Kawasaki Versys Forum banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Alright, heres the deal. My last real, non-commute ride, I did on my V and it had be wondering.

I ended up doing 10 miles of gravel and about 1/2 mile of dirt trails in the woods. The dirt trails were fine....so twisty and thin I never exceeded 10 mph. The gravel, on the otherhand, was sketchy to say the least, and I never made it past 20 mph.

I had so much fun... I started considering swapping the V for a dualsport. But I cant have two bikes, and theres too much about the V that I dont want to give up.

That being said, the thought of coming up to a gravel/dirt road in my adventures and having to turn around drives me nuts.

Ive read all the threads, seen the videos. I know some people say hell no, others post videos of it being done. Few define their experience and skill level, which arent always obvious.

Phew...now to my question. With the addition of a metal skid plate, some 90/10 or similar tires, and caution, can the V fit my needs of having a camping bike? Dirt...gravel...trails....I have never done ANY offroad, and the only reason I want to is for ADVENTURE and the riding will be RELAXED and casual, far from spirited. Just far enough out to be alone...away, hell I dont even matter doing 20 for ten miles. I just want to feel more planted when I do it, and be able to explore any road or trail that doesnt require huge suspension travel and ground clearance to get down.

Otherwise,...I sacrifice by sexy V for another damn outdated carb'd bike....

Thanks for any advice, but please, keep it firsthand....so many opinions flying around haha...:thanx:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
I've turned my V into a gravel runner adventure bike. I often feel more comfortable cruising gravel roads and trails at 60-70km/h than I do cruising sealed roads at 100-110km/h.

I have SW-Motec crash bars and bash plate, a radiator guard, an Acerbis SM front fender, and am currently running Avon Distanzias. I'm thinking my next tyres will be something a little more aggressive like the Heidenau's or even some knobbies. With the factory front fender removed, I'm not limited to stock front tyre sizes.

Anyway, I find the V fine for cruising gravel roads and firetrails. It requires a little more caution than a KLR would need on the same terrain, but it'll go to the same places a KLR will go.

Once you get some more aggressive tyres, soften the suspension a bit, possibly drop the forks through the triple clamp, you'll feel very comfortable on your V on gravel.

I ride mine like a big dirtbike these days as I'm used to the extra weight now. I love power sliding around corners :)

Its clear the V is aimed at sealed road riding, but with some simple changes and some decent tyres, it's a great 70/30 bike. I'd more than happily load mine up with camping gear and take it anywhere in Australia.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
770 Posts
As long as you are having fun that's all that matters really.

I love my Versys for what it is - a great all round street bike that you can take down smooth, graded, dirt and gravel roads once in a while. I've tried off road riding with it though, and found it entirely unsuited to the task compared to my previously owned DR-Z400.

In response to your question can you make the Versys a bike for riding trails and rough terrain? The problem IMO is you are starting with a street bike and trying to make it into something it is not. The stock riding position (can't stand on the pegs without being hunched over and the stepped seat is wrong for off road riding), suspension (at 5inches is shorter travel than any off road bike and way too firm/harsh for rough terrain), weight (450 pounds and a high center of gravity make it hard to control at slow speeds on loose surfaces), and gearing (much too high), wheels and rims (no spokes or 21 inch front tire) all work against it in the dirt but are positive attributes on pavement. Kawasaki make the KLR and other bikes which are much more suited to the riding you describe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
739 Posts
The gravel ... was sketchy to say the least.

I have never done ANY offroad
Well boy, there's yer problem right there.

I think you are unconsciously expecting tarmac behavior on the gravel. The bike is supposed to be a bit sketchy. With loose arms and holding on with your legs you let it walk and wander, and that doesn't mean you are going down.

If you really feel you are actually drifting and sliding too much, air down the tires to 22 psi.That makes a HUGE difference with the amount of grip they have.
Full street tires aired down will grip much more in the gravel than Avon Distanzias or Pirelli Scorpion Trails fully inflated.

But really, this streetbike Versys is quite capable on gravel roads and other off-pavement excursions with the only mod being less air in the tires.
I believe your biggest improvement will come from getting comfortable riding off-pavement and how different that feels.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
901 Posts
I have had the same experience... So I bought a used KLR650.....the V stays on the road and hard pack. I leave the dirt and gravel for the KLR....basically I won't give a crap if I drop that
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Split opinions, as usual, lol.

