The Kawasaki Versys is a mid-weight motorcycle with a unique design that pulls influence from dual-sport bikes, cruisers, adventure tourers, and sportbikes.
With a 649 cc, parallel-twin engine, the Versys 650 is both a manageable tourer for new riders and is speedy enough for trained riders.
With such a well-built machine, you’d be hard-pressed to find any reliability issue. That said, any bike owner hits a few hiccups over the years, and in this article, we’ll explore a few problems riders have encountered on the Kawasaki Versys 650 over the years.
This will help new owners and riders in the market for a Versys 650 get a sense of what to look out for in this great touring bike.
Let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
1. Coolant Leaking From The Water Pump
Coolant is usually checked at every service point for a bike to check for leaks, inspect coolant quality, and ensure the coolant is filled appropriately.
On the Kawasaki Versys 650, there have been a few owner-complaints of coolant leaks from the water pump.
This issue appears on both old and new models. The problem hasn’t been isolated to a single culprit; sometimes, it’s been found to be standard wear and tear on an older bike’s broken seal, while, in other cases, the bikes were so new it’s been thought to be a build issue from the factory.
Whether it’s because the issues have never been widespread enough to warrant a recall or because owners and mechanics haven’t isolated a single cause, Kawasaki and dealerships choose to deal with this issue on a case-by-case basis, as it comes up from individual owners.
A look at the forward right-hand side of the engine is where the leaking is most apparent. The owners affected by this leak noticed and reported a sweet smell as the coolant was burning off when the bike was moving.
Here Are a Few Potential Causes of the Coolant Leak on a Versys 650
Faulty impeller leaking seal: The impeller seal prevents coolant from leaking from the pump to prevent mixing liquids.
If lubricants and liquids such as the oil, water, and coolant mix can cause other bike issues.
Sometimes replacing the impeller leak seal should solve the problem.
Here Are a Few Basic Steps to Replace the Impeller:
- Drain the coolant
- Remove pump housing and impeller
- Take out the seal from the housing
- Fit new housing and impeller
- Reassemble the unit
- Refill the coolant
Broken Gasket: A cracked or broken gasket can also lead to a coolant leak on the Kawasaki Versys 650. The gasket is usually checked at every service point; gaskets are exposed to heat and friction, so wear and tear are normal, and inspecting them is an important part of routine maintenance.
If the bike is still under warranty, Kawasaki will cover a gasket replacement.
Loose Radiator Clamps: Some owners also experienced leaking and tracked the problem down to a loose upper radiator clamp. Tightening the clamp has since solved the problem for some.
When it comes to leaks, it’s best to check that the liquid is indeed coolant and not other lubricants on the bike. This will help when taking the bike in to be checked by a mechanic or the dealer.
Also read our article on 6 Most-Common Problems With Kawasaki Versys 1000
2. Frame Cracks
Before 2007, the Kawasaki Versys 650 has a reported problem of owners seeing cracks on the frame.
The catalyst to the problem was found and rectified in late 2007, but since these bikes hold value for years, we include this pertinent information for owners of older Versys 650s.
A lot of riders didn’t notice the issue only after other owners pointed it out. The crack starts very small and gradually grows.
Following the crack to its origin found the offender to be the bike’s engine mount bolts.
The problem appeared to be that the engine mount’s bolt wasn’t thoroughly seated if torqued strictly to spec, causing a gap. Riders believed that Kawasaki overcompensated for this issue by applying excessive torque to the bolt at the factory.
A healthier solution, as discovered by mechanically inclined Versys owners, would’ve been:
- Removing the upper right and left motor mount bolts and;
- Shimming out the gaps with washers
This was able to prevent excess tension and stop the cracking at the mount tabs.
The gaps between the collar and the mount have a 2.8 mm gap, but it looks like a bigger gap, say 3.4 mm, was enough to loosen the tension.
Most owners believe this should be a recall as it affects quite a large number of owners. Kawasaki is well aware of this issue, but they only address it as it comes up with individual owners.
It is recommended that every owner of a pre-2008 Versys check their bike for this crack. The sooner the crack is dealt with, the better and cheaper it will be.
If you’re lucky and the crack hasn’t happened yet, either you or your Kawasaki-literate mechanic should shim the engine mount’s gap asap.
3. Power Delivery Problems
This issue only affects a few Versys 650 owners, but it’s worth noting as it isn’t a defect but a matter of either poor maintenance and inspection or standard wear and tear.
Power delivery issue refers to when the bike cannot deliver the necessary RPMs throughout the high-end gears.
For example, changing from 5th to 6th gear can’t take place without the necessary power. Low power delivery is more noticeable when going from a lower gear onto a higher one.
The problem will most likely show up between the higher 5th and 6th gears.
It may also happen when the bike is at a stop that first gear will fail to engage.
