When I dreamed up what bike to ask for as a long term for 2022, my eyes were lit up by an abundance of options – but what was I looking for and how did I end up on the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer?
Ultimately I was looking for a bike I could sit on comfortably for long rides to events, launches and airport runs – at 6’4″ that’s often a tall order – and happy to sit at max capacity with luggage, riding gear, camera gear etc. So a top box and panniers were a must.
And really, I just wanted something with a bit of character, something that you can still head out into the countryside and laugh on – which, really, is anything with two wheels. But you see what I mean.
The booming high-capacity tourism market was calling me then.
It’s a segment that I’ve enjoyed a lot lately, notably attending the launches of the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT and Honda NT1100.
Toad had the chance to sample the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT and complete the Japanese theme for Visordown: the new 2022 Kawasaki Versys 1000 lineup enters the scene.
However, keep in mind that Kawasaki has a number of tourers on the market – with the Ninja 1000 SX and H2 SX SE both tuned to 2022 sport tourers. The Versys falls into the dual-sport category” adventure tourism”, except that I wouldn’t want to take this off-roader just anywhere.
To sum up the history of the model, the Versys has been around since its launch 10 years ago in 2012 and was powered by the Z1000 1043cc four-cylinder engine back then. For those looking for a more average A2-compliant ride, you’ll also find a new Versys 650 on the market.
If you’re wondering where the name ‘Versys’ comes from – it’s a portmanteau of ‘Versatile’ & ‘System’!
I will stay with Verity.
Kawasaki Versys 1000 Price and Availability
For 2022, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 range is available in a few variations. On the certificate, Verity is officially known as the “Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer” and is priced at £16,799. For that, you get a state-of-the-art electronics setup (the SE bit) and all the touring accessories, which include Kawasaki electronically controlled suspension, 6-axis IMU, quickshifter, sat nav mount, saddlebags self-assembly (56L total) + 47L top box and a few other items (cornering lights, frame sliders, fog lights, etc.). But icing on the cake, the heated grips!
The Versys 1000 S is billed as a base-model machine, with a starting price of £13,199 – but doesn’t benefit from KECS (electronic suspension). For comparison, the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT costs £12,300, the Honda NT1100 costs £12,399 and the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT costs £11,599. The Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX Performance Tourer model is a more comparatively priced £13,549.
The Versys 1000 is available in Emerald Blazed Green or Metallic Graphite Gray (as seen in my photos), and this new Versys model is already at Kawasaki dealers across the UK, ready for a test drive if you wish.
Learn more about the engine…
Now, going there, I thought Verity would basically be a ZX-10R on stilts, and while that’s kind of the case, the inline-4 engine is actually a little different. The Versys (and the 2022 Ninja 1000 SX tourer) has a 1043cc engine with slightly more capacity thanks to a 77 x 56mm bore and stroke, with a compression ratio of 10.3:1 (on the Versys ), against the sportier 998 cc ZX-10R, from a bore and stroke of 76 x 55 mm and a compression ratio of 13:1.
That gives Verity 118 hp and 102 Nm (75.2 lb-ft) of torque, while the ZX-10R sits with 200 hp and 115 Nm (84.7 lb-ft) of torque. Surprisingly different, with or without stilts, but the Versys is still surprisingly fast for a 257 kg beast.
As a touring machine, you will often prioritize ease of use over performance. Verity’s power is super smooth and really easy to use, the electronic throttles give one of the best throttles I’ve had the pleasure of using. No low-speed jerks when opening the throttle, and the slip-assist clutch and cornering electronics helped too.
In a few words, everything is always fluid and composed.
There are also three modes to choose from. Road mode is ideal for daily commutes and highway slogs, and Sport mode is ideal for when you want to let Verity’s hair down, where the engine map is at your beck and call and KTRC traction control is going downhill. from 1 to allow sportier driving with fewer interventions. Rain mode is… good for rain, although I tended to stay in road mode and hold it steady, the standard Bridgestone Battlax hoops are superbly grippy.
After nearly 600 miles, unfortunately on the highway (Verity is very familiar with the M25 and M11 by now), I was called back to Kawasaki for an initial service. Naturally, there were no problems – and over those 600 miles it didn’t miss a beat.
Surprisingly I only had one chance to ride two on it, and my passenger got out without any complaints, comfortable rear seat and good rear footrests, top box with backrest was a big plus .
Next service is expected after around 7500 miles, and I’m just over 1000 at the time of writing. Now where I spent much of the first 1000m comfortably upright and hidden behind the adjustable screen, I’ll then try to spend some more time in the countryside, getting that lean angle beyond the 40º indicated!
This is currently the max tilt the 6 axis IMU tells me I have, a fun little reference to keep as one of the two options displayed (along with ODO, fuel consumption, battery voltage , etc).
MPG and Economy
With the 21 liter tank I got about 210 miles from about 18/19 liters. It’s in the realms of the supposed upper 240 mile range if you take it everywhere, riding with the ‘eco’ light on for the full 21 litres, but that wouldn’t be fun! The on-board computer tells me I’m averaging around 50 MPG on average, but that’s a good stretch of the highway.
I’m not a big fan of how Verity tells you your range, though. You fill up and get something like ‘150+ miles’ listed as the range. Sink about 60 miles and the “+” disappears, and you start to deplete the fuel bar.
In fairness, this then gives you an accurate range depending on your riding style – if you’re wandering around with low revs and high speeds, it will automatically update with its new lower prediction. Kind of like deal or no deal, but Noel Edmonds is nowhere to be found, and the numbers are guaranteed to drop the longer you play.
I’d rather the ‘+’ element be dropped for a full total per tank estimate – or, just get used to filling up and not bothering to look at range for the first 100 miles!
More on the economy and the MPG stuff as I keep rolling, but that’s a good 200 miles per tank put that way.
Quick overview on other key elements that I have already found.
- The electric suite is sleek, but the user interface feels a bit lacking for the price, especially when looking at the Apple Carplay-compatible NT1100 and Africa Twin. There’s dedicated sat nav support here, and although I don’t use a proper sat nav (just the occasional Beeline), there’s a universal 12V socket on the left to keep things charged – but there is no USB port? Backlit buttons would be nice too, but even the Africa Twin doesn’t even achieve that.
- Outrageously comfortable, really no leg pain at all for over 1000 miles, and a slight duck under the screen and there’s almost no wind noise. Heated grips (on one of three levels) and you’re away for hours, happy as Larry.
- It’s definitely a tourer. The panniers and clean fitting top case can hold a decent amount, easily enough for a weekender, but a stubborn top case caused some early fitting issues (just need a good simultaneous push of inside and outside). To me, the saddlebags are a weird shape with a side V formed on the back, and they aren’t big enough for a lid. The Givi luggage found inside is nice, be careful.
- It’s a big bike; long, tall, heavy – 840mm seat with 1520mm wheelbase, 17 inch wheels front and rear and 257kg weight. Low-speed handling is surprisingly good thanks in part to the electronic throttle, and you can filter through M25 traffic well when stationary (although that’s not exactly the best fun on a fat bike with panniers). One point about it, it can feel a bit heavy when you move it by hand.
Plans with? Just more driving, period. I will avoid the highways as much as possible…
Attachments and mods are also something to consider – really, it already has everything, but let’s see what we can do. No suggestions? Contact us on social media, our inbox is open!
But that will suffice for part 1 of the long-term report. So far, Verity ticks all the boxes.
Head over to Visordown social media and see what I do with it, Verity is in pretty much everything I do.
Thanks Kawasaki and keep an eye out for updates from Alex and Verity this year.