Kawasaki 650 Versys Windscreen Comparison
wBW Kawasaki Versys Review
Motorcycling is unique in its ability to bring the rider
(and passenger) closer to the elements – a sense of freedom
as the rider and machine move as one through the air.
All of us as individuals have our own opinions on just how
much of that air we want to feel, which leads us to this Quick
Look comparison of three windscreens for the Kawasaki 650 Versys.
We must first acknowledge that this effort was once again conducted
in our never-ending quest to expand our riding horizons with
the VERSYS-tility machine.
Although this article was originally intended to focus on
the Givi product with some mention made of other windscreens
fitted, it became clear as we went along that all three of the
windscreens identified in this submission stand out in their
own right and have specific application for the Versys, primarily
based on user function. Accordingly, a more head to head approach
The three windscreens fitted and evaluated were: the original
equipment windscreen; the MRA produced-for-Kawasaki Vario Touring
screen; and the Givi D405ST windscreen.
The stock windscreen, although appearing very small, is also
very functional. The slightly larger Vario Touring shield provides
additional coverage for a wider range of body types. Last, but
not least, the Givi shield is stylish and is extremely functional,
providing the best coverage under all conditions.
Kawasaki Versys Original Equipment Windscreen
The stock Versys windscreen at
28 cm high by 30.5 cm or 11in by 12in wide is small, bullet
shaped and complementary (really) to the other front-end components.
The Versys windscreen mounting bracket has a pair of vertical
arms, each with six holes, for mounting a windscreen. These
holes depending on how a particular windscreen is designed and
drilled, provides the ability to adjust the height of the windscreen.
The standard height adjustment is about 20mm or just over three-quarters
of an inch per increment.
The mounting pattern on the stock windscreen allows two settings
to be used - low or high, with the highest setting increasing
the height by just over 1.5in. This in itself may not seem like
a lot, but as with most windscreens, it does make a difference.
Using the stock windscreen for over a month really did prove
that this minimalist item could do an adequate job of protecting
One of the best features of this OEM item is that it is very
quiet, largely due to its shape and small overall size. The
next best feature is that it is just about perfect for warm
weather riding in allowing a good flow of air, with little buffeting
or pressure build-up. When riding in wet conditions, it provides
basic protection, but a good all-weather outer layer is needed
to stay dry.
However, for all its attributes, for prolonged riding in
inclement weather and cold temperatures, the shortfalls of this
small screen become much more acute. So driven, we move on to
(literally) bigger and better things, prefaced with the knowledge
that bigger is not always better.
MRA Vario Touring Windscreen
MRA Vario Touring Windscreen
In this instance,
the next windscreen fitted, the Vario Touring screen, is bigger
and very much better.
Made by MRA (Germany) for Kawasaki (stamped on the lower
part of the windscreen), this design has been around for some
time and is marketed for a great many other motorcycles by other
suppliers. It is marketed both with and without the adjustable
With smooth, flowing lines and a relatively low height, the
screen very much complements the front end of the Versys. This
look is further enhanced by the bottom side flares that project
a flowing look to the upper front end of the motorcycle.
The screen measures 33.5cm or 13.1in high with the top adjustable
spoiler fully deployed and 31.5cm or 12.4in high with the spoiler
pushed down to its lowest setting. Bottom width is 38cm or 15in
across at the lower flare, while the top width is about two
inches less at 33cm or 13in.
The size of the spoiler by itself adds much to the height
coverage provided by the Vario windscreen. But it is the unique
and very functional top spoiler (removable and replaceable)
that is the best feature of this screen.
The spoiler mount has seven positions (lowest plus six detent
or click adjustments on each bezel bracket), allowing both height
and angle adjustments, albeit over a fairly short range of motion.
However limited in range they might be, changing height and
angle of the spoiler does make a difference.
Mounting up the Vario windscreen is straight forward, as
long as the basic picture-based instructions are reviewed first
and all necessary hardware pieces are in the kit.
Due to the length of the shield and the fact that it only
has one mounting position, additional clearance or offset is
needed to maintain clearance between the lower part of the Versys
cowling and the windscreen itself. Accordingly, four spacers,
in different sizes for top and bottom, are provided for the
mounting points, along with longer 5mm screws (4mm hex head
vice stock 3mm hex head items). The windscreen kit included
an edge protector strip, which was not used.
