Rider comparo: Honda NC700X vs. Kawasaki Versys vs. Suzuki V-Strom 650…

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Rider Comparo: Honda vs. Kawasaki Versys vs. Suzuki 650 ABS

Bill Stermer

November 6,

Mid-size bikes make a lot of Not only because they to be less expensive and lighter, but because they have so competent. Considering competence, trio of liquid-cooled, 650cc-class each has a 6-speed transmission, final drive and some pretensions (though we did not test in that environment).

Two have around for years, and the third is for 2012.

Our lineup includes the Versys ($7,899), a parallel with dual overhead four valves per cylinder and a of 649cc, along with the Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS ($8,299) its four-valve, DOHC, 90-degree motor and anti-lock brakes Honda’s new NC700X ($6,999 standard 6-speed transmission, or with optional Dual Transmission and ABS) is powered by a parallel twin with a overhead cam and four valves per and offers an intriguing array of (see full test 24). The latter is not to be confused the now-defunct Honda NT700V, a V-twin with integrated and saddlebags that had a 2011 tag of $11,199.

The Kawasaki Versys has a high-tech with its tri-level headlight, rear shock and beefy

To illustrate the differences among twisted sisters, we took on a long day ride of several miles, riding them and comparing observations. Our ride freeway, two-laners and twisty roads. We found that the Versys and Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS are in intent, adventure-style bikes a high seat, but their hardware and lack of a bash belies the notion of their any serious off-roading.

The Honda, in of options and design, is something indeed. We chose to test the with the optional DCT, offers an automatic transmission shifting in three modes, and

The Versys’ 33.3-inch seat will have some tip-toeing while at rest. Its feels mushy, lacking in and its handlebar is placed rearward the pegs forward, adding to the unstable feeling at rest. the clutch, however, and the bike into its element. The first of our ride involved twisty 33 north out of Ojai, California, up and a 5,000-foot pass.

Here, the Kawasaki ripped well in the turns thanks in to its high-end Dunlop Sportmax on 17-inch rims, firm shorter 55.7-inch wheelbase and rake (25 vs. 26 degrees) than the By contrast, the Suzuki rider slightly more in control the grips farther forward and a seat height that lower because of its more suspension and more comfortable, seat.

It generates the most of the bikes in our test and its wider allow it to be muscled through the Still, because of its long wheelbase and 19-inch front the V-Strom changes direction deliberately, which allows the rider to charge ahead.

The V-Strom 650 has standard ABS, and for gets two-tone paint. and styling.

Honda claims 47 horsepower and 44.2 lb-ft. of for the DCT ABS version of the NC700X, or 51 horsepower in the version; we were unable to dyno our DCT unit because the wheel must be spinning to out of first. On its own, power is but in straight-line performance terms, the wasn’t even a close since at 545 pounds this machine outweighs the Suzuki by 74 and the Kawasaki by a whopping 90.

Still, in the tight twisties, the was surprisingly competitive so long as we its transmission in the Manual-shift mode the bar-mounted paddle shifter. In “D” however, it was lethargic as this is intended to deliver stellar economy; it would often shifted into the third of its six before we had even left the lot. Finally, the motor is at a low 6,500 rpm (as opposed to 10,000 for the and 10,500 for the Versys) so it never has a chance to inhale fully to the other bikes.

The Honda what we all agreed were the ergonomics of the group, along a 32.7-inch seat height seems even lower. a 60.6-inch wheelbase and 27 degrees of (all three bikes 4.3 inches of trail) it provides and sprightly handling, and is well on its Metzeler Roadtec Z8 tires on rims. Its seat also good support, its suspension was yet well controlled, and we loved the compartment located in the normal tank position that hold a full-face helmet.

The new Honda NC700X we tested was with several options the taller windscreen, engine and luggage rack.

In side-by-side the Suzuki beat out the Versys by a margin, principally because 66.2 horsepower at 9,000 rpm it about 9 percent more than the Kawi’s 60.2; at 471 wet, the V-Strom is 16 pounds than the Versys. The Honda is in its Sport or Manual-shift modes, but stuttering against its rev limiter and therefore really isn’t in a drag race with the two bikes.

What we have is a close contest between the and Suzuki, with the Honda and its DCT a far different approach. If you seek thrills and back-road handling, the will deliver that in while it returned 45.3 per gallon during our spirited day For slightly more deliberate but with anti-lock brakes, comfort and a greater degree of on gravel roads with its front wheel and Bridgestone Wing tires, consider the 650…which delivered 58.2

The Honda is the most intriguing sister, especially with the We three riders went this test fully to dislike the automatic shifting, and did have disdain for the Drive narcoleptic performance as it constantly out of its powerband to save fuel. In mode, it held each longer and readily downshifted, in Manual mode we controlled with the paddle shifter.

It seamless shifting with convenience and enjoyable (if not competitive) while it delivered 64.2 mpg on ride; it would certainly done even better had we it in Drive mode and ridden

We all agreed that the Honda delighted even us seasoned with its comfort and ergonomics, a of available accessories, low MSRP (in the version) and that handy area. Its automatic clutch and will appeal to inexperienced and new not offered by the other two manufacturers. We that unless you really or want the DCT and ABS for the additional $2,000, you instead choose the standard-shift and apply the savings to outfitting it its excellent saddlebags, trunk and accessories for a mellow touring

2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS

Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS

Honda FES 150 ABS
Honda FES 150 ABS
Honda FES 150 ABS


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