Motorcycle shootouts are a relentless procession of putting the screws to a couple or numerous models selected for similarities in performance, style, purpose, price and, of course, engine displacement. Two of our most recent shootouts, the Gentleman’s Hooligan Comparo and Japanese Mega Standards Shootout, pit four excruciatingly similar models from Kawasaki and Suzuki against one another in two separate competitions. At 999cc and 1043cc the GSX-S1000 ABS and Kawasaki Z1000 ABS were the Goliaths, while the 749cc and 806cc displacements of the Suzuki GSX-S750 and Kawasaki Z800 ABS were the Davids. Is it possible for David to defeat Goliath? Which motorcycle is the true king of Israel?

Interestingly, the two OEMs swapped wins in the aforementioned shootouts, the Gixxus Thou defeating the Z1K, while a few weeks later the Kawi triumphed over the Suzi. In both shootouts the Suzukis scored a perfect 100% in the Objective categories of Price, Weight, lb/hp and lb/lb-ft. But the smaller Gixxus, even with this early advantage, was unable to beat the Z8 to the finish line, coming in a close runner-up with a total tally of 84.8% vs 85.2% when the Subjective scores were factored in.

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Arched swingarm, curved radiator, stylized exhaust – the Gixxus Thou is an attractive naked bike, whereas its 749cc sibling seems cobbled together from spare parts found in Suzuki’s basement. Mathematically, the Gixxus 1K costs less per cc than the 750: $10.51/cc vs $10.68/cc.

It’s easy to assume the big bikes are heavier and more powerful, but the Z800 defies logic by weighing more than either liter bike: 506 wet pounds vs 488 and 465 wet pounds for the Z1K and Gixxus Thou, respectively. Compared to the Gixxus 750 the Z800 weighs a whopping 70 pounds more! Even at this heft, however, the Z8 remains a competitively good handling motorcycle among the four, scoring only fractionally less than the GSX-S750 in the original shootout.

The Z8 is the heaviest bike here, but definitely not the most powerful. That title belongs to the Gixxus Thou with 144.4 hp at 11,700 rpm on tap. At the other end of the spectrum resides the other Gixxus producing a less-than-triple-digit-figure of 98.6 hp at 10,000 rpm (all figures at the wheel). With its second-lightest wet weight, second-best torque and highest horsepower, the GSX-S1000 pushes less weight per horsepower and per lb-ft than the rest.

Kawasaki
Z1000 ABS
Suzuki
GSX-S1000 ABS
Kawasaki
Z800 ABS
Suzuki
GSX-S750
Price $11,999 $10,499 $8,399 $7,999
Displacement 1043cc 999cc 806cc 749cc
Price per CC $11.50 $10.51 $10.42 $10.68
Horsepower
(at the wheel)
129.6 hp
@ 10,400 rpm
144.4 hp
@ 11,700 rpm
103.2 hp
@ 10,100 rpm
98.6 hp
@ 10,000 rpm
Price per HP $92.58 $72.71 $81.39 $81.13
Torque 77.2 lb-ft
@ 7,600 rpm
76.3 lb-ft
@ 9,400 rpm
58.1 lb-ft
@ 7800 rpm
54.9 lb-ft
@ 8900
Price per Lb-Ft $155.43 $137.60 $144.56 $145.70
Weight 488 lbs 465 lbs 506 lbs 436 lbs
Pounds per HP 3.8 3.2 4.9 4.4
Pounds per Torque 6.3 6.1 8.7 7.9

Both Suzukis were the winners when it came to Ergonomics/Comfort, largely due to their plush yet supportive seats. Both Z’s seem to share the same plank of thinly padded wood for their seats. The Z embroidered pattern does look cool, though. Other family similarities were a seating position where the riders feels poised on top of the Kawis and more sitting into the Suzis.

In the technology department the Gixxus 750 is as barebones as modern motorcycles can be, not even outfitted with ABS brakes (in America anyway). For $400 more the Z8 does have ABS, while the two larger bikes are both outfitted with ABS, Ride Modes, traction control, better suspension with more adjustability and radial-mount front brakes.

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John Burns is no fan of the Z1K’s Sugomi styling (right), but I found both it and the Gixxus Thou to be attractive each in their own ways. The Z800 (left) isn’t quite as polarizing as its big brother, but it’s an absolute super model when parked next to the Gixxus 750.

All four bikes are powered by inline four-cylinder engines with both Kawasaki models exhibiting slightly more mid-range buzz than their Suzuki counterparts. Both Kawasakis also produced more low-end snappiness by virtue of more torque from their larger-capacity engines as well as shorter gearing compared to the Suzukis.

For the Z1000 ABS, its biggest hurdle is its price tag. At $11,999 it’s $1,500 more than the GSX-S1000 ABS, and nearly a $1 per cc more than either of the other three bikes. The Z8 is only $400 more than the GSX-S750, but considering the Suzuki’s lack of ABS, the $400 is a wash.

