When I added my '09 Versys, November 2010, to my '08, it took very little time to notice that the '09 has better brakes! By the end of my winter break in AZ early April, I'd pretty much concluded that the difference, and the improvement, resided in the '09's front brake master cylinder, so I made plans to address that when I returned to AZ this October.
To quantify the difference: on the '08 the front brake lever comes quite close to the bars to get effective braking (although it WILL lock the front wheel...!), while the '09 has good braking in the first few degrees of lever movement with no need to get close to the bars. On the early Versys, the reservoir is basically 'boxed' shaped, while on '09 and later ones it is 'oblong' or roughly, 'egg-shaped', so I assume that Ma Kawasaki noticed the need and made the appropriate modifications, and the different shape somehow indicates the changes.
First attempt I made was to put an ad. in our "WANTED" forum, trying to see whether anyone had a 'surplus' one. Nothing much happened till Weljo2001 suggested I look at E-bay and added links to some that were on there. One happened to be for a brake-reservoir off an '09 Ninja 650, so I did a little research which led me to see that the Ninja and Versys share the same master-cylinder, but the mirror mounts differently.
MORE research showed that they were the same EXCEPT for the 'half-moon' piece that attaches the reservoir to the bars, part number 43034 on this page from Bike Bandit:
which they list at $30.47.
I contacted the seller that Weljo had sent me the link for (THIS forum is an incredible GEM!
), and bought the '09 Ninja reservoir, complete, for $42 delivered. Then, before ordering part # 43034 on the 'net, I phoned my Kawi dealer who quoted me just below $19, so I ordered it there.
Picked it up a few days ago, then down to Harbor Freight to buy a vacuum brake bleeder Model 92474, for $24 with my 20%-off coupon
, and some DOT4 brake fluid.
Today, I draped the tank to protect it from brake fluid, and got busy. Probably took me 30 minutes and the reservoir swap was done, then another 15 and it was 'bled', so I went for a 20 mile ride to check it out.
Works perfectly, WAY-Y-Y better than it had, just the same as on my '09!
So, my conclusion is - IF you have an early model Versys and want better brakes, find an '09 or later Versys or Ninja 650 reservoir (COMPLETE with the lever, as they ARE different
!), and change it out.
For those with 'early' model Vs who aren't sure of the value of this mod, try to find someone with an '09 or later one (or EVEN a Ninja 650...) and do a bike-swap for a few miles, concentrating on front brake performance. For LESS than 100 bucks - you CAN'T BEAT IT!
(I would have added pics except for the picture upload problem a bunch of us have noted!)