2008 Versys Annual Report - My impressions after one year on the V. - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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2008 Versys Annual Report - My impressions after one year on the V.

Itís been a year and a couple of months since I bought my V, and having just returned from a trip around New Mexico. I thought it was time to summarize some of my observations and impressions about the bike. Long story short: I love this bike! There are however some areas that I think could be improved by Kawasaki.

I do a lot of touring on my Versys and I top out at over 200 pounds, so the first thing I would like to see changed is the seat. Itís just not very comfortable on long rides, and the problem is compounded when youíre out for a multi-day trip. Usually by day 3 or 4, my butt is screaming at the thought of another 300 or more miles. I recently bought an Alaska Leathers sheepskin pad for the front pillion, and while it helps, itís not a cure. I really donít want to spend $500 on a new custom seat, so I may consider a seat mod such as Mean City Cycles offers. I will note, that I havenít done the front shim adjustment, although I donít think it would improve the discomfort I feel in my butt. If anyone has done this mod, and cares to chime in on this your input would be much appreciated.

The mirrors were problematic from the start, in that they loosen up, (sometimes just from vibration). This was a problem for me first on a trip through Colorado, when I discovered the tool kit doesnít have a wrench big enough to handle the adjusting nuts. It occurred again on my trip through Mexico last winter, when they loosened up while riding a rough dirt road. Since then Iíve added loctite to the formula for success, and so far, so good. Other than that, the stock mirrors donít seem to be able to be adjusted so that half their rear view vision isnít filled with a great view of my chest. Iíve been considering bar end mirrors as a solution to this as well as lowering the height enough to squeeze it into the back of my van.

The V was originally billed as a dual sport bike by Kawasaki. I would say that is stretching the limits of the bike, although it is more than adequate to handling some off road riding/crossing streams/forest roads/etc. This is not a problem for me, but I mention it for those thinking this is a souped up version of a KLR. Itís not.

I recently switched to Avon Distanzias and really like their performance over the stock street tires which the bike came with for the kind of riding I do. I donít ride way off road, but I do like taking some forest road detours, and the new Distanzias really improve the sensation of riding on marbles the street tires had when I hit a gravel road.

I laid the bike down about 4 months after I bought it, when I pulled out of a gas station just after dark, when a van from the oncoming lane cut directly in front of me. I barely had time to hit the brakes, which I did, (hard), and immediately went down and as the bike slid to a stop, I barrel rolled behind it. I was kinda amazed, when I stood up and found no serious injuries. The reason, I would credit my survival with some minor road rash is that I was wearing a mesh, (Joe Rocket), jacket, full face Shoei helmet, and Icon, leather gloves. Both the jacket and the gloves were destroyed. Surprisingly, the helmet never made contact with the pavement until I finally slid to a halt. Lesson: Wear protective gear! The van never stopped, and a witness helped me get the bike to the side of the road and called a cop who in turn called a tow truck, (broken shift lever, and some cosmetic damage Ė Total repair bill was about $500. The reason I tell this story is to illustrate two things that could and in the first case, should, be done to improve the safety of the V. The first is the stock headlight. Itís just not adequate, especially on low beam. I donít know for sure that this played a role in the van driverís inability to see me coming, but Iím sure the fact that my lights were on low at the time of the accident didnít help. Kawasaki has no excuse for not furnishing this great handling bike with a more adequate headlight. The second suggestion, would be for Kawi to offer an optional ABS system for the brakes. Again, I donít know if it would have made a difference in my going down, but it wouldnít have hurt.

Now for some of the good news. This bike is just outright fun to ride. On my recent trip around New Mexico, I crossed Emory Pass on my way to Silver City twice, as well as many other roads that are remarkably scenic and twisty. The Versys is a champion on this kind of riding. I met several cruisers lumbering their way up and over the pass, and even viewing them in the oncoming lane, I could see that their riding experience was much different than the agile V, as I flicked through the seemingly endless turns. Even on the straightaways/highways, the V pulls strong and steady. Our highway speeds in NM are mostly posted at 75mph, and the Versys handles that speed, (and more), all day long, or at least as long as I can stand to ride with the dang seat the way it is.

The Versys runs like the proverbial top. Ultra reliable. Starts every time. Pulls smoothly. This is a big plus from the perspective of someone like me who likes to do light touring. When I rode by myself 3200 miles through Mexico last winter, I never worried about it failing, even on some extremely remote roads, some of which were dirt.

