Spy Photos: Kawasaki Versys 1000

Dailies -



These photos, captured by French website Moto-Net.com, appear to show a Kawasaki Versys equipped with the alloy beam frame and 1,043cc inline-four from the Z1000. Aside from the engine and frame, which wear different color finishes to the Z, this bike looks very production ready and is equipped with bespoke parts such as the large, low-mount exhaust. That seems to indicate that this is a production-intent new model. That motor and frame have the ability to significantly increase power without adding much weight.

A portmanteau of the words “versatile” and “system” the Versys 650 is sort of a supermoto tourer. It’s got the tall suspension and riding position of an adventure tourer, but that suspension is firmer and is fitted with 17-inch wheels, keeping it mostly on the street. That unique configuration and two generations of downright ugly fairings has contributed to lukewarm sales. That’s a shame, because it’s a seriously capable, fun, practical, comfortable, affordable motorcycle.

Budget components like non-radial brakes, the same wheels used on bikes like the Ninja 650 and lots of black plastic covers indicate a budget price. The Z1000 retails for just $10,799 wearing nicer parts.

In 650 guise, its parallel twin develops 63bhp and 45lb/ft of torque. It weighs 206kg/454lbs (wet). In comparison, the Kawasaki Z1000 makes 136bhp and 81lb/ft, powering a bike that weighs 218kg/480lbs (wet). The Z’s inline four is fast, flexible and incredibly smooth. Adapting the same frame as the Z, it’s likely the Kawasaki Versys 1000 seen here would gain a little weight from its larger fairing and beefier tubular steel subframe.

Despite the different color frame and engine cases, similarities can clearly be seen between this Z1000 and the bike spied here. Note the Z1000′s distinctive cylinder-head gasket arrangement and contoured cases as well as the stylized cut outs in the clutch cover; all that can be seen on the Versys 1000 too.

These pictures show a bike biased towards road use with 17-inch wheels and not much in the way of ground clearance or engine protection. Such a configuration, combined with a powerful, large motor would put it in competition with the now-defunct Suzuki V-Strom 1000, Triumph Tiger 1050 and the likely much more expensive Ducati Multistrada 1200. A fun, versatile touring bike rather than something with limited off-road capability such as a BMW R1200GS.


  • pplassm

    Looks like just what I need.

  • Glenngineer

    Cool. People have wanted one of these for a while, and I hear nothing but good things about that motor. It’ll probably be lighter and cheaper than most of the other liter+ tallrounders…a Japanese Tiger 1050, rather than a Japanese GS.

  • Gene

    If the motor hasn’t had it’s balls cut off, er, I mean been retuned for midrange torque then this might be my first Kawasaki.

    I do like the Z1000, but this is probably a lot more comfy, and has a much better looking headlight. (which isn’t saying much)

  • Tommy

    Damn. This is rad. I’m loving my versys. Kind of ugly, yes, but soooooo fun and comfortable to ride, and having ridden that z1000, holy shit. I hope it comes out soon, so I can pick up a barely used one in a couple years, for next to nothing like I did my 650.

  • JTourismo

    Looks like a good move from kawasaki. Effective use of that motor across different models.

  • Erok

    this thing looks so much worse than than standard versys.

  • szu

    We’ve waited for Versys 1000, but that was supposed to be twin! Inline-4? What for??

    • 80-wattHamster

      So they don’t have to develop a new motor. I don’t think they can enlarge the current 650 much more, and the W800 engine probably doesn’t have the desired power delivery characteristics, and may not go that large either.

      • szu

        I know the economical reasons, I just think it’s bad idea to put this engine into Versys. If I wanted “fast tourer” I’d buy Z1000SX.

    • rvltng_bstrd

      no good, damn right we were expecting the current engine configuration and aesthetics

  • Devin

    #1 issue with the Versys, if you actually take it down a worn road to camp, it has no centre stand so parking in dirt is a pain. You can’t put one on either because of the underslung exhaust. Just annoying on this type of bike.

    • kidchampion

      I think that can be fixed with a crushed beer can under the side stand. Kawasaki will probably throw one into the deal if you haggle.

      • Archer

        Proper touring (and some sport-touring bikes, like the VFR) have centerstands for reasons other than parking on dirt. Chain maintenance and oil level checks among them.

        • Andrew

          Then why don’t all bikes have centre stands for these reasons? What or where are you touring with a bike like this that you are doing such frequent maintenance making a centre stand a neccesity?

          I am not sniping, I really want to know.

          • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

            I guess you could argue that it’s not necessary on non-touring bikes because you could have a lift or stand at home for doing chain maintenance.

            I don’t get it though. Lubing a chain without some kind of stand is a pain in the ass. Why some manufacturers (Kawi being maybe the worst) don’t understand this is beyond me.

            At the same time, I don’t understand how parking on dirt with a side stand is some kind of problem. Center stands are only safe on a stable, level surface. What’s wrong with a side stand?

  • jonoabq

    A little late to the Tiger/Strom party but better later than never. This style of motorcycle has been proven to be a highly adaptable platform to do lots of different things well. It will be interesting to see how this one shakes out. Another bike in the mix should hopefully force more attempts at differentiation and innovation from Triumph & Suzuki as well?

    • Glenngineer

      I think Triumph is fine on the differentiation front. The Tiger 1050 is solid and still making incremental little improvements every year or two. The 800s are great bikes by all accounts, and they’ve got that 1200 brewing…

      Suzuki, on the other hand. They might as well just fold up already.

  • Sean

    A search using HFL’s own search engine reveals that the word “bespoke” was used in 31 articles, mostly penned by Wes. Sadly, the word appears to be used inappropriately almost every time. Even Grant gets in on the “bespoke” action on a story about the Dainese Verbier Pelle jacket, and more recently Sean used the word in a writeup of the Ion Horse motorcycle. Resist, I say, resist!

    For Christmas you will all be receiving a pocket dictionary and thesaurus.

    • Glenngineer


    • Archer

      The use of the term has moved on and expanded from its original intent. I think (from memory) that Wes’ and Grant’s use of the term perfectly fits the modern interpretation of the term.

      Whether the evolution of the meaning of the word is a good thing or not is a matter for academics to decide- and if you do a little digging you’ll find they already have.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      This comment was made bespoke for you.

    • Scott-jay

      Thanks, Sean. I thought it was just me.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        The meaning of words changes over time. Even since that high school english class you took (you know, the one with fallout shelter-era text books) to the present:


        Parts like the exhaust seen here have been specifically created for the Versys 1000, hence the 100% accurate and appropriate usage.

        • Archer

          I think I said as much ;)

          • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

            You did and I appreciate it.

        • Scott-jay

          I crawled under my desk and leaned over my female classmates in the hallways of public schools.
          I don’t believe government propaganda affects American behavior.

  • Groomez

    Looks a lot like the KTM SMT

  • http://www.lloydvintage.com lloydvintage

    Looks a lot like they’re making UJM’s again.

  • http://www.kenta.ro Kentaro rides a NRS and a GSA

    Hey! My 1200GS doesn’t have limited offroad capability!