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Kawa's versatile Versys 1000

2012-10-29 09:36


CHUNKY STLYLISH SIBLING: The Versys 1000 has a chunkier appearance than its smaller sibling as well as added grunt.

Kawasaki's Versys 650 is a great everyday bike and is suited for both commuting to work and taking on the open road.

In 2012 Kawasaki added a 1000cc engine to its versatile 650. I asked Team Green for a Versys 1000 to find out if the bigger bike is as good as the 650.

Kawasaki says it hopes to improve the Versys 1000’s "fun factor" and as a result adds the exciting Z1000 engine.


The engine, 1043cc in-line four, is tuned for flexibility and delivers a stronger low-mid range with slightly reduced peak power.

Downdraft throttle bodies allow intake air to travel to the engine in the shortest possible distance, contributing to performance.

While downdraft throttle bodies often use short intake funnels to maximise high-rpm performance, the Versys 1000’s are longer. This creates better performance and an exciting urban riding experience.

The Japanese bikemaker has aimed for smooth, linear power delivery, as these are the characteristics that facilitate control (especially for low-rpm manoeuvres or when rolling the throttle back on).


The Versys 1000 comes with two power modes, low and fuel, allowing the rider to adjust output based on riding conditions and preference.

In the low setting, power is reduced by 25% for a milder throttle response. This is ideal on slippery surfaces, as it's all too easy to lose traction on the rear wheel if you are careless.

Kawasaki takes electronic rider aids seriously and the Versys 1000 is no exception. The bike is equipped with ABS and Kawasaki’s KTRC, the same traction control system in the ZX-14R.

THe KTRC has three modes - modes one and two provide maximum acceleration, mode three aims to provide riding stability in adverse conditions.


Like its smaller sibling, the Versys 1000 has a chunky, assertive appearance. Marring an otherwise attractive design is the fact the radiator seems perilously exposed, ready to be pierced by the first stone kicked up by a vehicle in front of you. It's surprising that Team Green didn't do more to protect it.

The bike boasts comprehensive, intuitive controls with an analogue rev counter and digital display. Above the MFD is a bank of warning lights, including those for the ABS and traction control systems.

The seating position is pleasantly neutral and in combination with the comfortable seat, promises many fatigue-free kilometres.

The Versys' handlebars are too wide for my liking, making the bike overly sensitive to steering input. As a non-adventure bike rider, it took me a while to adapt my steering habits. Even so, at high speeds the sensitive steering was a little disconcerting.

Kawasaki's fine-tuning of the motor worked well in practice – the Versys has good low-range punch with rapid acceleration from standstill and excellent roll-on acceleration.


It's nimble and responsive, but don't expect ZX10-like power at the top end. The engine is tuned to deliver its magic much lower down.

The Versys has a light clutch action, which is extremely welcome in traffic. Gearshifts are equally effortless, although the gearbox has a proclivity for finding false neutrals with annoying regularity.

The bike, despite being a litre-class machine, feels light and compact, and in the handling department it comes across planted and solid in curves. This is marred somewhat by the aforementioned handlebar buffeting at speed, but the Versys generally has pleasant road manners.

Braking is on par with the bike's performance, and the ABS system is not intrusive.

A flexible engine character means the Versys 1000 will be just as happy cruising along at low revs as it is being ridden more aggressively. If you are looking for a mid-size bike's commuting abilities, but with added grunt for long-distance riding, the Versys 1000 is well worth your attention.

PRICE: R125 995

Click here for Kawasaki Versys 1000 specifications!

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