Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Queensland, Australia
I've ridden one today
The Brisbane Moss Street Kwaka dealer has a demo Versys X 300 and I got to take it out today. The salesman who jumped up first just happened to ride the same dirt roads as I do on his KLR 650 so after swapping tales of the roads we have both ridden he took me on a bit of a tour with me on the X 300 following his KLR 650 around mostly very busy streets, BUT he took me to some spare land on an industrial estate where some locals have made a M/X track.
It was mostly hardpack with a little dirt and stones, lots of potholes and more than a few rain ruts, and a couple of small jumps. The X300 handled everything without complaint. Mind you I was taking things cautiously - no racing on a strange bike and an unknown track. I also had to sign off on what might cost me up to $2,500.
I'd like the seat to be a little higher for my 5' 11", although I was surprised how comfortable the bars, seat, footpegs did feel and getting up on the pegs was easy enough.
For a 300cc twin it has amazing power. You could easily think that it is a 400cc + bike. It starts to howl at 6,000 rpm with a red line at 12,000 rpm. And it goes - and it is linear. It would also pull away cleanly from 3,000 rpm no worries. He led me back via the motorway and at 95 km/hr (60 mph) it's spinning at 7,000 rpm.
I agree with gearing up. 1st is very low and I easily pulled away from a stop in second by just riding the clutch a little. First is pretty useless and I'd think that the engine will easily pull +1 tooth on the front as well as perhaps -2 teeth on the rear. I'd think that 100-120 km/hr speeds down the motorway would become frustrating fairly quickly.
The clutch is amazingly light and it took a little while to get used to the take up point being when the lever was almost fully out. The front brake (unfortunately non adjustable) had very little play and felt very wooden/unresponsive but the bike had only done 250kms.
The steel frame reminded me of the same one piece welded unit of my 1995 KDX 200. Even the footpeg mounts were part of the frame and I would think that wanting to move them would become a major engineering challenge. I would have preferred a slightly wider handlebar for riding dirt roads.
It handled very neutrally. Put it into a curve and it stayed there with no tendency to either fall in or stand up - even when accelerating mid curve. The screen was very effective - far better than my V-Strom, and no buffeting either.
The demo was the "grey" model which looked quite conservative until late in the day or under artificial light when the metallic colour stands out like small metalflake. They had no floor stock (sold out at 3 to 1 in green which is also a metallic finish) but are readily available from the distributors warehouse.
I was also interested to look at the Honda CRF 250 Rally and the yet to be released BMW 305 GS but as they are singles and effectively dirt bikes are sure to be both less powerful and less comfortable. I was very impressed.