2022 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer review | Long Termer Part 2

Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE review

Here’s what Alex has been up to on his Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer long-termer 'Verity' so far this year - including what's great & what's not!

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

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.

If you want to catch up, have a read of the first long-termer update where I cover the specs and features, this 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 does the job - the cruise buttons on the switchgear an easy 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.

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