That’s right, masters of the obvious, one of these things is not like the other ones. But what we found out as we rode around on these four is that each of them fills a distinct niche, rendering the Honda less outside the Adventure Bike box than we would’ve thought going into it. Besides, the Africa Twin’s not here yet. Tommy Roderick and I already decided the BMW R1200GS Adventure is the ultimate if your adventures will include unpaved surfaces, but these four adventure bikes are aimed more toward riding on pavement: We’ve all seen the stats about how few of these kinds of bikes and Range Rovers ever make it off road. Not many. And having said that, a couple of these might make reasonable dual-sports depending upon how reasonable you ride off piste.

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Honda Interceptor

Honda Interceptor Action

Least like the other bikes here, least new, and the last one you’d want to find yourself on when the pavement ends is the redesigned Interceptor.

As we’ve already pointed out a time or two, a big part of the adventure-bike appeal is simply the sit-up ergonomics: Lots of AARP-eligible people who still love high-performance motorcycles find “adventure bikes” just as thrilling to ride but without the need to assume the position bikes like the Ducati Panigale enforce. In the realm of sportbikes, the VFR always was the gentleman’s choice, a kinder, gentler crotch rocket. Well guess what, it’s all relative. Next to a Panigale, the new Interceptor is a Herman Miller office chair. Next to the other three bikes here, it’s an ’86 GSX-R750. Okay it’s not that bad, but then it’s not 1986 anymore either – and almost everything about this bike insists that it is.

2014 Honda Interceptor Review – First Ride

Some of those things are still cool, if dated, including the RC30-esque aluminum beam frame and one-sided swingarm. Other parts of it are just old. Honda did update the bike for ’15 with a slick new instrument panel and a tacked-on traction-control system, but it’s still a bike from the ’90s, complete with right-side-up fork, skinny seat, and long reach to the low grips. We’ll always love that 90-degree V-Four’s silky purr and we’re the first to admit 93 horsepower is enough. Well, for the $14k+ our test unit retails for, we’d like a little more. The Aprilia Tuono, for instance, gives you roughly 50% more power and quite a bit more of everything else for the same money. Okay, no saddlebags…

Honda Interceptor instruments

You don’t get a bump up in horsepower with the new VFR, but you do get self-cancelling turn signals as part of the DLX package – along with ABS, TC and heated grips.

Duke says: The Interceptor is is still the bike you want if your adventures are purely sporty, and its latest styling updates look pleasing to my eyes. Giving it a long perusal, it appears to be a premium scoot in almost every way. But I’m confused why it has to cost as much of a premium over the other newer bikes in this group and why it has to weigh so much.

Anyway, maybe it is our bad for throwing the Honda in with three brand new offerings from the other Japanese OEMs, but doing so really shines the high beam on the gaping hole where a shiny red Honda ought to be, in the biggest-selling market segment. The closest current Honda is really the NC700X, which really is an amazingly good bike but with half the power of the other players here, which is why we chose to include the VFR instead.

In its defense, if we were going to Chuckwalla, we’d fight over the VFR, but on our favorite twisty roads and down the occasional dirt one, it’s not in the same quick-reacting, fun-to-ride all day league as the other three. Then again, riding home on the freeway cuddled up with the grip heaters on, it wasn’t half bad.

Honda Interceptor
+ Highs

  • One of the great engine textures of all time
  • Bright LED head and tail lights
  • Nice new wheels, instruments and TC; only one not requiring premium fuel
– Sighs

  • Low performance/ $$$ ratio
  • Where’s our Africa Twin?
  • Where’s our RCV1000R? Self-cancelling turn signals aren’t going to cut it.

Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT

The other seat it’s even better to be in on the looong straights is the thick, cush one on the new Versys 1000 LT Kawasaki, especially when it’s dark and you can’t see how they kept the price down to $12,799, including saddlebags.


Dirty Sean Alexander rode the bike a couple months ago and filed an excellent report with which the rest of us have to agree: Though it shares the name Versys with the little 650, this liter version is much more grand tourer than lightweight playmate. On the official MO scales, it’s the heaviest bike here, at 565 pounds fuelled up, and it’s chunkiest between your thighs and just in general feels like the most substantial bike of the group because it is. At the same time, the sit-up ergoes and right-there grips make it super controllable, even though 5.9 inches of suspension travel at both ends has the seat more than 33 inches from the ground. (In fact, they’re all tall except the Interceptor.)

2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT First Ride Review

I was feeling charitable toward the Interceptor until I hopped off it and onto the Versys: There’s a big difference between 50 lb-ft of torque and 69 lb-ft of the stuff; the Kawasaki has pulse-jet spaceship drive. It’s already up around 65 lb-ft at only 5000 rpm, and if you keep the gas on it makes the most power too, jumping up over 100 hp at only 7700 rpm.

