Traffic jams, lack of parking space, petrol prices: Unlike public transportation, a motorcycle is very smart in the way it works. Honestly a great scooter. But if you want a motorcycle, Honda and Kawasaki have good commuter bikes.
In fact, it is clear. Aside from comfort and prestige, the car offers few answers to the urban traffic questions of the future. Tons of expensive tin are produced, bought, operated, and pushed in and out of the increasingly crowded city on a daily basis: this cannot be a sustainable model for tomorrow anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether everything runs on fossil fuels, electricity or air and love. In the future, the self-driving car will be located somewhere between No Street and No Way Avenue in the Never-ever neighborhood.
Honda with automatic storage and scooter
150 to 250 kilograms on two wheels, including a manageable need for space and resource consumption, sounds more modern, but after staying in any city in southern Europe or even Asia, there is almost no alternative. “But unfortunately we don’t have the same weather in Bari or Bangkok!” Well, regardless, it is possible to travel on two wheels for most of the year in our latitudes – provided you have the right equipment. So it’s time to look at your beloved two-wheeler as a serious daily game and not just a weekend game.
The Kawasaki Versys 650 and Honda NC 750 X proactively put their mobility qualities in the balance. The former type and serving size, which turned out to be a good combination for the job. The latter even as a dedicated “commuter bike,” as Honda calls it. This is no exaggeration. Anyone who secretly admires the concept of the perfect two-wheeled commuter scooter, but fears social ostracism at the rendezvous point, will be picked up here. Motorcycle geometry with scooter storage space without the obligation to manually change gears: this is only available here.
Where do you put the luggage? A legitimate question. The “Tourer” version from Versys has a few goodies and two storage spaces with a capacity of 28 liters in the form of a custom fit suitcase. Enough for a work helmet and slippers with a tie and a little after-work shopping for dinner. Honda’s deep luggage compartment is smaller, but more practical. Your tank is aft, the cylinder is mounted almost horizontally, giving plenty of space between the seat and handlebar. Although you have to choose between a helmet and clothing or shopping, luggage doesn’t come at the expense of the motorcycle’s dimensions. Which is not entirely important to answer the next question.
Traveling with and without a suitcase
Is it easy to get around the city? But hello. Thanks to the cleverly placed luggage compartment, the Honda remains slim and slender, which gives it an undeniable advantage in daily slalom amongst the less fortunate, since most of them are stand-up drivers. More care is required on Kawasaki’s luggage. At least if you don’t want to make said drivers more miserable than they already are with their scratch-free properties yet. Either way: In turn, you’re either the king or queen of the access road on both bikes.
Lane changes at lightning speed, jumps in gaps, automatic shortcuts through the narrowest streets: this is only possible on two wheels. Especially when you have it on hand like our Nippon duo. Although the Kawa feels much more powerful than a compact Honda even without a bag, it weighs two kilograms less and is therefore no less powerful in the urban jungle and steeres a little faster with its wide, raised handlebar.
Honda with DCT is perfect for commuting
In terms of driving, both are actually always sufficient for the first position. The downward pressure of the Honda Twins is reminiscent of the happy TDI times, when diesels were still associated with powerful deep roar and ascetic thirst rather than scandals and climate death. Compared to the diesel engine, Honda’s twin-engine runs more agricultural despite the strong impact and is also softer on gas. And, as if that were not enough, the famous dual-clutch transmission helps to efficiently massage the juice start into the asphalt. As with the well-tuned variant, you can approach traction with the accelerator pedal while stationary, then shoot forward at any time in the green. Overall, the DCT is probably the biggest asset that Honda can use in this environment. Automatic gear selection is always perfect, its effect can only be felt by the sound, and thanks to the engine’s torque and intensity of inner city traffic, it does not have the ambitious shift strategy of the optional Sport mode. With their high speeds, they bring only a state of unnecessary activity, of which there is already enough during the usual rush hour. In any case, it won’t take long before you stop thinking about manual transmission. The only bittersweet drop: If you suddenly go up on the gas again after descending slowly and with a downshift automatically, for example when the traffic light turns green again shortly before coming to a stop, the traction is sometimes noticeably rough and difficult to control.