All of these performance characteristics have made the Versys what I would consider an ideal bike for me in general and particularly as a re-entry bike for me after a 20+ year hiatus from riding. Being a 200+ pound rider, I might be interested in a slightly larger displacement motor, perhaps in the 800cc to 900cc range. Having said that, I donít think the lack of such an option will stop me from buying another 650 Versys when I get my next bike. On that note, Iím going to be moving soon, and am thinking of selling my V, and getting a new one when I arrive, so if anyone is interested, Iíve got a great Versys, with about 8k miles, factory luggage, Givi windscreen, and a couple of cosmetic blems for sale. Thanks for reading, and see you on the road, (and donít forget to keep the rubber side down!).

Michael
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 02:14 PM
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Nice write up and I must agree with what you wrote. ABS is available but not in the USA. Hopefully that will change soon.


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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 03:52 PM
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Nice write up!



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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 04:13 PM
 
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Have you tried to adjust the headlight? Mine has excellent lighting compared to a Buell, and The BMW R1150RS I owned prior. Seems that a lot of folks on here complained about their headlight, and being out of adjustment was the biggest problem.

I don't mind the seat all that much, but I only have 900 miles over the first month of ownership. Having done some distance riding in the past, I hound what you wear is as important as the seat for comfort. Boxer briefs and proper riding pants go a long way to keep you comfortable on the long hauls. Jeans and regular briefs have my ass screaming to get off the bike before the second tank is even half empty. Hip and knee pads in riding pants, as well as being designed for abrasion resistance keep road rash at a minimum as well.
I have to agree that a 17" front wheel is not as good for non paved surfaces, and limits tire selection to expand your riding horizons.

As far as needing more displacement, I have over 40,000 miles of one up touring on motorcycles between 350-650cc displacement. I had no idea you couldn't have fun and go a long distance in smaller bikes
The Versys so far really doesn't have much drop off in performance from the Ulysses, other than having to work the gearbox a bit more to handle lower speed turns, and for passing. I weigh around 230 pounds, BTW.

I have yet to own a bike that didn't show a large portion of my shoulders in the mirrors, and have adjusted for it over the years, and it is just part of riding to me. What's behind you is not important, as long as it isn't flashing blue or red

I would have to agree, ABS would be a good thing to have, I liked it on bikes it has been on that I have owned in the past.

I would like to see a belt drive on the Versys as well. I am sold on their durability and ease of maintenance, over a chain, and the simplicity versus a shaft.

Glad you like the Versys, I like mine very much as well.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 04:43 PM
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That really was a good read. Now as for your mirror problem, a member of this site sent me a pm with a solution.

http://motowerk.com/Versys.aspx

The MIRROR EXTENDERS are awesome! I'm a bigger rider myself, 6-1, 230, and every time i go to use the mirrors i have to slide to one side or the other to use maybe half of the mirror. After putting these extenders on its been like night and day. Its by far the best thing Ive bought for the bike so far.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Lorazepam - Wouldn't a belt drive be awesome? I've tinkered with the headlamp adjustment, and still think it's a bit dim, (or perhaps I'm riding too fast .
mcampana - Thanks for the heads up on the extenders. I'm going with the bar ends, so I can fit the bike in my van for road trips with my 23 ft. Airstream.

Michael
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 06:12 PM
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Good write up.

How many miles you got on your Versys after one year?

Any mechanic problems the rest of us should be aware off?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Current bike
09 Kawasaki Versys

Previous bikes
07 Suzuki GSXR 1000
07 Yamaha FZ1
06 Harley Davidson Softail Deuce
06 BMW K1200 GT
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 06:17 PM
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Thanks for sharing your $.02. Enjoyable read.


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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 09:50 PM
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I agree with Lorazepam about what you wear being important. I would also add that when it gets hot, ass sweat really aggrevates the problem.
Solution "Monkey Butt". I just shake this talc down my boxers and it definitely helps.
I am inclined to agree though that the stock seat may not be the best.

Some people use cyclist pants with the gel insert. One day I will try them.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 07:34 AM
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Thanks for the honest write up. I've had mine a little over a year w/8250 miles and am very pleased. Complaints same as everyone else but I've worked through all of them (thanks to this forum) and love riding the 'V'. Later Yall
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 08:23 AM
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Thanks for the post. As far as the seat goes...thats a given. putting a corbin on has made me want to stay on the bike longer. so I feel it was worth the price. Mirror extenders work very well for me. I feel its nice to see behind you in case your stopping and some knuckle head behind you is texting. Ive been hit from behind 3 times in my car and once on my bike!!!!. So needless to say...I always do a quick check on the mirrors when coming to a stop. I sold my 09 v and bought an 08. the one thing I dont like is the tranny. no matter how much the clutch is adjusted...it just doesnt shift into first from 5th when your slowing up. both bikes did this. none of my other bikes did this except for my tt350 thumper. Still...the V is my favorite bike. in the past 25 years I have had 19 bikes...this is my favorite.....never owned a motard though! mabey..when the kids are gone and the garage is cleaned out!!!!

if it were easy....everyone would do it!
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 09:21 AM
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Mine has just past 1 year with 18000km.

