“Chock full of bland mediocrity” was the original subhead for my second ride review of the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S750. It was a subhead EiC, Kevin Duke, rightly removed. I was a little harsh on the new Gixxus, and now in a group of its peers, the naked bike from Suzuki has proven itself to be quite the contender. Out of the three testers involved in this shootout, John “run-on sentence” Burns and Troy “I’ve ridden the new R1 more than you” Siahaan, it is I who is championing the GSX-S.

On my ScoreCard the Aprilia Shiver came in third behind the FZ and Gixxus by less than two points. Burns and Siahaan didn’t see things the same way. In fact, none of us managed to agree. When the results were tallied, Siahaan ranked the Suzuki third, while Burns slotted the Yamaha into last place. But once we averaged the scores and included the Objective scores for Price, Weight, etc., a winner did emerge. It’s a little surprising, and here’s why.

For 2015, the FZ-09 is even more of a hoot because Yamaha managed to fix the bike’s EFI/Ride Mode issues (see 2015 Yamaha FZ-09: New And Improved Fuel Injection!). What Yamaha failed to address, however, is the FZ’s marshmallowy suspension. In stark contrast are two nicely suspended bikes in the GSX-S and Shiver.

“The Yamaha’s chassis and suspension is probably the least suited for aggressive twisty roads,” says Siahaan. “It doesn’t like being man-handled from corner to corner. The suspension will protest.”

Trizzle continues, “Even though Tom and Burns loved the Suzuki’s chassis, I never found myself getting quite as comfortable with it. I didn’t trust the front and didn’t have much feel from it, either.”

“The FZ’s suspension is not nearly as nice as Suzuki’s, whose ride I also preferred on the freeway,” says Burns.

For the first few corners the Shiver had us confounded. Adding some preload to its rear shock dramatically improved the Shiver’s handling, putting it on equal standing with the Gixxus. “I really liked the Shiver’s chassis,” says Siahaan. “The trellis frame is very communicative, and I felt I could push the hardest, quickest aboard the Aprilia.”

Hot into a corner then stabbing the brakes results in the FZ’s front suspension bottoming out, disrupting what should be a smooth cornering process. Stiffer fork springs and/or heavier weight fork oil would go a long way in fixing the FZ’s suspension woes for not much money.

In the ScoreCard Suspension category, the Suzuki bested the Shiver 88.3% to 87.5% with the FZ trailing far behind with a 73.3%. The Yamaha made up ground in the Handling category with an 80%, but it was still trailing the 87.5% and 86.7% of the Shiver and Suzuki, respectively.

Yamaha addressed the fueling issues with the FZ-09, but its A mode remains twitchy, most of us preferring the Standard mode option, at least around town. The same can be said about the Shiver’s Sport mode, Siahaan and I both noting that the Sport mode is too abrupt while the Touring mode isn’t responsive enough.

In the heavily weighted Engine category, the FZ’s three-cylinder absolutely dominated. Combined with the bike’s light weight (nearly 50 to 75 pounds lighter than the other two), the 106 rear-wheel horsepower wants to loft the front end out of first- and second-gear corners with no more provocation than simply twisting the throttle. This can’t be said about the other two bikes.

“It’s impossible not to love that Triple!” enthuses Siahaan. “Now that its EFI tuning issues from 2014 have been sorted, it’s an absolute blast to ride. I’m not very good at wheelies, but the FZ-09 just begs you to air out the front wheel every chance you get. It’s definitely top choice if hooliganism is your goal.”

Suzuki claims the Gixxus produces more torque than its 750cc Gixxer counterpart. According to our 2014 Super-Middleweight Sportbike Shootout the GSX-R actually made 1.3 lb-ft. more. It’s important to note that the Gixxus has more where it counts in the thick of the rev range, and reaches peak power and torque 2k rpm sooner than the GSX-R. The two bikes were run on different dynos, so this could account for the discrepancy in peak power ratings.

If urban commuting minus the hooliganism is your cup o’ tea, the Aprilia Shiver or Gixxus may be more suitable – not that they can’t be hooligans, they just demand a little more coaxing than does the FZ. Burns makes a case for the Shiver. “Dang, I liked the Shiver more than I thought I would, in spite of the fact it doesn’t have either the torque of the Triple or the top end of the Suzuki,” he says.

But Siahaan raises an excellent point: “Oldest and most expensive bike here? How does that work?” he asks. The price of the Shiver is problematic, especially considering Aprilia’s exotic RSV4 superbike retails for less than some comparable Japanese superbikes. First introduced in 2007, Aprilia’s had seven years to repay development costs, and if the Shiver was $700 less and 75 pounds lighter, our ScoreCard results would be markedly different.

Aprilia Shiver 750

+ Highs
  • Flexible V-Twin power
  • Great handler
  • Unlikely to see someone at bike night riding your motorcycle
– Sighs
  • Comparatively pricey
  • Heaviest of the bunch
  • Down on power

In the braking department, the GSX-S first exhibited impressively weak front brakes, but as the pads bedded in, front stopping power from the Suzuki went from a three-finger proposition to two fingers. Still, the Gixxus brakes were the only ones here that were not radially mounted, and they never matched the stopping power of the FZ or Shiver.

