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2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

The 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT gets so much more than a cosmetic upgrade. It proves more comfortable and more versatile than ever, yet the price remains highly affordable.

Enhanced looks and comfort
There were lots of changes to the styling and aerodynamics departments including a wider fairing, a taller windshield with 60mm of height adjustment, and new radiator cowls that nicely deflect wind and road debris away from the rider’s legs. 

In terms of ride quality, the new Showa fork works wonders. Soft, yet properly tuned, its ability to soak up bumps, cracks, and potholes is beyond reproach. Same thing for the Kayaba rear shock that provides a good mix of comfort and stability, while resisting the urge to bottom out.

Kawasaki had other tricks up its sleeve to make the new Versys 650 more comfortable. For instance, new engine mounts considerably reduce vibrations through the handlebars and footrests. Also, the larger fairing offers 35% better protection against the elements. The result of these improvements is an unprecedented level of comfort for a motorcycle in this price range. Factor in the new 21L tank (+2L) and the reinforced tail for carrying saddlebags and a top case, and you get a perfectly equipped and willing tourer.

Smooth and reassuring

On a small country road the new 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT proves a lot more comfortable and easygoing than sporty. Attacking corners with authority isn’t its cup of tea due to the aforementioned front suspension.

This bike prefers to relax and carry just enough speed to put a smile on your face. It’s predictable and inspires confidence at all times, especially when the pavement gets slippery (dirt, gravel, humidity). The new Sportmax D222 tires have plenty of bite and therefore play a big role, as does the braking system which consists of a more precise master cylinder, strong Nissin callipers, and excellent Bosch 9.1 ABS.

Lively enough overall
The 649cc inline twin-cylinder powering the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT produces 69 hp and 47.2 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough for solo rides without any luggage. It easily defeats drag created by the windshield and saddlebags to reach speeds of up to 180 km/h.

Of course, don’t expect such performance with a passenger and some gear in tow. In fact, you’ll have to downshift a couple of gears to execute a safe passing manoeuvre (downshift a gear to climb a long ascent). Regardless, the engine is always smooth and easy to exploit, even under load.

Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT 2015
On a small country road the new 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT proves a lot more comfortable and easygoing than sporty. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)

It’s hard to find fault in the new Versys 650, especially given the price of admission. Sure, the engine is not the most explosive and lacks a bit of charisma, and the suspension can’t support truly sporty riding, but this machine rivals much more expensive crossover tourers in terms of comfort, versatility, and protection against the elements. Plus, with a more stylish look that’s in line with other Kawasaki models, it has never been so attractive. 

  • Fundamentally sound chassis
  • Enhanced comfort and styling
  • Plenty of value
  • Great versatility
  • Comfort-oriented suspension is too soft to really have fun in corners
  • Engine could use a bit more power when riding with a passenger and some gear in tow