Featuring an inline four-cylinder engine, generous ground clearance and sport bike tires, the new 2012 Kawasaki Versys 1000 belongs to an all-new genre of motorcycles - crossovers. More than a conventional touring-oriented two-wheeler, it promises superior agility, versatility and performance while offering above-average comfort for a street bike.
The Versys 1000's only connection with the smaller Versys 650 is similar styling. The engine, brakes and frame are completely different. Kawasaki also incorporated its signature components and systems found on other models such as the Z1000, ZX-10R, and ZX-14R.
A first in its class
A reworked variant of the Kawasaki Z1000 powerplant lowers the compression ratio from 11.8:1 to 10.3:1 while reducing valve lift and opening. Longer intake tracts improve low- and mid-range torque. On the other hand, output is down 20 horsepower to 118 at 9,000 rpm.
Kawasaki reports a 16% gain in fuel economy, so with a 21L tank, expect the kind of range adventure motorcycles are known for. The transmission features shorter first and second gears as well as longer third, fourth and fifth gears. The sixth gear acts as an overdrive.
|Compared to the Z1000, the four-cylinder engine’s output is down 20 horsepower to 118 at 9,000 rpm. (Photo: Kawasaki)
The Versys also borrows its frame from the Z1000
. Stiffer in the steering area, it boasts a slightly wider 27-degree rake angle for extra stability. The wheels and brake discs are the same on both machines, while the front fork and travel have been tweaked to enhance the Versys' comfort and go-anywhere capability.
The windshield offers 30 millimetres of height adjustment (no tools required). The comprehensive instrument panel includes an odometer, digital speedometer, analog tachometer and two trip meters along with a fuel gauge and multiple indicators. There's no centre stand due to the presence of the catalytic system, and no CV joint final drive as a cost-saving measure.
|The comprehensive instrument panel includes an odometer, digital speedometer, analog tachometer and two trip meters along with a fuel gauge and multiple indicators. (Photo: Kawasaki)
One of the most interesting things about the new Versys 1000 is definitely the arsenal of electronic riding aids, starting with the next-generation KIBS antilock braking system and variable injection mapping (both similar to the systems found on the ZX-10R
Moreover, the Versys 1000 combines the best elements of Kawasaki's two traction control systems, S-KTRC
and KTRC. It can be fully deactivated just like with the ZX-14R
, but the antilock brakes always stay on.
Any self-respecting Japanese bike promises easy handling and this one should be no different despite tipping the scales at 239 kilos (527 pounds).
The four-cylinder 2012 Kawasaki Versys 1000 is a bold gamble, one that looks pretty enticing on paper. We'll soon find out if the engineers did their homework and if it can keep pace with the KTM SMT 990 and Ducati Multistrada 1200 S. The Versys 1000 certainly has a big edge in terms of pricing at $13,999 - ABS and traction control included.