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Comparison test travel enduro / fun bike

Biedermann and arsonist

After the Suzuki V-Strom 650 A, the Kawasaki Versys is now also setting fire to the old Honda Transalp 650 travel enduro.

It’s been almost 20 years since the Honda Transalp made its debut. Back in 1987, the enduro riders were a little irritated by the unusually lush casing of the travel enduro. Only when word got around about the qualities of the V-twin cylinder as a reliable, uncomplicated companion for near and far did the success of the Transalp as a middle-class globetrotter become unstoppable. Honda still has them in the program, and practically unchanged. Slightly more displacement, a few modifications to the frame and the suspension elements, more powerful disc brakes, subtle optical retouching ?? the facelift could almost be communicated in a text message.

To this day, the fan base has been waiting in vain for a new, more modern, stronger Transalp. Your 53 hp three-valve engine is already heating up modern single-cylinder concepts. And the competition that conforms to displacement and cylinders, for example in the form of the 67 hp Suzuki V-Strom, which has made life difficult for the Honda since its appearance in 2004, or the brand new one Kawasaki Versys, a sporty mix of fun bike and travel enduro, has already pulled up and away in the competition. However, when top performance doesn’t matter, the V2 can still inspire. The engine accelerates particularly gently in all speed ranges, develops its power very homogeneously, and load change reactions are almost alien to it. You can feel that there are still carburetors that take care of the mixture preparation. The only inconvenience is having to choke the engine to life after a cold start. It works fine. With just over 50 hp, short overtaking maneuvers are hardly daring. And an active driving style with rapid gear changes, especially when downshifting, likes to lock the transmission. The translation of the five-speed gearbox is also a bit too long. Tea Transalp is pleasantly speed-saving on the motorway, but you will noticeably run out of breath in headwinds or on long inclines. The high fuel consumption also makes it clear that there is a need for action with Honda’s mid-range enduro. Less than five liters is not possible on the country road or at a speed of 130 km / h.

Comparison test travel enduro / fun bike

Biedermann and arsonist

Honda Transalp

Traveling without the hustle and bustle is not just about the Transalp drive. The chassis is also designed for comfort. With soft spring elements, the Honda glides calmly over bumpy asphalt or undulating tar surfaces with the driver sitting upright and comfortably. Very nice. On the one hand. On the other hand, because of the soft coordination, there is no real sense of road contact. Especially in fast corners, the Transalp gauzes underdamped, reacts with a delay to steering commands and, despite the narrow tires, swings easily from one corner to the other due to the 21-inch front wheel.

In addition, when braking, the fork first goes to the diving station, before the very powerful and properly metered double disc brake at the front really noticeably decelerates. Caution: if you push hard, you risk the front wheel locking unexpectedly early. And there is no ABS. Neither for money nor for good words.

Kawasaki Versys

Only the tree trunks are thick and heavy.

In contrast to the Kawasaki Versys. For the offshoot of the ER-6n / f, an ABS is offered for an extra charge of 600 euros. Which is just one of the many differences to the Oldie Transalp. With the tightly dimensioned cockpit in forehead of you, the somewhat narrower tubular handlebar firmly in your hands, the body slightly bent, the driver sits a little higher and much more active than on the Honda, but not at all uncomfortable. Small 17-inch front wheel and thoroughbred road tires with the Dunlop D 221, the Kawa wants to be more of a fun bike than a travel enduro.

And has what it takes. Their spring elements are much tighter without being uncomfortable. The chassis reacts very directly to steering commands, precisely and easily. Just turn in and whoosh, it’s all over the place. Righting moment when braking? Minimal. The brakes themselves? Inconspicuous and easy to dose. The ABS, however, regulates somewhat roughly. Tight turns, large radii, alternating curves, driven slowly or quickly, here and there course corrections, the Versys has no trouble with anything, nowhere does it surprise unpleasantly, is neutral, stable and manageable at the same time. The upside-down fork reacts sensitively to small bumps, and the shock absorber is splendid in order to cope well with sporty driving as well as bad stretches. It can be adapted to suit luggage and passenger use in just a few simple steps. However, the passenger does not feel comfortable. He keeps slipping on the skin of the person in front of him on the slightly forward-sloping seat. In terms of passenger comfort, the Transalp is exceptionally clearly superior.

