REVIEW: 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250 – big fun sometimes comes in small packages

REVIEW: 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250 – big fun sometimes comes in small packages

In Malaysia’s quarter-litre motorcycle segment, buyers truly are spoiled for choice. There is everything from low-end commuters, to naked sports, to full-on full-fairing racers.

For Kawasaki Malaysia, it offers customers in the small-displacement market a current choice of four machines, in single and two-cylinder, naked and with bodywork. For Malaysian riders, these machines have proven popular due to a combination of price point and performance.

But a new direction is being taken this year for Kawasaki in the very competitive 250 cc class, with the introduction of the 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250. This adventure-styled machine gives riders another choice, if naked sports or race-styled bikes don’t tickle their fancy.

REVIEW: 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250 – big fun sometimes comes in small packages

During the media launch of the Versys-X, we had the chance to sample the bike across a mix of highways, B-roads and light off-road. While the short stint did not give us much of chance to really “push” the Versys-X, we did like what we saw, and felt.

Being handed the keys to the Versys-X 250 for review, then, gave us our chance to put this little twin through the paces. Come with us and see what we thought of the little Versys.

REVIEW: 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250 – big fun sometimes comes in small packages

Quarter-litre bikes can be great fun, and for many riders, a 250 cc machine is where they start to hone their skills as a rider, on their first “real” motorcycle. Of course, for many a young rider, a 250 also has to be pressed into a multitude of tasks.

Which is where the Kawasaki Versys-X, as the smallest of the Versys-series bikes, comes in. Recognising that not every rider feels the need to knee-down in the manner of their racing heroes, or simply does not fit the typical naked sports 250, most of which tend to be a little short in the saddle, Kawasaki has provided the market another choice.

At the first approach, the Versys-X strikes the observer as tall and slim, putting one in mind of a llama. The non-adjustable windscreen falls just below the rider’s eye line, once he or she gets settled into the 810 mm tall seat.

REVIEW: 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250 – big fun sometimes comes in small packages

The seat itself is cut slim in front, which allows for riders to put a leg down easily, and widens out a little at the rear, just enough to provide support without spoiling the slim lines of the bike. The handlebars, at about 780 mm in width, are just about right, although the author wanted a little more lay-back at the ends, but that is a matter of personal preference.

Starting up the Versys-X brings the 249 cc parallel-twin to life quickly, and, it must be noted, quietly. While many riders do prefer the exhaust to sound a little fruity, as it were, in this case, for what is intended to be a daily commuter and multi-use machine, the quiet exhaust note is welcome.

Setting off, the clutch pull is light, and the clutch engagement is precise, although we could not say the same for the six-speed gearbox. The lever throw is long, so the rider has to, at least in the initial stages of getting to know the Versys-X, make a conscious effort to pull the foot up a few extra millimetres to engage the gears.

This soon goes away, however, as the rider spends more time with the bike, and the gearbox is, as is typical for Kawasaki products, strong and precise, with no false neutrals. Rush the gearbox, though, or treat the Versys-X like a sports bike, and you will find a few missed shifts here and there.

The gearbox does not like to be rushed, and indeed, this is not the reason why the Versys-X exists. From the outset, it is clear this is a light-touring machine, and it handles and behaves in that manner.

Riding the Versys-X along the highway, the windscreen does a good job of keeping most of the wind off the rider. But the efficiency of the screen does depend on how tall the rider is.

REVIEW: 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250 – big fun sometimes comes in small packages

In the case of the author, who stands at 168 cm, there was enough air coming off the top of the screen to make his helmet buffet. Changing to a more aerodynamic race helmet reduced the problem, as did just ducking down behind the screen a little.

It thus becomes a case of finding a suitable riding position to keep air turbulence to a minimum, something most riders should be able to do. The seat, unfortunately, does have a pronounced hump at the back to separate the rider and pillion, so for riders a little wide in the beam, this might cause issues.

No problems for the author though, as a comfortable position could be found at most riding speeds, and distances. Despite the somewhat firmly padded seat, comfort over the medium distance was fine, although we did not have the chance to really do some serious mileage while the Versys-X was in our hands.

REVIEW: 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250 – big fun sometimes comes in small packages

On the daily commute, the Versys-X performed admirably well, the 173 kg dry weight of the bike making it easy to hustle around traffic. The claimed 33.5 hp at 10,500 rpm and 21.7 Nm of torque at 10,000 rpm is perfectly adequate for a city bike, and on the highway, there is enough torque and power for overtaking and keeping up with faster traffic.

However, to get the most out of the engine, the gearbox has to be rowed, dropping down a gear or two when the extra power is needed. This is, naturally, typical of 250s, and all riders who spend time riding bikes in this class get very adept at manipulating the gears for best effect.

Handling on the Versys-X is surprisingly good, despite the lanky suspension travel. Throwing the Versys-X into the corners of Ulu Yam revealed a sure-footedness and lack of corner wobble, which, to be honest, we were expecting considering the budget suspension of non-adjustable telescopic forks and pre-load adjustment-only rear monoshock.

Instead, what we did get were surprised looks from two riders on Yamaha R25s, when the Versys X-250 went around them on a sharp corner – on the outside. With its tall stance, the Versys-X has a reasonable amount of ground clearance, but remember to tuck your foot back a little, but this is in no way a full-sized adventure bike.

