Writing an opinion on a motorcycle is no easy task for someone coming from Malaysian Riders. Our sole focus has always been about creating film contents for all of our viewers and fans throughout the country and the region. It has been so long since we last written such piece on a machine and we’re pretty sure that the last one was done for the brand Kawasaki too. This time around, our test rider Muhammad Rashidi will take a quick ride on the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 to find out whether it can reach the demand from our Malaysian motorcyclist and it’s terrain.
Let’s start with the ergonomic of the bike. Sitting on the bike for the first time (and we’re once again late to the party) and from missing out the Malaysia Press Introduction experience of the bike; our test rider have to say that It was great and at the same time awkward. The Kawasaki Versys 650 is not a badly designed machine; don’t get us wrong, the bike is actually very comfortable to just sit on. Grabbing the handlebar is an easy task and felt natural without any weirdness coming from it. But why did we have to put awkward to this point just now? That was because our test rider felt as if he was sitting on a chair and putting his arm on a table after sitting on the machine. It has been a while since he last rode a machine of such category and thus giving him a funny impression in his mind when he took the bike from Kawasaki Malaysia.
Once the riding begins, all those positive things about the ergonomic of the bike start to shine one by one; first impression from the handlebar’s positioning, it makes the bike so friendly and not intimidating to ride. Considering the height of the bike is a bit on the tall side; it doesn’t feel like a behemoth machine to ride. After all, the size of the bike is not what we say as giant anyway. We forgot to mention one tiny detail of the bike just now, the adjustable windshield. This is by far the most needed piece of equipment for a bike that makes you sit straight up facing the road. The seat on this machine is now a success to Kawasaki’s long time issue (a personal opinion of Rashidi) of less than comfortable seat foam. According to our test rider, it felt more bump-loving and will fair positively in a long or medium range riding.
There you go, it mostly rides as a touring motorcycle should; clear visibility, non-tiring and huge boost to the rider’s confident. But then, how does it perform during actual handling in most situations? When the question comes up for our test rider to answer; he takes a moment like a slight pause before he really starts talking about it. The machine, according to Rashidi was made to ride for medium to long journey and this comes from it’s ergonomic package which was engineered to make human riders last longer on the bike. Standing still, the bike weights gives you a certain consideration not to do silly maneuvers that can ultimately drop the bike or what we call as “jatuh bodoh” or in English “Stupid Crash”. Once the bike is moving, it moves effortlessly with it’s 649cc engine driving the rear tire. It moves from left to right with ease and was quite agile to be on a twisty roads. The suspension though, could have been stiffer (even after being adjusted to the max setting easily – you’ll know why once the film comes out) for a slightly extreme riding.
Apart from the suspension being smooth for mostly cruising journey, it handles well and did great in traffic too. Kawasaki Versys 650 is not a wide machine but it is quite tall, so the side mirrors will be your guidance on how well clear you are when splitting the traffic. The engine is very-very handsomely smooth for town cruising and can even keep up with the low speed riding of the guy or aunt in front of you riding his moped as is nobody else will be following him or her. It then revs up nicely and hold firmly in the mid-range of the rpm but not really particularly nice to always rev it up to the max. Although, that was what our test rider did when he took it to a nice curvy road and expect the bike to be moving like a sportsbike. The motors that sit at the heart of this year’s Versys came from the model because it was proven to be a good engine, if its not broken why fix it; well maybe that was the reason those Kawasaki engineers gave to their bosses. So we wouldn’t want to touch on all those teeny tiny changes that may have been made on the engine (If there is any).
According to Kawasaki, there have been some changes to the ECU and exhaust system which supposedly will improve the top-end of the engine. But our test rider felt it’s better to remain in the average of 7,500 to 8,500 rpm just to ensure the engine wont stress out too much since it wasn’t built for racing or sports riding in the first place. But reaching a speed of more than 180km/h is an easy thing to do. With higher speed comes the need to stop the bike at a more dramatic rate. The new calipers of the brake up front and rear is sure to give the bike a better stopping power but that doesn’t mean we can simply thrash it straight to 200km/h without any consequences. The bike’s geometry was designed to cruise. The machine does not handle well at high speed and leaning at the same time, what does this mean? We didn’t say that it is not possible to be done but it would be a risk to actually go all out with it on a slight curvy road, this is due to the bike’s chassis that may flex easily during riding which gives it stability on a straight line and better retention of speed to increase the fuel efficiency and power sustainability.
This engineering design is beautiful considering the main focus of the bike is to cruise comfortably and in a relaxed manner. The bike has always been in a state of long wheelbase and this is true to most of the touring bikes out there. Therefore, you won’t need to treat it like a sportsbike in case you’re getting one. Moving on, the engine consume it’s fuel well and efficient as always on this 2015 Kawasaki Versys and that is pretty normal for a machine of it’s type. The fuel indicator on the other hand can be a bit of liar since it can differ while stationary and while It’s moving. Not a big deal, you know how much you filled her up and you know how far you’ve ridden. The dashboard shows all the basic things you need to see except for gear indication. We couldn’t understand why is it so hard for them to just put it into the system, but there is a solution by Kawasaki; buy their peripheral gear indicator accessory and you’ll be on your way. We do not know of how much it cost but we’ll get it to you once we get the information.
Overall, the 2015 version of the Kawasaki Versys 650 performs well as mostly road-going touring machine. We did took it for a quick back road action and it can still handle the situation pretty well. The enhanced look seems a bit of a must since the last one looked like a badly designed Cyclops motorcycle. All in all, with a price tag of around RM37,000 on the road; the machine will be a great bike to own for those who are looking for a sturdy bike that can last for the next 5 years or more. The old Versys works very well and this new one simply improves on the overall feeling of the bike as a Japanese entry level touring machine. We wouldn’t want to compare it with those continentals powerhouse like the BMW and KTM or Triumph (not the lingerie). They are simply way in it’s own class and the price range is already different. Our say on this? Buy it if you need something affordable and easy to be your base into the world of long distance motorcycle riding.
We’re in no way an expert on a written review (not like we’re an expert in non-written review) but if you do have any further inquiry, feel free to drop your question to us through the comment section, on facebook, our direct email or even our test rider’s personal mobile number if somehow you have it in your possession. We’re glad that you got to this point of reading our somewhat awesomely written opinion (being positive here), we would love to have you around on our FACEBOOK PAGE and chatting with us (if we’re around) while you’re playing our YOUTUBE FILMS in the background.