I’m the second owner. First owner installed a National Cycle Vstream W/S, tall dirt bike bars (maybe Protaper), Acerbis Street hand guards, LeoVince slip-on, Happy Trails SU Rack pannier mount. Before I even put 20 miles on I installed some ProGrip 714’s and Symtec grip heaters (automatic for any street legal bike I own).
After two tanks of gas (47mpg) I’ve gathered my initial impressions of my 2008 Versys. In order of annoyance:
The seat design could be better. I used to compare bikes to my 92 VFR750. That was a great stock seat. Then I started comparing bike seats to the stock seat of my 2004 GSXR750. When I found you can have a comfortable stock seat on what is essentially a race bike, I became critical of the odd shaped planks factories fit as OE. I’m not railing the OEM’s. They have to figure out what’s best for most. I’m 6’2” and 180lbs geared. The slope shaped into the stock seat has me constantly fighting against the tank and squirming my sensitive package against the narrow taper. I fit a Seat Concepts kit to my KLR650. A Seat Concepts kit for the Versys is a priority.
Goodness, that 4000RPM buzz is annoying. Its right in the torque curve that gets you around town in 3rd and 4th gears. That'll need some work.
The pegs seem out of placement. I think they need rear set more. I’m guessing Kawi placed them more forward to create a less sporty position, but if they were back a bit that would place them more in alignment with my hips. That may change with the Seat Concepts kit installed.
For a long travel suspension bike, it sure is a rough ride. I’m 175-180lbs geared up and I have all preload backed off the suspension front and rear to get 45mm rider sag in front and 40mm rider sag in the rear. My fork zip tie is showing decent travel. I think the fork high speed compression damping is too harsh. The shock is crap! Much like the stock shock on the Ninja 650. Over sprung and no damping. The rebound clicker is pure window dressing. Useless.
The front brakes are pretty good. The pads lack the initial bite I like. They start to work pretty well with progressive pressure. Though firm, they are too vague for me. I like more feel at the lever and know braided lines are gonna happen.
The upright position makes me feel like I’m sitting on my KLR650. Its deceptive. You could ride the Versys like a large dual purpose, but I think the bike handles better when ridden like a sport bike. Get low and forward on it.
The National Cycle Vstream works well. I got too much turbulence in the highest position and have it in the lowest position. Wish it were lighter, but I’m guessing it will win in a collision with a medium bird.
The LeoVince slip-on is a treat with the db killer installed. I started with a Two Bros on my EX650R race bike and that can was way too loud. I love Two Brothers build quality, but their cans for the Kawi 650’s are beyond loud. It was as painful as the Muzzys Megaphone full system I switched too.
Not sure what I’m going to do with the Happy Trails SU pannier mounts. Those things are so overbuilt I think I can hang the bike with them from the rafters in the winter when I’m skiing. I’m sure they’re great in a crash. I have all sorts of soft luggage from my VFR days. I might see about building some aluminum supports of a similar design to incorporate with a sporty looking rack.
I also put on some Bridgestone BT23’s before the first tank was halfway used. Man, what great tires.
Dyno run coming soon.