2019 Versys 1000 SE LT+: 1200 Mile report

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Smaug1, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. Smaug1

    Smaug1 '19 Kawasaki Versys 1000, '15 SMax

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,237
    Location:
    Chicago area
    Comfort: 9/10
    It has a nicely shaped and thickly padded seat, and the passenger seat is the biggest in the class. It's not a 10, because there are Goldwings and Russells out there. ;)

    Build Quality: 9/10
    The grip heater button module seems tacked-on. Everything is perfect. The quick shifter had me worried, but after break-in and a change to synthetic oil, it is nice. It lacks the precision feeling of a nice gearbox (ala Suzuki) but this is the cost of the convenience/speed of a quick shifter. There's a bit of wobble between the boot of the rear turn signals and the piece they go into. This doesn't seem intentional.

    Electronics: 10/10
    Everything works just as it should. The display is fantastic. Most of the features are genuinely useful: quick shifter, LED head and tail lights*, ABS and traction control, which work while cornering, LED cornering lights and electronically adjustable suspension. The interface is great, too. The bike's MSRP is $18k, which seems high, but actual selling price is $2k less, and it compares favorably with Euro bikes in its class costing $10k more.

    Saddle Bags: 10/10
    They're big enough for a full face helmet on each side, though you'll scratch your helmet if you do it. well, at least I scratched my size L HJC doing it. The mechanism is tight and solid. They look well-integrated, but there isn't an obvious hole when they're off. My girl and I used them for a weekend trip and didn't have to pack particularly light. I managed to let one fall 8' from a garage shelf to the concrete floor, and nothing broke. I'm happily surprised at that. One nitpick is that the top case is not included for this price. Why not? And when we pay $500 extra for it, it doesn't have an integrated LED light. As a result, I have a cheap aftermarket top case (Bestem) with integrated LED brake light, for $120. It's not Givi quality, but it's on its 3rd bike and is holding up fine after two years of constant use.

    Ride Quality: 10/10
    In any of the three preset modes, the electronic suspension self-adjusts quickly. So when I'm on a nice road and it suddenly turns to shit, there is suddenly less damping. I love it.

    Wind Protection: 10/10
    This may raise some eyebrows, but this bike's wind protection is just how I like it. It's not noisy on the head no matter where it's set. The torso never has wind. But there's enough air moving behind the screen, thanks to the cutout, that it doesn't get hot. There's some air hitting the arms around the side, too. On hotter days, I've had to leave my visor cracked open to get some cool air on the face, as there's not enough otherwise. Some may complain that the screen is not electrically adjustable, but I don't really miss it. When I know I'm going to do a high speed stint, I raise it up all the way. When I'm not, I lower it all the way. I prefer that to the extra weight of a motorized unit. Also part of the wind protection are the included hand guards. I like these for rock protection too, as it hurts pretty badly to catch a stone on the finger at 80 mph.

    Tires: 8/10
    Bridgestone Battlaxe. The grip well, but I've read they don't last long; maybe 4-5k miles. I much prefer that to rock hard, long-lasting tires that slip too easily. They could have spec'd proper dual-compound sport touring tires, but then the bike's price would be even higher and people would bitch about that.

    Engine/Power: 9/10
    As some of you have seen in some of my other posts, it doesn't pull too hard below 4500 RPM. After that, it pulls HARD all the way to its 10k redline. It's marketed as having good low-mid power, but in reality, it is good mid-high power. It's no problem if you're expecting that. Coming from a Bandit 1250S, which truly has good low-mid power, it was a bit of a disappointment, even though it makes 10-15 more HP up top. Now, I'm getting used to the power band and am enjoying revving it a bit more than I would have the Bandit.

    The engine itself is VERY smooth. It has dual counterbalancers, but Kawasaki didn't stop there; they also gave it rubber mounted pegs and bar.

