More for Less: $8K Four Vs. $8.2K Triple Vs. $8.7K Twin + Video

Tom Roderick
by Tom Roderick

Aprilia Shiver 750 vs. Suzuki GSX-S750 vs. Yamaha FZ-09

“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

CategoryAprilia ShiverSuzuki GSX-S750Yamaha FZ-09
Quality, Fit & Finish86.7%83.3%84.2%
Cool Factor88.3%82.5%84.2%
Grin Factor83.3%80.0%88.3%
Overall Score82.5%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 750Suzuki GSX-S750Yamaha FZ-09
Engine TypeLongitudinal 90° V-Twin 749.9cc749cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 4-cylinder847cc liquid-cooled inline 3-cylinder
Fuel SystemEFIEFIEFi
Valve TrainDOHC, four valves per cylinderDOHC, four valves per cylinderDOHC, four valves per cylinder
Horsepower76.0 hp @ 9000 rpm96.1 hp @ 10,300 rpm104.6 hp @ 9,800
Torque46.7 lb-ft. @ 7,200 rpm51.7 lb-ft. @ 8,90059.3 lb-ft. @ 9,700 rpm
Final DriveChainChainChain
Front Suspension43mm upside down fork. Wheel travel 120 mmInverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped41mm fork; adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.4-in travel
Rear SuspensionAluminum alloy swingarm with stiffener brace. Hydraulic shock absorber, with adjustable rebound and preload. 130 mm wheel travel.Link type, coil spring, oil dampedSingle shock; adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.1-in travel
Front BrakeDual 320 mm stainless steel floating wave discs. Four piston radial callipers. Metal braided brake lines.Disc brake, twinDual hydraulic disc, 298mm
Rear Brake240 mm stainless steel wave disc. Single piston calliper. Metal braided brake linesDisc brakeHydraulic disc, 245mm
Front Tire120/70-17120/70-17120/70-17
Rear Tire180/55-17180/55-17180/55-17
Wheelbase56.7 in57.1 in56.7 in
Seat Height31.6 in32.1 in32.1 in
Measured Weight491 lbs464.7 lbs416.2 lbs
Fuel Capacity3.9 gal4.6 gal3.7 gal
Tested Fuel Economy30.4 MPG36.9 MPG35.9 MPG
Available ColorsRed, BlackMetallic Matte Black No. 2Cadmium Yellow, Matte Silver, Matte Grey
Warranty2-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)
Tom Roderick
Tom Roderick

A former staffer who has gone on to greener pastures, Tom Roderick still can't get the motorcycle bug out of his system. And honestly, we still miss having him around. Tom is now a regular freelance writer and tester for when his schedule allows, and his experience, riding ability, writing talent, and quick wit are still a joy to have – even if we don't get to experience it as much as we used to.

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3 of 64 comments
  • DCGULL01 DCGULL01 on Aug 11, 2015

    So, now there's a $2,000.00 Aprilia incentive to consider a Shiver 750 (if, you'll consider a new, 1 year old Shiver?) Suddenly, that price variation is reversed, and, price becomes a driving force. Different looking, very robust components, and,-who doesn't love a V-twin at the end of the day? Urban commuter, weekend warrior, and, tro sum bags on dat beast and you've got an adventure bike on your hands. I know that I'll spin up the pre-load adjusters prior to riding anyways, so, I won't be fighting with heavy turn in... It's no Triumph Street Triple R, but, at $6,700.00 brand new, it's $3,300.00 less expensive. Certainly NOT $3,300 less bike.

  • Shahriar Rahman Shahriar Rahman on Aug 18, 2015

    Not sure if anyone pointed this out yet, but note for Editors: In the second spec sheet in the article, "More For Less Shootout Specs," it says FZ-07 instead of FZ-09. Typo, but threw me off for a millisecond.