Kawasaki Z1000SX vs Versys 1000 for long commutes

This morning I had the pleasure of test-driving the Kawasaki Z1000SX. The reason why I wanted to test-drive it is that I wasn’t too satisfied with the turbulence / fuel consumption of my Kawasaki Versys 1000 and wanted to know whether a sportier motorbike would be better for long commutes.

For commuting, what I’m looking for in motorbikes are the following properties:

  • Low or zero turbulence at speeds of 60+ mph
  • Riding comfort (especially butt and lower back)
  • Ease of handling on urban roads, especially when busy with traffic
  • Fuel consumption

First part of my commute: Versys wins 3-0

In the first part of the test-drive, I rode all the way to my work place. The commute involved motorways as well as urban roads. The thing here is that I rode the Z1000SX as if it was my Versys and compared the two.

The Versys was better at the following: turbulence, riding comfort and ease of handling. The Z1000SX is “harder”, more “Spartan”, more aggressive and probably “powerful” than the Versys, although they share the same engine. While these qualities might make it fun to ride it for more “exciting needs”, the Versys is a more comfortable motorbike for long commutes.


Second part of my commute: Z1000SX wins on the motorway

During the second part of my commute, while going back to the Kawasaki dealer, it’s when I discovered the true appeal of the Z1000SX. While on the motorway, I tried “ducking in”; basically push my bottom towards the pillion seat, lower my head, close my arms. I then opened the throttle and…WOW! What I experienced was amazing. This is when the Z1000SX comes to its element and it’s most fun to ride. I felt no turbulence, the motorbike was shooting like a rocket, it was stable on the road even at high speeds and I could handle it fine.

I then realised that during the first part of my commute I was driving the Z1000SX as if it was my Versys 1000 but the two motorbikes are different. The centre of gravity for the Versys 1000 is higher than the Z1000SX, therefore with the latter one *has* to duck in to get the best from it.

Reviewing the four parameters above, I’d say that the two motorbikes have both pros and cons:

  • Low or zero turbulence at speeds of 60+ mph. The Versys 1000, having a higher screen hits the turbulence at speeds of about 65+ mph. The Z1000SX at 55+ mph. With the Z1000SX this can be easily fixed by ducking in.
  • Riding comfort (especially butt and lower back). The Versys seat felt overall more comfortable. However there are options for the Z1000SX to buy comfort seats (with gel in it). Also the suspensions were better on the Versys 1000, they delivered a more “plush” experience on road bumps and the like.
  • Ease of handling on urban roads, especially when busy with traffic. Here the two were pretty much equivalent with one noticeable difference. The Versys 1000 tips on the sides (as the effect of counter steering) much more easily than the Z1000SX. I guess that’s due to two factors: the height and the handlebar width (both greater in the Versys 1000). With the Z1000SX, coming from the Versys 1000, I felt that I really had to “force” the counter steering for the motorbike to dip, which it makes it more work to handle especially on urban roads. The Z1000SX felt overall more stable at higher speeds, again I believe due to the centre of gravity being lower, which made me feel safer at higher speeds.
  • Fuel consumption. Here the two were practically equivalent. I got about 48 mpg from both of them, although I have to say that I pushed the Z1000SX much more than my Versys.