Kawasaki Versys

In return, the driver on the Versys is good and happy to be on the move quickly. No wonder with the lively characteristics of the 650 twin. Where this is less due to the measured 68 HP peak power. Rather, it is the full torque curve of the Kawa drive train that ensures unbelievable power delivery. The engine converts every spontaneous turn of the throttle grip into powerful acceleration that one would expect more powerful engines to have. Regardless of the engine speed, speed or gear, it always moves forward with fresh energy. And if you have so much power up your sleeve, you can do without speed orgies. It is best to drive between 4000 and 7500 rpm, above this the temperament noticeably decreases. The in-line two-cylinder accelerates cleanly, shows only minimal load change reactions and, with its smooth running smoothness, is even good for strolling turns. At a moderate country road speed, the twin gets by with less than four liters, and even at a recommended motorway speed of 130 km / h, the injection nozzles shoot just half a liter more per hundred kilometers into the combustion chambers of the four-valve engine.

Nice for the wallet and good for the range. Up to almost 500 kilometers are possible with the Versys. Many a tourer is left behind. Tea height-adjustable windshield rounds off the suitability for touring. Unfortunately, the windshield got so narrow that the wind hit the rider’s shoulders quite hard. In addition, it is not particularly quiet behind the plexiglass. And while we are already complaining: the illumination of the light is bright in the dipped position, but narrowly limited, and with the high beam the prospects are only bleak. Even the old spotlights on the Honda shine even better.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 A.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 A.

The Suzuki V-Strom 650 A turns night into day. The two large headlights illuminate the road like floodlights. And behind the expansive half-shell cladding with the wide, also height-adjustable windshield, it is almost cozy in wind and weather, in any calm case. The handlebar is a bit wide and heavily cranked, otherwise the driver sits? how, by the way, also the co-driver? comfortable. In addition, the Suzuki is equipped as standard with a perfectly functioning ABS, which also regulates more finely than that of the Versys. The V-Strom two-cylinder has significantly more horsepower on the dyno than that of the Honda, namely a decent 68 horsepower (factory specification 67). But the last steps to take the Euro 3 hurdle have really damaged the liveliness and powerful power output. The 2007 model is inferior to the previous year’s version from 60 to 140 km / h by a full 2.9 seconds, especially when it comes to pulling through. The V-Strom, accelerating in the last gear, does not achieve any better results than the less powerful Transalp. However, its last gear is also extremely long, because the Suzuki reaches its top speed of 180 km / h in fifth. In practice, of course, hardly anyone will torture you in the sixth across the country, but rather take one or two gear steps back in the smooth-running gearbox in order to accelerate from one bend to the next. Then the smooth-running, low-vibration Suzuki twin shows its better side. From 5000 rpm it revs up lively and lively so that it is a pleasure to be on the road with the V-Strom. As long as you don’t turn the whisk too vigorously, the Suzuki’s consumption pleasure is pleasantly low. Four liters on average at a travel-friendly country road speed are considerable, and so the action radius of the V-Strom is hardly less than that of the Kawasaki Versys with an impressive 22 liter tank capacity and a range of almost 470 kilometers.

After the Suzuki V-Strom, the Kawasaki Versys is now also setting fire to the old Honda Transalp travel enduro.

Even if you don’t look at the fat-bellied machine right away, Suzuki has done everything on the chassis side to reconcile traveling comfort and a brisk driving style. With a 19-inch front wheel, moderate tire cross-sections and road tires, a good compromise has been achieved in combining steering precision and maneuverability. The V-Strom swings easily and purposefully from one curve to the next with playful use of force. The Versys only appears more manageable in fast changing bends, whereby the Suzuki leaves no doubt that it does not lack driving stability in any situation.

The spring elements are not particularly tight, but they are well damped. With
the right balance between sensitive response and accurate feedback regarding the condition of the road surface, the telescopic fork and central spring strut work very satisfactorily. The powerful brakes, on the other hand, could be more controllable.

Test result

Head to head race.

Despite small flaws, the V-Strom is still the measure of all things in its class in the sum of its properties, even if it does not come close to the enormous driving pleasure that the Kawasaki Versys conveys through its powerful in-line twin. And Honda would do well to equip the Transalp with a case system, top case and main stand instead of standard equipment, and finally to offer it with a more powerful engine, modern chassis and ABS. More a fresher design? so that the honest man turns into an arsonist.

