traded V for 919 comparison - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 12:40 AM Thread Starter
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traded V for 919 comparison

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.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 09:44 AM
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A bit late now, but I don't understand the data you used to conclude the Versys wouldn't last 100K miles. There are several riders on this Forum who are already well over 50,000 miles with only normal maintenance items. I'm not aware of anyone who's had to rebuild the engine because of wear.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 11:38 AM
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I previously considered the 919 when it first came out. Intresting you used the words "Hornet's nest" as they call the CB900F (919) the "Hornet" in Europe. Enjoy your purchase!

Hoping to become a rider soon
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 01:03 PM
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Good review. Your reasons for getting rid of your Versys were similar to my reasons of getting rid of my 650R. I perceived to be a budget bike (which generally it is) and wanted something “nicer”and something I felt would last longer. I think my 650R was about 36k miles on it at the time and the only thing to go wrong with is was a bad fuel pump and a somewhat sketchy ignition swith. I sold my 06 650R and bought an 06 VFR. Fit/finish on Honda is certainly better than most Kawasakis and most Suzukis. But fit/finish does not always equal reliability. Take the Wee Strom. It’s got a super track record of reliability to match any motorcycle of any make. And the Kawasaki 650 line is proving itself to be a very reliable performer as the years go on. The VFR was smoother of course and overall it was just a more refined motorcycle. Of course MSRP was over 50% more than the 650R so you’d expect it to be “nicer”. I traded the VFR in towards a used Versys after being fed up with all the problems I had with the VFR. I think I owned the VFR for about two years. I bought an 07 CBR600RR during the VFR ownership period as well. The CBR is a great motorcycle, never any problems but, beyond track days I hardly ever ride it as the Versys is just more enjoyable to ride on the street. Anyway the reliability of the Kawasaki over my VFR is one of the reason I ditched the VFR and bought my Versys. Plus my avg. mpg is around 60mpg for my Versys and was I think 46 for my VFR. I ride every day, year-round and reliability is hugely important to me. I am competent and experienced enough to do any mechanical job on my motorcycle but I really don’t like spending any time working on it.

Anyway, I understand your logic for wanting to buy a Honda or feeling like the Kawasaki wouldn’t last but my experience taught me I was false in my thinking. I would ride my Versys anywhere tomorrow.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 02:16 PM
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Thank you for your well thought-out post Verses. It's good to hear from folks that are able to provide insights from actual experience.

You mentioned a familiar reason why I was attracted to the Versys - finances. Before buying, I researched what bike would best serve my commuting, touring, comfort and "fun" needs without breaking the bank. I wanted a bike that would potentially last many years with good, routine maintenance. I believe the Versys fits the bill.

Change is good - enjoy your 919


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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 06:20 PM
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As others have said thanks for the review. Honda is a great product and though the years I have owned many honda bikes, cars, and still do.

Love the V, so comfortable! Fun to ride! How long will it last?

I respect what you have done! You put yourself in a position to ride as long as you can. Good luck with your 919.





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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-15-2011, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Verses View Post
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.
Kind of ironic, my garage has both in it, I ride the V and my son the 919, we ride together, IMO the 919 has a superior seat, I get better gas mileage and if I want, I have no trouble keeping up.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-16-2011, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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Great discussion. Excellent points made by all. I may have been a bit hasty in my decision. I was transitioning from dirt to street, no longer had time for the maint. and cleaning required of dirt bikes and didn't know if I would even like riding the street. First “street” bike was a KLR. It was better than I expected in every way. Found myself often hours from home exploring the world. One day on a scenic road I pulled off and rode a ways into the forest to take some pictures. As I was walking back to the bike I watched it tip over as the kickstand sank into the dirt. Snapped off a mirror and tweaked some stuff but nothing that would have stranded me. Because it was laying lowside on an incline, I had a heck of a time just getting it picked up. I decided that riding alone, off road, miles from anything, including the nearest paved road would seem really stupid if the bike went down and broke something that made it unrideable. Besides that, dual sport tires are a compromise at best, and by this time I had learned how enjoyable street bikes can be. So the choice was made, I'll stay on the street and maximize the enjoyment with tires made for the street. Probably would have bought a VStrom if there was a Suzuki dealer closer. I may try to put together a joint VStrom and Versys gathering next riding season in the Midwest. I bought the V used so I don’t know its history. Cycle World called it the “bike that most people should own.” I could only find things to like about it and nothing to dislike. Maybe it is a misconception on my part from owning a lemon Kawi dirt bike back in the day, but the term “build quality” kept coming to mind when all of a sudden the plastic on the Versys started to disintegrate. The cowlings and the side covers started getting millions of small cracks around the mount holes. I sold it without side covers and cowlings that weren’t far from gone as well.
Maybe it was just a fluke and I made an irrational decision. There is a thread just below this (regret selling my V) from a guy who wanted to try a bigger bike, realized it was a mistake to sell the V and is now trying to find a used one. That weighed into my decision as well, wanting something bigger, but I can honestly say that I am no faster on the 919 than I was on the V. Difference is, the V is much, much better on potholes, rr tracks, dirt and rock roads and other such obstacles. One reply talks about members with 50,000 trouble free miles and still going. That is a solid track record. I’m not (yet) calling my decision a mistake, but keeping this thread going might just prevent someone from making this type of mistake and convincing others that maybe the Versys is the bike that they should own.
Said it before, I’ll say it again. This is the best forum that I have found for any bike, hands down. Hope I’m still welcome here now that I’m Versless.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-16-2011, 10:27 AM
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"the plastic on the Versys started to disintegrate"

