You can't blame people for asking what the Kawasaki Versys 650 is all about. At first glance – or even the second or third – it doesn't announce its identity in the same way plastic-clad sportsbikes or chrome-adorned cruiser do. To get to the root of this 650cc Twin's true being, you have to ride it, and then its purpose hits you like some sort of revelation.
Looking like a crossbreed between and adventurer, a sportsbike and something undefined, the Kawasaki Versys 650 isn't going to win any beauty contests, but this mutt is just as lovable and loyal as man's best friend. Stuffed into its steel-framed chassis is the same liquid-cooled, 649cc parallel-Twin that powers the Kawasaki Ninja 650, and it pumps out damn near the same torque as the inline-Four in its cousin, the ZX-6R. Thanks to short overall gearing, the engine lets the Kawasaki Versys 650 jump out of the hole like it means business, with no need to crank up the rev counter in the process. That's why it's hard not to like this mid-sized Parallel-Twin: It offers good performance and hitch-free fuel mapping while delivering good fuel economics even for thouse with nervous throttle wrists.
Complementing the engine is a well-matched chassis. Long-travel, preload- and rebound-damping adjustable suspension yields a plush ride that soaks up rough urban-road imperfections easily. It does, however, place the rider's butt 845mm off the ground for a commanding view but a bit of a reach to the tarmac for most Thai riders. Handling is sporty, with a wide handlebar and upright seating that provide lots of leverage, allowing the rider to pitch the Kawasaki Versys 650 around like a big supermoto bike. Th twin 300mm, two-piston front brakes have good feel and power when you want to slow down. The ABS gives extra confident to new and novice riders.
Which brings us back to that eye-opening moment: Once you throw a leg over the Kawasaki Versys 650 and experience its combination of performance and practicality, it makes perfect sense – even though visually, it does very little to sell itself. Of course being the cheapest capable motorcycle in its class in Thailand also helps the sales numbers...