Us MOrons enjoy the luxury of working from home offices, but imagine an alternate world where we actually had an office to go to everyday. Clearly, this scenario won’t be hard for many of you to imagine as it’s your reality. And if you’re also the type to take the long way home after clocking out, followed by a lengthier ride come the weekend, you’re the type of rider Kawasaki and Suzuki are reaching for with the Z800 ABS and GSX-S750 – unless you live in California. Neither bike is currently being offered for sale in the People’s Republic. Intended for the sportbike rider who may be more, ah, mature these days with things adults call, um, responsibilities, the two still offer middleweight performance without the supersport ergonomic commitment. They are also more affordable, at $7,999 for the Suzuki and $8,399 for the Kawi.

With the commuter/weekend warrior in mind, resident shark diving editor Tom Roderick and I set out to experience what life is like for the rest of you, incorporating freeway stints and city riding to mimic the daily grind, while playing in the local twisties to simulate your escape come the weekend.

Nine To Five

Once underway, the Zed emits just a touch more vibration than the Suzuki, especially at 6000 rpm, but both bikes are surprisingly smooth overall. The Kawasaki, and its 57cc displacement advantage (806cc vs. 749cc) makes more power (103.2 hp vs 98.6 hp), but from the saddle this advantage is barely noticeable when riding both bikes back-to-back. The Suzuki’s massive 70-pound weight advantage (436 lbs. vs. 506 lbs., ready-to-ride) gives it a better power-to-weight ratio (4.4 pounds per hp, vs. 4.9 pounds per hp for the Z) and nearly erases this power deficit.

Unsurprisingly, the Kawasaki’s displacement advantage gives it more power throughout the rev range. More disappointing is the Suzuki’s GSX-R-based engine not even cranking out 100 ponies in Gixxus guise.

Unsurprisingly, the Kawasaki’s displacement advantage gives it more power throughout the rev range. More disappointing is the Suzuki’s GSX-R-based engine not even cranking out 100 ponies in Gixxus guise.

Perched atop the Zed, the 800 rider has a commanding view of the road ahead, but it doesn’t take long before the board-like seat starts getting uncomfortable, bordering on painful – a major turnoff. Meanwhile, the Suzuki rider settles “into” the Gixxus, a trait common among Suzukis. At 5-foot, 11-inches, Tom notes a slightly more relaxed knee bend on the Suzuki compared to the Kawi, but the biggest difference between the two is the amount of padding in the Suzuki’s seat. “The Suzuki’s seat is the right combination of support and comfort,” Tom says.

Both motorcycles are well suited to the task of lane splitting; neither sets of mirrors extend too far out (both give decent view behind once you tuck your elbows in), and their minimal bodywork helps those with less spatial awareness to judge whether they can fit in a gap or not.

People treat you better when you wear nice clothes. No one at city hall even batted an eye towards us as we rolled by.

People treat you better when you wear nice clothes. No one at city hall even batted an eye towards us as we rolled by.

In The Hills

When it comes time to stretch the legs of our respective steeds, the Kawi’s power advantage is noticeable, but the Suzuki, and its considerable weight advantage, is never far behind. The Gix’s hiccup is a gearbox slightly less precise than the Zed’s, resulting in a false neutral here and there. I prefer the 750’s gauge cluster, which includes a gear-position indicator residing next to its analog tach, which is easy to read at a glance. However T-Rod favors the modern looking all-digital gauge cluster of the Z800, though it’s void of a GPI. “It looks like something built from this decade,” says Tom of the Kawi’s gauges, “unlike the the dated gauges of the Gixxus.”

When setting a quick pace on a curvy road, not much separates either bike. Ample leverage is provided by both sets of bars, but the Gixxus wins out by virtue of its lighter weight, making it less of a strain to pitch the bike from side to side. The Z800 can keep up, but its rider has to work just that little bit harder to hustle its 506 pounds around.

From city hall to the canyons, the Z800 and GSX-S750 can comfortably do both.

From city hall to the canyons, the Z800 and GSX-S750 can comfortably do both.

Preload adjustability is the only suspension adjustment on the Suzuki. It leans slightly toward commuter comfort but provides the firmness needed for spirited riding, despite bottoming too quickly over sharp bumps. The Kawi’s suspenders aren’t much better, both ends being adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping, but it feels firmer and better suited for quick riding. Both bikes will get unsettled, however, if trying to navigate rough patches of road while carrying decent lean angle. It’s here that the lower-spec suspension components of both bikes reveal their weakness. Tom sums up the suspenders on both bikes with one word: “sufficient,” but the Kawi gets the slightest of nods in the suspension category.

