New Ver­sys X-300 rated

New Kawasaki Ver­sys-x 300 let down by a cou­ple of an­noy­ing nig­gles

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - Byjon Urry MCN GUEST TESTER

The mini ad­ven­ture bike scene is about to take off... big time! There’s the Suzuki V-strom 250 and BMW G310 GS ar­riv­ing im­mi­nently and a 390-based KTM spied test­ing. How­ever, beat­ing them to the start­ing gate is Kawasaki’s new of­fer­ing, the Ver­sys-x 300.

The Ver­sys-x uses the same 296cc par­al­lel twin mo­tor as the Ninja and Z300 (al­though it has been made Euro4­com­pli­ant through new fuel map­ping and a big­ger cat), and houses it in a pleas­ingly large frame. Then there’s the usual off-road-in­spired parts such as long travel sus­pen­sion, high bars and spoked wheels with a 17in rear and a 19in front. This is a bit of a de­par­ture from the Ver­sys tra­di­tion of cast 17in front and rear wheels and is the rea­son the 300 gets an X af­ter its name. Why the change? Kawasaki wanted to give the Ver­sys some light off-road abil­ity, not only to please the Far East­ern mar­ket but also to tempt UK rid­ers who may fancy at­tack­ing the odd green lane. A de­ci­sion that I feel has led to a few un­wel­come com­pro­mises on what is al­most a very good ma­chine…

The specs claim the Ver­sys has a tall 845mm seat height due to added ground clear­ance, but don’t let this put you off if you are short of leg, as the nar­row­ness of the par­al­lel twin’s waist makes it feel con­sid­er­ably lower. How­ever, the seat it­self is quite firm, which is a nod to off-road rid­ing rather than road com­fort and on a bike that Kawasaki claim can cover over 200 miles thanks to 66mpg and a 17-litre tank, this is an over­sight. The rest of the bike is very com­fort­able with a re­ally roomy rid- ing po­si­tion and ef­fec­tive screen and fair­ing, so it is a strange de­ci­sion. But that’s not the biggest is­sue.

Com­pared to the Ninja 300, the Ver­sys has a three-teeth larger rear sprocket (46 teeth) with the same in­ter­nal gear­box ra­tios. On the Ver­sys-x this makes the bike re­ally revvy and at 60mph the par­al­lel twin is buzzing away at over 7000rpm. Thanks to the sec­ondary bal­ancer shaft there are no ir­ri­tat­ing vi­bra­tions, but it’s not very pleas­ant as it al­ways feels like the mo­tor is work­ing re­ally hard (I kept check­ing the gear in­di­ca­tor to see if I was in fifth and not sixth) and that is dis­tract­ing and an­noy­ing. And it is a shame as the rest of the bike is re­ally good.

For blast­ing around nar­row back roads or city com­mut­ing the Ver­sys-x is ex­cel­lent. It has a mas­sive 40° of turn ei­ther way on the bars, mean­ing you can U-turn in a sin­gle track road, the as­sist and slip­per clutch’s ac­tion is feather-light and the sus­pen­sion is nice and soft with­out feel­ing too cheap and bouncy. The A2-le­gal par­al­lel twin mo­tor is punchy enough, can top an in­di­cated 90mph and has a lovely throt­tle con­nec­tion while the rid­ing po­si­tion is spot on for most sizes of rider – and at 173kg the Ver­sys is easy to ma­noeu­vre. It even has a neat lug­gage rack as stan­dard and a bit of un­der­seat stor­age. It’s just such a shame that two er­rors in judg­ment have tainted the over­all rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘A cou­ple of odd de­ci­sions have tainted the over­all rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence’

The new 300cc Ver­sys can do a bit of ev­ery­thing... and most of it very well

Swirly head­ers ooze qual­ity A sim­ple yet ef­fec­tive dash­board

The new Ver­sys-x is a neat-look­ing lit­tle ad­ven­ture bike

Handy un­der­seat stor­age

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