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Kawasaki test ride review - Versys v Z750 v KLE500

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Rybky, Jul 11, 2009.

  1. Just had a very fun morning up at Alto in Chatswood [NSW]! Having got my full license on the 1st July I started to consider an upgrade.

    First a bit of background, I have only been riding since March 2008 and apart from the CB250 on the pre-learner course I have not ridden anything apart from a KLE500. Now the KLE has been great as a learner bike, enough power and torque to get moving quick without wringing its neck and very maneuverable which helped a lot on the MOST! Most of my riding is commuting, I have done a few longer road rides and really did not enjoy it, after today I think this might be because of the bike. So the KLE is a great commuter tool and I am sure it is great off road too, after coming off my first KLE on a gravel road and writing it off I am sticking to the bitumen with this one. I am 6'3" so I also like the height of this bike.

    So I have been doing my research and based on paper stats I narrowed down my short list to:

    - Kawasaki Versys
    - Yamaha TDM900
    - Suzuki V-Strom 650

    Then recently I started to search on the used bike sites for any road bike in my price range (<$10k), it was then I discovered the Z750. Some more research revealed that although it is a sports bike it is actually quite tall (seat height of 815mm), hmmm, I had seen one in the showroom when I picked up my current KLE and I liked the look of it, did not sit on it though.

    So I phoned around and found that Alto had both a Versys and a Z750 that I could try, so I did! Here are my thoughts in order of ride, both bikes are MY08:

    Sitting on the bike I felt very at home, a much wider tank than the KLE but a comfortable seating position. Pulled out onto the Pacific Highway and instantly noticed just how much more power it has, even though it is only 150cc more than the KLE and still a parallel twin the difference was amazing.

    Alto is on my way to work so I was able to take it on familiar roads to my office and a little beyond. It was a good route, a mix of heavy traffic, free flowing roads, roundabouts and even some twisties. Something else I noticed straight away was getting feedback from the front wheel, something I now realise the KLE has none of! For the first time when I leaned the bike into a corner I could feel pressure back on the inside bar, a strange feeling at first.

    The suspension felt firmer when hitting bumps in the road but around corners it was very bouncy, a little scary actually. However I put this down to the Versys have factory setup suspension (which is highly adjustable front and back) whereas I have the preload on the KLE rear set very high which helps a lot on corners.

    Brakes were obviously much better (twin disc v single) but they did not bite and brought the bike to a civilised stop. Exhaust note is nice especially the rumble on deceleration.

    One downside was the vibration, noticeably more than my KLE surprisingly. On idle the engine was smoother but as you opened it up the vibes through the whole bike were almost uncomfortable. Speaking of uncomfortable, the seat was not good, I was on the bike for probably about 20 mins and already my butt was hurting a little, not a good sign. I have read about the seat being a problem.

    OMFG!! :shock:

    End of review.

    OK, that's not enough! Not sure where to start though, this bike is awesome. Now remember I have not ridden anything like this before so compared to other bikes I am sure it is average.

    The riding position is a little more forward than the Versys and the bars are lower, seat height felt very similar and my legs were actually very comfortable on the pegs, this surprised me. Pulling away I instantly noticed just how silky smooth this bike is, the inline 4 is beautiful and the clutch and gearbox were also very very smooth. I was really thinking that I would not like the seating position on this bike especially with it being so naked but it did not bother me at all, I really felt like part of the bike rather than sitting on top of it which is what I expected. I also did not notice any problem with not having a windshield, even into 3 figures it felt fine.

    That engine, OMG, I actually think this is a better commuter engine than the 650 PT in the Versys, it has less low down torque but that means you can actually pull away much smoother, the Versys is very torquey and you know it, it just yanks you off the line. The Z gently pulls away and then all hell breaks loose!! :grin:

    Did I say how smooth this bike is?? Mmm.

    I found the seat much more comfortable than the Versys and of course there are no vibrations at all, except a little at idle. The exhaust note is very quiet but sweet.

    Opening up the throttle in any gear you have to be prepared to hang on! Reaching for the clutch lever was a challenge at times, I now see why people change without it!!

    I thought the Versys was giving a lot of feedback through the front wheel but that was nothing compared to the Z, I actually felt like I was fighting with it around corners which made it wobble slightly a couple of times, is this where a steering damper helps?

    As part of the ride I deliberately went down a no through road so I had to do a u-turn, the Versys did this effortlessly like my KLE does, just seems to turn on the spot. Tried the same on the Z and nearly fell off when I hit maximum lock!! I guess it is not designed to be so nimble.

    The brakes, OMG again! Incredibly powerful, front on its own stopped me quick, front and back (not even e-braking!) almost put me over the bars. Very comforting to know that stopping power is available.

    Getting back on the KLE500]
    I stalled it trying to pull away. :?