It surprised no one when the largest engine of the group cranked out the biggest numbers, as the 1043cc Versys mill spat out the most power. The FJ-09 is perhaps most impressive, its 847cc Triple punching above its weight to come up less than 5 horses short of the big Kawi. The Interceptor uses its high rev ceiling to barely out-pony the V-Strom.

It surprised no one when the largest engine of the group cranked out the biggest numbers, as the 1043cc Versys mill spat out the most power. The FJ-09 is perhaps most impressive, its 847cc Triple punching above its weight to come up less than 5 horses short of the big Kawi. The Interceptor uses its high rev ceiling to barely out-pony the V-Strom.

Though its hp and torque numbers are considerably lower than the Ninja 1000 and Z1000, which use the same engine, this one feels just as fast on the road, since so much of that power is shoved even lower in the powerband and delivered with sumptuous smoothness … and nobody complained about the vibration through the footpegs Sean did in his First Ride report (he’s very sensitive for a big guy). The rubber engine mounts in front do make the Versys less vibey through the grips than either of its stablemates.

Kawasaki Versys 1000 action

Kawasaki Versys 1000 bags

The Kawi’s the biggest bike here, with the biggest bags, included in the lowest price of $12,799. Note also the remote preload adjuster, centerstand…

Streetbike rolling stock – 17-inch wheels at both ends with 120- and 180mm tires – is your first clue that this one’s not really intended for off-pavement use: 565 pounds is big, yes, but the BMW R1200GS Adventure is 38 pounds heftier. On twisty pavement, you won’t mistake the V1000 for the 650 Versys, but its wide handlebar and ergos make it feel nice and light, and it transitions from side to side easily enough. Its fork is pretty raked out, but 102mm trail keeps steering reasonably quick. Its suspension delivers the cushiest ride here, but is also firm enough for aggressive backroad riding, and controlled enough to let you use all that torque to best advantage. Three levels of traction control (plus Off) have your back, and ABS is part of the deal too, on powerful triple-disc brakes.

Evans says: What an engine! Crank the throttle to the stop and hang on. On the freeway, I couldn’t keep this bike below 85 mph. I blame the minimized engine vibration for my inability to track the Versys’ highway speed. Best weather protection of the bunch when it came to riding in chilly temperatures. The windshield opened up a nice hole in the air my body was more than happy to occupy when I found myself on the road with too few layers. The hand guards offered better wind protection, too, compared to the Yamaha’s, that allow a draft to come around from inside near the windshield. The Versys’ seat is a winner. Look closely at the videoyou’ll see me fondling the Kawi’s supple padding. Mmmmm…

Kawasaki Versys 1000 instruments

There’s a lot of info packed into the Kawasaki’s Radio Shack-looking dash, but you should definitely have your eyes on the road when the tach gets past 5.

It’s a superfluid, easy-to-ride all day bike except for its windscreen, which for 5-foot, 8-inch me is never unblustery in any of its positions. Other than that, this is the one you want if you’re a big guy with a big passenger and want to carry lots of stuff. Neither bag will hold a helmet, but they’ll hold plenty of other things.

Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT
+ Highs

  • Most powerful beast and smooth-running
  • Most room for you and your stuff
  • Very comfy
– Sighs

  • Looks military issue
  • Cheesiest windscreen adjusters, blusteriest windscreen
  • Most likely to be more adventure than you wanted off-road


Suzuki V-Strom 1000

Or is the Versys the one you want? Riding up to meet the fellas for this little comparo, I thought the new V-Strom 1000 was just as I remembered it from its coming-out party a little over a year ago, bullmoose stout and smooth-running along the freeway… until I noticed the letters at the bottom of the windshield said “ikasawaK.”

Suzuki V-Strom 1000 action

The new V-Strom 1000 Adventure is a bit more expensive than the Versys, a bit lighter, a bit more nicely turned out… but they’re both big, torquey-fun motorcycles to ride all day and then some.

What the? I forgot I’d swapped bikes a couple days ago. In terms of riding position and overall feel, the V-Strom and the Versys are almost interchangeable. What do you like, a Twin or a Four-cylinder? The Kawasaki makes a lot more hp up top, but the V-Strom makes almost as much torque and peaks at just 4000 rpm – so it usually feels just as fast in urban use as the Versys (4800 rpm is 80 mph in 6th gear). The difference is that the ’Strom’s all done at 8000 rpm, where the Kawasaki’s just getting serious.

The V-Strom’s motor is most diesel-like, twisting out strong power before an early decline. The Versys has big power early and everywhere. Considering a displacement difference of just 65cc, the numbers from the Interceptor’s 782cc V-Four are dwarfed by Yamaha’s 847cc Triple.

