The 2010 Kawasaki Versys is a funky middleweight motorcycle that carries on technically unchanged and yet is anything but a disappointment in terms of engine performance or handling. While most riders could have lived with a slightly lower riding position, the bike is now simply redesigned, but retains the original style that caught interest in the first place.
If you though the headlight of the first Versys was weird, just take a look at the new stacked dual one and start reconsidering. The fairing around it is new as well and there’s also a larger, three-position adjustable windscreen for improved wind protection. Furthermore, the front fender was redesigned and together with the engine covers radiator shrouds and muffler completes the list of most notable cosmetic upgrades seen on the 2010 Kawasaki Versys.
64-hp fuel injected parallel twin engine
Still weighing 454.1 pounds wet, this middleweight settles with its 649 cc parallel-twin’s 64 hp and 44.9 lb/ft, but the engine vibrations level should be significantly reduced thanks to the rubber mounts at the rear and rubber footpegs.
As in the case of the previous model years, this bike’s biggest drawback is the 33.1-inch seat height. Probably as soon as Kawasaki starts thinking at the Versys as to a street only motorcycle, the model’s success will be complete.
First introduced at the end of 2007 as a 2008 model year, the Kawasaki Versys was Big Green’s response to the market’s request for a fairly small and extremely versatile motorcycle. The bike got positive reviews from magazines around the world for being very lively and comfortable, but test riders could have lived with better wind protection and less engine vibrations. The 2010 model year has come to fix that and also ads improved build quality.
Also, the Kawasaki Versys was originally launched as a response to motorcycles such as the Suzuki V-Strom 650 , BMW F 650 GS and despite the more than decent ground clearance, upright riding position and tall seat, it turned out being bought mostly by riders with plans to ride it on the street and didn’t cut that much in the dual-sport pie shared both by Japanese and European manufacturers. Now Kawasaki’s most inspired move would be to lower the seat at around 31.5 inches without sacrificing ground clearance. This would make the Versys even more versatile and competitive in a segment it wasn’t quite built for.
In the end, this is a sportbike that we’re talking about, one featuring a distinctive design shared with no other bike on the market or in the Kawasaki lineup. It clearly isn’t built for speed, but to easily manage with city traffic and turn out being a comfortable, wind protective two-wheeler down the open road. This means that, despite the imposing stature, this thing is designed around the rider and it all shows from the first look at it: the seat is spacious and the tank is narrow at the rider’s legs, while the footpegs and handlebars are brought close to the rider.
The Kawasaki Versys was never a pretty-faced motorcycle and the 2010 model year gets more serious about its image. Both the new headlight and windscreen make it more attractive and quite similar to KTMs from this point of view. We’ll have to say it looks pretty much like a sport-touring model if you watch it in your rearview mirror, but its new bar mirrors will betray it at a more thorough look.
Although an entry-level motorcycle, the goal was to make it look high-tech and the revised muffler, clutch cover, sprocket and alternator covers, radiator shrouds, swingarm pivot covers and rear fender bring a major contribution at making the new Versys look more expensive that it actually is. At the back, you get a Z1000-style LED light, a new passenger riding position and revised grab rails. Also, the seat is now covered in a new material.
The Metallic Spark Black color enhances this model’s now much more abstemious appearance.
"The 2010 Kawasaki Versys benefits from a styling overhaul, practical changes like larger mirrors and less vibes thanks to new rubber mountings for the engine. But don’t dismiss it as a dull commuter - its punchy 649cc parallel-twin engine has enough low-down grunt to loft the front in 1st and 2nd." – motorcyclenews
"There’s just 64bhp claimed from the motor, but it delivers those ponies in a fun, vibrant fashion (which is journo-speak for ’it wheelies like a mad thing’). Top end is about 120mph indicated with a following wind, and the delivery is meaty yet smooth low-down." – superbike
"The Versys was in its elephant up in the mountains on left, right, right, left, left switchbacks. Just hold it one gear, let it thud-thud-thud out of the apex until it hits the limiter before the peel in point for the next tight corner. It makes for effortless, er, spirited riding." – visordown
Starting at $7,599, the 2010 Kawasaki Versys isn’t walking on soft ground if we consider the 2009 model year’s $7,099 MSRP. We’re seeing bikes that carry on completely unchanged and demanding much more Benjamin Franklins than only a year before.
All in all, the new Versys should turn out providing a slightly more pleasurable riding experience for both rider and passenger. Yet, the main difference is achieved by the much more serious look.
Engine and Transmission
- Engine: Four-stroke, liquid cooled, DOHC, four-valve per cylinder, parallel twin
- Displacement: 649cc
- Bore x Stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm
- Compression Ratio: 10.6:1
- Cooling: Liquid
- Fuel System: Digital fuel injection with two 38mm Keihin throttle bodies
- Ignition: Digital CDI
- Transmission: Six-speed
- Final Drive: O-Ring chain
Chassis and Dimensions
- Frame: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
- Rake / Trail: 25 degrees / 4.3 in.
- Wheelbase: 55.7 in.
- Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork with stepless adjustable rebound and preload / 5.9 in.
- Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Single offset laydown shock with 13-position adjustable rebound damping and adjustable spring preload / 5.7 in.
- Front Tire: 120/70x17
- Rear Tire: 160/60x17
- Front Brake: Dual 300mm petal discs with two-piston caliper
- Rear Brake: Single 220mm petal disc with single-piston caliper
- Overall Length: 83.7 in.
- Overall Width: 33.1 in.
- Overall Height: 51.8 in.
- Seat Height: 33.1 in.
- Curb Weight: 454.1 lbs.
- Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal.
- Colors: Metallic Spark Black
Features & Benefits
New for 2010:
- A new fairing, stacked dual headlight, new front fender and mirrors, and a Z1000-style LED tail light, give the Versys a bold new high-tech look
- A larger windscreen provides a larger still-air pocket for increased comfort; three-position adjustability makes it adaptable to fit a variety of riders and climates
- Revised passenger grab rails, new seat cover material, and a little fine-tuning of the passenger seating position make the Versys even more fun for passengers
- Rubber bushings at the rear engine mounts and hollow rubber-covered footpegs result in reduced engine vibration and a more comfortable ride
- Revisions to the muffler, clutch cover, sprocket and alternator covers, radiator shrouds, swingarm pivot covers and rear fender all contribute to the Versys bold new high-quality look
649cc DOHC Parallel Twin-Cylinder Engine
- The most compact engine in its category helps reduce the dimensions of the entire motorcycle
- Triangular crank and transmission shaft layout keeps it short front-to-back
- A semi-dry sump oil system reduces overall engine height
- The narrow, chrome composite-plated aluminum cylinders help reduce engine width
- This one is tuned to deliver smooth, responsive power in the low- to mid-rpm range for exceptional roll-on response ideal for negotiating city traffic, tight backroads and anything in between
- A 180-degree crankshaft and a balancer shaft produce an uncannily smooth engine
- Oil jets on the connecting rod ends spray oil on the undersides of the pistons to aid cooling
- An under-engine muffler with 3-way catalyzer aids mass centralization for light handling and great looks
- Engine temperatures stay consistent for long engine life and sustained power in tough conditions
- Closer engine tolerances mean more horsepower
- Coolant routed through the engine cases reduces the number of external hoses
Digital Fuel Injection (DFI)
- A pair of 38mm Keihin throttle bodies with ECU-controlled sub-throttle valves mean optimum performance and ridability
- Sub throttles, located behind the main throttle valves, give the Versys precise throttle response and great feel as well
- An automatic fast idle system makes starting and warm-up easy, even on cold days
- Precise fuel injection provides great fuel mileage, and the 3-way catalyzer significantly reduces emissions
Digital Capacitor Discharge Ignition (CDI) System
- Microprocessor-controlled timing never requires adjustment and is ultra-responsive to the engine’s needs
- Powerful, spark plug-mounted stick ignition coils are compact, light and reliable
- Versys racing-style cassette transmission uses a compact layout that’s easily removable as a single unit from the engine cases for much easier gearbox maintenance
High-Tensile Steel Trellis Frame
- The Versys exotic-looking trellis frame is small, light and narrow at the knees and pegs for excellent comfort and control
- 3D computer analysis in the design process achieved optimum stiffness balance for superior ride and handling
Single Shock Rear Suspension
- A distinctive aluminum gull-wing swingarm controlled by a lay-down single shock complements the distinctive frame design, with an integrated line flowing from steering head to rear hub
- The short, compact frame and engine design allows the swingarm to be longer, which improves overall handling
- The Showa shock has adjustable preload and rebound damping, and uses a free piston and two-stage damping valves for smooth action during initial compression that becomes firmer near the end of the stroke for a more planted feel
- A 41mm long-travel inverted fork combines the best of dual sport and sportbike-type suspensions, to deliver excellent performance over a wide range of conditions
- Tapered, relatively short outer tubes help provide the ideal stiffness balance to complement frame stiffness and chassis settings
- Fork height, spring preload and rebound damping can be adjusted to fine-tune the suspension to specific conditions, riding styles and loads
Petal Style Brake Discs
- Dual 300mm front petal discs with two-piston calipers in front and a single 220mm rear petal disc with a single-piston caliper in back provide plenty of stopping power
- Same rotor design as found on the Ninja supersport machines, petal design rotors offer improved cooling and warp resistance
- Like the ones you’ll find on the Ninja ZX-6R and ZX-10R, these six-spoke wheels use less material between spokes so rim thickness is reduced along with overall wheel weight
- Lighter wheels increase overall performance suspension, handling, acceleration/deceleration and initial turn-in
- Each section of the two-piece seat was designed with a different thickness and firmness of foam to optimize comfort for both rider and passenger
- The passenger seat and grab bars were designed to provide a natural seating position for added comfort
- An easy-to-read instrument panel has a large analog tachometer and digital readout for the speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer, dual trip meters and clock. White LED backlighting provides increased visibility at night