Thanks to their comfortable, sit-up ergonomics, generous suspension travel and do-it-all versatility, adventure tourers have been one of motorcycling’s few growth segments in recent years. But most adventure tourers are designed to be at least moderately capable off-road, which means they typically have a 19-inch front wheel and 90/10 adventure tires.
Kawasaki’s Versys 1000 LT, which debuted for 2015, blends the virtues of an adventure tourer with those of a traditional sport tourer. It has an upright seating position and longish legs, but it has nimble 17-inch wheels shod with grippy sport touring tires.
We liked the Versys 1000 LT so much that we named it Motorcycle of the Year for 2015, and we kept one in our long-term fleet for an extended evaluation.
For 2019, Kawasaki replaced the Versys 1000 LT with a higher-spec model called the Versys 1000 SE LT+. The SE LT+ gets an updated engine, integrated riding modes, cruise control, an updated suite of electronic rider aids, a TFT instrument panel, updated styling, Bluetooth connectivity and more.
Powered by a liquid-cooled, 1,043cc in-line four-cylinder engine that is exceptionally smooth and delivers power and torque in a linear fashion, the Versys 1000 SE LT+ gets throttle-by-wire, new fuel injection mapping and updates to its exhaust and catalytic converter design. As on the previous model, the SE LT+ has two power modes: Full (100 percent) and Low (75 percent). The 6-speed transmission, which is mated to an assist-and-slipper clutch, gets a new up/down quickshifter.
Returning unchanged are the five-piece cast-aluminum main frame and tubular-steel trellis subframe. With 5.9 inches of front/rear travel, the Versys rides on a new Showa 43mm upside-down cartridge fork and Showa BFRC Lite shock, both of which have Kawasaki Electronically Controlled Suspension (KECS) for semi-active compression and rebound damping and rear preload (front preload is adjusted manually).
Braking is handled by dual 4-piston radial-mount monoblock front calipers with a radial-pump master cylinder squeezing 310mm petal discs and a 1-piston rear caliper squeezing a 250mm petal disc. As before, traction control and ABS are standard, but the SE LT+ has been upgraded to the supersport-spec Kawasaki’s Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS). Also new are a Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF), which “monitors engine and chassis parameters throughout the corner to assist riders in tracing their intended line through the corner.”
The Versys 1000 SE LT+ has integrated riding modes that adjust power delivery, traction control sensitivity and suspension damping. Four modes are available: Sport, Road, Rain and a customizable Rider mode. Also, to enhance long-range comfort, electronic cruise control is standard.
Styling has been freshened up with LED headlights and cornering lights (see illustration below), a manually adjustable windscreen, new bodywork and Kawasaki’s new Highly Durable Paint and Highly Durable Matte Paint for high-touch areas such as the fuel tank and fairing panels. These paint finishes feature “a special coat that allows certain types of scratches to repair themselves, enabling the paint to maintain its high-quality finish. Soft and hard segments in the coat work together like a chemical spring, creating a trampoline effect that absorbs impacts.” Color-matched, removable, 28-liter Kawasaki Quick Release saddlebags are standard equipment.
The Versys 1000 SE LT+ also gets a new full-color TFT instrument panel that’s paired with an analog tachometer. Riders can also connect their smartphones to the bike via Bluetooth, and using Kawasaki’s Rideology The App, they can view vehicle information and a detailed riding log as well as make adjustments to certain electronics parameters.
The 2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ is available in Metallic Flat Spark Black/Pearl Flat Stardust White, and MSRP is $17,999.