Technical data Honda Transalp 650 Travel

Water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 52-degree V-engine, one overhead, chain-driven camshaft, three valves per
Cylinder, rocker arm, wet sump lubrication, constant pressure carburettor, Ø 34 mm, uncontrolled catalytic converter with secondary air system, battery 12 V / 12 Ah, mechanically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch, five-speed gearbox, O-ring chain.

Bore x stroke 79.0 x 66.0 mm

Cubic capacity 647 cm3

Compression ratio 9.2: 1
Rated output 39.0 kW (53 PS) at 7500 rpm

Max. Torque 55 Nm at 5500 rpm

Pollutant values ​​(homologation) in g / km
Euro 2 CO 3.310 / HC 0.800 / NOx 0.120

landing gear
Single-loop frame made of steel, telescopic fork,
Ø 41 mm, two-arm swing arm made of steel, central spring strut with lever system, adjustable
Spring base and compression damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 256 mm, double-piston floating calipers, disc brake at the rear, Ø 240 mm, single-piston floating caliper.
Spoked wheels with aluminum rims
1.85 x 21; 2.50 x 17
Tires 90/90 21; 120/90 17
Bridgestone TW 47/48 tires tested

mass and weight
Wheelbase 1505 mm, steering head angle 62.0 degrees, caster 108 mm, spring travel f / h 200 /
172 mm, seat height * 840 mm, weight with a full tank * 223 kg, payload * 169 kg, tank capacity /
Reserve 19.0 / 3.0 liters.

Two year guarantee
Service intervals every 6000 km
Colors black, red, metallic silver, blue
Price 7252 euros
Additional costs 180 euros

Technical data Kawasaki Versys

Water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, one balance shaft, two on top
Horizontal, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, fork rocker arms,
Dry sump lubrication, injection, Ø 38 mm, regulated catalytic converter, 344 W alternator, 12 V / 14 Ah battery, mechanically operated multi-plate oil bath clutch, six-speed gearbox, O-ring chain.

Bore x stroke 83.0 x 60.0 mm

Cubic capacity 649 cm3

Compression ratio 10.6: 1
Rated output 47.0 kW (64 PS) at 8000 rpm

Max. Torque 61 Nm at 6800 rpm

Pollutant values ​​(homologation) in g / km
Euro 3 CO 1.141 / HC 0.073 / NOx 0.077

landing gear
Steel tubular frame, load-bearing motor, upside-down fork, Ø 41 mm, adjustable spring base and rebound traineeship damping, two-arm swing arm made of aluminum, spring strut, adjustable spring base and rebound stage damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 300 mm, double-piston floating calipers, disc brake at the rear, Ø 220 mm, Single -piston floating caliper, ABS.
Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 17; 4.50 x 17
Tires 120/70 ZR 17; 160/60 ZR 17
Tires in the test Dunlop D 221 »G«

mass and weight
Wheelbase 1415 mm, steering head angle 65.0 degrees, caster 108 mm, spring travel f / h 150 /
145 mm, seat height * 850 mm, weight with a full tank * 210 kg, load * 179 kg, tank capacity /
Reserve 19.0 / 3.0 liters.

Two year guarantee
Service intervals every 6000 km
Colors orange, black, silver
Power variant 25 kW (34 PS)
Price ** 7295 euros
Additional costs 170 euros

Technical data Suzuki V-Strom 650 A

Water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 90-degree V-engine, crankshaft lying transversely, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, bucket tappets, wet sump lubrication, injection, alternator 375 W, battery 12 V / 12 Ah, mechanically operated multiple discs – Oil bath clutch, six-speed gearbox, O-ring chain.