While we didn’t ground anything out on the bike, there were a couple of instances when we wished we’d worn boots fitted with toe sliders. But, again, high-speed corner shenanigans is not the forte of the Versys-X, we do this to find the limits of the bike, so the reader doesn’t have to.

Put to its intended purpose, the Versys-X will deliver what is asked, and while some riders will scoff at the somewhat slow speed and acceleration of the bike, they should remember that this is a light-tourer and not a sports machine. Horses for courses, as they say, and for the Versys-X, within its intended course, it does what it says on the box.

REVIEW: 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250 – big fun sometimes comes in small packages

Speaking of boxes, the Versys-X will not come with the Kawasaki luggage option, something we saw in press photos during the launch. However, Givi Malaysia is in the process of developing a luggage system for the Versys-X, which we had a look at recently.

Adding boxes to the Versys-X is certainly a logical thing to do, and will increase its versatility, something we think a majority of Versys-X owners will do anyway. We did not get a chance to ride the Versys-X fully-loaded though, so exercise caution when piling on the luggage but the standard fitment centre stand will make parking the bike a breeze.

Though we did not ride the bike loaded, braking from the single front and rear discs was adequate, with good lever feel and travel from the front lever. Hard braking did not upset the bike, and it remained balanced, but what we did miss was ABS, which is not available for the Versys-X in Malaysia, even as an option.

Considering the level of lean available on this bike, and the corner speeds it is capable of, we feel this is a necessary piece of equipment to have, especially once speeds start to go above the signboard, or on the oil-slicked city streets. But, this is neither here nor there, as the Versys-X, ridden within its envelope, does the job.

Inside the cockpit an LCD/analogue mix of instruments does the job, with a tachometer in the centre, numeric speedometer on the right and warning lights on the left. The orange-lit LCD screen is logical thought out, with a large gear indicator display, and the usual information necessary, including range average readout.

Range from the 17-litre fuel tank was, as is the case with 250s, very good, helped by the EFI. During the week we had the Versys-X, we only had to fill the tank once, and the bike gave us about 4.2 litres per 100 km, without exercising any restraint on the throttle.

REVIEW: 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250 – big fun sometimes comes in small packages

Priced at RM23,789, including GST and without road tax, registration and insurance, the Versys-X complements Kawasaki Malaysia’s quarter-litre range very nicely. Locally, there is no real competition for the Versys-X, save the made-in-China KTNS 3, which retails around the RM14,000 mark.

So, who needs a 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X250 adventure bike? Well, this is a no-brainer, really. If you are looking for a small-displacement daily rider, the Versys-X will suit to a ‘T’, especially if you are looking for a machine that is easy on the wallet but still has enough performance to keep up with highway traffic.

Living in the outskirts of the city, and commuting for work, the addition of a couple of boxes will make the Versys-X suitable for any trip not involving a border crossing, and perhaps that is not out of the question either. The upright riding position and commanding view of traffic makes the 2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 250 a capable daily rider for all riders.

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Mohan K Ramanujam

Coming with diverse and extensive experience in heavy engineering, Mohan enjoys making anything with wheels go fast, especially motorcycles. His weapon of choice is the Desmoquattro engine, and he has a penchant for anything with a dash of Italian design. Strangely enough, he insists he's a slow rider.



  • komarad on Aug 16, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    seems like a nice bike.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • fahmi on Aug 16, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    What do you think how will CRF250 Rally fairs with this baby Versys?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2
  • Ben Yap on Aug 16, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Wah!this bike is marginally cheaper than my cervelo.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
  • Papa G on Aug 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    They should at least give the ABS as an option.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • Francis Lim on Aug 16, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Sports rims would look nice on this bike.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
  • Where is the ABS? Safety first lah kawasaki =_+

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0
  • Bernard on Aug 16, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Wow expensive, should reduce by 50% and looks rather high for most msians…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
  • Eddie Danu on Aug 16, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    I think competition would be towards D-Tracker 250, KLX 250, CRF250L, Duke 390 and CB500X

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
  • With sales down by 50% since several Years back, just want to wish good luck Kawasaki.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  • BMW g310gs has 313cc and ABS for roughly 5k more

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2
  • sohai on Aug 16, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    I only like the gear indicator on the bike.
    the rest? meh…
    no abs option, no box option, everything that makes this bike great is not even available as option. Lousy Kawa Malaysia.
    I wish Suzuki brings in their 250 CBU.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  • suhaimi on Aug 17, 2017 at 10:06 am

    I wish the price could be reduced around 15K.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
  • Amirul Ashraf Fauzi on Aug 18, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    I just have one issue with this bike. No ABS. Are there even any sub 250cc cruiser-like bike with an ABS? At this price point, I won’t mind adding a few thousand more for an ABS option. But nooo…. I still need to get another license to have a decent option.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • Tan Jy on Sep 08, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Anybody used ktns rx3?It is so cheap that only about half the price of versys-x

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
  • Norfikri on Apr 11, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    All the positive side, what bout d down side of it? Or does Kawasaki dont like bad comments bout it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
    • Hafriz Shah (Member) on Apr 11, 2018 at 9:40 pm

      The lack of ABS was stressed on not once, but twice in the video.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Am surprised that kawasaki msia opted not to bring the ABS version. Most kawasaki msia bikes has high level of safety equipment, i choose & purchased the J300 scooter for commuting to work bcoz it came wt ABS…msia weather wt it tropical rain will necessitate ABS as a must.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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