The Flagship Of The Versys Line

Kawasaki raised the bar for its Versys adventure-bike range with the new-for-2019 1000 SE LT+. The Special Edition rocks a host of new comfort- and safety-related features to put it on Kawi’s top shelf and make it the flagship of the Versys family. If that sounds like high praise, just read on and I assure you, I’ll prove it. It may be set up as an uber adventure-tourer, but the factory added a full electronics suite to include items usually reserved for proper race-style bikes, so this thing really is a Cadillac on two wheels. I’ve looked forward to delving into this machine, so without further ado, let’s check it out, then see if I can find a suitable competitor. I’m thinking a Brit or an Italian at this point; let’s see how it shakes out.

  • 2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Displacement:
    1043 cc
  • Price:
    17999
  • Price:

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ Design

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
- image 804359
Kawasaki nailed the look, and I give them bonus points for the unusual front fairing and the stock bags, too.

Kawasaki takes an interesting approach to the front end; it has all the usual design characteristics you’d expect to see with a bird’s-beak fender, except the actual fender itself. Go ahead and pencil me in as a fan, ’cause I never did care for them or the dolphin fairings. Spray control falls to a full-size fender that mounts to the fork-lowers with tall standoffs that double as spray guards for the swept area of the fork tube. This prevents wear and tear from road grime and off-road grit to prolong the life of the fork seals. Oh, and it provides better fling control than you’d ever get from the birdy front end. Bigly.

So this gives the Special Edition room for horizontally split dual headlights and a wide fairing that punches a generous hole in the weather; certainly more of a hole than you get from one of the Rally-style, snub-nose rides currently available in the same market. I really like what they’ve done with the cornering lights, and I think that their spot recessed in the leading edge of the cheek fairing is a stroke of pure genius.

Up top, a vented windshield and stock handguards complete the pilot’s protection with a TFT screen to handle all of the instrumentation and act as an interface for all the higher electronic functions. The flyline is typical of the genre with a pronounced fuel-tank bump and marked drop off to the saddle that pulls the rider down into the bike and rests at 33.1 inches off the ground.

Fold-up, subframe-mount footpegs and a lofty sculpted p-pad provide three points of contact for your passenger, and a beefy J.C. handle takes care of the other two points, ya know, if your passenger just isn’t that into you yet.

Stock, hard-side panniers provide 28 liters of dry storage with a quick-disconnect system, and for under three bills you can add a 47-liter top case for some real tour-tastic ability. There’s a wee luggage rack at the terminus with the taillight tucked up underneath out of harm’s way. A short mudguard extension mounts the license plate and a pair of winkers that, like the rest of the bike, are rockin’ the LED tech.

Overall, I’d say Kawi nailed the look, and I give them bonus points for the unusual front fairing and the stock bags, too. That last is especially important, ’cause on our side of the pond, it ain’t a tour bike if there’s no baggage.

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ Chassis

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
- image 804358
In true tourer style, it'll track in a crosswind and when you punch through the pressure wave ahead of large vehicles.

A twin-spar aluminum frame has tubular members in the Trellis-style subframe section to keep it light out back. The steering head comes set at 27 degrees with an even four inches of trail and 59.8-inch wheelbase that should help it track in a crosswind and when you punch through the pressure wave ahead of large vehicles.

Inverted, 43 mm Showa forks and a new Uni-Trak (also from Showa) monoshock come with Kawasaki’s new Electronic Control Suspension feature that dynamically tweaks the dampers under way and delivers push-button preload adjustments. It works through the miracle of the Inertial Measurement Unit that reads vehicle attitude and forces, and provides an update to the system every 10 milliseconds.

A set of 17-inch cast wheels round out the rolling chassis and keep unsprung weight low at both axles, but the factory didn’t skimp on brakes on the Special Edition, oh no. A pair of 310 mm discs and four-pot anchors slow the front wheel opposite a 25 mm disc and single-piston caliper that slows the rear, all under the watchful eye of Kawi’s Intelligent Brake System.

Front Suspension : 43 mm Inverted Fork with KECS-controlled compression and Rebound Damping and Manually-Adjustable Preload
Rear Suspension: Horizontal Back-link, KECS-controlled compression and Rebound Damping and Electronically-Controlled Preload Adjustment
Rake/Trail: 27°/4.0 in
Front Brake: Dual 310 mm Petal Disc with 4-Piston Caliper, ABS
Rear Brake: Single 250 mm Petal Disc, ABS
Wheel Travel, Front/Rear: 5.9 in/5.9 in
Front Tire Size: 120/70-17
Rear Tire Size: 180/55-17

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ Drivetrain

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
- image 810452
The quick shifter is some pretty slick stuff for a bike that is likely to never see a racetrack (and no, 'from the parking lot' doesn't count).

The fandanglery continues into the engine department with a new Electronic Throttle Valve control and Kawasaki Quick Shift (KQS) that lets you shift up and down the range sans clutch action. Riding Modes deliver a new level of control with a Cornering Management Function that helps keep you in your groove around the bends. Bluetooth connectivity networks the bike with your smartphone through the “Rideology: The App” feature.

That’s all fancy and everything, but the crunchy bits still matter here. The factory obliges with a 1,043 cc, inline-four plant that runs dual over-head cams to time the 16-valve head. Bore and stroke measure out at 77 mm and 56 mm, respectively, and the compression is kinda middle-of-the-road at 10.3-to-1 but that’ll have you at the expensive hook nonetheless.

