2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 300

Base Price: $5,399

Picture a typical adventure bike and the image of a big, beefy, high-riding machine might come to mind—a bike loaded down with hard cases and ready for a dusty journey to remote lands. So why couldn’t this successful formula be scaled down to save a few bucks? It can, and Kawasaki has just the machine (and right now it’s the only player who does).

The new Versys-X 300 certainly looks the part. It has an upright riding position which helps the rider sit tall and have a great view through the windscreen, so it should be a fine commuter as well as a fun backroad explorer. Now, this is a budget adventure bike, so don’t expect serious suspension travel or super knobby tires for heavy-duty off-road excursions. However, the bike’s 7.1-inches of ground clearance means it can handle more than the average street bike.

Kawasaki’a Ninja 300 is one of our favorite affordable sports machines, and the Ninja’s engine has found a home between the frame rails of the Versys-X 300. It’s just as sweet here. Like larger and pricier adventure-class bikes, the Versys-X 300 can be fitted with a full catalog of accessories from hard bags to lights and even off-road crash bars. The Versys-X 300 is available in few colors but the one in our own garage would be painted candy lime green.

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