    I'm a bit disappointed that the catalytic converter does most of the muffling, as now it's a lot more expensive to get a proper sound out of it, and it requires a de-cat, which I don't like the idea of. This is not something to downrate for, but it's worth knowing in advance. (some people will insist on hearing the proper engine character, and they should be prepared to spend some big bucks on it)

    Maintenance-friendliness: 10/10
    I did the first oil change and was delighted to find that the oil filter is not jammed behind the header pipes. Neither is it behind some piece of cowling that will collect oil on the inside. Even the drain plug is on the side of the engine, unobstructed. Chain and brakes are easy to get to, though if you don't have a Grease Ninja, you'll get some chain lube on the cat-con. (if you use aerosol chain lube) Refilling the coolant tank after a coolant change only requires removal of one piece of cowling. I'm not sure yet about the ease of accessibility of the top of the engine for spark plug and valve clearance inspection.

    Passenger Comfort: 9/10
    I've taken a weekend trip and two day trips with my girlfriend, and she says it's great. It only lacks something to hold her in place when she dozes off. One thing that helps here is to remove the back pad from your top case. My passengers have universally found a rounded top case to be more comfortable to lean against than a pad with a sharpish corner. (This includes my old Givi Monokey V46 and my current cheap Bestem 40L) Maybe a bit more support for the outer edges of the butt. (ala Russell & Goldwing)

    Controls: 9/10
    The tun signal switch is kind of small, compared to the classical layout, but I got used to that quickly. The one thing I haven't gotten used to yet is the tiny horn button, which is not where I'm looking for it. The wire exit from the grip heater assembly is there. The high beam is all in the left "trigger." Pull the trigger to flash it, push the trigger to turn on the high beam. (pull the trigger to cancel it) The main switch on the right grip is the on/off/start. It's a slider switch. I kind of prefer the separate starter button. The menu system is intuitive. There's Up/Down/Reset on the left cluster and Select on the right. Select goes into the menu you've selected with the Up/Down. Reset goes back a level. Press and hold Select to go into the menu system. (only works when stationary) For things that can be changed on-the-fly, it isn't necessary to go into the menu system; for example, scrolling through Trip A, Trip B, instantaneous and average fuel econonmy, changing preload presets and going to Rain mode.

    Other: I particularly like the light action of the fly-by-wire throttle control and assisted clutch. Makes it easy to ride for hours around the suburbs or on the expressway, even in traffic. It's the first time I've had a proper electronic cruise, and I love that, too. I'm on the fence about the final drive. I like the convenience of shaft drive, but if it had shaft drive, it would be a proper 600 lb. bike, and then folks would be bashing it for being too porky. It would also be a bit slower on account of a bit of inherent power loss from turning a drive shaft twice and weighing more.

    This bike is more of a mid-weight touring bike than a proper adventure bike. However, we did ride probably 10 miles of gravel roads, beat-up, frost-heaved and pot-holed roads, and it handled them fine. The cruiser guys I was riding with this last time turned around and routed around the twisty bits that were after the gravel bits.

    Some people are quick to say: "I don't need all those gadgets!" But if they're honest with themselves, a lot of them are useful for a touring bike. A lot of them are safety features, too. Still others will say: "If I'm going to pay that much, I'll get a BMW/KTM/Ducati/Triumph and have 40 more HP." Yes, you could, but not for $16k new. And you'd have to pay more for parts, look harder for dealers and do more maintenance.

    The initial quick-shifter action was very mushy and really took a hard poke with the foot. But now after some miles and a change to synthetic oil, it's a lot better. This bike has me wanting to try a 650 and 300 Versys.

    Overall: 10/10

    I'll update this post as the miles and years add up.

    Edit 2019-06-12: Added photo:
    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice MC_Rider

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    Great to read.

