Rider Comparo: Honda NC700X vs. Kawasaki Versys vs. Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS

Mid-size bikes make a lot of sense. Not only because they tend to be less expensive and lighter, but also because they have become so competent. Considering competence, this trio of liquid-cooled, 650cc-class twins each has a 6-speed transmission, chain final drive and some gravel-road pretensions (though we did not test them in that environment). Two have been around for years, and the third is brand-new for 2012.

Our lineup includes the Kawasaki Versys ($7,899), a parallel twin with dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and a displacement of 649cc, along with the 645cc Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS ($8,299) with its four-valve, DOHC, 90-degree V-twin motor and anti-lock brakes (ABS). Honda’s new NC700X ($6,999 with standard 6-speed transmission, or $8,999 with optional Dual Clutch Transmission and ABS) is powered by a 670cc parallel twin with a single overhead cam and four valves per cylinder, and offers an intriguing array of options (see full test page 24). The latter is not to be confused with the now-defunct Honda NT700V, a 680cc V-twin with integrated fairing and saddlebags that had a 2011 price tag of $11,199.

The Kawasaki Versys has a high-tech look with its tri-level headlight, exposed rear shock and beefy swingarm.
The Kawasaki Versys has a high-tech look with its tri-level headlight, exposed rear shock and beefy swingarm.

To illustrate the differences among these twisted sisters, we took them on a long day ride of several hundred miles, riding them back-to-back and comparing observations. Our ride included freeway, two-laners and twisty mountain roads. We found that the Kawasaki Versys and Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS are similar in intent, adventure-style bikes with a high seat, but their exposed hardware and lack of a bash plate belies the notion of their doing any serious off-roading. The Honda, in terms of options and design, is something else indeed. We chose to test the model with the optional DCT, which offers an automatic transmission with shifting in three modes, and ABS.

The Versys’ 33.3-inch seat height will have some riders tip-toeing while at rest. Its seat feels mushy, lacking in support, and its handlebar is placed rearward with the pegs forward, adding to the slightly unstable feeling at rest. Engage the clutch, however, and the bike leaps into its element. The first part of our ride involved twisty Highway 33 north out of Ojai, California, up and over a 5,000-foot pass. Here, the Kawasaki ripped along well in the turns thanks in part to its high-end Dunlop Sportmax tires on 17-inch rims, firm suspension, shorter 55.7-inch wheelbase and steeper rake (25 vs. 26 degrees) than the Suzuki. By contrast, the Suzuki rider feels slightly more in control with the grips farther forward and a 32.9-inch seat height that seems lower because of its more compliant suspension and more comfortable, supportive seat. It generates the most power of the bikes in our test and its wider bars allow it to be muscled through the turns. Still, because of its long 61.4-inch wheelbase and 19-inch front wheel, the V-Strom changes direction more deliberately, which allows the Kawasaki rider to charge ahead.

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The Suzuki V-Strom 650 has standard ABS, and for 2012 gets two-tone paint. and softer styling.
The Suzuki V-Strom 650 has standard ABS, and for 2012 gets two-tone paint. and softer styling.

Honda claims only 47 horsepower and 44.2 lb-ft. of torque for the DCT ABS version of the NC700X, or 51 horsepower in the standard-shift version; we were unable to rear-wheel dyno our DCT unit because the front wheel must be spinning to shift out of first. On its own, power is adequate, but in straight-line performance terms, the Honda wasn’t even a close third, since at 545 pounds this curious machine outweighs the Suzuki by 74 pounds, and the Kawasaki by a whopping 90. Still, in the tight twisties, the Honda was surprisingly competitive so long as we utilized its transmission in the Manual-shift mode with the bar-mounted paddle shifter. In “D” (Drive), however, it was lethargic as this mode is intended to deliver stellar fuel economy; it would often have shifted into the third of its six gears before we had even left the parking lot. Finally, the motor is redlined at a low 6,500 rpm (as opposed to 10,000 for the V-Strom and 10,500 for the Versys) so it never really has a chance to inhale fully relative to the other bikes.

The Honda offers what we all agreed were the best ergonomics of the group, along with a 32.7-inch seat height that seems even lower. With a 60.6-inch wheelbase and 27 degrees of rake (all three bikes have 4.3 inches of trail) it provides stable and sprightly handling, and is well planted on its Metzeler Roadtec Z8 tires on 17-inch rims. Its seat also offers good support, its suspension was supple yet well controlled, and we loved the storage compartment located in the normal fuel tank position that will hold a full-face helmet.

