Kawasaki’s march towards alternative energy continues, with plans for a new hybrid Versys now floating around the Internet.
Why a hybrid? The world of transportation is moving towards electrification, but battery tech still isn’t sufficient to conveniently support long-distance motorcycle travel. The workaround, for now, is a platform that can use both gasoline and electric power.
And of course, Kawasaki has been working on just such tech for a while. The Ninja 7 Hybrid sportbike and Z7 Hybrid naked bike both debuted in fall of 2023, tacking an electric powertrain onto an evolved version of Kawi’s current middleweight series.
That’s what we’d expect with the Versys seen here as well; chances are it would be call the Versys 7 Hybrid. The middleweight Versys is basically the same platform as the 650 Ninja and Z 650, so we’d expect most of the changes to the 7 Hybrid series would also appear here.
The patent drawing above has been floating around the Internet at various websites (we saw it at Motorrad) and appears to have a parallel twin derived from Kawi’s liquid-cooled 450, which currently powers the Eliminator and Ninja 500. As we told you earlier this year, when we gave you the specs on the earlier 7-series hybrids:
Both the Z7 Hybrid and the Ninja 7 Hybrid borrow much from Kawasaki’s small-bore lineup. The chassis borrows heavily from the Z400. They run the same 450 engine that’s in the Eliminator, and the Ninja 500 and Z500 announced earlier today.
There’s also an electric motor with 7 kW output (it’s able to briefly surge to 9 kW) that’s connected to the gas engine’s input shaft. These separate powerplants can work on their own; you can ride under gas power, or under battery power. Or, you can combine them together, to get the rough equivalent of 650-class power out of the 450 when you activate E-Boost mode (on its part, Kawi claims litrebike-like acceleration).
Kawasaki calls these modes Sport-Hybrid, Eco-Hybrid, and EV, and while the battery is always providing a little juice, Sport-Hybrid is where you can active E-Boost, and it’s the most powerful mode, with the gas engine always engaged. Eco-Hybrid has no E-Boost available and uses the electric motor for low-rpm work. The EV mode is self-explanatory; that’s battery power only.
You won’t get far when strictly under battery power, as the 48V battery pack (jammed under the seat) has 1.3 kWh capacity. However, it’s enough to satisfy EU regulators, and that’s where these bikes are probably going to see most usage.
Expect the Versys 7 to appeal to touring riders who want gasoline’s power and ease-of-use between cities, and the capability to go electric in low-emission or no-emission zones. Not a big deal in Canada yet, but it already is a concern in Europe and it will be a problem here eventually as well.