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Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT SE 20,000 mile review

This bike is fantastic! Fits our riding style and is a BLAST to ride!

It took just a little under three years for us to roll over the 20,000 mile barrier with Kawasaki Versys 1000. We have enjoyed many great trips and have created numerous memories with the Versys. Here is my quick review of the 2019 Kawasaki Versys LT SE.

2019 Versys 20,000-mile review.

The ultimate sport-adventure “VERsatile SYStem” machine.I

The definition of Versatile – adjective 1: able to do many different things 2: having many different usesi.e. The Kawasaki Versys 1000 is a versatile machine.The Versys has been a great choice for the style of riding that we like to do. I ride with my wife Jamie 80% of the time. No matter what the task, either two-up touring or a spirited twisty ride in our home state of Arkansas. (You know if you know) this bike excels. The Versatile System understands what is needed and since it has all of the bells and whistles, it delivers a guaranteed smile, each and every time we mount up. We picked up the bike with less than 2 miles on her. Now that she has 20,000 miles. I thought I would do a quick review.

Power, Fuel Economy, and Handling

As would be expected from a Japanese machine, especially the Kawasaki that has a reputation for quality motors, this inline-four has been free of any issues and continues to ride like a dream. The only thing that I have done to it, is to change the oil and fluids regularly and ride it. There are many liter machines in today’s motorcycle arena that blow the Versys away in pure horsepower, however, with the 106.7 horsepower at 8500 rpm I have never found a need for more. The bike has enough torque to pull like a train. Even riding two-up loaded to the maximum we have never felt the need for more power.

The bike handles well as its tall stature and wide handlebars make it easy to ride the machine at a spirited pace. The weight comes into play in the tight twisty stuff but is still 150lbs lighter than our 2008 Concours C14. The electronic suspension is amazing and makes the big Versys a joy to ride on all road surfaces. The ride modes make it easy to pick the right settings for all types of conditions.

The brakes have a good feel and are more than adequate and bring the big V to a quick stop. The Versys gets 40-42 mpg on the highway and just a little less when pushing it. High octane fuel is mandatory so it does impact the cost of fuel.

Touring on the Big Versys

This is where the Versys excels. There are plenty of comforts to go around. Jamie says the pillion seat is the best of any bike we have ever had. We have completed many 400- mile days on the Versys and have not regretted it. The tush factor is a 10!The luggage is plenty large enough for the two of us to pack for a 4-7 day trip without any issues. This includes all of the camera gear that we carry. We have the color-matched top case which helps in this area. The wind protection is top-notch. I have upgraded to a VStream touring windscreen. This new screen took away all of the buffeting that I felt and has helped with the flow of wind that would push Jamie in the back with the stock screen. Make no mistake this machine is TALL with a 33.4″ seat height. Once underway the height and weight are easy to handle.

With the standard cruise control and heated grips, the Versys eats a ton of miles with ease. The full-color TFT screen is easy to read without being overwhelming. This bike is more of a sport-touring bike than an adventure bike. With the weight and limited ground clearance and all of those beautiful plastic pieces, the Versys is best suited for paved surfaces.


The Versys has been a dream when it comes to maintenance. I change the oil regularly (5K), lube the chain often, and strictly follow the service schedule. At 18K the values were inspected but they did not need adjusting. After reading some of the forums on the internet it seems this is not rare.

I have ridden bikes with chain and shaft drives, and I have to say that I could care less that the Versys has a chain. It is very easy to maintain as the Versys has a centerstand as standard equipment. I have never understood why some riders just dismiss a touring machine because it has a chain. Leave a comment to tell me why you would not own a chain-driven touring machine.

I ride on Michelin PR5 GT’s front and rear and I am very happy with the wear and the traction that they provide. I average 6500-7000 miles on a rear tire and almost 8500-9500 on the front. These tires wear well and they are confidence-inspiring when dancing around the tight twisty stuff here in Arkansas.


The quick shifter is a nice feature and the bike shifts effortlessly. The only complaint I have is the quick shifter is a tad mushy, it takes some getting used to. I really like the look of the bike, but some folks don’t seem to like the styling. We call our Versys orca.

It was bound to happen. I dropped the big Versys in Creede Colorado back in 2020. It scuffed the right saddlebag and handguard and dinged the little plastic cowling upfront. No big deal, just frustrating as it was my own fault. Did not see the sand as I was trying to back it into a parking spot, got a little off-camber and physics won out.

What I like…a lot!

  1. The engine is special: Strong and Bulletproof

  2. Silky Smooth transmission. Slipper clutch, The best transmission I have ever ridden.

  3. Cruise Control & Heated grips

  4. Solid brakes

  5. Ignition key-matched locks for the luggage

  6. Sleek and sporty appearance


  1. Mushy quick shifter

  2. Fuel gauge measures full until it gets lower than a quarter tank

  3. Cruise Control: Controls are hard to engage and the transition is harsh at times.

We did big trips to Colorado, Utah, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Texas during the past 10,000 miles.

Jamie and I look forward to many more great miles and memories together on the Awesome Versys 1000! Ride Safe Everyone!

If you have questions or thoughts on this post, please leave a comment and we will try to respond as quickly as possible.

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