help please! - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-02-2009, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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help please!

hi all,

I am the owner of a versys which i bought brand new in 2008. I have owned many rides in my biking career (incl. big sportsbikes such as an aprilia mille and a honda firestorm) but one of the best (most fun) bikes i have ever owned was an old (1992) kawasaki KLE500 twin. It seemed a logical progression to step up to the versys with it's improvements such as better chasis and fuel injection..
so to my problem... although I know the bike was designed as a road bike withits 17" wheels and sports tyres, it's pretty hard to avoid unsealed (gravel or dirt) roads here in australia. the first time i rode my versys on a gravel/dirt road was an unnerving experience to say the least. it had no front grip at all & to wantedo push the front end till it just fell over. i have ridden many different bikes on gravel/dirt roads but none as unstable (unrideable) as this.
it seems that the combination of a tall chasis with a short wheelbase just cannot handle any surface other than a (dry) optimal tarmac one. i have also noticed that front grip/steering is virtually non existant in the wet on a sealed road which makes it downright dangerous!
so to my question: is there anything i can do to tame the thing on an unsealed road? i have experimented with different tyre combos (including a maxxis super-motard front with a knobbie tread pattern). the best i have tried so far is a bridestone 012 supersport front as fitted standard to the GSXR1000 and honda fireblade but this only gave a slight improvement.
one idea i have yet to try is to drop the clamps (yokes) through the front forks about 10mm in order to get more weight over the front tyre. has anybody tried this?
any suggestions would be appreciated as i dont want so have to sell what is otherwise an awesome ride!
with thanks
Phil (sydney australia).
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-02-2009, 08:44 PM
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I'm completely out of my element in even suggesting a fix for you, but it might help to lower the entire bike instead of just the front. I figure anything that drops the COG should help some.

Airing down the tires a bit might also help.

Good luck.

Chris in Oneonta, NY
08 Versys that replaced my beloved 07 KLR650

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-02-2009, 11:31 PM
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I've heard the Avon Distanzia tires work pretty well for some off-road stuff, just keep in mind the Versys was not really intended for that. They do come in a 17 inch for both front and rear. You could also try softening the suspension some.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 04:32 AM
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OK so you have bought the bike, before selling it on I'd agree try different tyres. have a look for some posts by Ted99UK, he recently came back from a fairly epic tour of Morocco.

IIRC he used Avon Distanzia-SM

Ted may have written up the trip here as well, if no tthen consider PM'g him and establish what process he went through.

theres also some riders in Oz on both sites. I know Cazzie and a ciopule of others occasionally appear on the forum,.

however it does sound to me like you may have bought the wrong bike, the Versys can go off road quite happily, but it isn't an offroad bike... ie its designed for tarmac with occasional forrays elsewhere if you 'must', its not really designed for scrambling over rocks, through streams.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 10:08 AM
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PhilV2, are you sure its as bad as all that? I don't mean to doubt you, but I have never experienced those kinds of issues. I am not an aggresive dirt rider, but I think the front sticks just fine on wet sealed roads and dry dirt or gravel (using stock, Pirelli Stradas, and Conti Road Attacks). Maybe you are so experienced riding dirt that you're more sensitive to it than I?

I know the bike isn't the ideal dirt machine, but I have taken bikes like a Bandit on dirt and didn't have near that much trouble. The Versys is better on dirt than a supersport, that's for sure. Color me confused.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 11:14 AM
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when i ride on the street I tend to ride the front wheel a bit, but in the dirt i tend more towards rear wheel steering, which helps a lot when running street tires. try relaxing on the bars a bit more, too? are you lowering your tire pressures when riding dirt?
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 11:23 AM
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It does go on dirt quite well

Another member - Element - wrote up a great 18 day ride with many thousand kms of dirt road, fully loaded with street tyres (I know he calls them tires).

Apparently the V-Strom has a little more off road abillity (19" front tyre, less vunerable pipes, etc) but in the right hands the Versys is more than capable.

Somebody else has mentioned Distanzia's

Another option is Pirelli MT 60-R's

Also look at ADV Rider another forum with lots of Aussies and lots of Versys riders.

An Aussie living in Canada

Although I have had Miss Jaffa (Burnt Orange 2007 Versys) for a while, I still have a lot to learn.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 12:44 PM
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wrong bike

I think you bought the wrong bike.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 02:44 PM
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My front end washed out very easily too with stock tires on certain fine gravel/sand road conditions where it does tend to understeer and fall in. I've had to save it a few times by putting a foot on the ground. It's much better now with Conti Trail Attack in the rear, with slightly more aggressive Avon Distanzia in front. Dropping the front would make it steer more quickly and probably make it worse... Reducing front spring preload, and increasing front rebound damping can help.

Last edited by invader; 12-03-2009 at 02:52 PM.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-04-2009, 07:50 AM
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Hi PhilV2
It sounds to me like something is basically wrong with the bike set up. Can't suggest what unless your front end is even more solid and unyielding than mine was before I changed the fork damping.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-06-2009, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by philv2 View Post
hi all,

one idea i have yet to try is to drop the clamps (yokes) through the front forks about 10mm in order to get more weight over the front tyre. has anybody tried this?
any suggestions would be appreciated as i dont want so have to sell what is otherwise an awesome ride!
with thanks
Phil (sydney australia).
Hi Phil, I am not an experienced rider, have only 2 seasons under my belt, but I put lots of km during those years on the Versys. I rode it on tarmac/gravel/fire roads standard for a while, then lowered the bike with Speedy's kit. I like it much more lowered off-road and on-road... so much so that after I took the kit off and mounted a new to me sidestand, in order to gain back the clearance for the off-road sections, I reverted back to the lowering kit. I am aware of the possible damages to the oil pan, but the trade off is worth it in my books.

I use sport-touring tires, the SM are too short lived for the amount of mileage I put on this bike. When off-road I air down the tires to 24-26 front, 26-28 rear. I have a small compressor with me at all times and air the tires up once on paved roads. Not ideal, but I like the longevity and stickiness of sport-touring tires

my 2 cents...
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