The First 635 Miles . . . - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-24-2008, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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The First 635 Miles . . .

have ticked off my Versys's odomoter in the past two weeks. I've ridden it on dirt roads, loose gravel, rough oil-and-chip, smooth and pristine asphalt country lanes and truck-beaten Interstates 24 and 57.

Wow, do I ever LOVE this bike! On one 400 mile trip last week, I spent the whole time watching traffic get blown around by 30-45 mph wind gusts. The Versys was incredibly stable, even when being alternately boxed-in and brutally exposed by 18-wheelers. Sure, the bike moved a bit . . . but always predictably and without ever losing its composure. In calmer air, the bike is just a complete joy to ride. I'm big (6' 5", 214 pounds, 34-35" inseam), but the bike feels, as Goldilock's said of the Baby Bear's chair, "Just right." I haven't experienced any of the discomfort that some folks have written about in regard to the reach to the footpegs or any of the problems some taller people have had with feeling as if the seat is making them slide forward into the tank. I think the Versys is going to be the first bike I've owned that did not immediately call for a custom/aftermarket seat. If I someday end up buying a Corbin saddle or the like, I suspect it will be just for the sake of indulging my need to farkle.

I'm also very impressed by the engine and transmission. The engine is still very tight, of course, but the fueling has been right on target from the very first time I used the throttle to the last time, this morning, when I gave it a short twist in 6th gear to get me past a lumber truck that was straining under a heavy load and just under the 55 mph speed limit on IL 148. For what it's worth to you, I recommend following the suggestions for running-in the engine that are in the manual: keep it under 4000 rpm for the first 500 miles and under 6000 rpm for the next 500. That means you're at just about 56-57 mph maximum for the first 500 miles, but then things open up: the 6K ceiling lets you cruise at 75 mph with no problems.

There are lots of great riding roads where I live, with good pavement, well marked and plentiful curves, changes of elevation, etc. The Versys is ideal for taking advantage of them! I had a Daytona 955i that was a blast to ride through the twisties and that would rocket so quickly on the straights that it made me break out into "flopsweat" (although, of course, not so much as to make me slow down) and huge grins. However, for me the Versys is actually a lot more fun, since it doesn't have all the largely useless top end speed and power, it has a much more upright and comfortable riding position, and it still has the capability of being confidently leaned over and hooned through curves in a manner that makes it possible to fantasize that you're Valentino Rossi or Casey Stoner or Nicky Hayden leading a MotoGP pack! Will the Versys win at any track days against more sport-oriented machines? No. Will it hold its own - at real world speeds and in real world riding conditions on the street - with just about anything out there? Yes. Is it comfortable, confidence-inspiring, transparent (in the sense of quickly becoming an extension of its rider's mind and body), and just plain FUN to ride? Yes, yes, yes!

I haven't had any of the problems that some folks have noted with vibrations from the engine and/or bodywork. I think part of this is due to the fact that my physical and psychological reference point for "vibration" on a bike is the Harley Sportster 1200 that I hopped up, made as loud as possible, and used to terrorize sportbike posers around the campus where I taught before retiring three years ago. I always wear a full-face helment . . . but without one I would have had to duct tape my eyeglasses to my face to keep the Sporty from shaking 'em off the first time I twisted the throttle! I sense a bit of "buzz" - and a pleasant, loping throb - from the Versys, but I like that. I rode a friend's Goldwing for a while last summer and, although I was impressed with how incredibly comfortable it would be for touring, I felt like I was driving a well-tuned and softly sprung Honda Civic and not a motorcycle. Although the Versys is very smooth and I'm really looking forward to doing some all-day rides on it, I'm also glad that it feels like a motorcycle!

The day before yesterday, I took the Versys in for its 600-mile service. All it needed was an oil change (where I made the shift to synthetic) and a replacement for a defective clutch-side mirror (which had a maddening habit of folding itself tankward whenever windspeeds and/or bike speed topped 45 mph!). Of course, all the various Versys bits and pieces were also checked and, if necessary, tweaked, tightened, etc. Even with the shift to synthetic oil (and an extra quart of oil to go - for topping off before the next service), the service cost just $62. That's quite a change from my experience with the first regularly scheduled service on my 2003 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail, which ran more than $450!!!!

I'm glad I went with stainless steel brake lines, which are providing excellent "bite" and stopping power, and I'm really glad that I added a "Back Off" brake light module that makes the taillight's stop signal flash (since I've seen it catch the attention, twice, of cell-phone-using cagers who otherwise would have plowed right through me). I also like the security of having the SW Motech engine guards (from Twisted Throttle). I've used the OEM top case so much that I added (just today) a Nelson Rigg passenger-seat case and saddlebag combination. I've got a "tail tidy" on the way, which will clean up the look of the rear end, and I used my bargain heat gun (an old hair dryer!) and some Goo Gone to get the ugly OEM "Kawasaki Versys" block letter decals off the tank panels. I've added a few small eagle-and-flag decals and I have a set of really nice POW/MIA decals on the way. I've also added - and I know this is sacrilege - a set of chrome and rubber, cruiser style, folding highway pegs to the farthest reaches of the SW Motech engine guards' top tubing. They give my loooooong legs an alternative position during long rides - and, according to at least two parking lot critics, add to the generally uncategorizable nature and appearance of the Versys. "Just what kind of a bike IS that?" "What kind of riding do you DO on that bike?" Ah, those kinds of questions are music to my ears.