Crashed it once at around 10000km when the tire is 2mm to the safe mark. Luckily that was a minor crash which got the left fairing scratched, bent the gear shift, and some other minor scratches. The Pro Taper SE bar got scratched too, but the shape remain unchanged. It's much stronger than the OEM.

Of course, I paid for the understanding of the OEM tire limit in a bend. Lesson learned: dun turn so fast with the OEM tire....... changed to Pilot Power 2CT and got much better traction.

I had also tried some rough terrains with the Versys and found that I got bumped up instead of sitting on the seat. The suspension is strictly a street/on-road oriented setting. Leave the really rough things for dirt bikes.

Speaking of suspension, I found that it's more comfortable to ride 2-up then single. And the chassis handled the Givi V35 very well. The V35 didn't affect the handling (maybe a little bit better than without it). Although it did drag a bit (at speed >120km/h).

Change the OEM pipe and silencer to save around 7KG of weight. The mid-high RPM range became smoother too! I've got Arrow full pipe and it sounds awesome.

If you need more light, consider the Hella Micro DE. It's very effective.

So far.......



(excuse me for my poor english.... )


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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 09:27 AM
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Thanks for posting your thoughts, Miguelito.
The V has it's problems but could be sorted out with some aftermarket.

Lokto7, Important is you are A-OK. Nice ride...


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Ride safe,
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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LAVersys - I have about 8K miles after one year. I've had no mechanical problems whatsoever. The bike runs like a champ.

JimmyJam - LOL! I meant to include the rough downshift into first gear as one of the glitches in the bike's design. It is still an inelegant sound after 8K miles and switching to synthetic oil.

lokto7 - Thanks for the tip about the Hella Micro DE, and other tips.

Everyone else - Thanks for reading and commenting.

Michael
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 06:12 PM
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I've had mine now for just about a year and have put about 8K miles so far mostly trips with my sons to Colorado, Mustang Island, Arkansas and such. I use the original seat which I don't find all that bad, a 16t front sprocket, aftermarket windshield and a center stand. I've owned a lot of bikes during my 64 years and this has absolutely been the best overall I've ever had. I feel I can depend on this bike to start when I want it to and get me there and back while paying attention to maintenance. I would like to see it bumped up to 750 or 800cc though.

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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-05-2009, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by dallasdon View Post
I would like to see it bumped up to 750 or 800cc though.
I've ridden with you Don - why the hell do you need more CC's?

Some say you are supposed to slow down as you get older.


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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-05-2009, 10:53 PM
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Good write up mostly. Headlight issue is to run it on bright or update the bulb. Done it many times on other bikes. Mirrors are fine for me but extenders are available. Never had many bikes and lots of bmw's that i didn't have to replace the seat. Common problem. Main thing is the bike runs with no mechanical problems. I could not ask for more cc. Is strong enough for a single person for me. Power to weight is just right for me. I guess i never thought of the Versys as dual sport. Dual purpose yes. Kind of like the BMW GS 1100 series or the triumph tiger as dual sports. Not by a long shot. They dropped that issue before long. Is dual as far as limited dirt or gravel roads but never saw it advertised or reviewed as anything more. That said it gets me down a lot of places my larger bikes wouldn't go well. Also wouldn't go back to a KLR as a replacement. Does so much more for me. Mostly a highway bike and a darn good one. Love mine.

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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-06-2009, 10:03 AM
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if i can add my 2 cents on the subject..i totally agree the stock headlight was poor...always felt i was outrunning it....changed to sylvannia utra white H7 bulbs from autozone....installed driving lights and now i can see across 4 lanes of traffic if needed...remarkable improvement.....i originally posted the seat shimming idea, while it does help..i found i needed to do a total rework of the seat, carved it down added new pad and memory foam and now it's perfect at a miniaml cost..no need to buy a corbin in my opinion, also a higher set of handlebars installed which straighten me up and also set me farther back in the seat, buell pegs to...the bike lends itself very well to changes which i why i bought it
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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-06-2009, 12:49 PM
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Great pics and loved the narrative. Wish I had been with you.
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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 01:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks all for commenting. Tsunamichop - Where do you buy the memory foam and what thickness did you buy?

Michael
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- Terry Pratchett

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