Thanks for the help guys.

I currently have a radiator gaurd and HB crash bars....any reason why the SW Skid plate wouldnt be compatible?

As for the fact that there are better bikes for the task- no doubt, there always is a better bike. Im just trying to find out if I can make it comfortable above poor conditions. Again, not spirited....just down trails and such.

And thanks for the tip Pretbek, may have to try that. But wont that severely hurt my street performance? I live in STL, the nearest gravel road is a good 25-30 min out.

Im still considering swapping it out for a dualsport bike....but I really do like the V and feel like I should just stick with what I got an enjoy it, even if that means taking trails and gravel real slow.

And even mine, which is in good condition and loaded with accessories, will take forever to sell. When I started looking, it was one of two on CL and had been there a while. The other is still there- not badly priced either.

If I were to sell it, Id be happy with a DS Im sure. But Id certainly miss my V.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
19,145 Posts
...I currently have a radiator guard and HB crash bars....any reason why the SW Skid plate wouldnt be compatible?...
I've got the S-W skid-plate in the garage to go w/ my S-W crashbars on my '09 as soon as I can install it, and as soon as I return to AZ next month I'll order a skid-plate to go onto my '08, which wears H-B crash bars. I'm sure there'll be no problem, but I'll know PDQ!

I have a fairly extensive dirt background, and ride dirt quite often. Once I had my KLR down on its side, handlebars LOW, in the woods. THAT was 'killer' getting it upright, so I can NOT imagine having to do the same with a Versys.... TOO top-heavy, so I won't ride any single-track on it. Fairly 'gnarly' dirt roads are OK tho'.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
134 Posts
I don't think it makes sense to trade performance on all your street miles just to have a pig DS in the easy dirt. Just ride it and the comfort will come.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
252 Posts
I'm pretty new to riding in gravel and every time I do it scares the bejeesus out of me but is amazing fun at the same time. I'm usually just starting to feel comfortable when the day is at an end and I wait too long before trying again, so next time out I'm back at square one. The V is never going to match a dedicated dirt bike or dual sport, but there is no reason it cannot do gravel/forest roads. On one ride there were two folks who were terrified of gravel but came along anyway. By the end of the day they were passing me :mad: and they were on a SV650 and a Harley Sportster!! Shame forced me to keep up with them so I ended up doing 50mph on gravel.

So while I wouldn't try paths with football size rocks, with gravel it is all down to the skills of the rider.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts


This is what you need :p
Just change the tires for some semi-offroad ones, and if you can afford it I'd check to see if a 19" wheel could be fitted in front, it would offer more stability in loose gravel and dirt roads. Just like knoby tires suck on tarmac, sport tires suck in loose surfaces ;) But like others said, the important is to stay relaxed on the bike and just let it move under you...once you get used to the feeling of the bike moving around a bit, you'll notice you can go much faster without risking crashing the bike. And most important of all, on gravel roads, the rear brake is your best friend :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
330 Posts
And thanks for the tip Pretbek, may have to try that. But wont that severely hurt my street performance? I live in STL, the nearest gravel road is a good 25-30 min out.
The guys who do this regularly carry a 12V air pump, let the air out on the rough stuff and then fill the tires back up to go back on pavement...

You can do it with a hand pump, too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
106 Posts
Air Down those Tires!

Well boy, there's yer problem right there.

If you really feel you are actually drifting and sliding too much, air down the tires to 22 psi.That makes a HUGE difference with the amount of grip they have.
Full street tires aired down will grip much more in the gravel than Avon Distanzias or Pirelli Scorpion Trails fully inflated.
.
I totally agree on airing down the tires. It makes a world of difference.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,519 Posts
I went down a gravel road the other day and had to turn around and got out of there! :eek: First time I ran from gravel. the gavel was about 2.5 inches around and I was all over the place. :eek:

The V is what it is! :thumb: Not to be a smart ass but is true. It has limits and they can be pushed and broken true enough. Mods yes! :thumb:

