2012 650 Adventure-Tourer Shootout - Video

BMW G650GS vs. Kawasaki Versys vs. Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS

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When we selected the G650GS, Versys and V-Strom 650 we weren’t fooling ourselves into thinking one of the three might surface as a bike worthy of an around-the-world feat – we’ll leave that to the likes of BMW’s R1200GS or KTM’s 990 Adventure. While we weren’t surprised by the BMW’s dirty prowess, the Versys and V-Strom left good impressions for how well mannered they were when the pavement stopped.

Nevertheless, our 650 Adventure-Tourers are closer to tourer than adventurer, and we suspect the sweeping majority of riders will also see them for what they are: streetbikes.

2012 650 Adventure Touring Shootout

The $7899 Versys is a streetbike through and through. If we were choosing one of the three as the best canyon carver, a bike that retiring sportbike riders might gravitate to and one that would make a great vehicle with which to assault the daily commute, the Kawasaki is an excellent choice.

However, if you have a wandering spirit and find yourself daydreaming about what might exist on the other end of that unmaintained two-track lane you pass every night on your way home from work, then you might consider the BMW or the V-Strom to better satiate your wanderlust.

If, as Tom says, you’re doing “50/50 street and dirt,” then the littlest GS should register as a top pick for you. And – bonus! – at $7850 it is the least expensive bike, yet includes rider-switchable ABS. A BMW as the cheapest bike? Excuse me whilst I catch my breath…

Holding the Beemer back from scoring higher was its power deficit, not so exciting styling and single front brake/rotor combo where the other two bikes offered better performance from dual front calipers and discs.

2012 650 Adventure Touring Shootout Suzuki V-Strom Profile

It’s the $8300 V-Strom’s competent package, highlighted by its best performing engine and well-rounded rider environment, which came out on top with a best overall score of 82% from our in-house voting (76% for the Versys and 71% for the G650GS). And when you consider for a mere $400 more than the Kawasaki’s price you can have the V-Strom’s refined ABS as standard equipment, the V-Strom is all the more appealing.

Of the three bikes, the Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS is the best two-wheeled Swiss Army Knife here.

Extra Notes and Observations
Wide foot on sidestand good for parking in soft ground or sand
Rear rack contains lockable storage compartment, and is ready to accept accessory top box
Tire valve stems oriented at 90 degrees to rim at base of wheel spoke make it incredibly easy to air up tires
Available accessory center stand a handy feature for parking/working on the bike, but a bit of liability when off-road riding
3-pos adjustable clutch lever; brake lever is fixed
Optional low suspension reduces standard seat height from 31.5” to 30.3”; optional tall seat is 33.1”
Optional heated grips available
No helmet lock
Seat release hidden inside rack’s locking storage compartment; maybe not convenient if accessory top box is installed
According to BMW motorcycle fleet management, G650GS “has a small battery,” so when running heated grips and lights together, be sure to turn the key off when shutting down the bike instead of hitting kill switch to prevent draining battery charge
Metzeler Tourance tires
Observed MPG: 53.8
Kawasaki Versys
Bridgestone Trail Wing tires
3-pos manually (with tools) adjustable windshield
Under seat helmet D-ring hook; maybe difficult to use if helmet D-ring strap is short
No luggage rack, but passenger grab handles are substantial
5-pos adjustment for clutch and brake levers
Observed MPG: 42.8
Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS
LCD displays ambient air or time but rider must choose; also has an Avg. MPG reading
Optional tall seat 20mm higher; optional low seat 20mm lower
3-pos manually (with tools) adjustable windshield
Rear rack is top box ready and comes with protective top rubber cover
5-pos brake lever adjustment; clutch lever fixed
Hooks under seat for helmet D-ring
Observed MPG: 43.6 (dash display Avg MPG said 46.4)

By the Numbers
  2012 BMW G650GS 2012 Kawasaki Versys 2012 Suzuki V-Strom
MSRP $7,850 $7,899 $8,299
Engine Type Liquid-cooled Single Liquid-cooled Parallel Twin Liquid-cooled 90-degree V-Twin
Displacement 652cc 649cc 645cc
Bore & Stroke 100.0 x 83.0mm 83.0 x 60.0mm 81.0 x 62.6mm
Compression 11.5:1 10.6:1 11.5:1
HP (BHP or Rear Wheel) 41.9 rwhp @ 7000 rpm 56.5 rwhp @ 8250 rpm 63.2 rwhp @ 9000 rpm
Torque 36.2 ft-lbs @ 5500 rpm 39.4 ft-lbs @ 7250 rpm 41.0 ft-lbs @ 7250 rpm
Frame Steel, Bridge-type Steel, semi-double cradle-type Aluminum alloy Twin-spar
Wheelbase 58.2" 55.7" 61.4"
Rake/Trail 28.1 degrees/4.5" 25.0 degrees/4.3" 26.0 degrees/4.3"
Front Suspension Non-adjustable 41mm fork; 6.7"/6.5"(low susp.) 41mm USD fork w/stepless rebound, spring preload adjustable; 5.9" 43mm fork w/preload adjustment; 5.9"
Rear Suspension Single shock – preload and rebound adjustable; 5.7"/5.5"(low susp.) Single offset laydown shock w/13-position rebound damping, 5-position ramp-style spring preload; 5.7" Single shock w/remote 5-way spring preload adjustment, stepless rebound adj; 6.3"
Front Wheel Cast Alum 19" Cast Alum 17" Cast Alum 19"
Rear Wheel Cast Alum 17" Cast Alum 17" Cast Alum 17"
Tires Metzeler Tourance 110/80 x 19 F, 140/80 x 17 R Dunlop Sportmax D221 120/70 x 17 F, 160/60 x 17 R Bridgestone Trailwing 110/80 x 19 F, 150/70 x 17 R
Front Brakes Single 300mm disc, double-piston floating caliper w/ABS Dual 300mm petal discs with two-piston calipers Dual 310mm discs with two-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes Single 240mm disc, single-piston floating caliper w/ABS Single 220mm petal disc w/single-piston caliper Single 260mm disc w/dual piston caliper, ABS
Fuel Capacity 3.7 gal. U.S. 5.0 gal. U.S. 5.3 gal. U.S.
Weight 423 lbs road ready 454 lbs road ready 472 lbs road ready
Seat Height 31.5"; low susp. 30.3"; tall seat option 33.1" 33.3" 32.9"

Related Reading
2012 Kawasaki Versys Review
2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS Review
2012 BMW G650GS Sertao Review
2011 BMW G650GS Review
2011 Adventure-Touring Shootout: Triumph Tiger 800XC vs. BMW F800GS
All Things BMW on Motorcycle.com
All Things Kawasaki on Motorcycle.com
All Things Suzuki on Motorcycle.com
All On-Off Road Reviews on Motorcycle.com

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