The Perpetual KLR vs Versys Debate - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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The Perpetual KLR vs Versys Debate

Hi guys- lots of good information here on the Versys- have already learned so much about this bike via this forum!

This has probably been covered about as well as oil threads, but just wondering if anybody on the forum has made the switch from the venerable KLR650 to a Versys, why they did it, do you regret it, or do you wish you owned both, etc., etc.

I had a 2009 KLR650, and after throwing piles of money at it to make it more dirty-worthy, I realized it was always going to be a 430+ lb pig, so I switched to a much lighter bike for my dirt work. But that bike (KTM 690) does not feel very much at home on the road- much less than the KLR did, in my opinion. Hence my interest in the Versys for paved road touring......

Thanks for your input.
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 08:22 AM
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I moved from a KLR to the Versys. I wanted to like the KLR but just found it boring. Already I have ridden the Versys more offroad than I ever did the KLR, and there's absolutely no comparing on-road performance. Get a test ride if you can but I'm just warning you: make sure you have your financing in place because you're going to want one once you've tried it.
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 08:23 AM
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I think your plan is a good one. Get the Versys as your more road tool and use your 690 as more off road tool.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 09:10 AM
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I've owned 17 different bikes in my life of riding; from MX to rocket to cruiser. I, like Mt. Versuvius; had an '09 KLR and got rid of it to get a Versys. As you can see from my sig, I currently own 6 different bikes; two of them are real "Dual Sport", a term coined by Suzuki. In one of my duller moments, I thought the new generation KLR would be a good addition to my garage because it should be better on the street than the DRs but still get me off the beaten path when I wanted. WRONG! Before even riding the KLR very much, I added a Pelican Case as a tail trunk and put on engine crash guards as well as some other protective bits. The first time I took the KLR out to my weekend property I remember riding along and thinking to myself, "why did I buy this bike, it doesn't really do anything better than my DRs." Sure it has better top end than my DR350s but on a bike of this type, who cares; I know I didn't. Then when I took some gravel roads, I found out the new generation KLR is not a real off pavement bike. After only 3000 miles, I traded the '09 KLR in on a '09 Versys. In fact, I feel just as comfortable taking the Versys on gravel roads as I did the KLR. I think the original KLR is a better dual purpose than the new generation, I have no first hand experience with the older version.

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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 09:23 AM
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 09:36 AM
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I had a KLR and got rid of it to move to a DRZ which then led to the Versys. I really can't say anything positive about the KLR. The DRZ was better in every way other than just flat highway cruising. The Versys is of course much better on road but I wouldn't dare take it on a tight trail the DRZ could handle. I have done some logging road miles on the Versys though with no issues.

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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 09:40 AM
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IMO it's not necessary to frame it as (A vs B) type question. Speaking only for me. I would not get rid of my KLR because I acquired a KLE. I own both. There are routes I can ride my KLR on that I would not ride MY KLE on. And the KLE will do things the KLR can't. I own three bikes and there is a lot of overlap in their use. If I could I'd add a TE630 or a DRZ400 for strenuous day rides. Getting one bike and desiring great performance in all aspects including price, accessories, service requirements etc, is a bust. A KLR comes close, as it can be ridden loaded a 1000 miles and then ride 300 miles of thrasher rough road and single track the would bend the wheels on a KLE. and then be ridden home wearing the dirt and scratches proudly.