The new Honda NC700X we tested was equipped with several options including the taller windscreen, engine guards and luggage rack.
The new Honda NC700X we tested was equipped with several options including the taller windscreen, engine guards and luggage rack.

In side-by-side roll-ons, the Suzuki beat out the Versys by a small margin, principally because with 66.2 horsepower at 9,000 rpm it makes about 9 percent more power than the Kawi’s 60.2; at 471 pounds wet, the V-Strom is 16 pounds heavier than the Versys. The Honda is enjoyable in its Sport or Manual-shift modes, but begins stuttering against its rev limiter early, and therefore really isn’t competitive in a drag race with the other two bikes.

What we have here is a close contest between the Kawasaki and Suzuki, with the Honda and its DCT taking a far different approach. If you seek all-out thrills and back-road handling, the Versys will deliver that in spades, while it returned 45.3 miles per gallon during our spirited day ride. For slightly more deliberate handling but with anti-lock brakes, more comfort and a greater degree of versatility on gravel roads with its 19-inch front wheel and Bridgestone Trail Wing tires, consider the V-Strom 650…which delivered 58.2 mpg!

The Honda is the most intriguing twisted sister, especially with the DCT. We three riders went into this test fully expecting to dislike the automatic shifting, and did indeed have disdain for the Drive mode’s narcoleptic performance as it constantly upshifted out of its powerband to save fuel. In Sport mode, it held each gear longer and readily downshifted, while in Manual mode we controlled everything with the paddle shifter. It offers seamless shifting with real-world convenience and enjoyable (if not competitive) performance, while it delivered 64.2 mpg on this ride; it would certainly have done even better had we left it in Drive mode and ridden conservatively.

We all agreed that the Honda NC700X delighted even us seasoned riders with its comfort and ergonomics, a plethora of available accessories, low MSRP (in the standard-shift version) and that handy storage area. Its automatic clutch and shifting will appeal to inexperienced and new riders—features not offered by the other two manufacturers. We suggest that unless you really need or want the DCT and ABS for the additional $2,000, that you instead choose the standard-shift version and apply the savings to outfitting it with its excellent saddlebags, trunk and other accessories for a mellow touring experience.

2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS
2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS

2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS
Base Price: $8,299
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse, 90-degree V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 81.0 x 62.6mm
Displacement: 645cc
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 61.4 in.
Rake/Trail: 26 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 32.9 in.
Wet Weight: 471 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals., last 1.1 gals. warning light on
Average MPG: 58.2
Website: suzukicycles.com

2012 Kawasaki Versys
2012 Kawasaki Versys

2012 Kawasaki Versys
Base Price: $7,899
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel twin
Bore x Stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm
Displacement: 649cc
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 55.7 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 33.3 in.
Wet Weight: 455 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gals., last
1.0 gal. warning light on
Average MPG: 45.3
Website: kawasaki.com

2012 Honda NC700X
2012 Honda NC700X

2012 Honda NC700X DCT ABS
Base Price: $6,999
Price as Tested: $11,598 (DCT ABS model, MSRP $8,999, plus Tall Windscreen, Fairing & Saddlebag Accents, Fairing Air Deflectors, Light Bar, 45-Liter Trunk, 29-Liter Saddlebags, Centerstand, Lower Cowl Deflector, Heated Grips,
12V Accessory Socket)
Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles
Website: powersports.honda.com
Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel twin
Displacement: 670cc
Bore x Stroke: 73.0 x 80.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Inspection Interval: 8,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI, 36mm throttle body
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.6-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, dual clutch automatic (as tested)
Final Drive: O-Ring Chain
Electrical
Ignition: Digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Charging Output: 420 watts @ 5,000 rpm
Battery: 12V 12AH
Chassis

Frame: Tubular-steel diamond w/ engine as stressed member, box-section steel swingarm
Wheelbase: 60.6 in.
Rake/Trail: 27.0 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm stanchions, no adj., 5.4-in. travel
Rear: Single linked shock, adj. for spring preload, 5.9-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single 320mm disc w/ 3-piston pin-slide caliper & ABS (as tested)
Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ 1-piston pin-slide caliper, linked w/ front, & ABS (as tested)
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 4.50 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Rear: 160/60-ZR17
Wet Weight: 545 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 390 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 935 lbs.
Performance
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gals., last 0.8 gal. warning light on
MPG: 87 PON min. (low/avg/high) 54.3/59.8/68.3
Estimated Range: 221 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 3,200

(This article Twisted Sisters was published in the November 2012 issue of Rider magazine.)

