Sure everybody wants the Open-class bike, the most power, the most expensive, the one with all the electronic stuff, just like everybody wants the trophy mate with the big cylinders. Then after you’ve lived with them for a few years, the maintenance, the narcissism, the psychic wear and tear of constantly stoking the beast’s ego and keeping up with the Joneses can get to be a drag.

There you are on yet another Tom Roderick-style Caribbean cruise, smoke pouring from the VISA card as you spring for more lobster and Moët et Chandon while trying hard to maintain that boyish witty veneer. When you finally break free to the ship’s rail to sneak a desperately needed Marlboro Light, you spot a gray old couple in a rented rowboat with a box of cheap chardonnay and a White Castle bag, laughing deliriously and apparently having a much better time than you are.

These three motorcycles are nothing like that at all, really, but it was a fun coping exercise for me. Sorry. Let’s get on with the road test.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

The Kawasaki Versys 650 has long been on our short list of favorite bikes, and for 2015 it’s received a thorough makeover, with svelte new bodywork including a height-adjustable windscreen, a new 5.5-gallon fuel tank and a roomier new ergonomic triangle. Power-wise, a little ECU retuning, a new exhaust and a bump in compression ratio to 10.8:1 are claimed to produce a little more high-rpm power. While the 649cc parallel-Twin is churning out all that nutrient-rich juice, the new Versys also gets a pair of rubber front engine mounts to go with the rear one it got in 2010, and the handlebars are now rubber-mounted as well. Our boy Sean wrote about all of it in his excellent First Ride last December.


And in this corner, in the blue trunks and wearing a surprised expression that appears to have absorbed many a punch, weighing in at exactly 20 pounds more and producing eight more horsepower, the Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS.


This one was last overhauled by Suzuki for the 2012 model year, when it received firmer suspension and a bunch of new engine pieces designed to reduce friction and boost its fuel efficiency by 10%. Happily, its 645cc 90-degree Twin makes substantially more power than the other two bikes here.

Rock not included.

Rock not included.

Least like the other two but not at all in a bad way, the Honda NC700X arrived as a brand-new model for 2012, with an all-new long-stroke parallel-Twin that seems to focus more on maximum efficiency than high performance. The NC’s available with Honda’s automatic DCT transmission (in a package that also gets ABS brakes for only $600 more), but for this comparison we opted for the manual 6-speed gearbox, which keeps the NC’s weight down to less than the V-Strom’s, and undercuts both bikes in price by a substantial chunk.


That would be suave, courteous and refined in manner – particularly in a big-city setting – which is of critical importance in our little Southern California corner of the world. To get to where the fun begins, you’re always going to have to soldier through where the work takes place. Which is also perversely fun on the right bike.

V-Strom 650 owners are a loyal bunch, and past tests of it on MO and elsewhere never fail to praise the bike for its great seat, smooth compliant ride and good weather protection. It’s a bike that excels when you’re riding it and don’t have to look at it (though its dash remains the Wal-Martiest of the bunch). But this year, the worm has turned: With the Versys’ new, bigger fairing and windscreen, its newfound legroom and its new buzz-kill rubber engine mounts, it’s the Kawasaki that emerges on top of the ScoreCard in the Ergonomics/ Comfort category.

Parallel universe: Note the new rubber engine mounts (just northwest of the coolant hose), also new one-piece exhaust and the easy-to-get-to shock preload adjuster knob just above the spring.

Parallel universe: Note the Versys’ new rubber engine mounts (just northwest of the coolant hose), also new one-piece exhaust and the easy-to-get-to shock preload adjuster knob just above the spring.

It’s all relative: The V-Strom’s 90-degree Twin used to feel so smooth rumbling there beneath you, but ridden alongside the Versys’ new rubber-mounting system and the Honda’s low-revving long-stroke Twin, suddenly this V-Strom feels a bit busy at 80 miles per and 6500 rpm. The Versys is turning about the same rpm, but its vibes are now completely absent from grips, pegs and seat, and with fresh earplugs inside a nice Shoei, its cockpit is the quietest. With its 15mm lower/20mm forward new footpegs, everybody liked the Versys ergos the best even though its cushy seat is a bit narrower than the V-Strom’s.