Neither bike comes equipped with radial brakes, but the Z800, and its petal discs, has a firmer lever and stronger initial bite, which we both prefer. In the Suzuki’s defense, it might be just a brake pad change away from being right there. However, the Kawi’s biggest advantage is its standard ABS, something the Gixxus lacks. The benefit isn’t so dramatic in ideal weather, but the peace of mind it provides when the morning dew blankets the roads (or any other time conditions are compromised) “negates the Suzuki’s lesser price tag,” says Tom.

Basic and simple, the GSX-S750 is a throwback to the Universal Japanese Motorcycle.

Basic and simple, the GSX-S750 is a throwback to the Universal Japanese Motorcycle.

From a performance perspective, we both are amazed at how similar these two are. Both are Japanese inline-Fours with similar seating positions that sound virtually identical to each other. Going, stopping and turning proved very similar as well. Even fuel mileage is close; we averaged 40.4 mpg with the Kawi, 41.7 mpg the Suzuki. “If this were a blind taste test,” Tom says, “you’d be hard-pressed fingering which bike you had just ridden. They’re that similar.”

Best of Both Worlds

The decider, then, comes down to the details. The Suzuki wins on price and has a much comfier seat. But we both agree the Z800 is a better looking bike, and Tom, being the outspoken type that he is, takes it a step further.

“Sitting next to the tastefully constructed Kawasaki, the Gixxus oozes bargain-bin architecture, whereas Kawasaki should be commended for not only engineering a good-looking motorcycle but also for ingeniously disguising its bargain-bin bits and pieces. Just look at the exposed exhaust on the Suzuki, with its ugly O2 sensor and exhaust valve where everyone can see, compared to the Kawasaki’s nicely stylized exhaust that covers any inherent ugliness.”

Call us shallow, but we think the Z800 flat out is the better looking of the two. It could stand to go on a diet, though. Swap out the wooden board disguising itself as a seat and you have a very competent middleweight all-rounder.

Call us shallow, but we think the Z800 flat out is the better looking of the two. It could stand to go on a diet, though. Swap out the wooden board disguising itself as a seat and you have a very competent middleweight all-rounder.

What’s important to you? If comfort and the impact on your wallet is top priority, the Suzuki will get the job done. The Kawasaki is the better looking of the two and has ABS. Deal closed. All we’d do is comb the aftermarket for a better seat and call it a day. “Just go buy the Kawasaki,” says Tom. “You’ll be glad you did.”

2016 Kawasaki Z800
+ Highs

  • Good looks
  • ABS
  • Dyno chart winner
– Sighs

  • She’s a porker
  • Uncomfortable seat
  • You can’t have it, California
2016 Suzuki GSX-750
+ Highs

  • Under 8 grand
  • Plush seat
  • Light makes right
– Sighs

  • Could use toothier brake pads
  • Looks dated
  • You can’t have it, California
Gentleman’s Hooligan Comparo Scorecard
Category Kawasaki Z800 Suzuki GSX-S750
Price 95.3% 100%
Weight 86.2% 100%
lb/hp 89.8% 100%
lb/lb-ft 91.2% 100%
Total Objective Scores 90.6% 100%
Engine 91.3% 91.3%
Transmission/Clutch 83.8% 80.0%
Handling 82.5% 83.8%
Brakes 82.5% 77.5%
Suspension 82.5% 81.3%
Technologies 76.3% 67.5%
Instruments 80.0% 80.0%
Ergonomics/Comfort 80.0% 85.0%
Quality, Fit & Finish 87.5% 80.0%
Cool Factor 88.8% 75.0%
Grin Factor 80.0% 80.0%
Tom’s Subjective Scores 85.6% 80.2%
Troy’s Subjective Scores 82.1% 81.9%
Overall Score 85.2% 84.8%
Gentleman’s Hooligan Comparo Specifications
Kawasaki Z800 ABS Suzuki GSX-S750
MSRP $8,399.00 $7,999.00
Engine Engine 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 4-cylinder 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 4-cylinder
Displacement 806cc 749cc
Fuel System EFI EFI
Valve Train DOHC, four valves per cylinder DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Horsepower 103.2 @ 10,100 rpm 98.6 hp @ 10,000 rpm
Torque 58.1 lb-ft @ 7800 rpm 54.9 lb-ft @ 8900
lb/hp 4.90 4.42
lb/torque 8.71 7.94
Transmission 6-Speed 6-Speed
Final Drive Chain Chain
Front Suspension 41mm inverted fork with rebound damping and spring preload adjustability. 4.7-in travel 41mm inverted KYB telescopic fork, preload adjustable
Rear Suspension monoshock with rebound and spring preload adjustability. 5.4-in travel Link-type monoshock, 7-position preload adjustable
Front Brake Dual 277mm petal-type rotors, 4-piston calipers, ABS Dual 310mm discs, 2-piston calipers
Rear Brake Single 216mm petal-type rotor, single-piston caliper, ABS Single 240mm disc, 1-piston caliper
Front Tire 120/70-17 120/70-17
Rear Tire 180/55-17 180/55-17
Rake/Trail 24.0º/3.9 in 25.0º/4.1 in
Wheelbase 56.9 in 57.1 in
Wheelbase 56.9 in 57.1 in
Seat Height 32.8 in 32.1 in
Measured Weight 506 lbs 436 lbs
Fuel Capacity 4.5 gal 4.6 gal
Tested Fuel Economy 40.4 mpg 41.7 mpg
Available Colors Metallic Spark Black/Flat Ebony Pearl Glacier White
Warranty 12-month limited warranty 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty.

