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Discussion Starter #1
I picked up my ‘new’ bike on Saturday - a 2018 black/silver Versys X 300 with a shade under 4k on the clock. I would have preferred another 650 to replace my 2010 black Versys 650 that was stolen back in May, but with my insurance underwriter (Markerstudy) paying so far below market value, I HAD to downgrade. I even sold my (beloved) little 2001 Ninjette to add a little money to the purse, but still couldn’t scrape together enough to procure a (nice) 650.

Anyway, I thought that I would provide my first impressions just in case anyone is considering a VX3.

From an overall cosmetic perspective the bike is nice. The fit and finish is good with the metal and plastic being good quality throughout. Everything comes together nicely and there are no inconsistencies or strange gaps. For a ‘cheap’ bike, it looks and feels well constructed. There are things that I don’t like. They could have left a few areas a little more ‘undressed’ and perhaps reduced the amount of plastic a little. There are also some poorly conceived ergonomics. For example adding engine bars requires attachments that go through the fairings impeding future maintenance/cleaning. My biggest complaint is the handlebar ends which are incredibly stupid looking AND badly designed. Unfortunately, I’ve heard (and seen on YouTube) that they are also difficult to remove and Kawasaki have done their usual trick of attaching them with shitty hex bolts that are red loctite’d in place.

From a riding comfort perspective, I had read before purchase about the ‘firm’ seat. Well, after a 1hr ride home after purchase, I can tell you that the seat isn’t firm … it’s rock freakin’ hard. It is without doubt the hardest motorcycle seat that I have ever sat on. The padding is maybe 3mm thick. That’s not me being dramatic. It REALLY Is 3mm thick … maybe 4mm … but I’m pretty sure it’s 3mm. In its favour, I will say that it’s nicely tapered and contoured which does alleviate pressure a little. But, there’s no getting away from the fact that this seat IS NOT designed for comfort. I did a Saddle Sore 1,000 and a Bun Burner 1,500 on my V650. I can’t see me doing anything like that on a VX3.

Having said all that, the riding position is good. I found the foot pegs positioned my legs nicely and the overall ride is upright with a slight forward-lean. I had a little more pressure on my wrists than on the 650, but not a huge amount more. I did about ten mins of riding on twisty roads, and it felt great. I almost felt like I was sitting IN the bike rather than ON the bike. Surprisingly ‘flickable.’ The suspension is firm. Standing up (as one might when off road) is also comfortable. The handlebars could be a little higher - a cm or two - but they’re not terrible in their stock position and I think that this bike could definitely do some (light) trails. It's definitely a 'street' bike, but I think some low-adrenaline off road is eminently achievable.

The dashboard is excellent, a significant step up from my 650. Lots of information and push buttons that actually work (which is novelty for me). The (12/24hr) time is on permanent display (rather than having it as one of the multi-function display options) and I appreciate that. It also has permanent display of fuel and engine temp. The tachometer is analogue but the speed is digital (like on the 650). The odometer has three settings - total, trip-A and trip-B, and there is a second multi-function field that displays mpg, average mpg and range. There’s also a funky little indicator that comes on when you’re riding ‘economically’. Haven’t seen that yet and probably never will. Everything is well positioned and easy to read. The display also has a gear indicator and that’s useful, because I kept wanting to shift up. It was useful to know that I was in sixth and no matter how many times I pulled in the (super-light) clutch, and pushed my toe upwards, I wasn’t going to find any more gears.

Which brings me to performance. It’s a 300cc engine developing just shy of 40bhp so I wasn’t expecting much. I got what I expected! First gear is ridiculously low and I found myself shifting within milliseconds of pulling away, then shifting from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6 very quickly. At 70mph I was at a little more than 8k rpm and at 80mph I was at somewhere between 9k and 9.5k. The engine pitch was high, but it was ‘singing’ rather than screaming. Actually reminded me on my Ninja.