This time, the NC tied the V-Strom for second-most comfy. Even Terrible Tom Roderick, who normally has nothing but harsh words for the unassuming Honda, admits it’s a superior city bike: “Rider ergonomics of the NC are the epitome of a neutral seating position. There’s also plenty of legroom for taller folk, and a soft yet supportive seat upon which to sit. It’s a motorcycle you can truly, comfortably sit atop all day, not feeling worse for the wear when you dismount. When kept within the confines of each bike’s intended purpose, the NC700X is by far the best urban motorcycle of these three – perfect for the motorcyclist living in San Francisco without a car.”

Brilliant. The locking boot will contain a helmet or a 12-pack; 3.7 gallons of gas goes under the seat (and makes the NC feel light and controllable), which is enough for 200-plus mile range given the NC’s awesome 60-plus mpg.

Brilliant. The locking boot will contain a helmet or a 12-pack; 3.7 gallons of gas goes under the seat (and makes the NC feel light and controllable), which is enough for 200-plus mile range given the NC’s awesome 60-plus mpg.

I’m going to have to “amen” him on that. Any sort of adventure involves carrying things, and if you want to do that on either the Versys or the V-Strom, you’ll be ponying up an extra $700 for the Versys LT, or over $10K for the V-Strom Adventure or the new V-Strom XT. The base NC700X Honda comes with storage right where the gas tank used to be, no extra charge. It doesn’t hold as much as two saddlebags, but it also doesn’t make the bike any wider, which can be a big deal if you live someplace as cheek-by-jowl as San Francisco. The NC’s marsupial appendage is more convenient than selective memory when you’re running for office.

Nothing could be much simpler than loosening those two knobs to slide the Versys’ windscreen up and down a few inches. Both hand levers are adjustable.

Nothing could be much simpler than loosening those two knobs to slide the Versys’ windscreen up and down a few inches. Both hand levers are adjustable.

Adult Entertainment

Okay, so these are more practical motorcycles than most, but just because you’re mature doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be fun to ride … wait … The conventional wisdom says the V-Strom’s 19-inch front wheel and Bridgestone Trail Wing tires are going to make it most “off-road” worthy and most adventurous, for riders who want to recreate Long Way Round or whatever, but they’re still cast wheels instead of spoked ones (the new V-Strom 650 XT ABS gets wire-spoked wheels, panniers and crash bars for $10,399), and now that Continental makes TKC-80s in 17-inch sizes too, the V-Strom’s 19-in. front isn’t such an advantage. Throw in that the Versys weighs 20 pounds less than the V-Strom, and there’s really no reason why you couldn’t go just as many ill-advised places on it. Or the NC for that matter, which also weighs 2 pounds less than the Suzuki, carries its weight really low, and has an even stonkier motor.


As for the MO crew, we have no time for Patagonia; Azusa is more our typical adventure, and for unravelling our favorite two-lanes up in the San Gabriels, the new Versys again carries the day. The V-Strom makes more power and torque, but all three of us liked the Versys’ engine better anyway, and the Versys blows the V-Strom out of the water in the Handling portion on the official MO ScoreCard – also Suspension and Brakes. What’s going on really is that the Versys’ chassis is so buttoned-down and communicative, it encourages you to twist the throttle earlier and longer – and the tighter the road, the easier it is for whoever’s on the Versys to open a gap.

In fact the V-Strom peaks with 8 whole hp more than the Versys (and 15 more than the NC), but its plusher suspension and skinnier front tire don’t give it quite the confidence on pavement; off it, the roles are reversed. Tom says: “The larger front hoop of the `Strom (coupled with a wheelbase longer than the other two) makes for a comparably slower steering bike when being measured for its sportiness. This disadvantage on the street turns into an asset as soon as you leave the pavement. For riders who prefer stability over agility, the Strom is the bike of choice among this trio.”

The NC signs off early, but it’s doing good work at only 2500 rpm. None of these bikes are horsepower monsters, but all of them seem to have all you need about 99% of the time in the non-virtual adult world.