V-Strom’s 645cc V-twin generates 66.2 horsepower, the highest among our group.
V-Strom’s 645cc V-twin generates 66.2 horsepower, the highest among our group.
SOHC parallel twin shares some design with the Honda Fit car engine.
SOHC parallel twin shares some design with the Honda Fit car engine.
With its tight geometry, stiff suspension and 17-inch front wheel, the Versys is fun in the turns.
With its tight geometry, stiff suspension and 17-inch front wheel, the Versys is fun in the turns.
The Suzuki offers good comfort, but handling is slowed by a 19-inch front wheel.
The Suzuki offers good comfort, but handling is slowed by a 19-inch front wheel.
Generous cornering clearance and spry handling make for serious fun on back roads.
Generous cornering clearance and spry handling make for serious fun on back roads.
The Versys’ motor revs well and produces 60.2 horsepower at 7,500 rpm.
The Versys’ motor revs well and produces 60.2 horsepower at 7,500 rpm.

48 COMMENTS

  1. I got my NC700X about a month ago and have marveled at the mpg’s I’m getting with it. The “frunk” is a great additional storage location and I never hesitate to go anywhere because I don’t have to lug my lid around. Was looking for a bike with a low center of gravity and wanted the VStrom until I found this instead. Still waiting for the backordered center stand to complete the accessories I ordered at purchase. This will be my bike for quite a while if it keeps running as great as it has so far. Last tank, 2nd got 77.8 mpg.

    • Almost 78 mpg on the second tank, that is awesome. Based on reviews, including yours I plan to look at the NC700x soon. I assume you have the manual trans version, correct? The auto version actually has lower power output for some reason, kinda makes me wonder if the DCT is running near its limits in that they needed to limit power output.

      • Yes, mine is the 6 speed. Automatic trannys always lose some mileage just because they are what they are…. automatic. The standard transmission is a direct connect to the engine. While I would have liked the ABS, the mileage and price was the more important consideration for me.

        • I’ve read that the auto shifts into a higher gear far sooner than you would if using the manual tranny, so it should get better MPG. Auto shift bikes are also known for often having a top overdrive gear, so auto trans engines don’t necessarily get lower MPG, even in newer cars with 6-speed auto, like the Mustang MPG is pretty stunningly good.

  2. I had the previous verson of the DL650 and found is a fab touring bike on country roads, it really wasn’t much good on much more the basic fire trials. I did get a nasty knock on my front rim and had to replace it while doing some off roading. At about 75,000km it just started breaking down a lot. Enter the KLR 650. Well, its no long distance touring bike for 2, but for 1 its ok, off road it way better. But I lost a heck of a lot of power and road going pluses. End of this year I will

  3. I have the 2012 DL1000 Vstrom. The EFI is giving me fits between 2300 and 3000 rpm. This makes an otherwise awesome bike a piece of crap. I am waiting on Suzuki to give me an answer to this problem. I am not alone. Lots of complaints. I was wanting to get the DL650 but opted for the bigger 100 and what a mistake. Don’t follow my lead. I am getting 39-41 mpg also.

  4. I have a 2006 DL 1000. I experienced rough running in low rpm’s like you did when the bike was new. But this bike likes to run at 4,000 plus rpm’s and not below 3,000 like my cruiser did. Choose a gear that keeps your rpm up and the bike is very smooth. 80 mph (indicated) in 6th runs at 4,200 rpm and is very smooth. In the canyons downshift to keep the rpm’s at 4,500 plus; the torque and decel braking will amaze you. And switch to the Battle Wings when the Trail Wings are done. I have 30,000 miles on mine and its just getting broken in, enjoy!

  5. I’m pretty sure you guys have be wrong way round, all the stuff I have read says its the dtc that has 51hp and the manual has 47. Also, people are getting better mirage from the dtc as long as the leave it in drive as it keeps the reps extremely low.

