2004 Middleweight Standards

F 650CS :: Sportster 1200R :: FZ-6 :: Ninja 500R :: Speed Four :: DL 650 V-Strom :: 599

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Conclusion

As you can see, the voting varied a bit from tester to tester. However, after talking to everyone involved, the final score accurately reflects the overall sentiment of the participants. There is no doubt that the 599 was a clear victor. However, the Speed Four and 650 V-Strom are in a virtual dead-heat, with Eric's low vote causing the Suzuki to be fall behind the Triumph, until we throw out each bikes lowest vote.

With the low votes x'd out, (or with Eric wearing platform shoes) the V Strom beats the Triumph. Sound confusing? Good, join the club. Know this: The score is irrelevant, because the V Strom and Speed Four are aimed at slightly different targets. If you happen to want a sportbike, wrapped in "standard" clothes, by all means, choose the Triumph. If on the other hand, you want a go anywhere, do anything bike that is supremely comfortable to commute on and you happen to have a decent inseam, the Suzuki is the clear choice.

"The Kawasaki Ninja 500 is the bike for you. If you can deal with not having the latest greatest crotch rocket, you might be surprised at how far you can grow and how much fun you can have with the inexpensive Ninja."

Considering its price and un-deniable potential, I wish the FZ 6 had done better, but honestly, I can't put it any higher than 5th. Fonzie spend a lot of time using the Yamaha as his personal commuter / camera platform and he seemed to love it. The rest of us (I mean all seven others) voted it no higher than 5th.

Perhaps it vibed him just the right way? The new Sportster held-up quite well in this crowd and if you are the "Harley Type" I suspect it is the only bike you would consider in this test. The good news is that you no longer have to make such a great sacrifice in refinement and operation, just because you picked the Harley. Want to learn to ride, but don't want a "dirtbike"?

The Kawasaki Ninja 500 is the bike for you. If you can deal with not having the latest greatest crotch rocket, you might be surprised at how far you can grow and how much fun you can have with the inexpensive Ninja. What's left? That would be the BMW, if you have to have a BMW and you want a low seat height in an easy to ride bike, the F 650CS isn't a bad choice. Me, I'll be the guy on the reliable, well built, good looking, quick, bright yellow 599. At least until next month, when we swap our seven Middleweight Standards" for seven 1000cc Superbikes and do the whole test all-over-again with a side trip to the racetrack thrown-in for good measure. --Sean

 

Harley Davidson
Sportster 1200R
BMW F650CS
SUZUKI DL650
Engine 73.20 inch Evolution® V-twin 652cc Liquid-cooled single-cylinder 645cc, four-stroke, liquid cooled, 90 degree V-twin, DOHC, 8-valves
Horsepower  61.44  48.69  66.07
Torque  73.03  41.96  43.75
MSRP  Vivid black $8,495; Pearl $8,675  $8,690  $6,599

 

Yamaha FZ6
Honda 599
Suzuki DL650
Engine 600cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline 4-cylinder, 16 valves 599cc liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder 599c Liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line 4-cylinder
Horsepower  91.8  86.4  88.04
Torque  43.7  43.9  41.01
MSRP  $6,599  $7,099  $6,499

 

Kawasaki Ninja 500
Engine 600cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline 4-cylinder, 16 valves
Horsepower 91.8
Torque 43.7
MSRP $6,599

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