The V-Strom’s motor is most diesel-like, twisting out strong power before an early decline. The Versys has big power early and everywhere. Considering a displacement difference of just 65cc, the numbers from the Interceptor’s 782cc V-Four are dwarfed by Yamaha’s 847cc Triple.

The seat’s not quite as plush as the Kawasaki’s, but it’s close, and Duke says it was his favorite for long distances. The main difference is that the Suzuki feels a little skinnier between your thighs. We wanted a standard ’Strom for this comparo (which retails for 100 bucks less than the Versys) with accessory saddlebags fitted, but Suzuki fixed us up with this Adventure model, which is just as well since it comes with standard saddlebags, crash bars, handguards, chin fairing and “touring” windshield for $1300 more – $13,999.

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Review – First Ride

Its name contains the word “Adventure,” which implies it wants to compete with the BMW GS and KTM Adventure models. To that end, instead of the other bikes’ streetbike wheels, it comes with a 19-inch front and a 17 x 4.5-in. wheel on back with a 150/70 tire, good sizes for throwing on more off-road worthy rubber should you feel the need (the Bridgestone Battle Wings it comes with aspire to dual-sportiness).

We didn’t go far off-road during this test, but if we had, the V-Strom’s the one you’d want. Again, the upright ergoes it shares with the Versys put you in complete control, but the ’Strom is that much lighter and narrower, and its super-grunty Twin would be the right tool for chugging along at lower speeds. It’s also the first production Suzuki ever with TC, which can save less-seasoned off-road riders serious grief. You can’t, however, easily switch off its ABS, which may or may not be a problem. (If it is, you can pull the seat and yank the fuse.)

On pavement, it’s the longest bike with the most trail, but still steers light and quickly thanks to its relatively narrow tires. At elevated speeds, over 100, it also feels the most dirt-bikey; its chassis feels the most flexy, but that might be due to its skinnier tires.

Suzuki V-Strom 1000 instruments

Kawasaki and Suzuki display the same info, but the Suzuki’s presentation is a bit nicer; the 12V outlet is right there too.

Evans Brassnuckles: Riding the V-Strom reminds me why I miss the TL1000. Although the Versys wins the power wars, I think I prefer the Strom’s mill. It’s a V-Twin vs. inline-Four thing. It also has stonking brakes, with the best power and feedback of the bunch. The V-Strom’s 19 in. front wheel and long trail and wheelbase slow down the steering, but never really compromised my ability to place the bike where I wanted it in a corner. The narrow rear tire width counteracts the large-diameter front. 

The extra dough for the Suzuki is reflected in quite a few subtle niceties: Its 43mm fork has compression adjusters as well as rebound ones, there’s a 12V outlet in its more attractive dash… overall, it has a slightly upmarket look parked next to the bare-bones blacked-out Kawasaki. But if you’re a Kawasaki person, you’d rather have the 17 more horsepower for $1200 less. Who could blame you? At the end of the day, the Kawi’s simply more street biased and the Suzuki feels more dirt worthy.

Suzuki V-Strom 1000
+ Highs

  • A steal next to the KTM or BMW Adventures
  • Super grunty at just 4000 rpm
  • Hybrid cam drive makes valve adjustment DIY
– Sighs

  • A little more top-end wouldn’t be a bad thing
  • Exhaust valve is a thing of ugly. Do we really need it?
  • Muffler takes up most of the space in the right saddlebag
Yamaha FJ-09 action

The new FJ is way more Multistrada than dual-sport.

Yamaha FJ-09

Which brings us to our winner, sort of, Yamaha’s pert new FJ-09. As an adventure bike, this one’s almost more of a supermoto, with more aggressive power delivery. Not only is it 10% lighter than the next lightest V-Strom, it’s the only bike here with more weight on its front tire than its rear, and a flattish handlebar that pulls you a tad more forward and encourages aggression.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 First Ride Review

Though it gives up nearly 200cc to the two literbikes, the FJ Triple makes almost as much horsepower as the Versys, as well as 10 ft-lbs more torque than the 65cc smaller VFR. It’s got the best power-to-weight ratio of the bunch, along with a tauter chassis, a thinner seat and less wind protection than the other bikes. If it’s multi-day adventures you’re after, the FJ might not be it. If it’s day trips and commuting and nipping at the heels of the leather-clad sportbike crowd, the FJ is the clear winner, for us anyway, because we’re childish that way.

Duke: The Yamaha was the most productive grin factory of this group, feeling eager, agile and playful. It always feels fast, even among the bigger bikes and even during roll-on contests when it should be out-torqued but isn’t except for the Kawi. 

