Introducing the all-new Versys-X 300, boasting big bike adventure styling with small capacity running costs – but is it as capable as it looks?
The Versys-X 300 is the latest entry-level model from Kawasaki and given the widespread popularity of adventure bikes in recent years, the emergence of a smaller capacity range doesn’t come as a surprise. The Versys-X 300 is competing in a busy market against the all-new Honda CRF 250 Rally, Suzuki V-Strom 250 and the recently announced BMW G 310 GS.
The Versys-X 300 is a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 296cc parallel twin, boasting 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels, long-travel suspension, an upright seating position, tall, wide handlebars and a small, windscreen-equipped fairing.
Like its larger capacity siblings, it features rugged adventure styling, but slimmed down to make it a lightweight, learner-friendly machine that stands apart from the rest of the Versys range. It offers everything you’d expect from an adventure-oriented motorcycle, in a more compact package.
There’s a 16 litre fuel tank which contributes to the adventure-style image (and offers incredible range for such a small machine) while maintaining a slim design. There’s also a large two-up seat (which isn’t as comfortable as on the larger capacity models) in addition to a rear carrier with easy-to-use grips and strap hooks for adding luggage – and there’s also a wide range of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories available.
The bike is powered by Kawasaki’s liquid-cooled 296cc parallel-twin engine (straight from the Ninja 300), which has been tuned to deliver strong low and mid-range torque in addition to pretty impressive power on the road. Much of its prowess can be attributed to its digital fuel injection, which helps provide excellent throttle response and easily manaagable power delivery – while the unique exhaust piping offers added ground clearance and helps to produce low- and mid-range torque perfect for light trails and makes it a pleasure to ride.
ON THE ROAD
The Versys-X 300’s long travel suspension, wide reach bars and wide steering angle make it easy to manoeuvre, whether you’re filtering through traffic, or speeding down the motorway. Not only is it light and nimble, but with its narrow chassis and low seat height it could be the perfect pick for new riders. It’s an ideal motorcycle for a variety of riding conditions from light trails to the inner-city commute.
I was impressed by the power and torque pumped out by the 296cc four-stroke parallel twin engine. You’ll need to work it quite hard to sit at motorway speeds, but despite revving around 8000rpm there’s surprisingly little vibration and noise. Through to third gear, the ratios are pretty close together – but in the top three gears, you’ve got a much larger rev band and an abundance of torque on offer. The clutch is super light, and gear selection is a doddle too.
The suspension is well set-up – perfect for motorway riding, narrow country lanes and the occasional light trail (though it wasn’t particularly at ease when being pushed on some slightly more challenging trails). The brakes are excellent with the ABS proving more than capable on various surfaces (both wet and dry) – though I didn’t have to use them all that often (except on the tightest of turns), as I tended to make use of the high-revving torquey engine to slow me down.
Images: Gary Chapman
Lightweight and nimble
Perfect multi-purpose machine
You sometimes need to make it work harder
ENGINE: 296cc, four-stroke, DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin
POWER: 29.3 kW @ 11,500 rpm
FRONT SUSPENSION: 41 mm telescopic fork
REAR SUSPENSION: Bottom-Link Uni-Trak, gas-charged shock and adjustable preload
SEAT HEIGHT: 845mm
WEIGHT: Standard: 170kg / ABS version: 175kg
FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 17 litres
O2W RATING: 9 Stars