  6. I found this review enticing but also quite lacking. You say you took them for an all day ride on twisties and highway but all you report on is behavior on the twisties. I sure hope you have a Part 2 coming.

    You also don’t talk about things like starting the bike going up hill, accidental and purposeful wheelies, compare Sports Mode vs. manual on the Honda. You briefly talk about how nice the other bikes were and that the Honda ran last though it was nice in curves, but you finish up with how you would outfit a Honda if you bought one. It all sounds like a Honda sponsored paid review.

    I rented a manual NC700x for a day and as a scooter rider have very definite pros-and cons about it. Hmmm…. maybe I should write my own review. I just wish I could compare it to the V-Strom, BMW, a bagger and a Triumph with several hours on each. You guys have a great job….

  7. For used prices in the UK the Vstrom can be picked up for a song but the new Tiger 800 is causing a storm….not strom.

    However I am sticking with the V strom for now but look forward to getting a tiger in our fleet next year

  8. I have to agree with Adam above. There’s no meat to this review. I can get this much information from just looking at the manufacturers websites. I’m actually in the market for one of these bikes, your review doesn’t help at all.

    Very poor job.

  9. Honda has fool the world into thinking that the NC700X is a good bike. It tried the same trick here in japan but people know better . Right now there are many dealers seating with a bunch of returned NC700X bikes because it is just an over-hyped bike. The bike has no power; single cylinder 250cc out run, out twist and out perform this bike; however, the advertising machine keep trying to sell the bike. The other two bikes in this comparison are great bikes, specially the V-Strom. The versys, and the V-strom have been reverse imports here in Japan even thought they both suppose to be Japanese brands. The versys is made in Thailand and the V-strom is made in Japan but for the world market; however, in 2013 Suzuki have decided to bring the V-strom into the local market seeing the success this bike has had worldwide. Anecdote: I went to a dealer near my residence to try the NC700 and the owner persuaded me to try something else. The owner told me “if you ride motorcycles often; then, you wont like this bike”. I ride Kawasakis and Yamahas (lover them); however, buying another bike( twin) and deciding between the V-strom and the F700gs. The looks of the V-strom are not to my liking but its reliability is unrivaled and the price is enticing.

    • I guess in Japan they ride fast and furious. I had two wees a 04 and an 09 and while they are great bikes and have a wonderful following in the US, the 700X just feels more stable and comfortable. It is like a small GoldWing. I needed something small to do some trail riding (gravel and hard dirt) not the serious stuff but wanted a daily reliable rider that could also do the 500+ mile days on paved roads. Really wanted an old 650 transalp, but found a perfect wee and it meet all the requirements, even an outstanding owners forum. A dealer let me take a 700x for a 30 mile round trip to pick up a part at another dealer for my GL1800 they were replacing the seals and tires on one afternoon. In tight traffic and a fast run on expressway it was love at first ride. Came back and bought the “demo” with 53 miles and sold the wee to a vet Dr. that loves it with all the farkles on it. For me riding since 66, so I’m an old fart, who has done the speed and carving circuit and lived, but now just wants a light do all bike to maybe replace my GL, the 700X is perfect, and has a great owners forum. When younger I did the Yamaha, BMW, Suzuki, Honda worship trip when i had them but now all bikes are reliable and ridable just this one fits me, gets (worst so far 64+ mpg) good mileage , is more stable at slow speeds than my GL (biggest complaint on wee) and has tons of low in grunt and a frunk (place for a helment where most have gas) and paid less than $7K out the door. Every one should ride each before buying and see what fits him/her. Have a vet neighbor that is getting the 700DCX as he does need an automatic as his left wrist is not the best and he loves it. Just another perspective, all three are good bikes and much better choices and more reliable than the X6 Hustler I had in 67, big upgrade from a 150 Allstate and a Suzuki 150 two strokes.

      • I recently sold my Yamaha Super Tenere. It ‘s a well designed bike but certainly no bargain at $14k. And quite frankly I found it a bit boring and not very engaging ride. I used to have a V-Strom DL1000 which I wish I had never sold. I bought it from a friend for $4k with low mileage and good tires. The Strom was a hoot to ride and very capable as a commuter as well as short trips (200-300 mi). I hope to find another low mileage 650 Strom at a reasonable price. My other ride is a new HD full dresser for when the missus demands to go with. The Strom has legions of followers for a reason.