Despite the small engine it isn’t completely anaemic and it is very smooth. It genuinely cruises at 70mph without difficulty and climbs to 80mph without too much of a challenge. Yes, it’s much, MUCH slower than the 650 - off the line and top end - but I had expected no less. It was a little ‘vibey’ at 80mph, but within the limits of tolerability. I think 70-75mph is OK. It’s not a highway cruiser … but it can do miles. I intend to go up a tooth on the front sprocket ASAP, and that will lower the rpm a little, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a small, underpowered engine. Fully loaded, uphill, with a fat guy riding it will be a struggle. I confess that I'm a little nervous about Wrynose/Honnister pass.

Like all Kawasaki’s, maintenance and adjustment on the VX3 is a pain-in-the-ass. There is no front fork adjustment. The rear shock preload can be adjusted (five positions) but it’s hidden away in the centre rear of the bike and seriously challenging to get to. You have to remove a bunch of bolts, collars and fairings. It’ll be a project to make some adjustments sometime, but not until I’ve got an entire afternoon to mess around with it. I’m guessing that it won’t make a huge amount of difference anyway. It’s not something that you’d ever want to do ‘on the fly’. Everything on this bike is tucked away and difficult to get to. I have no idea how something like spark plugs could be changed. Nothing in the manual. Probably have to dismantle the entire bike.

Why do Kawasaki make it soooooooooo difficult to change/fix/adjust things on their bikes? I want to add heated grips, but I’ll have to deal with getting the handlebar ends off - and that will be difficult. Yesterday afternoon, I wanted to remove the cover on the rear rack so that I could fit a Givi plate. I managed to get three of the hex bolts out, but the fourth was stuck FAST. I suspect it’s been loctite’d in. I managed to strip the hex bolt (again - why even use hex bolts for things that require genuine force to tighten or loosen - and if you have to, at least use high quality ones?) When I tried to use a bolt extractor, I couldn’t even get that to work. I’m going to have to take it to a professional. How embarrassing! I can’t even remove the freaking bolts from the freaking rear rack!

So, in summary, a nice little bike and overall, I’m happy. It isn’t going to knock anybodys socks off, and I suspect that I will have periods of extreme frustration at WOT, but 90% of the time I’ll be satisfied. I'll be doing a 600 mile round trip to Sunderland next weekend, so I’ll report in after that.

Oh, by the way, for those that are worried about Big Brother (or PC Plod), I noticed in the manual that the VX3 has an EDR (Event Data Recorder). This is a ‘black box’ that is continually recording bike data. In the instance of an accident, this box can be recovered and data can be accessed to know how the bike was performing just before the accident. Some may like this … most won’t. Personally I find it intrusive. It should at least be possible to turn it off.
 

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Bar end removal is easy peazy, just use a slide hammer and it is done in a minute or two. Works like a charm. Welcome to the fold. Put some proper tires on the bike and you will be seriously surprised how capable it is off road. Not a dirt bike, but, can sure hold its own.
 

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Fair assessment, the 15T front does help but it's still a "lower" powered bike.

I enjoy the sit "in not on" aspect, seems to fit with upright position and nature of the power delivery.

The spark plugs are a huge PITA job, so fit Iridiums (I use Brisk LGS) so it's very seldom needed. Tank needs lifting, did mine without complete removal, lots of patience and ideally small hands!

The air filter is very easy to access at least. I didn't have great issue with the seat but still invested in a Cool Covers seat cover, a chinese copy version was about £6 delivered and their XL size is just about made-to-measure for the seat shape.

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Which brings me to performance. It’s a 300cc engine developing just shy of 40bhp so I wasn’t expecting much. I got what I expected! First gear is ridiculously low and I found myself shifting within milliseconds of pulling away, then shifting from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6 very quickly. At 70mph I was at a little more than 8k rpm and at 80mph I was at somewhere between 9k and 9.5k. The engine pitch was high, but it was ‘singing’ rather than screaming. Actually reminded me on my Ninja.

