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Kawasaki Versys Review

Kawasaki Versys

Kawasaki Versys Specifications

The Kawasaki Versys Story

2008 Kawasaki Versys U.S. Overview

Kawasaki announced the availability of the Versys in the U.S. market for 2008.

“The new 2008 Kawasaki Versys is a machine which occupies a hard to define sweet spot in the motorcycling universe.

Is it a practical commuter? Long-legged urban assault vehicle? Sportbike? Light Tourer?

The answer on all counts is a resounding Yes!

This isn’t a niche specialist but rather a jack-of-all-trades with user-friendly versatility as one of its many charms.

The 649cc parallel twin and the neutral handling and light steering chassis of the Ninja 650R sportbike made the perfect starting point for this comfortable gridlock commando.

A swoopy gull-wing swingarm, long-travel inverted 41 mm fork, six-spoke Superbike-inspired wheels, adjustable-height windscreen and a comfortable cockpit were combined to create a motorcycle that just begs to be ridden wherever the pavement might lead.”

Kawasaki Versys Features

  • Aggressive styling
  • Powerful parallel-twin engine
  • Compact size and weight
  • Long-travel suspension
  • Comfortable cockpit


  • 649cc parallel twin-cylinder, DOHC engine is the most compact in its category.
  • The engine is considerably smaller than that of the Ninja 500 and helps reduce the dimension of the entire motorcycle.
  • Tuned to deliver smooth, responsive power in the low-to mid-rpm range with exceptional roll-on response — ideal for negotiating city traffic.
  • Triangular crank and transmission shaft layout makes it short front to back, a semi-dry sump oil system reduces overall engine height, and the narrow pitch of the chrome composite plated aluminum cylinders helps reduce engine width.
  • Muffler with 3-way catalyzer and bullet-tip opening is mounted below the engine to help lower the center of gravity and aid weight centralization.
  • 180-degree crankshaft plus balancer shaft for extremely smooth engine operation.
  • Oil jets on the connecting rod big ends spray oil on the undersides of the pistons to aid cooling.

Liquid Cooling

  • Maintains consistent engine temperatures for long engine life and sustained power during hard use.
  • Allows closer engine tolerances for more horsepower.
  • Fewer external hoses because the coolant is routed through the engine cases.
2008 Kawasaki Versys
2008 U.S. Version of the Kawasaki Versys
2008 Kawasaki Versys - Left Side

Digital Fuel Injection (DFI)

  • Utilizes 38mm Keihin throttle bodies with ECU controlled sub throttle valves for optimum performance and rideability.
  • The sub throttles, located behind the main throttle valves, permit the DFI system a more precise throttle response, similar to a constant velocity carburetor.
  • Automatic fast idle system makes starting and warm-up easy.
  • Precise fuel injection plus exhaust catalyzer significantly reduce emissions Digital Capacitor Discharge Ignition (CDI) System.
  • Microprocessor controlled timing never requires adjustment and is ultra responsive to engine needs.
  • Spark plug mounted “stick” ignition coils are compact and help reduce weight.

Six-Speed Transmission

  • Cassette style transmission means the shafts and shift drum are in a compact layout that is easily removed as a single unit from the case for easier maintenance.

Trellis Frame

  • High tensile steel trellis frame is small and light.
  • Designed using 3-dimensional computer analysis to achieve the optimum stiffness balance for better handling.
  • Narrow at the knees and feet for increased rider comfort and control.

Single shock Rear Suspension

  • Aluminum gull-wing swingarm and offset, laydown single rear shock complement the frame design to create an integrated line flowing from the steering head to the rear hub.
  • Short, compact frame and engine design allows the swingarm to be longer, which helps improve overall handling.
  • Showa shock has adjustable preload and rebound damping and uses a free piston and two-stage damping valves for smooth action during initial compression that becomes much firmer near the end of the stroke for a more planted feel.

Long-Travel Fork

  • 41mm Inverted fork with stiff springs combines the best of off-road and sportbike-type suspension for excellent performance over a wide range of conditions.
  • Tapered, relatively short outer tubes help provide the ideal stiffness balance to compliment chassis settings.
  • Fork height, preload and rebound damping can all be adjusted to fine-tune the suspension to specific conditions or riding style.

Triple Petal Design Brake Discs

  • Petal design rotors offer improved cooling and warp resistance.
  • Same rotor design as found on the Ninja ZX-6R and ZX-10R Supersport motorcycles.
2008 Kawasaki Versys - Dashboard

Six-spoke wheels

  • Also found on the Ninja ZX-6R and ZX-10R; the six-spoke design requires much less material between spokes so that the rim thickness is thinner and overall wheel weight is reduced.

Comfortable Cockpit

  • Each part of the two-piece seat was designed with a different thickness and firmness of foam to optimize comfort for both rider and passenger.
  • Passenger seat and grab bars were designed to provide a natural seating position for added comfort.
  • Easy-to-read instrument panel has a large analog tachometer and digital readout for the speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer, dual trip meters and clock. White LED backlighting provides increased visibility at night.

Adjustable Windscreen

  • Three different settings, each 20mm apart, allows riders to adjust windscreen height to suit their preferences.
Kawasaki Versys Specifications
Engine: Four-stroke, liquid cooled, DOHC, four-valve per cylinder, parallel twin
Displacement: 649cc
Bore x stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm
Compression ratio: 10.6:1
Maximum torque: 44.9 lb/ft @6,800 rpm
Cooling: Liquid
Fuel injection: Digital fuel injection with two 38mm Keihin throttle bodies
Ignition: Digital CDI
Transmission: Six-speed
Final drive: O-Ring chain
Frame: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
Rake / trail: 25 degrees / 4.3 in.
Wheelbase: 55.7 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel: 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork with adjustable rebound and preload / 5.9 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: Single offset laydown shock with adjustable rebound and spring preload / 5.7 in.
Front tire: 120/70×17
Rear tire: 160/60×17
Front brake: Dual 300mm petal discs with two-piston caliper
Rear brake: Single 220mm petal disc with single-piston caliper
Overall length: 83.7 in.
Overall width: 33.1 in.
Overall height: 51.8 in.
Seat height: 33.1 in.
Dry weight: 399 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 5.0 gal.
Color: Passion Red
MSRP: $8,699
Warranty: 12 months
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