        Anyway, the point that I am trying to make is this, the new Honda 700cc seems like it doesn’t entertain adequately for any experienced rider. When I come home after a Sunday ride with the boys I expect to have been scared to death at least once or twice or feeling overwhelmed enough to keep the adrenalin flowing in the high speed turns.

      • Yeah, and the owners forum is mostly foreigners (outside the USA) telling about how great the fuel economy is. Who cares about gas mileage when you get more than a car already? Most people in the USA get a bike for fun, not for daily transportation. This isn’t Pakistan.

      • X6 Hustler?!? You really ARE an old fart, man! I had a Suzuki T10 and had to mix the oil & gas MANUALLY. Imagine that. What a pain, but it was my 1st bike and I got it for $200 which was 2 weeks take-home pay in ’73.

  10. Re Vstrom rough running about 3000rpm.
    My 02 model is loads smoother after removing the outer butterflies in the throttle bodies, ridable at 2800+rpm. Now controlled by throttle & not compute r (ECU)

  11. So which one is easy to handle, light weight, and lowest suspesion for short rider? Loaded package, I think is the best way to go? Thanks for any help in my decision. Ride safe…………

    2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS
    OR
    2012 Kawasaki Versys

    • I just traded a 2007 Aprilia Pegaso 650 in on a 2012 Vstrom 650 3 weeks ago – taking it in for the 1000 K check tomorrow. Love this not very pretty bike. It does nearly everything beautifully but is over rated for trail riding. I was used to the Aprilia which is very good on the trails and dropped the Suze on some loose, crumbly stuff. Did no damage as I was hardly moving but I got the lesson. It is so good on pavement though – well mannered and very, very comfy on the arse, with just the right amount of power. Great gas mileage too – what a contrast to the Peg. Bonus – the wife feels at home on it too. We’ll be doing some long distance travel in the very near future.

  12. I own the versys and love it, lots of power and nimble handling but it does drink the gas but I didn’t buy it to be a pirus or other

    • I’m very happy with the Versys. Every bike I’ve ever owned needed aftermarket items to make them fit ME. I’ve added mirror extenders, footpeg lowering kit ( knees love ’em) and most importantly a Seat Concepts saddle for all day comfort.
      I’ve ridden the Wee Strom but prefer the quick handling of the Versys. Yes I may burn more fuel, but the ride is worth it. Also, great fuel economy is there, if ridden slower (but I don’t!)
      As for the Honda> sorry, I’d buy an econo car instead of that.

  13. I own a 2011 650 V strom. This is an amazing 650. It runs so smooth that you fell like your on a 1000cc bike. I had to put a taller seat on it because it felt a bit cramped up at the legs. It has great range and gets nice gas mileage plus it has a fuel readout that’s nice. I’m very happy with the bang for the buck.

  14. In Europe some years ago I was seeing Honda Transalp, Kaw Versys, BMW, and other bikes in this class and wondered where they were in America. Long ago I liked bikes like BSA Victor , CL series Hondas but they died out. Now wife and I have 650 vstrom and 650 BMW and love them. For us it really came down to fit. The strom is big and I am 6′ 2″ so it fits and the BMW frame is smaller and fits my wife. Fuel economy is great. Riding with a group of different bikes for about 200 miles recently we were each over 60 mpg so we net about 32 mpg for the two bikes. Another couple were each on 1200 – 1600 cc bikes getting low 30s mpg or maybe 17 mpg combined. I do that well in my truck! Also at one food stop my wife commented how much she liked the hills and curves (Appalachian terrain) to a lady on a big long Vulcan who shook her head saying she would be a lot happier without them. If these match the riding style you like and fit comfortably I can’t imagine either the Versys or Vstrom not being a great choice.

  15. Different tool for different tasks. Have a BMW f650 Dakar. Great bike, best of 3 at dual sport. 74k on clock. Dealer horrendous, service 2 weeks for part, 2 weeks to install. Typical cost $ 1,000. Would not have another for free.
    Last straw was $ 1,400 in fixes with no fix. Took it home fixed myself for $80

    Then bought a v strom 650 and put 65k on it in 3 years. Way better on highway, not so much dual sport. No maintenance cost at all ( except usual chain, brakes tire etc)

    Then in may lady pulled out in front of me on the blue ridge parkway. Totaled the bike and my knee and arm. Surgery for severed ACL, grafted it and PCL and MCL from cadaver. Still waiting to ride after 6 months, 6 months to go. Looking a the DCT as cannot shift into second yet with knee. It’s dual sport capability looks feeble at best.

