Kawasaki tosses its hat into the suddenly crowded small-displacement adventure ring with its 296cc Versys-X 300. The new Versys 300, which makes its debut at the EICMA show in Milan, combines the engine platform of its popular Ninja 300 with the aesthetic of the Versys 650. The new Versys-X 300 will be available spring 2017 with a price tag of $5399 (non-ABS) or $5699 (ABS).
We’ve since test ridden the Versys-X 300 – read about it in the 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 300 First Test Review.
The all-new Versys 300 design is billed by Kawasaki as an “adventure-styled touring” model, which follows the Versys 650’s basic format as a street-going standard that if pressed can also do some light off-road work (as in well-maintained gravel roads off-road work). This new little Versys at least looks the part of a lightweight adventure-ish mount, with a 19-inch front and wire-spoked wheels. Kawasaki also adds some extra suspension travel and protective bodywork for the bike’s underbelly.
The Versys 300 sources the same 296cc liquid-cooled Parallel Twin powering the Ninja 300, which offers respectable potency for a small-displacement offering. Kawasaki doesn’t mention curb weight or engine performance figures, but the Ninja 300 was capable enough for freeway speeds, everyday riding chores and fun play rides, so this Versys 300 figures to perform at comparable levels.
A six-speed transmission transfers power to the rear wheel via chain drive. And the Versys will make use of the Ninja 300’s wet clutch, which offers slipper and assist function, an impressive feature on a cost-conscious small-displacement mount.
Chassis components include a 41mm front fork and single Uni-Track rear shock. Kawasaki describes the suspension as long-travel, but doesn’t specify how much travel. ABS comes standard on the 300 (as it must now on all Euro 4-compliant bikes), with single-disc brakes front and rear.
Ergos appear narrow and tall, with the Versys’ handlebars set high behind a rather tall windscreen. The slender shape will make for a presumably easy reach to the ground, however, we are again forced to speculate as Kawasaki doesn’t specify seat height measurements. All told the little Versys looks like a handy, versatile machine, which will accommodate a wide range of riders. I reckon it would make an ideal lane-splitting commuter down California freeways or other congested urban settings, but also seems capable of having some fun out on a fire road or tooling around on a weekend play ride.
Who’d of thought even a couple years ago that there’d be a flood of 250-300 adventure-touring models inundating the market? And yet we’ve seen three this week at Milan with the BMW G310GS, Suzuki V-Strom 250 and now the Kawasaki Versys-X 300.