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Old 02-19-2013, 04:14 AM   #1
michelsavage OP
Gotta move
Joined: Mar 2012
Oddometer: 53
Ninja 650 vs Versys

In a few days, I'm renting both bikes. In Kawa corporate lingo, they say about the Versys: "Can go anywhere on pavement, any pavement, asphalt, concrete, concrete, asphalt...." Now this sounds silly, doesn't it. Longer suspension travel on the Versys, higher bike than Ninja, more low-end torque... They say: "More versatile"... What does that mean, really. I can pack a Ninja ready to go on a long tour, same as Versys... Mmm... Does that mean the Ninja is restricted only to "certain types of pavement"? I'm not sure I understand the distinction here between the Versys and the Ninja. The latter is far from a supersport bike - almost upright riding position, low seat, easy to drive, low center of gravity. The Ninja would appear more versatile, more agile. I wonder if Kawa did not concoct a sort of "adventure bike" to fight its dual sport competitors. As i just a marketing device... Mmm...

Well, I'm trying both in the twisties of Northern Thailand, and I'll get back to this thread with results. Oh, I loved those twisties with the new Honda CBR 500R...
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Old 02-19-2013, 05:02 AM   #2
Unstable Rider
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Hey Mich,

Great post actually. Only knowing what I know, I will throw this out there. If you look at the Ninja vs. the Versys, I think overall or in the end, the Verys more upright riding posistion is going to serve one better on a trip and it may also balance better with a load than the Ninja. Just a theory.

If you think of the evolution or variety of riding posistions, I see three basic posistions - like the
KLR (very upright riding) the Verys, (mostly upright with a bit of a forward lean) and the Ninja (freaking laying down in a forward posistion, ick, I hate this).

Having ridden a Ninja but not owning one, I found it amusing but not VERSatile. It was very narrowly directed to one riding style or purpose (at least that was how it felt to me). I found it awkward to look up at intersections and it strained my neck and back to ride very far. I do appreciate the mechanics and drive train of the Ninja, I really do.

I think the Versys is what Kawasaki perhaps set out to accomplish, something with some snap for the blacktop and twisties, certainly trip-capable, you can hang some aluminum panniers on it or go with Pelican storm cases and you have an affordable, pretty Versatile twin cylinder touring bike that may be a great compromise between the riding posistions of the KLR and the Ninja.

I have a 2009 KLR, and as an old fart, I like the stark-upright riding posistion and the tall dirt bike stance or attitude. That being said, I really would like a Versys some day, as more of a trip bike, for days where I need or want to put on some miles. I would keep my KLR though.

I see you are from Thailand, where the KLR and the Versys are assembled, right? Is the Ninja made their too now?

I was chatting with someone from Thailand recently, and thought it odd or funny that the local government would not allow the KLR 650 to be owned, ridden or released in Thailand because it did not meet emissions specs. I did not really know or appreciate how bad the smog problem is over there, that is too bad, sorry.

That's all I got brother, just the ravings of a mad deranged old fart, I dont claim exclusive knowledge about anything anymore other than death and taxes.

Either choice of bike and you are bound to have fun. I think the Versys is the better choice for Thailand though, specially if you see some gravel. A Vee Strom might be better yet, but you did not mention that as a choice...
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Old 02-19-2013, 05:24 AM   #3
michelsavage OP
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Good post, old fart

Funny thing. I really, really don't like tall bikes with high center of gravity. This being said, I'm 65 and not a very experienced rider (I'm more of a sailor, but that's another story). First bike was a Honda something, in the 1970s... Then, I had a 920 Yamaha Virago with which I did a 3,000 km with GF and luggage. I hated that bike. Dropped it twice. The new owner nearly killed himself on it. Then, I had a succession of Intruders 750 and 800s, mostly for commuting. Loved them but no long trip.

Then, 9 months ago, I got really serious about touring, and bought a brand-new BMW F650GS, all farkled up, with aluminum Zega cases and all. I did a 2,000 km trip with this bike, and hoped for the trip to end after the first 500 km. I had to stop every 15 minutes to rest my neck and back that hurt like never before. The bike was sold last Augusr and I moved to Thailand for 6 months. Oh, forgot to mention I dropped the bike twice.

Here in Northern Thailand, I had the chance to drive custom Phantoms, and, more specifically, the Hondas CBR 250 and 500R (the new one). It was the first time, ever, I rode sport bikes. I LOVED them: low center of gravity, agile, light, fast, responsive. After 7 hours of twisties from Chiang Mai to Pai and back, I hurt nowhere.

In the next few days, I will try the Kawa ER-6n and the Ninja 650. If I have a chance, I'll try the Versys. Another tall bike with high center of gravity. I expected sport bikes to have to be riden flat out with chest hard on gas tank. Not at all. The Hondas drove easily with just a slight forward angle. Very very easy, comfortable and relaxed.

Over 70 km/h, I had the impression my BMW was going to fly off to the sky. Probably a combination of bad windscreen, inexperience, tension (I rode that bike off center). Like the Virago, crosswinds affe cted the F650GS as well as trucks, etc. With Honda's CBR 250 and 500R, all I want is faster... So, I have seen in Loei a ER-6N all farkled up for long distance touring. Seems to me, any bike will "go the distance" if you like the bike and feel good riding it.

Let's see what riding the Ninja and ER-6N feels like. I shall return...

michelsavage screwed with this post 02-19-2013 at 06:11 AM
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Old 02-19-2013, 05:37 AM   #4
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Having owned a Ninja, and demoed/borrowed a few Versysesesses, the biggest difference is the motor.

The Ninja 650R is no slouch at low RPMs, but they retuned the motor in the Versys for even more low/midrange, and dropped 10hp at the top end. From the seat of the pants dyno, it wants to wheelie away from every light, vibrates more, and doesn't like extended 80mph plus highway travel (as compared to the Ninja).
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:13 AM   #5
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Luv the Versys but for one thing...pegs hit legs when feet are down. I'm 5ft9. Plus, seat is higher making it more difficult to move in tight parking quarters. The Ninja fits. Ergos are a very personal thing. I sampled the Versys, NC700, CBR250R, and Ninja 300, and for me, the 650 beats them all in comfort, has lots of power and looks great.
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:19 AM   #6
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Oct 2007
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
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Having owned a Versys and ridden a Ninja 650 a few times the biggest difference is the suspension!

The forks and shock on the Versys are superior in every way, bump compliance, rebound, adjustability.

The engines are not that far apart in feel or capability. I'd travel all day at any speed on either. No excessive vibes, decent punch for passing, similar feel.

The seating position of the Versys is also a little roomier, higher seat, more upright, better view.

Good luck with your decision.
John M.
'08 Kawasaki Versys
'11 Victory Cross Roads
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:18 AM   #7
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Jan 2013
Location: Ray City, Ga
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looking at them... i'd be hard pressed to tell any difference other than the frame and plastics. the "650" looks to be much more of an up-right ride than my ZX7 is. you hug the tank on that one...
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Old 02-19-2013, 05:32 PM   #8
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I've had both and still have a V. It has better suspension, better fuel range, a little more room, gets better gas mileage for me, handles better (especially off-road and on rough roads), and I use the stronger low-mid power all the time. Using the higher-rev based power of the Ninja just left me wanting more. But that may just be me. I liked the Ninja but the V is a better, more versatile bike IMO. I also prefer the more unique look of the V. I went a tooth up on the cs sprocket and the bike runs even better, especially on the highway. Pick what's best for you.

Good luck.
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