    Rode a versus but riding position was funky. Only rode it 50 miles so not a good test.

    V strom by far is the best overall. Live in Charlotte nc so ride mostly twistys and country roads with a good mix of forest service gravel. V strom does it all and ride 400 miles a day without major pain in a…. Gets mid 50’s gas mileage. Had an 09 so newer ones have abs and a few tweaks.

    Will buy another v strom is knee gets back to normal.

    Plan on renting a nc700 to demo to decide between the 2

    Honda $ 1,500 cheaper

    Would not have another BMW is you gave me a free one!

  16. G’day,
    Just need some advice from you experienced on/off road adventure bike enthusiasts.
    Would you consider the 650 Suzuki vstrom a good choice of bike for an inexperinced rider?? Further, what year model vstrom would you consider the best since 2004?
    Cheers

  17. On the Vstrom they changed a little in 2011 but I had a 2004 and 2009 and and both were good riders and the number of farkles and add-on for the 650DL make it an easy one to customize. I sold mine and purchased the NC700X as i just felt more comfortable on it and it had a lower center of gravity. It just works better for me, but then I’m 69 and have been riding since 1966. Most younger riders like the little more power the dl650 has over the NC700X but I have other bikes and wanted the NC700X to replace my GoldWing, lighter, more nimble and reminds me of my previous Transalp. If I was a newbe I’d start on a used one but maybe less tall than a DL650. The new NC500X Honda has has received lots of good press and many prefer it over the NC700X, as cheaper and has higher rpm and almost the same power.
    There are several videos out on off road riding and I’d review them but don’t get swayed by the high $ BMW, KTM, and others they ride as the DL650 and NC700X and others can keep up and usually more reliable if simply maintained. Sometimes image of your ride is more important than the simple truth the DL650, KLR have done as well in almost every situation. Oh well enought from an old fart, good luck on your quest.

    • Almost 50% more horsepower in the Suzuki than the Honda is not “little more”. I’ve read a review of the Honda Shadow 1100 in which the rider said she had to downshift all the time to take a hill; that it rode like a truck: fast downhill, slow uphill. So it’s not just “younger riders” who want or “like the LITTLE MORE POWER”. Sometimes it’s actually needed and necessary.
      Don’t hide a bike’s shortcomings behind your age.

  18. Why oh why do journalist continue to compare the dtc against manual shifting motorcycles. I have a manual and I can tell you its no slouch when riden like a 600 you must be on top of the gears all the time. I had zero problems keeping up with a BMW 1200gs for a 300 mile day ride as long as I used the gear box and off the line the NC was right there when I shot off and took it to 6,000 every shift. Passing or at the base of long mountain passes i just click it down 1 or 2 and i was right on the back tire of the big gs1200 and the best part after riding like a hooligan all day and ringing the NC out like a red headed step child i averaged 74.7 miles to the gallon at the end of the day. Nothing beats that.

    • Tracy … the one that one is the one you pick for you ….. All of them are great bikes with different key features but each is reliable, efficient, and (some mods for each) capable of most anything you want to do with a < $9k bike… But them there is the new Yam FJ-09 for a little more ….. Go test ride or rent the one that looks good to you then try the next one down …. pick the one you like to ride for the type of riding you plan to do …. and that is the one that WON!

      Good luck and keep the rubber side down and moving …

  19. The problem with the Suzuki & Kawasaki here in Scotland is that they disintegrate before your eyes when riding on salt covered winter roads.The Honda is better in this respect. I’ve recently traded my CRF250L for an NC700X and love it. Regular days out on it see me clocking up 200 miles with ease. The big downside is that biking isn’t a serious leisure pursuit in Scotland, and very few people ride. Consequently the dealers and independents lack competition and are pretty incompetent if not down right criminal in some cases. I will continue to put my bike in my van and take it 400 miles south to London for it to be wrenched on by my favourite workshop that services all the London couriers’ bikes. Better service, lower cost, and I have a nice weekend in the capital into the bargain.

