Head to head: Kawasaki Z650 vs Yamaha MT07

As the A2 licence crowd look to get in on the thrill of riding a naked bike, Visordown takes a look at two of the best A2 licence friendly naked bikes you can buy

Z650 MT-07 H2H

IT quickly became apparent on the press launch of the Kawasaki Z650 that the new bike is a prime challenger to the Yamaha MT07 in the best naked bike for the A2 licence holder. But which way should you go if you're looking for some good value, great fun naked motorcycle thrills on a restricted licence?

Kawasaki Z650 Vs Yamaha MT-07

To start with, let's take a look at the specs for each bike.

If you’re looking at restricting either machine to A2 licence compliancy, they are both obviously going to have 47bhp. But what about when you pass your test? Well the Kawasaki Z650 will produce 68bhp while the Yamaha MT-07 will put out 72bhp. Outright power isn’t the full story here though, it’s more of a headline figure. Torque figures for the bikes are equally as close, 64Nm or 47 ft-lb for the Kawasaki, and 68Nm 50 ft-lb for the Yamaha. After riding both engines for thousands of miles, I’m still very hard pushed to choose between them.

The Kawasaki engine has an old-school buzz to it, and an eagerness to rev that only comes from having the crankpins set at 180°. The MT-07 though is blessed with an 270° crank, meaning it thrums up to the red-line in a totally different way to the Kawasaki.

The chassis set up for each bike is equally as similar, with both bikes running telescopic forks and rear shocks with a rising rate linkage. I’m pretty sure if you were to go for a quick ride on either machine, then jump off one onto the other, you’d be very hard pushed to tell a difference. Both bikes have the new rider in mind, and in that respect, the handling is forgiving and compliant around town and sporty enough to entertain if needed.

If anything would make me sway one way on this one, I do find the Kawasaki more comfortable over long distances, without giving up any of its sporty eagerness in the process.

Pricing for the two bikes is equally as close as the specs, with the Kawasaki starting at just £6,649 and the Yamaha landing your garage for £6,695. As you’d expect, both factories have enticing PCP deals to be had, with the Z650 available for as little as £105 p/m and the MT-07 for around £88 p/m. If you are a new rider looking for a first full-size motorcycle, they don’t come much closer than these two!

While for many, the choice will come down to brand loyalty, for us, it comes down to riding experience and on that front, the Kawasaki wins, but it is close.

It’s also worth noting that in the launch of the Z650 this week, I couldn’t help but take a look at myself in shop windows as I passed them, if road presence is what you want, Team Green has got your back on that front!

2020 Kawasaki Z650 Video Review | Visordown.com