2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 Review

2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 Review: Having ridden and reviewed the big brother Kawasaki Versys 1000 a few months back, I received a lot of requests to try the parallel twin little brother, the Kawasaki Versys 650. The first thing I noticed was that it didn’t feel that little! Stay tuned for my first impressions review of the Kawasaki Versys 650…

Many thanks to Blade Motorcycles in Abingdon for lending me the bike to review. Check them out at https://www.blademotorcycles.co.uk/

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MackP says:

The mirrors are specifically designed with the bottom shaped like that to give you the maximum of depth to see the road while also being aerodynamic, so as not to cause wind buffeting and that would cause them to shake a lot. Pretty clever by Kawasaki, that’s why a lot of people praise mirrors on the Versys. On the surface it seems unusual and counter-productive, ’cause you want big round or square shaped mirrors, but those are the ones that catch most air and tend to shake quite a lot.

TheSpikeyBiker says:

Does sound good

Pastie says:

Great comments below, a lot of them hit the nail on the head. These middleweight bikes from the big manufacturers give a lot of bike for the money, and really are all you need on today’s roads. You can do a lot more than just commute on the Versys 650. True what you say TMF, 650 would have been considered a beast not that many years ago! The reason it’s hard to find negative things to say on reviews is because the big manufacturers really do their homework and research prior to launching. All the same, great review, and as always gives a real feel for what the bike is like. I’ve heard of Variable Valve Timing, but we do need to see your Variable Inseam. On second thoughts….

Foundation Galaxy says:

Thanks for the review. I’m an absolute beginner and I just bought brand new versys 650 as my first motorcycle looking forward for my very first riding season on it and in the meantime I’m very interested to see what is the more experienced riders stand on this mc

Helen Hancox says:

Would love to see you test ride a honda cb500x, a lower cc commuter but a lovely little bike. Would like to know what you think.

Paul The Grump says:

Nice review as always.
As I said in the past I’ve got the grand tourer .
Love it .
But after I’ve broken my ankle . I’m two minds weather to keep it .
It’s a tall bike and I have the lower seat fitted .
When I get on it I can’t just swing my leg over .
I stand on the foot peg then get on.
I’m five foot eight but 28inch leg .
I haven’t ridden it since my broken ankle . That’s why I’m thinking of a lower lighter bike
Able to carry a pillion in comfort .

erikleeblake says:

Just sold my 2011 Versys 650 two months ago. Though I was stepping up dramatically to a new Multistrada 1200 S, it was still a bit hard to let go. Despite the practical layout, the bike is quite willing to show its athletic side. The engine won’t win drag races, but it’s eager, willing and quite revvy for a twin, pulling healthily through the mid-range. And the 17″ front makes it surprisingly nimble and quick to transition. It’ll lean enough to drag a knee, should you be so inclined. Yes, it’s “agricultural.” Transmission is chunk-chunk stiff and the engine is unrefined. But this also translates into a feeling of sturdy solidity throughout. Suffice to say, my new, delicate Italian bike is likely to give me far more trouble.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive bike that gets the job done with more fun and fighting spirit than perhaps indicated in this video (not to take away from TMF’s excellent work), the Versys 650 is highly recommended by this rider with a number of happy seasons on one.

Luciano R says:

How are the vibrations? I’ve heard the older iterations of the 650 engine was vibrational as hell, and the plastic pieces in the versys didn’t help, but I haven’t heard any opinions on the newer models.

The Ahmad Ridhuan says:

Just acquired mine on the last day of 2017. Have been enjoying myself on the Versys 650 ever since except when I have the girlfriend riding pillion with me as the additional weight make me a bit more cautious which take away a bit of the enjoyment. I like it when you said it was a practical transporter which in reality the reason I chose Versys in the first place.

Uneasy Rider says:

Was never a Kwaka fan, but did an open day and test rode a few including this one. I was very impressed. Great review thanks.

Android says:

that thang is UGLY. I would smoke u with my new FJR

Mark H says:

How do you buy pants if you don’t know your inseam? Mine is 29″ I never bought a pair of Metric pants..

Bonny Trippler says:

Thank you TMF – another great review.  Shows what a pro you are – nearly taken out by a big white car @ 0.08 and you didn’t even break stride on the review – well done indeed sir!

Big Bike Trip says:

It’s a very nice looking bike, would be a great first big bike with a cracking range on it! You could do worse for £7k…

Moose Mafia says:

Any chance you’ll ride the new F 850 GS ? 🙂 Keep up the good work TMF!

Vim Hill says:

I have a 2007 model which I have owned since new, I love the bike, it never disappoints and never have a problem keeping up with my friends who all have liter bikes and when the twistys start they have problems keeping up with me, I have been riding for over 50 years and I used to have a whole raft of BSA’s and Nortons and other than engine size there is nothing the same, I guess I am a slow learner because I love my learner bike

Mat Bettinson says:

Trying to decide between this and a V-strom. Probably swinging to the ‘strom for dirt road action.

adrianbarrie13 says:

Nice balanced view MF.

OperationFoxley19441 says:

Looks similar to the Honda NC 750! Nice review!

John Gunner says:

Any chance of doing a review of the new Husqvarnas that’s just come out

Andrew Tunnicliffe says:

Another cracking review Mr TMF! If I’d been thinking with my head instead of my heart I might have got one of these as my first “big bike” instead of my Street Triple – cheaper, more weather protection, maybe a bit more versatile…

Roy Smith says:

Nice review, I like that bike even though I have never even sit on one. All the reviews I have seen on it have been positive. Thanks!

