Test ride: KAWASAKI VERSYS-X 250

Kawasaki brings the touring lifestyle to the sub-250cc segment. Genius or unnecessary?

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The Kawasaki Versys-X 250 is an adventure-styled touring model that carries on the concept of ‘anytime performance on any road’ for which the Versys nameplate is famous. However, this riding concept has always been out of reach to novice riders and those without a B-full licence. Until now.

Strapped with a 249cc engine, the Versys-X 250 is the smallest displacement model in Kawasaki’s touring line-up. At just RM23,789 with GST, this is also the most affordable adventure bike in the market right now.

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The all-new highly rigid backbone frame was designed to handle external shocks, contributing to the Versys-X 250 rider-friendliness and overall capability on unpaved roads. This characteristic is accentuated by its large-volume bodywork and adventure styling which gives it the appearance of a higher displacement machine.

The combination of a tall upper cowl design inspired by adventure models and a generous windshield provides good wind protection, adding to long-distance riding comfort as well as the overall tourer persona.

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On the Versys-X, you sit in an upright position and spread your arms across the wide handlebar. This riding stance translates to great control as well as comfort over long hauls. The lower and slimmer seat makes this baby Versys more approachable for riders of all sizes – our average-sized rider had no problems planting his feet on the ground. The only ergonomic problem here is a hint of vibration felt underneath the left foot.

Things are comfy in the back too, with the pillion rider’s seat being wide and comfy while ergonomic grab bars help nervous passengers get comfortable more easily.  Further behind is a mount for a rear carrier for riders who want to add an extra dash of practicality to their Versys-X.

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As for performance, the parallel-twin engine is smooth and torquey at low to medium rpms. This helps facilitate low-speed manoeuvres, offering a high level of control with throttle adjustment to keep things punchy in the low range, but smoother at the top end for comfortable highway cruising.

Off the tarmac, its long-travel suspension (41mm) enables the Versys X to handle a wide variety of riding situations. The multi-purpose tubed tyres, with off-road tread pattern, also help with traction while adding to that rugged exterior.

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If there’s something we would change about the Versys-X, it would be to fit the bike with ABS. We don’t think it’s too much to ask for since there are more affordable bikes in the market right now that are equipped with ABS.

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Other than that, the Versys X-250 proves to be a good all-rounder that’s pleasant to ride on a daily basis. Aside from Boon Siew Honda’s upcoming CRF 250 Rally, the Versys-X is virtually without any other competition, and it’s hard not to recommend it to those who want a simple adventure bike minus the hassles of a big engine.

- Translated from TopGear Malaysia Chinese Edition

Price: RM23,789
Engine: 249cc, 4-stroke parallel twin, DOHC, 34bhp, 22Nm
Transmission: 6-speed return, manual
Fuel capacity: 17-litre fuel tank
Weight: 173kg dry weight

VERDICT: 7.5/10
Mechanically simple, lightweight, comfortable and well-sprung for all conditions, the Versys-X has all the makings of a good tourer.

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Author: TopGear
TopGear is the world’s best-selling motoring magazine. The Malaysian edition holds similar status, as acknowledged by the industry.