Long Termer: Kawasaki Versys 650 GT

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Bertie Simmonds has been riding the Versys for a few months now, covering over 1,500 miles. Here’s how he’s getting on:

A strange, orange icon appeared on the Kawasaki Versys 650 GT’s LCD display the other morning. It stated: ICE.

Now, considering the fact that my teeth were chattering and I was urgently stabbing at the Kwak’s heated grips button, I would have thought this was an ‘obvious possibility’. Not so in a car, as I found out to my cost way back when. Y’see, I was a biker first and foremost and there I was, enjoying my first winter in a car. I was driving a modern-ish company car when a little snowflake icon lit up on the dashboard and I wondered what it meant. The heater was on. I was warm. I was listening to Level 42, so life was good. I had no idea what the conditions were like outside. I ignored the icon, spun the car and ended up on the wrong side of the road. It’s fair to say though, that these little warnings aren’t required on a motorcycle… You know if it’s cold…

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Kawasaki Versys 650 GT

That said, the Kawasaki’s heated grips are stupendous and help enormously. I’ve yet to know just how to switch them to a particular mode –I just stab away at them. Aha… I’ve just looked it up. Yes, it confirms what I’ve thought – they are daft. You press them to activate (amber) then they go green and they are on the high setting, then press again to go down a level, etc.

The rubbish bit is that – if you’re on the move – it’s hard to know what level they’re at until you do (or don’t) get hot hands. I’m sure it would be better to remove the ICE icon on the LCD screen and replace it with a heated grips setting? Eh? 

When things aren’t shining the GT is usefully protective of the body when it’s raining. The grips and knuckle guards do a good job of keeping the rain off, as does that flappy screen. Fuel consumption and tank range are pretty impressive. I never really care (or have cared) about mpg figures (but they are on the page somewhere – we had to work them out ourselves in the old days), but tank range is something I do care about.

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The best I’ve seen before any fuel warning light is a shade over 200 miles and I’ve left things up to around 220 miles before filling back up with what seems like a couple of litres still in the tank. That will do me…

With the nights drawing in I’ve been using the auxiliary lights pretty much all the time – day and night. I’d much rather be seen and mildly annoy road users than end up in a hospital bed and be given a bunch of grapes by a motorist saying they didn’t see me. In fact, one driver was so incensed with the aux lights they swung round after me and eventually pulled up next to me at a junction. To tell me that my ‘effin’ main beams were effin’ on and maybe I should turn ’em effin’ off. I simply informed him that at least he’d effin’ seen me. I did check them – and they’re not aimed ‘up’ at all.

Anyways, ’tis the season to be jolly – and get more saddle time on the GT (weather allowing). Let’s see what the rest of winter brings on the mini green meanie…

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