The NC signs off early, but it’s doing good work at only 2500 rpm. None of these bikes are horsepower monsters, but all of them seem to have all you need about 99% of the time in the non-virtual adult world.

Trizzle agrees, saying, “while Burnsie and Roderick were romping through the hills on the Honda and Kawi, I was having a tough time on the Strom trying to keep up, that large and skinny front tire not providing much confidence on pavement. However, if you want a bike that’ll tear up the twisties, what are you doing looking at the Strom, anyway?”

Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS
+ Highs

  • 63 horses is the most
  • Biggest, widest seat and cockpit
  • It’s the one you’d least mind crashing
– Sighs

  • Why is the oldest bike the most expensive?
  • If you think traction control’s for weenies, here’s your bike.
  • Fit and finish is not its strong suit
It’s fitting that the V-Strom is the most likely to become involved in an abusive off-road relationship, since it’s already the most agrarian looking. A good skidplate to shield its exposed organs is a necessity, as it is on the others.

It’s fitting that the V-Strom is the most likely to become involved in an abusive off-road relationship, since it’s already the most agrarian looking. A good skidplate to shield its exposed organs is a necessity, as it is on the others.

Some of the children had mean things to say about the Honda before the ride, but I’m gratified to see that at the end of the test and back at our desks, we all agree it handles a bit better than the V-Strom and equals that bike in the suspension category. It’s still hard for some of us to get past the Honda’s 6500-rpm redline – the same problem lots of riders had with the old Sportster-based Buell XBs. Sure it only revs to 6500, but the NC’s 670cc Twin is already putting out more torque than the other two bikes ever will, at only 4200 rpm instead of 7200. You will bump into the rev limiter a few times while acclimating, but the 6-speed box works fine and clutch pull is nice and light.


Honda NC700X
+ Highs

  • The 6-speed is really good if you already know how to shift anyway
  • Every bike should be able to carry a basketball in its gas tank
  • Seems like this one’s going to be way economical in the long run
– Sighs

  • Less protection from the elements than the other two
  • A turbocharger wouldn’t hurt it
  • The storage compartment isn’t refrigerated

Granted, the NC is down on horsepower to the Versys and V-Strom, but it never gets dropped very far behind, especially on the way down the mountain. Geometry- and weight-wise it’s nearly identical to the V-Strom, but with a 17-inch front tire that gives it more solid front-end feel. Then, when it’s time to hit the freeway, cruising at 4000 rpm is way more relaxing than 6500; like the Versys, the Honda cruises serenely along with very little or no vibration reaching the rider. I promise I won’t mention the 60 mpg again, which is on the order of 50% better than the Versys.


Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS
+ Highs

  • Modern, mass-centralized, quick-handling tight little package
  • More comfortable, smoother-running and refined than ever
  • Big 5.5-gallon tank and better wind protection than before
– Sighs

  • Almost inspires us to go all Walden pond and get rid of our other bikes
  • Makes it hard to justify spending more than $8K for any vehicle
  • No 10% off for AARP members

New Pecking Order

Amongst midsize bikes with beaks, the V-Strom finds itself at the bottom of this trio in spite of making the most power. The old SV V-Twin is still a pip, but its containment vessel is suddenly a bit leaky and creaky, and the fact that it’s the priciest motorcycle here doesn’t help any in this price-conscious market segment. “Hasn’t Suzuki payed off the tooling for this bike already?” asks Siahaan. “Having the highest price tag here is a little strange.”

Speaking of dollars if we must be so crass, for $1100 less than the V-Strom, Honda’s still slightly revolutionary NC700X overcame its horsepower deficit to eke out a second-place finish ahead of the venerable V-Strom. It’s not quite as sporty as the new Versys and not quite as adventurous as the V-Strom, but it’s close on both counts. And we all agree it’s the undisputed around-town king of the group – and a great, smooth travelling companion to boot.

Emerging as the clear winner at the end of the official MO ScoreCard, though, is Kawasaki’s new and improved Versys: $7,999 gets you an ABS-equipped super-versatile, super-comfortable and ridiculously sporty motorcycle that’ll keep up with just about anything as long as you steer clear of closed circuits, and $700 more for the LT (with Kawasaki’s excellent KQR bags and handguards) transforms it into one of the best mid-sized touring bikes money can procure. Not only is it a good time to be a motorcyclist, it’s a good time to be a sophisticated mature(ish) adult.