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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 11:10 AM
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I have an '04 KLR, in Alberta, which has been here in AZ twice, and up to Alaska twice, presently with about 77,000 kms (48,000 miles) on it. Corbin saddle, Vista Cruise, and supplementary windshield. Decided to buy a bike for AZ rather than trailering down each fall, so checked out the "Wee" Strom, Versys, and BMW F 650GS twin (F 800 GS TOO!). After riding them I decided that the Versys 'won the nod' and got an '08, because during the test rides it was superior to the others.
Presently there are 20,600 miles on my "V", and I just took delivery of a brand new '09 - green - which I'm breaking in (DONE in less than 50 miles) and importing into Canada to REPLACE my KLR, which will be for sale in April. Like others here, I ride the V on dirt roads and it's just fine, PLUS I get around 56 mpg riding it at whatever speed traffic is doing, while my KLR will also give 56 mpg, but ONLY traveling at slower speeds, 55 mph!
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 12:20 PM
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I'm sure you've found the 690 is a monster compared to the klr. But it's still not a very good street bike. And it's really too heavy to be a good dirtbike. What you really needed was a 450EXC or 530EXC and a Versys.

The Versys does street exceedingly well. It's fast and light, plenty of power, and it's cheap to buy and run. Lots of accessories for it to make it do exactly what you want.

I would really like to have more of an adventure bike, but none of them make a very good dirtbike. I was really tempted with the 690, and the new Husky TE630. Niether one is a very good streetbike. And unfortunately in any one ride one might find conditions suited better to either end of the spectrum. In other words, it's easy for people to say 'just get a good dirtbike' or just get a good street bike that will go in the dirt. But if you're on your good dirtbike they are horrible for any long distance hiway running. And any bike that weighs 400 pounds or more is horrible for offroading. BMW thinks they've captured the ideal in the GS...gee, a 550lb dirtbike??? Not for me. Or Ducati - the ideal adventure bike (mulitstrada) but again, who would take a fancy $20K streetbike into the woods?

So, everything is a tradeoff. Each rider has to decide what his priorities are and then buy or build to suit. The Versys has a loyal following as it does what it was desinged for and does it very well.

The KLR? Well, the people that like those things are just not into performance. Which is fine. Some of the hard core adventure crowd are not into getting anywhere in a big hurry, they just want to get there eventually. For most of the rest of the riders they are looking for performance and fun, as well as being able to 'get there' eventually.

If you like the adventure part of the KLR/690 perhaps you need to be considering the new Tiger 800 or a F800GS. Both will do street pretty good, and be able to venture offroad on mild trails. They are both more well suited for the latter than the Versys - it's really a 'standard' street bike, nothing more. Yes, some have modified them to be better for off-pavement, but they are the first to admit they are not a dirtbike, and all those mods make them perform less on-road. More compomises there.

If you're keeping your 690 and want a streetbike, the Versys is excellent. After a year of ownership I would do it all over again, it's that good. Eventually I will probably replace my KTM250 with a plated 450. I'll have the best of all worlds then, in my opinion.

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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 02:18 PM
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If you go off road do not buy a Versys, too expensive to make dirt worthy. If you ride road only do not buy a KLR. No debate, the bikes are too different. I sold my 08 dr650 as I never went off road and it was less to buy a new Versys instead of doing the supermoto thing to the Dr650. There is nothing you can do to a KLR that wil make it like a Versys on road.
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 03:12 PM
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I have a Versys with Avon Distanzas and it is great offroad right up to and including fire roads, gravel roads, single track without clearance obstacles and conditions that are not very wet (especially wet clay which is like ice even with knobs. If that's the limit of your off roading, I would say the Versys is your bike, especially if you do 95% pavement riding. For a lot of people, that is the extent of offroad capability needed (so they can take little shortcuts or get to "the good campsite" or traverse a Jeep road without huge wash-outs).
If you want to do multiple tight switchbacks, deep whoops, deep water crossings, steep/rough climbs where weight and suspension would be critical factors, something more offroad oriented would be desirable to make your experience possible if the rider is up to the task, but the more dirt worthy you make it, the less of a road/touring bike it becomes.
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 05:24 PM
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I was going to get a do-it-all bike too but then decided against it. Now I have a YZ250 for trail riding and a Versys. Couldn't be happier.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 07:18 PM
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I have an 07 KLR and an 08 Versys. Actually I find myself using the KLR a lot more for the daily commute and grocery getter. I also take a few trips with it but not as many now that I also have the Versys. I've got the V set up strictly for the highway. I had 93k miles on my 03 KLR and went everywhere on it. If I had to give up one of these bikes it would definitely have to be the Versys because I like the off road stuff too much. But I'm sure glad I don't need to make that decision. JMHO

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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 10:40 PM
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There is just something about that TE630 that screams "add me to the stable" to me...for some reason.

