2011 Kawasaki Versys

Long before the age of the government bottomless bailouts back in the mid-Eighties, General Motors saw its sales crash when the buying public got wise to the fact that GM was producing just a handful of different cars but simply rebadging them as Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac in order to price them according to their brand status. Owners of the Cadillac Cimarron who paid more than twice as much as the MSRP of the essentially identical Chevy Cavalier started wondering if they had fallen victim to a game of three card monte.

This lesson from the automotive side should be learned by the Kawasaki Green Team since it seems that they may be falling into the same predicament. The 2011 Kawasaki Versys is a great street fighter, super naked, mid range sports bike that excels at commuting and even some limited short range touring. But then again, so is its 2011 Kawasaki ER-6n stablemate which shares the vast majority of its specifications, and costs about $1,500 less.

The Versys has a 649cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve per cylinder, parallel twin with a bore and stroke of 83.0 mm x 60.0 mm inhaling through a digital fuel injection system featuring two 38mm Keihin throttle bodies and cranking the power through a six speed transmission to a 160/60x17 rear skin while stopping through dual front 300mm petal discs with two-piston calipers and a single 220mm petal disc with single piston caliper in the rear. However, those are the exact specs for the ER-6n, which to its credit has a compression ratio of 11.3:1 versys (ok… versus… couldn't resist the pun) the Versys' lower 10.6:1.

Let's face it, the Versys and the ER-6n are uncomfortably similar truly to the point that you have to ask if the extra grand an a half price premium for the Versys is justified. It's not likely that the dual hourglass headlight and the bit of trellis frame in the rear is worth fifteen hundred bucks! Exactly why Kawi would market these two virtually identical siblings with such a different marketing push is a real head scratcher. When was the last time you saw a motorcycle magazine ad for the ER-6n? Yet you can't flick a few pages without getting assailed by the Versys!

The 2011 Kawasaki Versys is a great bike, but then again so is the ER-6n. Kawasaki threatens to totally confuse its customers and cannibalize its own sales unless it differentiates these bikes a lot more in 2011, or kills one of them off altogether.

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Jason 6 years ago

The Versys and ER6n are more different than you realize.

The versys has different cams and engine mapping that favour more mid range power and torque. It also has longer travel suspension and adjustable suspension components. The versys is vastly superior handling bike compared to both the ninja and ER6n dispite it's longer travel. It also has a larger fuel tank and you had previously mentioned the trellis frame which is capable of holing some pretty heavy duty hard luggage.

It is worth the extra $1500 when you take all this into account.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I respectfully disagree. Too much extra dough. :)

Jason 6 years ago

I just checked prices in Canada - The Versys is around $9000 and the Ninja is around $8700 and the ER6n is about $8300.

For me the price difference is $700. longer travel, inverted forks with adjustable rebound damping and preload in the front and rear suspensions are worth that alone - the Ninja and ER6n use a conventional non-adjustable fork and rear shock with preload adjustment only. The fatter midrange torque, larger tank, and slightly higher fuel economy along with the trellis frame and better ergonomics seals the deal for me.

But, I do respect that your wants, needs, and desires may not jive with mine.

I enjoyed the article, by the way.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

That's because we Canadians are generally brighter than our cousins south of the border: We pay less for Kawasakis and we didn't elect a Commie to run our country! :)

Edwin 6 years ago

I like your article. If you get all those extra features, 700 bucks seems justified but not $1500. If our president was a commie, people could not openly oppose him as they do. All the people who oppose him would be thrown in jail or maybe even killed. Like in such places as Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, and once upon a time: Iraq. If you live in those places, I dare you to openly oppose their leaders. You'll see what happens.

Please don't believe all that negative gossip about him, I'm sure he's doing the best he can. Canada did a stunning job with the Winter Olympics.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Feel free to read and comment on this:


There are links to lots more of my Obama is a Commie Hubs at the end of the article.


Texas 6 years ago

Great review, I was wondering if there is a big difference between these bikes. Obama is a Commie, Marxist, racist, and a socialist dictator muslim. Edwin needs to open his eyes and listen to Fox and the Tea Party, the proof is all there.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

No big diff on the bikes except the extra bucks. Hopefully Edwin and the rest of America will see the light soon.

stewart rowlands 6 years ago

you also forget to mention that the versys has a much more robust alloy one piece swing arm. along with better suspension components and a more useable power band the price difference is more that justifiable. plus even tho it may look weird it does everything amazingly well. its won every mcn group test (i'm from the uk) going. wicked bike

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Ya. Whooohooo. An extra five bucks worth of metal in a swingarm. Big deal. Still overpriced. Next. :)

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    2011 Kawasaki Versys At A Glance

    Base MSRP: $8,999
    Engine Displacement: 649 cc
    Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke Parallel Twin
    Bore & Stroke: 83 x 60 mm
    Ignition Type: Digital
    Compression Ratio: 10.6:1
    Valve Train Type: DOHC, 8 valves
    Transmission Type: 6-speed, return
    Final Drive Type: Sealed Chain
    Front Tire: 120/70-ZR17 M/C (58W)
    Rear Tire: 160/60-ZR17 M/C (69W)
    Wheelbase: 1,415 mm
    Saddle Height: 840 mm
    Curb Dry Weight: 206 kg
    Fuel Capacity (US): 19 litres
    * Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released

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