Versys vs KLR... any advice? - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 12:36 PM Thread Starter
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Versys vs KLR... any advice?

I have been spying on the Versys for nearly two years when I read about this new bike which defied all pigeon holed catagories and fell in loke with its looks, engine, aftermarket mod/adventure options but I have a question.

I am 6'4" 180 (this means tall to the numerically challenged) I live about 3 miles from my office. I am looking at a weekend adventure bike but easy to ride & live with commuter with great mpg.

Most of the riding will be on roads (80/20) as compared to the typical Oregon gravel/ logging roads dirts etc.

I love both Kawasaki offerings. I have owned a single thumper brit bike before and have looked at the BMW and the VStrom. I don't like those options and prefer the Kawasaki's.

I love the idea of fully outfitting the bike with back box, side panniers, tank bag, GPS, putting on the dual sport tyre like the Distanzia (or something similar). Taking it flyfishing on the Deschutes or Eastern Oregon etc a couple of times per year.


Also, I have been told the Versys is more livable for the taller riders (the KLR is built for 5'9" and shorter) even with peg relocation & taller screens? Is this true? Any 6'4" or taller riders have pros-cons regarding fit?

Any advice is appreciated as the bike shop near my office has a 2009 new (3 miles on the clock) Versys for $5200 and I have located a couple of outfitted KLR's for 3200 to 3800.
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 12:43 PM
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haha, this post was directly posted towards me, I'm 6'4" and own both a 2009 klr and a 2009 versys.

They are apples and oranges to be honest. The klr is great for trails, gravel etc but sucks doing sustained speeds IMO. It is sluggish at the upper end, powerful down low, a tractor.

The versys is a joy to ride on paved roads. However, I would be loath to take the V onto gravel and sand, no problem with the KLR.

Personally, based on your thoughts, I think the KLR would be more your speed. You can get a lot of gear on a KLR and not sacrifice much in performance/handling since there isn't that much to give up. The KLR is a beast tractor that is super reliable and easy to fix in the field. The versys is more of a weekend tourer/cross city jaunter excellent for quick nimble handling in traffic.

ps. More room on the KLR for tall guys.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 12:56 PM
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OrygunJeeper...

I have one of each, and each scratches a different itch. I have had my '04 KLR the longest, and it was my first "off roadish" bike. I hated it at first, but eventually learned to love it enough to sell off my BMW K75 and R75. I am 5’11”, 170lb. I installed the 1” lowering link in the rear suspension. The ergonomics and multi-surface abilities of the KLR make it a blast to ride, but it runs out of steam on the highway at around 90. Don't try to pass anybody unless you have lots of room.

Then the Versys came along in 2008. I bought a used one with a little over 10K mikes. One trip onto the freeway sold it. It has absolutely all the power I need, and then some. I installed a 16 tooth front sprocket, which effectively made 6th gear overdrive. The ergonomics are similar to the KLR, but it is somewhat heavier. I have ridden it on unpaved roads, and it performs quite well. It truly is a versatile beast. If I had to own only one, it would definitely be the Versys.

Here in Texas you don’t see many of them on the road. V-twin parade floats rule the day. Viva La Difference!
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 01:01 PM
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I disagree. He is stating 80/20 on road. Put some TKC's on the Versys and suffer lack of performance off-road. The KLR is a Gutless wonder on road. I would go with Versys unless there is a single trail requirement.
Just my opinion.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 01:48 PM
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ok i'll chime in.
first off both bikes are buil for taller riders. I don't believe that you'd be uncomfortable on either.
The Versys, as others said, is way more comfortable and powerful at high speeds than the "tractor" KLR.
Both bikes are beasts. Excellent in their niches.
I don't want to push either on you, as that's your choice. But for me... 80/20 is a Versys.
It will not be nearly as good on dirt as the KLR in it's stock state. But take a look around the forum and you'll see that quite a few of us have turned it into a beast just as capable as the KLR for camping/fishing/dirt riding.
If youre honestly going to do more than 80/20.... Say 50/50 hiting the dirt every weekned.... Then the KLR has the package you need right from the get go. But if youre like me and do mostly commuting while still lovingthe ability to go 500 miles dwn the freeway then hit 20 miles of dirt to reach your favorite hikig trail.... Well the V has been doing that fo me for about 2 years now.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 01:53 PM
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Read the "heading South till the Road Ends" by Gary. He lives in your Northwest and has ridden on every surface in the epic trip to South America. Also, the "little trip to Alaska". He did it on stock tires!

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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 01:56 PM
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I am 6'2" and I sometimes feel like the V is a little small for me. Formerly I rode a KLR and liked it, especially with the TKC-80's. I find the Versys a little squirrely on gravel, but hopefully the MT-60's I have in the garage will help. I'll know after the weekend. Too bad they don't make TKC-80's to fit the V, that would be a hoot!