“Them GSX-S twin-piston brakes totally look out of place on such a nice moto, but they seem to work fine on the street, where you don’t use them so hard as you would if you took it to a trackday huh? We must’ve bedded in the pads,” says Burns.

Left to right: Aprilia, Suzuki, Yamaha. We understand this class of motorcycle demands cutting costs, but brakes circa 2001? Come on, Suzuki, you can do better than that. None of these three offer ABS, but the Shiver does boast steel braided brake lines and wavy discs.

The FZ and it’s nearly adventure-bike seating position won over Troy and I, with Burns dissenting, choosing the Suzuki instead. “The FZ felt a little buzzy on the freeway at 80-90 also, seat not so comfy as GSX-S and not quite so aero at those speeds either. Overall, it makes me appreciate the FJ-09 even more,” says Burns.

“The FZ has a broad seat, with what feels to me like the lowest set footpegs of the three,” says Siahaan. “Makes for a very comfortable cruising position. Seat is a tad on the firm side, though.”

Suzuki GSX-S750

+ Highs
  • Well-balanced chassis
  • Sneaky fast
  • Priced right
– Sighs
  • Outdated brakes
  • A tad heavy
  • Needs to be revved
More for Less Shootout Scorecard
Category Aprilia Shiver Suzuki GSX-S750 Yamaha FZ-09
Price 92.0% 100% 97.7%
Weight 84.8% 89.6% 100%
lb/hp 60.0% 81.3% 100%
lb/lb-ft 66.7% 79.6% 100%
Engine 83.8% 84.6% 92.5%
Transmission/Clutch 81.7% 91.7% 81.7%
Handling 87.5% 86.7% 80.0%
Brakes 87.5% 78.3% 86.7%
Suspension 87.5% 88.3% 73.3%
Technologies 66.7% 63.3% 70.0%
Instruments 78.3% 81.7% 81.7%
Ergonomics/Comfort 82.5% 83.3% 85.8%
Quality, Fit & Finish 86.7% 83.3% 84.2%
Cool Factor 88.3% 82.5% 84.2%
Grin Factor 83.3% 80.0% 88.3%
Overall Score 82.5% 83.9% 86.6%

In the end it was the FZ that came out on top but only by the skin of its under-suspended teeth. It’s saving grace being its weight-to-power ratio – objective scores in the ScoreCard that gave it a minimal advantage over the other two. Subjectively, I had the FZ tied with the Gixxus, while Burns scored the Suzuki the highest. Troy did give his subjective win to the FZ but only by a quarter point over the Shiver.

“The FZ looks like it was beaten with the ugly stick when parked next to the Shiver, and the looks of the thing might be more important to me for this type of bike than the last few percentage points of performance,” says Burns. “All three surprisingly great bikes, tho you can tell where they saved money on each of them. Tough call. Good luck!”

Yamaha FZ-09

+ Highs
  • Stellar engine
  • EFI tuning fixed
  • Awesome Triple wail
– Sighs
  • Slushy suspension
  • JB thinks it’s ugly
  • Seat material is a little firm
More For Less Shootout Specs
Aprilia Shiver 750 Suzuki GSX-S750 Yamaha FZ-09
MSRP $8,699.00 $7,999.00 $8,190.00
Engine Type Longitudinal 90° V-Twin 749.9cc 749cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 4-cylinder 847cc liquid-cooled inline 3-cylinder
Fuel System EFI EFI EFi
Valve Train DOHC, four valves per cylinder DOHC, four valves per cylinder DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Horsepower 76.0 hp @ 9000 rpm 96.1 hp @ 10,300 rpm 104.6 hp @ 9,800
Torque 46.7 lb-ft. @ 7,200 rpm 51.7 lb-ft. @ 8,900 59.3 lb-ft. @ 9,700 rpm
lb/hp 6.50 4.80 3.90
lb/torque 10.50 8.80 7.00
Transmission 6-Speed 6-Speed 6-Speed
Final Drive Chain Chain Chain
Front Suspension 43mm upside down fork. Wheel travel 120 mm Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped 41mm fork; adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.4-in travel
Rear Suspension Aluminum alloy swingarm with stiffener brace. Hydraulic shock absorber, with adjustable rebound and preload. 130 mm wheel travel. Link type, coil spring, oil damped Single shock; adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.1-in travel
Front Brake Dual 320 mm stainless steel floating wave discs. Four piston radial callipers. Metal braided brake lines. Disc brake, twin Dual hydraulic disc, 298mm
Rear Brake 240 mm stainless steel wave disc. Single piston calliper. Metal braided brake lines Disc brake Hydraulic disc, 245mm
Front Tire 120/70-17 120/70-17 120/70-17
Rear Tire 180/55-17 180/55-17 180/55-17
Wheelbase 56.7 in 57.1 in 56.7 in
Seat Height 31.6 in 32.1 in 32.1 in
Measured Weight 491 lbs 464.7 lbs 416.2 lbs
Fuel Capacity 3.9 gal 4.6 gal 3.7 gal
Tested Fuel Economy 30.4 MPG 36.9 MPG 35.9 MPG
Available Colors Red, Black Metallic Matte Black No. 2 Cadmium Yellow, Matte Silver, Matte Grey
Warranty 2-year unlimited-mileage warranty. 1 Free Year of Road Side Assistance provided by Road America. 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty. 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)

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