For what you are talking about why not get a KLR 650? :clap:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
this discussion comes up so often, it makes me wonder whether any previous threads or reports are ever read. the Versys has crossed untold miles of graded gravel road on stock 17" wheels, if you can't do it, guess what, it ain't the bike.
Thats a pretty broad statement when you have no idea how much loose gravel is on these paticular roads.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
59 Posts
I just got back from a two-week, 4k+ miles trip to northern Quebec, all loaded for camping. We hit several camp sites that were covered in gravel or had gravel- or dirt roads going to them. We touched James Bay at Long Pointe, which required riding 30 miles over a gravel road. The Versys handled it fine, as did my buddy's 1994 BMW K75. We never took it over 35mph, but were confident at lower speeds. Some blogs I read on that area before we went, some guys took that gravel road on 1st-gen Concourses at 60+ mph. Gravel and dirt roads can be done on almost any bike. Like most situations, it comes down to rider skill as much as (or more than) the bike. The Versys has plenty of suspension travel for pretty much anything that can be considered a road. Get some 90/10 tires (my Pirelli Scorpion Trails worked very well on all surfaces) and go practice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
120 Posts
the OP said he didn't have ANY gravel road experience, the more he rides out there, the easier it gets.
I agree. Give yourself some time.

Recently I have been riding some of Vermont's finest gravel on my 2011 V, stock tires, stock pressure, and packed for week long trips. No question I was rusty after 20 years away from dirt of any kind (not a lot of that here in Brooklyn), and was tepedatious at first.

But slowly, the concept of relaxing came back, and I allowed myself (and the bike!) to move along comfortably. A few days into the trip and I was feeling more confident, embracing the wiggle and enjoying the scenery while the tires slipped and slid.

The last trip up I hit about 50mph on the same roads (same conditions too) I had ridden earlier at about 15mph. Didn't even notice until I got back to pavement.

It seems to me that nothing will inspire confidence more than getting comfortable with the bike (which includes understanding and accepting its limitations) and getting comfortable with your skills, and how they handle those limitations.

Put a guitar in someone's hands, and it won't make them Hendrix. But anyone can have a good time strumming along to their own tune...
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
19,145 Posts
Thats a pretty broad statement when you have no idea how much loose gravel is on these paticular roads.
Letting the bike "move" is the ticket, that and STANDING ON THE PEGS! You can control one HELLUVA lot with just small inputs from your knees when standing.

An aside: when I rode FIM enduros (NOT clock-watch!), the FIRST biggie was when you finished the WHOLE race on your hour! The SECOND was when you finished on your hour, still able to stand on the 'pegs!

For those who don't know - on "clock-watch" enduros IF you stopped in view of a check-point you were 'clocked-in' (EARLY cost more points than LATE) as soon as you stopped. On FIMs, you rode 'balls-to-the-wall' till you SAW a checkpoint, and if your 'minute' wasn't on the clock, you'd stop, take a pee, adjust stuff, then ride IN as your minute came up.

Enduros were probably 125 miles, and 5 to 6 hours, and if you were MORE than 60 minutes past your 'minute', you were "houred-out", time to go home.
:(

IF you have an hour and twenty minutes to spare, watch the WORLD'S toughest enduro, the "Romaniacs" in Romania...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Id imagine that practice would do alot for me, but on the other hand, the Versys is not an offroad bike at all, let alone a practice offroad bike. I realize gravel is the most minimal offroad available, but even there- a dropped Versys is much worse than a dropped dual sport.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
133 Posts
Well boy, there's yer problem right there.

I think you are unconsciously expecting tarmac behavior on the gravel. The bike is supposed to be a bit sketchy. With loose arms and holding on with your legs you let it walk and wander, and that doesn't mean you are going down.

If you really feel you are actually drifting and sliding too much, air down the tires to 22 psi.That makes a HUGE difference with the amount of grip they have.
Full street tires aired down will grip much more in the gravel than Avon Distanzias or Pirelli Scorpion Trails fully inflated.

But really, this streetbike Versys is quite capable on gravel roads and other off-pavement excursions with the only mod being less air in the tires.
I believe your biggest improvement will come from getting comfortable riding off-pavement and how different that feels.
I was going to say exactly this.

I've ridden gravel roads on every bike I've owned, including a Concours 14. I did loose sand on a cruiser. It's not the bike or the mods, it's just how you ride. Loosen up, trust the bike to stay upright, and understand that steering is more like making suggestions than issuing commands.

I don't turn around for gravel roads, dirt, or grass and I've got Pilot Road 3s mounted.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top