Kawasaki is the latest to enter the sub-500cc small adventure bike market with its 300cc version of the popular Versys all-roader.
The segment didn’t exist a few months ago and now we have the Honda 190cc Night Hawk launched at Intermot last month plus the BMW G 310 GS and Suzuki V-Strom 250 launched at Eicma. We can also throw into the mix the Royal Enfield Himalayan being launched this month in Australia.
It’s a segment clearly identified to grab the attention of the novice adventure rider.
These bikes might also grab the attention of those who have struggled with the weight of heavy adventure bikes, but don’t want the discomfort of riding down the highway to the adventure trails on a dirt bike that shakes and becomes unstable at 100km/h on tar.
The Kawasaki Versys-X 300 uses the 300cc liquid-cooled parallel twin out of the ever-popular Ninja 300 but has a new and more rugged chassis.
Its adventure credentials are also verified by a 19-inch front wheel, dual-purpose IRC Trail Winner rubber, tall screen, wire spoked wheels and longer travel suspension.
Up front it’s got 41mm telescopic forks with a Uni-Trak gas-charged rear monoshock. Suspension travel figures are not supplied.
It’s no use basher. After all, it has a small plastic bash plate.
However, it should cope well with dirt and gravel roads.
Two Versys options
There will be two options, anyway. The Versys-X 300 Urban is obviously for mostly road with some roadworks and occasional dirt roads thrown in. It gets a tank pad, handguards, centrestand and a 30-litre topbox.
The Versys-X 300 Adventure is a little more bush focussed with a tank pad, tubular engine guard, centrestand and 17-litre panniers.
It comes standard with a digital/analogue instrument cluster, slipper clutch, ABS and weighs about 170kg.
Kawasaki claims that, when ridden in eco mode, the baby Versys will have range of more than 380km which is great for ur long outback stretches between servos.
There is no word from Kawasaki or Honda about whether they will introduce their baby adventurers, while Suzuki Australia says no to the baby-Strom.
BMW Motorrad Australia has expressed interest in the G 310 GS.