Wow, doesn't seem anybody else has mentioned anything like that! I know that some chemicals can cause a similar reaction, bad cleaning products?

Thanks for sharing your story, a well written and thoughtful account to be sure. And you're right about this Forum, it's the best I've seen. No doubt it played a part in my decision to buy a Versys.
Less complicated bikes are usually more reliable in my experience. Add in a very under-stressed power plant shared with the ER-6's, parts in common with other Kawi's, and a helpful and generous owner's forum. To me you couldn't ask for a better formula for long-term ownership. & keep in touch!
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-16-2011, 10:54 AM
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So you went with the inline 4 vs. the twin....I get it. Ive got a CBR600RR for the track and I love it. However a inline 4 and a twin are not even on the same planet as far as a comparo. My V has close to 58000 miles and the compression was just checked. Im going to get 100000 easy maybe more. Most of those miles are hauling a pretty good size load and a 1/4 of that was on dirt.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-16-2011, 12:53 PM
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I came very, very close to buying a 919 after test riding one. It sold before I could make my offer and ended up with the Versys instead. Not regretting my V purchase, but both have their strengths and weaknesses.

IMO Honda fit and finish and feel of quality is second to none. Kawasaki and maybe Suzuki have the lowest standards for fit and finish of the four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers.

The 919 also had oodles & oodles of silky smooth, tractable power with tons of low speed torque and a butter smooth gearbox. It is a lot smoother riding than the parallel twin in the Versus. What I did not like was the looks (subjective I know), lack of wind protection and although I have not done a side by side comparison - my impression, from the single 1hr test ride I took with the 919, is that the Versys is marginally better in the handling department due to maybe a more modern suspension/frame design.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-28-2011, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanksgiving Day. Got the day off work. Wife is overseas. Unseasonable 63°. Gee, guess I’ll go take some pictures.





I love the new ride. Thought I’d post a few pics and reiterate the reason I started this thread: to share with this forum, or anyone trying to decide which “standard” to purchase how trading the V for a 919 has made me appreciate even more what a great bike and excellent value the Versys is. Also, that this is the best forum that I have found for any bike out there, hope you all allow me to continue to hang around here. Thanks to all who have replied to this thread, excellent input by all. I hope we can keep this thread going as I see the potential to help those shopping around and still undecided. I really do love the 919, but still agree with Cycle World’s assessment of the Versys as the bike that most people should own. The fact that we have them here on the forum with 50k trouble free miles speaks volumes. Just an fyi, I have yet to join the 919 forum, probably because I’m still spending too much time here.

One thought to jumpstart this thread: I like the post about the VStrom. They have a good forum and a lot of satisfied owners, but my preferred dealer carries only Hon, Yam, Kaw. I got the idea of a naked bike with a windshield from a friend who had a Moto Guzzi Breva with a bolt-on windshield. He loved that bike more than any other bike he’d ever ridden. He’s retired and rode that thing all over the country. Around 30k miles, it started to develop electrical issues that no one (including his son who is an electrical engineer) could figure out. He did some research online and found that a lot of the Brevas have had the same problem arise around 30k. No known solution (to his knowledge) besides throwing money at it. The odd thing is, there have been no reports of such a thing with the ones sold in Europe which means Guzzi is not too concerned with a service bulletin fix. Go figure. The last time he rode it was a cross country trip where he dared not turn off the ignition for the last 10 hours of the trip. He didn’t want to part with it, but had no choice, he traded for a 2010 FJR. What a sweet bike. I still had my V at the time, we rode a number of times, and every single time we filled up he got 50 miles per gallon, with a capacity of 6.5 gallons or so. I spent that winter researching the FJR and came to the conclusion that it is the ultimate sport touring bike. I spent the spring coming to the conclusion that I will never be able to justify its’ price tag. The greatness of the V also left me doubting if I would really be better off with the FJR, ie. the V has 200 less pounds, 8 less valves, and a whole lot more versatility. I ended up with the 919 in hopes that it would be a more reliable version of the Breva. Comparing the 919 to the V, they are more similar than different. For any little thing that I gained, I gave up something in return. Giving up 50mpg was real tough, but for me, I love them both. The one I like the most is the one that lasts the longest. Only time (and input from this forum) will tell which that may be.