Having used this windscreen on both Versys for most of the
past riding season, we can state without any hesitation that
this is one very effective windscreen. We did a lot of playing
with the spoiler - it really does make a difference. Even with
the spoiler left in its base setting, the screen provides a
significant advantage over the stock screen, especially in inclement
(wet or cooler) weather.
The Vario windscreen performs well in providing good protection
at all speeds and under widely varying weather conditions. At
very high speeds some buffeting can be felt around the shoulders
and helmet area, although adjusting the top spoiler can temper
the environment in some conditions. Where good weather prevails
most of the year or for late spring, summer and early fall riding
in variable weather zones, this windscreen will do the job.
However, when temperatures really start to dip and heavy
rain is introduced on a daily basis, our thoughts turned to
seeking out even more front end protection. – sometimes the
wimp factor is allowed to come out.
Givi D 405 ST Windscreen
Givi D405ST Windscreen
With colder and otherwise
inclement weather becoming the norm, the awareness that Givi
had released a windscreen for the Versys came to the forefront.
Even though our local Kawasaki dealer had been carrying them
since mid-summer, two of which were ostensibly for us, the urgency
had not been there – the Vario Touring windscreen provided more
than satisfactory service over the summer and on into early
But, in wanting to extend our Versys riding season for as
long as possible, all available protection/comfort options were
put on the table – the Givi windscreen being the first one actioned.
Accordingly the last Givi D405ST windscreen in stock was
fitted to the black test mule. The whole effort, conducted in
the parking lot, took five minutes. Note - carrying a small
Allen (hex) key combination tool from Sears has never been a
Our experience with Givi products, especially windscreens,
is that the company does a good job in interpreting requirements
and in executing the product. First impressions for this screen
did nothing to dispel this feeling; clean simple lines, excellent
cut and finish, and an easy fit using the stock hardware, thanks
to accurately drilled and buffed mounting holes. This is a quality
item in every respect.
A fair bit larger than the other two windscreens, it measures
45cm x 50 cm or 17.7in x 19.7in wide at its broadest point,
across the lower flare, with a rounded tapering profile over
the upper half of the screen. Comparatively, it is 18cm (7.1
in) higher and 19.5cm (7.7 in) wider than the stock shield,
and 11.5 cm (4.5 in) higher and 12 cm (4.7 in) wider than the
Vario Touring shield (with the spoiler fully deployed).
Not surprisingly the Givi shield provides the best flexibility
for height adjustment among all three windscreens fitted so
far. The stock shield provides two height settings and the Vario
only one, although it has the adjustable spoiler. The Givi windscreen
allows three different height settings, low, middle and high,
in 20mm increments.
The five minute effort involved using the four stock windscreen
bolts (4mm hex head), along with the thin clearance washers
that fit between the windscreen support arms and the windscreen
itself. To provide some additional clearance (see Quick-Look
review on the Zeta handguards/deflectors), four 5mm thick rubber
washers were also inserted to offset the screen a bit more from
the mount arms.
The lower flare portion of the screen has a flat black matte
coating on the inside, providing a partial black-out effect
that pretty much hides the Versys mounting bracket and arms,
and helps to reduce reflections. Mounted in any of three positions,
clearance between the bottom of the windscreen and the curved
upper portion of the cowling creates an unobtrusive air stream
that depressurizes the cockpit area nicely.
With ambient air temperatures ranging from -3C (26.6F) to
10C (50F), the test and evaluation environment has been (sadly)
good. T he lowest position (18cm over stock) provides coverage
far better than either the stock or Vario windscreen and will
likely be just fine for warmer temperatures. The middle and
highest positions result in better coverage, which while expected,
is not always the case with some windscreens.
Moving from the lowest to the middle to the upper positions
moves the side coverage zone up from lower arms to just below
the shoulders, with only a moderate increase in buffeting felt
on the shoulders. Riders with shorter upper bodies than the
6ft 3in, 34in inseam (non-crash) test dummy will likely be in
pretty still air.
While there is little change in noise levels between the
three heights, there is a definite change in air flow up and
around the top section of the windscreen as the windscreen is
moved up, but it never resulted in any real buffeting. We will
be the first to admit that upper body height, body positioning
and even the type of helmet used, may all impact to create different
On one of the coldest days (0C/32F), the windscreen was moved
up to the highest setting before setting out on a short highway
jaunt, which by itself generated significant wind-chill. On
this setting, some air is felt on the shoulders, but there was
no helmet buffeting at all. For those interested in doing the
measurement (head-on or angularity based), the middle setting
being used now puts the top of the Givi windscreen 35cm (13.77
in) higher than the top point of the cowling (above the instrument
Acknowledging the height differentials between the three
windscreens, the biggest advantage this windscreen provides
is in extending side coverage. Even without hand-guard deflectors
installed, the wide flare lower portion of the windscreen is
very effective in extending the cockpit zone out to and beyond
the ends of the handlebars, particularly on the low and middle
On the highest setting, this zone is moved up, resulting
in most of the protection being lost at the handlebar level.
