Thoughts on 650 vs X300 - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thoughts on 650 vs X300


Newbie to the forum here, looking for some feedback.

My background:

I'm a 55 year old male, about 6 foot, 170 pounds. Reside in the Seattle area. In my early 20's I rebuilt and rode for one summer (when it was running) a Honda CB400 (or maybe it was a 360?) on a learners permit. Then I got married, moved cross country, had kids, the usual stuff...

About 5 years ago I decided to get back on two wheels. My main motivation was my elderly parents, who live on the other side of Puget Sound. The backup for the ferrries across the sound can easily stretch to several hours on a summer weekend. I noticed that motorcyles have legal priviledge to cut the line, along with bicycles. So even on July 4th weekend, you can literally arrive at the dock 5 minutes before loading and get on the ferry no matter how long the line. So I signed up to take the 2 day MSF class. They offered both motorcycles and scooters for the class. I decided to take it on a scooter, both to see what they are about, and also cause I figured it would be a lot easier to pass (it was). 5 years later and I've got a Suzuki Burgman 200 ABS that I use routinely for that "mission", as well as running errands to the grocery store, etc. Absolutely love it. 40+ liters of storage under the seat, 45 liter Givi case on the back, and I can carry all the tools and other cargo I often need.

BUT now that I am getting closer to retirement, I'm starting to hanker for a "big boys toy". After getting use to Burgman, it absolutely has to have ABS. Our roads are damp to wet for approximately 8 straight months every year. And in the fall there is this nice slimy layer of leaves and other organic debris on top of that...

Currently I'm looking at two possible toys:
1. 2015 Versys 650 ABS with about 11k miles on it being sold by a dealer. Also has brush guards for the handles and Oxford heated grips. Pretty obviously it was someone's commuter.
2. 2017 Versys X300 ABS with about 1100 miles being sold by a private seller.

Both are being sold for roughly the same $$ (after factoring in accessories that I would buy for one or the other). I've test ridden both.

Until I actually retire, it will probably not get much use (the engineer in me says that is reason enough not to buy either). Once I'm retired, I'm looking to do some short distance (1-3 day) touring in our beautiful mountains, including on unpaved forest service roads (but not on single track).

My general concerns about the 650 is the size and weight. It's is a big step up from the Burgman (500 vs 350 pounds, 60 vs 18 HP). And also it's suitability for dirt roads.

My concerns about the 300 mostly relate to the size/power of the engine, and it's ability to deal with mountain passes at speed. If I get the 300, I might eventually sell the Burgman IF I can put enough luggage on the 300. If I go with the 650, I probably keep the Burgman as it is much more practical for my current missions.



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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 12:51 PM
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Are you ever going to take it on the highway or ride 2 up?
650 hands down.

650 is small enough I can lane split with it in CA, and big enough I can keep it at 90 mph between LA and Las Vegas on the highway. Then go to the shooting range on my street tires (5 miles of dirt after doing 30 miles of 80mph highway) Its good on the mountain roads and I can keep up with the kids on their ninjas and MT07's around the lake on group rides.

I just love my 650 for the "do it all".
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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To respond, in the short-term at least, it would just be a toy I take out on nice days for local rides, mostly on 2 lane roads. The Burgman can cope with urban Interstates where the speed limit is 60 - and it rarely moves that fast here due to our horrible traffic. I think with either cycle, I would not ride an Interstate for any longer than necessary to get to a "more interesting" highway. For example, 30 miles on up I5 to get to where I would turn off for the North Cascades Highway (2 lanes mostly).

I'm old and conservative enough that I have no interest in going faster than 70 on any road. Been there a few times on the Burgie (with the little thumper thumping away at 8500 rpm). Not relaxing at all, nor comfortable with all the noise and wind blast. I've got a car for that kind of travel...

One thought I have is that if I ever want a bigger bike, now is the time. I've already got some back and shoulder issues, I definitely don't see myself handling a 500 pound bike in 10 years...

Thanks for the response.


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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 05:58 PM
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FWIW - I'm 75, and have been riding three V650s since Sept '08, w/ about 155,000 miles on them. Go for the 650.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 06:15 PM
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Really depends on how important passing power and relaxed highway cruising is to you.

The 650 can handle fire roads, but I wouldn't call it fun on them if you're set up for on road. The 300 will be much more fun on any kind of dirt just by being lighter and more dirt oriented.

The 300 will scream at 8000+ RPM at a 70mph cruise, the 650 hums along at about 5500rpm at that speed and is quite smooth up to 80+mph.

The 650 pulls strongly through the mid-range and has a decent amount of usable power, great point & shoot bike in urban traffic, the tall riding position is also nice in urban traffic for visibility.

The weight of the 650 isn't that bad, the bike is pretty well balanced and the center of gravity is low despite being a tall bike.

The 650 will easily do passing on 2 lane roads, even in short passing zones, the 300 will require carefully planned passes.

On a twisty road the 650 is an absolute weapon, the handling is incredibly responsive, it WILL keep up with a super sport around a corner (just not in a straight), but it is still comfortable enough to ride all day. A 650 with a set of Michelin Road 5s or Pirelli Angel GTs would be an incredible year round back road blaster for the PNW.

