There is a groundswell in the lower end of the motorcycle market. A new market segment is being carved out and formed in the small capacity adventure market. Kawasaki ’s contender, the Versys X300, continues along a now all too familiar pattern. Kawasaki has become a master in parts-bin raiding and coming up with new models. Their latest offering takes the engine from the Ninja 300 and puts it in an adventure styled frame. Switchgear and dash will also look familiar to Ninja riders.
Pushing out 39 horsepower at a whopping 11 500rpm makes the mating of this engine with this style of motorcycle an odd combination. Incidentally this number is not far off the power of the KLR650 which has been around a long time, and around the world a few times.
This bike has the familiar 19/17 inch combination of tyres which does point to the fact that it is biased to road use with the occasional gravel section. The Versys is not a KLR. It is an urban commuter first and foremost but if you do want to venture off the grey stuff, you can. With some limitations, I might add. There are some plastic covers on the side, but most of the underside of the bike is exposed.
Brakes are ABS assisted and they do offer plenty of bite. The baby Versys offers clutch assist and a slipper clutch, and I must say that this must be the lightest clutch I have ever felt on a bike. The engine starts easily and settles into a gentle rumble. The smooth engine, together with the light clutch, makes this an incredibly easy bike to ride, even for inexperienced riders.
The seating position is relaxed and upright, and even for a taller rider like myself, there is plenty of room and no uncomfortable knee bend. The seat, on the other hand, is hard. Too hard. Standing up will give your posterior some respite, but the skinny foot pegs will dig into your feet after a while. The bike is light and narrow which will enhance its commuter roll.
Comprehensive instrumentation covers all the important bits, and the small fairing does a good job of reducing buffeting.
Kawasaki has a long list of accessories to pimp out your X-300 including 17L side cases, crash bars and a centre stand to name but a few. There are two blanks on the dash, one for a power socket and another for the auxiliary lights that can be fitted later.
This end of the market is going to become quite lively and the Versys X300 provides the ideal entry platform to launch new riders into the adventure market and onwards to later purchases. If dirt riding is not your thing, your money won’t be wasted, as this little beauty will serve you very well on tar. – Brian Cheyne