However, with hand guard deflectors installed, this area is
once again filled in nicely. The two accessories complement
each other very well, creating a very effective wind-stopping,
Givi has produced a stylish and effective
windscreen that simply works. Reflecting foresight in design,
it can be set to three discrete heights, making this windscreen
very adaptable and thus attractive to a wide range of riders,
especially in climates where weather changes are the norm. But,
by the same token, the excellent coverage provided might work
a bit too well for others who ride in warmer climes throughout
Looking at all three windscreens, the stock unit and the
Vario Touring shield will no doubt still be used for specific
activities, especially in the full heat of the summer.
For off-road excursions the mid-sized, but heavier constructed
Vario Touring shield is seen as the best option, especially
when considering its adjustable spoiler. However, appreciating
everything else, the svelte looking Givi windscreen is our pick
as the best overall screen of the three.
Note - there are other windscreens available or coming to
the market for the Versys. Of particular interest is the new
windshield that was supposed be available as of 20 November.
Based on our positive experiences with two aftermarket items,
we are looking forward to getting one of the CalSci units for
installation on the other Versys, and comparison of course.
Variety really is the spice of life.
Kawasaki Windscreen Installation: OEM item, four
bolt mounting Function: Small size but very effective, quiet,
two height adjustments, one to two season use. Cost: Replacement
unit, typically $160 CAD
Vario Touring Windscreen Installation: Uses specific
kit hardware, retains four bolt mounting Function: Larger
than stock, good air flow characteristics, very effective
adjustable spoiler, one to two or three season use (depending
on locale). Cost: 179.00 CAD, 140.00 USD (See comments and
D405ST Windscreen Installation: Direct bolt-on, uses
stock mounting hardware, 45cm high by 50cm wide (18cm over
stock height, clear tint with lower flare black-out matte
panels. Function: Largest of all three tested, superb design
and finish, three height settings, very good protection,
recommended for year-round use. Cost: Standard list 130.00
USD or CAD. Has been seen listed for less.
Date: January 2008
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From "F.F." (September 2014): "I have a Givi 405ST windscreen
(thanks to you!) and I'm really satisfied of it. As I'm using my Versys all year
along in Paris and as this city can be very cold in winter (!), I'm looking for
handguards to complete my equipment. I've found your advice below and I have two
questions on it:
Q.Where can I find the "3-5mm spacers"? and Is it
absolutely necessary to install them? And if not, do you
think there's a risk to broke my windscreen or to lose
comfort with my steering?
One last question: Do you think it's possible to install
warming handles with these handguards?"
H.B.C.'s Reply: The small plastic or light
metal/alloy spacers used to push the windscreen out a bit (3
to 5 mm minimum) so the edge of (some) windscreens won’t be
in conflict with any installed hand-guards, can be found at
most hardware-type stores or perhaps even some hobby stores.
Even something like thick plastic washers would work (I’ve
used them for similar installations as a temporary
As identified in the article and above, the spacers
were used to provide clearance between the edges of the GIVI
windscreen and the front edges of the installed accessory
hand-guards. So depending on the make and type of windscreen
being used and the type of hand-guards fitted, the spacers
may or may not be required.
It is critical that installed accessories do not or
cannot interfere with each other and/or cause any safety
issues on the motorcycle, so it is essential when
undertaking this type of accessory installation to make sure
everything can and will work together safely.
If the windscreen hits the hand-guards or any other part
on the motorcycle, then yes, breakage can occur and if the
windscreen is not stable or interferes with the steering in
any way, then again, there is risk. Accessories are meant to
or should enhance a motorcycle, not be a detriment to its
use or performance.
Yes, as noted in the article, an original set of the
Oxford Heated Grips (different marketing name now) were
easily installed on the Versys and most other brands on the
market should fit as well.
The grips typically fit over or replace the standard
grips and the usual heavy duty wiring leads can be run
without interfering with the hand-guards.
Don’t forget that hand-warmers/heated-grips can place a
heavy electrical load on the system, something that needs to
be appreciated and managed.
