I currently ride a 07 EX500 Ninja. I have been riding since Late September, so I'm still very much a new rider. Only have about 1000 miles on the bike.
I have been in love with the Versys since before I bought the EX500. Opting for the EX for two reasons really. First; not many Versys around here. I saw none local during the time I was looking. Second; the tall seat height(I wear a 30" inseam).
I've been enjoying the 500 Ninja. The power feels adequate. Very easy bike to ride overall. My only complant is that I don't care for the riding position. It's still leaned over more than I would like. I would like an upright position where as the EX500 is still a bit leaned forward. The problem with this, is that I get a good amount of pain in my right thumb after about 45 minutes of riding.
I do not commute. I ride only paved roads so far. I really only get a chance to ride on the weekends or sometimes if work is slow during the day here and there. These rides are generally only a couple of hours or so. However, I would like to start taking some longer rides on the weekends. Maybe wake up on a Sunday morning and ride to a destination a couple of hours away and then come back. Do some geocaching, or maybe even take the bike to some National forest roads at some point(This would be nice, but still I would be mainly riding on pavement.)
I also need something I can put some panniers or hard cases on. Having no storage sucks and I get tired of wearing a backpack just to cary a trivial amount of anything.
I bought the Ninja thinking I would ride it for a year and then replace it. The new Honda 500x should be in dealerships by July 2013, and I would likely wait a little while longer still to buy it if I go that direction. Looks like the price will be around $6k.
At this point I really think that ABS is an important feature. I don't understand why it's not available on the Versys. I do practice panic braking in a parking lot near my home frequently, but realize that in the moment of panic it's quite likely to just grap a handful of brake. ABS may save me. If I'm going to get a new bike, I can't really see not wanting ABS. ABS should be available on every bike.
I know the Ninja 650 has ABS option but seems like it still is leaned forward more than I would like. The seat height seems perfect for me though. But then it would be ill suiting for the forest roads idea.
What other bikes should I be considering? Also the NC700x looks nice and has ABS option. I'm concerned about the engine though. I'm not a speed demon in any way, but I want the get up and go to be there if needed. I'm not terribly concerned with fuel economy(they're all gonna be better than my F150).
I STILL really love the Versys. If it were ABS there would be no question. Damnit Kawasaki, get your sh*t together!