Article and Photo: Brian Cheyne
There is a groundswell in the lower end of the motorcycle market. A new segment is being carved out and formed in the small capacity adventure market. Kawasaki ’s contender, the Versys X300, takes the engine from the Z300 and 300 Ninja, and wraps it in an adventure styled frame. Having enjoyed the Z300, I was curious to see how this engine will perform in its new role.
The free-revving, 296cc two cylinder engine pushes out around 40hp, which is not far off the power delivery of the legendary KLR650. The torque figures tell a different story, but the twin might prove the better option over the X-300’s main rivals, who are all single cylinder offerings.
To reinforce its adventure pedigree, the bike is tall and has the familiar 19/17 inch combination of tyres. This gives the impression of off-road capability. There is some plastic covers on the side, but most of the underside of the bike is exposed, which means you will have to tread lightly. The Versys is not a KLR. It is an urban commuter first and foremost, and with its light weight and slim dimensions it excels in that role.
Getting on the bike the seating position is relaxed and upright, and even for a taller rider like myself, there is plenty of room and no uncomfortable knee bend. Even standing up was easy, but the skinny foot pegs might dig into your feet after a while. The little Versys offers clutch assist and a slipper clutch, and I must say that this must be the lightest clutch I have ever felt on a bike. The smooth engine, together with the light clutch, makes this an incredibly easy bike to ride, even for inexperienced riders.
Comprehensive instrumentation covers all the important elements, and the small fairing does an excellent job of reducing buffeting. Kawasaki has a long list of accessories to pimp out your X-300, including 17L side cases and crash bars. Provision has already been made on the dash to fit a power socket and the switch for the auxiliary lights.
This end of the market is going to become quite lively and the Versys X-300 provides the ideal entry platform to launch new riders into the adventure market and onwards to later purchases. If dirt riding is not your thing, your money won’t be wasted, as this little beauty will serve you very well on tar.
The Kawasaki Versys X300 sells for R74 995.