There has been, is, and probably always will be, a fair bit of conjecture about the V being capable offroad.
I just wanted to share my V story from a true Aussie dirtbike riders point of view.
Im sure there are many on this forum that ride both offroad and street as well as somewhere in between, and my thoughts may well be shared by others here.
I ride true offroad (by definition) on my DRZ400 and DRZ250. There is no road. The best it could be described as is a mountain goat grazing trail or an extreme bushwalkers walking trail...single trail, enduro..whatever you want to call it...the Versys DOES NOT belong there.
However, the Versys makes a fine gravel runner and adventure tourer. In outback Australia a greater fuel range is necessary, but simply strapping a 5 litre fuel can on the back is no big issue.
Im a glass half full kind of bloke, and Id take my Versys anywhere a GS rider would take his Beemer, no questions asked. Perhaps Im more confident than others in my ability handling the Versys on gravel roads and firetrails because Ive done so much enduro riding, but I really enjoy getting it on gravel. Sometimes just cruising along taking in the scenery from the road less travelled is my thing, other times I really enjoy powersliding it through corners. The V handles both with ease and comfort.
Where it lacks is suspension travel at the front. An extra 2 inches (perhaps 3) would be ideal. But as long as you take it easy on rutted and eroded trails, then its fine...or go fast enough to skate across them
In summary, the V makes a great adventure tourer where it will spend its time on bitumen, gravel/dirt roads, and firetrails (forest service roads) provided its set up to do so with some proper tyres. Its every bit as good as the V-Strom, if not better due to the lighter weight. A 19" front wheel would be nice, but a 130/80 front tyre gets the diameter pretty close to that of a stock 19" dual purpose tyre anyway.
Mods on my 2007 Versys are...
SW-Motec Crash bars and engine guard
Full Givi luggage
DanMoto exhaust (contemplating a custom high mount one though)
Protaper ATV High bars and pillow grips
Barkbuster Storm hand guards
Oxford heated grips (it gets cold in my part of Australia!)
Givi touring screen for winter
Supermoto high mount front fender
Custom fork protection (required since factory front fender is removed)
Some random $20 ebay mirrors (much better than Kawasaki ones)
Speedy peg lowering blocks
Random $10 ebay steel offroad foot pegs
Oxford tank bag
Spot lights (mounted where front indicators normally are)
Avon Distanzias but will be upgrading to either TKC/Karoo/Kenda
Motorcycles...the only true freedom man has left.
My son and I did some of two track below in Alaska last year. Ended up on some easy single track fully loaded with my wife on Vancouver Island this summer by accident. No problem as long as you have some throttle control.
Burnedstar - how to you find the K60 front? Is it a tube type tyre? Do you run a tube? Has it made the front noticeably heavier when flicking through the twisties?
Yes it is a tube type but I run it tubeless. I never had an issue.
I lost some twisties capability with the K60 but it is noticeably better than my previous front tire: Shinko 705 DS. Note that both are rear tires. I have found lately that Heidenau makes a front 120/90-17: that would probably be the best trade off for an Adventure versys without changing the front wheel.
Went riding on some "goat paths" (an accurate term coined by a very experienced Hill Country rider) a few weeks ago, and those were best described as gravel roads with many "sketchy" areas with lots of stones, but none bigger than a golf ball. I have Shinko 009s shod on my V that were at normal street riding pressure, and the group that I was with was negotiating these roads at a pretty good clip. The bikes in this group were KLR650s, GS1200s and a Wee-strom.
We rode about 50 miles of goat paths, and it took some getting used to. But once I figured out that rear braking and engine braking are my friends, then all was good. I also saw that those "friends" were piloting skills that had nothing to do with the bike. So, my take away was that while owning a big GS or Triumph 800XC or (insert sexy bike here) would be great, having a well-rounded bike like the V lets you negotiate these kinds of roads with minimal prep and fuss. But I still drool over those other, sexier bikes....