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Kawasaki Ver­sys 1000

Old Bike Australasia - - CON­TENTS -

If this mo­tor­cy­cle were hu­man, who would it be? Not Killer Kowol­ski. Not Ru­dolf Nureyev. Not Gen­eral Dou­glas McArthur. But pos­si­bly James Bond. Ut­terly ef­fi­cient, re­source­ful, hand­some, and some­what in­scrutable. The 2019 ver­sion of Kawasaki’s big sports tourer em­bod­ies all of these traits, and the deeper you dig, the more you find.

Let’s start with first im­pres­sions; tall and a lit­tle top-heavy, es­pe­cially with a full (21 litre) tank of fuel. At 257kg un­laden, this is a fair bit of bike, and with packed pan­niers, top case and a pil­lion, it goes up from there. As such, you need to be care­ful with low speed ma­noeu­vres, but this sen­sa­tion soon abates, the mo­ment the road be­gins to dis­ap­pear be­neath the wheels. Once in its stride, the Ver­sys just eats the kilo­me­tres, and there’s a mul­ti­tude of set­tings and ad­just­ments to en­sure the ride is supremely com­fort­able and ef­fi­cient. The lug­gage com­part­ment con­sists of side pan­niers and a top case, the lat­ter large enough to take two full-face hel­mets. Amongst the vast cat­a­logue of op­tional ex­tras, there are in­ter­nal soft bags which fit snugly and are eas­ily car­ried so you don’t need to de­tach the pan­niers for overnight stops. The Ver­sys 1000 is also big on elec­tron­ics, very big. First, choose be­tween Road, Rain or Sport set­ting for the throt­tle map, ac­ti­vate Trac­tion Con­trol if you wish, then ad­just the sus­pen­sion ac­cord­ing to how many peo­ple and how much lug­gage is aboard. The com­puter dials up the sus­pen­sion set­tings you need. All at the touch of a fin­ger, and all clearly vis­i­ble on the colour dash. Or, you can do all this via the Kawasaki Ride­ol­ogy app and con­nect your smart­phone to the bike via Blue­tooth. Sim­ples. I men­tioned the 21 litre tank, which will take you at least 400km, prob­a­bly more, be­tween fuel stops. You also

have Cruise Con­trol and heated grips (with three lev­els) to max­imise com­fort. Given the uber high-tech na­ture of the Ver­sys, I thought the man­u­ally ad­justable screen, with its com­plex-look­ing steel car­rier and ad­just­ment knobs, to be a bit in­fradig, as it can’t (or shouldn’t) be ad­justed on the move. An elec­tri­cally-con­trolled screen would be a very sen­si­ble mod. For a break from Syd­ney traf­fic, we loaded up the green ma­chine and headed south, itch­ing the get off the mo­tor­way and onto the back roads that took us through Kan­ga­roo Val­ley and on to our overnight stay at Kiama. With the sus­pen­sion set­tings di­alled up to full load and the en­gine in Sport mode, the Ver­sys grew ex­tra mus­cles. Even with this load, it was rare to need to drop out of top gear, such is the mid-range beef in this en­gine, which would also rev off the clock if re­quired, which it wasn’t. In time, I for­got all about the weight bias and the need to keep the revs up at low speed. And while these back roads were quaint and in­ter­est­ing, the ac­tual sur­face var­ied from av­er­age to aw­ful, and here the sus­pen­sion re­ally came into its own. The front com­pres­sion damp­ing soaked up the big­gest pot­holes, and there were quite a few, while the rear did its job with the ut­most in stoic ef­fi­ciency.

All in all, the Ver­sys 1000 is a ma­chine for a pur­pose, or ac­tu­ally many pur­poses. As an es­cape ma­chine it is bril­liant; a com­bi­na­tion of an en­gine that has been care­fully re­fined from its Z1000 roots to an im­pres­sive and ver­sa­tile unit that feels like it would take you from Vic­to­ria to Vladi­vos­tok if re­quired. Once you get the hang of the elec­tronic heart of the ma­chine and learn to use its full ca­pa­bil­i­ties, you ex­pand the whole pack­age im­mea­sur­ably. So­phis­ti­cated, prac­ti­cal and sharply styled. Just like James Bond.

Buzzing through the Illawarra hills. Heaven!

Dash­board is eas­ily read and dis­plays all the var­i­ous func­tions.

Left switch is the heart of the elec­tronic con­trols. Spot lights and en­gine pro­tec­tor bars are amongst the many op­tions.

ABOVE Wind­screen works well but is only man­u­ally ad­justable when stopped. LEFT A hand­some pack­age.

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