Kawasaki Versys 1000: Street-friendly ADV machine gets upgrades

The Kawasaki Versys 1000 and Versys 1000 SE are getting some significant upgrades for 2019, making them more technologically advanced and, in theory, easier to ride.

On a base level, the machines are much the same as before, with the same 1043 cc inline four motor putting out 120 hp at 9,000 rpm and 75 lb-ft of torque at 7,500 rpm. There’s an aluminum frame, long-travel suspension, and pretty much the same suspension to the outgoing model: 43 mm USD forks, and offset rear shock, with 150 mm of travel.

Add in the 253 kg wet weight (257 kg for the SE model) and 17-inch wheels, and this machine, while no doubt a competent bike on bad roads, is definitely not aimed at off-piste action.

However, there are several key upgrades that should nevertheless make it an even better machine than the previous Versys. The brakes have been upgraded, with radial-mount monobloc calipers, new master cylinder, 310 mm front discs and a refined ABS system.

Although it’s more of a street bike, the Versys 1000 still has many of the options and equipment adventure riders want.

Kawasaki put a ride-by-wire throttle on the new Versys 1000 models, which allows Team Green to include a whole host of electronic aids, including traction control, cruise control, and engine power delivery modes.

Kawasaki also included a load of new touring-friendly bits on the Versys 1000, such as a mechanically-adjustable windshield, newer seat (allegedly more comfortable) and centrestand.

The SE model has some significant upgrades over the standard model, including heated grips, cornering lights, LED headlights, the same self-healing scratch resistant paint that is already on the ZX-10 and H2 models, a selection of four riding modes, an up-down quickshifter, and a smartphone integration system that allows the user to control their entertainment and navigation systems via Bluetooth, thanks to a TFT dash (the standard Versys 1000 has LCD display).

Canadian pricing and availability has not yet been announced, but we’d expect the Versys 1000 and Versys 1000 SE to be here in time for the 2019 riding season, probably between $15,000 and $16,000.

Just the thing for nipping down to a Moroccan fruit market.


  1. I think your MSRP estimate isn’t accurate. Several US magazines are saying the starting price for the SE is $18,000 USD. If that’s the case, we’d be lucky to see it for $20,000 CDN.

    Not sure what Kawasaki was thinking here. One of the key features of the Versys 1000 was comfortable 2-up 3-bag tall sport touring at a relatively affordable price. At $20k with all the bells and whisles, they are now at the price point of the 1290 Super Adventure S or the S1000XR. But both those bikes have at least 35 more HP and weigh at least 40 lbs less. I’m so glad I picked up a 2017 Versys demo with less than 1000 kms on the clock at $1,000s less than MSRP this Spring. The price difference will pay for a lot of touring. I understand the desire for OEMs to try to compete with sexy tech, but it truly is a shame what it is doing to the price of bikes. Who’d a thought that a few servos, a motherboard and some programming would cost so much.

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