Spec comparison: Suzuki GSX-S750 vs Kawasaki Z900 vs Triumph Street Triple RS and S
The entry-level sport naked class is a juicy one. This is where all the excellent motorcycles are. They're priced from around Rs 7 to 10 lakh and the all make 100PS or more. More importantly, there are fun, engaging motorcycles that you're unlikely to be bored off within a few months and move on to more interesting things. The class monitor, of course, is the Triumph Street Triple. In India, we get the basic 113PS S model that has the old meters but it still gets Showa's SFF forks which are terrific. The other bookend is the Street Triple RS which gets 123PS and absolutely top-flight hardware and a colour screen. In the middle, so far, was the Kawasaki Z900 with its 125PS 948cc engine. The 900 was fast but effortless and much calmer in nature and temperament and it wasn't all that expensive either compared to the Triumphs. But now the gauntlet has been thrown by the GSX-S750, Suzuki's CKD-assembled entry into the class. At the lowest price in the segment, it brings standard ABS, traction control as well as a brilliant in-line four-cylinder engine. Should the others be worried?
The easy thing to spot here is that between the Triumphs' lighter weight and well-matched (S) and higher (RS) engine output, the Street Triples do seem to be the motorcycles with the performance advantage - just look at the power to weight ratios. But there are a couple of other nuances that you should spot too. The torque output of the biggest engine here, the Z900 cannot be ignored, it's a significantly higher output number.
Also, note the lower compression figure, the Kawasaki has a least stressed engine here which means it will be the calmest to ride which is an advantage, say, over a longer ride and for touring riders. The Suzuki, then, plays the game well. In this company, it's a bit portly perhaps but it has reasonably good torque and power and should assert itself well in the class. And while the Triumphs have that trademark triple cylinder sound, the GSX-R's inline four wail is at least as good to the ears if not better, especially on the stock exhaust. The Triumphs tend to whistle more than create melody on the stock exhaust.
Frame, ride and handling
The bikes are pretty evenly matched on this front except for the RS which boasts top-flight specification and aggregates and commands a hefty premium for them as well. So all the bikes have 310mm dual discs with ABS but on the RS you have the Brembo M50s and you can turn ABS off if you like. And again, most bikes offer you preload adjustability at either end but the RS brings fully-adjustable suspension from Showa and Ohlins' top drawers.
But in feel there are many differences. The Z900 feels the more stable, calmest of the lot. Inasmuch, its the least sporty machine here. So if you're looking for a straightforward easy to ride machine here, the Kawasaki is hard to beat. The Street Triples are the other side of the coin. They're lively, agile and responsive in feel and that's what you purchase them for. The RS is especially nice because it has such a high suspension specification - that transforms the ride quality even on our weird and wonderful roads.
The GSX-S, here is a savvy motorcycle. It doesn't have outlandish specification but it uses what it has well. So it should ride well enough and it handles really well. But more than all of the other motorcycles, it feels confident. And it feels like that by being stable and accurate about how it reacts to your inputs. It might just be the easiest machine here to ride gently or hard of all here and that's a huge achievement in this class. The flip side of that very coin is that while the Triumphs feels so engaging and involving, the Suzuki can come across a bit too subtle to our liking - something to be confirmed when we ride it in the real world soon.
There isn't much in it to be honest. The RS again, has the fancy colour screen while all of the others use either an all-digital unit or a combination of analog and digital. The Street Triple S' cluster feels the oldest to be sure. In terms of ease of use, the seat heights are all right on all four with the Kawasaki offering the lowest seat height and the Suzuki offering the tallest one - but getting your leg to the ground is not complicated on any of the four machines. But the biggest advantage of the Suzuki, and we cannot stress this enough, is that at its price, it comes with Suzuki's exceptionally good traction control system, with mode selection and everything. The Z900, despite being more expensive, doesn't!
This is going to be a good battle for sure. The Triumphs are the sportiest machines on this test making good or class-topping power and boasting the lightest weights here. The Z900 is the heaviest machine but it makes the most power, most torque and is designed to be an easy machine to ride. The Suzuki, though, brings the middle path, and a savvy one at that. It's easy to ride at all kinds of speed and the way it feels friendly and sweet through it all is exceptional. That combined with the lowest price in class? Could Suzuki have a winner on its hands? Tell us in the comments!
Also see: 2020 Triumph Street Triple RS | First Ride Review