Despite the small engine it isn’t completely anaemic and it is very smooth. It genuinely cruises at 70mph without difficulty and climbs to 80mph without too much of a challenge. Yes, it’s much, MUCH slower than the 650 - off the line and top end - but I had expected no less. It was a little ‘vibey’ at 80mph, but within the limits of tolerability. I think 70-75mph is OK. It’s not a highway cruiser … but it can do miles. I intend to go up a tooth on the front sprocket ASAP, and that will lower the rpm a little, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a small, underpowered engine. Fully loaded, uphill, with a fat guy riding it will be a struggle. I confess that I'm a little nervous about Wrynose/Honnister pass.
I am sure you know this but adding a tooth on the front sprocket will make acceleration even slower especially since you are already starting with an under powered motor and like you stated "Fully loaded, uphill, with a fat guy riding it will be a struggle".
A bigger concern might be needing to make an emergency lane change to avoid a dangerous situation, accelerating out of the way will take a LOOONG time and don't even consider making a quick overtake.
 

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Which brings me to performance. It’s a 300cc engine developing just shy of 40bhp so I wasn’t expecting much. I got what I expected! First gear is ridiculously low and I found myself shifting within milliseconds of pulling away, then shifting from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6 very quickly. At 70mph I was at a little more than 8k rpm and at 80mph I was at somewhere between 9k and 9.5k. The engine pitch was high, but it was ‘singing’ rather than screaming. Actually reminded me on my Ninja.

Despite the small engine it isn’t completely anaemic and it is very smooth. It genuinely cruises at 70mph without difficulty and climbs to 80mph without too much of a challenge. Yes, it’s much, MUCH slower than the 650 - off the line and top end - but I had expected no less. It was a little ‘vibey’ at 80mph, but within the limits of tolerability. I think 70-75mph is OK. It’s not a highway cruiser … but it can do miles. I intend to go up a tooth on the front sprocket ASAP, and that will lower the rpm a little, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a small, underpowered engine. Fully loaded, uphill, with a fat guy riding it will be a struggle. I confess that I'm a little nervous about Wrynose/Honnister pass.
You really should try riding it like a Ninja. Don't shift until you hit the upper 2/3rds of the redline. These bikes are designed to live in the higher revs. Not my style of riding which is why I chose not to buy one after an extended test ride.

I had the opposite impression during my test ride about on or in the bike. I felt like I was riding on top of the bike and did not feel like I was part of the bike in the way the bike I ultimately ended up buying (Himalayan). I'm 5'11" with a 32" inseam.

On another note, sorry your bike got stolen, and really sorry the insurance company didn't take care of you. I do wonder why you accepted a below market value settlement from the insurance company. They should have offered you NADA or KBB retail value, plus whatever your coverage was for any accessories on it. You don't have to respond, just me writing what I am thinking about if the situation ever happens to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Versys X 300 Update

This weekend, I did a 700-mile round-trip on the VX3, so I thought that I would write down a few more thoughts. The bottom line is, I’m never going to love this bike … but I really do like it. I like it a lot.

Before the trip, I made a handful of modifications. I switched out the 14T front sprocket for a 15T. I wasn’t sure that an extra 7.1% of teeth would make any difference, but I assumed that it wouldn’t hurt. I also added a power socket (standard ‘cigarette lighter’ style rather than USB for greater flexibility), Givi rear rack plate, and R&G crash bungs.

At 0630h on Friday I set off north. The bike was 4/5 loaded, meaning that I had enough gear for a few days but was not carrying a tent, sleeping bag, camping mat or stove. I didn’t really notice any significant difference from the 15T sprocket at first - on side roads - but, once I hit the M25, I could tell that the rpm’s were noticeably lower. According to ‘gearing commander’, moving from 14T to 15T brings the rpm from 8,120 at 70mph to 7,580 at 70mph. This seems reasonably accurate, and I was doing somewhere between 7,500rpm and 7,800rpm. The bike felt very comfortable at those rpm and there was hardly any vibration. I think LESS vibration than my 2010 V650.

