As part of the powersports industry’s bring-in-new-riders strategy, Kawasaki introduced the Versys 650 in 2008. Technologically, the Versys 650 shares much with the Z650, including its 649cc parallel-twin engine and six-speed transmission, and the general design of its steel trellis frame. It then adds a narrow fairing with a tall windshield, which adjusts through a 2-inch height range without tools, helping riders of different sizes find the best available pocket of quiet air for conditions.
Street-oriented 17-inch wheels and tires, together with the Versys 650’s low-slung exhaust system, don’t pretend to be off-road centric, though the relatively narrow engine design and upright handlebar and seating position do lend themselves to traveling gravel road at least. Beware anything more than this, however, as ground clearance is just 6.7 inches. For ranging farther from home, the Versys 650 LT adds hand guards and color-matched hard side cases that can be locked or removed with the ignition key—simple.
Likes: A joy to handle compared to full-size ADVs
Dislikes: Off-road skills don't match the adventure-bike styling
Verdict: The minimalist's adventure bike