Video: Our first impression of the new Kawasaki Versys X 250!
- At just RM23,789 with GST, the Versys X 250 is now the cheapest adventure bike in the market right now.
- Tall riders will love the sitting position, which is similar to that of bigger adventure bikes, minus the weight.
- The 249cc engine, though nothing spectacular, was designed to balance power and fuel consumption.
- During the off-road session, the tall ride height of 180mm ensured that the bottom never met any rocks, and with a weight of just 173 kilograms, it was simple and easy to manoeuvre through the tight spots and thick mud.
- If it is a light, cheap, do -anything, go-anywhere kind of bike you want, the Versys-X 250 is the bike you should be spending your money on!
What is it that makes a good adventure bike? Is it a brand? Or a certain look? Or a particular engine or perhaps it should have about a hundred different rider aids? We asked some friends and the general answers were that a good adventure bike should be simple to repair, lightweight, comfortable with good suspension and it should have good fuel range as well.
Well there are lots of bikes that meet all those criteria, and the latest one is this – the Kawasaki Versys X 250. I have to admit to being a little excited about meeting this bike, which is odd because it is not one of those bikes you would normally call beautiful, and neither is it particularly powerful. It is just a plain, functional simple green Kawasaki with tall suspension and seat height. I was excited because this is the bike that signals that all is well in the motorcycle industry and manufacturers are creating more and more models to meet rising demand. An adventure bike for less than RM25,000, who would have imagined we would have bikes like this 10 years ago. It is a brilliant idea, and one that gives almost everyone a chance to own a good bike.
You see, at just RM23,789 with GST, the Versys X 250 is now the cheapest adventure bike in the market right now. It is also quite a big, tall bike and could be considered as a almost full-sized tourer. And with more people relying on two wheels to commute and to travel, the Versys X 250 is the one bike that could potentially offer it all – add some boxes and you will have ample storage space, it has good fuel range and it is cheap to buy. This is the bike that is capable of taking you around the world tomorrow should you want to. It is prepared, and even comes with tubed tyres, something that is easy to repair anywhere.
But lets manage expectations first. To begin with, the X is not powerful, at all. It offers just 31hp at 11,500rpm and 21.7Nm of torque at 10,000rpm. This means it has a high revving nature, and acceleration is just that, and the bike wheezes its way to a top speed of 150km/h. I managed 161km/h but that was on a downhill, so that’s cheating, sort of. The foot pegs too vibrate way too hard at high speeds, making it uncomfortable and leaves your feet buzzing for a good 10 minutes after stepping off the bike. But that’s it, that is all that is wrong with the baby X. Everything else about it is good enough.
The sitting position for one is similar to the Versys 650. The seat has been plucked off the bigger Versys 650 and feels comfortable on the Versys-X, good enough for a long ride north in fact. Tall riders will love the sitting position, which is similar to that of bigger adventure bikes, minus the weight. Talking about weight, this bike tips the scales at just 173 kilograms, which can be considered as ultra-light in the world of touring/adventure/dual purpose motorcycles.
The 249cc engine, though nothing spectacular, was designed to balance power and fuel consumption. The 17-litre tank offers a range of about 260-300 kilometres, something overlanders will appreciate. The engine is a liquid-cooled unit with double overhead cams (DOHC), eight-valves with parallel mounted cylinders. Most of the power it generates is at the bottom and mid-range of the rpm band and peaks at the very top between 10,000 – 11,500rpm, and it is because of this that you need to downshift when cruising at higher gears if you suddenly need more power; there is very little acceleration power in high gears.
But it is this low-ratio gears and high-revving character that makes the Versys-X such a capable machine when off-roading, as we found out during the recent official test ride in Rawang. Part of the route took us into a plantation, and because it had been raining, sand had turned into mud with little to no grip, great fun it was and the character of the engine and the lightweight nature of the Versys-X truly came alive here. The low-ratios means you have to use first or second gear through the slipperies and gives you access to power throughout the tall rev-band. And the ride height of 180mm ensured the bottom never met the mud, and with a weight of just 173 kilograms, it was steady through the tight spots and thick mud, parts where heavier bikes will struggle. I have to admit that the Versys X 250 was fun and nimble for a rookie off-roader.
The Versys-X was obviously designed to tackle both tarmac and off-road. The all-new rigid backbone frame was specially designed to handle external shocks like the hard knocks and bumps you get when riding off-road. It was also designed to make the bike sturdy when carrying a pillion and luggage.
The suspension too was good enough for us with 41mm of fork travel up front designed to soak up everything the road could throw at it and a bottom-link, uni-trak, gas-charged fork with adjustable pre-load at the rear. The front fork is connected to a 19-inch wheel while the rear measures in at 17 inches. The varying wheel size and the long forks gives the bike good handling, though there were some members of the media who thought 21 inches would have been better, low and high speed handling is already pretty good.
The Kawasaki Versys-X 250 was a rather pleasant bike to ride. You can’t tell how good a bike is just by looking at it, and the Versys-X 250 cannot be judged just by the way it looks. In fact it has a larger than life spirit to it, the kind that is willing to go anywhere, anytime and is able to do it well. Kawasaki Malaysia even specified a multi-function LCD panel that clearly indicates speed, rpm, and even a gear position indicator, which gives the bike a high-tech touch and doesn’t leave you feeling short changed.
The Versys-X 250 is currently the only bike of its kind in the market right now, and it doesn’t seem like there will be any competitors any time soon. So if it is a light, cheap, do -anything, go-anywhere kind of bike you want, the Versys-X 250 is the bike you want!