2012 Kawasaki Versys | Preview

2012 Kawasaki Motorcycle

In a tough economy, multipurpose motorcycles are key, especially in the sport market. To be truly multipurpose in this sector, these motorcycles must appease the rider who needs to carve a canyon road, have fun on the daily commute or take a short weekend trip.

For this group of economical-minded riders, Kawasaki offers the 2012 Versys, a standard that hit the US market in 2007 after spending a year exclusively overseas. The Versys is a do-it-all motorcycle with comfortable ergonomics, a powerful parallel twin and, the best part, an MSRP under $8,000.

Key to the Versys is its liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 649cc twin. It was designed for low- and mid-range power for real-world riding, but offers enough liveliness for spirited back-road riding. And with a five-gallon fuel tank and over 50mpg, the Versys will provide plenty of this real-world riding.

To increase smoothness, Kawasaki installed rubber bushings on the rear engine mounts and hollow rubber inserts atop the footpegs help to isolate the rider’s feet from engine vibration.

The chassis and suspension is also tuned for the Versys multipurpose design. An adjustable 41mm inverted fork, Showa rear shock and longer-than-average swingarm provides enough travel for comfort, but also enough stiffness for sporty jaunts.

The upright position of the Versys was designed to provide ultimate comfort for both rider and passenger. Adding to this comfort are other features, such as a three-position adjustable windscreen, easy-to-read gauges and a comfortable saddle.

The 2012 Kawasaki Versys – versatility for the budget-minded motorcyclists.

Following are the highlights, specs, color options and MSRP for the 2012 Kawasaki Versys.

2012 Kawasaki Versys Highlights:


  • The most compact engine in its category helps reduce the dimensions of the entire motorcycle
  • Triangular crank and transmission shaft layout keeps it short front to back
  • A semi-dry sump oil system reduces overall engine height
  • The narrow, chrome composite-plated aluminum cylinders help reduce engine width
  • Tuned to deliver smooth, responsive power in the low to mid-rpm range for exceptional roll-on response – ideal for negotiating city traffic, tight backroads and anything in between
  • A 180-degree crankshaft and a balancer shaft produce a remarkably smooth engine
  • Oil jets on the connecting rod ends spray oil on the undersides of the pistons to aid cooling
  • An under-engine muffler with 3-way catalyzer aids mass centralization for light handling and great looks
  • Engine temperatures stay consistent for long engine life and sustained power in tough conditions
  • Closer engine tolerances mean more horsepower
  • Coolant routed through the engine cases reduces the number of external hoses
  • A pair of 38mm Keihin throttle bodies with ECU-controlled sub-throttle valves mean optimum performance and rideability
  • Sub-throttles, located behind the main throttle valves, give the Versys precise throttle response and great feel as well
  • An automatic fast idle system makes starting and warm-up easy, even on cold days
  • Precise fuel injection provides great fuel mileage, and the 3-way catalyzer significantly reduces emissions
  • Microprocessor-controlled timing never requires adjustment and is ultra-responsive to the engine’s needs
  • Powerful, spark plug-mounted "stick" ignition coils are compact, light and reliable
  • Versys’ racing-style cassette transmission uses a compact layout that’s easily removable as a single unit from the engine cases for much easier gearbox maintenance


  • The Versys’ exotic-looking trellis frame is small, light and narrow at the knees and pegs for excellent comfort and control
  • 3D computer analysis in the design process achieved optimum stiffness balance for superior ride and handling
  • A distinctive aluminum gull-wing swingarm controlled by a lay-down single shock complements the distinctive frame design, with an integrated line flowing from steering head to rear hub
  • The short, compact frame and engine design allow the swingarm to be longer, which improves overall handling
  • The Showa shock has adjustable preload and rebound damping, and uses a free piston and two-stage damping valves for smooth action during initial compression that becomes firmer near the end of the stroke for a more planted feel


  • A 41mm long-travel inverted fork combines the best of dual-sport and sportbike-type suspensions, to deliver excellent performance over a wide range of conditions
  • Tapered, relatively short outer tubes help provide the ideal stiffness balance to complement frame stiffness and chassis settings
  • Fork height, spring preload and rebound damping can be adjusted to fine-tune the suspension to specific conditions, riding styles and loads


  • Dual 300mm petal-style discs with two-piston calipers in front and a single 220mm petal disc with a single-piston caliper in back provide plenty of stopping power
  • Same rotor design as found on the Ninja® supersport machines; petal design rotors offer improved cooling and warp resistance


  • Like the ones you’ll find on the Ninja ZX-6R and ZX-10R, these six-spoke wheels use less material between spokes so rim thickness is reduced along with overall wheel weight
  • Lighter wheels increase overall performance – suspension, handling, acceleration/deceleration and initial turn-in

Additional Highlights:

  • Each section of the two-piece seat was designed with a different thickness and firmness of foam to optimize comfort for both rider and passenger
  • The passenger seat and grab bars were designed to provide a natural seating position for added comfort
  • An easy-to-read instrument panel has a large analog tachometer and digital readout for the speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer, dual trip meters and clock. White LED backlighting provides increased visibility at night
  • Passenger grab rails, seat cover material, and a comfortable seating position make the Versys fun for passengers
  • Rubber bushings at the rear engine mounts and hollow rubber-covered footpegs result in reduced engine vibration and a more comfortable ride
  • The fairing, stacked dual headlight, front fender and mirrors, and a Z1000-style LED tail light give the Versys a bold high-tech look
  • The windscreen provides a large still-air pocket for comfort; three-position adjustability makes it adaptable to fit a variety of riders and climates

2012 Kawasaki Versys Specs:

  • Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder parallel twin
  • Displacement: 649 cc
  • Bore x Stroke: 83.0 x 60.0 mm
  • Compression Ratio: 10.6:1
  • Cooling System: Liquid
  • Fuel System:Digital fuel injection with two 38mm Keihin throttle bodies
  • Ignition: TCBI with electronic advance
  • Transmission: 6-Speed
  • Final Drive: O-Ring Chain
  • Frame Type: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
  • Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.3 in.
  • Front Tire Size: 120/70-17
  • Rear Tire Size: 160/60-17
  • Wheelbase: 55.7
  • Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork with stepless adjustable rebound and preload / 5.9 in.
  • Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Single offset laydown shock with 13-position adjustable rebound damping and adjustable spring preload / 5.7 in.
  • Front Brakes: Dual 300mm petal discs with two-piston caliper
  • Rear Brakes: Single 220mm petal disc with single-piston caliper
  • Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal.
  • Seat Height: 33.3
  • Curb Weight: 454.2 lbs.
  • Overall Length: 83.7 in.
  • Overall Width: 33.1 in.
  • Overall Height: 52.4 in.
  • Warranty: 12 months
  • Good Times Protection Plan: 12, 24, 36 or 48 months

2012 Kawasaki Versys Color Options/MSRP:

  • Pearl Solar Yellow/Ebony / $7,899
  • Metallic Spark Black / $7,899