Rode a Versys 1000 at a Kawasaki demo

Discussion in 'New Models' started by faffi, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. faffi

    faffi A.S.A.N.

    Feb 24, 2003
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    Only briefly, limit was 15 minutes, so not a lot one can learn. Actually, I hadn't planned to ride any of the demo bikes, I was just there to keep my son (the one who took over my Z650) with company. He was there to test ride the new Z900RS.

    First impression: VERY TALL! Just getting on board was a struggle thanks to my 32 in inseam and stiff hips. Plus the even taller pillion had to be overcome. Then there was the hard bags and trunk. This was a demo bike new for the season, and the bags had already lost a lot of paint to boots trying to find their way over the seat.

    Having climbed on board, the bike was shockingly easy to lift off the sidestand. So light that I went over to the other side, where my foot was still hanging pretty high. Saved it, but it could have turned ugly. There is no way I could flat foot the bike - sitting well up front I could get toes firmly to the ground, sitting back ever so slightly meant my toes would just kiss tarmac.

    Clutch lever was totally effortless to pull and offered no feel. Felt almost like a clutch with a snapped cable. Luckily, a broad span of engagement still made it easy to take off. Mirrors were good at showing what's behind, seating position upright and comfortable, handlebars higher than on my MT07, lower than on my Virago. Also fairly straight as seen from above, which is good for my wrists.

    Windscreen gives a little flap-flap noises at speed, but still manage to be more silent than no screen, so that must said to be good. Together with hand guards and knee cutouts, I was decently sheltered from the elements.

    Engine vibrates, which is mostly felt in the LHS footpeg, which feels electric above 3000 rpm, getting worse with revs. Vibrations are even more pronounced during trailing throttle and under accelerations. Didn't notice much in the handlebar grips, seat or mirrors, but the tingles in the feet was really annoying for me.

    Sound is rather uninspiring, unlike the really nice (for a four) sound coming off the 900RS. Power comes in with a slight delay. In the lower gears, it is seriously quick without being alarming. I took it to the redline in the lower 3 gears, but you would probably go at least as quick by shifting 1000 rpm sooner. Top gear acceleration from 50 or 60 mph feels slower than that of the MT07. Like just about any four, the engine is flexible and rather unexciting unless given full throttle in the lower 3 gears, where it gets up and goes. But it lacks the sensation of power that my MT, or even Virago, has due to their throbbing and more relaxed gait. At least for me.

    Engine vibrations caused some noises from the fairing area, and bumps made the bags/trunk rattle and clunk annoyingly.

    Suspension was not fantastic, but very nice on smooth roads. Going fast-ish over speed bumps showed a lack of rebound on the back - my old Virago can take more abuse, but isn't quite as elegant on smooth roads.

    Brakes was, as typical for most bikes made during the past 3 decades, really good, but didn't give a lot of feel - felt powerful, but mush, not unlike the clutch. One would probably rapidly grow accustomed to both.

    Instruments were easy to read with an analogue rev counter - thumbs up. The digital speedo, which I do not like, was easier to read than that on the MT07 and also quicker to update itself. Switchgear felt a bit cheap, not unlike that of the MT07. If it had heated grips, I could not find the switch.

    For me, the best thing with the bike was the natural seating position and large, firm seat. I also liked the wind protection that, although not perfect, was quite decent. No draft could be felt in the neck or back. Engine has sufficient power, but feels and sound bland. Lacks the top gear lunge I expect from a litre bike, although it probably goes better than it feels.

    Dislikes include the seat height, rattles, vibrations and the suspension's lack of ability to deal with big bumps. Overall it's not a bike I would consider, but I am glad I tried it.

    BTW, the kid was lyric about the Z900RS, claiming it handled with the lightness of the old Z400 twin. Felt very easy and neutral to ride. He didn't dare to rev it to the redline in second gear, but shifted at 7500 rpm; it was too fast for him. Could also have to do with the roads, as we were in a reasonably urban area with traffic. Acceleration in 5th gear was fantastic according to him, with the much taller 6th gear being noticeably more sedate. Still much better than the Z650 in every respect. Bottom line; he loved it, but saw no reason to pay its USD 25,000 asking price.
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