For what it’s worth.
I traded in the Versys for a Honda 919 this summer and thought it might be worthwhile to share with this forum what I learned:
1. This is a great forum. The best I have found to date. I learned this before I even made the trade as I was trying to research the Honda.
2. What a great bike the Versys is.
If you own a V, you know why this forum is great, I don’t have to explain that, but don’t assume that all forums for all popular bikes are this good, they’re not, some not even close. Thanks to all of you who share with us on this forum.
From a performance aspect, if you are interested in my personal comparison between the V and a 900cc standard, read on.
The 919 is a (naked) standard which, by some claims, weighs just 18lbs more than the V. (depending on your source.) In my opinion, handling is about the same, but to me the V is more confidence inspiring, possibly due to superior suspension, less mass, less weight, I don’t know, but bottom line is they both handle really well and both are a blast to ride.
Acceleration on the 919 is a whole new world compared to the V. It is strong and smooth, and amazingly friendly up to about 6k rpm. Once you get over 6k, it is like disturbing a Hornet’s nest, and the Hornets get angrier exponentially beyond 6k. YeeHaww it is fun to play with that motor. Strangely enough though, head to head against any other bike, the 919 doesn’t seem to accelerate any better than the V. The V is no slouch; I used to say that there is a baby tiger inside the V motor that doesn’t come out until about 7 or 8k rpm.
In researching the 919, I came across a website that was started by one who I would consider to be an authority on the subject (www.919.org
). He states that although the 919 is a great bike, it will get its ass handed to it by pretty much any 600cc sportbike on the market today. IMHO, this straightforward, blunt statement should be the baseline for any motorcycle purchase. If you want to go fast, buy a sportbike. If you want to destroy people in the twisties, buy a 600cc sportbike. If you want to ride in the dirt, you will have to make compromises. If you only have the means to own one bike, define the type of riding that you will be doing the most of and there are many fine choices out there and the Versys is certainly a fine choice. This is what (IMO) makes this forum so great. The V seems to attract the kind of person who is practical minded and realizes that you don’t have to spend $12k and up for a great motorcycle. The kind of person that understands that you do not have to be a racer to have a good time, and having a good time often means having it for 600+ miles per day and being comfortable only enhances the “Good Times.” IMO the people on this forum have found a great bike that can be made to be even better and they like to share their findings on this forum.
What I loved about the Versys:
1. 50 mpg
2. 250 mi range. (200 mi guaranteed) The KLR has a 300 mi range which is great, but 200- 250 is still quite adequate.
3. ergos. Street tires on gravel roads, dirt roads, long gnarly country dirt driveways= no problem.
4. smoooooth. Flawless, I mean flawless fuel injection.
5. quiet. (Helmets save lives, loud pipes just annoy people)
6. perfect weight. Easy to flick around in turns or push around in the garage yet heavy enough to be solid and stable on the highway
7. parallel twin. Great design for many reasons from a mechanical standpoint.
8. amazing ability to ride 2 up without complaint
What I didn’t like about the Versys
1. ’07 & ’08 had the ugliest (IMO) headlight ever put on a motorcycle. Subsequent years not much better.
2. Lack of aftermarket support. This forum goes a long way in alleviating that problem though.
If you have read up to this point, it probably doesn’t make sense why I would have traded the Versys for something else. Here is the reason: If I thought the V would last 100,000 mi. I would have been happy with it for the rest of my riding days and would have never sold it. This may be a completely unsound reason to have parted with it. I know of many Moto Guzzis and BMW’s that have 200,000 mi on them without a rebuild. I see my disposable income decreasing with age and feared that if I didn’t find a 100k capable ride now, that I would be forced out of cycling some day by finances. I have looked hard at everything out there. There is just something about BMW or Guzzi ownership that I’m not quite comfortable with. Even the salesman at the BMW shop praised the 650 Versys motor and said that he wouldn’t be surprised if it is capable of 100k mi. without a rebuild.
Maybe it is just based on past experience owning Kaw and Honda dirtbikes. Honda, to me, has a much better build quality. Every motorcycle magazine test report on every Honda that I’ve ever read, has always mentioned somewhere in the test the Honda quality fit and finish. Only time will tell if I made the right decision. For now though what I can
say is that I do love the 919, but I loved the Versys just as much, even more so after 160 mi when the Honda turns on the low fuel light.