Kawasaki is asking more of the driving crew to get first place. Your gearbox still needs active cooperation, and not only because of the classic operation (which, by the way, is a little rough, especially when shifting down). Because their motor, which runs rougher, also needs more speed to really start to work, which isn’t really surprising given the smaller displacement and higher performance. So diligent shifting is the order of the day, but the feel-good, creamy feel zone of around 5500 is rarely reached in the city. But don’t worry: Here, too, you can usually get past the tin caravans with ease.
How now, no heated seats?
Unfortunately no. Honda could at least be equipped with a hot grip from previous works. Versys provides a luxurious shower of comfort despite the need for fresh air. Because the seat cushions, weather protection, knee angles, and suspension travel are just that: plush. So you can fly more relaxing with your daily commute. All this at a smaller size with the compact NC, but it’s still as far from the torture chamber as Tokyo’s on the Trier. Their low-rise standing makes it easy for smaller riders, but it puts more pressure on my taller knees. The armchair and chassis are also more closely related, but the Honda beats rough stones, short potholes, and all other small city ordeals more elegantly than the Kawa. Which, by the way, turns astoundingly fast with every gritty use of gas or brakes, thanks to the smooth chassis.
Can you ride a motorbike with it?
Short answer: Yes. But we will be very bad at our job if we do not give the long answer. In any case, the curve intended for swinging the way back to the passenger belt is not subject to any restrictions, but tasted differently in each case. As Versys’ potential on country roads unfolds—delicate as a flower in spring—the NC touches one or the other here and there a little earlier. It implements the entire curve design from start to finish noticeably more neutral and sturdier than the Kawasaki, which was initially very busy and then became stiffer at the hips. But once the runout gets bigger, it lacks a bit of longitudinal dynamic leverage by comparison. Although your horses don’t need any time to warm up, they aren’t breathing much either. When they noticeably lose momentum at 6000 rpm, the Kawa twins finally find their inner core and are truly back in business again. It doesn’t quite match the feel of the usual living room sofa, but it brings a lot of life to the cozy booth. Honda, especially in terms of dial gauge, is missing. Somewhere between a tall gear ratio and perfect comfort in shifting, a few seconds of sprinting and traction stall. This is matched by the upper disc brake performance up front, which can be easily dosed, but because it’s a mono, it bites rather cautiously. There is no comparison with the somewhat digital Kawa stoppers, but they are more powerful, which, even with heavy use, accentuates the wobbly nature of the chassis more than the city. Whatever the case, they both provide confident momentum after work, but they just don’t like the last groove very much – each in their own way. It can be carried easily for good commuter bikes.
Is it financially worth it?
This is of course a very individual decision and cannot be made with just numbers. However, there are a few decision aids – absolutely neutral course as a result of our work: 400 to 500 kilometers with one tank is quite possible, depending on the track profile. With an average daily commute of just under 17 kilometers (as of 2018), it’s easy to commute two to three work weeks before you have to hit the fuel crater again. Of course, a car can do that too, and often more than that. But rarely 14.1 liters (Honda) or 21 liters (Kawasaki) of fuel. And the most rare at a new price well below 10,000 euros. The vast majority of cars cannot be insured, maintained, and taxed cheaply. With one Hunni service per month, all operating costs should be easily covered. Anyone who still enjoys the privilege of public transport, which of course cannot be admitted, can go the said distance for about the same monthly price by bus and train in the harsh winter months.
- Honda NC 750X DCT: The more urban a city travelers choose, the brighter North Carolina will be. Compact, stylish, extremely economical and incredibly smart thanks to the helmet cab and DCT transmission. Only on subsequent trips do you lose more classic motorcycle advantages such as power and comfort.
- Kawasaki Versi 650 TourerThe bike of choice when there is a long way to go between home and the office. Mature and relaxed with a great dose of rush. With the more powerful Versys you are also very well dressed in the city, but experience the fun of classic motorcycle riding above all else in the classic motorcycle district: out of town.