2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT | FIRST LOOK

UPDATED with MSRP: The Big Versys is Coming to America at Last!

For the first time ever the Versys 1000 will be sold in North American dealerships. Both the Versys 1000 and the updated 650 benefit from numerous styling and mechanical updates for 2015, including more power and enhanced torque delivery, a larger fairing and windscreen that improve weather protection, and a more compact ABS system.

Styling normalizes the look of the Versys, which could previously only be described as unique. Gone are the old stacked headlights, replaced with conventional dual cat-eye lamps that share more than a passing resemblance to the Ninja 1000 and other Kawasaki bikes. A manually adjustable windscreen move through 3 inches of travel. As we’ve already seen on the Versys 650, the riding position is an open, upright affair supported by a generously sized seat.

The big Versys, available in other markets since 2012, is powered by a 1,043cc inline-four shared with the Z1000 streetfighter and the Ninja 1000. This year it gets ignition and injection system upgrades to improve power—now claimed at 120 hp—and new rubber engine mounts to reduce engine vibration, along with an assist-and-slip clutch to reduce lever pull and wheel hop on corner entries. Suspension upgrades come in the form of a longer-travel 41mm fork and a new rear shock that now features a remote adjuster. Compared to the Ninja 1000/Z1000, the Versys has 1.2 inches more travel up front, half an inch more out back. Electronic rider aids include switchable traction control and two power modes.

For the US, the big Versys will be sold as the LT up-model, which features Kawasaki’s 28-liter, quick-detach hard saddlebags and hand guards. Like the similar bags on last year’s Ninja 1000, the Versys’ remove easily and leave unobtrusive mounts behind. They mount to a subframe beefed up for the purpose. A generously sized 5.5-gallon fuel tank should provide good range.

The Versys 1000’s MSRP is $12,799.