Evans: It’s the most eager to charge out of corners, slickly snicking through the gears. Aside from an odd vibration that appears around 4,500 rpm – 5,500 rpm, the engine is smooth. Rider accommodations are comfy. The windshield offers decent protection but not as much as the Kawasaki. Oddly, the seat is flat and hard, making it appear to be a likely candidate for hot spots over the long haul – but it remains comfortable, coming in second to the Versys, according to my derrière.

Yamaha FJ-09 beauty

It’s almost hard to see how Yamaha can be making money. Even with the optional bags and heated grips, it’s still a g less than the Kawasaki. The FJ is the only ride-by-wire bike here (which works way more smoothly than the FZ-09 did), with TC and ABS brakes. Traditionalists might not like its styling, but from a function point of view, the Triple shrink-wrapped inside that aluminum frame, with the swingarm and stainless exhaust tucked in tight, give the bike great mass centralization you can feel. Little Tommy Roderick says its looks remind him of an MV Agusta, and its exhaust note definitely does. In sporting use, the other bikes feel old-fashioned and heavy. Because they are.

Yamaha FJ-09 instruments

The FJ-09 instruments are also about a generation ahead of the other bikes. Reversible handlebar clamps let you move it fore and aft 10mm. There’s also a 12V outlet to power up your stuff.

On the Adventure continuum, not so much, mostly down to the 17-inch wheels at both ends, but also due to negligible flywheel effect and its jumpier throttle response. Then again, you do get handguards on the ends of that wide handlebar, and sub-500 lb. weight and traction control are also good things to carry into the boonies.

Yamaha FJ-09
+ Highs

  • Best power-to-weight ratio
  • Lowest price
  • Triples are good
– Sighs

  • The bags need their own key
  • Least wind protection
  • Too pretty to abuse off-road

So, we’re going to give the win to the amazing Yamaha FJ-09 on the strength of its freshest design and its sporty yet accommodating personality. Which adventure bike is right for you really depends on the kind of adventures you have in mind. High-speed long-distance pavement running, solo, if you’re a wiry youth? The Interceptor is sweet indeed. Same deal with a passenger, more gear and an AARP card? Versys 1000 could be good. Same deal with or without a passenger and the possibility of exploring unpaved routes? V-Strom 1000 is a likely candidate. For making every day an adventure, though, the FJ-09 is going to be a really tough bike for anybody to beat. Yamaha is on an absolute tear.


Sub-1000 Sporty Adventure Tourer Specs
  2014 Honda Interceptor 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Adventure 2015 Yamaha FJ-09
MSRP $12,499 (DLX: $13,499) (w bags, $14,449; and quick shifter, $14,749) $12,799 $13,999 $10,490 (w bags, mounts, locks, heated grips: $11,748)
Engine 782cc liquid-cooled 90-degree V-Four 1043cc liquid-cooled Inline Four-cylinder 1037cc liquid-cooled 90-deg. V-Twin 847c liquid-cooled Inline Three-cylinder
Fuel System EFI EFI EFI EFI; ride-by-wire
Ignition Digital Digital Digital Electronic
Valve Train DOHC with VTEC; 4 valves per cylinder DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
/ Final drive
6-speed/chain 6-speed/chain 5-speed/chain 6-speed/chain
(Dynojet 250)
49.86 @ 8600 rpm/92.62 @ 10,400 rpm 69.01 @ 7300 rpm/107.86 @ 9300 rpm 65.64 @ 4000 rpm/90.87 @ 8100 rpm 59.77 @ 8300 rpm/104.07 @ 9900 rpm
Front Suspension 43mm with spring-preload adjustability; 4.3 inches travel KYB 43mm inverted front fork with adjustable rebound and preload; 5.9 in travel Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped 41mm fork; adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.4-in travel
Rear Suspension Pro Arm single-side swingarm with Pro-Link single shock; adjustable spring preload and rebound damping; 4.7 in. travel Horizontal back-link shock; adjustable spring preload (remote adjuster), rebound damping; 5.9 in. travel Single shock; adjustable spring preload (remote adjuster), rebound damping Single shock; adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.1 in. travel
Front Brake Dual 310mm discs; 4-piston calipers, ABS Dual 310mm petal discs; 4-piston calipers, ABS Dual 310mm discs; 4-piston calipers, ABS Dual 298mm discs; 4-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brake 256mm disc; single-piston caliper, ABS 250mm petal disc; single-piston caliper, ABS 260mm disc; single-piston caliper, ABS 245mm disc; single-piston caliper, ABS
Front Tire 120/70ZR-17 radial 120/70×17 110/80R19 120/70ZR-17 radial
Rear Tire 180/55ZR-17 radial 180/55×17 150/70R17 180/55ZR-17 radial
Wheelbase 57.4 in. 59.8 in. 61.2 in. 56.7 in.
Rake/Trail 25.5 deg. / 95mm (3.74 in.) 27.0 deg. / 102mm (4.0 in.) 25.5 deg. / 109mm (4.3 in.) 24 deg. / 3.9 in.
Seat Height 31.0 in. / 31.8 in. 33.1 in. 33.4 in. 33.3 in. / 33.9in.
Curb Weight – Official MO Scales 529 lb. (Honda claimed) 550 lb. w/ bags 565 lb. 544 lb. 494 lb.
Fuel Capacity 5.2 gal. 5.5 gal. 5.3 gal. 4.8 gal.
Tested Fuel Economy 41 mpg 40 mpg 36 mpg 37 mpg
Available Colors Red, Pearl White Candy Burnt Orange/Metallic Spark Black, Flat Ebony/Metallic Spark Black Black Candy Red, Matte Gray
Warranty One year, unlimited miles Two years, unlimited miles One year, unlimited miles One year

