• Comparison – Kawasaki Z650 vs Triumph Street Triple vs Benelli TNT 600i vs Hyosung GT 650N

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When we talk about the Indian two wheeler market in person, this fastest growing market in the world for two wheelers, which perhaps will become the biggest as well in the upcoming years surpassing the markets positioned above it, has shown a tremendous shift in terms of customer preferences. Within this market, if we talk about the performance oriented segments as well, the category of 200-250cc motorcycles has become the range starting class, unlike that of the 150cc commuters as before.

Due to this shift, sense of increased maturity and flow of money, the riders are now looking out for middleweight motorcycles more, while upgrading their riding skills from a 200-250cc motorcycle. This has resulted in an increased interest and sales numbers of middleweight category motorcycles. Since the liter class superbikes are a bit impractical for their upgrade and usage, the middleweight motorcycles are currently considered to be the best bet to be their next purchase. The middleweight segment of motorcycles consists of all kinds of motorcycles right now, with the segment of roadsters being the most practical and preferred ones, which is quite reflected in their sales numbers as well. Currently, the Indian market has four different motorcycles in this space of 600-800cc roadsters – Kawasaki ER-6n, Triumph Street Triple, Benelli TNT 600i and Hyosung GT 650N.

However, Kawasaki has recently announced that it will soon be replacing the aging and dated ER-6n with an all new generation motorcycle, the Z650, which is a roadster based on the new generation Ninja 650. Like the ER-6n, the Z650 will continue the rivalry of Kawasaki with its competitors – Triumph Street Triple, Benelli TNT 600i and Hyosung GT 650N, all of which have varying strengths of their own. All these four motorcycles are made here via the CKD route, which explains their affordable pricing as well. Which brings us to the quest that which one of the four emerges out to be the best bet for your money? Let’s find out:-

STYLING

To be honest, it is the new Kawasaki Z650 which seriously is a looker, and distinctively stands out of the rest due to its next generation design, which is an evolution of its ‘Z’ design philosophy! The new design language is much sharper than that of the drab looking ER-6n, with all new new front fascia, new fuel tank and body panels and new headlamp and tail lamp which now possess more character than before, but at the same time, practicality and comfort have not taken a back seat, which have always remained the strongest forte of the ER-6n which it replaces. The bike looks much closer to the new generation roadsters from Kawasaki like the Z900 and Z1000, with aggressive-than-before creases and lines from front to rear. It also has the most innovative looking fully digital instrument console as well, though its design could have been a bit better.

In terms of appeal, it is the Triumph Street Triple which packs it in abundance, for the fact that it stays true to the original Street Triple which Triumph debuted many years ago, thus staying as a perfect example of evolution. However, the front fascia of the motorcycle is a bit controversial with the bug-eyed headlamps, which generate a sense of ‘love-it-or-hate-it’ thing. Still, the bike looks muscular and British by every sense, and while the overall design is simple, it manages to look modern and classy by all means. The instrument console too looks appealing more than that of the TNT 600i and GT 650N, and packs in the most amount of information here.

When it comes to pure muscle though, nothing here comes close to the Benelli TNT 600i. Right from the headlamp, fuel tank and to the rear section with twin underseat exhausts, the TNT 600i doesn’t lack in visual appeal, with each and every panel having a sense of beefiness, which is quite reflected in its overall weight as well, which is the highest in this segment. However, compared to the Z650 and Street Triple, the design of the TNT 600i looks a bit dated, and the same can be said about its part digital instrument console as well. Nevertheless, the TNT 600i is one perfect looking motorcycle for all those who prefer that ‘big bike’ appeal of a liter class roadster in a middleweight motorcycle.

The Hyosung GT 650N is the oldest motorcycle in the comparison, which is the reason why it is beginning to show its age. Apart from the ovular shaped headlamp, which looks seriously dated and tacky, the rest of the body panels have been shared with its faired cousin, the GT 650R, which too itself has begun to show its age. The fact that the original design has remained unchanged all these years has definitely made a dent in its overall appeal. The part digital instrument console of the GT 650R too looks seriously outdated. However, the only saving grace for the GT 650N is that like the TNT 600i, the GT 650N doesn’t fail out in terms of visual appeal, with each and every panel on it seeming to be sizeable.

