Versys KLE650 vs VStrom DL650

Review from someone that has owned both.

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Despite very similar specs, these are two very different bikes.

Versys is more “fun” to ride round town, but not so comfortable on longer rides in stock form.

VStrom is better to customise and tour on. it has ABS.


VStrom Versys
Vague Steering (until modified)

Falls into corners like cruiser

Smooth motor @ cruise

Vibey motor @ high revs

Motor torque has OK pull

Won’t wheelie

Limited tyre feel

Good seat U shape

Great dash

Dull brakes

ABS available for only $500

Limited leg room

Lots of Acc’s available

Long front guard

Great headlights

Weight more on rear wheel

Long, very long wheelbase

Brilliant 350-400km fuel range

Sharp at low speed

Tips in like sports bike

Vibey @ cruise

Smooth at high revs

Motor Pulls like a train

Wheelies (lots)

Harsh suspension, ok feel 

Seat tips forward

Lousy minimalist dash

Sharp brake feel

No ABS in Australia

Good leg room

Limited accessories

Front guard too short

Headlight average

Neutral weight balance

Short wheelbase

Average 300km fuel range

The Versys had Michelin Pilot Road 2 tyres – wonderfully sticky. Despite having very similar dyno charts, the Versys definitely feels more torquey and pulls much more when over 160km/hr. The Versys suspension is far to harsh on less than perfect roads, even after tuning it as far as I could. I find this a major failing on a bike sold for it’s long travel suspension.

The VStrom tyre choice on road is not as sticky, but has a better range of off-road tyres.
The VStrom with Racetech fork valves and springs is a much better beast than stock, with steering sharpening up, and brake dive disappearing. Before it was a bit soft and somewhat harsh.

Drag racing them side by side shows the acceleration from 1st to 6th is basically exactly the same. Seat of the pants though feels like the Versys is MUCH snappier. Ass Dyno wrong again.

Braking is interesting. The ABS gives the VStrom an unfair advantage. I have tested the ABS in both wet and dry conditions finding it reliable in both. It tested at 1.05g using Dynolicious on the iPhone, vs only 0.82g for the Versys.

I am replacing my Versys with a VStrom, as I prefer the range of parts available, ABS and the different feel especially on the highway. The Versys is more fun to ride round town, if you can ignore the issues.

6 Responses to “Versys KLE650 vs VStrom DL650”

  1. patric says:

    Brilliant review! Thank you

  2. Ian Nelson says:

    Which fork mods exactly did you add ?
    Just about to get a new 2010 V-Strom 650 GT

  3. me2 says:

    See for the “spring info” thread.
    In short – Racetech Gold Valves w/ Blue springs and 3/4 turn preload.
    15W oil to stock heights
    0.95 springs. 15mm shortened preload.
    Wilbers rear w/ remote preload.

  4. Kym O'Malley says:

    Agreed, informative review. I wished Kawasaki basically made a KLR650 with the Versys / KLE650 motor. I’m a parallel twin type of person. Transverse V twins create too much clutter within the “engine bay” of a motorcycle & reduce weight (thereby traction) upon the front wheel.

  5. Maverick says:

    Versys has ABS, in fact you cannot buy a Versys without ABS

  6. BigD says:

    Strom won’t wheelie? I’ve owned 2 Wee Stroms and they do when pushed – I even flipped one once…broke my foot…was surprised at how much beast can be unleashed. I’ve lofted the front in the dirt too… interesting when the back is skipping sideways..
    Currently deciding between the 2012 Wee or the Versys 1000…

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