Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer | Long termer review

Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer 2022 review

Lovingly named Verity, Alex has been riding the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer for the best part of 2022. So here’s some spec, model history, comparisons, and the first impressions & long term review of the 2022 Versys 1000 SE.

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. 

For long term update Pt 2 scroll a little down the page.

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!?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE (2022) video review

Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer (2022) Review


Part 2 Update: What's great & what's not on the 2022 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE

It’s been a few months with the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer, and Verity continues faultlessly powering on. If I was already falling a bit in love… I’d safely say I adore Verity now. 

I’m about to tick over 4000 miles, having picked up the Versys in mid-March of this year. In those miles, I’ve been all around Norfolk & Suffolk, the Midlands, London (& beyond to Brighton), and Wales. I’ve also been riding around with a pillion, so can speak a bit more on the comfort from a ‘two-up’ perspective.

Whilst the specs and features are above, this update will be more of an update piece on what I’ve been up to, with a few good points & nit-picks. 

What I’ve been up to on the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer

When I first picked up Verity, she was begrudgingly forced into quite a hefty chunk of motorway/dual carriageway riding on the M25, M11, and A12… just a lot of boring riding in all honesty. A Versys is certainly a famously comfortable place to spend time, though I felt guilty forcing Verity into hundreds of motorway miles to get the wheels turning. Saying that, there is the argument of breaking in a new engine with low-rev riding over going hell for leather from the off. 

Fast forward a few months, and I’ve ridden practically everywhere on this. As a daily runner, backroad explorer, runs to the shop. Plus longer rides, enjoying blasts all around the Norfolk, Suffolk & Essex area, fully-loaded trips to Brands Hatch for the California Superbike School, Brighton, over to the midlands, and even further out to Wales for the Yamaha Off-Road Experience

I’ll go ahead and use the pun: I’m genuinely blown away by the ‘versatility’ on offer here. Whether it’s a long stint in the 840mm saddle tucked behind the adjustable screen (a little lean forward results in no wind noise), or flicked into sports mode to tear up the countryside, the Versys does it all with aplomb.

All bikes, realistically, are ‘do-it-all’. But the Versys is a machine that’ll happily do the touring miles, and is just as eager for a bit of B-road scratching. Others may say a Versys is boring - I’d say they’re not riding it properly.

Pillion & touring

I’ve done a hundred or so miles with a pillion, also, and to sum it up from their point of view: it was exceptionally comfortable. Knees are in a comfortable place, the seat itself is soft and well shaped for comfort. Factor in the top box with backrest and grab rails, your pillion is a guaranteed happy camper - though it’s a tall climb to get on the perch.

Riding two-up, or with the top box & panniers filled to the 103-litre brim, is nigh on effortless. Naturally, there will be a slightly negative influence on handling; stopping distances are longer, low-speed manoeuvres taken with extra care etc. But flick the electronic skyhook suspension into the right mode and it’s fascinating how composed & balanced it all feels when pushing on. You can adjust the preload settings on the fly with a closed throttle, or when stopped to dial it in precisely through the TFT menu.

An ace up the sleeve here is the ultra-smooth throttle with electronic throttle valves & assist & slipper clutch, resulting in next to no ‘snatchiness’ when opening from a closed throttle - minimising head-banging situations with your passenger.

Cruise control does the job well, and though it can wander within a 1/2 mph of the selected speed, it is easy to use - the cruise buttons on the switchgear an quick reach for your left thumb. Perhaps a radar-activated cruise would elevate this - but it’s not vital and may bump up the £17,269 price (for Grand Tourer spec, cheaper variants available), perhaps best reserved for the H2 SX SE.

She’s a big, tall bike. As a taller rider (about 6’3”) I’ve yet to get any noticeable leg-ache whilst riding, though a caveat: particularly close-quarters filtering is for the brave.

What I've enjoyed in 4000 miles

In all honesty, I have no serious faults to note whatsoever. Engine is running smoothly and better than ever, craving that B-road blast that I’ll always be keen to take. The paintwork and plastics are all still looking mint, and there have been no electrical niggles whatsoever.

I’ve found the ‘Kawasaki Cornering Management Function’ with cornering ABS really smart, you occasionally feel it working (in ‘Road’ mode particularly), and helps rather than hinders. 

I'll also add that when riding at night, the combination of LED lights, cornering lights, and fog lights provide a seriously good amount of forward vision.