Bore x stroke 81.0 x 62.6 mm

Cubic capacity 645 cm3

Compression ratio 11.5: 1
Rated output 49.0 kW (67 hp) at 8800 rpm

Max. Torque 60 Nm at 6400 rpm

Pollutant values ​​(homologation) in g / km
Euro 3 CO 0.750 / HC 0.140 / NOx 0.054

landing gear
Bridge frame made of aluminum, telescopic fork,
Ø 41 mm, adjustable spring base, two-arm swing arm made of aluminum, central spring strut with lever system, adjustable spring base, double disc brake at the front, Ø 310 mm, double-piston floating calipers, disc brake at the rear , Ø 260 mm, two-piston fixed caliper, ABS.
Cast aluminum wheels 2.50 x 19; 4.00 x 17
110/80 19 tires; 150/70 17
Bridgestone TW 101/152 tires tested

mass and weight
Wheelbase 1540 mm, steering head angle 64.0 degrees, caster 110 mm, spring travel f / h 150 /
150 mm, seat height * 840 mm, weight with a full tank * 221 kg, payload * 199 kg, tank capacity 22.0 liters.

Two year guarantee
Service intervals every 6000 km
Colors silver, black, red, blue
Price 7190 euros
Additional costs 140 euros

Performance chart

The Kawa-Twin makes it big. In all speed ranges, the compact two-cylinder surpasses the V-Strom engine in terms of power and torque. Only above 7500 rpm does it appear tough, while the Suzuki engine continues to turn cheerfully up to 10000 rpm without any loss of performance. Far behind is the cultivated V-engine of the Transalp. Neither the peak at 3000 nor the clearly visible hole in the torque curve between 3500 and 4500 rpm can be felt while driving. The engine develops its power evenly.

1st place: Suzuki V-Strom 650 A

SUZUKI V-STROM 650 A It is an all-rounder. An agile, stable chassis makes it a corner robber. Good wind protection, perfect light and a good ABS sweeten everyday life.

2nd place: Kawasaki Versys ABS

KAWASAKI VERSYS ABS Lively, powerful engine, crisp, handy chassis, great driving pleasure. The downside: moderate wind protection and poor light.

3rd place: Honda Transalp 650 Travel

HONDA TRANSALP 650 TRAVEL A reliable partner for travel and in everyday life, but the Transalp has gotten old: a tired engine, a very soft chassis and no ABS.

How engine

The Versys wins the engine ranking by a large margin. Their beefy power development is more likely to be expected from larger-capacity and more powerful motorcycles. The lively Suzuki drive has to be satisfied with modest pulling power, which puts the elasticity of the only 53 hp Honda engine in a more positive light. Its velvety soft power input thanks to the carburettor stands in stark contrast to the gearbox that is difficult to shift under load. V-Strom presents the best cold start. Press the button and the engine roars without increasing the speed.

How chassis

When it comes to driving dynamics, the Versys doesn’t show anything. It is handy, precise to steer, easy and safe to control. But the V-Strom cannot shake it off. With good handling and high driving stability, the Suzuki also lives up to sporting ambitions. In addition, it offers a comfortable suspension setup. The Honda alone is too soft in the suspension. Good for bad roads, but indifferent when turning.

How security

An ABS is simply part of the standard equipment. Even with mid-range motorcycles. The Versys offers it for a surcharge, the V-Strom is not even available without it. And it works very well. The Transalp writes a zero here due to a lack of offer. Small consolation: your brakes are in good condition and can be finely dosed. But good light is also an important safety aspect. In this regard, the V-Strom is also one step ahead with its brightly shining twin headlights. The low beam of the Transalp is bad, that of the Versys is too narrow. Disappointing for a modern motorcycle.

How everyday

Touring riders would be happy about the complete equipment of the Transalp. The purchase price includes a topcase and case as well as a main stand. Too bad that it has the lowest payload at 169 kilograms. The ranges of the Versys and V-Strom are gigantic. Large tanks and low fuel consumption enable almost 500 kilometers.

How comfort

The driver will find comfortable seats in all three rivals, but the Kawasaki is clearly the best seat. As a pillion passenger, the choice is in favor of the Suzuki, as is the case with the wind protection. Behind the three-way adjustable screen of the Versys, on the other hand, things are rather drafty. Great for the Transalp: hand protectors as moisture protection.

How costs / environment

If you keep an eye on costs, you must definitely include the Kawasaki in your purchase decision. Very low inspection costs, inexpensive maintenance and low fuel consumption make the Versys extremely attractive. But the Suzuki can also save money with its low consumption values. When it comes to the environment, the modern engines from Kawasaki and Suzuki show no nakedness. Both easily meet the Euro 3 standard. The Transalp is only classified according to Euro 2 in the mixture preparation by carburettors.

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