Having ridden in climates similar to the weather found in
Paris, a properly fitted windscreen (that has the clearance
to allow hand-guard use) along with heated hand-grips will
make your cold weather riding much more comfortable and
safe. "Profitez de votre moto Versys".
From "M.B." (10/09): "My
dealer tried to install hand guards with the Givi 405ST windscreen
on my Versys and the hand guards were touching the wind screen
when fully turning the handle.
Is this problem also observed with the Zeta hand guard?"
HBC's Reply: As I noted in the article,
the Givi windscreen can be used with the Zeta handguards, but
it is a tight fit and depending on how both accessories are
installed or aligned, the edge of the windscreen can just touch
the hand guard, but only at full lock.
It is noticeable when the motorcycle steering is locked,
but it doesn't prevent the handlebars from being locked. I had
more clearance issues with the tank bag than the windscreen
in this regard.
A small workaround, which was done during one of my test
installations was to fit 3-5 mm spacers (hard rubber or plastic)
between the windscreen and the mounting bracket to move the
windscreen and thus tits edges out slightly. On both our machines,
this was more than enough clearance so that nothing touched.
In adjusting the Zeta mounts, especially at the inner handlebar
mounts, I was able to gain a bit of clearance as well. Another
important clearance points that needs to be addressed is the
size or length of the bar-end weights or (spacers). If they
are less than the item I used, then this can cause the hand-guards
to sit further in and thus lessening any clearances.
It is a tight fit and some adjustments or small workarounds
may be needed. We used this combination on our two Versys for
over a year. The new owner of one Versys is very happy with
the hand guard/windscreen combination.
From "P.": "I was wondering
whether you could pass some queries (to) HBC ... about the rack
fitted to the black Versys in your test?
I'd really like to know if it was easy to fit and whether
they know if the Givi M11 steel top-plate can be used on this
machine instead of the M5 or M5M one shown in the pictures?
I'm more interested in a rack that can be used to strap things
to than a top case mount, if you know what I mean, and the M11
is a tubular steel frame 'traditional' rack.
I'd also be interested in how they fitted the MRA screen,
as I've got one for my Versys but the instructions are in German!
There are extended bolts and new spaces involved, whereas I
thought it was going to be a straight bolt off - bolt on replacement
job. If they can offer any feedback I'd appreciate it."
A. Regarding the Givi
M11 rack-style top plate, as long as the mounting holes line
up, or you are prepared to put in new ones, there is no real
reason why it should not work…someone else in the area has one,
I think on a KLR, but I never did follow up on it - it would
look better on the Versys and be more functional, as you have
indicated. The installed kits are the standard GIVI/Kawasaki
accessories, which still come with the somewhat clunky plates.
As well, there is a aluminum plate available that is lightweight
and can provides cutouts for mounting or securing stuff as well
- I have not managed to snag one of them yet.
B. Not sure if you have the MRA high touring screen for the
Versys, or the MRA Vario Touring Screen with or without the
adjustable spoiler…the MRA Vario Touring Windscreen as a Kawasaki
accessory came with a single instruction sheet, which I no longer
have, although I could translate the German as needed…in lieu
of this, I have attached a couple of web-sized pictures that
might help illustrate it all, along with the following points:
(1) The MRA shield only has one
setting on the Versys, the mounting points are the top and bottom
holes in the Versys windshield bracket.
(2) The black spacers are for
the bottom holes and fit between the windscreen and the bracket
- the shape and depth of the windscreen dictates additional
clearance at the bottom to clear the top surface of the upper
snout of the fairing, so this was the MRA solution. The shorter
items in the kit are for the top holes.
(3) To facilitate installation
it is sometimes easier to have one or both of the top bolts
run through and secured very loosely, which still allows the
bottom of the shield to be pulled away so that the extended
spacers can be fitted between the windscreen and bracket. An
extra set of hands is good as an alternative.
(4) If you do have the Touring
Screen and Spoiler, that is good, being able to adjust the spoiler
really helps tune the airflow and if you just have the basic
touring screen, you can order the spoiler kit
Vario Touring Shield, mounting bracket.
Vario Touring Shield, bottom mount spacers.
Vario Touring Shield, showing clearance.
From "V.S.": "Great website.
I visit quite often. I just saw the article on the windscreens.
I have just ordered (this
screen) from Skidmarx. It is new to market and haven't received
it yet, but I hope it equals or out performs the GIVI."