If you ask us, it is the Kawasaki Z650 which clearly wins the battle of design hands down. The Benelli TNT 600i too isn’t much far behind, and could be the best if Benelli tweaks its design even slightly. The Triumph Street Triple looks graceful, however, the front face of it draws polarized opinion, whereas the Hyosung GT 650N looks seriously outdated in this company

Feature Kawasaki Z650 Triumph Street Triple Benelli TNT 600i Hyosung GT 650N
Pilot lamps Yes No Yes No
Part digital instrument console Yes Yes Yes Yes
Split pillion grab rails Yes Yes Yes Yes
LED tail lamp Yes No Yes Yes

POWERTRAIN

Refinement and build quality are the two traits which can be attached to the engine of Kawasaki Z650 as well. The new Ninja 650 continues to run on the same four stroke, parallel twin, liquid cooled, 649cc engine as that of its predecessor, the ER-6n, but like the on the Ninja 650, it too has been retuned to deliver a power output of 68 PS and a maximum torque output of 65.7 Nm. There is a drop in power output when compared to the ER-6n, however, with a considerable drop in weight as well, the power-to-weight ratio is actually better than before, which results in a slight increase in performance. The engine still sounds smooth and refined even at higher revs.

The Street Triple has already been criticized a lot for its massive power drop and detuned state in its Indian guise, as compared to its international version. However, the four stroke, inline three, liquid cooled, 675cc engine still continues to develop a healthy power output of 79.3 PS and a maximum power output of 57.3 Nm. Now, this makes it almost 26 PS lesser powerful than the Street Triple sold in European markets, however, it is still powerful enough for the segment, for it has a surprisingly good bottom end and midrange performance.

The Benelli TNT 600i has the smallest engine in this comparison, but its power output makes it withstand its competition. The four stroke, inline four, liquid cooled, 600cc motor of this motorcycle makes 85 PS of power and 54.6 Nm of torque. Though it lacks the extreme refinement of the Triumph and Kawasaki mills mentioned above, but it makes up for it through the intoxicating exhaust note, which is simply the best in this comparison. And yes, it sounds the best as well!

The Hyosung GT 650N was one of the very first motorcycles to give the Indians the joy of riding a twin cylinder middleweight naked motorcycle. The four stroke, V-twin, water cooled, 647cc produces 74 PS of power and 61 Nm of torque. The motorcycle feels properly fast on all conditions, but the power delivery is non-uniform, which the newer riders would take some time to get used to. The refinement levels are not on par with those of the Japanese or European offerings, but nevertheless, feel under composure and control.

The engines on all these four motorcycles come mated to a 6-speed gearbox with the universal shifting pattern of 1-down and 5-up. Out of all these motorcycles, while the Z650 is the best in terms of refinement, it is TNT 600i which wins hands down when it comes to outright power. But if you want an all-rounder powertrain which has a good balance, it is the Triumph Street Triple whose engine is the best in this business
Figures Kawasaki Ninja Z650 Triumph Street Triple Benelli TNT 600i Hyosung GT 650N

Engine 4-stroke, liquid cooled, parallel twin, 649cc 4-stroke, liquid cooled, inline three, 675cc 4-stroke, liquid cooled, inline four, 600cc 4-stroke, liquid cooled, V-twin, 647cc
Power 68 PS 79.3 PS 85 PS 74 PS
Torque 65.7 Nm 57.3 Nm 54.6 Nm 61 Nm
Gearbox 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed

RIDE AND HANDLING

The new Kawasaki Z650 comes with 41mm hydraulic telescopic forks at the front and 7-step adjustable monoshock at the rear, which it is sharing with the Ninja 650, just like the engine. Kawasaki chose not to instill the sharp dynamics of the ZX-6R in this motorcycle, but has made it the perfect naked sport tourer which can be easily used as one’s daily practical motorcycle.

