Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer | Long termer Part 1 - Introducing Verity!

Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer 2022 review

Back from her first service, Verity and Alex are off to a great start together. Here’s some spec, model history, comparisons, and the first impressions of the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer.

Details
Manufacturer:
Category:
Tourers
Price:
£ 16799
Overall
Not rated

When I was dreaming up which bike to request as a long-termer for 2022, my eyes were lit up by an abundance of options - but what was I after, and how did I end up on the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer?

Ultimately, I was after a bike that I could comfortably sit on for long rides to events, launches and airport runs - at 6’4”ish, that’s often a tall order - plus happy to sit at max capacity with luggage, riding gear, camera gear etc. So a top box & panniers were a must.

And really I just wanted something with a bit of character, something that you can still head off into the countryside and have a laugh on - which, really, is everything with two wheels. But you get the picture.

The blossoming large-capacity touring market was calling my name, then. 

Versys 1000 Grand Tourer 2022

It’s a segment that I’ve had a good amount of time enjoying recently, attending the launches of the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT & Honda NT1100 in particular.

Toad was lucky enough to sample the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT, and completing the Japanese theme for Visordown: the new 2022 Kawasaki Versys 1000 range takes the stage. 

Though bear in mind that Kawasaki has a number of tourers on the market - with the Ninja 1000 SX & H2 SX SE both granted renditions for 2022 sports tourers. The Versys falls under the ‘adventure touring’ dual-sport class, and pitched as an 'all-roads' machine  - except certainly not off-road anywhere. That can be saved for a (fingers crossed) Kawasaki adventure bike!?

Prefer the Versys 1000 in green

As a brief model history, the Versys has been around since launching 10 years ago, back in 2012, and was at the time powered by the Z1000 1043cc four-cylinder motor. For those after a more middle-weight A2-compliant ride, you’ll find a new Versys 650 on the market too. 

If you wondered where the name ‘Versys’ comes from - it’s a portmanteau of ‘Versatile’ & ‘System’!

I’ll stick with Verity.

Kawasaki Versys 1000 price & availability

For 2022, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 range comes in a few variations. On the certificate, Verity is officially known as a ‘Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer’ and priced up at a cool £16,799. For that you get a top electronics setup (the SE bit) and all of the touring accessories, which include the Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension, 6-axis IMU, quickshifter, sat-nav mount, clean-mount panniers (56L total) + 47L top box, and a few other bits (cornering lights, frame sliders, fog lights etc). But the cherry on top, heated grips!

The Versys 1000 is introduced as a base-model machine, with a starting price of £10,499 (and the Versys 1000 S starting at £13,199) though doesn’t benefit from top KECS (electronic suspension). For comparison, the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT is £12,300, the Honda NT1100 is £12,399, and the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT is £11,599.

Where the luxury Verity is up there in the premium bracket, the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX Performance Tourer model is a more comparative £13,549 to the above.

The Versys 1000 is available in either Emerald Blazed Green or Metallic Graphite Grey (as in my photos), and this newest Versys model is already in Kawasaki dealers across the UK, ready for a test ride if you fancy.

 

More about the engine...

Now going into this, I thought Verity would basically be a ZX-10R on stilts, and whilst that’s kind of the case, the inline-4 motor is actually a tad different. The Versys (and 2022 Ninja 1000 SX tourer) has a 1043cc motor with a slightly larger capacity thanks to a bore & stroke of 77 x 56 mm, with 10.3:1 compression ratio (on the Versys), against the ZX-10R sportier 998cc, from a 76 x 55 mm bore & stroke and 13:1 compression ratio.

This gives Verity 118 bhp & 102 Nm (75.2 lb-ft) of torque to play with, whilst the ZX-10R sits with 200 bhp & 115 Nm (84.7 lb-ft) of torque. Astonishingly different, with or without stilts, but the Versys is still surprisingly rapid off the line for a 257kg beast.

As a tourer machine, you'll often prioritise ease of use over performance. Verity’s power is super smooth and really easy to work with, the electronic throttle valves result in one of the best feeling throttles I’ve had the pleasure of using. No judders at low speed when opening the throttle, and the assist & slipper clutch and cornering electronics helped out too.

In a few words, everything is consistently smooth & composed.