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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 10:40 PM
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Like you Spiderman I also have a '07 KLR & '08 Versys. I've currently got 8 bikes and the KLR would be the last to go, me & momma love it too much.
It's a slow kinda fun but it opens the door to many opportunities.

I look at bikes the way the wife looks at shoes and my KLR just happens to be like her hiking boots.

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post #16 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input, guys- all very insightful. The comment about KLR riders not being into performance and just 'wanting to get there eventually' is probably the funniest thing I've read on a motorcycle forum in the last two or three years! But I know what you mean...

It's true that a 450 or 530 KTM, along with a Versys would probably cover a wider gamut of riding than my 690, although I had the oppurtunity to ride a 450 SX-F, 450 EXC-W, 950 Adventure, and a 690 Enduro all in the same day, and the 690 was the one that really turned me on the most, so that's what I ended up buying. And while it's a featherweight and near double the HP of the KLR (including a suspension and brakes that actually work) it's not the best bike to take when all your buddies are on 300 2-strokes and 450's. Still better than taking a KLR, though!! haha

I too found the KLR to really be lacking for freeway use. But how much can you expect from a single-cylinder 650, realistically. It's been discussed thousands of times, and there's no bike that's gonna have the speed of a ZX-14 Ninja, the touring ammenties of a Gold Wing, and the dirt-bike-ness of a KTM, or whatever dirtbike you like...... just ain't gonna happen!!

It seems like the Versys would fill the niche for my paved-road riding w/out completely blowing the budget, and my 690, which I just bought, will continue to be the off-road bike. And I don't supppose there'll be too many on the forum that recommend I not get the Versys. lol

Thanks again for the opinions.... might have to take a deep breath here until taxes for this year are done.....
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post #17 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-23-2010, 09:08 AM
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I've had 88 bikes, if that matters any. I also have several in the garage at a time, though I'm trying to quit that. They're all fun, and they all lack. If you ride mostly dirt and gravel and/or that's your primary interest, I'd go Killer. If you ride mostly road, I'd go V. If you're not sure, I'd go V. It does everything so much better than the KLR, except for tougher off-roading. There are always caveats, but that's the simplest, most accurate gist, IMO. If you're keeping your 690 (Which I love, BTW.), definitely get the V. Pick and choose. If you have several bikes, it makes it much easier. And more fun...
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post #18 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-23-2010, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Only 88??? haha Thanks for your input, cls. The 690 definitely stays- I like it a lot.

There is definitely something to be said for multi-bike garages......
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post #19 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-23-2010, 10:45 PM
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No doubt. It's just expensive.
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post #20 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-24-2010, 08:22 AM
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I was torn between the klr and versys a few months back when looking for something more street worthy than my xr250....I looked at several klr's,used and new....I looked at the front of the machine,and loved the styling,but as I walked around the side,they just screamed "old mans bike" at me....Even with the stylish fairing,the old school swingarm and rear suspension just kept catching my eye....I did ride one,and wasn't too impressed...It didn't seem to have as much punch and torque as my xr did,not to mention it was way heavier....On the other hand,I didn't want a cruiser because of size,or a crotch rocket because of comfort...I couldn't see myself dishing out the $$$$ for a bmw even though I really liked the gs's and the x challenge....So,here I am....On a versys forum...That tells you what I chose....Got a gently used 08 in early October,and almost 4,000 miles later,I havn't looked back....Enjoy every time I strattle it....It was economical enough that I was able to keep my xr for dirt and trails and use the v for street and the occasional gravel....
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