    Keep the reports coming.
    #2
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  3. vicster

    vicster Long timer

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    Interesting read, thank you.
    I will be interested to see what your Maintenance-friendliness number is after things like air filter and coolant replacement, valve check/adjustment, tire replacement, etc.
    #3
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  4. rauchman

    rauchman Long timer

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    Great report! Do you think the $16k price is typical of what these are currently selling for?
    #4
  5. JeffPM

    JeffPM Been here awhile

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    Great report! Nice meeting you last weekend.
    #5
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  6. Smaug1

    Smaug1 '19 Kawasaki Versys 1000, '15 SMax

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    Jun 15, 2017
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    Location:
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    Likewise!

    Mark your calendar for the LaCross MSTA rally 8/9 - 8/11. (probably no cruisers there) Here's where to get info on the MSTA rallies:
    http://www.ridemsta.com/Events/Events.php

    You'll want to register and get a room ahead of time. I'd offer to share one with you, but Cari will be joining me for that one as well.

    I'm going to the Kentucky and Bull Shoals rallies as well, this year.
    #6
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  7. Smaug1

    Smaug1 '19 Kawasaki Versys 1000, '15 SMax

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    Yes, and maybe a bit less outside of major metro areas.
    #7
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  8. Smaug1

    Smaug1 '19 Kawasaki Versys 1000, '15 SMax

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2017
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    1,237
    Location:
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    I oiled the chain last night (1300 miles now) and checked all the accessible screws and bolts. Most of the cowling screws were not snug. Not loose either, but not even close to snug. Others reported it in the Big Versys 1000 thread, which makes me wonder if they're just not supposed to be that tight. They all go through rubber bushings.

    I think what'll happen is that, as the rubber ages, it will crack more easily if they're really tight. I think I'm going to loosen them all up just a smidge and just keep an eye on them going forward.

    ********

    I played around with the RIDER mode today. This is the mode where the suspension, traction control, ABS and throttle response can be tinkered with manually. I set it to soft (like RAIN mode) but with full throttle access. It was soft all right, but too bouncy; needed a bit more compression and rebound damping. I couldn't figure out how to get in and fiddle with the individual compression and rebound damping settings. Maybe tonight. (RTFM, right?)
    #8
  9. Smaug1

    Smaug1 '19 Kawasaki Versys 1000, '15 SMax

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    1,237
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    Adding rear view:
    20190529_173838_HDR.jpg
    #9
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  10. Smaug1

    Smaug1 '19 Kawasaki Versys 1000, '15 SMax

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,237
    Location:
    Chicago area
    I rode to work in rain this morning. It was 50*F, and between the hand guards and grip heaters, I was OK with just my basic Icon Super Duty gloves.

    With the shield full-up, my shoulders and visor got wet. Torso stayed dry. Legs below the knees got wet, whether from the road spray or direct, I don't know.

    The Battlax tires grip fine in the wet. In ROAD mode, the throttle response is smooth and gentle enough that I didn't feel the need to go into RAIN mode. The throttle response is really mushy in RAIN mode. (though the softer ride is nice)

    The gearbox feels completely different after a few miles and with synthetic oil in. It's really nice now, I can actually feel it through the mush of the quick-shifter. Speaking of which, I tried the quick shifter for upshifting at lower revs; it works great. Super smooth. I don't have to be on the throttle hard at high RPM for it to work! Using it to downshift, one has to be off the throttle and at higher revs, so it winds up being useful for engine braking. Just watch your six; as cagers aren't used to engine braking.
    #10
  11. goin2alaska

    goin2alaska Been here awhile

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    san diego ca
    Just finished up my hepco Becker crash bars, led lights, and forward foot pegs, but have a question for you? I live where there are a lot of very curvy roads and own crotch rockets to dirt bikes but this bike has the strangest feel (at least mine) in tight high speed corners, it tends to bind up and get very nose heavy, granted I do ride aggressively but I have never felt this on any of the 100+ bikes I’ve owned in over 40 years. I’m thinking nose heavy or rake. Threw in a pick of the custom rear deck plate I made of 1/4 inch thick alum, I attached my givi to the stock one but it flexed so much I thought it might break.

