Big Comfort, Long Travel Suspension, and Innovative Styling: One Versatile, Fun, Street-Savvy Motorcycle
The new 2008 Kawasaki Versysô is a machine which occupies a hard to define sweet spot in the motorcycling universe. Is it a practical commuter? Long-legged urban assault vehicle? Sportbike? Light Tourer?
The answer on all counts is a resounding Yes! This isnít a niche specialist but rather a jack-of-all-trades with user-friendly versatility as one of its many charms.
The 649cc parallel twin and the neutral handling and light steering chassis of the Ninjaģ 650R sportbike made the perfect starting point for this comfortable gridlock commando. A swoopy gull-wing swingarm, long-travel inverted 41mm fork, six-spoke superbike-inspired wheels, adjustable-height windscreen and a comfortable cockpit were combined to create a motorcycle that just begs to be ridden wherever the pavement might lead.
The compact liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 8-valve, 649cc parallel twin engine was modified for the Versys motorcycle so it delivers smooth power thatís well-suited for off-the-line acceleration and flexible torque in the cut-n-thrust of a riderís morning commute. This engineís overall characteristics are entertaining for even the most advanced riders, yet predictable enough to inspire confidence in less-experienced motorcyclists.
Its suspension offers the next level in sophistication: an advanced Showa rear shock featuring a free piston and two-stage damping valves for progressive compression damping which firms significantly as the shock moves through its stroke. This allows a longer wheel travel with a feel that is initially soft like a dual sport, but firms to near sportbike levels as suspension loads escalate. Of course, this advanced shock is fully-adjustable and connected to a beautiful aluminum gull-wing swingarm that is longer than average, thanks to a short/compact engine and chassis.
Up front, the Versys suspension continues the high-tech approach with a fully-adjustable 41mm tapered-tube inverted fork that combines the best of off-road and sportbike suspension action for a stiffness balance that is a perfect compliment to the chassis settings. In addition to a more-comfortable ride, the long-travel suspensionís soft-stroke allows easy control of the chassisí running angle by shifting the riderís weight.
Complimenting the able suspension is the carefully designed cockpit that features a two-piece seat constructed to provide optimum comfort to both the rider and passenger. An easy-to-read and informative instrument panel allows riders to quickly scan the gauges and get their eyes back on the road. Capping off the comfort list is an adjustable windscreen that can be raised or lowered to three positions in 20mm increments.