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  • VagrantCoyote

    Nice comparison, Yamaha is really impressing lately.

    • Rick Vera

      Agreed. FJR-1300 is the best non-Bavarian sport-tourer, Star motorcycles often lead the pack in cruiser shootouts, the R1/R1M bikes are sex, and even after the Super Tenere refresh in 2014, it’s a strong contender for a full-size adventure tourer, too. I’d say they’re the best Japanese motorcycle manufacturer right now.

      • Justin

        It’s amazing how fast yamaha turned things around, even 2 years ago the only japanese OEM showing signs of life was kawasaki.

        It’s great to see the big 4 rolling out new models post-recession.

  • Rick Vera

    This is a great review. I’ve been waiting for this ever since the FJ-09 came out — thanks guys.

  • Tod Rafferty

    Just eyeballed the FJ-09 the other day, and spoke with a happy new owner. Impressive. But yes, let us join the chorus, raise the flag, post the proclamation, broadcast but not beg the question: “Where is the Africa Twin?”

    • Kenneth

      From what I’ve seen, the coming “Africa Twin” (or whatever Honda will call it here) is in a different category from these bikes — dirt oriented, as opposed to sport touring.

  • Sentinel

    Honda just can’t get the VFR right, and that’s really a damn shame. Everyone “except” Honda seems to know exactly what a good VFR should have and be like to ride. As for the FJ-09, the very real prospect of haveing the cam-chain tensioner fail and being forced to deal with that issue for the life of the bike is not something I’m at all interested in. The Versys 1000 is just too much of a big heavy beast for my taste, and I’ve heard that engine vibes getting through the pegs can be an issue. My two complaints about the V-Strom are first its 19″ front wheel, no thanks, and the other is the gawdawful front-end looks of the thing. All of that being said, if I were to purchase one of them, it would most likely be the V-Strom.

    • Jack McLovin

      Dude you are more negative than Debbie Downer. What the fuck DO you like? Look at the first comment. We get superb machines for pocket change and plenty of amazing roads to ride them on and you’re gonna sit here and shit on every little thing that guys wrestling safety legislation, various import laws, their own accountants, public expectation, etc etc etc, had to deal with to get this cheap and amazing bike to you. If you were family to me I’d drown you personally while looking you right in the eyes the whole time. Seriously you need to quit whatever bullshit meds you’re on, eat good clean real food and go out for a hike once in a while. Stop being such a pussy and go talk to people and ride their bikes. 90% of people can think I’m a weirdo but for some reason they let me ride their bikes and between that and bike shows I’ve ridden a shit ton of bikes and there’s hardly a bad bike out there.
      I rode the new Strom and it is a fantastic bike. I’ve never felt so comfortable on a bike. The Z1000 (close enough) has an amazing intake noise worth buying the bike for alone. The VFR as any Honda is sublime but not for me, and the FZ-09 is a marvelous achievement all things considered. So quit your crying and if you feel like you can do better make your own motorcycle.

      • MicMacACT

        As posted above, Sentinel is the only person who has ever mentioned cam-chain problems in relation to the FJ-09.
        He has posted the same comment on a number of sites/forums and I’m totally over his negativity.
        If he comes up with some real evidence to support his comment then I might start to believe… 🙂

        • Sentinel


    • MicMacACT

      G’day Sentinel
      Regarding your comment on the FJ-09: “…the very real prospect of haveing (sic) the cam-chain tensioner fail and being forced to deal with that issue for the life of the bike…”
      You’re the only person on the whole internet who mentions this.
      What is your basis for making this claim?
      Can you provide some links to people who have had problems with the MT/FJ-09 cham-chain tensioner or who have experienced failures?
      Much interested in some hard evidence rather than somebody’s heresay!!
      Cheers Mick

      • Sentinel

        Before this issue became well known I had rented an FZ-09 for about a week, and by the time I returned it the CCT had failed. At the time I hadn’t heard of any others, but after doing a search I came upon this owner’s thread, and I’ve also spoken with owners directly in person who have had this issue as well. Thus far as I’ve said, it has not been remedied by Yamaha, which is a damn shame.