    Where is the power??? Hmm, guess I don't have much. The clutch bite also took a few changes to get used to, having come off the Z which was so silky. And that lack of feedback from the front wheel was so noticeable, although it was nice that it did not once try to fight back around any corner, you just lean it in and around it goes. It did make me realise though why I did not enjoy the longer (faster) road rides on this bike, you just feel like you are floating on the road not planted on it. The Versys was better and the Z was just glued to the road.

    I have to say though, I guess it is familiarity, the KLE does ride well and acceleration is adequate. It soaks up the crappy Sydney roads with ease and you can thread through traffic nicely.

    Pros - really everything I need from a bike if I was being practical; high bars; very adjustable suspension (so hopefully could be setup better than this demo bike); plenty of power; looks OK with a topbox on it; insurance very similar to my KLE
    Cons - seat seems uncomfortable; only available in green at the moment (although it is growing on me); not many used examples on the market

    Pros - silky smooth engine, gearbox and clutch; puts a stupid grin on my face; comfortable seat; lots of power; quite a few used ones on the market for reasonable price
    Cons - Insurance will be a couple of hundred $$ higher; looks a little odd with a topbox

    I still want to take the other two bikes on my shortlist out for a ride but somehow I don't think they are going to come close the Z750 experience. Now maybe I should consider other models equivalent to the Z, not sure what they are though.

    Whether I go ahead with the upgrade depends a lot on what I can sell my bike for. Anyway, hope you enjoyed the read, thought this might help others in a similar situation to me.

  2. Nice write up. It's been so long since I've ridden a twin, I'd all but forgotten about the vibrations. I read that this years ER-6Fs have had a few more grommets installed to reduce vibration noise through the farings/dash.
  3. Test ride a Vstrom dl650, they can do it all.

    Great commuter, good in the twisties, excellent tourer and you can hit some gravel tracks if you want.. They have a huge range of aftermarket accessories, heaps of excellent luggage options,..etc. They arnt the pretties bike on the market but there isnt much they cant do.If you follow the maintenance schedule these bikes will last well over 100k kms.

    Id take a test ride on one before you go committing to the Z750..
  4. Insurance on the zed is not that much to be honest. I got mine right off restrictions and I paid about $500 full comp.

    I love my zed, stack of fun on the weekends and easy to commute on too.
  5. Good to see you're test riding Adam.

    Insurance wouldn't be much more for a z750 compared to the others.

    Don't forget the bike you're interested in (out of the 4 or so bikes you've ridden) is also the only 4 cyl you've ridden?

    Other similar bikes to check out would be cb900 hornet/the new cb1000, suzuki bandit, fz1, sv1000 too maybe. There are a few others in the 600cc size that you might like to check out.

    Also if you like the z750, try the z1000 :grin:
  6. You are a bad influence!! :LOL:

    Yes the Z is the only 4cyl and it was a late entry into the race, never considered this style of bike before let alone a 4cyl. Really impressed though.

    Thanks for the other suggestions, I will check them out.

  7. :rofl: hahahahahaha I nearly fell off my seat reading that :p Awesome reviews, Adam, thanks again. I had a gut feeling that night when we did the photoshoot that you might be a z750 guy :twisted:

    Did the height of the bike bother you compared to the KLE? i know you mentioned you liked to be a bit more upright and sit taller so you can see further?

    I nearly borrowed a friend's z750 on the weekend just to see what it would be like, I saw him carve the twisties at Mac pass like it was a 250 LOL.

    The person compared it to Mark's kitted up r1, except with less torque and it's lighter? I've only ridden the r1 so I can only compare it to that :cry:

    I reckon the Zs are up there on the list of most stunning "straight out of the factory naked & hoon bikes" :p

    If you get it you'll definitely have to do a Putty run with us!!! :twisted:
  8. Thanks Ruth! :)

    You know I thought it would be when I got out on the road it really didn't, although the Z has an 815mm seat height so for a sports bike it is actually quite tall. It still has quite an upright seating position, felt very natural.

    I don't know about it being light, curb weight of over 200kg! But it felt very light and well balanced.

    It has opened my eyes that's for sure.

  9. Hi Adam,
    I've just stumbled on this thread but your situation was so like mine I thought it worth a mention.
    I too had a KLE and like you considered the Versys and Z750. I too test rode both at Alto in Chatswood and all you say in your post I can agree with (except the Versys seat...I find it comfortable).
    I went the Versys route as my riding is mainly Sydney traffic and the torque spread means less gear changes. Both are awesome bikes for the money and although I don't regret my choice I wonder what life would have been like on the Z750.

    Ride Safe...
  10. LOL! That is spookely similar!!

    The Versys is certainly a very capable bike, I just felt at the time that the smoothness of the Z's inline 4 would make it easier to commute on. I am sure they are both great bikes. I am loving the Z though especially on the open road.

    I know one thing, I certainly don't miss the KLE!!!

  11. good choice mate. i had a 2008 sold it last month to get on to something different, but i do miss the seamless engine, the awesome stopping. you will love it.