from BMW forum on r1150r’s
our bike may very well be the best all-arounder unless you have to travel fire-roads often. THEN the GS may be the bike, but the KTM is probably better in the muck and the Triumph Tiger will best it in terms of price, ease of use , and reliability. I don't think triumph is (now) having issues like the beemers have been experiencing the past twenty years. our bikes' problems only seem to be relegated to just surging, tranny input shaft issues, final drive failures, hall sensor failures and electrical harness fraying. that's it.
let the flames begin!
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-28-2011, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
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First bike
2007 KLR 650 better than expected in every way. Cheap way to get feet wet.
Bought new in ’07. Put 13,000 miles on it.

problems
3 flat tires. 1 roadside fix. 1 trailered to nearest dealer. 1 fixed at home, slow leaker, made it home (guess I developed a skill at finding nails on the road)

1 ignition failure. 2nd day on road trip, left stranded. AAA tow truck to closest dealer, fixed in 3 hours, no charge warranty fix (they ran VIN on computer, warranty is good at any Kawasaki dealer).


Traded for
used 2008 Versys with 5,000mi. Loved everything about it, disliked nothing.
Put 6,500 miles on Versys. (total 11.5k mi.)

problems:
Stress cracks on plastic. Side covers beyond repair, cowlings barely holding on.


Traded for
2007 Honda 919 new. Sweet, sweet bike. Add $$ for luggage, windshield. Very inconsistent mpg, usually around 43mpg. Low fuel light consistently lights at 160 mi.
Put 4,000 miles on it, plan to keep it as long as it lasts.

problems:
tires bike sat on showroom floor for 5 years. After 2,000 mi, rubber hardened and felt like riding on ice



Next bike: If I ever have the means to keep 2 bikes, I will buy a used Versys. They are low $ new and even cheaper used. Should always be able to find a good deal because people are always selling them for stupid reasons (like wanting something bigger)
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-28-2011, 11:50 PM
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I can't blame you for going with the 919. It's hard to go wrong with a Honda. I came very close to buying one myself. Personally, I really like the naked bike look. If I could afford it, I would get the 919 as a second bike but as it is, I am really happy with my 09 Versys. It is one of those bikes that once you start riding you just want to keep going and going...
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 08:29 AM
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I rode the 919. It's a nice bike in that usual refined Honda way, with a beautiful transmission and tons of power. Its looks aren't bad, especially with some aftermarket improvements. But the rear suspension was lame at 40K and, as often seemed to happen on Hondas of that era, it was just not that involving. The Versys is more fun to me. It makes me smile every time I ride it. I've had two Hondas, a 1978 750F and a 1975 400F, and they were great (I still have the 400F), but I prefer Team Green now. What a bargain the Versys is.
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post #16 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 07:55 AM
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Interesting thrad. I owned a 919 for 6 years and put 80,000 miles on it (zero unscheduled maint. needed) Ran like a swiss clock. I'm sure I'd still be riding it had i not broke the frame. I don't think you could go wrong with either bike but I can sure vouch for the reliability of the 919.

I find myself missing the 919 alot. However I now have a V and its certainly not in the power range that I prefer. But it is in the price range and fuel economy range that I like. I use it for comuting and plan to get back into long bike trips again using the V. Besides the seat I find the V has nice ergos/comfort. With a steel frame I can attach any type of lugage me and my welder can dream up. Which is a big plus for me.

Good luck with you new 919. You won't need it, but I offer the good luck anyway. Its a fun bike and super cheap to keep on the road.
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post #17 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 08:57 AM
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I love my Versys. 6300 miles and the transmission finally got better

Love it.


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post #18 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Verses View Post
Next bike: If I ever have the means to keep 2 bikes, I will buy a used Versys.
Speaking from personal experience - having 2 bikes is terrific, I highly recommend it!

I have historically been a one bike guy. I had an SV1000S, put 58K on it, then added a GSXR1000K5 because I wanted the literbike experience before my knees were too weak and my mind to slow. Well, I really ended up with two sportbikes in the garage and wanted more,...... wait for it....... versatility, so I sold the SV and picked up a new V recently. The V and the GSXR are a perfect combo. Very different bikes, but both super fun to ride and have distinct uses.

Here's my point, Verses. If you are going to have 2 bikes, make them decidedly different. Sell that 919, buy a V, and add a tourer, or a superbike, or a trail bike, or a scooter or whatever. But, having the 919 and the V seems as redundant as my SVS / GSXR combo. Having said that, you should of course get the bike that you want despite well meaning advice and opinions.

CJ
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post #19 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 03:29 PM
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My V has close to 58000 miles and the compression was just checked. Im going to get 100000 easy maybe more. Most of those miles are hauling a pretty good size load and a 1/4 of that was on dirt.
My compression also checked like new at 45k miles. Now in the low 50ks and running strong.

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