You have three modes to select from, too. Road mode is great for day-to-day rides & slogs on the motorway, and Sport mode is great for when you want to let Verity’s hair down, where the engine map is at your full disposal and KTRC traction control goes down by 1 to allow for sportier riding with less intervention. Rain mode is… good for rain, though I tended to just stay in Road mode and keep it steady, the standard-issue Bridgestone Battlax hoops are superbly grippy.

First service

After practically 600 miles of, unfortunately, motorway miles (Verity is now very familiar with the M25 and M11) I was recalled to Kawasaki for a first service. Naturally, there were no problems - and over those 600 miles, it didn’t miss a beat. 

Surprisingly I've only had one chance to ride two-up on this, and my pillion came off (as in, hopped off!) with no complaints at all, noting a comfortable rear seat and good rear pegs, the top box with backrest was a big plus point.

Next service is due after around 7500 miles, and I’m just over 1000 as of writing. Now, where I spent much of the first 1000 comfortably upright and tucked away behind the adjustable screen, next I’ll be trying to spend a bit more time in the countryside, getting that lean angle past an indicated 40º!

That’s currently the max lean the 6-axis IMU tells me I’ve got to, a fun little reference to keep as one of two displayed options (along with ODO, fuel consumption, battery voltage etc).

MPG and economy

With the 21 litre tank, I’ve been getting around 210 miles from about 18/19 litres. That’s in the realms of the supposed top 240-mile range if you take it steady everywhere, riding along with the ‘eco’ light for the full 21 litres, but that would be no fun would it! The onboard computer tells me I average around 50 MPG average, but that is a good chunk of motorway chugs.

versys 1000 dash

I’m not a huge fan of the way Verity tells you your range, though. You fill up and get something like ‘150 miles +’ indicated as the range. Sink around 60 miles and the ‘+’ goes away, and you start depleting the fuel bar. 

In fairness, this does then give you an accurate range depending on your riding style - if you’re razzing about everywhere with low revs and high gears it’ll auto-update with its new lower prediction. A bit like deal or no deal, but Noel Edmonds is nowhere to be seen, and the numbers are guaranteed to go lower the longer you play. 

I’d prefer the ‘+’ element is ditched for a total full estimate per tank - or, just get used to filling up and not bothering to look at the range for the first 100 miles!

More on the economy and MPG stuff as I continue on riding, but it's a decent 200 miles per tank put it that way.

Quick rundown on other key bits I’ve found already.

  • Electrics suite is swish, but the user interface feels a bit lacking for the price, particularly when looking at the Apple Carplay-enabled NT1100 & Africa Twin. There’s a dedicated sat nav mount here, and though I don’t use a proper sat-nav (just occasionally a Beeline) there’s a universal 12V socket to the left to keep things charged - but there’s no USB socket? Backlit buttons would be nice too, but even the Africa Twin even falls short there. 
  • Outrageously comfortable, genuinely no leg ache at all in over 1000 miles, and a slight duck below the screen and there’s next to no wind noise. Heated grips (on one of three levels) and you’re away for hours at a time, happy as Larry.
  • It’s certainly a tourer. The clean-mount panniers and top box can fit a decent amount in, easily enough for a weekend bag, but a stubborn top box caused a few mounting issues at first (just needed a good simultaneous push from the inside & outside). To me, the panniers are an odd shape with a sideways-V formed in the back end, and they’re not quite big enough for a lid. The Givi luggage found inside is nice, mind. 
  • It’s a big ol’ bike; long, tall, weighty - 840mm seat with a 1520mm wheelbase, 17-inch wheels front & rear, and 257 kg weight. Low-speed handling is surprisingly good in part thanks to the electronic throttle, and you’re able to filter nicely through standstill M25 traffic (though that’s not really the best of fun on a big bike with panniers). One point on that, it can feel a bit top-heavy when moving it around by hand.

Fits a lid & boots (if you want)

Going forward...

Plans with it? Just more riding, simply put. I’ll keep away from motorways as much as possible, though...

Accessories and mods are to be considered as well - really, it has it all already, but let’s see what we can do. Any suggestions? Get at us on social media, our inbox is open!

But that’ll do for part 1 of the long-termer report. So far, Verity is ticking all of the boxes.

Colchester Kawasaki

Head over to the Visordown socials and see what I get up to with it, Verity features in basically everything I do.

Thanks to Kawasaki, and keep an eye out for updates from Alex & Verity this year.