­out fuss’ Af­ter nearly 10,000 miles through win­ter, how well has the af­ford­able mid­dleweight Ver­sys held up?

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10,000-mile ver­dict

My choice of win­ter trans­port for my high­mileage com­mute from York­shire to Peter­bor­ough raised a few eye­brows around the of­fice. “A mid­dleweight ad­ven­ture bike?” was the gen­eral gist. “Why not go for some­thing with a bit more pres­ence?”

But I’d scanned the mar­ket and done my home­work, and Kawasaki’s Ver­sys 650 GT ticked all the boxes. With the bad weather ap­proach­ing I needed a bike that could bat­tle the el­e­ments, some­thing with good wind pro­tec­tion and hand­guards. I needed some­thing com­fort­able, but I’m only 5ft 7in there­fore I didn’t want any­thing too large and cum­ber­some. I wanted to have the op­tion of car­ry­ing lug­gage, needed a large tank range, and thrifty MPG. I didn’t want any­thing with a mil­lion gad­gets; I also didn’t want crazy power; who needs more than 100bhp in win­ter? I just wanted some­thing sim­ple and easy to ride.

Go­ing the dis­tance

My com­mute from East York­shire to Peter­bor­ough is around 90 miles, de­pend­ing on which route I choose. It usu­ally con­sists of the M18 fol­lowed by the mo­not­o­nous A1.

That equates to just over an hour of high-speed tour­ing in all con­di­tions; snow, wind, rain and usu­ally in the dark dur­ing win­ter – but the Ver­sys ploughed through it all ef­fort­lessly. With the screen on its high­est set­ting I’m snugly po­si­tioned in the com­fort­able sad­dle, away from what­ever Mother Na­ture could throw at me. The hand­guards did their best to de­flect the wind­blast and help to keep my hands warm, and I even had the op­tion of plug­ging in heated cloth­ing to the handy 12v power socket on the dash.

There is no­tice­able vi­bra­tion above 80mph, but the twin will still hap­pily buzz along at 90mph while re­turn­ing over 50mpg, which equates to around 200 miles per tank.

There have been many oc­ca­sions in the worst of win­ter when my jour­ney home, in freez­ing con­di­tions, has been as ap­peal­ing as drink­ing dirty bath wa­ter, but some­how the Ver­sys al­ways man­aged to raise a smile and carry me home with­out any fuss. The par­al­lel-twin is bul­let­proof, too. I’ve raced a highly-mod­i­fied ER-6N, which shares the same en­gine as the Ver­sys, for years and never had any prob­lems – now you can see why I chose the of­ten over­looked Ver­sys.

The salty truth

Win­ter hasn’t been overly kind to the Ver­sys though – and, I’ll be hon­est, I am hardly fas­tid­i­ous when it comes to a clean­ing regime. In my de­fence I’m now on first name terms with the guys at the lo­cal car wash. £3 for a full clean – bar­gain! But de­spite my best ef­forts, lash­ings of win­ter road salt have taken their toll. The down­pipes look very sec­ond hand, as you’d ex­pect, but the worst bits are the wheel speed sen­sor rings, which look like they’ve just been fished out of a North Sea trawler’s nets. But the rest of the fin­ish has stood up to the on­slaught pretty well, and af­ter a full clean the bike still looks good – even with three years of av­er­age mileage on the clocks, all ac­cu­mu­lated in the worst con­di­tions pos­si­ble. Not bad for a rel­a­tively ‘bud­get’ ma­chine.

Miss­ing you al­ready

The Ver­sys be­came part of the fam­ily. Three hours of com­mut­ing each day, five days a week; you do the maths. It’s not all been com­mut­ing though. Tour­ing around the Peak District in Jan­uary was great; no traf­fic, no fuss and fan­tas­tic roads. We’ve also had some sur­pris­ingly spir­ited rides.

I’d love to keep the Ver­sys parked in the cor­ner of my garage, ready to pressed into du­ti­ful ser­vice again next win­ter, or when I want com­fort and prac­ti­cal­ity rather than speed – but I don’t have the room or fi­nances to keep it. I know I’m go­ing to miss the plucky 650, and if the pain of sep­a­ra­tion gets too much, I could prob­a­bly stretch to a PCP deal at just over £100 a month – which is pretty tempt­ing.

But for now, it’s farewell old friend.

Spring is here and that means it’s good­bye

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