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  • Old MOron

    Ha ha, “Gentleman’s Hooligan.” Yup, that’s oxyMOronic. Personally, I think I’d go for the Gixxus. It’s more comfortable, and it’s better in the twisties. Oh, and it’s cheeper? Sold!

  • Born to Ride

    I take the Suzi as well. Seems like a perfectly competent bike and I know a guy that can make a bracket to mount up some 4 pot tokico or nissin calipers off of ebay. I also don’t feel like 100rwhp is too little on a bike that weighs just over 400 lbs full of fluid(once you install an exhaust and shorai). If I was in this market, and didn’t live in Commifornia, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick one up left over from a dealership.

    • Scott

      Well, that’s something in their favor…that the Republic of California hasn’t got these hamstrung for them yet.

  • Ser Samsquamsh

    I wish aero stitch would make a suit- that looks great.

    However – a 5 year old VFR is cheap, better and more gentlemanly than these bikes.

    • Scott

      Wow, two VFR fans in one totally unrelated thread. You are right. I would think if someone wanted a sporty urban / weekend bike they would just get the new SV650 unless they screw the pooch again. At the prices the leftover VFRs are selling, I couldn’t make a case for these. One trick ponies comapred to possibly the most versatile (yet unpopular) bikes out there? Like I said earlier, maybe for the young guys concerned about trends.

      • Ser Samsquamsh

        The answer is probably “cheap financing” more than anything. Saving up $5000 when you are working at Payday Loans is hard.

  • Nick Monrad

    Yamaha FZ-09 is better than both

    • john phyyt

      Nick: I have one and I agree. I am not saying these two bikes are not wonderful but the FZ-09 is Lighter; much more charismatic and now that the after-market has had time. easily transformable. Simple; widely available reflashes , suspension tunes etc . are just the icing on the cake.

      • Jim Heller

        Yes, with a few mods and deletions the FZ-09 is under 400lbs (wet) with 115hp. And SO much fun to ride.

    • Ducati Kid


      The XSR900 ABS, Cafe in Blue, is outstanding!

      YAMAHA America is trying as it’s being shown at U.S. Motorcycle Shows.

      • exexpat11

        Only thing wrong is it is being sold for $1000 more with a round headlight and a Bolt tail light. Should cost the same as the “Nine”.

        • Ducati Kid


          What YAMAHA are you citing at $1,000 more?

          A ‘Bumblebee’ (Yellow-Black) attired XSR900 motorcycle cost $9,900.

          That’s $1,710 more expensive then a FZ-09 ($8,190) BOTH with troubled suspension!

          The scary part – YAMAHA owns or is partner in TWO (2) suspension businesses.

          Eye eyed are you!

          That Round Headlight joins a Tail light from YAMAHA’S ‘Bolt C Spec’ motorcycle.

          • exexpat11

            That and the sketchy suspension was kept. You are right.

          • Ducati Kid


            An adjustable FZ-09 Fork from KYB, likely from INDIA facilities.

            Imagine a cross between FZ-09 and FJ-09 – still JUNK!

        • Ducati Kid

          Apologies – EAGLE Eyed are you!

  • JMDonald

    I still miss my old VFR. If the new one weighed in at under 500 lbs and had the accoutrements of the deluxe version as standard I’d buy one tomorrow. What does that have to do with these bikes? Nothing I just miss my VFR.

    • Scott

      Can’t do much about the weight (not much differnt than the Kawi though is it) but you can probably get a Deluxe for under 10 now no problem, new. The are selling for a song. The fit/finish and features are way above these, and way more versatile bike. Can get 50+ mpg with no vibration, too. Similar power, insurance cheaper prolly. Not much aftermarket support…enough for the necessary things but not for performance. I love mine. First one and first bike that I’m not sure I’ll ever get rid of.

      I could see the young guys going for these instead, maybe…

      • JMDonald

        I may get another one. Even with the extra heft the new version is a damn fine machine. As an old Honda guy I also like the new Africa Twin. When it comes to motorcycles women and wine all you need to know is what you like.

        • Scott

          Someone with more literary skill than me could make a fine metaphor between a VFR and a once-in-a-lifetime kinda woman. That ain’t no joke.