Midsize Urbane Adventurers Scorecard
Category Honda
Versys 650 ABS
V-Strom 650 ABS
Price 100% 93.8% 87.7%
Weight 96.2% 100% 95.8%
lb/hp 75.8% 90.7% 100%
lb/lb-ft 100% 94.9% 95.9%
Engine 78.3% 86.7% 83.3%
Transmission/Clutch 81.7% 80.0% 80.8%
Handling 78.3% 86.7% 76.7%
Brakes 71.7% 80.0% 76.7%
Suspension 76.7% 83.3% 76.7%
Technologies 68.3% 68.3% 67.5%
Instruments 78.3% 80.0% 71.7%
Ergonomics/Comfort 83.3% 83.3% 80.0%
Quality, Fit & Finish 81.7% 82.5% 76.7%
Cool Factor 70.0% 80.0% 70.0%
Grin Factor 73.3% 81.7% 73.3%
Overall Score 80.3% 84.4% 79.9%
Midsize Urbane Adventurers Specs
Honda NC700X Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS
MSRP $7,499
(DCT ABS: $8,099)
(650 LT $8,699)
(Adventure $10,049)
Type 670cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin 649cc liquid-cooled, parallel-Twin 645cc liquid-cooled 90-degree V-Twin
Bore and Stroke 73.0 x 80.0 mm 83.0 x 60.0mm 81.0 x 62.6mm
Fuel System PGM-FI (one) 36mm throttle body DFI with two 38mm throttle bodies EFI
Ignition Computer-controlled digital transistorized with electronic advance TCBI with digital advance CDI
Compression Ratio 10.7:1 10.8:1 11.2:1
Valve Train SOHC; 4 valves per cylinder DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
Emissions EPA, CARB compliant EPA, CARB-compliant EPA, CARB-compliant
Horsepower 47.7 @ 6400 54.9 @ 8200 rpm 63.2 @ 9000 rpm
Torque 42.6 @ 4700 38.9 @ 7200 rpm 41.0 @ 7250 rpm
lb/hp 9.89 8.27 7.50
lb/torque 11.08 11.67 11.56
Transmission 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch 6-speed, multi-plate wet clutch, positive neutral finder 6-speed, wet disc type
Final Drive Chain Chain Chain
Front Suspension 41mm fork; 5.4 in. travel 41mm inverted fork; adjustable spring preload and rebound damping, 5.9 in. travel 43mm fork; adjustable spring preload, 5.9 in. travel
Rear Suspension Pro-Link single shock, adjustable spring preload; 5.9 in. travel Single shock; remote adjustable spring preload, 5.7 in. travel Single shock; adjustable rebound damping and remote spring preload adjuster, 6.3 in. travel
Front Brake Single 320mm disc; 2-piston calipers (ABS optional) Dual 300mm petal discs with two-piston calipers, ABS Dual 310mm disc, ABS
Rear Brake Single 240mm disc; single-piston caliper Single 250mm petal disc with single-piston caliper, ABS 260mm disc, aBS
Front Tire 120/70ZR-17 120/70ZR-17 110/80R-19
Rear Tire 160/60ZR-17 160/60ZR-17 150/70R-17
Rake/Trail 27° / 4.3 in. (110mm) 25° / 4.3 in. (109mm) 26°/ 4.3 in. (109mm)
Wheelbase 60.6 in. 55.7 in. 61.4 in.
Seat Height 32.7 in. 33.1 in. 32.9 in.
Curb Weight 472 lb. 454 lb. 474 lb.
Fuel Capacity 3.7 gal. 5.5 gal. 5.3 gal.
Tested Fuel Economy 60 mpg 42 mpg 49 mpg
Available Colors Black, Red Candy Lime Green, Pearl Stardust White Midnight Black, Racing White, Intense Yellow
Warranty One year, Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty 12 month limited warranty 12 month limited warranty

Free Insurance Quote

Enter your ZIP code below to get a free insurance quote.

Honda Dealer Price Quote

Get price quotes for Honda from local motorcycle dealers.

