Kawasaki Versys 1000 and ER-6n also set for India launch
Kawasaki may have two CKD and four CBU motorcycles in India and planning to start sales of the Z800 within a month from now, but they are far from done. We understand that the company is further considering adding one CBU and one CKD product to the Indian range. If all goes well, you may be able to buy yourself the naked version of the Ninja 650, the ER-6n by the middle of this year. But even before that you might actually be able to lay your hands on what promises to be India's most affordable adventure tourer, the Versys 1000.
The key to running a low margin high volume business is to manage costs unless the brand is such a premium proposition that the high prices are themselves a part of the buying proposition. And that is why KTM and Kawasaki have always shied away from offering too many colours options, for instance. Adding colours adds more inventory to the spare parts that must be in stock at service centres which raises the costs and cuts margins. Then comes the question of paperwork and certification. In India, as you know, everything under 800cc needs to go through full homologation while everything above can go on sale with the completion of paperwork, requiring little more than the homologation certification from the country of origin.
The Kawasaki ER-6n
Kawasaki in India intend to reap the benefits of both. The ER-6n is mechanically the same as the Ninja 650 but wears a naked look which means homologation should be a simple process since the engine, frame et al are already certified. This also means that the price is likely to be below the Ninja 650 which currently sells for roughly Rs 5.6 lakh on-road Mumbai. Our guess? The ER-6n could be yours for as little as Rs 5.2 lakh in Mumbai when sales open, hopefully around June or July 2014. The thing to remember, of course, is that the ER-6n, like the Ninja 650, will be sold out of Bajaj Probiking dealers like the Ninja 300 and the Ninja 650 and not the single dealer Kawasaki network.
What is the ER-6n? As we've noted, it is the same motorcycle mechanically as the Ninja 650. That means the same twin-tube spar frame wearing the same 72PS parallel twin engine. The differences are visual. The tank is a bit taller and the distinctively shaped headlamp and tiny flyscreen arc backwards to give the bike the appearance of the mass being focussed around the top. In our opinion, though, it isn't very pretty. Unique to the motorcycle are minor details plus the instruments featuring a big tacho and an LCD screen.
What we will get first though is likely to be the Versys 1000. We are told the motorcycle will shortly be on display at Kawasaki's Pune showroom before booking officially open. We expect the price to be around the Rs 12.5 lakh mark, just like the Z1000 and the Ninja 1000. Again, the Versys uses the same engine as the Z1000 but it is detuned so that it makes more torque. Peak power is 118PS compared to 140-odd for the Z1000 but peak torque is 102Nm at 7,700 rpm. The less power is by design. The Versys 1000 isn't an off-road motorcycle by role or design but it does have long travel suspension. The idea is to create a motorcycle that is a comfortable, and fast platform for all kinds of roads, including broken Indian ones. The bike also gets a reworked frame, adjustable suspension, adjustable screen and in most markets, Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres - designed for more than just gripping good tarmac.
The adventure tourer is an interesting category because like supermotards at the small-displacement end, they should be great fits for our unpredictable conditions. Which brings us to the next question, will Kawasaki launch the Versys 650 - the adventure tourer that comes off the Ninja 650 platform - in India? We suspect that it is in the pipeline though it's longer travel suspension et all will mean more work at the homologation stage than the ER-6n for instance. If this does work out, though, we will get to buy and own a credible adventure tourer in India for as little as Rs 5.5-5.8 lakh on-road, which is tremendous value.