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.