Sunday, November 28, 2021
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2021 Kawasaki Versys 650L (bike review)

EFFORTLESS fun with a sense of familiarity. The 2021 Kawasaki Versys 650L gives you a feeling akin to being ‘at home’. Proof of that lies in our initial run home on the Old Road. We simply couldn’t wipe the smile of his face.

Yours truly has more than 20 years in the seat and believes this bike is more than enough for most L and P platers, and even some experienced riders. In the right hands, this bike could be more enjoyable than a full sports bike to ride.

It feels like it can do it all, from your daily commute to scratching up the twisty mountain road, or a bit of touring with some dirt roads thrown in for good measure. The power delivery from the 649cc parallel twin engine is smooth too.

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It offers great pick up out of corners, even from 3000rpm. That’s something you’d expect from a larger engine. You can accelerate hard without fear of losing the rear end as well, which allows you to carry good corner speed and just inspires confidence.

We found the Versys 650L to have a light clutch, offering seamless gear changes, with false neutrals. It’s great on the freeway, with enough power to overtake, even in top gear, and we didn’t get blown around like we have on smaller LAMS bikes.

2021 Kawasaki Versys 650
2021 Kawasaki Versys 650L

We did however get a small vibration through the seat at 4500-5000rpm that tickles your bottom. Some might enjoy this, but we found it a little irritating, and being super picky, we found the throttle a little snatchy at times as well.

The 21-litre fuel tank delivers about 400km per tank and we experienced just over 5.0-litres/100km while we had the bike. Some spirited riding would have driven those numbers up.

Ergonomically, it’s a very comfy bike, even on long rides. The 60mm adjustable screen is great too. Yours  great for us too. At 187cm tall, with the screen in the lower position, this rider experienced a little wind buffeting. But adjust the screen up, and the wind is gone.

At 120kg, the standard 41mm inverted telescopic forks with adjustable rebound damping on the right side and adjustable preload on the left side handled very well, even on standard factory settings. Adjusted to suit rider weight, they’d be even better.

The Versys 650L ate up bumps like they weren’t there. It reminded us of the Triumph Tiger 1050SE the way it handled rough roads. It feels stable and well balanced, even at low speeds, and it’s easy to stay straight when pulling up at lights or riding in slow traffic.

2021 Kawasaki Versys 650
2021 Kawasaki Versys 650L

It’s a really well-balanced bike, and it would be interesting to see how it goes loaded up with panniers, a top box and pillion passenger. Some suspension adjustments would definitely need to be made obviously, but we think it would still go well.

Braking comes in the form of dual 300mm semi-floating petal discs with dual 2-piston callipers up front, and a single 250mm petal disc with single piston calliper at rear. ABS is standard all round. It feels strong, has good bite, and solid stopping power.

The dash display is positioned well, and has digital speed with an analogue tacho, as well as gear information, fuel until empty, Eco mode, trip meters and an odometer; all very useful. It could do with self-cancelling blinkers and wider foot pegs.

If we owned this bike, we’d add some hand guards and grip warmers, and we do like the idea of panniers and a top box for what is essentially a learner approved, versatile, adventure bike. We’d also like to see it come with cruise control and a centre stand.

Available in Candy Lime Green with Metallic Spark Black, the 2021 Kawasaki Versys 650L definitely stands out from the crowd. It has a ride away price of $12,055.

Our test bike was provided by Kawasaki Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Kawasaki Versys 650, contact your local Kawasaki dealer.

2021 Kawasaki Versys 650
2021 Kawasaki Versys 650L

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Riding experience
8
Style and comfort
8
Braking and handling
8
Technology and connectivity
8
Overall bike performance
8
Value for money
8.5

SUMMARY

Pros - handling; fun, effortless engine; will make you smile every time you ride it; wheelies.
Cons - throttle is a little scratchy.
Adam Cranstone
Adam Cranstone started his motorbike journey in his teenage years when he brought home his first bike against his parents wishes. It was at that point that he knew motorbikes were in his blood. He has a love for high performance sports bikes, dirt bikes and tourers, but is happy to climb aboard any two-wheeled machine.

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