Being a middleweight-twins motorcycle is hard, they have to both satisfy a new rider and be fun enough to lure in riders with a few years of experience. The Kawasaki Z650, Suzuki SV650, and Yamaha FZ-07 are all sitting in this category and they’re being put to the test by CycleWorld. Travelling from their office toward Borrego Springs, the bikes were tested with a mix of highway and back road riding.
First up is the 2017 Kawasaki Z650 with its lightweight trellis-style frame, new assist and slipper clutch, a fancy gauge cluster with gear-position indicator, and optional ABS. There’s decent suspension feel and the low seat height makes it more accommodating for a variety of riders. But where the Z650 fell behind is the 59.9 hp engine. Sure it may have more midrange grunt than older Kawasaki twins, but once you go past 4,500 rpm, vibrations can felt via the seat, handlebar, and footpegs.
Then there’s the less aggressively designed 2017 Suzuki SV650, which is powered by an updated V-twin engine. It’s stable, predictable and feels planted in curves with minimal vibrations at 5,000 rpm. Combined with the low-rpm assist feature and you have a pretty decent new rider bike on your hands. Though it does have less torque than the FZ-07; 44.2 pound-feet at 8,000 rpm compared to Yamaha’s 46.3 pound-feet at 6,290 rpm.
Which brings us to the last middleweight-twin, and the reviewers’ thoughts on the FZ-07 can be summed up in a few words; “third-gear wheelies!” They describe it as a w3ell rounded bike that is more fun to ride than any mid-level bike before it. High praise and it’s backed up by the engine’s broad range of power, low body weight and handling ease.
We can gather that the group’s favourite is the FZ-07, but the real winner is whichever model that calls your garage home.