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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 01:57 PM
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I have owned mostly dual sports including an '06 KLR and it was heavy and slow compared to my '08 DR650. I also had an '04 VStrom DL650 which was my first V-twin and it was even heavier than the KLR but was a blast to ride on the road. I have yet to find a true dual sport bike and ALL big singles I have owned vibrated way more than my new '10 Versys which shouldn't have much being a twin. It all depends on what you want to do. I would not even attempt to take my Versys off road and only owned dual sports because they were in the 325lb. range whereas the Versys is over 450lbs. but once it's on the road and moving I barely notice the weight and it is so much quicker than ANY thumper I have been on. Resale value is probably higher for the Versys too. I paid $5500 OTD for my KLR and sold it a year later for only $4400. I paid around $5500 OTD for a year old '04 VStrom DL650 and sold it a year later for $4800. I paid $7200 OTD for my '10 Versys and hope it keeps it's value for many years. With the supply of '10's really low and demand high, I could probably sell it for MORE than I paid for it! They changed the KLR a lot with the new style so I have no experience with that model but the '06 I had was an old design from the 1980's and the turn signal switch does not have a push to cancel feature which really bugged the hell out of me. It seemed to vibrate more too and the "dohickey" problem always worried me. Since you are tall, you should not have a problem with either bike and might be able to whip the Versys around better than most of us. I am 5' 11" and 160lbs. soaking wet so a lighter bike works better for me but with my Versys I just learned to be extra careful when moving it around at low speeds. 2 wheeled machines WANT to fall down when stationary so I do my best to keep mine always moving. Also, the Versys is fuel injected which IMO is much better than dealing with a carburetor which is what the KLR has and mine had leaking problems the day after I got it home brand new from the dealer.

Last edited by DBL; 05-19-2010 at 04:24 PM.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 02:21 PM
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I still can't believe Kawasaki hasn't fixed the "doo-hickey"!

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 02:35 PM
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They actually DID update it on the new versions, but left the same spring; which was the cause of about 50% of the failures. The KLR forum reports very few broken doohickeys, but the spring.........
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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 02:40 PM
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I had a KLR once and that was enough. I think the Versys could handle the "offroading" you are talking about but if not you might want to look at the XRR or XRL. They are built big and tall. The R is better but getting hard to get/keep a plate in Oregon.
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DBL View Post
... than my new '10 Versys which shouldn't have much being a V-twin.
Small correction: the Versys is a parallel twin, not a V-twin. http://www.kawasaki.com/Products/Pro...?scid=6&id=433

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It all depends on what you want to do. I would not even attempt to take my Versys off road and only owned dual sports because they were in the 325lb. range whereas the Versys is over 450lbs.
Clarification: that's 454.1 lbs curb (wet), ~399 lbs dry.


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...Also, the Versys is fuel injected which IMO is much better than dealing with a carburetor which is what the KLR has...
Agreed, absolutely.

---
For what it's worth, I think the Versys is respectable on gravel and packed dirt, even with stock tires. I wouldn't consider the V equal to the KLR in dirt but the V beats the KLR on road by a long shot.

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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 02:52 PM
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I have both and they are both very competent. The KLR will fit you better as a taller rider but the Versys will thrill you more on the road.

As far as road trips, I would not hesitate to take either anywhere, anytime. While the KLR is not highway friendly (though capable) the fairing does a very good job and you could ride the thing at an indicated 80 (72 GPS) all day. When you see an interesting side road you can take it. Fun all the time.

The Versys is obviously faster, smoother, better suspended, more capable on the street, I would hesitate to take if on some of the roads I take the KLR.

If I don't know where I'm going to ride...I take the KLR. If I have a destination and it's all street I take ther Versys. There are always exceptions and some have been noted above but for the intended purpose you outline I'd say KLR.

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'11 Victory Cross Roads

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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 05:20 PM
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I'm 6'2" and traded my 2009 klr for a 2009 V
Could not be happier

Want to clarify a little something you mentionne in your intro
The KLR was NOT built for 5'9" an shorter
That CAN'T be
I see people carry ladder to hop on ...

At 6'2", much heavier than you (so the suspension quite "settled" down low, so does the seat cushion), I could flatfoot the KLR, but not by miles

From my point of view, the klr is better to have for streched leg, but the V is better to be seated properly for long distance run

And if you don't change the type of tire on the V, better not go to hard on anything else than the street

An I think that other comments so far are spot on !!

My 2 cent

LOP
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 05:34 PM
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The honest truth is, its a tough decision. I know, I own both and won't give either up. I could probably spend another 2k to make the versys truly offroad competent but then I think I would be giving up some on-road performance, canceling out why we love the V so much.

If I only had one bike to pick, me personally, it would be the KLR because the KLR can go anywhere the V can go, plus many more. Its cheap and there are tons of cheap aftermarket parts that make it extremely competent, long lasting and reliable. Try rebuilding your fuel injection or push starting your FI bike in the field and you'll see why simplicity has it pluses.
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post #16 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 06:04 PM
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based on the job description, my response is KLR. highway power can be improved with a 685cc or 705cc kit. they are reliable and would make a nice dent in versys' onroad advantage.

note: i've never owned a KLR. i did have an '89 Transalp, which is a heavier, v-twin version of the theme. like others have said, a bike like that allows you to explore. with the Versys, i'll probably never go someplace where i'm not sure what i'm getting into.

edit -- if you're only going to fishin' holes, and the roads are nicely graded... sure, versys. really, any bike will do. versys, v-strom, ninja....

please don't let your 3-mile commute influence the decision. it's barely long enough to warm up your engine. you might want to use one of these for that short hop:



In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
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post #17 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 09:03 PM
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I'll just post my response to this from another forum...

