Opinion: Will we ever get a Versys-X 400?

Earlier this summer, Kawasaki once again dashed the hopes of many ADVrider inmates and released the 2023 Versys-X 300. That doesn’t seem like a particularly bad thing, especially considering the little bike from adventure is much appreciated by its owners. But, a 2023 300 model means we’ll have to wait at least another year before we see the machine so many people want, a Versys-X 400.

It seems obvious. When Kawasaki released the Ninja 300 for 2013, then the Z300 for 2014, then the Versys-X 300 for 2017, it seemed like a pattern was forming. Team Green was going to build a whole host of machines around its small-bore parallel twin, right? But when the Ninja 400 came out for 2018, and then the Z400 for 2019, we didn’t get a Versys-X 400 following. Why?

You might assume Kawasaki may have planned such a move for 2020 and then COVID-19 kicked in. Sounds reasonable, until you remember we’ve never seen any prototypes, no leaked images, no patents. Kawi could have kept such a project a secret for a while, but it’s now 2022. Surely we would have seen such a bike leaked by now. We have a long running thread of Kawasaki Versys-X 400 speculation, with thousands of posts, and we’re no closer to a new bike than when the thread first started, back in 2017.

There’s certainly a lot of interest in a larger Versys-X, so why didn’t Kawasaki make such a machine? And will we ever have one in the future?

I think the Versys-X 400 idea didn’t see the light of day due to a perfect storm of market factors.

First of all, COVID-19 probably had an impact, if Kawasaki had ever planned a project like this. With all sorts of supply chain issues and general chaos in factories and production lines, the past two years have not been conducive to lineup changes. Kawasaki is certainly willing to introduce new machines (we have the new ZX-4R and a few electric motorcycles coming next season), but no doubt it wants to focus its industrial capacity where those efforts matter most. meaning.

Second. Kawasaki management is not stupid. They know that governments, especially in the West, are pushing to end gas-powered motorcycle sales in the coming years. Why not make the most of the 300 machine, instead of investing in a 400 rig that could be banned in many Western markets within a decade? Rest of the world customers are much happier with their 300 than North Americans and European riders, so why waste a good thing?

Third, there is much more competition from China. Chinese manufacturers are pushing hard in the 300-500cc adventure bike space, which would lower the price of a Versys-X 400. Why fight Chinese manufacturers in a financial race to the bottom, when Kawasaki can Rather focus on electric motorcycles, a market the Chinese are unlikely to challenge them anytime soon?

Put it all together and I suspect we’ll never see Kawasaki sell a Versys-X 400 as much as I and many other riders would like that to happen. As for a potential timeline, if Kawi actually released such a bike? Well, now we know it won’t hit the market until at least 2024…

Earnest L. Veasey