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Your personal decision could come down to brand affiliation, choice of colors, or the relationship you have with your local Kawasaki or Suzuki dealer (maybe one-in-the-same?).

Taking the two winners from our recent shootouts leaves us with the Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS and Kawasaki Z800 ABS, and between these two it seems obvious that the Suzuki is by far the better bang for the buck. The Gixxus 1K weighs 41 pounds less than its 806cc competitor, and for $2,100 more comes equipped with more performance, more technology and better components than its smaller competitor for only $0.09 more per cc.

The Gixxus Thou is more comfortable and would be the better bike for taking a passenger or for touring purposes, and will equal the Z800 in commuter duties. Its larger displacement could impose higher insurance costs, but insurance rates are affected by too many variables to be accounted for here.

So, no happy ending for David in this scenario. Goliath, a.k.a. the Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS, is our choice among these four to best fulfill our every two-wheel need.

  • SteveSweetz

    But of course we all know the real winner has an 847cc triple and costs $8200…

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Good analysis, Tom. In the end, as you said, it comes down to brand loyalty, looks, dealer relationship and location, and which bike excites you the most. For price and performance, the GSX-S1000 is the winner.

  • Jeff LaLone

    I really liked the looks of the GSX-S750 until I saw it next to its bigger brother. Damn.

    • Brett Lewis

      I think it just needs a chin fairing to hide the exhaust.

  • JMDonald

    This is exactly the type of analysis that should be done comparing similar bikes. Well done.

  • Ducati Kid

    Gentleman,

    After decades of analysis Globally by many – a 750cc motorcycle.

    That’s the displacement – time to construct a motorcycle around it!

  • Craig Hoffman

    Just wait until Yamaha’s MT10 is unleashed on this class…

    • Brett Lewis

      The (AKA) FZ-10 will dominate in performance. Whenever I see a picture of it, I think of the album cover for Judas Priest’ “Screaming for Vengeance”. That might be a good thing, not sure yet.

      • Craig Hoffman

        I hated the 10 when I first saw it. Have progressed to the shock and awe stage, may eventually accept and then like it. These things take time.

      • Steve Cole

        Uhm… Tuono 1100, S1000R are basically the same price (S1000R is cheaper) and are more advanced, more powerful and have better components. So, critical fail, Yamaha?

        • Brett Lewis

          Not sure what I was thinking when I made the statement about performance. May have been thinking about how well the new FZ bikes are doing in the comparisons. Poor excuse, my focus was too narrow. The BMW is actually a good-looking bike too.

  • Nihal Kanbargi

    The Suzuki looks stunning in that Motogp inspired blue. And many might not agree but I find the F version to be equally attractive, if not more.

  • Jimmy Z

    I see. A 103 horsepower motorcycle isn’t enough for you. You have to have 144 ponies. Is it a coincidence that the Suzuki has the most horses here and was the winner? Magazine Editors. You gotta love ’em. Some of us have budgets and actually pay insurance regardless of you discounting the cost. Oh,and you know what else? Where are the mpg figures. We scum out here in cyber space don’t get to discount fuel costs as a business expense on the company credit card. We actually have to pay for our gas.

    • Y.A.

      Both fair points. I am not sure how much comprehensive insurance would be, but it costs me about $250 a year to insure my 650 and about twice as much to insure a literbike with just liability and comprehensive. And these bikes are generally good for high 30s low 40s which is way better than any car you can get, especially for the same performance. If you are cash strapped buy a 300, these bikes are indulgences.

  • Michael Mccormick

    I don’t need 144 hp but have always liked the grunt provided by big motors and not needing to rev the piss out of something for accelerating from under 4000 rpm. The Suzook gets my vote for affordability and a reasonable wet weight. One of my favorite motors was the one in the 1200 Bandit. Too bad it was heavy and had flaccid suspension, but that big air cooled lump pulled from 3000

  • Old MOron

    So, which displacement is preferable: a DD, or a little bit less?

    • panthalassa

      for a quick blast through the canyon, by all means a new dd … but as your ride ages, most folks will find that lesser displacements are better for long-term rideability and curb appeal.

  • Jim

    So, how would the GSX-1000 compare to BMW’s new R1200r standard? I know it’s not entirely an apples to apples comparison, but what would I truly be giving up with the Suzuki? The Suzuki has more power, similar ergos, costs a LOT less – but runs chain instead of shaft, and probably doesn’t have all of the tech wizardry. Is the BMW worth another 6K?

    • Jim

      GSX-S1000, I mean.

  • http://motoadventurer.com/ MotoADVR

    Where’s the Speed Triple in this discussion?

  • David Ogden

    Would have liked to see the cb1000 thrown into the mix. I know it isn’t a new model, however I have liked that bike for awhile. I believe the engine is just slightly larger than 900cc.

  • Steve Cole

    Bikes are fun.

  • Shawn Poorman

    I have to disagree on the looks… I actually like the gsx750’s styling the most out of the four. That said, I am definitely more a fan of the euro bikes in general