Go-anywhere Kawasaki Versys grows up

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IOL mot pic jan30 Kawasaki Versys 1000 1 . Bigger, torquier Versys with similar insectoid styling and accessible, real-world mid-range power.

Kawasaki's go-anywhere, do-anything Versys 650 all-rounder has been quietly been making a name for itself since it was released late in 2006 for genuine versatility and long-haul comfort, earning it the nickname the 'Great Escaper'.

Now Kawasaki has done a bit of inside-the-box thinking (the box in this case being the Kawasaki parts bin) to put together a bigger, torquier Versys with similar insectoid styling and accessible, real-world mid-range power.

The slide-rule samurai started with the tried and tested 1043cc inline four Z1000 and Z1000 SX, reshaped the combustion chambers to reduce the compression ratio from 11.8:1 to 10.3:1, increased the length of the intake tracts and fitted new, 38mm oval throttle bodies.

Oval header pipes get the exhaust gases flowing smoothly and a collector hidden behind the engine bash plate keeps it that way, without needing a bulky end can.

The end result is 86.8kW at 9000 revs and a creditable 102Nm at 6800rpm; first and second gears are a little shorter than on the big Zed for killer take-offs (and on-demand wheelies!) while the top four ratios are taller for relaxed cruising and creditable fuel consumption.

With 17” hoops at both ends, the Versys 1000 is intended purely as a streetbike, but Kawasaki has recognised that today's streets have less than perfect surfaces, with potholes, bumps and ripples aplenty.

IOL mot pic jan30 Kawasaki Versys 1000 2 Versys series has genuine versatility and long-haul comfort, earning it the nickname the Great Escaper. .

So, like its smaller sibling, the Versys 1000 has un upright seating position and long-travel suspension with firm springing, enabling it to deal with most roads that are sufficiently well-maintained to appear on a map, without making Herself seasick on fast corners.

The frame is welded up from five cast-aluminium sections, with its main members wrapping over rather than around the engine to keep the centre of the bike narrow, and uses the engine as a stressed member.

The windscreen can be adjusted over 30mm for height by turning two knobs (no tools needed), there's a lightweight, composite rear carrier and (nice touch) a large underseat stowage space that can accommodate rain gear.

Front-wheel modulation is by 43mm 'big piston' upside-downies, with stepless adjustment for preload and rebound damping, while the rear suspension uses a similar horizontal back-link set-up to that of the KLE650 Versys, also with adjustable Rebound damping and preload - the latter tuneable 'on the fly' by means of a large remote handwheel that can accessed by gloved hands while on the move.

Then the white-coat warriors stepped across to the ZX-14R parts bin to pick up that bike's three-mode traction-control system: modes 1 and 2 prioritise acceleration, as with the system on the latest ZX-10R, while mode 3 is similar to the system on the 2010 1400 GTR, set up specifically to keep the bike under control on slippery surfaces.

In modes 1 and 2 the programming allows a degree of wheelspin to maximise acceleration while keeping a close eye on front and rear wheel slippage (and rider inputs on the throttle and brakes) so that it can react to reduce torque before the bike tries to re-write the laws of physics.

Versys, Kawasaki tells us, stands for VERsatile SYStem, and this grown-up version promise the same comfortable, easy-to-live ergonomics with a whole lot more heavy-duty hauling muscle.

The Versus 1000 is due for South African release early in February; pricing will be announced then.


Engine: 1043cc liquid-cooled four.

Bore x stroke: 77 x 56mm.

Compression ratio: 10.3:1.

Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.

Power: 86.8kW at 9000rpm.

Torque: 102Nm at 6800rpm.

Induction: Electronic fuel-injection with four 38mm Keihin oval throttle bodies.

Ignition: Digital transistorised with electronic advance.

Starting: Electric.

Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.

Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.

Front Suspension: 43mm inverted 'big piston' cartridge forks with stepless adjustment for preload and rebound damping.

Rear Suspension: Horizontal back-link, gas-charged, with stepless rebound damping and remote spring preload adjustability

Front brakes: Dual semi-floating 300mm petal discs with Tokico four-pot opposed-piston callipers.

Rear brake: 250mm petal disc with single-piston floating calliper

Front tyre: 120/70 - 17 tubeless.

Rear tyre: 180/55 - 17 tubeless.

Wheelbase: 1520mm.

Seat height: 845mm.

Kerb weight: 239kg.

Fuel tank: 21 litres.

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