The parallel-twin engine configuration can be had in many flavors. It can be conventional or weird depending on the manufacturer’s plans, and lately, the industry has been making some great motors while sticking to some more conventional firing orders for the sake of familiarity.
All of the bikes that we’ve assembled in this list have parallel-twin motors and are in the middleweight naked or sport category of motorcycles. Each of these bikes have their own personality and will suit a specific type of rider so consider this a bit of a buyer’s guide if you’re in the market for what is perhaps one of the most widely adopted engine configurations for big bikes.
BMW F900R Standard/StyleSport
From one of the most premium motorcycle brands in the country. The BMW F 900 R is the most affordable expressway-legal motorcycle since the G 310 R and G 310 GS doesn’t exactly make the cut. On paper, it looks quite intimidating to ride. The F 900 R is equipped with a 270-degree parallel-twin engine mated to a six-speed transmission that makes 105 hp and 92 Nm of torque. Among the bikes on this list, it’s the second-most powerful, and it has the biggest displacement motor coming in at 895ccs.
Even with its torque figures, the bike is still quite friendly to ride thanks to the ride-by-wire throttle. Instead of a cable that delivers power with the slightest twist of the wrist, BMW’s F 900 R is surprisingly tame to ride given its large-displacement motor. The digital filter allows even some intermediate riders to saddle up and go. Be cautious, however, as the bike does unleash its power once you’re rolling, and it can get up to speed pretty quickly. Even if it is a sport naked motorcycle, however, the bike does exceptionally well as a sport-tourer, save for the footpegs being abnormally high, resulting in a rather sporty riding position from hip to toe. While the ride wasn’t exactly what we expected, what was most impressive about this bike were the brakes and the large TFT display. Either of the two features on the bike was smooth and nearly seamless to operate. The only caveat that we have with the instrument cluster was that it had a few features locked out, but it was otherwise a bright and usable display even in sunlight. We even managed to pair it with our phone and use the BMW Ride app that records and logs data from any of your adventures.
It’s not exactly a hooligan machine as the specifications suggest. Torque is delivered smoothly throughout the rev range, but it is done so immediately and a little early. It appears that its wilder side is locked behind the Style Sport variant of the bike that includes the Dynamic and Dynamic Pro ride modes. As it stands, the F 900 R Standard only comes with Road and Rain modes. It’s not as hardcore as you may think, but it does well as a sporty naked touring motorcycle. We’d recommend this bike if you like going far since its seat, suspension, and upper body riding posture is well-suited for long stretches of paved touring. One of its cons is that it is the heaviest bike on the list. It’s still understandable with all the power that it has, but 211 kg is 211 kg. As such, it’s not exactly your everyday around-town motorcycle, though you can still chug it along smoothly in traffic. We recommend this bike to anyone who wants the attributes of a comfortable tourer, but in a naked motorcycle form factor from one of the most premium brands in the country.
CFMOTO 700 CL-X Sport/Herritage
CFMOTO enters the middleweight ring with the 700 CL-X line of motorcycles. There are two variants in this family and both with their own flavor. The Heritage trim is a more scrambler-style motorcycle that comes with dual-sport tires and a very upright rider triangle that makes for a decent long-distance tourer. Unlike the BMW, the Heritage features more neutral footpegs that aren’t as sporty. On top of that, you get rubber inserts that damp vibrations, and a decent set of brakes thanks to J.Juan. You even get an 18-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel to help you eat up some obstacles on the trail. Meanwhile, the Sport variant comes with a square 17-17 wheel setup while adding another brake rotor and Brembos to boot. It also gets clip-ons and a rear seat cowl that gives it a more cafe racer style with a modern twist.
Powering the CL-X 700 range of motorcycles is a 693cc 180-degree parallel twin that makes 73.75 hp and 68 Nm of torque. The engine responds to your wrist through a ride-by-wire throttle, and the clutch is remarkably light. Just like the BMW, the ride is quite tame, power is pretty friendly but the rev range where that power kicks in is much later and close to redline. You also have ride modes, but just like the other CFMOTO bikes in the lineup, it’s limited to Eco and Sport. The Eco mode can also serve as a pseudo rain mode in some respects, so if you’re an absolute beginner and you want to tame the displacement, we recommend that you leave it in eco.