  20. The results of my evaluations of the three including several things I haven’t seen other reviewers mention:

    1) The NC700X is by far the quietest of the three. It’s still a lot louder than it needs to be IMHO, but at least it won’t wake up the neighbors if you have to head out at the crack of dawn.

    2) The high exhaust on the V-Strom was a deal-breaker for us. It’s right under the pillion’s leg, and will be uncomfortable on a long ride at best, and a leg or hand burn risk at worst.

    3) The V-Strom ships with no protection for an oil filter mounted right behind the front wheel. I’m sure this would result in a safety recall (probably people dying due to engine seizure after all the oil leaks out on a long freeway ride) if the NHTSA really gave a damn about motorcycle safety. The lower fairing on the NC700X probably won’t save you if you drop it on a rock, but does prevent this inevitable result of riding a V-Strom without an aftermarket guard.

    4) Actual curb weight notwithstanding, the NC700X feels the lightest and the V-Strom a bit top-heavy.

    5) You *will* run up against the rev limiter on the NC700X until you learn where the best shift points are. You can’t just let it wind out until you feel it gasping to tell you when to shift. It works more like a Harley than a traditional sport bike: Lots of low end torque which provides quick acceleration without all the screaming.

    6) The NC700X is very comfortable cruising at 3-4K RPM, and the main power band is right above that (4-6K). This is an offset to the complaint that you have to keep up-shifting to keep in that band is that the other bikes require *down-shifting* to get to their main power band (6-9K), or running at a buzzy (and gas-wasting) higher RPM any time you might need to accelerate (such as when waiting for an opportunity to pass or when traffic speeds are constantly shifting).

    7) The NC700X is fast and fun, so no worries there. The only real-world situation where the V-Strom or Versys will have a big advantage is passing with a terminal velocity greater 80MPH. If that’s what you think you need, what you really need is an attitude adjustment, not a different bike.

    8) Buying/mounting/carrying luggage is generally unnecessary on the NC700X except if you’re really, *really*, going camping. The built-in console storage holds more than enough for light-shopping and errands so you won’t even need to carry a backpack in most cases. V-Strom and Versys *do* need some sort of external carrier, though, any of which make 2-up riding more problematic (my wife couldn’t deal with a trunk at all, and even saddlebags tended to get in the way when mounting/dismounting).

    9) I’m not overly impressed with the looks of the Dunlop Trailmax D609’s on mine, and reports are that they wear pretty fast. But handling is excellent on and off road. Haven’t wished for ABS on my quick-stop tests on gravel roads….

    10) Yes, it really does get 60+ MPG in city driving and on low-speed highways. I regularly see the real-time MPG display max out (over 99.9) when cruising at 40-50 MPH on rural roads.

    In summary, I’m sure I made the right choice for me picking the NC700X over the other two and IMHO Honda’s biggest problem is one of marketing: what it really needs is a better name and a video showing how that center console works in real life (e.g., show someone taking a gallon of milk and a box of cereal out of it without having to clear an extra 2 or 3 feet of garage space to park with a bike with saddlebags to eliminate the risk of scratching the car). As for the name, or nickname, maybe call it the tork-ad (Torquey Adventure) bike in recognition that it’s maximum torque occurs at about 3000 RPM lower than the other two.

  21. Just a few follow ups based on test ride of NC700X and ownership of 2012 V-Strom 650 Adventure (stock side cases plus aftermarket top case). I’m 53 years old, relatively fit, 5’ 10”, 160, and use the bike primarily for day and weekend trips. 100-150 mile days on average so far, though that could increase as the bike is damn comfy.

    I liked the NC700. Smooth shifting (manual), quick, low center of gravity. However, wanting to ride 2-up, it did not afford the same amount of space as the V-Strom (both fore/aft and for passenger legs). I’m also not sure that the suspension was as effective. The V-Strom is plush with adjustable front and rear suspension (6 inches of travel), but to be honest, I’ve been using stock settings even with passenger (330 lbs between us) and lightly filled side cases with no bottoming out or significant degradation in handling. Other “comfort” differences were the wind screen (the V-Strom Adventure has adjustable screen with spoiler and results in minimal buffetting). The Honda’s screen was pretty small and resulted in more wind. Also, the 2012 V-Strom seat upgrade was significant. It’s comfortable for both rider and passenger. I find the V-Strom exceedingly comfortable and wonder if I’d feel the same on the Honda.

