Tag Archives: Kawasaki Versys

Riding gravel roads in Gembrook

On one of the weekends we decided to meet with Greg(on Husky) and Andrew (on BMW R1200GSA) at Gembrook for coffee and go a for a ride after that.
I thought we were just gonna do the local twisties but Andrew wanted to do the gravel. I didn’t even put the adventure boots on and was not really prepared to do the off-road today and Greg was in the same boat saying he would have brought the tool-bag just in case.
Oh well we decided to still do it.
The gravel roads were moist from the rain that was going on for the last few days.Some patches were reasonably dry but the ones in the shade were really moist with few puddles of water.
All was good until we took a left turn I think towards the Power lines section in that area. It was slowly going uphill and one section on the right had all the trees chopped, some sort of logging track.
That is where I had my first slide which is not in the picture. I was trying to go around the puddles went closer to the curb side and then turn left but front washed away and I slide into the curb , it was soft and at walking speed so no issues.
I looked at the surface and it was wet slippery clay stuff not much of the gravel in the section.
Andrew had TKC80s on his 1200GS with traction control and ABS ON Greg still had knobby Pirelli Rally in the front and Mitas 09 at the back they felt some wobbles but it was not as much issue as it was for me on my new Pirelli Scorpion Trails.
They were holding fine on gravel and on drier stuff but on the wet clay they were just like skates on ice. They felt and looked like slicks after mud filled up the thread groves in the tyre.
They asked me if we should turn around and go back to the main gravel track I said I will try again and went first now.

taking a nap
taking a nap

hand brake u-turn
hand brake u-turn

Only managed to do another 100 meters before another slip.This time rear was caught in the little rut and washed out coming around towards the front so the whole bike went sideways to the road and slid from left side of the road to the right side while still being upright and then fell again into a soft stuff mostly leaves and grass so there were no issues. It happened so quickly that the guys didn’t even see how it happened. It was similar to a police stunt u-turn using the handbrake to do a 180degree u-turn.

This time we decided to turn around and take another route.The other section was alright it was more gravely and bike was staying upright.
Andrew let me test ride his 1200GSA, it was my first time on 1200GS.First I could not even take it of the side stand, his seat is high and he dialed his electronic suspension to the highest mode too.So I was barely touching ground.If I am touching ground with my right foot I can’t reach the side stand.So he removed it for me and switched into the 1st gear and then I went.It was so heavy at standstill that I couldn’t move it but as it started moving it felt very light.
The gears felt lower then Versys and sound coming from the engine was interesting too. But i was surprised how clunky the gearbox was I was expecting the opposite from the German engineers. Anyway the standing on the foot pegs and riding in the saddle both were comfortable for me on 1200. The only issue would be the height and the weight of the bike. I also always liked the look of the 1200GS bikes and I got the GS bug again now.

Fallen tree
Fallen tree

Few minutes later we swapped the bikes back and got to a section where a big fallen tree blocked the road. First thought was to turn around as we are not in 4WD and not carrying chainsaws with us. Then decided to ride around the tree through the high grass, ferns and bushes. When I road the bike through that stuff it felt like it was suspended in the air while riding over the brunches grass and other soft debris.

Apart from injured pride, it was a great day out overall, lots of fresh air and emotions.

Kawasaki Versys

had a question on YouTube regarding my Versys:

what do you think about that bike? Would you recomend it to a beginner in that class over 600cc?

my thoughts about the bike:

i think its quite good(especially for the money you can’t find many alternatives), its capable of doing a lot. its good on road and not bad off road, especially with good tyres.
you can see from other YouTube members , other people scraping foot pegs on Versys and take it to the tracks so bike can do it all, its up to the riders ability.I am not a foot peg scraper.
I got this bike last year sep-oct just 6 months after i got my learners(never been on the bike before). so I was still a beginner(i think I still need to learn a lot of on and off road skills)
i bought Suzuki GS500  first , brand new and sold it in 6 months after i test rode Versys as I had found Suzuki was uncomfortable on long trips, because of the posture setup( too leaned forward and cramps in the knees), maybe for smaller , shorter rider it would be better fit. It was still great around the city for all the rides under 1 hour.
Versys is very upright and very comfortable. I have done 11 day (4-5000kms) trip through the outback in june(videos are still coming) and never found it uncomfortable or limited in any way. I find the stock Versys seat is more comfortable then my new BMW F800GS stock seat. My friend says I got spoiled by the Versys comfort.
some stretches were 1000-2000kms of continuous gravel/dirt road. Versys performed flawlessly.I had Pirelli MT60 tyres on the trip, very grippy, little knobies ,capable of doing REALLY high speeds on gravel with the load. It soaked up all the uneven surfaces like it was butter. On Suzuki GS500 for example I was getting scared every time I hit a little pot hole or something similar and suspension would bottom out especially was scary in the corners so in that way Versys is better for beginner. Now I’m running Pirelli Scorpion Trails , less knobbly more round shape, leans quicker and still does dry dirt roads or gravel fine

I think Its ok for learners, just don’t rev from day one, get used to it first. Also depends on your size , how tall you are.
If you have never been on the bike before maybe find/borrow a 250cc to practice for few weeks before jumping on Versys, as I was intimidated by the seat height at the start, I’m not tall and tip toe on it. My understanding was you need to flat foot on the bike. but after riding for few months I find its fine now. and i always stop with left foot on the ground and right on the rear brake. After riding BMW F800GS for 1 month I want an even taller seat on it to have more leg room and that seat is a bit higher then Versys seat. I have now done 18000kms on Versys in a year and still finding it good for commuting, weekend riding, camping etc.  Although i want to try other bikes too 🙂 (KTMs,BMWs, Triumphs, Ducaties etc)
Install engine crash bars to protect the plastics and the engine.
I guess you can even start on a 1000cc bike straight away if you control your throttle , it just takes longer to learn stuff on the bigger bike.

I got a month ago BMW F800GS quite happy with that too, I only bought it as I wanted bigger front wheel and bigger tyre choice for dual sport.

good luck
and happy to answer any other questions