What would I change about the stock Versys? I would make the mirrors' upper arms about 1.5" longer, which is not enough to make them look ungainly but would allow them to provide a view that didn't include part of your arms and shoulders! I'll probably be ordering a set of the SW Motech mirror extenders soon. I would make the OEM tank decal look less like a stencil applied hastily at dockside and try to give it some sort of font and style that would complement the lines of the tank and side panels. Other than that, it is a tremendous value for the money and one of the best motorcycles on the market. If it's anything like my KLR 650 in terms of reliability, then I'm confident that the Versys is a bike that I'm going to enjoy having for a long, long time.

I know this has been a long posting, but I decided to try to write something like the kind of "first impressions" that I've always enjoyed reading. If I've bored you, then please accept my sincere apologies. If you've got any questions, then post 'em here as replies or send me PMs. If I've provoked you, then tell me/us your differing opinions and experiences. That's what I like about being on a forum . . .

Here's hoping that, whatever and wherever and whenever you are riding, you're having a great time. Life is too short and precious to waste more of it than is absolutely necessary on drudgery and boredom!

Kevin McClearey
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-24-2008, 11:55 PM
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Hey Kevin
No boredom here Buddy! Lots of good stuff in your post. I love the idea for the "Back Off" tail light!
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2008, 09:59 PM
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Let's see some pics sounds interesting. Were the decals petty easy to remove. I assume not clear coat covering them.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-04-2008, 02:04 PM
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That was an awsome post, Im intereseted in doing about everything you have done! I like the look of the OEM saddle bags the3 best, but thats just me, but man they are pricey! This may be a stupid question, but the crash bars, do they offer any rider protection or what exactly are their full purpose?? almost worth getting just to put highway pegs on!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-04-2008, 05:10 PM
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Greetings Kevin,

One thing you didn’t mention on your mods is what I always do when I get a new or new to me bike and that is I always add a larger primary OR smaller rear sprocket. I have been doing it for years and what it does is not only improve your gas mileage by 25-30% but increases high-end speeds on the open road; all that with the engine purring at a much lower RPM’s which translates to a longer engine life.

The only thing is that you’ll have to get use to your bike all over again; especially if you do twisties on a daily basis because if you depend on downshifting mainly to reduce speed it will be a tad different. You’ll end up using more of your braking system both front and rear because of the change in gear ratio; so you have to keep that in mind when you’re going off the off-ramp from the highway at 100mph.

That is one of my main criteria on choosing a bike and that it MUST have a sprocket/chain for final drive among other things but that’s my main one other than the parallel inline engine. I do have more items of interest that narrows the list of bikes real quick.

So be sure to take a short time to re-acquaint to the new gear ratio. I posted a few posts on the technical section on gear ratios and setting up your bike to your unique riding style.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-04-2008, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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Sprockets and Engine Guards . . .

Interesting idea, David. I'll probably ride it through this first season with the stock primary and rear sprockets, but changing it sounds both tempting and like a good project for me during the crappy winter months. Thanks for posting the tech information, especially since I'm so "mechanically challenged!"

There are NO "stupid questions," except for ones that remain unasked just because the questioner fears embarrassment. So, as for the "crash bars," they serve to keep the engine from making destructive contact with the pavement (or gravel or mud or whatever it bike lands on when you have what the Brits call "a spectacular get-off!). I've gotten some form of them on every bike I've owned since the day one of my son's friends parked his bike (which did NOT have crash pars) on the sidestand on a windy mountain pass, stepped away, watched it simply blow over . . . and had almost $1,000 of damage done to it!

Some guards/bars will also protect the rider's feet and legs to some degree in a lowside crash, but it seems to me that the ones on the Versys are just there to protect the internal combustion bits. And, yes, they do make a handy place to mount some highway pegs . . . which you can see in my thread "Highway Pegs" on the "Cosmetic Modifications" subforum.

Happy Riding,
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-04-2008, 08:59 PM
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Not only does it improve your gas mileage by 25-30% but increases high-end speeds on the open road; all that with the engine purring at much lower RPM’s which translates to a longer engine life. IT ALSO WORKS THE OTHER WAY! For quick sprints off the line; if your into to that sort of thing besides getting the front-end up for easier wheelies.

If you’re in need for speed; listen to what some experts have to say about this.

“With all the money spent on engine performance items like exhausts, ECU fuel-mapping boxes, cams, pistons, etc., it's amazing that so many riders overlook a simple upgrade that can boost their bike's acceleration numbers for minimal dollars: gearing. For a fraction of the cost of a quality exhaust system, your roll-on acceleration from various speeds and in all gears will increase significantly. And there is potential to drop almost half a second from the quarter-mile ET and possibly add some mph to boot”---All this from changing your sprockets.

I would only focus on the primary sprocket since it only takes a few minutes to remove/install and it's less than $20; one tooth on the primary is equivalent to -/+ 3 in the rear. Bigger primary sprocket increases you gas mileage / smaller increases you low end torque and mileage and tickets but watch out for that bucking pony it will kick you right off so hang on.

I've been doing this mod since 1970 when I got out of the Corps. I only had a Honda 90 while in high school.
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