4 Most-Common Problems With Kawasaki Versys

Kawasaki has delivered with the Versys a blissful line of “versatile” bikes ranging from 300cc-1000cc, depending on the year model.

Riders around the world celebrate its power delivery and smooth cornering.

Its name is a portmanteau of Versatile System, as it combines styles from Adventurer bikes, sport-tourers, and cruisers; this bike is built for a versatile all-around experience for the rider. 

That said, even a line of bikes this versatile can’t be perfect; let’s look at some of the speed bumps they’ve hit over the years.

Let’s get straight into it!

1. Defective Tail and Brake Light Assembly

On July 11, 2017, an official Recall was initiated on 1m 837 Versys-X 300 models.

The main concern behind the recall was a loosening socket on the tail and brake-light assembly that caused the bulb to fall out.

The dangers of riding around without the tail/brake bulb, especially since the two functions in the same light bulb, but we’ll say it anyway–your collision risk increases exponentially without rear running and brake lights.

Some states don’t require turn signals. Running lights, on the other hand, are non-negotiable.

This situation was hazardous since the bulbs on some of the 2017 Versys-X-300 models could have fallen out without the riders knowing.

An unsuspecting rider may not have the same insight to use hand signals as a rider who knows they don’t have a signal, putting themselves that much more at risk.

Luckily, Kawasaki stepped up to the plate and swung hard for their Versys-riders, instructing their dealerships to replace the bulb and the defective assembly socket on any affected models on the house.

For those of our readers who bought their Versys new, if you have a 2017 300cc model and lost a light bulb, it might be as simple as the previous owner being unaware of the issue.

Please take it to your local Kawasaki dealership to get your free upgrade.

If you’re in the market for a 2017 Versys X-300, don’t let this section detour you from buying a steller small-sized dual-sport; we’re simply making sure you ask the seller whether or not he’s aware of the recall if their bike was affected, and if its since been upgraded.

2. Mirrors Vibrate Loose

This section is specific to the 2008-2009 Kawasaki Versys models–there have multiple NHSTA reports of complaints regarding the mirrors vibrating loose while riding to completely obstructing the rider’s rear vision during operation.

As one report online, the mirrors come loose repeatedly, regardless of multiple adjustments to both the internal and external nuts.

Wear and tear appear to have nothing to do with it; one rider reported the mirror flopping phenomenon while his 2008 Verysys had just 325 miles on it.

This was indeed a hot topic during this era; aggravated Versys riders flocked to the forums and filed official complaints with their dealerships after they’d established that this was happening en mass, but Kawasaki was also refusing to replace the failing mirrors under warranty.

Here’s an example of a consumer report filed with NHSTA:

THE PROBLEM: LEFT MIRROR ON THE KAWASAKI VERSYS MOTORCYCLE WILL NOT HOLD ITS POSITION. FREQUENCY: THIS IS AN ONGOING PROBLEM. IT EFFECTS MY MOTORCYCLE ABOUT EVERY 4 RIDES. FROM WHAT I HAVE READ THIS IS A NORMAL FREQUENCY OF OCCURRENCE. THIS ISSUE RENDERS THE MIRROR USELESS AND A MAJOR DISTRACTION. WHY: DUE TO THE LOCATION OF THE MIRROR ON THE BIKE AND THE VIBRATION OF THE MOTOR ON THE MOTORCYCLE (THE VIBRATION IS MINOR). THIS VIBRATION CAUSES THE MOUNT FOR THE MIRROR TO LOOSEN AND THEN THE WIND HITTING THE MIRROR CAUSES THE MIRROR TO ROTATE INWARD TOWARD THE RIDER. THIS ROTATION RENDERS THE MIRROR USELESS CAUSING A DANGEROUS SITUATION BY CAUSING THE MIRROR TO BE USELESS TO THE RIDER IMPAIRING THEIR AWARENESS OF THERE SURROUNDING AND A DIRECT DISTRACTION TO THE RIDER AS THEY TRY TO SOLVE THE SITUATION WHILE RIDING. SOLUTION: REVERSE THREAD THE MOUNT FOR THE MIRROR. THIS WILL CAUSE THE MIRROR TO TIGHTEN ITSELF DUE TO THE VIBRATION AND WIND. BESIDES GLUING THE PIECE IN PLACE THERE IS NO REAL SOLUTION THAT THE OWNER ON THE PRODUCT CAN DUE WITHOUT REPLACING WITH AND AFTER MARKET UNIT.

SOURCE: https://www.nhtsa.gov/vehicle/2008/KAWASAKI/VERSYS

Kawasaki eventually upgraded the mirror assembly on the subsequent year’s model Versys. Frustrated owners of affected models from the ’08 generation were forced to buy aftermarket mirrors to rectify the situation.

3. Weak Front Wheel Rim

Although not as widespread as some of the other Versys consumer reports, there are multiple claims regarding the durability of the 2016 Kawasaki Versys’s front wheel.

The front wheel’s rim will bend from essential use.

