I've just come from a 2004 SV650 to a 2008 Kawasaki Versys, and these are my opinions thus far:
The Good Stuff
- The Versys has far superior suspension, and soaks up the bumps a lot better than my SV ever did. Hitting rough surface mid corner is of far less concern to me now.
- The Versys is more comfortable long distance. More upright seating, better wind protection, more space for both rider and pillion (and luggage!)
- The Versys is a hell of a lot more fun through the twisties. The wide handlebars, and the way the bike seems to want to "fall" into corners makes for a bucketload of fun. The SV always seemed reluctant to lean into corners, but this made for easy hanging off the bike through corners. The Versys seems very eager to flow into corners, so is taking getting used to to hang off the bike (since the bike seems to want to come along with me), but I suspect once I get used to this it's going to be a lot of fun
- The Versys has a lot more aftermarket options when it comes to luggage, since it is a bigger bike
- The Versys is a lot less susceptible to damage if it falls over, especially off the bitumen. The SV's wide radiator was just asking to be wiped out the moment the bike fell over. I also like how the Versys has plastic panels to protect the fuel tank, repairing my dented fuel tank on my SV was very expensive.
- Seat of pants, the Versys feels quicker in general, but this could be due to the more upright seating position.
- Versys feels better balanced, lighter, and less top heavy than the SV, surprisingly.
- The Versys is very tall. Not a problem if you're not short like me.
- The Versys engine vibrates more. All through the rev range. The SV is most certainly a smoother engine.
- The Versys seems to drink more fuel than my SV did. This could be because I've only just gotten it and so have been a bit more throttle happy though.
- The Versys seems rougher in the lower revs, and really doesn't like dropping below 2000RPM. The SV wasn't happy there either, but it seldom complained.
- Not as much engine braking, which makes downhill riding a little less comfortable (for me). This is probably a personal preference thing though, since a lot of people seem to talk about not liking engine braking.
- The SV sounds better. Again, probably personal preference.
- Instrumentation on the Versys doesn't allow for clock AND odometer to display at the same time.
So yeah, all in all - as much as I miss my SV for a lot of reasons, I certainly totally dig my Versys. It's a totally awesome bike, and I think Kawasaki have scored gold with this one. Now if only I could shoehorn an SV engine into the Versys body...