2018 Kawasaki Versys-X 300

Quick Read

For many riders, the purpose of an ADV bike is not to hammer truck trails and negotiate rock gardens; it’s to be a comfortable, versatile street bike, with the ability to turn down a dirt road if desired. This is where the Versys-X 300 fits in, and when it was introduced in 2017, Kawasaki described it as a “Multi-Purpose On-Road Touring Bike” (MPORTB?) with an “adventure style and rugged look.”

Indeed, its tall windscreen and fairing, Ninja 300-derived engine and shorter 5.1-/5.8-inch front/rear suspension are juxtaposed with dirt-oriented spoked, tube-type rims (with a 19-incher up front) and roomy ergonomics that make it easy to stand up off-road.

Read our comparison test of the Versys-X 300, BMW G 310 GS and Royal Enfield Himalayan here.

The high-revving (redline is at a howling 13,000 rpm) parallel twin feels and sounds like a sportbike, and requires plenty of shifting to stay in the powerband. It handles freeway speeds easily, the windscreen keeping the elements at bay and weights on the footpegs and grips taming the worst of the vibes, and the 4.5-gallon tank is good for about 215 miles.

Perhaps because of its tall profile and light 385-pound wet weight, it’s susceptible to cross winds, and we also noticed the engine coolant temperature gauge rises nearly to the max when working through rush-hour traffic at 15 to 45 mph, even on a mild day.

The made-in-Thailand Versys-X 300 is available both with and without ABS (non-switchable), and is the only one of our trio to utilize an assist-and-slipper clutch. The assist function is almost overkill; clutch pull is so easy that it suffers from lack of feel, but in stop-and-go traffic it’s beneficial. If your adventures are mostly of the paved variety, the Versys-X 300 is worth a look.