2012 Kawasaki Versys 1000 First Look

November 8, 2011
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
Cruiser Editor |Articles|Articles RSS|Blog|Blog Posts|Blog RSS

Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

Versys owners who always craved a bit more power out of their trusty steed can rejoice – The 2012 Kawasaki Versys 1000 is here. The gang in Green spooned the potent powerplant from the Z1000 into its big adventure sport

Rumors were confirmed today when Kawasaki officially broke wraps on its 2012 Versys 1000 at the EICMA show in Milan.
Rumors were confirmed today when Kawasaki officially broke wraps on its 2012 Versys 1000 at the EICMA show in Milan. Fans of the Versys will be glad to see a bigger engine, power mode selectors, Kawasaki’s KTRC, and standard ABS on the new Versys 1000.
Fans of the Versys will be glad to see a bigger engine  power mode selectors  Kawasakis KTRC  and standard ABS on the new Versys 1000.

bike, tuning it to deliver more low- and mid-range grunt, and gave the popular platform traction control to keep the Versys’ newfound power under control. With output numbers a tad short of the rear wheel numbers we got off the dyno for the Z1000, the claimed 116.35 hp @ 9000rpm and 75.23 lb-ft @ 7700rpm is still nothing to sneeze at for a sport-minded adventure bike.

If these power numbers ring true then the Versys 1000 will land right behind the Multistrada in the power wars but a good 10-15 horsepower ahead of BMW’s GS and Yamaha’s Super Tenere. The big question will be how the Inline-Four will behave in the rough stuff and how well it will be accepted by consumers.

The 2012 Kawasaki Versys 1000 comes with two Power Mode selections, Full or Low, that allow riders to adjust output based on riding preference and road conditions. Low reduces power output by 25% for a milder throttle response, a boon when roads are slick because if the 1043cc mill has the same character as the Zed’s, it can spool up the rear quickly if riders aren’t careful. Safety features, ABS, Traction Control and selectable drive modes have become standard fare on these big bore Adventure Touring motorcycles so without them, a bike will be trying to make up ground in a market where technology is fast becoming a commodity.

Kawasaki has taken this fact into consideration and equipped the Versys 1000 with Kawasaki’s Three-Mode KTRC, the same traction control system as the ZX-14R. The system on the Versys 1000 reportedly combines elements of Kawasaki’s two traction control systems, the S-KTRC and KTRC. It has three modes: Modes 1 & 2 concentrate on providing maximum acceleration while Mode 3 focuses on riding stability in adverse conditions, responding in the same manner as the KTRC system on the Concours 14. Riders can also opt to turn the system off.

Long-travel suspension, highlighted by a next-generation KYB 43mm inverted fork, will add to the Versys’ off-road capabilities. The fork is adjustable for rebound damping and preload. The horizontal back-link rear shock has a big pre-chamber, the same 5.9 inches of travel as the front and is adjustable for rebound damping via an easily accessible knob.

2012 Kawasaki Versys 1000 Specs
Kawasaki kept passengers on the Versys 1000 in mind by adding extra padding to the pillion and including grab bars to hold on tight with.
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC 4-stroke Inline-four
Displacement: 1043cc
Bore/Stroke: 77 X 56mm
Compression Ratio: 10.3:1
Fueling: EFI 38mm Keihin throttle bodies
Ignition: Digital
Frame: Aluminum twin-tube
Rake/Trail: 27-degrees/4.2 in.
Clutch: Wet multi-disc
Transmission: 6-speed
Final Drive: Chain
Wheel Travel – Front: 5.9 in. Rear: 5.9 in.
Tire – Front: 120/70ZR17
Rear: 180/55ZR17
Suspension – Front: 43mm inverted fork
Rear: Horizonal back-link, gas-charged shock
Brakes – Front: Dual semi-floating 300mm petal discs w/ dual opposed 4-piston calipers
Back: Single 250mm petal disc w/single-piston caliper
Wheelbase: 59.84 in.
Seat Height: 33.27 in.
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal.
Weight (claimed curb wt.): 526.9 lb.

The new Versys 1000 will come standard with ABS. Bringing the 527-pound adventure bike to a halt is dual 300mm petal discs with 4-piston calipers on the front and a 250mm petal disc with a single-piston caliper on the rear, pretty much the same units from the Z1000. Its lightweight, 17-inch six-spoke wheels are wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires. As we have seen with the Multistrada, the 17-inch wheels are not optimal for off-road but they still get the job done. But the numbers that are most interesting here is the claimed wet weight. At 527-pounds the Versys would be lighter than any of the bikes in our 2011 Adventure Touring Shootout.

The 2012 Versys 1000 has a slim seat thanks to a narrow aluminum twin-tube frame. The narrowness of the bike should allow riders to get a good grip with the knees behind the flared side fairings. To make long days in the saddle bearable, the Versys 1000 has an adjustable windscreen which raises and lowers via two knobs on the front of the screen. Its rigid-mounted handlebars have been set wide so a rider’s elbows are slightly bent as they sit in a relaxed, upright riding position, according to Kawasaki PR.

The new Kawasaki adventurer has a healthy 5.5 gallon tank. Between the tall windscreen, a healthy-sized front cowling and flared side fairings, riders should be fairly well shielded from fatigue-inducing wind buffeting. The seat is said to have twice the padding of the Z1000’s while a little extra padding extends to the pillion seat. Kawasaki equipped the new Versys with grab bars so passengers can hold on tight when riders crack the throttle on the potent Inline-Four.

The Versys 1000’s console includes an analog tachometer and LCD with speedometer, a fuel gauge, odometer, clock, dual trip meters, current and average fuel consumption, remaining range, and an external air temperature readout. Kawasaki has a list of accessories to make it more suitable to serious adventure riding like lockable 35-liter Monokey panniers, a 47-liter top case, hand guards, heated grips, and an Akropovic exhaust system. Available in white and metallic grey.