Kawasaki Motors Corp. is hoping the public likes the just introduced 2008 Versys as much as its dealer body did.
The Japanese manufacturer showed off the motorcycle that was introduced in Europe in 2007 at its U.S. dealer event last fall to get dealer feedback.
“We wanted to measure their interest and feelings about the bike,” said Jan Plessner, Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA’s public relations manager, noting the company also inquired about pricing.
The Versys’ style, which features the light-steering chassis of the company’s Ninja 650R sport bike, the long-travel inverted 41mm fork and six-spoke superbike-inspired wheels, has proven to be popular in Europe.
“Performance wise, it appeals to the older more experienced guys,” Plessner said. “Stylewise, the Gen X and Gen Yers love it.”
The Versys was the biggest surprise of Kawasaki’s spring release 2008 motorcycle models. Besides revealing that the Versys would be sold in U.S. showrooms, the company also provided information on the revitalized Concours and upgrades to its KX450F and KX250F.
Marketing the Versys
Kawasaki said the Versys, which sports a style popular in Europe, will be marketed to a broad range of riders in the U.S. Plessner said the manufacturer received many inquiries about the motorcycle before it was brought to the U.S.
“We think we’ll have cruiser guys and sport bike guys and both young and old” look closely at the Versys, Plessner said.
Kawasaki terms the bike as “a jack-of-all-trades” with its compact liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 8-valve, 649cc parallel twin engine and its advanced rear shock. The latter, the company says, allows a longer wheel travel with a feel that is initially soft like a dual sport, but firms to near sport-bike levels.
The Versys’ (MSRP: $6,899) frame is narrow at the knees and feet for increased rider comfort and control.
The 2008 model also features a windscreen that has three height settings.
Other updates to the Kawasaki 2008 lineup include:
Concours 14/Concours 14 ABS
Kawasaki’s upgraded sport touring bike has an aluminum monocoque chassis, radial-mount brake calipers and inverted fork. Plus there’s a number of technical touches, including KI-PASS (Kawasaki’s Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System), the first “smart” key ignition system in its class. Other features include a power outlet located near the cockpit for portable electronics, grip heaters and other accessories, an electrically adjustable windscreen and detachable, locking side cases. The MSRP was not available.
The bike received a revised powerplant and improved shifting. The company said the 2008 engine received smoother, more user-friendly and linear low-rpm throttle response and torque delivery. These changes allow riders to go faster for more laps. The improvements were achieved with new wedge-shaped crank webs, combined with a new heavier flywheel.
The bike (MSRP: $6,999) also benefits from new engine mounts spaced 10mm farther from the engine. This allows a slight decrease in frame rigidity, making for quicker turning and increased rear wheel traction.
New crankcases provide increased rigidity in the areas surrounding the crankshaft, transmission input and transmission output shafts to transfer torque more-efficiently and improve overall durability, the company said about the 250F (MSRP: $6,099). A new shift lever, positioned three degrees higher, allows the bike to be adjusted more accurately and provides more-positive shifting.
The company also released MSRPs on the following 2008 bikes: KX100 ($3,349), KX85 ($2,999), KX65 ($2,799), KLX110 ($1,749), Vulcan 1,500 Classic ($9,699) psb
Copyright 2007 Powersports Business