The Triumph Street Triple has always regarded the best in the middleweight category of naked motorcycles globally, when it comes to riding dynamics. The motorcycle comes equipped with 41mm upside down telescopic forks at the front and a monoshock, both sourced from KYB, which easily has the most perfect balance of suspension for city riding and aggressive sporty riding. Adding to the fact that it weighs the least at 168 kgs, and complemented with the excellent chassis, it handles like a charm on corners.

Like the Street Triple, the Benelli TNT 600i too offers a sophisticated suspension setup of inverted hydraulic telescopic forks at the front and an adjustable monoshock at the rear. Much like the other two bikes above, the TNT 600i’s suspension setup is set on a bit softer side, which along with the upright seating posture, makes it a perfect companion for long highway rides. However, the 243 kg kerb weight (heaviest motorcycle here) is the only downside here, though, which does take a toll on its nature, especially around corners.

The Hyosung GT 650N may be the oldest motorcycle here, but it offers the sportiest and stiffest suspension of the lot. The motorcycle comes with inverted hydraulic telescopic forks at the front and an adjustable monoshock at the rear, which unlike the other three motorcycles in this comparison, are set on a slightly stiffer side. This curbs its comfort levels for daily riding duties, but gives it the most spirited ride, second only to the Street Triple

All the motorcycles here come with dual disc brakes at the front and a single disc brake at the rear, with the Z650 being the only one which offers petal shaped pattern for the discs, and thus has the best braking in this category, along with the Street Triple. Apart from the GT 650N, all the other three motorcycles come equipped with ABS as standard.

Figures Kawasaki Z650 Triumph Street Triple Benelli TNT 600i Hyosung GT 650N
Front suspension 41mm Telescopic 41mm Upside down telescopic 50mm Upside down telescopic 41mm Upside down telescopic
Rear suspension Monoshock Monoshock Monoshock Monoshock
Front brake 2x320mm discs 2x310mm discs 2x320mm discs 2x320mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc 220mm disc 220mm disc 220mm disc

CONCLUSION

Out of all these four motorcycles in this comparison, the Hyosung GT 650 N is the oldest bike in existence in the Indian market. Though the motorcycle looks like how a proper big bike should look, but it’s almost ten year old design with minimal changes have made it a less desirable motorcycle, especially after the advent of the other three motorcycles here, offering a much more contemporary package. Also, the motorcycle misses out on a lot of modern features like advanced digital meters with comprehensive information and ABS, which makes it even more dated, and thus a poor package in terms of value for money, even after the fact that it is the least priced motorcycle here.

The Benelli TNT 600i may be an all new motorcycle from a rather unheard brand in the Indian context, but it offers the most beefy looking package in the segment. Complementing the muscular looks is the inline four engine, which has the most amount of power and sounds the best as well. However, there are some rough edges to the motorcycle – the styling is a bit dated when compared to the other two motorcycles above it, the engine is not as refined as the two motorcycles above it and weighs the most and that too by a substantial margin, which effects its riding dynamics, thus placing it on third position.

The all new Z650 is an excellent motorcycle and a worthy replacement to the dated ER-6n, there are no two ways about it. The motorcycle will appeal to the mature riders as well as newbie riders equally, with the most comfortable ergonomics, adequately powerful engine, supple ride quality and well balanced chassis. The all new design of the Z650 definitely is very eye pleasing, however it could have been a bit more aggressive, and yes, the engine could have done with a bit more power, with which it could have easily gained the first position, and just because of the fact that the motorcycle at the number one position is better in these very important aspects, the Z650 rests on the second position.

This brings us to the Street Triple. Now, this motorcycle from Triumph may not have a pretty looking or appealing face, and yes, it has lost a fair share of reputation surrounding the debacle related to its drop in power for the Indian version. Also, it is much pricier than all the three motorcycles positioned below it. But leaving these minor reasons aside, the Street Triple is an incredibly brilliant motorcycle, which is a wonderful package when it comes to the aspects under the skin. The motorcycle looks elegant and bewildering at the same time and surpassing this aspect, the inline three engine is sweet with the most practically usable power among the competition. Also, thanks to a wonderful setup of suspension and brakes and a light weightefd chassis, it handles like a gem, without losing much on the comfort factor. This all-rounder image of the Street Triple makes it an unquestionable winner of this comparison of the middleweight naked roadters

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