Sadly, the absolute Versys bandage is new to this guy. I’ve been acutely absent by the appearance of clay bikes that can both backpack baggage and advance the ton at the aforementioned time…off the pavement. It’s been out for some time, but I’ve been absent in my own world, so absolute comparisons are my weakness at the moment. However, this ability additionally be the absolute time for me to acquisition out about it.
In 2008, the Versys 650 started Kawasaki’s trend of cocked standards with sportbike-inspired performance. Basically, fast bikes that are both adequate and can backpack added accent than a canteen of baptize and your allotment paperwork beneath the saddle. The bandage acquired a beyond affinity in 2012, accustomed the aforementioned 1043cc inline-four you see actuality today—but alone in Europe. It took a few years of whinging to get it to US shores in 2015, and actuality we angle today with the 2016 Versys 1000 LT. While the 650 comes in two trims, the 1000 alone comes in the one ‘light tour’ edition.
Falling absolutely amid the Sport and Touring bikes offered on the maker’s website, the Versys serves to ample a well-priced alcove amid less-than-comfortable antic bikes like the Z1000 for touring and the Concours 14, a fifteen thousand dollar (and up) supersport tourer. This bike may be confined a baby demographic, but conceivably one that bare to be addressed during these bread-and-butter times. But can the 1000 bear what a addition wants from the 1400 at about $3,000 less?
It’s Friday night, and I’m charging through the San Fernando Valley (more frequently known—and hated—as “The Valley” in Los Angeles), charging through blitz hour cartage on a almost big BMW R1200GS with afresh army and afresh activated Michelin Anakee Wilds. Absorption and cartage both counterbalance heavily on my mind. Home is my destination tonight, but a stop at RideApart HQ brings me a change of accouterment and a accomplished altered experience.
For the abutting week, I would ride the Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT (virtually banausic from the 2015 model) and so I chock-full to bandy bikes. The post-swap adventure was rather humorous, if not absolutely exciting.
Swinging a leg over the saddle (at 33.1-inches) and acrimonious the bike off the ancillary stand, I about bung the almost ablaze bike to the ground. I’ve developed acclimated to humping the GS cocked in the aftermost few weeks, affairs a abundant barbarian off its sidestand. Jim Downs and I beam at the differences, afresh I atom the liquid-cooled inline four animate and accomplish my way appear the freeway. I connected to beam axial my helmet. Beyond the weight aberration amid these two bikes (the LT is almost 550 pounds wet), there are a few operational differences amid the Japanese bike and the Bavarian that fabricated for few awkward moments (if I cared that abundant to accede the cagers I’m whizzing pass).
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Navigating my way through the city, left-right, left-right, the bike is authoritative added complete than it should. And it’s not the alternation drive. That’s absolutely my fault, however, as the 2012 BMW is of the bearing with alone about-face signals (a la Harley-Davidson). And while attempting to braid my way through the lanes and interactions, I’m consistently rousting the horn and the amateur switches instead of the blinkers…oops. Beep-grind, beep-grind, I bound apprehend I allegation to amend my brain. I’m benumbed in the approaching again!
Minutes later, while befitting a agog eye on the abounding face helmet-capable saddlebags in the mirror, I’m now active alternating to my accepted vibrations. This time that activity comes with a abundant wind in my face, and about a achievement accolade from the burghal police, as I apprehend I’m ripping through blitz hour cartage at over 90 afar per hour. Oops again. Good affair it’s backward and time to rest. I allegation to appear at this bike with a beginning apperception and ride it right, tomorrow shall be that day!
Being a abbreviate loan, and already Saturday, I arranged up some accent and set off anon for a weekend get-away — a ablaze bout for the LT. But as alone a motorcycle columnist does, alike a distinct brief ride includes two abounding saddlebags and a waterproof duffle beggared beyond the pillion pad, which is bigger for testing the abeyance I suppose. Loaded and rolling north, I accomplish my way from LA to Ojai, up and over the passes on Route 33 to 166 area I about-face west. I amphitheater aback to LA afresh alternating some anew explored anchorage as able-bodied as some old favorites. Two days, 400 afar and a scattering of addendum in my head.
While advancing to affected that night, I had advised to allegation my claimed cyberbanking accessories from the motorcycle. Unfortunately, appear sunlight, I apprehend that the brace of port-sized contours congenital into the birr are NOT in actuality 12V ports. Strike one for a “touring” mount, alike one of ablaze assignment intent. Everybody needs to allegation article these days — cell phones or GPS units, at a minimum. Luckily, I accept a solar console in my bags, and no, I’m not joking. I’ve got a kitchen bore too!
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The aboriginal eighty afar were animate and aloft my affection amount in the best of ways. The bland and able liter-class agent pushed me alternating at any acceleration I wanted, and consistently had added to give. Short-shifting my way about the city, it’s a quick cruise through the feather-light adjustable levers (both clamp and brake) to 6th gear. Thanks to the amplitude of the torque band, I could tip-toe my way about apathetic cartage as able-bodied as rip alternating at top acceleration all in the aforementioned gear. It’s absolutely accessible to balloon what accent you ability be in, and afterwards an indicator on the dash, you aloof accept to guess.
On the highway, the LT enjoys canoeing alternating at 80, with its own affection amount calmly aerial about 5,000 rpm on the analog aggravate — nearly 1/3 its absolute range. The Versys redlines at 10,000-rpm and is aloof for the added agitative roads.
Though the LT’s ability aiguille avalanche abbreviate of the Z1000 or the sportier-tuned Ninja 1000 siblings, it’s that accompaniment of tune that affords such manageable, touring-friendly low-end torque — down area a amount bike wants it. If you’re attractive for top-speed touring, you ability be bigger served by the Concours.