  • Old MOron

    Good review, boys. FJ09 for me, please.

  • Gorga Naibaho

    Very good write-up. You guys are so fortunate that you can get a Versys 1000 LT for $12,800. Way down here, the price is the equivalent of $26,250 due to insane import/bullcr*p “luxury goods” regulations, while Kawasaki are known for being underpriced relative to their competitors… I won’t want to guess how much Suzuki Indonesia is going to charge for the liter V-Strom if it ever shows up here.

  • Craig Hoffman

    A few guys on my FZ1 board got FJ09s. For $80 there is a guy who will flash the ECU, add in a Power Commander and some suspension work and you have a really sweet bike. They are crazy about them. The reason I mention all this is the FJ seems to have a lot of “owner involvement potential”. Make it an FJ for me please.

    • Gorga Naibaho

      “Owner involvement potential” – most of the recently launched Yamaha bikes, even the smaller displacement models (R25/R3 and the upcoming FZ-25/MT-25), sure does have that characteristic.

  • GS1100GK

    Great comparison guys! I fit into the cagetory of riders who want to sit up and still be able to go fast. I also like to do long rides (Iron Butt and multi day rides) so I need a comfortable mount (no harsh engine buzz please) with long range. My last 2 mounts have been a ZZR1200 and Councours 14 and both matched my riding styles at the time. I am thinking that having a bit less weight would be a good thing and all of these bikes weigh much less than my current Councours 14. The Versys 1000 really caught my eye when it was first reported to come here to the US and I read that much of the buzziness of that 4 banger was gone due to additional rubber engine mounts. The Versys 1000 (and Ninja 1000) I would categorize as a Concours 14 lite! These 2 look like winners to me.
    Recently, I rode the FZ-09 and loved that triple and how light and fun it was to ride. The only spoiler was it’s small fuel tank and limited range. With the FJ-09 that seems to have been corrected.
    So, for me the choice will be either the Versys 1000LT or FJ-09 optioned up for touring. 🙂

    • Jeff Keene

      Since you seem interested in the bike I’ll tell you that I bought a Versys 1000 in early February. I choose it over say the FJ-09 or Ninja 1000 because it looked like the bike that had the most engineering thrown at the distance use case. Every write up of the Versys is accompanied by cynical commentators condemning it for its weight in the comment section. I think people are misjudging the intended use case and intended demographic of the Versys. It isn’t a heavy sport touring bike. It isn’t a heavy adventure bike. It is a very light weight long distance tarmac touring bike. I think the difference is subtle, but I stand by it. I just couldn’t see spending a week on something like the the Ninja 1000 or Honda Interceptor as something I would often want to do. The Versys 1000 feels like a bike on which I could comfortably spend, say, a sabatical’s worth of time. It matched my use case really well and it sounds like a good fit for yours too. Your description of the Versys as the Concours 14 light seems pretty appropriate to me.

      It is a big bike, the extra weight it carries is visible in the rear frame. It will carry a bunch of your shit and feels really confident at all speeds. I also test drove the V-Strom 1000 and frankly you should too if you are interested in the Versys. Very similar bike in terms of confidence inspiration and touring application. For me it fell to engine. The V-Strom is a great engine with that lovely low down get er done grunt, but I like the inline 4 of the Versys personally. Also, I felt little need to pay for engineering that went into an off road use case when I know that my non tarmac excursions are going to be limited to the very well maintained fire road.

      I am really happy this market segment is starting to show some diversity. I would have been in the market for a big sport touring mount like the Concours, but the lower weight of the Versys made it more appealing to me. I’ve only been able to put 650 miles on it because it is still winter, but I put those 650 miles on the bike in one glorious week of good weather and time off. This bike is made for spending many days on mountain back highways.
      Sorry for rambling. Just a dude excited about his new bike. May your roads be dry and your sky sunny.

  • Kevin

    Great report JB, you gave me enough info on the characteristics of each bike to allow me to pick my own winner based on personal priorities rather than accepting yours 🙂
    FYI, I arrived at that before reading the last paragraph

  • Luke

    For my next bike, the FJ09 is the most expensive one I’m looking at – the others being the V-strom 650 Adventure (probably a 1 or 2 year used one) and the Versus 650 LT. The only thing keeping the FJ-09 from winning for me outright is the hard seat and the fact that the bags aren’t included (as I mentioned, already the top of my range). Going to have to find a place for test rides I think.