One official consumer report puts it like this:

I AM A 61 YEAR OLD RIDER WHO HAS LOGGED APPROXIMATELY 320,000 MILES ON 8 MOTORCYCLES IN THE PAST 11 YEARS. DURING THE COURSE OF THOSE MILES I HAVE NEVER DAMAGED THE WHEELS ON ANY OF THE MOTORCYCLES. I PURCHASED MY 2016 KAWASAKI VERSYS 1000LT NEW IN MARCH 16 AND BENT MY FIRST FRONT WHEEL IN JULY AT APPROXIMATELY 7,000 MILES. I WAS JUST RIDING ON A STATE HIGHWAY AND DO NOT RECALL HITTING ANYTHING THAT MIGHT DAMAGE A WHEEL. I REPLACED THE WHEEL WITH A NEW KAWASAKI FACTORY FRONT WHEEL AND LESS THAN 2,000 MILES LATER – I BENT IT. ONCE AGAIN I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT CAUSED THE DAMAGE AS THE BIKE NEVER WAS RIDDEN OFF PAVEMENT. I BELIEVE THAT KAWASAKI IS USING WHEELS THAT ARE TO LIGHT WEIGHT FOR THIS CLASS OF MOTORCYCLE.

SOURCE: https://www.nhtsa.gov/vehicle/2016/KAWASAKI/VERSYS

Another rider’s report implied they’d assumed responsibility the first time it happened, shelling out $700 for a new set of stock wheels only to have the same thing happen to the new front rim.

Again it wasn’t a widespread issue, but it was reported enough to put it on our radar. If you’re in the market for a used Kawasaki Versys and stumble on a 2016 model, it’s worth asking about.

4. Windshield Buffeting Problems

Not many owners complain about this issue; it’s small, but it’s out there, so here we are.

The windshield on the Kawasaki Versys 1000 gets complaints about buffeting, bouncing wind between the rider’s chest and head and the bike’s windshield, especially at high speeds.

Tall riders are among those that complain about the buffeting the most.

Here is an example of one such report:

THE WINDSHIELD CREATES A WIND TURBULENCE WHICH SEEMS TO MAKE THE FRONT END “LIFT”. THE RESULT IS THAT THE RIDER DOESN’T GET A FIRM FEELING IN THE FRONT END WHICH MAKES CONTROLLING THE MOTORCYCLE DIFFICULT. THIS EFFECT IS EVEN MORE PRONOUNCED WHEN ANOTHER VAN OR TRUCK PASSES THE MOTORCYCLE. I HAVE BEEN RIDING MOTORCYCLES FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS AND HAVE OWNED ABOUT 10 OTHER VEHICLES BEFORE THIS ONE AND THIS IS THE FIRST ONE WHERE I’VE FACED THIS PROBLEM. THE LACK OF CONFIDENCE WITH THE WIND TURBULENCE AND “BOUYANCY” IS, IN MY OPINION, A SAFETY ISSUE.

SOURCE: https://www.nhtsa.gov/vehicle/2015/KAWASAKI/VERSYS

As mentioned up top, buffeting is when your windshield breaks up a crosswind riding at high speed selected up and over the rider’s head. It affects riders who are significantly taller than their windshields the most.

The windshield buffeting happens when the bike reaches aboOwnersOwners who experienced replace replaced the windshield with a taller one. Another option is to raise the current one.

Modifying the windshield can be done by a mechanic, or you can choose to do it yourself if you are so inclined.

General Pros and Cons for the Kawasaki Versys 1000 Models:

Pros:

For a bike of this weight, you wouldn’t expect the performance of a sportbike. The Kawasaki Versys 1000 features an inline four-cylinder engine that makes its performance simply impressive.

Even though the Versys 1000 looks like previous Kawasaki offerings, it still has unique looks. The front of the bike looks modern but not so much that it is unrecognizable as a Versys.

Braking is quite responsive and is supported by the four-piston radial monobloc calipers. This allows the much-needed braking power to stop such a heavy machine.

The Kawasaki Versys 1000 sports technologies such as ABS, traction control, and cruise control make those long-distance rides a breeze. The 2019 model adds heated grips, electronic suspension, and even a color TFT screen.

Owners and reviewers of the Kawasaki Versys 1000 can’t stop talking about how responsive and comfortable this bike is. Mainly they mention the smoothness and affordability of the bike as the most impressive traits that stand out.

Overall, the Versys is steller machinery for those that love comfort and reliability.

Cons:

  • 1. Defective Tail and Brake Light Assembly
  • 2. Mirrors Vibrate Loose
  • 3. Weak Front Wheel Rim
  • 4. Windshield Buffeting Problems

What Do the Reviews Say?

“We have always liked the Versys 1000. It never was a real adventure motorcycle. It is a pure sport-touring motorcycle with longer-than-average suspension travel and some plastic bits protecting the motor from pockmarks on a gravel road.”

[Source: UltimateMotorcycling.com]

“With sporty styling that resembles the rest of Kawasaki’s sportbike range, plus a fantastic engine that oozes torque and a chassis that eats up the bumpy and twisty pavement with ease.”

[Source: CycleWorld.com]

What’s The Resale Value On The Kawasaki Versys 1000

Year Mileage (miles) Price
2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT 23,753 $7,499
2016 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT 23,954 $6,500
2017 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT 7,977 $7,999
2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ 2 $17,999

NB: The above prices may vary according to your location and the mileage of the bike.

References:

Facts & Reviews – Kawasaki

Cycleworld.com – Kawasaki

NHSTA – 2017 Kawasaki Versys Recalls, Complaints, and Investigations

NHSTA – 2008 Versys Complaints and Investigations

NHSTA – 2016 Versys Complaints and Investigations

NHSTA – 2015 Versys Complaints and Investigations

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