2008 Kawasaki Versys Review


The launch of the 2008 model lineup from Kawasaki saw the introduction of an all-new bike, the Kawasaki Versys. Based on the Kawasaki Ninja 650 sport bike, the 2008 Kawasaki Versys has been redesigned to provide a multi-use bike with a more upright seating position that maintains the Ninja’s sportbike prowess. This is the latest to join the group of bikes from other manufacturers that are made to be ridden however and wherever you like. According to Kawasaki, the 2008 Kawasaki Versys can be used for light touring, commuting, sport riding, and urban assault.

The name Versys comes from a shortened amalgamation of Versatility System motorcycle, which is how the bike was designed. Instead of specializing in one particular area of riding, the bike has been designed to excel across several areas. This starts with the engine found within the 2008 Kawasaki Versys. While it is the same 649 cc engine as the Ninja 650, it has been tuned in the Versys so that it has slightly lower output with the torque spread over a wider range. As a result, the 2008 Kawasaki Versys should be quicker off the line than the Ninja 650 as it has more torque in the lower and mid-range rpms.

The suspension has been improved leading to a gain in wheel travel of the 2008 Kawasaki Versys over the Ninja 650. This results in the 2008 Kawasaki Versys having better performance across the board than the Ninja 650, and particularly when road conditions begin to deteriorate. The advanced shock system is fully adjustable and can initially feel soft, but will firm noticeably as loads increase.

The chassis of the 2008 Kawasaki Versys is lightweight making urban travel and commuting easier to handle. The sub-frame was redesigned, and the Versys grew in size compared to the Ninja 650. As a result, it has a larger fuel tank and is able to carry a full 5.0 gallons of fuel, compared to just over 4.0 gallons for the Ninja 650. It also has a more upright seating position that provides a better viewpoint for negotiating day-to-day traffic, as well as a more comfortable riding position for longer touring getaways. The wide handlebar of the 2008 Kawasaki Versys also provides for better leverage both around traffic and when maneuvering around curvy roads while out in the countryside.

New For 2008

The 2008 Kawasaki Versys is an al-new bike for 2008. A tuned 649cc engine to provide more bottom-end and mid-range torque, which features revised intake and exhaust cams, shorter valve duration, lower compression, and a different fuel injection system. Re-designed sub-frame that lead to increases in size and seat height of the 2008 Kawasaki Versys. Re-designed suspension that includes a new front suspension made up of a fully adjustable upside-down front fork, and an alloy swingarm mated to a new adjustable shock in the rear.

2008 Kawasaki Versys Specs

  • Model: Kawasaki Versys
  • Engine Type: 649cc, four-stroke, liquid cooled, DOHC, four-valve per cylinder, parallel twin
  • Bore and Stroke: 83 x 60 mm
  • Compression ratio: 10.6:1
  • Valve Train:
  • Induction: Digital fuel injection with two 38 mm Keihin throttle bodies
  • Ignition: Digital CDI
  • Transmission: Six-speed
  • Final Drive: O-ring chain
  • Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gallons
  • Estimated Fuel Economy: N/A
  • Brakes (Front): Dual 300 mm petal discs with two-piston caliper
  • Brakes (Rear): Single 220 mm petal disc with single-piston caliper
  • Suspension (Front): 41 mm hydraulic telescopic fork with adjustable rebound and preload
  • Suspension (Rear): Single offset laydown shock with adjustable rebound and spring preload
  • Wheelbase: 55.7 inches
  • Rake: 25 degrees
  • Trail: 4.3 inches
  • Seat Height: 33.1 inches
  • Curb Weight: 399 lbs.
  • Tires (Front): 120/70-17
  • Tires (Rear): 160/60-17


  • A multi-adjustable vario windshield can be installed on the 2008 Kawasaki Versys to allow for protection from wind as required. 50 mm and 30 mm lower gel seats provide for even lower seat heights for those riders that are on the shorter side. Saddlebags and saddlebag covers provide for up to nine gallons of storage capacity, and are easily installed on saddlebag brackets designed for the 2008 Kawasaki Versys. A top case can be installed at the rear of the bike that can hold up to 7.6 gallons of gear, including a full-size helmet, but it requires its own mount and cannot be used in conjunction with saddlebags. New four light headlight arrangement.

Key Competitors For The 2008 Kawasaki Versys

  • Ducati Multistrada
  • Triumph Tiger
  • Buell Ulysses
  • Suzuki DL