David P, Thanks for all your posts and info on the conversion for the 650V. Been trying to decide what to do. IE: Trade my '12 with 2k mi for a WR250R for bout $4k but would still have farkles to buy or convert it. Biggest issue is I ride alone mostly and dont have the apparent help you do on a get off. At 75 yrs old it could be an issue even though I'm bout your size (5' 11" 220lbs) but the 50 yrs difference is telling. Figure I'd spend close to $2k on first class conversion: tires/wheels, skid plate, engine guard, sprockets, fender w/brake fix, better hand guards and some soft bags, etc.
FYI, I'm wanting to make it ready to do sections of the TAT (Trans America Trail) before I leave this ball of dirt
I think you are extremely unlikely to lay it down if you're just terrain conquering and not trying to hit speed. I've been down twice in hundreds of miles on trails, once because I was trying to keep up with dirt bikes in trail(60 mph single track...learned my lesson and earned some road rash) and another on single track along the top ridge of an off camber hill when my slicks simply slid off to the right(replaced with knobbies 2 days later.)
If you put aggressive off road tires and lower the gearing I don't think you'll need to worry about falling off. Mine at idle will slowly spin the tire in dirt with the front brake on, you won't have to worry about stalling out.
The reason I'd stick with your Versys over a dirt bike is because the seat is low enough that you can paddle through tough stuff while seated so there's rarely a risk you have to take, just the ones you choose. It's very easy to be careful on. Dirt bikes want to go fast, they seem to be unhappy(overheat/battery goes dead/choppy power) when taking long slow technical sessions, and their falls are much more unavoidable(if ya can't reach the ground you're falling.) The Versys on the other hand has the stator to idle endlessly while keeping things charged, and once down geared gives u easy smooth power even from a stop.
Now lets talk about picking it up, I've never ridden loaded so I can't speak that. What I can say is the low placement of the weight does make this bike alot easier to pick up than its weight would make you think. It's a bit like picking a sledge hammer up, but you get to leave the head of the hammer on the ground making stopping you from having to feel most of the weight. Lay yours over and see how much trouble it gives you, I think you'll be surprised. 99% of the time I have to pick it up it is because the Kickstand sunk into the dirt, so if it is an issue make sure you get a big foot pad on your kick stand because it is near useless anywhere that isn't solid rock.
Lastly, for a long trip like that even at my age, I would want the Versys over the wr250: comfort still matters. And what would be pleasing rest section on your Versys would still be loud painful and uncomfortable for a wr250.
Or you could wait a year for the perfect solution ktm 790 ADV(look faimilar? :-D) :