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.
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