If, like me, you are impressed with ”The Long Way Round” and the riding adventure of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman you will be amazed by this!
In Austria and the WIMA rally I met Tipi and Chae from Korea, two young scooter riders who are riding around the world on their 125cc scooters. No support vehicles, no medical assistance and very limited packing possibilities but lots of confidence that it is possible to fullfil a dream if you really want to. They had been travelling for about a year, from Korea through Russia to Europe, and seen most of the countries from Spain in the south to the very north of Norway. They where planning to stay out another year or two before riding back through the Middle-East.
I am honoured to have meet these brave girls, they have reminded me that anything is possible!
I have to be honest, when I first got the bike I was quite upset. The first ride was a terrible experience and I couldn’t quite understand how I would be able to ride all the way to Austria and back again. I have been riding Ducati Monsters for about 12 years and I have always been told about the awful vibrations that the Ducatis have. Well in the end I did suffer a bit from the vibrations so I believed it to be true.
Therefore I could hardly believe it when taking the Versys out for the first time. The vibrations were terrible. In the handle bars, footpegs and from the engine. I could not bear myself to embrace the engine with my legs like usual and the riding position was really awkward partly due to that, partly because the saddle sloped forward so I kept sliding.
Well, there was not much to do. I’m stubborn in the best of times and this just became a challenge like everything else. I had a week to do the first 1000 kilometres before first service check and it was a week hot as hell in Madrid. I went online to search information and found useful things on both the American and the British forum for Kawasaki Versys. I also got patted on the head for complaining about the vibrations (needles to say that I do hate when guys do that). Apparently I should have known that parallel twins vibrate lots and worse than a V-twin. Well, this information arrived a bit late since the bike was now mine and I had to deal with it. But it seemed like more people had had the same problems that I suffered from and with some tips I found some ideas for improved comfort. More important though was the information that the Versys vibrations would smoothen out after breaking in and even more so during the first 5000 kilometres. I crossed my fingers and decided that, if not, next summer I change bike again.
I love it when things come true. The vibrations did ease out, not so much during breaking in though. I still had a lot of discomfort when heading out and riding north. But at some point in Austria things seemed quite a lot better and by now only the footpegs are still a problem. I still have to investigate the effect of dampening soles for my boots. My hands are okay, the fingers don’t buzz after riding and I’m very pleased with that.
As for the riding position, I liked it almost immediately when the problem with the seat was sorted out and the vibration from the engine smoothened out that is. I’m sitting so nicely on the Versys, like a queen. I honestly think that I can now never go back to riding a Ducati Monster again, actually I will look into moving the pegs a bit to the back and down to improve comfort even more. I’m not sure about the windscreen. I guess it does help when riding long distances but the buzz from the wind is awful, I can’t quite figure out if it is better with the extension or not, and turbulence is probably different with the different height at different speeds. Earplugs are now essential, even for short rides as when going to work.
I still miss not being a Ducatista and I’m not yet in love with my Versys, but quite fond of it. It has given me back the will to ride on and on and never stop. I grieve that summer holiday is finished and lots of work is ahead of me. I commute to work and the Versys is fantastic in heavy traffic, so easy to manoeuvre and well balanced with the upright riding position. I’m now accustomed to the difference in acceleration and breaking so riding a Lazy Cat is now normality, probably the Monster would seem like a wild tiger now in comparison. The gearbox is smooth and when riding slow I can still use 2 or 3rd gear which gives a relaxed ride and the good suspension allows riding over speed bumps comfortably. Still, it is depressing to have to turn off the highway at the point when the traffic eases off, preferably I would like to continue north and head for France.