It’s liquid-cooled, of course, with a quartet of 38 mm Keihin throttle bodies to control the induction, and these qualities combine forces to help the mill meet emission requirements. A slip-and-assist clutch couples engine power to the six-speed transmission, and as for the power itself, the mill clocks in with 75.2 pound-feet of torque at 7,500 rpm to take care of business.

The stock quickshifter detects movement at the shifter and blips the ignition to allow the gear sliders to mesh with the new cluster without ever touching the clutch for lightning-fast shifts up and down the range. That’s some pretty slick stuff for a bike that is likely to never see a racetrack, and no, from the parking lot doesn’t count.

Engine: 4-Stroke, Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, 4 Valve Cylinder Head, Transverse In-Line 4-Cylinder
Displacement: 1,043 cc
Bore x Stroke: 77.0 x 56.0 mm
Maximum Torque: 75.2 lb-ft @ 7,500 rpm
Compression Ratio: 10.3:1
Fuel System: DFI® with Keihin 38mm ETV Throttle Bodies (4)
Transmission: 6-Speed with Positive Neutral Finder
Final Drive: Sealed Chain

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ Pricing

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
- image 810448
MSRP starts at $18k in a two-tone colorway.

The 2019 Versys 1000 SE LT+ rolls for $17,999 MSRP in Metallic Flat Spark Black over Pearl Flat Stardust White. Of course, the factory gives you plenty of opportunities to inflate that figure with some purpose-built accessories.

Warranty: 24 months (optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 36 or 48 months)
Color: Metallic Flat Spark Black/Pearl Flat Stardust White
Price: $17,999

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ Competitor

2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 XRt
- image 785821
2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
- image 810457
Triumph really heaps on the electronics with everything the Versys has to offer and then some, but that's also reflected in the price.

As I expected, I ended up looking at the Brits and settled on the top-of-the-line Tiger 1200 XRt for my head-to-head. Triumph leads the way with that old bird’s-beak fairing plus fender arrangement that I could really do without. I do like the large windscreen on the Tiger, and I expect they pair well with the large handguards as well as the heated grips and seats to make it comfortable in a range of conditions.

Looks-wise, I can’t really pick one over the other if I ignore the bird, and while I’ve always been a fan of that British pragmatism, it’s not enough by itself. Triumph really heaps on the electronics with everything the Versys has to offer and then some. Semi-Active suspension adjusts the stems on the fly, and the engine control comes with cornering traction control and rider modes alongside a shift-assist feature, it even brings a Hill-Hold Control to the table for a slight edge that the Kawi can’t match.

Triumph does come ahead in the displacement with a total of 1,215 cc tucked away in its triple. It cranks out 139 ponies and 90 pounds o’ grunt for a difference that will definitely register on the heinie-dyno. You’ll pay for that mustard though; the Tiger XRt rolls for $21,050, and that’s significantly higher than the Kawi. I’ll leave it to you to decide if the extra power is worth the extra cheddar.

He Said

“I think the Versys is plenty powerful enough for what it’s intended for, which is touring and/or urban/suburban commuting. Gotta’ say I like it, even if the color selection is a bit of a snore. Oh, like the cornering lights too, that’s sharp as a rat’s turd.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I have to agree with my husband. I like the look without the bird’s beak. The colorway extends to the quick-release panniers, so the whole look is coordinated and put together, not like the panniers are an afterthought. It has a nice big windscreen, and of course, everyone has a smartphone app now, but it’s the electronics that really steal the show here, with electronic control suspension (KECS), quick shifter (KQS), electronic throttle valve control (ETV), cornering management (KCMF), intelligent anti-lock brakes (KIBS), TFT screen and rider modes, and even a few more acronyms that escape me at the moment. It’s a veritable alphabet soup of electronic gadgetry.”

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-Stroke, Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, 4 Valve Cylinder Head, Transverse In-Line 4-Cylinder
Displacement: 1,043 cc
Bore & Stroke: 77.0 x 56.0 mm
Maximum Torque: 75.2 lb-ft @ 7,500 rpm
Compression Ratio: 10.3:1
Fuel System: DFI® with Keihin 38 mm ETV Throttle Bodies (4)
Transmission: 6-Speed with Positive Neutral Finder
Final Drive: Sealed Chain
Chassis:
Front Suspension : 43mm Inverted Fork with KECS-controlled compression and Rebound Damping and Manually-Adjustable Preload
Rear Suspension: Horizontal Back-link, KECS-controlled compression and Rebound Damping and Electronically-Controlled Preload Adjustment
Rake/Trail: 27°/4.0 in
Front Brake: Dual 310 mm Petal Disc with 4-Piston Caliper, ABS
Rear Brake: Single 250 mm Petal Disc, ABS
Wheel Travel, Front/Rear: 5.9 in/5.9 in
Front Tire Size: 120/70-17
Rear Tire Size: 180/55-17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 59.8 in
Fuel Tank Capacity: 5.5 gal
Seat Height: 33.1 in
Curb Weight: 566.7 lb
Saddlebags, Handguards and Hardware weight (approximate): 20 lb
Details:
Warranty: 24 months (optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 36 or 48 months)
Color: Metallic Flat Spark Black/Pearl Flat Stardust White
Price: $17,999

Further Reading

Triumph Tiger 1200 XRt

2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 XRt
- image 785813

See our review of the Triumph Tiger 1200 XRt.

Kawasaki

no article
- image 795478

Read more Kawasaki news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: kawasaki.com, triumphmotorcycles.com

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