Musings of a liter-size engined Kawasaki Versys have circulated the web for a few years now, as loyalists of the likable Versys 650, as well as displacement-driven riders waiting in the wings, have pondered the potential of a more powerful adventure bike from Kawasaki that’s in the same league as BMW’s R1200GS and Yamaha’s Super Tenere. Alas, nothing of the sort has ever left the lips of Kawasaki, let alone go into production.
Recently, however, the French motorcycle website, Moto-net.com, has produced convincing images that appear like photos of a complete Versys 1000, including matching hard luggage. The site claims a query to Kawasaki France as to whether or not the images are legit lead to a non-committal, “we know nothing” response from Kawasaki France, which has led Moto-net.com to suspect a surprise unveiling of a 1000cc Versys at the upcoming EICMA event that begins November 8.
The images on the site reveal an inline-Four powered adventure-type bike, which along with the frame, Moto-net.com believes is sourced from Kawasaki’s Z1000. While the naked streetfighter-style Z never won the hearts of American riders despite continual improvements over three generations since its 2003 debut, the Z has remained a favorite of the streetfighter-loving Europeans.
The images are titillating, but for one key reason we find the motorcycle in the images unlikely at this time: the engine.
As admirable as the Z’s engine is, in adventure-bike duty it may not provide the loping low-end grunt that we’ve come to know from the engines in most of today’s adventure-touring bikes. Furthermore, the shear width, and possibly weight, as well as the high-revving nature of an inline-Four makes this configuration the least obvious choice for this type of motorcycle. Looking across today’s offerings in the growing adventure bike segment we see that a majority of the engines are a Twin of one configuration or another.
With this type of mill you get torquey low-end power necessary for picking around sketchy off-road environs, and just as importantly, a Twin allows the center of the bike to stay as narrow as possible. Kawasaki’s own Versys is powered by a 649cc parallel-Twin, and BMW’s F800GS and Yamaha’s Super Tenere also have parallel-Twins, while Ducati’s Multistrada employs a 90-degree Vee (or to some, an L-Twin).
Triumph’s latest entry into the segment with its Tiger 800 models bypasses the Twin design ethos by using an inline Triple. But Triumph’s Triple is considerably narrower than an inline-Four, and it offers a healthy amount of twisting force at low rpm. And BMW’s R1200GS, unarguably the father of the adventure bike category, uses a Boxer Twin, which is by no means narrow, but its design means the cylinder heads are low in the frame, ultimately lowering the bike’s center of gravity — another useful trait for an adventure bike. And just recently Honda announced official plans to produce its own adventure-tourer, the Crosstourer, which while not powered by a Twin, it will use a engine likely derived from the VRF1200F — again, a bigger engine, but in a Vee configuration nevertheless.
When think about Moto-net.com’s speculation that this is essentially a Z1000, what might make this an adventure bike other than possibly offering longer travel suspension? In this form what we’re really looking at is a Z1K with upright handlebars and Versys-style bodywork. We don’t have a spy at Kawasaki’s skunk works, but Kawi is an innovative company and probably would do more than just rebadge a Z1000, even if a new, large-displacement Versys was meant primarily for on-road adventures.
Having laid this groundwork for why this seems an unlikely move by Kawasaki, a crystal ball wasn’t used to utterly refute Moto-net.com’s purported findings.
Major OEMs generally have a nondisclosure policy on future product (trust us, we’ve tried before), but when asked pointblank about the images on the French website, Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., (KMC) offered a non-committal response, similar to what Moto-net.com reports Kawasaki France stated. KMC simply replied that all 2012 Kawasaki streetbike models have been released and no further announcements or releases are coming to the U.S. for the model year.
A classic OEM reply if ever there was one, but kudos in advance if Moto-net.com sniffed out a forthcoming Euro-only Versys 1000.
See the entire post on Moto-net.com.