Middleweight Multi-tool Shootout: 2012 Honda NC700X vs. Kawasaki Versys - Video

Honda's New Concept versus Kawi Versys-tility

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The Verdict

Our time aboard these relatively affordable and incredibly versatile machines gave us renewed appreciation for the core virtues of motorcycles. Here’s a pair of bikes that are capable of comfortably handling any assignment, with enough power and pizzazz to forget that you’re riding an inexpensive bike.

“For me, there was not a clear-cut winner here,” Firestone states. “Both bikes felt great the moment I rode them, and the more I rode them, the better I liked them.”

2012 Kawasaki Versys vs. Honda NC700X Action

As comparable as this duo is, it’s Honda’s New Concept that sets the 700X apart from its more traditional rival from Kawasaki. It’s very easy to operate in urban environments, and it’s this friendliness that makes it as simple to ride as possible. There’s no need to search for revs to access its power, and its low center of gravity gives it exceptional low-speed balance.

2012 Honda NC700X

“If it came down to the owner being primarily a commuter, the smoother, lower-priced and more fuel-efficient Honda would get my vote,” Firestone comments, adding that its storage compartment makes the NC especially versatile. And riders of minimal experience will appreciate its noob-friendly nature, friendlier still if equipped with its unique DCT option that discards the clutch lever.

But as much as we appreciate Honda’s design and execution within a new paradigm, it’s the Versys that will appeal most to experienced riders looking for an affordably priced do-it-all roadster. It can ably handle nearly any motorcycle mission you’d care to throw at it, and its greater performance capabilities can be thrilling to exploit.

“If a more spirited, faster paced, canyon carver is what you’re looking for, the Versys is for you,” Firestone states. “The Kawasaki’s horsepower advantage and higher-revving engine makes it the racier bike of the two.”

2012 Kawasaki Versys Action

The equation gets more difficult when factoring in prices. With an MSRP of just $6999, a 2012 NC700X stickers in with a $900 price advantage over the Versys. It’s likely Honda will increase the NC’s price for 2013, but we’ll have to wait until February 8 to get its official MSRP. Meanwhile, the Versys jumps $100 for 2013 to $7999.

Both bikes offer terrific value for someone with room for only one bike in the garage, but the winner depends on the kind of rider you are and what you’re expecting out of it.

By the Numbers
  Honda NC700X Kawasaki Versys
MSRP $6999 $7999 (2013), $7899 in 2012
Cylinder Head SOHC DOHC
Bore x Stroke 73mm x 80mm 83mm x 60mm
Displacement 670cc 649cc
Horsepower (rear wheel) 47.7 @ 6400 56.5 @ 8250
Torque (rear wheel) 42.6 @ 4700 39.4 @ 7250
Front Tire 120/70 120/70
Rear Tire 160/60 160/60
Front Suspension Travel 6.0 in. 5.9 in.
Rear Suspension Travel 5.9 in. 5.7 in.
Front Brakes 320mm single disc 300mm dual disc
Fuel Capacity 3.7 gal. 5.0 gal.
Rake/Trail 27.0°/110mm 25.0°/109mm
Wheelbase 60.6 in. 55.7 in.
Seat Height 32.7 in. 33.1 in.
Weight 472 lbs 454 lbs
Fuel Economy (OEM Rated) 64 mpg 48 mpg

Related Reading
2012 Honda NC700X Review - Video
2012 Kawasaki Versys Review
2012 Honda NC700X Preview
2010 Kawasaki Versys Review
2008 Kawasaki Versys Road Test
2008 Kawasaki Versys First Ride

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