Alex K says:

I have this exact bike, brought it to tour Europe. Put a couple of thousand miles on over this winter. It’s much sportier than I expected ( my previous bike was an R6, this is no R6 but it is fun) and corners well. The suspension can be set significantly firmer very easily. Good motorway cruiser, not vibey at all. Comfortable and I’m seeing 59mpg on average. Negatives- the throttle is quite on off combined with short gear ratios and significant engine breaking make low speed (30mph or less ) a bit of an abrupt affair.
Positives- a comfortable bike and ride. Handling is precise allowing you to carve corners well. The engine has good torque and the exhaust note really sounds good when the revs climb. A good allrounder, thats lively.

lipsee100 says:

I do,nt think its an ideal bike for you,,being on the balls of your feet is certainly not ideal..

morten hansen says:

I wish you could make a pay by the currier for your stuff ! I never put my cards out there.Morten

urbanfireblade says:

I own the er6n, same engine but slightly higher tune @74bhp, I get 56mpg average, much the same.

palantir135 says:

Which one do you prefer: the Versys or the V-strom? Or even another 600ish allroad.
-6.4°C this morning and it stayed below zero the whole day. With wind chill it was -11°.

sean copley says:

I have had an er6n since new and it’s about to tick over 100,000 Klms, with no trouble at all, so I can certainly say the power train in the Versys is great.

Konrad konrad says:

Hi TMF are you from Abingdon ?
That’s good review !

Andrew Hull says:

Loving your videos flyer, mt09sp or
Street triple rs?

The Infamous Biker says:

Had my mk2 Versys for 18 months now. Replaced my Tiger after a van pulled out on me. The Versys is a fantastic, but simple bike. I’ve toured on it, and have no problems keeping up with any of my friends in the twisties. The gearbox is very clunky, on mine at least. Not the perfect bike, but it’s a hell of a lot of bike for the money.

David Quinn says:

Did a border run two weeks ago peru to Bolivia , met some Brazilian riders doing a tour as they often do . V strom and versys always amongst those Brazilian riders .. they love them . I had my 955i tiger parked next to there bikes . I thought they were 1litre models not 650s . They look beautiful but also big . I made my way to La Paz , they soon caught me up .

Rory McLoughlin says:

Descendant of the GPZ500S, another Kawasaki mid-sized bike which got labelled ‘beginner, budget, ideal first bike etc’ but was actually a very quick and amazingly versatile machine, even for an experienced rider like me. I am still struggling with the styling of modern machines but I can see this is a great value all-rounder like its ancestor.

Ray Morris says:

This has the same motor as the er6 and Vulcan s , in my opinion it’s a bit weady in this bike, because it’s a big bike that you would expect to do some 2 Up touring, with 2 up and luggage your going to stretch it a lot, especially on the motorway. I think it should be an 800 or 900 , to compete with the Triumph Tiger 800. I prefer the looks of this to the Triumph but on the road it just doesn’t compare.

Peakrider says:

Any idea if you will review any other KTMs? I’ve seen the big super adventure review, but can’t recall if you’ve tested the 1090 yet. Would be interested how you compare it to the Multistrada 950, Versys and V-strom 1000s, and Honda crossrunner as tourers with one or two up. Thanks for more great videos TMF!!

NtGism says:

When people say “say something nasty about them” I think they are trying to compare these bikes to the likes of the R1200GS the Multistrada or the Super Adventure, which completely misses the point. For the price, the category and the competition I think the Versys is a no-brainer, but so is the V-Strom imo. I would say that the Suzuki is more touring oriented than the Versys but both are pretty capable all-in-one bikes.

SunzOffski says:

I hope the rear pillion peg hangers can be unbolted, looks like they have welded them to the frame like the Tiger800.

kyotosal says:

Mr. Flyer you are riding the basic model. The Versys 650 LT comes with panniers and hand guards, and you can get a top box for it too. Thank you for a nice review. I should buy this bike but I keep dreaming of the Versys 1000. HA!


Simple question, Kawa or V strom?

Colin Colborn says:

I wish I had bought the Versys! I bought a new NC750x (not a DCT) last year. I really like it and it sounds great but I think the Versys looks better and gears don’t seem as clunky as the NC. The NC also has the worst seat you can imagine. I question if the manufacturers even test these with people for any length of time. Versys looks good, great review. Cheers

palantir135 says:

Haha, I wrote the questions just before you gave me the answers.

Mal Reynolds says:

This is not an Aprilia Tuono 1100, or a Speed Triple RS. The Versys 650 is an OLD MAN bike. :-/

Andy Pandy says:

Seems too much money for that bike

Andrew Levitt says:

Top review as always your my go to man for down to earth bike reviews.

dry509 says:

How was the throttle response? This or Vstrom 650? Which is more comfortable? I read where the Versys is a little more nimble? Which one shifts the smoothest and has the smoothest throttle response and the least vibration? Thanks. Can’t get a test ride of either. They are in my price range.

CCShad says:

I am an older rider, I have a 2016 model, size and power just right for me. I’m not interested in getting speeding tickets lol so the Versys helps in that regard, although the 1000 is tempting. I’ll likely upgrade to the bigger V or the Ninja at some point. For now the little V is great !

mike .freville says:

I must admit I have had two of these. Three counting the very first iteration. Something new would always caught my eye. And I always regretted selling the Kawasaki. Truly a great all-around superb machine.

Mark H says:

I bought a Yamaha FZ-07 but the Versus is much more suited for the riding I want to do. Triumph Tiger Sport is my favorite Bike but not sold in the USA .. Now I am leaning more towards the Tiger 800 in its most off road version changed my goals I guess.

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