Honda Communities

Kawasaki Communities

Suzuki Communities

  • Old MOron

    So I haven’t seen the video because I’m still at work. So what? With this kind of text, who needs video? T-rod’s smoking Caribbean VISA card, the bike you least mind crashing, no AARP discount, etc., etc. Thanks for getting my weekend off to a good start.

    • panthalassa

      heh heh … “the nc’s marsupial appendage is more convenient than a selective memory when you’re running for office.” fun comp article. and a hefty bag with some ice or freeze-paks should refrigerate it quite nicely …

    • john burns

      Hey, if you want to launch a campaign to ban videos from MO road tests I’ll come to the rallies! But videos are what the kids want apparently, so…

      • Old MOron

        Well, you MOrons are gettiing much better at the videos. Now that I’ve viewed this one from the comfort of my home, I must give a thumbs-up and a keep up the good work. There was just one thing missing:

        It would’ve been oscar-worthy if Troy had let loose a big ah-ee-ah-ee-ah!

    • DickRuble

      Quit brown nosing.. they don’t give out cookies or free oil changes

  • 12er

    And why is the V strom so dang ugly? Reminds me of the old Katana that I labeled the “Shmoo” circa ’98. Even the old versys is much prettier to me than the newish Strom, just the old one I couldn’t fold up onto enough with the peg placement or I probably would be in the club with Sean.

    • john burns

      be nice.

      • Andrew Navek

        why didn’t Honda do this slow revving engine with hydraulic valve adjustment? Taking half the engine apart every 7K entirely negates any fuel savings. I suspect Honda have lost the plot with this and many other things

        • Craig Hoffman

          Honda had extra Fit car parts laying around, so there you go.

          • Andrew Navek

            that presents images of Bubba, sitting in the Honda car factory, sawing Fit 4 cylinder blocks in half to get the NX engine. It might be credible that the engine architecture borrows something from the Fit engine but as to anything being interchangeable, it seems hardly credible

          • Craig Hoffman

            Common parts (identical part numbers) for the two engines are as follows:

            1. Connecting Rods
            2. Piston Rings
            3. Piston Pins
            4. Con.rod bearings
            5. Con.rod Bolts

            I was being funny (maybe not) but the NC engine is very much in the same tune as a Fit engine, hence the low RPM ceiling and specific output. On the other hand, the NC gets great gas mileage and I imagine if it does not run 100K miles, it would be due to severe neglect.

          • Andrew Navek

            I would not doubt you Craig but none of the above would prevent the use of hydraulic valve adjustment. New head, crank, block etc. all had to be designed and it would have taken very little effort to make this bike an urban warrior, such as the CX500 was in its day.
            I am very much in favour of the concept of torquey low revving engines and actually went to buy an NC when they came out in 2013 (?) but blanched at the thought of the maintenance. You would be doing almost 4 valve adjustments compared to an FZ6R (26,000 mile intervals). The point being that with such a relatively low revving engine, hydraulic tappets would have been such a good fit (pun unintentional-honest) and saved the owner a mint in service costs. As it is, it is an expensive bike to own if you rack up any serious miles on it,

          • Craig Hoffman

            The NC engine shares a rocker arm with screw and locknut adjusters design, if not the actual parts, with the car engine. In the unlikely event it needs adjustment, it is exceedingly easy to do, unlike a shim under bucket setup.

            Agree though, it seems peculiar that both the car and the bike don’t have hydraulic adjusters.

          • Matthew Jordan

            Hydraulic valves would have been nice but the screw n nut
            has been easy. Taking my time, hunting for where I put a wrench, takes me maybe 2 hours. Could easily be done in an hour. Remove radiator, couple of covers to see crank position, and the valve cover is all there is to it. Plus Honda has increased the interval to 16k on the newer models. She has been a great bike and has surprised a lot of people at how well she does off road.

          • hipsabad

            true that screw and locknut adjustment is much easier/faster to perform than bucket n shim but the latter stays within tolerance for much longer–one must choose

          • jguarfn28

            Don’t forget the oil filter is interchangeable with the Civic.