This motorcycle is perfect for riders who want a neo-retro motorcycle, but with a familiar parallel-twin engine. CFMOTO serves up two variants for riders who enjoy going far and going off-road or riders who like to carve corners. It all boils down to what model you think will suit your ride the most. Whether you go for the scrambler in the lineup or the neo cafe racer, the bike is exceptionally good value for money considering all the features and kit you get. Oh, and it has cruise control, a feature that no other bike in this comparison has, and to think that it’s on the more affordable side of the spectrum too.
CFMOTO 650 NK
Speaking of affordable, the ever-popular big brother to the 400 NK has a 650 version that is an overall better bike thanks to a bigger serving of power. It’ll be the least powerful on this list, but it is also the most affordable middleweight.
Sporting a 180-degree parallel twin with 649ccs to play with, the bike achieves 60 hp and 56 Nm of torque. Not the most amazing figures in the world, but it should be plenty for most riders who are coming from the 400 class but want something that’s powerful but not too powerful. The 650 NK has 60 horses, it’s not going to knock your socks off compared to the other models on the list, but it’s a decent step up if you’re looking to upgrade to an expressway-legal motorcycle. It used to be the value-for-money king in the category, only to have the CL-X 700 Sport beat it out thanks to its kit. However, if you’re truly on a budget and you like the prospect of a not-so-powerful-bigger-bike as your next upgrade, this will fit you nicely.
The only con of it is that it is on the heavier side coming in at 206 kg, but it makes up for it with its low 815mm seat height. Don’t expect it to be exceptionally easy to ride in traffic, but with enough practice, you should be able to filter through just like a small bike. We recommend this motorcycle for a rider that’s on a tight budget. Coming in at just P295,000, it’s hard to argue with it. Even if it lost its value-for-money crown to the CL-X, it’s still a budget king in our books.
Kawasaki Ninja 650/Z650
Now here’s the brand that is famous for sticking with parallel-twin engines. The Ninja 650 and Z650 motorcycles from the Japanese brand are quite common among big bike riders thanks to their middle-of-the-road pricing and Kawasaki reliability. The 650 platform from Kawasaki offers predictable performance and surprisingly friendly riding characteristics that is just about enough for beginners, and a weapon in the hands of an experienced rider even if it doesn’t have the flashiest spec sheet.
As for its power, either 650 will come with a 649cc parallel-twin that has a near one-to-one power and a torque figure of 67 hp and 66 Nm of torque. Among the 180-degree parallel twins on the list, Kawasaki’s offering seems to be a more distilled platform having been in production for quite some time now. It’s still not super wild to ride and the powerband is predictable, ushering in all the torque and power close to the red line.
At over P400,000 for either the Ninja or the Z650 bikes, it’s still reasonably priced. If CFMOTO’s offerings don’t appeal to you and you’re very strict with your love for Japanese brands, then either the Ninja or the Z series from Kawasaki should be on your list. Either motorcycle is also regarded as one of the most reliable in the market, and it’s not uncommon for owners to log some serious miles on Kawasaki bikes since the motors are reliable and easy to service.
KTM 790 Duke
The most powerful motorcycle on this list is also one of the easiest to ride in some respects, and a total animal in others. If you get the chance to sit on a 790 Duke, you might get shocked at how light it is and you may even question whether it really has 103 hp and 87 Nm of torque. It’s the most powerful motorcycle on this list and it’s the second torquiest motor by far. KTM’s LC8C engine, where ‘C’ stands for compact, is a bit of an oddity in the segment as its twin features an 85-degree firing order, which is a slight deviation from the 270-degree that we see in either the BMW or Yamaha’s models. Still, the net effect is that it has torque on tap and if you need speed, it can roll onto the power without having to shift down.
