ADV TEST: Kawasaki Versys-X 300 | Bike Reviews | Features
Clubby has ridden Kawasaki's Versys-X 300, the manufacturers newest small-bore adventurer, and reckons it's got what it takes for Aussie adventures.
WORDS // ANDREW CLUBB | PHOTOS // MITCH LEES
It’s a while since I’ve ridden a bike that needed you to shift up through fourth leaving an intersection. And that left you looking for ‘seventh’ gear 50m down the block.
The words of long-time Kawasaki Motors Australia technical guru Murray Sayle were still ringing in my ears as I left headquarters on Kawasaki’s Versys-X 300: “You DO need to rev this bike.” No kidding.
The Versys-X 300 needs to be treated like an 85 – with a flurry of throttle, clutch and gearshift action – when it comes to keeping up with the traffic.
The Versys-X is powered by a 296cc parallel twin cylinder DOHC engine with fuel-injection that runs in Kawasaki’s strong selling Ninja 300 sports bike and Z300 street fighter road models. The six-speed gearbox has relatively short gearing, but with a longer top gear for sustained high speed cruising.
Up front a 41mm telescopic fork handles the chores and delivers just (gulp) 130mm of wheel travel. Out back a bottom-link Uni-Trak shock controls 148mm of travel.
The Versys-X 300 is not a dirt bike, Einstein. Its belly is low and thoroughly unprotected, its suspension travel is limited and the rev-hungry motor demands constant throttle, clutch and gearbox action, so you could never describe it as a loping, mile-munching adventure mount.
What it is, though, is an ADV entree, for entry-level ADV riders who want to have a taste of life on the gravel.
Sydney-based riders who know the popular ADV run from Wisemans Ferry to St Albans and on to Wollombi, then return via the main forest roads through the Watagans, will fast get the gist of the Versys-X 300’s idea of “unpaved” roads. It will handle good gravel roads like that just fine in the dry, albeit with a few caveats: the stock tyres are the limiting factor if it gets at all wet; the short travel gets used up in a hurry when you start slapping pot holes hidden in the shade; and the ABS can get a little too intrusive on the dirt, especially down hills filled with corrugations coming into tight turns. All that said, ADV newbies should get into less trouble on this bike than they will on a taller, heavier and more powerful machine. Once they cut their teeth on a bike like the Versys-X 300, then they can step up to a bigger bike.
SUM IT UP
As an entry-level ADV machine, the Versys-X 300 ticks boxes for riders who will predominantly stick to the tar and make occasional dirt-road forays. It’s cheap to buy, cheap to run and there are stacks of accessories to help you develop it into an even more capable soft-road touring machine. But just remember: don’t hold back on the throttle and rev it like there’s no tomorrow.
Read the full test in ADB issue #458 – on sale now.
KAWASAKI VERSYS-X 300 SPECS
TYPE: Twin cylinder DOHC
BORE & STROKE: 62 x 49mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.6:1
FUEL METERING: 2 x Keihin 32mm EFI
TANK CAPACITY: 17L
CLUTCH: Wet multi-plate, lever assist and Slipper
MAX POWER: 29kW @ 11,000rpm
MAX TORQUE: 26Nm @ 10,000rpm
SEAT HEIGHT: 815mm
GROUND CLEARANCE: 180mm
WEIGHT: 175kg wet
FRONT: 41mm telescopic fork, 130mm travel
REAR: Monoshock with adjustable preload, 148mm travel
FRONT: Twin piston caliper, 290mm wave disc, ABS
REAR: Single-piston caliper, 220mm wave disc, ABS
HANDLEBAR: Steel non-tapered
FRONT TYRE: IRC Trail Winner GP 100/90 x 19
REAR TYRE: IRC Trail Winner GP 130/80 x 17
PRICE & CONTACTS
BLOWER: Contact local Kawasaki dealer
WARRANTY: 24 months, unlimited kilometres