        • jguarfn28

          Honda has raised the valve adjustment period to 16k miles. I have 15k on my 2012 and just got 81.5 mpg with just oil changes, last tank. It is a commuter bike just like I need.

  • G D

    I would have liked to see how the BMW F700GS compares to the 3 tested. Yes, it costs more. But you get more stuff for your money. And, besides, not everybody who buys mid-sized bikes of this ilk places the lowest possible cost on the top of their priority list.

  • Carlos Fernandez

    This video is very helpful towards comparing such bikes but it’s still very much incomplete. As well, this should have included the Honda CB500X and the Yamaha FJ-09. The Yamaha would probably have blown away this competition (based on many of the reviews I’ve seen and read on this bike). If low price (below $9000 USD) wasn’t a factor, then the BMW F700GS, Triumph Tiger 800 and KTM 1190 Adventure should have been included in this comparison. The cool thing is that all of these are great bikes (yes, even the Honda NC700X though we should already have the NC750X in the USA). It’s too bad Honda doesn’t allow the NC700X to have a sportier character (aka higher RPMs). It would sell a ton more (and they could get rid of the CB500X in the process). Oh, and if they could also reduce the weight to 430 lbs (195 kg), that would be even more amazing.

    One last thing, I strongly disagree with Tom Roderick’s assertion (in the video) on taking the Honda NC700X on long distance commutes. Many of long distance travelers have gone on bikes with much less power. It puzzles me why they can’t recognize that for many people, just being on a motorcycle is fun onto itself. There are a large number of people who could care less about RPMs, horse power and having a “sporty” bike to enjoy the ride.

    • DickRuble

      I am with you, they should have included a bologna sandwich, a paella, and any kind of borscht,

      • fastfreddie

        BBQ setup on back of bike instead of box?

    • ThatGuy88

      I’ll definitely give you the CB500X, FJ-09, and maybe the Tiger 800 XR, but the 1190 adventure isn’t really in this class. The 1190 is nearly twice the price of these bikes and twice the displacement. Plus it’s a proper full adventure bike, whereas these really are just tall street bikes.

  • JMDonald

    I am a victim of manufacturer bias. It has prevented me from acknowledging Kawasaki. They have so many good to great offerings it is impossible for me to deny them. The Versys is a great little machine. All that and abs at a reasonable price point.

    • Gootch

      I’m biased against Kawasaki too. My KLR is easily the worst made bike I’ve ever ridden. I wouldn’t trust it to get me around the block, let alone around the world. Because Kawasaki keeps producing and selling these lemons, I have a difficult time even considering a Kawi. Now my 2000 Honda CBR takes a massive licking and keeps on ticking — Honda is a brand I trust. Too bad they won’t build bikes these days that many experienced riders would want. (Brig us the 750 and maybe that would change.)

  • MrBlenderson

    Great article. I keep going back and forth between the Versys and Ninja 650 for my next bike – this review oushed me back to the Versys side.

  • Luke

    So Versys or FZ-07? Both came on top of similar shootouts, and they make up my short list of next bike.

    • john burns

      tough call on those two… Versys better for longer distances, but the FZ’s a smidge sportier…

      • GS1100GK

        Long distances both for comfort and for range since the FZ only has a 3.7 gallon tank and the Versys has a whopping 5.5 gallon tank. 🙂

    • Y.A.

      I would go FZ-07 for where I am. My commute sometimes takes me down 30 miles of 2 lane roads. FZ’s sportier setup would just be more enjoyable there.

    • Kevin Duke

      Yep, horses for courses. I love the FZ-07’s fun nature, so it’s the choice if your roads are in the city or on twisty roads. But the Versys is even more versatile while being competently sporty. I just put a few hundred miles on the Versys, and I was highly impressed with its overall competence and its comforting wind protection. Get the LT version for a small additional price, and you could aim the Versys down any road, no matter how long, and feel good that the bike will handle it.

  • SRMark

    I gotta go buy a dart board. if that Honda just revved out a bit…

  • Jason

    Honda: Offer the NC700X with ABS standard like you do in the rest of the world. I want to buy a NC700X but I don’t need or want an automatic transmission. However, since it is 2015, I won’t buy a motorcycle without ABS.

