Kawasaki’s middleweight Versys 650 has always been a difficult bike to categorise.
It was launched in 2007 as a replacement to the old KLE500, a “dual-sport” model which had “light off-road” capability and had been on the market for 15 years.
So where do we position the current Versys?
Kawasaki lists it under its Adventure Tourer section alongside its 1,000cc big brother.
The version I am testing here – the Grand Tourer – is clearly more geared towards longer-distance road riding than taking on to the dirt, with twin removable panniers, top-box and fog lights.
It’s a striking looking bike, with a more aggressive appearance than previous models thanks primarily to the twin headlights and sporty front-end design.
The classic Kawa green with black is very smart and it’s also available in white/black and grey/black.
And, unlike many other bikes, it still looks good with all three boxes fitted.
Despite the more sporty looks, on board, the ride position is very comfortable, relaxed and roomy, with wide, up-swept bars and a well-padded seat.
It also feels nice and narrow at the knees and ankles, which always inspires confidence.
The dash seems somewhat outdated by today’s standards, with an analogue tacho at the top and LCD screen below, although it’s easy to read and includes a gear indicator.
The screen is adjustable for height without tools and has a range of 60mm.
Start it up and you can immediately tell it’s a twin with a seat sound emanating from that stubby, under-engine muffler.
It’s a clever design which keeps weight low – in both senses – as well as deflecting heat downwards and away from the rider.
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Maximum power of 65bhp might not sound like the Versys is going to kick your socks off and that’s true, but it’s a lovely engine, closely related to the Z650, with plenty of thrust and low and mid-range torque.
The chassis, suspension, 17in wheels and relatively light weight (217kg) combine to provide precise, predictable handling through the twisty bits.
Braking via front 300mm twin petal discs and a rear 250mm is nicely progressive and plenty powerful enough.
So what is the Versys? It’s an excellent, middleweight allrounder, a sporty looking road bike with hints of adventure styling and genuine touring capability.
What’s not to like?
*Relative to the standard Versys (£7,549), the Grand Tourer comes with an impressive array of extra features for the added £1,650.
These include two 28L panniers, a 47L top-box, fog lights, hand guards, a tank pad, a DC socket and a bracket for a GPS system.
Furygan K-Ghost Kevlar jeans
The superb jeans I am wearing here are from the new K-Ghost denim range by Furygan.
Theses feature the latest Kevlar incorporated within the material to provide top-level protection in a single layer against abrasion, heat and cuts.
The Kevlar fibres are woven within the material so that it’s integrated across the whole of the outer of the jean, not just in certain areas as with some other products.
French manufacturer Furygan has incorporated the latest D30 Ghost armour in these jeans in the knees and hips.
If you are not familiar with this, let me tell you it is excellent – it is super thin, super flexible and has great breathability, yet still exceeds CE Level 1 certification.
You can genuinely hardly tell it’s there at all when wearing these trousers.
A number of people who saw me in them said “they look just like normal jeans”.
The K-Ghost have plenty of strong belt loops, five pockets, two buttons at the waist for a perfect fit and are slightly stretchy for a really comfortable feel on and off the bike.
The K11 X Kevlar, for men, and Kate X Kevlar, for women, jeans come in the usual range of sizes and retail at £169.99.