Had a blast at the Kawasaki Demo Day yesterday. The crowd was pretty full because the weather was poor on Saturday. Kawasaki had about thirty bikes there to demo. I signed up for the Versys and the KLR 650 since I am currently most interested in a dual sport at the moment. I wanted to get a ride on the Contours, but it was booked up until the late afternoon and I didn't want to wait that long to ride it. The day was already long enough as it was.
The demo ride was about 20-25 minutes long and first up was the Versys. After the ride I have to say I enjoyed it a lot. It has a very standard seating position and a sporty overall feel. Ergonomics were great on it, but I can't say I was a huge fan of the instrument panel. Personally I think the dual speedo/tach is the most perfect of designs since everything can be very easily read at a glance. The Versys however had an analog tach with a digital speedo. I am not sure if it was just my newness to the bike or not, but I just couldn't make my mind click with it. Granted I only rode for 20 minutes. One other minor gripe was the positioning of the foot pegs. They were set so far forward that I had to put my feed on the ground behind them. All just a minor annoyance that has more to do with my personal habits more than anything else. Overall though I could see myself owning this bike. It is a perfect size for someone who is 5'8" like me and has the bones to do longer trips.
The second ride of the day was on a KLR 650. Having demo'd the BMW F 800GS last fall I was prepared to try and handle a bike that was too tall for me. To my surprise however I was able to get both feet on the ground, although tip-toed. Everything about this bike surprised me quite a bit. It is only a single cylinder engine, but it had plenty of "git-up" in it. It won't be winning any speed races, but it cruised along about about 70 mph very easily and I was able to mostly hang with the other cruisers in the group ride. The bike setup was also a very standard riding position that was incredibly comfortable. The KLR is definitely more of a dual sport than the Versys and it showed in its suspension. It is a very tall bike that rides high. I can see how people take this thing across the country. The only minor gripe I had with it was that the turn signal indicator was a single light for both signals. There was one instance on the demo ride where we had to make a right and then left very quickly and I wasn't quite sure which way my blinker was going. Overall though super appealing and I came away a little more interested in it than perhaps the Versys.
With the riding position so upright on these bikes and both having fairly high suspensions hoping back onto my ZR-7 at the end of the day sort of felt like getting onto a toy cycle. Bike ZR-7 isn't small by any means, but it is comparatively small to a bunch of these other bikes.