At 5111km, my first review of Versys 650

For press reviews, 6 months or 5000km usually marks the time when they do their long term review before sending back the motorcycle back to the manufacturer.

For owners, this is usually the time when they’ve come to terms with their motorcycle. Enough time and/or distance to overcome their purchase bias and give an honest opinion.  At this point, it’s become clear whether they want to sell it or ride it for few years.

versys-650-5000km

Since I’ve passed both these critical marks, it’s time to give my perspective on how it feels like to actually own the Kawasaki Versys 650.

Purchase decision: To make it clear, this process of owning a mid-size tourer was not as impulsive as it seems – it was very calculated. Included 2 years of reading, researching, and patiently waiting for a  motorcycle that fit my requirements and budget.

A litre-class motorcycle just didn’t appeal to me as much for it’s price  as its practicability on Indian road conditions.

In the small-size tourer segment,   KTM Adventure 390 was (and is) still a rumor. BMW 310 GS was never in discussion. No one could guarantee how RE Himalayan would end up.

That’s when Kawasaki surprised the Indian market. Timing is everything and Versys 650 launch couldn’t have come at a better time especially considering the disappointment I felt after riding the Benelli GT. In fact, Versys fit my bill perfectly, except that it didn’t come in the ‘candy lime green’. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I booked it without seeing it in person. When I saw it, it was bigger, taller, and larger than I had imagined.

Initial hurdles: The first thousand kilometers were all about overcoming fears. Fear of its height. Fear of its weight. Fear of a fall. Fear of maintenance. Fighting off the buyer’s remorse especially when everyone around you is questioning your purchase decision in a snarky manner.

Most of these fears have subsided. But, recently when I saw a Versys recovered from an accident, some fears started resurfacing. The fear of spare parts not being available and fear of the motorcycle just standing in the service center for weeks/months. As for the height and weight, it’s just a matter of getting used to the motorcycle. Then, it’ll feel just fine and you’ll end up in places like this.

The amateur psychologist in me wants to review it using a Freudian concept. So here goes:

Id (It – the motorcycle): Enough reviews are already out there but there are some things that I love about the Versys 650.

  • One of the most refined and quiet engines you’ll get to ride. Yes, you’ll learn to forgive the demanding and noisy gearbox for the sake of this lovely engine that feels at ease no matter how and where you ride it.
  • I don’t know how ABS in other bikes feel because this is my first one. Even without any relative benchmark, I love the bite of the brakes and the confidence the ABS gives me to ride it fast.
  • It looks good. From close and from far. It may not be colorful but it’s got a majestic stance. A show stopper. There will never be a moment without you getting the attention on the roads.
  • Fit and finish. Attention to detail. No loose ends. No moving parts. Everything about the motorcycle is high quality. How I wish Kawasaki gave us the accessories to jazz up the Versys instead of waiting for a friend to travel to US or constantly visiting Ali Express.
  • The seats are a joy. They are wide and extremely comfortable. Doing 8 hours a day for 4 back to back days with almost no effort is too good to be true. I won’t say it’s the same experience for the pillion though.
  • Night riding isn’t going to be fun. You would really wish that you had better lights or offered auxiliary lights that can brighten your ride.  You may be able to do max of 70km/h ride safely.

Ego (I – how I feel): Happier than I thought I’d be owning and riding such a big motorcycle.

  • I do miss the gear indicator a lot and DC power output worked. I really would have loved to have the LED light bar as well. It hurts to know that these things could have been there but aren’t there. These things can be fixed but aren’t available in India. Even if they did, they are all freaking expensive.
  • There is not much to complain when you are in the highway. Bad roads don’t matter. The unexpected speed breakers or potholes don’t affect you. Sudden crossing of animals and mankind don’t scare you. In the city, the weight and height do start mess with your mind and body after a while.
  • The suspension makes you smile. Every time you make a mistake on the roads and the long travel suspension covers it up for you like nothing really happened, you will feel that the massive investment was worth it. So many times, I did things which I knew would have shook me up on any other motorcycle, this one handle with so much poise and grace. Even the rains don’t matter…

Super-ego (Above I – does it make sense for this society): Absolutely, yes!

  • Mid-size, twin-cylinder motorcycles with long travel suspensions are the best answer to all the questions that the Indian roads throw at us. This country definitely needs more tourer-based models (sports or adventure doesn’t really matter). Most motorcycles need to be this versatile or they are just compromises.
  •  Anyone in the society who wants to go on 1000+ km rides once every two weekends definitely needs something this good. Not having to worry about road conditions or your comfort will make you want to be out there in the highway more than you do.
  • In a couple of years, the touring motorcycle segment between 300 to 800 will be the hottest market for any manufacturer to be in and makes perfect sense. It will be the perfect detox for mankind that spends 5 days comfortably in front of screens. They can then spend the remaining 2 days of the week as comfortably on a motorcycle like Versys and enjoy the highway for whatever it’s worth!

In closing: All ye tourers, who will ever ride a motorcycle with beak or even ogled at the white/blue Tiger 800, take a moment to thank BMW for launching the R80G/S.

Without this icon, the touring segment as we have come to know and live may never have existed. Thanks, Kawasaki, for jumping on this trend and giving perhaps one of the most underrated and versatile tourer at a price point that’s not outrageous.

Every time I’ve come back from a ride (short or long), the urge to go on a longer ride increases. I guess that how you really judge a tourer –  the heart crying for more miles and knowing that motorcycle will happily oblige. 

8 thoughts on “At 5111km, my first review of Versys 650

  1. Good one durai. Everytime I think I have over spent over the past 12k+ kms, I try and read something like this or watch the powerdrift review online. Then I drink the kawasaki cool aid to sleep.

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    • Can’t agree more with you on the powerdrift review. Everyday I can’t ride the versys, I have to watch it to feel better. Sometimes, it’s also a “pump yourself up” before a ride video too..

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