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First Impressions - 2015 Versys 650 v 2006 R1200RT


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Love it!

I picked it up new yesterday and it is hard not to like this bike...


I ride a BMW 1200RT in the UK which is a seriously good machine for munching some miles so the Versys has a lot to live up to but I have to say I am astonished at how good the Versys appears to be - still early days yet but after about 120 miles I cannot stop smiling!


My initial impression was spoilt due to a failed fuel pump but the dealer quickly swapped it for a good one and that solved the problem. The good news is that the seat height is fine for me and although I cannot flat foot it I had no problems and it is so much lighter than the RT I felt very comfy and secure. The seat feels ok so far (2 hours!) but it does seem to slope a bit downhill into the tank. There is plenty of room for my arse to move about on the seat so I do not think it will be a problem although I have been told it is easy enough to lift the front a tiny bit.


The engine is a delight! I have not really given it "the beans" yet, due to it's youthfulness but I expect it will be a very willing power plant when run in. It pulls well in all gears and is very happy to pull away smartly in top gear. I experienced a tiny, tiny little bit of a tingle at about 5000 rpm but otherwise as smooth as butter. It has a lovely "rumble" when sat at lights!


The gearbox is sublime! Those of you who are used to Japanese gearboxes may wonder what the big deal is but if you have ridden a BMW you will know how agricultural they can be! Well done Mr Kawasaki on this lovely sweet gearbox!


The screen seems ok but not a patch on my RT. It is a tiny thing and does not seem to do a great deal but I guess all things in life are relative and a cooling breeze was welcome anyway. I got a bit of buffeting off trucks on the motorway but nothing too severe and I found the 2 hour ride surprisingly comfortable. Love the riding position.


The suspension seems to be a miracle for the price of the bike...! It soaks up the bumps and feels planted and secure. I have no idea how it corners yet because someone seems to have stolen all the corners from Texas... I guess the Californians are to blame. Having said that it does seem to "want" to go around corners! My RT takes a bit of encouragement to turn but this little fella seems to be begging to fall into a twisty road! I cannot wait to find a roundabout to try it out!


The brakes are very nice and seem to have a good feel to them but I miss the power assist that I have on the RT. Maybe they need to "bed in" a bit yet?


The panniers are nice, easy to use and functional, if a bit on the flimsy side but more than good enough and they look good. I miss a centre stand...


Instruments are a bit basic though perfectly adequate and I thought there would be a temp gauge but apparently not.


It does not like to run below about 3000 rpm and the throttle is a little snatchy when pootling along but I will get used to that. Moving the bike about in traffic is a joy and it is such an agile little thing... such fun.


I need to add some accessories and get prepared for the Alaska trip but I am sure we will get on just fine.


Anyway, overall I am totally in love with this fine piece of machinery and for the price ($6500 for a new bike!) I am delighted. It has to be one of the best value for money bikes a man can buy and frankly it does not look cheap in any way... I am one happy bunny and thanks to all who encouraged me to buy one - you were right! (my budget would not stretch to an RT!)

Edited by farmerboy
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Yup, small is good. I picked up a used Yamaha XT225 last spring, and although I wouldn't want to ride it to Alaska, it's an absolute blast on twisty roads and fire roads, bringing back the biggest smiles I have had while riding in about a decade.


A recent issue of Motorcycle Consumer News had a piece on the joys of riding a small, light bike. Big or small, each has its place.

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