I did the first 150 miles (all highway) at 70mph. There was a 20-mile section of M1 at sixty, but the rest of the time I was at seventy. The bike was happy at this speed and I felt very comfortable too. My mpg was 65.19mpg. I did the second 150 miles (still highway) on a special secret private road and pushed the speed up to 80mph. The bike was still happy at this speed, but there was very little power left - maybe another 10-15mph - probably 10. I was running at somewhere between 8,800rpm and 9,000rpm. According to ‘gearing commander’ I should have been doing 8,660rpm, but it felt like more to me. For this portion of the journey I got 60.15mpg.

NOTE - These mpg's are UK, not USA.

I DID get to see the ‘econo-mode’ indicator a few times. At 70mph it was on pretty much all of the time but seemed to go off whenever I crept above 8,000rpm. But, it isn’t just based on rpm. A few times I was below 8,000rpm but riding uphill and it went off. So clearly it is measuring fuel flow and comparing with speed to make a calculation.

Oh, and the plank that Kawasaki laughingly call a ‘seat’ on the VX3 - was surprisingly tolerable. It isn’t as comfortable as the seat on the V650 (which I personally really like even though I know that some don’t) but the geometry of it is actually very good. I can honestly say that I didn’t really notice how hard it was. I thought that it was going to be a major problem. It isn't. Go figure huh!

On Saturday and Sunday, I took the bike out a few times ‘in town’. It was excellent in traffic and I think that this bike would be a fantastic commuter. As mentioned before the riding position is good and the engine is ‘peppy’. But, I discovered that it really is a high-revving machine. It didn’t like being below 4,000rpm very much and preferred to be running at somewhere between 4,000rpm and 6,000rpm.

Today I rode home, via the Lakes. The weather was pretty awful. Rain showers and VERY strong winds. But, I wanted to test the bike on the passes so I went anyway. Kirkstone pass was a breeze … really. The wind was blowing HARD directly into my face. I actually had to add power to cruise downhill into Ambleside. Honestly. I’m not joking. I then headed for Wrynose and I admit that I was a little nervous at the bottom looking up, especially since the road was very wet and I was wearing Mitas E-07 boots. I’m really unfamiliar with those particular tyres and I had no idea how the traction would be. But I needn’t have worried. The tyres performed great and so did the baby Versys. It skipped up Wrynose without missing a beat. I loved it. It was so nimble. Once again, coming down the other side into the eye of the storm was a lot less fun, but climbing Hardknott, a few minutes later, was no problem at all!

After Hardknott, I turned south and took B roads. Once again, the VX3 was excellent, and I had a smile on my face as I zigged and zagged through the glory of southern Lakeland. That hard seat actually felt great! I stopped for a break at Devoke Water (a place that I love) and did a little light trail riding down to the edge of the tarn and back again. Once again, the bike was great. This wasn’t real off road riding, but it was starting to get close. I absolutely loved it - despite the wind and the rain.

Unfortunately, by now if was early afternoon, and I was 300 miles from home so I burnt rubber to the M6 and then settled in for the long ride south. It wasn’t an enjoyable journey. The side winds were wicked and I was getting blown around a lot. I had a few hairy moments overtaking trucks and getting caught in wind eddies. It wasn’t the worst ride of my life but it was up there! I won't be riding in those conditions again in a hurry!
 

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Good update, I was planning to get Mitas E07s next so interested to hear your positive report.

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Discussion Starter #10
I was planning to get Mitas E07s next so interested to hear your positive report.
I had no experience with MT E07's until a week ago when I bought the VX3 ... which already had them fitted. I have to say, I've been impressed. On the highway, they don't seem to be any louder than regular road tyres and the grip (on dry roads) seems very good. Logic would dictate that the grip can't be as good as a regular road tyre, but once I was confident of the tyre, I had no problem tipping it into corners and it always felt good. I was cautious riding in the wet, so I'm not sure about their ability, but they felt pretty good. On the trail road, they felt excellent and I was seriously impressed. I think that as an 'all rounder' they seem a good choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I do wonder why you accepted a below market value settlement from the insurance company.
I did 'appeal', but the appeal was rejected. I now have a further appeal with the Insurance Ombudsman, but I'm not hopeful. The insurance business model is to charge premiums that are as high as the market will accept and pay claims that are as low as possible.
 
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