ROAD|TEST : KAWASAKI VERSYS-X
The market is dominated by bikes under 250cc and those adventure style machines are slowly becoming a trend. Kawasaki recently launched the Versys-X 250, a capable bike to tackle ‘any road’. It’s not exactly an off-road machine but still able to ride it easily when the road turns to dirt. With its lightweight the Versys-X is able to tackle the city roads, back road and some gravel roads at LRT constructions, even short enduro excursions. It’s got 19-inch front spoked wheels and 17-inch rear rim with 41mm telescopic fork with 130mm wheel travel, gas-charged shock with adjustable pre-load and 148mm wheel travel a 130mm long front travel suspension and a deliberately strong sub-frame design. A 17-litre tank which claimed could touch 350km on a full tank, and an assist/slipper clutch.
Smooth, torquey and under-geared just about sums up the Versys-X liquid-cooled parallel-twin 249 cc engine, 33.5hp @ 10,500 rpm and 21.7 Nm of torque at 10,000 rpm. A high revving machine so anything below 7.5k rpm is expected to be a cruise.
On the highways the rpm was maintained between 9,000 and 11,000 to maintain normal, safe road speed and so the Versys-X engine always felt like it was being worked hard.
That small issue could be rectified simply by changing the rear sprocket to a slightly smaller one. As is, first gear is very short and thus almost redundant. Top gear is also too short, so the potential seems to be there to make the gearing longer. The whole bike would be better for it.
Handling & Suspension
The characteristics of the Versys-X is light, easy to handle bike with 173kg kerb weight make the Versys-X , an around-town bike for daily communing, well balance and manageable bike. The Versys-X’s skinny tyres don’t necessarily inspire cornering confidence but they didn’t really upset either. There is a mild vagueness about everything but the performance is good and there and the machine feels easy to dominate, which adds to the fun.
The suspension is an area where the Versys-X performs admirably. Kawasaki has a fully non-adjustable setup. You can, if you really want to get into it, adjust the rear shock pre-load but you’ll definitely need to the tool box out to get the job done.
However, everything worked well. It was comfortable enough, even on the bumpy roads, skipping around broken divider and going off road during heavy jam was easy as I have expected. The suspension holds up well, even under the weight of a 50kg rider. In faster corners the front had a tendency to feel like it was jumping around, but this might happen less for a lighter rider.
Brakes & Equipment
The braking side, the Versys-X feel budget. The engine department did a reasonably well and the suspension out-performed my expectations, the brakes were only acceptable as we felt lack of bite and feel but acceptable with the 290mm disc, non-ABS.
The Kawasaki Versys-X come with the Double Stand as standard and the clutch is surprisingly soft and light even with one finger more than enough to engage and disengage it. Its assisted slipper clutch makes the downshifting from high revs is kept smooth without rear wheel hopping.
Wind protection is a good too, offering far more than expected. If you’re on the shorter side like me, there is a good chance you’ll be well inside the bubble too. The dash is functional enough with some of the lights were small and went unnoticed but the key bits are easy to see. The seat shape is okay but a bit hard so I usually stand up.
The smoothness of the parallel-twin engine. The light clutch is incredibly nice. The slipper clutch is a nice little gadget and works well. On top of that the riding position fits a wide range of riders and the wind protection is more than acceptable. The handlebars have a good rider-friendly bend and the suspension performed better than expected. I’m also a fan of the real-world gravel capability. It’ll never set the world alight as a dual sport/off-road biased bike, but it’ll be comfortable enough on a gravel road. Light weight but Versys-X seems to look bigger that its sibling Versys 650. Comes with Double-Stand as standard so easy to lub the chain, parking and photo shooting.
Riding a bike that you are totally in charge of can be fun but overtaking on a dual carriage way is a little frustrating when the Versys-X engine always feels like it was being worked hard as try to throttle more to overtake for speed of 120km/h above. But we did clocked 160km/h during the test.
That small issue could be rectified simply by changing the rear sprocket to a slightly smaller one. As is, first gear is very short and thus almost redundant. Top gear is also too short, so the potential seems to be there to make the gearing longer. The whole bike would be better for it. Hard seats.
Tested: Kawasaki Versys-X 250
Engine: liquid-cooled four-stroke parallel-twin
Power: 33.5hp @ 10,500 rpm
Torque: 21.7 Nm of torque at 10,000 rpm
Kerb weight: 173kg
Brakes: front single 290mm petal disc with dual-piston caliper. Rear 220mm petal disc with single-piston caliper
Suspension: 41mm telescopic fork with 130mm wheel travel, gas-charged shock with adjustable pre-load and 148mm wheel travel
Tyres: front 100/90-19, rear 130/80-17
Fuel capacity: 17 litres
Claimed Full Tank Mileage: 400km
Seat height: 845 mm
Price: RM23,789 (basic with GST)