I've owned a KLR ('C' model) in the past, and now own a Versys.

In my opinion, the Versys is a great street bike / commuter, but it is not an on-road / off-road bike. If you intend on taking the bike off-road on anything tighter than a dirt road / fire road, get the KLR. Even on those roads, you will want to get something to protect the header pipes from stones thrown from the front wheel (Happy-trails makes a guard, and JNS Engineering is working on one). I do not believe there is a true bash plate available for the Versys, as there's no frame rails underneath the engine to attach to.

As far at the ergos, the KLR will provide more leg room between the seat and pegs, and has a more straight-up seating position. The Versys can be modified to get closer (lowering blocks for the pegs and handlebar risers). I'm 5'11" with a 32" inseam, and found the seat-to-peg distance more cramped on the Versys. I installed the lowering blocks, and they make a huge difference. No issues now...I could ride all day.

On the street, the Versys wins, hands down. It turns better and feels more comfortable, especially at highway speeds. Some people are ok with the KLR on the highway...I'm not one of them. It's out of its element. That said, the KLR is just fine in the city. You don't mention the type of roads you will be riding on (highway, in city, country backroads, etc), so that will factor into it.

If you can, take a test ride on both.

Dave C

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post #18 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 10:21 PM
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Why stop at just one or the other? Buy both and you are good to go for anything. Notice how many of the posters above have both?

The luggage for the V will be more expensive though. Seems that a milk crate and a bungy are de rigeur for the KLR crowd...at least around here.
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post #19 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by OrygunJeeper View Post
Most of the riding will be on roads (80/20) as compared to the typical Oregon gravel/ logging roads dirts etc.
You had me nodding my head until I got to this sentence. I am having a bit of difficulty parsing this correctly. Do you mean by 80/20 - 80% road 20% dirt? I have yet to find a "typical" Oregon dirt road. On the Wet Side it usually means gravel in winter if it's maintained (or deep mud otherwise) and on the Dry Side it means sandy if it's dry or slicker than snot if it's wet unless you stick to county roads that aren't paved, those are usually pretty well maintained and you can count on a good layer of gravel in winter.

The Versys (like any other street) will take you down the county roads with no problem. But if you intend to ride more logging (or smaller) roads you will have to consider their condition before venturing too far. The biggest problem is tires, there is a limited selection of off-road tires that come in Versys sizes. The Distanzia's you mention are great (as are Pirelli's MT60 Corsa), but are really soft super-moto tires in this size. Pirelli now offers the Scorpion Trail in sizes that sort of work, but that is more of an Adventure Touring tire (90/10) than an off-road one. I'm waiting for the front to come in to give it a shot, though.

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Originally Posted by OrygunJeeper View Post
I love both Kawasaki offerings. I have owned a single thumper brit bike before and have looked at the BMW and the VStrom. I don't like those options and prefer the Kawasaki's.
I am not sure why anybody would buy a KLR (speaking as an ex-owner myself), but I guess KLR owners say the same about the Versys.

The other good option seems to be one you don't like - a DL650. It is almost as capable as the Versys on the street and the design lends itself better for dirt roads (both in chassis geometry and rim sizes). Yeah, it's not the prettiest design out there, but it works. It works really well, actually. It's also roomier then the Versys and can be made roomier still with a Suzuki gel seat or one from the DL1000.

You can put lowering pegs and a taller seat on the Versys to make it roomier than it is stock (it's like a sport bike compared to the V-Strom and KLR) and that helps a lot in the comfort dept..

Quote:
Originally Posted by OrygunJeeper View Post
Any advice is appreciated as the bike shop near my office has a 2009 new (3 miles on the clock) Versys for $5200
Hillsboro MC has both a green and a blue '09s for $4999.


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post #20 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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Guys, thanks so much for the detailed insight. I really appreciate it. Gustavo & Dave and others above, it means a ton. I will be heading out today to take test drives on both bikes. Now that you all have provided a bit of insight, I feel that I can use that info to help educate my shopping decision.
Oh, correct, it does seem like many of you have both bikes. My beautiful wife will definitely not add two new toys into the stable. It seems the old school Vette, Jeep and RV have filled up room at the inn, so to speak

After a couple of your posts I was like, yep, I'm sold on the Versys... Then, after a few others I was like "well, the KLR does offer more possibilities..." Quite frankly, I will probably be fine on either. I just want to do this one time & correctly.

As it stands I am 65% for the Versys and 35% KLR. After seeing the Versys with the Corsa tyres (which are great for wet riding) I was like... drool drool drool. It really is a beautiful bike.

This is the reason:
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