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Old 10-15-2014, 10:50 AM   #1
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2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 | FIRST LOOK

Bringing the big Versys to our shores is good news, but Kawasaki didn’t leave its smaller sibling alone for 2015. Along with the major restyling job carried out on the 1000, the 650 gets an entirely new front fairing with side-by-side headlights (not stacked as before) and more generous dimensions to improve weather protection. An adjustable windscreen replaces the old Versys’ fixed piece and promises much better coverage for a wider range of riders. Its height can be adjusted over a 2.4-inch range without tools.

While Kawasaki was altering the front end, it also reshaped the gas tank, giving it another half a gallon, to 5.5, which should make the middleweight run easily past 200 miles on a tank. A reconfigured exhaust system and revised ECU settings boost claimed output from its 650cc parallel twin to 69 hp. The 650 also benefits from vibration-reducing rubber engine mounts, as well as suspension enhancements including a new separate function Showa fork, with a spring in the left tube and damping cartridge in the right, that features increase tube/stanchion overlap for better rigidity. A revised KYB rear shock with a remote preload adjuster brings up the rear, working, as before, without a linkage to the aluminum swingarm. Suspension travel is slightly longer than your typical streetbike’s, at 5.9 inches front, 5.7 inches rear. At 476 pounds (claimed wet weight), the standard Versys 650 is 15 pounds heavier than the 2014 model; about 3 pounds of that is the extra fuel capacity.

For the first time, the Versys 650 gets uprated brakes in the form of new Nissin two-piston, sliding-pin calipers replacing the similar-spec Tokicos. There’s a larger rear disc—the fronts remain 300mm petal-style—new master cylinders, and new pads to improve the Versys’ braking performance. ABS is standard across the board.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT

2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT

A slight ergonomic change places the footpegs 15mm lower and 20mm further forward than before. This year the handlebar is also rubber mounted to reduce transmitted vibration. Beneath the one-piece stepped saddle are new side panels that include mounts for KQR (Kawasaki Quick Release) hard saddlebags, which carry 28 liters apiece. In fact, there will be two versions of the new Versys sold here, the basic 650 and the 650 LT, which includes the color-matched saddlebags and hand guards. Additional options include a 47-liter top case, heated grips, 12-volt outlet, a low gel seat, frame sliders, taller windshield, and a gear-position indicator.

The MSRP has not been set, but we’d expect a mild bump from the outgoing 650’s $7,999 price tag for the base model, and perhaps another $1,000 for the LT. Colors are Candy Lime Green (of course!) and Pearl Stardust White.

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