If you're planning to do more than a small amount of dirt the 300 would be a good starting point, though you would probably be looking at a V-Strom 650 in the future if you are looking for doing more than a little dirt.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 07:19 PM
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I won't tell you what my choice would be as that's something YOU need to decide. But what I will say is that you may be surprised once you decide on any motorcycle. You say you plan to just use it on the weekends. Well, once you start riding more you just may find that you now have an itch for something more long-distance and a little more powerful. (Don't let a motorcycle's weight scare you. I've seen little women run circles around me on Honda Goldwings!)

If you've never been to a rally or a week-long trip then you're missing out! Again, you may be thinking just something for a weekend get-around. But having a motorcycle can open up a whole new world that you never would have thought about!

Back in my day it was all about speed. Then I went to my first weekend rally!!! Never met so many great people and had so much fun riding the mountains of Arkansas!

My point is that you may or may not want to take it further. But if you do then I would suggest a motorcycle that can handle something one-step-up from what you plan. I'd rather have more when I need it, even if it's for only a few weeks of the year, then to want it and not have it!

Good luck with whatever you decide. And I do think either one mentioned above will be enjoyable! Kawasaki makes a good product!
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 07:22 PM
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I am an older retired guy. Believe me, you want the 650 or just stay with the Bergman.


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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies...

Particularly for the older guys, how is pushing the 650 around? One of my issues is that my normal parking area is behind the house. We have a gravel area on the side of the house leading to the backyard. It is slightly uphill but I can ride the Burgie up it. Once in back, I have a relatively small parking area that includes a "cycle port" (or very small carport) that I just built. But it is all gravel and not entirely flat. Pushing even the Burgie around in it can be a bit cumbersome. Knock on wood, haven't dropped it yet but one day I'm sure I will.

For you folks in Texas, a "flat" building lot in Seattle is considered to be any lot where the change in elevation from front to back is less than the height of a 2 story house.... I've seen some new houses around here with 20 foot retaining walls on the property!

Thanks again,


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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 08:14 PM
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 08:22 PM
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650 is an ideal all round bike for someone of your size. I'm similar age, size, etc..

Dirt roads with 90/10 adv tires are fine on the 650. Dont expect to go where trail bikes go though

Off pavement traction is a matter of tires. Too off-road and they'll hurt on pavement performance though. 90/10 is ideal for a bike like the Versys. I just run sport tour tires for the improved pavement performance and seldom venture down a dirt road.

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 10:26 PM
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To me, the Versys 650 is fairly easy to move around (I'm 71). I came from a Kawi 1600 Vulcan at 800 plus pounds, so the Versys feel like a featherweight. At six feet, you can flat foot the bike, but if like me and want a lower center of gravity, you can lower it with Speedy's lowering kit. It makes me feel more secure and easier to move around at slow speeds. Any feeling of weight goes away as soon as you are moving. This bike is very flickable and easy to ride.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 10:49 PM
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Have you considered the Kawasaki Vulcan 650?

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2018, 11:44 PM
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I am 67 and retired. I have owned a V-Strom 650 since 2010 and last year also bought a Verys-X 300 as I was thinking that the 650 was getting a little heavy to pick up if I dropped it in the middle of nowhere.
The X300 is quite capable of touring one up plus gear but the V-Strom does that duty in a far more relaxed manner and is still capable of handling maintained dirt/gravel roads.
So the X300 is for local and more extreme offroad. Travelling I take the larger bike.

Both bikes can do both but you need to decide which is more important to you - feeling more relaxed on weekend trips away or more comfortable when riding 4WD tracks.

2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 300; 2010 Suzuki V-Strom 650; 1988 Suzuki GSXR1100J
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2018, 06:56 AM
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I'm 56, 5'11'' and a beefy 155lbs . I have the Versys 650 with TKC80 tires (second set, I love them for everything, truly). The bike is just an amazing machine--fantastic on road and surprisingly good on rough technical trails. I ride quite a bit on jeep roads and ATV trails and I can keep up with true dual-purpose bikes for the most part. I admit I've dropped it twice in the woods, just low speed "walk-off" dumps. It's not bad to pick up actually. But the reality for me is that ten years from now I'll need a lighter bike. Something like the X300 for sure. I've ridden one and can attest that it's super nimble and easy to handle but lacks the "kick in the pants" acceleration and precise, confident cornering characteristics of the 650.

I'm giving mixed messages, sorry! I guess it comes down to what you're willing to give up and what you HAVE to give up in terms of compromises. I don't have to give up the performance of the 650 yet, but that day is coming.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2018, 09:05 AM
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post #16 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2018, 10:40 PM
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The 650 has some nice grab handles on it that make moving it around off the bike pretty easy. It feels super light to me, but I'm, 39, 5'10" about 250 and never skip leg day (my other hobby is hiking/mountaineering), so one footing a huge ADV or touring bike is not a big deal to me. I've yet to ride a Versys 300, but sitting on one it felt similar to the 650, just lighter and softer. The V-Strom 650 felt a bit heavier than the Versys 650, and it feels like its on stilts when you ride it, where the Versys feels like a sportbike, and ironically the V-Stroms big brother the 1000 feels about the same as the 650 weight wise, but with a lower center of gravity and a LOT more power, plus a sportier feel not unlike the Versys.
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post #17 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-12-2018, 12:49 AM
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I owned a Suzuki SV650 and I think my 300X is plenty for me on the road. Its not a rocket, but I have no problem cruising at 80MPh even with a headwind. Yes the RPMS are high but its designed that way and not loud at all. Off road the 300X will do much much better. On road the 650 would be faster and probably ride a bit smoother with the heavier weight and upgraded suspension. I am happy with my 300 on the road but the 650 rides nicer.


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