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2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT Preview


by Pascal Bastien ,

Much like its 1.0L sibling, the Versys 650 ABS LT gets a major update for 2015. While still based on the Ninja 650 and ER-6n sport bikes, it now adopts a distinct personality.

Since 2006, the Versys 650 has won over many riders with its easygoing nature, sharp dynamics, and judicious price. This year, the polarizing looks of the outgoing model make way for a sportier, more modern design in line with other Kawasaki products. The silhouette is sleeker and more aerodynamic, and the new fuel tank is more angular and 2L larger (21L total).

Here we have a compelling crossover -- part adventure bike, part sport bike -- with numerous upgrades to the chassis, powertrain, and ergonomics. Let's take a closer look...

2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT
Photo: Kawasaki

Familiar engine gets better
The 649cc inline twin-cylinder powering the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT benefits from the Ninja 650's latest improvements. It's now more pleasant at high revs, more flexible overall, and mated to a sharper transmission. Also, for 2015, revised engine maps enhance performance and fuel economy. A new chain tensioner is part of the mix, too.

Output is up from 64 hp to 69 hp, along with 45 lb-ft of torque. Kawasaki engineers claim this new version of their twin-cylinder is 2% more efficient, achieving 5.2L/100km and thus providing a range of about 350km. New engine mounts do a better job of isolating the rider from vibrations, while a sportier-looking tailpipe adds flair.

Improved ergonomics
The 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT focuses on rider and passenger comfort as well as utility with a reinforced tail section that accommodates larger saddlebags and a redesigned seat perched 840mm off the ground. The latter is narrow up front making it easier for short-legged riders to rest both feet at idle. A natural, upright riding position combines with a tall, manually adjustable windshield (no tools required) to make long trips a fun, comfortable experience.

The Versys 650 ABS LT uses a 41mm upside down Showa fork with preload, compression, and rebound adjustment. The Kayaba rear shock is still offset to help shorten the wheelbase and create a unique look. I like the aluminum swingarm with low-profile welds; it reminds me of Kawasaki superbikes. In the braking department, Nissin components team up with Bosch ABS. As a result, the machine now weighs 216kg (all tanks full).

Fit and finish is impressive, as evidenced by the crankcase, footrests, and fairings. The cables and lines are nicely concealed, too. On a more practical note, there are many new accessories available including frame sliders, hand guards, LED fog lights, a 12V DC socket to power small electronic devices, and another outlet to plug a nifty gear position indicator.

Bottom line
More power, better ergonomics, a smart design, and sharper looks -- the new 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT appears more versatile and attractive than ever. Can't wait to try it out!