Versatile Versys offers loads of variety

Motoring journalist Andy Russell reviews the Kawasaki Versys…

I’d love to be one of those multi motorbike owners who can choose their machine to match their mood.

A sports bike for a fun blast, a tourer for long-distance cruising and a practical everyday ride.

But I don’t and that’s why I see sport adventure tourers as the ideal ‘one-size-fits-all’ option in the bike park.

While most manufacturers take the twin-cylinder route, Kawasaki doubles that with the Versys 1000, with the 2019 model powered by a cleaner version of the 1,043cc in-line, four-cylinder engine.

It’s the same basic engine as the Z1000SX but the Versys delivers 120PS rather than the sportier bike’s 142PS.

On the road, that doesn’t seem to matter because, with the same torque output as rival twins of the same capacity, it’s surprisingly flexible and picks up cleanly and pulls strongly from low revs which suits its touring character.

What really impresses is how refined the engine is across the rev range and the exhaust has a pleasant throaty note when you wind it up. A new full ride-by-wire twist grip and electronic throttle valves make for a smooth power delivery.

For a tall bike, it handles well, even with the Grand Tourer version’s colour-keyed panniers and top box. It grips securely, feels stable at speed and the ride is comfortable. Another plus for touring is a seat that’s plenty big enough for two people. The bigger, manually-adjustable screen does a good job of shielding the rider without much wind noise.

If you are looking for the ultimate in ride and roadholding, the Versys 1000 SE gains electronic control suspension with modes and preloads which can be adjusted remotely via Bluetooth using the new Rideology smartphone app or from the bike while riding.

The front forks and rear shock constantly fine-tune the riding mode damper settings – road, sport or rain - for road and riding conditions. A manual mode also allows a personalised custom set-up.

The preload can also be adjusted between three standard settings – rider only, rider with luggage and rider with pillion passenger and luggage.

The SE model also gets a TFT dash with readouts on throttle, braking and lean angles, an up and down quickshifter, cornering headlights and ‘self-healing’ paint which can repair small scratches.

The Kawasaki Versys 1000 starts from £11,199 with the hi-tech, hi-spec SE version from £14,399.

Don’t just take my word for it. Why not book a test ride and try it for yourself?