Changing of the Guard (Kawasaki Versys for BMW Rockster)

Well, it's happened again...

I sold my BMW Rockster and picked up something new; a 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS LT.
img_20161003_115917 I met with the guy at a friend's local motorcycle repair shop (Streetscenes Moto Garage) and got come help loading it into the back of his pickup truck.

Wait, didn't you just get it?

For those of you keeping track, I picked up this BMW a couple of years ago at a shop in Seattle with 3,000 miles on it. I am selling it with just under 26,000 miles. I won't go back over all that, you can see my posts here, Google+ and Instagram if you wish.

So what's the deal?

Life's too short to only ride one bike and at this point, I am riding each mount for two years, selling, then buying a new one. Nothing wrong with any of them per se, just feel as though I know the bike really well and wish to experience something new. It's not a rule, just how it's work out mostly....though I still have the Bonneville but I just don't ride it a lot so maybe it's more of a mileage thing than time.


One of the main things I wanted was pillion comfort, but I also wanted something that worked well for just me and my riding style, which is sport/speed touring. Love to carve corners, but love to ride seven hours or so for two days to two weeks.

I narrowed this down quickly to the Kawasaki Versys 650 and Suzuki V-Strom 650 (Wee). Assuming the used market was only going to afford me a few year old Versys (2011-2014), I was leaning toward the Suzuki because of how smooth everyone says that it is.....but then I saw it. Looking in I found a 2015 Versys ABS LT with 3150 miles on it which has hard bags and handguards for only a little more than 2013-14 examples. Upgrade me baby. Clearly in on trade, this dealer didn't just jack up the price and probably just kept whatever their normal markup. Thanks Taylor Motorsports in Woodburn, Oregon for the fair deal.

Went down and gave it a test ride with Sexy wife on the back and the deal was sealed. I rode it to Beaverton via a few nice country roads and met up with my brother who has a 2014 version (his bike is on the right there behind me). I then rode home the next day via a standard scenic twisty route back home to Tacoma.

It was raining when I left her house and up through most of my Oregon leg, but I gotta say this bike give me far more confidence than my Rockster or Bonneville. I wasn't leaning super deep, but I wasn't poodling around either.

Quick Impressions

I'll do a full review at some point, but just some first impressions. This bike is a hoot and is just really really bad....that is, it encourages bad behavior. You want to gun it at ever chance you get. The riding position is substantially different feeling from my BMW Rockster but as I played with different seating positions (you can move around a little) and playing with the bar and lever angles I found something that is probably perfect for all day riding. It feels more upright but would be the position that I tried to settle into to relax when riding long hours.

Wind protection is stunningly good and suspension seemed really good as well (need to get it setup for me of course).

It LOVEs to be ridden at 6-8K and makes a pretty good sound coming out of corners, winding it up and letting it spin down against for the next corner entry. I've heard others complain about shifting too much and I wonder if they are trying to keep the RPMs down so they end up shifting it a lot. It's a long legged sport bike....let it scream....seems super happy, snappy and responsive (total sweet spot).

I'll know more about it's dynamic ride qualities as I get to know it but I can say that there is something of a looseness or slippage in the rear wheel when leaned over. It could be the road surface as fall has begun in earnest with rain/wet roads so maybe it's something to do with that. It might also be the fact that the rear tire is a little squared off. More on this later once I get the chance and better road conditions.

As I was thinking about how this bike just seems to be this perfect package (yes, everyone says the same thing....koolaid please)...I ran across this quote which I think sums this bike up perfectly. This is from Spencer Robert (Motor Cyclist on a long term review)

As expected, I have no shortage of wonderful things to say about the Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It continues to make me laugh, smile, and question the seemingly loveless nature of all of my previous motorcycle relationships.

This is exactly how I feel having only ridden it a day and half...cannot wait to see how much better it gets!


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