When looking at the list of accessories on offer, the Grand Tourer spec has covered all bases. Frame sliders, touring fog lights, cruise control & heated grips. You could go for the Akrapovic slip-on, but I’d be wary of eating into the 200-220 mile range (if it would at all). Plus she sounds lovely as is, and it’s not a terrible looking stock exhaust.

In my mind, the 1043cc inline-4 motor puts down the 118 bhp power & 115 Nm torque perfectly. Whether cutting about twisties and trying to get the lean past 40º or smoothly riding along at 70-80mph at around 4200 revs. 

Even if filling up is currently expensive in the UK for a 21-litre tank - you guarantee a minimum of 180 miles when packed for a tour - at least before you start laying the fuel light bingo game. 

I could wax lyrical all day about the good points on the Versys, but how about we look at some of the nit-picks - that’s what you want after all, isn’t it.

Nit-picks

Now I’ll warn you, some of these are really ‘nit-picky’ and have next to no bearing on my overall opinion of the bike… but nevertheless. 

Continuing from above, if playing ‘fuel light bingo’ the remaining estimated range will disappear when it gets below ~20 miles - so you’re playing on ‘squeaky-bum-time’ hard mode. On that, I’m still not loving the vague range figure ‘~150+ miles’ on a full tank until you get about 50 miles in. Get rid of the ‘+’ and just give me a full estimated 200-mile range number to look at, please.

I still haven’t even thought about making use of the GPS bracket that you get with the Grand Tourer package. Personal preference maybe, but it just makes me think - why not upgrade the TFT screen to include Android Auto/Apple CarPlay functionality, or failing that, give a full GPS option instead of the mounting bracket?

Though weirdly not a standard feature on touring motorcycles, the buttons aren't backlit. You quickly learn the basic button layout… but it's a luxury for night time riding.

The quick shifter is tuned perfectly when riding at speed, but at lower speeds, it can induce a judder when flicking down/up. I just use the clutch clicking through gears 3/2/1 - yes, woe is me. Whilst at speed, the screen does really well but can’t be moved easily. Two twisty bits on the left and right secure it, so you have to stop to adjust. I just leave it at the top level. 

Mirrors are exceptional for viewing behind - but to adjust them they’re a serious pain, with nuts that chew up way too easily and don’t seem to stay secure. Perhaps not a uniquely Kawasaki fault, but just an annoyance.

No USB charging ports, just the 12V socket at the front. And whilst we’re there, the fog-light switch is awkwardly placed, tucked a left-hand reach away behind the right side of the bar.

You can fit a lot of luggage in the top box & panniers, though the top box suggests a 5kg weight limit, and tells you to not exceed 80mph ‘cause you’re at risk of binning it’. Is it me, or is 5kg luggage on the rear a bit low for a 257kg bike? Keyless/remotely operated luggage would be nice, too.

The valve stems are an absolute pain in the arse to get to when checking/filling the tyres. I did say some of these were real small nit-picks. Oh, and giving her a good wash takes ages, there are so many nooks and crannies!

Any accessories needed?

None at all. If going for the Grand Tourer spec I genuinely can’t think of any vital additions. Maybe a clip-on screen raiser, or some tank pads to prevent any scuffs. 

What’s next?

Simply enough, I’m going to just keep on enjoying the ride with Verity. More journeys are planned, and without a doubt will be thoroughly enjoyed. The Kawasaki Versys is just such a comfortable place to be, with that touch of sporting pedigree that likens it to its Ninja relatives.

Conclusions on the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE so far

Slight nit-picks do little to take away from what is a phenomenal bike, securing the Versys in my mind as a serious option, particularly for taller riders. If you’re limited to one bike for your stable and after something that happily ticks most requirements, I can thoroughly recommend a test ride.

At first glance the Versys may be entirely disparate to the rest of the Kawasaki lineup; being one of the heavier, taller, and (subjectively) less pretty than the others - but it’s all stirred together into a perfect concoction. An all-day tourer with sporting prowess from the Ninja family, it has been around for so long it’s bordering on the classic appeal from the heritage range.

It's a top spec model at a touch over £17,000 with all the bells and whistles, which at first thought it may seem a hefty price tag. But I reckon it does enough to consider itself a heavyweight in a world where motorcycles are all getting more expensive.

Got any questions? Want to know more? Get at us on social media. More specs and stats are on the Kawasaki website.