We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Naked bikes are undoubtedly the most versatile type of motorbikes out there. These standard machines present themselves as blank canvases which riders can tweak and enhance to suit their personal preferences. These days, naked bikes come in all shapes and sizes. From small 150cc machines like the Suzuki GSX-S150, all the way to liter-class hyper naked machines like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, there is a naked bike for all performance levels of motorcycling.
That being said, many people consider the 650cc to 700cc class of naked bikes as the goldilocks zone. You know, not too hot, not too cold—just enough power to provide a thoroughly exhilarating ride, but not enough to get you into too much trouble. Among the 650cc to 700cc naked bikes, the most popular models are arguably the Kawasaki Z650 and Yamaha MT-07. Now, on paper, these two bikes are rather similar, however, each of them has its own quirks setting themselves apart. With that, let’s take a closer look at these two models to see which of them is better suited to your preferences.
Let’s start with the Kawasaki. The Z650, which is based on the massively popular Ninja 650 platform, packs quite a punch with a 649cc parallel twin engine. Equipped with a conventional firing order by way of a 180-degree crankshaft, it pumps out a healthy 68 horsepower, in a very smooth, linear fashion which inspires confidence with every twist of the throttle. The MT-07, meanwhile, packs an engine of similar architecture; a 689cc parallel-twin. Where the difference lies, however, is in the firing order.
The MT-07 is equipped with Yamaha’s iconic CP2 engine which features a 270-degree crankshaft with an uneven firing order, colloquially referred to as the Crossplane. It produces a tad more power, at 74 hp, but it’s significantly rowdier than the Z650, thanks to its generous spread of power and torque at the bottom of the rev range. This gives the MT-07 a very hooliganistic appeal, making it all too easy to pop wheelies and accelerate rapidly from a stop.
As far as features are concerned, the Kawasaki definitely has the upper hand. Equipped with a full-color TFT display, the Z650 is thoroughly premium, and even has the ability to connect to your mobile phone via Bluetooth. You can even pair your motorcycle to your phone via Kawasaki’s rideology mobile application. To sweeten the deal even further, the Z650 gets full LED lighting, both up front and out back. This gives it an elegant appearance at night, making it possible to mistake this mid-sized naked bike for its bigger sibling, the Z H2.
While the 2021 Yamaha MT-07 finally gets LED lights, it still misses out on a full-color TFT display. By the way, the 2021 MT-07 has yet to be launched in the local market, so for now, we’re stuck with the 2020 model, which still gets the standard halogen headlights. Furthermore, the MT-07 is thoroughly devoid of modern-day tech, other than ABS—a feature found even on budget-oriented bikes like the Yamaha NMAX.
In terms of pricing, the Kawasaki Z650, with all its technology and premium features, undercuts the MT-07 by a few thousand pesos. At P415,000, the Z650 presents itself with nearly unbeatable value for money, albeit at the expense of overall performance. The MT-07, on the other hand, retails for P439,000, but packs just a bit more performance than that of the Z650. It does, however, have fit and finish and reliability to its advantage, as Yamaha’s CP2 engine has been hailed one of the most reliable motorcycle engines to have ever been produced.
At the end of the day, choosing either of these bikes is an excellent idea, especially if you’re looking for a versatile machine you can ride on a daily basis, as well as hit the open road, highways, twisty roads, and even the track on weekends. As is the case with many things in life, it all boils down to personal preference. Are you looking for a rowdy machine with a very playful nature? Then the Yamaha MT-07 is for you. On the other hand, if you want a smooth and refined bike that’s loaded with tech, look no further than the Kawasaki Z650.