Small, light and available in a variety of colours and flavours, never before has the congested middleweight street bike market been so fruity
The big question originally was whether or not a £4500 naked street bike is better value than a £5400 naked street bike. Fiercely contested by the manufacturers, and with the Europeans all crazy for small street bikes, there’s undoubtedly demand in this somewhat crowded sector.
You’ve no doubt heard the saying: "you get what you pay for", and having ridden the bikes over two days and well over 500 miles, I’d have to concede that there’s a certain truth in that.
The Kawasaki while fast and visually stunning, fails to deliver on a few fronts – there's a crudeness to it that’s almost endearing but it’s ultimately a flawed motorcycle which will, because of its extra capacity, cost more to insure than any of the other three. That said if you're 45, live in Spalding and only ride on smooth roads, then it might make you as happy as John Hogan. Personally, these are three things in life I’d rather not risk.
The Yamaha is almost a great bike. If it had just a bit more… no, actually, a lot more midrange power, then I could grow to love it. It looks cool, it handles okay and it's comfortable. But for me it’s all fur coat and no knickers and far too similar to the (much better) FZ6 to be worth a look in.
Which just leaves the Suzuki and the Honda. Pound for pound there's really very little in it. The little Gladius does everything well. It's easy to ride, it’s got a decent amount of midrange, it’s comfortable and though time will tell, it does seem to be pretty well screwed together. The small fuel tank is a bit of a let down though and the budget brakes feel weak.
And so we have our somewhat confusing answer. The £4500 Gladius represents outstanding value, but to my mind the excellent Hornet is worth every penny of the extra £800 asking price. For the role it's been given, it’s practically perfect. The riding position is spot-on, it handles, it goes and it stops. So is there a place for budget versions of budget bikes? Seems so.
KawasakiPrice: £5,341 (£5,684 with ABS)Engine: 748cc, liquid-cooled, 16-valve inline fourPower: 96bhp @ 10,200rpmTorque: 53lb.ft @ 8300rpmFront suspension: USD, adjustable rebound and preloadRear suspension: MONOSHOCK, 7-way adjustable preload onlyFront brake: 300mm discs, four-piston calipersRear bake: 250mm disc, single-piston caliperWet weight: 226kg (claimed)Seat height: 815mmFuel capacity: 18.5 litresTop speed: 135mph (est)Colours: Green/Black, Black, Blue
Visordown rating: 3/5
SuzukiPrice: £4,500Engine: 645cc, liquid-cooled, 8-valve V-twinPower: 69bhp @ 8700rpmTorque: 46ft.lb @ 6500rpmFront suspension: Telescopic forks, unadjustableRear suspension: Monoshock, adjustable for preload onlyFront brake: 290m discs, twin-piston calipersRear brake: 240mm disc, single-piston caliperWet weight: 202kg (claimed)Seat height: 785mmFuel capacity: 14.5 litresTop speed: 130mph (est)Colours: White/Pink, White/Blue, Black/Green
Visordown rating: 4/5
HondaPrice: £5339 (£5681 WITH ABS)Engine: 599cc, liquid-cooled, 16-valve inline fourPower: 92bhp @ 12,200rpmTorque: 43ft.lb @ 8100rpmFront suspension: USD, non-adjustableRear suspension: Monoshock, 7-way adjustable preload onlyFront brake: 296mm discs, three-piston calipersRear brake: 240mm disc, single-piston caliperDry weight: 177kg (claimed)Seat height: 800mmFuel capacity: 19 litresTop speed: 135mph (est)Colours: White, Black, Silver, Blue, Gold
YamahaPrice: £4499 (£5249 with ABS)Engine: 600cc, liquid-cooled, 16-valve inline fourPower: 69bhp @ 8700rpmTorque: 41lb.ft @ 8200rpmFront suspension: RWU, non-adjustableRear suspension: Monoshock, adjustable preload onlyFront brake: 298mm discs, twin-piston calipersRear brake: 245mm disc, single-piston caliperWet weight: 205kg (claimed)Seat height: 785mmFuel capacity: 17.3 litresTop speed: 125mph (est)Colours: Black, White, Yellow
Visordown rating: 2/5
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