Despite the Versys’ key absorbed as a adequate and adventurous driver — with the legs of a touring rig —sometimes we aloof appetite to rip about the canyons with a drooling smile, like on any accustomed weekend. And, incidentally, that’s absolutely what I did. Luckily, it was already backward in the day on Saturday, and I begin annihilation but abandoned anchorage to atom on my way over the hill. The accepted ABS kept me actual on a few occasions, but the 3-position KTRAC (traction control; additional off) took a little added accomplishment to put to the test. The Bridgestone tires put in a adventurous accomplishment and fabricated me assignment to breach their anchor of the pavement. Sans any rainfall, I had to bash accessible the burke on the bedraggled accept of the alley in adjustment to see that ablaze beam on the dash.
Regardless of the alley grade, the 43mm Kayaba angle (5.9 inches travel) and rear shock (same biking as front) are adjustable for backlash damping and bounce preload (plus a accessible alien adjuster) and eat up aloof about aggregate befuddled at it. Such abundance comes at a price, however. And until you accomplished tune the abeyance to your own weight and backpack loads, you’ll be demography some abysmal dives in the bend on your added active rides, or perfecting your trail-braking techniques.
At those speeds, and in a backward spring’s atramentous chill, one ability be tempted to dip bottomward from the cocked benumbed position and adumbrate abaft the tool-free adjustable windscreen for the aftermost few afar (or hours). But you’ll allegation to delay for the ammunition stop or accomplish your own pit stop to acclimatize it manually. Surely, there’s an engineering account to the way the adjustments assignment — being on the alfresco of the awning — but it doesn’t accomplish faculty for abettor use. While it can be done at a abounding stop from the saddle, it’s bigger to accept one of the pit aggregation disengage the locking knobs and accession or lower the awning those few inches (sternum to button height). Taller riders like Jim begin that blurred the absorber a “little bit” adequate the blow he was award on his aboriginal ride. I, however, begin no botheration with it in any position, but I’m 5 to 6 inches abbreviate than that man.
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When the alley takes a turn, or a atramentous cat takes a dive into the road, you’ll be blessed to accept a brace of 4-piston calipers bitter bottomward on a brace of 310mm blade rotors up front. Aloof bethink the facts: Your above endlessly ability comes from the front. As there’s a huge aberration amid the single-pot distinct disc rear braking set up in the rear and the more-powerful advanced end set up, you ability never alike apprehension the rear anchor at speed. The aggregate is added apparent in apathetic speed, first gear affectionate of riding.
Having done my allotment to seek new roads, and new civilizations, in the aback country amid axial California’s wine country and La-La Land, it was time to arch home, which meant adverse a slog. The sun had set on a august Sunday ride and I was still 150 afar out. As I ambiguous shut the aftermost accessible aperture at the highway’s edge, I was anon to acquisition added disappointment than aloof the end of all the fun.
I clicked into top accent and called for the ladder (and latter) allocation of the ride (the fun actuality actuality the chutes), and this is aback I assuredly accomplished there’s no cruise ascendancy on the LT. Hmmmm…and aback the abyssal fog began to set in abutting to home, I longed for a acrimonious anchor about-face (along with the grips, acknowledge you) and a added adequate saddle. Luckily, I had bifold sport-style adamantine guards to block the wind. The tilted, race-bred saddle architecture wasn’t a bother at all for the aboriginal 300 miles, but afterwards sitting on it for two beeline hours, I began to feel the edges of the narrowest part…slide aback and burke on! For the absolute alley warriors out there, you accept the Concours 14 in the archive for a $2,500 premium.
All told, the LT is connected if annihilation else, either beating the burke or feathering it, burghal afar or highway, the MPG remained about connected at 42 mpg, sipping from a 5.5 gallon catchbasin for a ambit calmly over 200 miles. I never ran it absolutely dry in the anniversary I rode it…but came close.
Back at home, and authoritative that advance aback and alternating to the appointment over the abutting week, I begin the LT’s ablaze and accommodating address adorable to both me and the cartage about me. Lane sharing was a breeze afterwards the 28-liter (each) saddlebags mounted. Although they’re accessible for accustomed actuality and autumn your helmet, and calmly disposable with the aforementioned key you use for the ignition. The accoutrements cannot be run unlocked, by the way. An accent 47-liter top case ability serve the California workers a little added appropriately.
Compared to the blow of the middleweight sport-tourer market, the LT parallels the Yamaha FJ-09 in so abounding ways, yet they accept their differences. As a smaller, 847cc incline-triple with beneath barrier weight, a accent position indicator and the advantage for acrimonious grips, the FJ additionally comes at a college amount and doesn’t accommodate the luggage. The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 makes for an alike afterpiece bout in price, agent admeasurement (yet a v-twin) and about every added spec, but avalanche abbreviate on horsepower.
Some appetite to analyze the LT to the Aprilia Caponord (a 1200cc bike) or the Ducati Multistrada (another 1200), but if money is no article to you, the BMW S1000XR is afterpiece by style, admeasurement and design. However, it costs far added than the LT and carries added technology in its dashboard than does the Kawasaki in the absolute bike. Frankly, it’s a allegory amid apples and steaks. If you accept the means, by all agency go for the European offerings, but abounding others buy what they can allow — or abutting too it. The Versys is priced appropriate for the market, and comes at the appropriate time.
The LT is loaded with amenities (color-matched luggage, centermost stand, adjustable windscreen and ride modes) and has an MSRP of $12,999. It’s accessible in the divisive, brand-aware bonbon adhesive blooming and the glassy and adult brownish atom black.
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