    • Bruce Steever

      Speaking first-hand… the FJ will destroy the other two on the road. I’m curious to see what the FJ does with some knobbie tires, too!

  • Old MOron

    So did anyone else get the MO time warp machine today? All of the stories in the news section are from 2013! Oh well, I enjoyed revisiting the shootout between Triumph’s Daytona 675 and MV Agusta’s F3 675.

    “So what does that shootout have to do with this one?” you might ask. Well, I noticed that JB is referring to T-rod as Tommy now. He even calls him “Little Tommy” near the end of the story. I think JB must have seen the same shootout I just watched and linked. Little Tommy is right.

  • Vrooom

    For me at least an adventure bike should be able to comfortably and safely navigate a gravel road or gravel highway. That would eliminate the VFR, and pretty much make the decision the V-Strom. For a light sport tourer I’d take the FJ though.

  • Andrew Capone

    I so wanted the Interceptor to be better. It’s newly beautiful and still well- crafted. And befitting a middle aged bloke who wants sport but not race- rep. But not quite enough to compete today. Prices aren’t holding up, and if they decide to incentive it to $10 or $11K, might be worth it.

  • Adrian Mitternacht

    As a proud owner of the old VFR (the last good i think, 5th gen) i still think, why? why the fucking VTEC nonsense? without that garbage the bike rides as heaven, quick response, way more power off the line, it has a gorgeous grunt when you ask her more power in low revs. Why Honda?

    • R0gueHunt3R

      Agreed on the 5th Gen being the last good VFR. After they lost the gear driven cams and gained VTEC, they also lost their way. I’m modernizing my 5th Gen, because the end result will be an infinitely better bike than the 8th.

  • Pablo

    I prefer the Honda. Don’t like adventures bikes at all…

  • Goose

    This is great report, thanks guys. I really wouldn’t have thought about the Versys but it sounds like it might be what I’m looking for. I really need to get a test on the Versys, the FJ-09 and the Strom. I suspect MO’s idea of the most fun bike would seem edgy and nervous to me. That points to the Kawasaki or the ‘Zuki. But I can’t know without riding them, maybe I’d love the FJ-09.

    That said I have to admit reading this made me sad. Once mighty Honda seems to be totally lost. Huge holes in the line up, the over priced, out of date VFR. A few years ago it was the VFR1200, an excellent answer to a question very few people asked. Now it is the bizarre NM4, the Goldwing is 15 years old with only minor updates, their top scooter is nearly as old, their super sports seem to be a generation behind. How much money can you make off the Grom? Really sad.

    • Gorga Naibaho

      As long as Marquez keeps winning MotoGPs then Honda will always dominate third world moped and scooter markets (where the real money’s at, through sheer sales quantity), and thus may feel no urgent need to improve their lineup in the developed world. I know that it’s hard to see the connection, but it’s true. Yamaha and Honda totally dominate the Southeast Asian markets partly because of their status as GP champions.

      • Goose

        I work in sales and marketing, I understand going for the biggest prize. However, I don’t see the problem at Honda, I see the problem as coming from Honda North America. They seems to have a pattern of having the wrong bike with the wrong features in the wrong color at the wrong time.

        One example is adventure touring bikes. Honda makes both large and medium sized adventure tourers, neither is imported to the US. It seems every other manufacturers has at least one, several have two models. Honda NA is still flogging the over ten year old VFR800 VTEC that was never a hit to start with. Honda makes huge bucks on every Goldwing, I’d be pushing Honda Japan for an upgrade. Honda NA seems to have the attitude that they know best, why should they waste time listening to their customers? A once great company on a down hill slide.

  • Steven Holmes

    I’d love to get a test ride on a DL1000. actually, I probably wouldn’t mind a ride on any of these 4 but, something about that v-twin and the wind protection, and the bags, and the fat pillion, and the chill operation (by report) and the uber-comfy ergo’s (again by report as I’ve not been able to ride one) just keeps pulling my attention away from the other ADV models. be a heck of a step up from the GSX600F i have.

  • Amir

    Excellent test, though Honda’s Crossrunner 2015 would have made a better comparison here.
    Can’t wait to see the new BMW XR up against the Multistrada…

    • panthalassa

      honda doesn’t sell the crossrunner in the u.s.a. … if you have it as an option, you’re in one of the many countries where honda’s lineup does not have as many gaping holes as it does here.

      • Amir

        France it is… where the taxes are higher and the max hp you’ll get on any bike is 106 🙂

    • halfnelson_73

      What makes you say that about the fz1? Is there an update in the works? Ive been thinking of getting an fz1 and was wondering why they havnt been updated in ten years.