    • ‘Mike Smith

      Did I hear nekkid VFR? Oh, sorry just a wet dream. My bad.

  • SRMark

    I was just gonna say how good the Zook looks in white but you said it looks dated. Guess i can’t buy one now. Sigh.

    • Allison Sullivan

      I thought the same thing. I wasn’t impressed with the blue or black, but thought the white looked sharp.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Both of these cost less than a 450cc dirt bike, so they really are bargains in today’s world.

    No doubt they will both be durable and run forever too, with minimal care. Bikes like these can be owned for a decade, with the owner slowly improving them and adding cool bits as the years roll by. A Penske shock here, some fork work from Traxxion Dynamics there, an exhaust with Power Commander, ASV levers, custom seats, etc. My ’06 FZ1 is finally nearing completion! Can’t sell it now. Like I said, good thing this type of bike is long lived. LMAO…

    • c w

      Of course you can sell it..

      to me..

      for pizza & beer money.

  • Simon

    Here in Canada, the Gixxus comes with ABS…so would that sway you guys to vote for the Suzuki over the Kawi?

    • c w

      I remain confused as to what it is about the two halves of the continent that makes Suzuki think ABS should be available up there and not down here…

      • Simon

        I think ABS should be available everywhere – let the consumer decide. I know I want it.

  • Scott

    I’ve only sat on these. When I got off the Kawi the Suzuki was right beside it. I said, wow, how smaller is this gas tank. He said…same size. I was like WTF. Look at them side by side in person sometime.

    Suzuki felt soooo much better. Just felt lighter and better positioning for me. Not interested, though, if I was going for a straight 4 I’d go all the way.

  • Dani

    So, this is the first time I see someone mentioning that the Suzuki is 436 lbs – where did you get that information? I seem to recall is being 463 lbs. Suzuki’s website confirms that. Did you put it on the scales?
    I agree with the Suzuki looking cheap in person. In fact, I think Suzuki did a much better job with the 1000 cc bike – nicer suspension, nicer handlebar, less weight.
    Between these two, I would choose the FZ-07 😉

    • TroySiahaan

      I put the Suzuki on our own digital scales, topped up with a full tank of gas, and 436 was the number that popped up on the screen. Just minutes earlier I put the Z800 on the same scales and 506 was what I saw.

      • Dani

        Troy, thanks for the reply. That is a pleasant surprise. 436 lbs is a very good weight and much more competitive with the FZ-09

  • DeBee Corley

    These motorcycles are not available in California. Yet, these hooligans violated the “sacred” environment. How come they are not in prison for their foul deed?

    In the meantime, no 1/4 mile results. I expect the “under powered” Suzuki would win, making it over powered. Thus tilting the results to a Suzuki win.

  • c w

    You guys have already established via tests and at least one other comparo that the S750 is more about smooth than houliganism….


    On a different note…does Suzuki have a design philosophy and brand identity?

    The rest of the Big 4 seem to know what they do well or are known for. Suzuki…seems to kind of know that people know of it for at different points, but never settled on doing something consistently.

  • Douglas

    Really not my kinda scoots, but gotta say, that spiffy suit & the racy cycle sneakers… me to at least read the comparo.

  • Jake McDonald

    The Suzuki is less expensive (comparing ABS vs. ABS in Canada), way lighter, has a better power-to-weight ratio and it’s more comfortable…but the verdict is to buy the Kawasaki because it’s (subjectively) better looking? I’ve never read a more unjustified shootout verdict!

    • Tom Sizzle

      The gsx-s750 does NOT come with ABS, or modes.

      • c w

        In Canada, it does.

  • Gary

    Questions: Will there ever come a point when CARB says, “enough is enough. These new emission standards cannot be achieved through current engineering practices.” ? I am getting sick and tired of not having access to bikes that are available everywhere else in the country. Does Nevada’s air stop circulating at the California border?

    • Robs

      How can Yamaha offer a bike that sells in Cali, but Suzuki and Kawasaki cant? It would seem to me you build or set up the bike to suit the most stringent requirements and sell it that way around the country.

  • Reid

    Jeebus but that Kawasaki is fat.

  • W Grant Norman

    As an owner of the Z800 AND the GSX “R” -750, I find the Kawi more than smooth and adequate in the engine and shifting. My GSX-R definitely has more kick to it and is sportier overall, but the Kawi handles extremely well and is no slouch. I personally couldn’t be more pleased with both bikes. As for the GSXS-750…you can keep it…wouldn’t even consider it for a second…just too blah blah blah – how could they make the GSXS1000 so great and the 750 so blah is hard to believe.,

    • c w

      Mostly because they made the S1000 a year ago and made the S750 6/7 years ago.

      The 750 is old product, but I don’t mind it. Now that the new SV650 is here, I’m suspicious it will either disappear or be revamped somehow.