2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT is the ultimate one-bike solution for budget-oriented riders
If you think the motorcycle and automobile industries are not connected to each other, you are very wrong. If you don’t believe me, just look outside. You will see SUVs and trucks all around, and there is a reason. People want versatility and want to get the most out of their vehicle, in a world where everything gets more expensive.
Purchasing a motorcycle is more of an emotional decision rather than a necessity in North America, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be rational. 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT might be the right choice for someone that wants to get the most out of their motorcycle without breaking the bank.
Kawasaki Versys has been on the market since 2008 with several iterations. They updated the Versys 650 this year, but as you can see, there are minimal changes pretty much from all angles. It’s not easy to improve upon a winning formula, so the 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT is the same bike as before. It’s the details that make the new Versys 650 more modern.
If you get closer, you will see that the updated styling looks very similar to the current generation Versys 1000. The front fascia has sharper lines, especially the headlights look much more aggressive than the outgoing model. New to 2022, the headlights and indicators are also fully LED. The beak, also called “downforce spoiler” looks nice, but is not very functional for a bike not meant for high speeds.
The windscreen is also updated and it has better wind protection. It no longer has threaded knobs and you don’t have to lean over the front of the bike, it can just be adjusted while remaining in the saddle. It has an 80 mm adjustment range with 4 different positions, and you need to use both hands to adjust it based on your height and riding style.
In Canada, we only get the LT trim, which comes with 28L side bags from the factory. However, only the right side bag can actually take XL size full-face helmet. That also means you don’t have to spend extra money to get a top case for your helmet like some other entries. They are removable for sportier or shorter rides. You can easily lock them with the ignition key, and they feel sturdier than other OEM and aftermarket options.
The bottom half of the 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT is pretty much unchanged. You still get the Kawasaki’s parallel twin 649cc engine which has been on the market for over a decade. The bike has approximately 65 horsepower and 45 ft-lb of torque. The 180-degree twin does not sound the best, but I think it has a unique intake sound during acceleration.
The engine and exhaust system are updated for Euro 5 regulations, but it puts out similar power and torque figures. The exhaust is a one-piece design and the muffler is located at the very bottom, which is great for lower center of gravity, but also it is a pain to install an aftermarket center stand. I think the engine is a great fit for a middleweight sport touring machine, with great midrange punch and decent fuel economy numbers.
Speaking of fuel economy, one of the best features that make the 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT unique, and puts other sport tourers to shame is the fuel tank size. The 21-liter gas tank is one of the biggest in its class, which also means you have to stop less. Despite its short gearing, average fuel consumption is less than 5.0L / 100 km, the total range is over 400 km, and it happily runs on regular (87) gas.
Aside from the exhaust note, one of the biggest gripe people have had about this particular engine is the vibration at certain RPMs. Although you feel some vibration at higher RPM, it’s no longer a buzzy experience. However, it still has the biggest drawback of this engine, which is the abrupt throttle response and snappy power pickup off of closed throttle, happening at low RPM.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. – there is no reason for Kawasaki to change what Versys 650 is already good at. It offers the right balance of comfort and handling. The seat is still exceptionally comfortable, and the passenger seat is large enough for long trips. Upright ergonomics increase rider comfort, and the suspension tune is on the softer side even in the firmest setting. Preload adjustment for the rear shock can be easily done with a remote adjuster knob.
Handling has always been one of the Versys 650’s strengths because of the adjustable suspension and lighter curb weight. The bike is very flick-able but also predictable, it just wants to tip into the corners. It is the only bike in this price range that comes with adjustable 41mm inverted forks. The semi-horizontal rear shock is in its traditional location which is mounted directly from the swingarm to the frame for more direct feedback.
The braking system is exactly the same as the previous gen. They are dual 300mm discs squeezed by 2-piston Nissin calipers and they offer an adequate amount of braking power and a good lever feel. The rear disc is 250mm matched with a 1-piston caliper, and I found the rear pedal feeling a little bit vague.
The most significant improvement compared to the previous model year is the tech and safety features. Kawasaki Traction Control System (KRTC) comes standard with two modes. It finally gets the new 4.3-inch TFT dash also used in other Kawasaki models. It offers useful features, and it’s easy to read, but more importantly, it comes with smartphone connectivity that no one else is offering in this price range.
2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT is priced at $11,399, almost $900 more expensive than the last year. Despite the price bump, I still think it is one of the best value propositions considering you get more standard and unique features compared to the other entries, such as the side cases, adjustable forks, TFT screen with app integration, and a huge gas tank. They are all very important for a bike meant to be ridden everywhere, all day long.
The things that make the Versys 650 special are still here with the new generation, I’m glad to see that they didn’t change the formula, but fine-tuned it. It still doesn’t do anything perfect per se, but it does so many things really well, still cheap to operate, with the new look, more features, and tech added for 2022. For more details – please visit www.kawasaki.ca