With such a capable motor, KTM made sure that riders don’t create problems for themselves if they happen to be a little overzealous with the throttle. The bike comes with a six-axis IMU that helps tame the fire-breathing mill. If you’re on the fence between this and the BMW F 900 R, we recommend you take a look at this and the style sport to see which one will be a better bike for you. If you want a smooth ride, you can configure the electronics to tame the throttle and more rider assists to keep you on the road rubber side down. Once you’re confident, flip it over to either sport mode or track mode and have your way with the bike’s massive amounts of torque. You can even dial in the traction control and turn off ABS and get a hundred percent of what the motor can give at your own risk.
This is definitely not a beginner motorcycle if you desire to ride hard. It’s a precision machine that’s designed for experienced hands. It’s so capable that the bike tends to be a bit of a cheater in and out of the city. The seat height and the fact that it is so thin make it feel like you’re riding a 390 Duke, while the power it has on tap allows you to even keep up with liter bikes in the straights and perhaps overtake them in the corners. Among the bikes on this list, it’s probably one of our favorites to ride but remember that it is not for the faint of heart nor for the inexperienced, you can get into some real fun trouble with this bike and it’s all the more exciting for it.
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650/Continental GT 650
If you are a classic rider, then consider Royal Enfield’s middleweights. These bikes are the friendliest to ride engine-wise as RE’s motors only produce 47 hp and 52 Nm of torque. The RE twins are the tamest of the bunch, but they come with classic styling that cannot be matched by the other retro bikes in the segment. Royal Enfield stuck to its guns and stayed with the classic styling to a tee.
If you are a fan of authentic classic motorcycle design, then the RE twins deserve your consideration. It may not look like it, but the bikes are also capable performers. Its chassis may look like it's rudimentary, but there is a good amount of work put in by Harris Performance that makes either twin a joy to ride.
Perhaps the only con is that the bike’s power-to-weight ratios aren’t exactly up to speed with the rest of the bikes on this list, but as a motorcycle that can serve as a blank canvas for your imagination, it’ll work just fine. We recommend that you look into the RE Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 if you’re looking for a motorcycle with attitude, attention to detail, and customization that can make your head spin.
Yamaha MT-07/XSR 700
If you don’t mind paying the “cafe racer tax,” then the XSR is for you, but if you just want Yamaha’s dark sider look, then look at the MT series. There is much love for team blue’s middleweights as they deliver punchy performance and a jack of all trades type of deal. In fact, some of us in the team have owned both iterations and neither bike disappointed on or off the road. Even if it starts out life as a road bike, the XSR series is probably the more versatile of the two as it looks correct when you turn it into a scrambler build of sorts. Meanwhile, the MT line may look best as a road bike, but don’t let us tell you what tires to put on it.
Yamaha’s 700cc offerings have a 270-degree parallel twin that pushes out 77 hp and 68 Nm of torque. Now with those figures, you won’t be setting the world on fire nor will you be the fastest middleweight on the road. However, the motor has a fun character about it and delivers torque without any intervention from rider aids of any kind which makes it quite a bike to ride even with middle-of-the-road power figures. If you want it to, the bike can power wheelie in first gear, which can make it quite a handful for a hamfisted beginner or a weapon and outright hooligan for the experienced rider.
One of the bike’s cons is its soft suspension which is great for touring and for going around town, but a little unsure in the twisties going at full tilt. You can remedy this by adjusting your suspension settings or changing your shocks and springs entirely, but out of the box, it’s do-it-all bike. Instead, Yamaha specced it out as a jack of all trades able to fit in almost any role be it as a commuter, weekend toy, or even off-road scrambler (XSR 700). It can handle almost any scenario that you throw at it whether you like touring or canyon carving, it’s definitely a safe choice and one that you can grow into.
Be warned, however, torque is not to be trifled with as the bike has enough pull and a short enough wheelbase to lift the front before you know it. For beginners, be cautious of the MT-07 and XSR 700. In the hands of a capable rider, these bikes are an absolute blast to play around with and ride with but only if you really ask it to. If you keep your throttle in check, you will find that these bikes are capable of relaxing and cruising along in top gear. As long as you’re not asking it to cruise beyond the speed limit, it can do that swimmingly. Once you ask more, however, it will deliver, and it’s rightfully one of the favorites in the industry for its do-it-all performance.