Some common signs to look out for that go together with this problem are:
- A throaty unusual sounding engine
- Too much vibration
- Not enough acceleration
This particular issue on the Kawasaki Versys 650 is hard to diagnose because it has many different symptoms.
It points to both mechanical and electrical issues on the bike.
What to check to diagnose the problem:
- Spark plugs and stick coils
- Engine frame grounds
- Battery voltage during higher and lower RPM’s
- Valve shim check
These checks are the best way to diagnose the Kawasaki Versys 650 or any bike if experiencing a power delivery problem.
These can allow the owner to find out if the issue is electrical or mechanical. As soon as there’s an idea of where the problem is coming from, there’s a big chance the mechanic can solve it.
A dealer will usually take care of the issue if the bike is still under warranty.
Other Problems To Look Out For On The Kawasaki Versys 650
4. Rattling Noises In The Gauge Cluster
This issue is common on most parallel-twin engines because of the vibrations the motor makes.
The noise is seemingly coming from behind the cluster and in front of the mounts. The gauge cluster itself is mainly plastic and is bound to make some rattling noise.
Owners have noticed that the noise gets worse as the bike gets older and things get looser. Even though the rattling is harmless, it can get quite annoying.
Annoyed riders can use some foam tape or rubber tape behind the cluster to minimize rattling. If this does not work, it might be that there are loose wires inside the gauge itself.
A mechanic will remove the cluster and open it to check the two tabs that hold the gauges in place. These two tabs can get worn out due to vibrations produced by the bike.
They will then glue these tabs securely and put the unit back in.
5. Clunky Transmission
This issue is also apparent in other Kawasakis in the same model range.
The issue shows up between 1,500 miles and 9,000 miles. The transmission is not as smooth as it should be.
While some have deemed it a design fault, the most prevalent and reasonable explanation is that it is still inside its break-in period.
When the bike is new, its metal components haven’t had a chance to expand yet.
As the bike is ridden, the pistons and shafts in the motor and transmission get hot, and with heat, they expand to the appropriate operating dimensions or “broken in.”
6. Seating Position
Although the seating isn’t an issue that will render the bike unusable, it’s been a gripe for a handful of riders. This mostly happens when a rider is coming from a previous bike onto the Versys 650 and finds the seating position on it is a bit off.
A rider coming from a different bike with a higher or lower seat height will notice a difference when getting on the Versys 650. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with the Versys 650 seat.
Most seating issues are to do with the height of the seat and how comfortable it is. For height issues, there is a simple way to raise the seat to your liking.
If the seat’s firmness or shape isn’t to your liking, there are options to get one of the myriad third-party replacement seats that are available for the Kawasaki Versys 650.
General Pros and Cons for the Kawasaki Vulcan Models
There is a lot to brag about if you own one of these great models from Kawasaki.
The power and handling of the bike make it snappy and responsive. This makes it a great candidate for racetracks.
What’s great about the Kawasaki Versys 650 is that it accommodates both the amateur and seasoned riders all in one. Owners can’t stop talking about how addictive the bike is, especially on track days.
Overtaking on twisty roads is a marvel with excellent power coming from the 649cc parallel-twin engine. For daily commuters, the 21-liter fuel tank is sufficient especially keeping in mind how efficient the Versys 650 is.
Fuel-efficiency is starting to become a priority on modern bikes. Kawasaki made sure to keep this in mind when designing the Versys 650. Fuel efficiency is great on the Versys 650, and you have longer riding times before it’s time to fill up again.
What brings a smile to most owners is how easy to fix and affordability as a touring bike. Most riders talk about how fun the bike is to ride, and for long-distance riders, it’s a pure pleasure.
You should also be reading our article which talks about 6 Most-Common Problems With Kawasaki Vulcan Models
This is a stellar release from Kawasaki, and they got the reliability of the Versys 650 right on par with the best in the model range.
- Coolant leaks from the water pump
- Frame Cracks
- Power Delivery problems
- Rattling Noises In The Gauge Cluster
- Clunky Transmission
- Seating Position
What Do the Reviews Say?
What makes the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT so much fun is that the engine is so willing, without being any handful.
When you’re not working the Versys over, it is happy to tool around the backroads or suburban neighborhoods quite docilely, its amiable character shining through.
A novice could ride this bike without stress, yet a seasoned rider will know how to have a blast on it. Nicely done.
While the Versys 1000 really wants to eat up the miles and is definitely a better machine for the long-distance traveler, the 650 is a far superior urban weapon.
As such, it remains a well-balanced and totally versatile bike that can now, thanks to its new luggage, tackle just about anything you can throw its way.
What’s The Resale Value On The Kawasaki Versys 650
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NB: Please note that the above prices may vary according to the bikes’ location and models.
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.