    Mounting the Wee is a bit tougher with the cases, but not a big deal. Using side stand, she simply puts foot on peg, swings over and she’s good. I lift my leg directly over driver seat and we’re good to go. I can flat-foot the bike (have 32” inseam). The side cases do not get in her way and the top case is primarily for her to lean on (She’s a long-legged, 5’ 9”, 160). We do day trips (100+ miles) very comfortably. I actually leave all the cases on the bike at all times as they’re handy for groceries, jackets, helmets, etc. I do however love the native storage of the Honda. We’ve not encountered issues with the high exhaust.

    I would agree that the oil filter is exposed, and as you reference, use an aftermarket skid plate that seemingly protects it quite well. It is plastic, so I suppose could be broken under extreme circumstances.

    The Wee is more top heavy than the Honda but even as a relatively inexperienced rider (3-4 years and maybe 6-9k miles logged) I adjusted rapidly and haven’t found it unwieldy.

    I don’t know about wishing for ABS, but it was fairly high on my priority list just as a safety measure. I’ve engaged it as a test and would seem to be a great feature. I’m hoping it won’t be needed but who knows.

    Most recent MPH check on the V-Strom was 55 with half spent 2-up and half alone. Mostly highway miles. I can’t imagine needing/wanting more power even through hills with passenger.

    Overall I like both bikes though admittedly only logged a few test miles on the Honda and have ridden hundreds on my recently purchased Wee. I think that if I was looking to only ride solo I would have seriously considered the Honda, but wanting two-up comfort for day/weekend trips, am really liking the cockpit and overall performance of the V-Strom.

  22. THe Honda 700 is a very over hyped bike – Its a bike for the over 80s or the fat beginner. It is a bit of an oddball.The main problem is that unlike every other motorcycle in the world it does not rev out at all-calling for constant gear change . It like an old diesel van .The bike is very heavy and with its lack of power this is one Honda dog. Its too heavy and awkward for a commuter .After trying one out Id say its the most unsatisfying bike Ive ever ridden.Even the handling it peculiar. Its C of Gravity is too low. It feels like it is designed by a car person who doesnt like motorcycling. Maybe a Harley rider would like this?
    The DL650 is a better bike by a country mile-the only thing is it =needs to go on a diet and the styling is bit peculiar. Smoother then the Kawasaki and much better all round bike.

  23. Too each rider has there own and your is just that you like the DL650 better. I’ve had many (from 1985) BMW R75/5, BMW R100RS, BMW K75RT, Honda 700S, Honda GL1100 Standard, Gl1800, DL650 (2) and the NC700X. I was trying to downsize from the GL1800 when I bought my first DL650 from an Aircraft friend who had added every performance available on it. It was a great runner but having come from the others it was very top heavy and I sold to a Vet who made ranch calls. Another DL650 came available so I bought is and started adding protection etc. I had to take my GL1800 in for tires and they found the fork seal leaking and did not have all the parts. They loaned me a demo NC700X to go across town (20 + miles) to get the parts from another Honda dealer. I liked the NC700X so much (c of G, ride and agility, and the Frunk) after putting 30 + miles on it, I bought the demo.
    I sold the DL650 and never regretted the decision. I put 29,000 miles on the NC700X going everywhere including Alaska and almost all the way back. I dozed off on HWY 1 south of Toad Jct. and ran off the road and hit a pole. Bike just lost a side bag (Givi ) and I lost a back so my days riding are over, but I never regretted the purchase of the NC700X. Yes the DL650 will rev higher but the ride and comfort of the NC700X just made it a better deal for me and one to tour back roads with. Now others prefer the higher revving engine (My 85 700S revved to 12,000 ) and other features of the DL650 and they will love it. Both bikes were good bikes I just found the NC700X easier to ride, better amperage output for electrics and the C of G was perfect for me, and that does not make the DL650 a bad bike just not the one I picked for me to keep.

    • A motorcycle which can put you to sleep? This is what we should buy? I hope you are enjoying your golden nursing home years. Meanwhile the rest of us still have a pulse and look forward to its quickening when we throw a leg over.

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