    Stop trying to force people to buy the DCT.

    • Kenneth

      I find it hard to believe Honda finds it more profitable to offer a different feature mix on U.S. units than everywhere else (where the upgraded NC750X gets ABS w/o the DCT, along with more displacement and taller gearing).

      • Ducati Kid

        Elsewhere on this site please read MO’S ‘Yamaha V-Max v Honda NM4’
        comparison – commentary.
        Please read then review multiple HONDA ‘City’ Concept motorcycle images for this product featuring ‘Automatic or Manual’ operation of a Conventional Gearbox, C-A.B.S. and Storage!
        Enjoy …

        • Goose

          It is even worse than that guys. The ROTW (even our neighbors to the north) gets the NC750, better in nearly every way (more power, better milage, better seat, different gearing to reduce the hitting the rev limiter problem, better instruments, a little more sound from the exhaust, etc. without having to get the DCT to get ABS. Converting currency it cost around $300 USD more to get a better bike with ABS and a 6 speed than we pay for the superseded NC700 6-speed W/O ABS. Somebody an Honda NA should be flogged.

          • Ducati Kid

            Leave that ‘whip’ alone as Indiana Jones may require it!
            Got me thinking – How’s about a ‘NC750X’?
            Affording all your wishes while adding ‘Automatic or Manual’ Gearbox operation employing Electronic activation.
            An associated Rekluse Clutch permits ‘Stall Free’ cycling while still permitting ‘To Clutch or not’ operation.

            That’s the frugal, well thought cycle HONDA should retail!
            Tokyo and Torrance personnel – Are you LISTENING!

  • Craig Hoffman

    The windshield adjustment on the Versys looks highly effective and as straight ahead as it gets. That feature seems to summarize the bike as a whole.

    Always enjoy JB’s hilarity and he does have a point that ties into these comparatively modest bikes nicely. Indeed, less can be more.

  • Kurt Sunderbruch

    Sean Alexander is right, the Versys is a GREAT bike. I’ve got two – one here and one in the UK. Mine has shared fleet time with bikes like the 1100 Hypermotard, 1100 Multistrada, 955 Tiger, and now with a 1200 Caponord, and I love the power of the bigger bikes, but as an all around bike the Versys is sweet. I’ve ridden one of mine all over from Ojai to Victoria, BC. The other one has covered some of the most epic passes from Munich to Nice, lapped the mountain course on the Isle of Man, bounced over the goat trails of Yorkshire and the Lake District, and it’s even done two up tour duty on D roads from Briancon to Calais. I’ve ridden it on BARF group rides, and commuted daily on it into San Francisco’s Financial District. Once a little money is spent sorting the suspension, the only thing it’s really needing is a little more punch for overtaking.

  • dustysquito .

    As somebody who rides a single cylinder DS, the low redline on the Honda isn’t a big deal. I read articles like this looking for a bike that may replace my DR650 for commuting duty and touring. I’ve drooled over VStroms plenty of times, but they keep jacking that price up without offering anything new. I love that Versys restyling too though.

  • Vrooom

    Try getting over a 3″ thick branch with a 17″ front wheel before deciding all you need is knobbies of the right size. The Versys is an a great bike, if I wasn’t interested in off road that would be my choice, albeit the 1000. Also, narrow bikes so you can lane split is a big advantage only in California, and comparing the storage built into the Honda to hard bags on the V-Strom or Versys is a bit absurd (by a factor of around 3). I’ve ridden all 3, I don’t find the Honda very inspiring, but perhaps there are updates missing on the bike I rode (a ’13). It felt like a 500, I’m guessing the 500 feels like a 350..

  • kenneth_moore

    MO: have you ever considered evaluating aftermarket support as part of these comparos? Buyers of bikes like these are almost always looking to add everything from custom screens to bash plates. I’m not a fan of WeeStroms myself, but the variety of accessories for them is astounding.

  • Gary

    So the Honda is quicker going DOWN the mountain, eh? That’s …… noteworthy. But it also qualifies as damning with faint praise.