      • Amir

        Not based on inside info, sorry 🙂
        This just seems like a logical development move, similar to Bmw putting the S1000R 160 hp in an adventure chasis to create the 1000XR or kawasaki putting the ninja 1000sx engine (far too diluted) into the versys.
        They tweek these high powered engines for less hp and more torque in lower revs to adjust them to adv. style riding.
        seems like 150+hp aport/adventure bikes are the hot trend now, Bmw Ktm and Ducati have one, looking at the FJ-09 I think Yamaha is on its way there, they allready have all the components, just need to make the right blend.

        • halfnelson_73

          I’ve been seeing fz1’s going for as low as $7000 for a leftover 2013. How can you best that? To me, that seems like a way better deal than a fz07.

  • Backroad Bob

    For me, it was a foregone conclusion that the FJ-09 would win. Sub 500-pound weight, check, 100+ hp, check, highest power to weight, check, lowest cost (by a grand),
    double check, stirs the soul, triple check, check, check. It’s a bike for the ages. It’s the only advancement in sport touring bikes in the past thirty years. It checks all the boxes but one – no chain. Go, Yamaha – bang for the buck leader (as it’s always been).

    • halfnelson_73

      No chain? It’s listed above as having a chain final drive. Did they make a mistake?

  • patrickmcswain

    I’m surprised the Kaw didn’t fair better. Yes, it is 70lb heavier than the lightest bike, but none of the bikes are lightweights. 500lb in the dirt is a handful. On paper at least, The Kaw has the torque, has the travel, and has the fuel range. And comes with a 2 year warranty, but the proven i4 liter Kaw engine is pretty indestructible to begin with.

    All these bikes need to go on a diet. Personally, I think the Ducati Hyperstrada should have been in the running. It has the 110hp thump, but weighs 50lb less than the Yamaha, and paniers are in that weight. And it’s price is just a little higher, but not out of range.

    • halfnelson_73

      Funny you mentioned the Hyperstrada. Everyone I think I have my mind made up, I end up seeing a Hyperstrada and that doubt enters my head again.
      Why didn’t they include the Super Tenere?

  • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

    Biggest engine gets the second best MPGs?


  • Open Mind

    Great review guys. Shame about the Interceptor since I don’t really like the adventure bike styling. Tell us about the helicopter please. You got some great video angles with it.

  • Bigfriggindeal

    Great review, Thank you. One correction to the specs, the Vstrom 1000 has a six speed trans.

  • Chad H

    I’m considering the Versys, V-Strom, and FJ-09. I’ve not ridden any of them, but did own a Ninja 1000 that was supremely comfortable after I put on an inch taller seat and lowered the pegs. The engine is truly fantastic, and possibly one of the best motorcycle engines I’ve ever commanded. Don’t let the spec sheet fool you. It’s not about maximum power/torque….it’s about USEABLE power and torque….and the 1043 Kawasaki mill has it in spades. The Ninja 1000 doesn’t have the extra engine isolation the Versys does, and buzz was never an issue for me on that bike. Of course, I ride in full gear, so maybe my gloves and boots were soaking it up. Can’t say…but I never had any issues.

    For my size (6’5″ – 230lbs), the FJ felt a bit cramped when I sat on it in the showroom. It’s a smaller bike than I had imagined. The seat was very bad. In the 20 minutes or so I sat on it (in full gear) I was ready to get off. That would have to be remedied. The Versys and V-Strom both have acceptable stock seats. I venture to guess you could drain the tank before requiring a butt break. Of course, with the ADV layout, standing is easy if you need to get some blood flow to your nether regions on the fly.

    The only complaint I have against the Strom (and again, I haven’t ridden the new one) is the 19″ front tire and 150 series rear tire. I don’t ever plan on going off road (on purpose anyway). I’d rather have standard old 120/180 tires for the sole purpose of tire choice. I have a good friend who has owned two previous generation Stroms and loves them. He recently sold a Ducati Multistrada and purchased a used Strom. Just a great all around motorcycle and even the older generation bikes are pretty good bikes. I always enjoyed taking a spin on my friends.

    • Kevin Duke

      If the 1043 Kawi engine is one of your faves of all time, the Versys 1k should be an easy choice for you.

      • Chad H

        The deal for a leftover 2014 V-Strom was too good to pass up. $9400 for a new, never ridden bike. So far, I’m really liking the bike. Of course, it’s still new, and I’m still excited about it. I’ll reserve full judgement until I’ve ridden it a few thousand miles. But right now, I can’t find fault in it.

        • halfnelson_73

          I don’t think I would have passed on that deal either. Good for you.