    Attached Files:

    #11
  12. goin2alaska

    goin2alaska Been here awhile

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    My quick shifter acted funny also until first service was done.
    #12
  13. fastring

    fastring Been here awhile

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    Nice write up, thanks for sharing. A botique market bike but seems a good fit for you! Hope they sell a bunch of them!
    #13
  14. Smaug1

    Smaug1 '19 Kawasaki Versys 1000, '15 SMax

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    I think it is just an evolution of the sport-touring bike.

    20-30 years ago, sport-touring bikes were really coming into their own. Concours, ST1100, etc. Lots of people still love them.

    Nowadays, adventure bikes are all the rage. People like the plush suspension tall seating position and the idea of them being a bit better offroad. Expert offroad riders with long legs can actually do some pretty brutal stuff with them. But the other 95% of us can't or don't. We just enjoy ADVs with their plush suspension on roads. BMW and Suzuki make regular and adventure versions of their big ADV-style bikes. Kawasaki just decided to not make an Adventure version, since most users won't go offroad with them anyway, and they're good enough for gravel roads as-is.

    I consider it to be an offshoot of the sport-touring segment:
    • Classical sport-tourers (ex. FJR, Concours14)
    • ADV bikes (GS Adventure, V-Strom Adventure)
    • Plush sport-tourers (Versys, non-Adventure BMW GS and V-Strom, etc.)
    Classical sport-tourers seem to be dying off altogether with only the FJR holding on. Concours 14 is gone soon. No more Hondas in that market, unless you consider the entry-level Goldwing to be one. Suzuki never really made a serious entry. (Bandit 1250S was more of a UJM and the Hayabusa was more of a GT)
    #14
  15. fastring

    fastring Been here awhile

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    You know what, I agree. Good points, the upright sitting position is the way motos are going and I am greatly enjoying that trend.

    If true, I think the market is missing an upright sport touring bike with shaft drive. Most of the ones out now are chain. First one thats 150hp and shaft could be a real game changer? I dont offroad my super tenere, its the upright riding position, low maintenance and shaft drive for road riding that is the draw for me. Add a 4cyl and 17" front wheel...
    #15
  16. glory racing

    glory racing Been here awhile

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    Yep! I recently went through the search for a new ride and shaft drive was a key box to be checked. After the last 2 bikes being shaft, I really liked not jacking with a chain. Decided to replace the VFR1200 with another VFR1200.
    #16
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  17. Dragon Rider

    Dragon Rider Thought is free--WS

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    there are killer deals on the vfr1200x, has 19' front, but you can get DCT. :)
    #17
  18. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer Supporter

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    Nice review. Keep it going. The 950SM thread I started in 2006 is still going well and has been a great resource for owners and potential owners: free of acrimony and lots of owner contributions.
    #18
  19. Lee R

    Lee R Man in a Box

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    Thanks for the review.

    I have the 650 LT version of the Versys and it’s been pretty good. My only real complaint is the leg room is a bit tight on over 8 hour days. I’ve eyed the 1000 version for the roominess in comparison but I’m hooked on the 650’s weight, handling and it uses 87 octane with a huge range if your under 65mph (@ 250-275 miles, mpg drops to similar with the 1000 at 70+)

    If the new SE handles as good as the 650 I’d probably be very tempted for the extra comfort with the weight trade off. The brakes/suspension are pretty good on the 650 for the price and my last two bikes prior to it were much more expensive (Triumph Tiger 1050 and a MG Stelvio NTX). I just found if I’m honest 1000cc is overkill for me and unusable 95% of the time. (Nice for passing though).

    I’ve got to get a long test ride on the 1000 at some point and see. If it handled the same the extra gadget’s would be pretty nice.
    #19
  20. BigIron

    BigIron Tenured Prof - Leghump U.

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    Crap. Now I want one. :lol3
    #20
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