Single, Twin, Triple or Four? | 1-2-3-4

Adding up the ultimate 650cc solution

By Alex Hearn, Photography by Kevin Wing

2008 Kawasaki Versys
Price: $6899

More power and torque lower down the rev range make the Versys' 649cc parallel-twin more fun more of the time versus the Ninja 650, while the 180-degree crank and balancer shaft give character without pain. The pair of 38mm throttle bodies come courtesy of Keihin.

The tubular-steel trellis frame provides a sturdy anchor point for the laid-down Showa shock; it's tuned to be soft early in its stroke and firm up under full compression. As with the shock, the 41mm teles are adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping.

The petal-cut 300mm front discs might look like they came off a ZX-6R, but performance from the dual Tokico twin-piston calipers isn't what we were expecting. Rear braking is dealt with by a single 220mm disc and single-pot caliper.

The flyscreen is three-way adjustable in 20mm increments, and works best in the middle for most riders. Kawasaki has catered well for pillions-there's plenty of room on the seat out back, with large grab handles to hang on to.

You're looking at 5 fewer horses than Kawasaki's Ninja-spec 650cc twin. But thanks to power and torque peaks that arrive about 1000 rpm earlier, the Versys gets 'er done quicker on the street without all those trips to the shifter.

An oompa-loompa-accessible seat height and sporty cornering clearance enforce a compact but neutral riding position. There's little fore/aft fidget room, but two-tier accommodations are roomy enough for two average-sized humans.

Tech Spec
Engine type: l-c parallel-twin
Valve train: DOHC, 8v
Displacement: 649cc
Bore x stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm
Compression: 10.6:1
Fuel system: Keihin EFI
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: 6-speed
Frame: Tubular-steel trellis
Front suspension: 41mm Kayaba inverted fork, adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Single Kayaba shock, adjustable for spring preload and ebound damping
Front brake: Dual Tokico two-piston calipers, 300mm discs
Rear brake: Tokico single-piston caliper, 220mm disc
Front tire: 120/70-ZR17 Dunlop SportmaxRear tire: 160/60-ZR17 Dunlop Sportmax
Rake/trail: 25.0/4.3 in.
Seat height: 33.1 in.
Wheelbase: 55.7 in.
Fuel capacity: 5.0 gal.
Weight (tank full/empty): 457/427 lbs.
Measured horsepower: 59.7 bhp @ 8000 rpm
Measured torque: 44.0 lb.-ft. @ 6750 rpm
Fuel mileage (high/low/avg): 48/36/42
Colors: Red
Available: Now
Warranty: 12 months, unlimited mi.
Contact: Kawasaki Motors Corp.
9950 Jeronimo Rd.
Irvine, CA 92618

By Alex Hearn
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