  • Karl Jens

    I own a 2014 V-strom 650, have had it about a month, when I was purchasing I had a choice of Honda CB500X $8900, 2015 Versys 650 $11,000 or V-strom 650 $9000. Normal price here for the V-strom 650 here in Australia is around $12,500 but Suzuki had an end of year clearance to make way for the XT. Initially I had thought I could get a CB500X for $7500, however that deal ended. So price at time of purchase can make a big difference to which you choose.

    Looks wise I think the V-strom and Versys are pretty close. The Versys would be useless for any creek crossings though with the exhaust outlet so low. I also much prefer the V-strom dash to the other two.

    I personally would prefer acceleration times rather than just power and torque figures, admittedly this varies with the weight of rider but surely the same rider could test all three?

  • Chris

    You guys used the weight for the old Versys. The X is the lightest. It’s also the cheapest, the most economical on gas, has the best and least intrusive storage, and, well…it’s a Honda (Did I just come right out and say that?!). I have a 700X and a Wee and I’ve had several Versys’s/Versi/Verses/whatever. They’re all great bikes, but none of them are powerful or fast. For the desired/designed attributes of this class bike, the X is the best…though others will certainly have their favorites.

  • SRMark

    I really want to like the Honda but it only revs as high as my old clanky Buell. I like the idea of the VStrom but I’d buy the SFV instead. Those are deeply discounted now and a hell of a buy. Of this trio I would take the Versys. And I like the way it looks for whatever that’s worth.

  • Scott

    Kawasaki’s website says the curb weight of the Versys is 476 lb.

  • DCGULL01

    It’s nice to see that the new Versys 650 was as well reviewed by anyone OTHER than Sean A., as his bias is well known (although I completely understand it). Fabulous to see it stack up well versus genuine competitors, although there are many more bikes that fall near enough to compare it with. I’m thinking of Yamaha’s FZ-07 & FZ-09 as urban commuters with the potential to be much, much more- with enough dollars left in your wallet to adjust as needed.

    Honda’s NC700 seems to be growing on the motorcycle press-DCT, or, not-, albeit slowly. Yet, it does so much so well, that it covers quite a bit of ground. Maybe, the average buyer is even more mature than all of us? But, like most readers, I still drool over the sound of the Aprilia’s V4, lust after the multi-tool perfection of the BMW, and, crave the electronic perfection of Yahama’s newest track machine- even if I can’t use more than 1/3rd of what they bring to the party.

    I hate the look of adventure bikes. Don’t get me wrong, if I started with a good looking bike, and, modified to acheive my off road goal, and, it ended up looking like a Triumph Tiger 800 XCx- I’d think it was beautiful. But, show me an ugly beak, and, regardless of how comfortable I might be- I just walk away… The Versys is closest to looking like a normal bike, and, I sense that the overall trend will be in that direction.

    It really is a great time to be a rider. Just get the weight down to 400Lbs, allow for steep lean angles & ground clearance, max. seat height of 30″ for the vertically challenged, around 90 to 100 HP & 75 Ft./Lbs of torque from an 800cc motor, while achieving 50MPG and there will only need to be a similarly concieved cruiser/bagger and the world will only need 2 motorcycles to meet everyone’s needs- right?

  • Antonio Martins

    Recomendo a kawasaki Versys 650 ABS GT. A melhor opção,

  • kartuthero

    I am from the Phils. Versys 650 was my first choice however Kawi does not sell the ABS variant here in the Phils that is why I decided to go for V-Strom 650 ABS. This is my first bike. Did I make a huge mistake by choosing V-Strom over Versys? ABS is a feature that is very important to me. If you were to choose, would you still pick Versys over V-Strom even if the former has no ABS in it? Hope the guys from could give me their opinion on this. Thank you and more power to your site. I am one of your avid subscribers here in the Phils!

    • Kevin Duke

      Not a mistake at all! ABS is a worthwhile feature, especially in a climate that tends to be wet. The V-Strom’s extra suspension travel will better soak up bigger bumps and be better when ridden off road.

  • Ku Manahan

    Great review. Gives me peace of mind, because I’m buying my first large capacity motorcycle tomorrow (coming from an itty bitty Honda Wave 110cc). Getting me a Versys 650 2017! I can’t wait!