In yet another naked, middle-weight super-sport showdown, we take the two latest entrants and pit them against the best-of-the-best.
In July this year, we managed to get our hands on some of the best motorcycles available in India –the MV Agusta Brutale 800, the Triumph Street Triple S, the Aprilia Shiver and the Ducati Monster 797. One full day with these beautiful machines was enough for us to conclude that there’s something about naked bikes that’s just missing in other motorcycles . But, nevertheless, we felt that the showdown wasn’t complete – for, unfortunately, we couldn’t get our hands on the Suzuki GSX-S750, and the Ducati Monster 821 was launched soon after.
So, it only made sense to have another showdown with these two new entrants. And to spice things up, we also roped in the ultimate road and track naked super-sport – the Triumph Street Triple RS. So, how did it go? Well, read on . . .
The Street Triple RS is undoubtedly the perfect motorcycle for both riding on the street during week and setting the track on fire over the weekend. With 121bhp, five different riding modes, Showa suspension, Brembo brakes and only 166kgs (dry), the RS is a killer sports bike. But all this comes at a cost that some might consider a bit excessive. However, if you’re looking for the best-of-the-best, without compromising on any aspect of riding, you can’t go wrong with the RS – it’s in a league of its own.
That said, a comparison of the Suzuki and the Ducati is still due because both the Monster 821 and the GSX-S750 are pretty amazing machines in their own right, and exceed expectations in different areas. In last month’s issue, I talked about the Monster 821 being the most fun motorcycle in its segment. In the city, it’s more comfortable and has enough juice to put a smile on your face every single day. It is indeed a captivating machine – capable of attracting people’s attention. And, yes, it looks super cool – another reason to be seduced by it.
The GSX-S750 is a brilliant example of Japanese engineering, refinement and practicality. It’s the best value for money motorcycle on the market. And even though it may not be the best in terms of quality and overall performance, it definitely is a great choice if you’re looking for an everyday motorcycle that’s reliable and looks like a litre-class machine.
Look at the specifications of each of these machines, and you’ll see that they’re closely matched – and yet there’s a huge price difference between each of them. The Street Triple RS is the most expensive of the lot, at `11.13 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). It also has the most powerful engine in a 765cc, 3-cylinder unit that pumps out 121bhp and 77Nm of torque. Packed with best technology and features, it also weighs the least – at just 166kgs – giving it the best power-to-weight ratio.
Priced at `9.5 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Monster 821 is fitted with a larger 821cc, L-twin unit that’s capable of 109bhp and 86Nm. At 180.5kgs (dry), it’s 14.5kgs more than the RS. Though it falls a little short in terms of power, given that it weighs a bit more, these figures are undoubtedly impressive. And let’s not forget that it comes with three riding modes.
The GSX-S750 has the lowest price tag of this trio at just `7.5 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). That is a very attractive price point for a motorcycle that boasts some impressive figures. With a 749cc, 4-cylinder unit that pumps out 112bhp and 81Nm of torque, it’s right up there with the Monster 821. However, it’s the heaviest of the lot at 190kgs (dry). Also, the GSX-S750 doesn’t get much high-tech wizardry – something that can be both a positive or a negative, depending on whether you’re a modern or tradition biker. Given its price though, the Suzuki does seem like the most sensible buy.
In the real world
Now, numbers on paper is one thing, but a machine’s performance in the real world is quite another. Having looked at the former, let’s now see how these machines perform in the real world. Starting with the Street Triple RS, this motorcycle is all about raw power and superb handling. With five different riding modes to choose from, there’s no place where you can’t ride the RS – including the track. The engine is a beautiful piece of British engineering. It’s very refined and can be lethal when it comes to acceleration. Overall, the throttle response is spectacular, however, it also depends on which of the riding modes you choose to ride in. In the city, you can keep the throttle inputs down, but if you want instant power delivery you always have that option available. And by instant power, I really mean that the throttle becomes like a trigger. Even with the slightest twist, you’ll be blasted forward – which is accompanied with the sound of its brilliant exhaust. All of which will make you feel as though you really are on a superbike.
The power is available to you throughout the rev range, thanks to the wide torque spread. The 6-speed transmission is also fantastic, and switching between gears is seamless and smooth. The Showa 41mm upside-down forks are adjustable, and so is the Ohlins STX40 rear suspension. This means that you can set it up to your liking or for different road conditions. The brakes are also exceptional – the front gets 310mm twin floating discs, and the rear has a 220mm fixed disc.
What’s even better is that the RS is extremely light and flickable. Whether its meandering through city traffic or attacking a tight corner, the RS does it all with ease. The riding position is also great – a bit aggressive but comfortable all the same. Taller riders may complain of cramped leg room, but it’s just a matter of getting used to it.
The Monster 821 is also a fine piece of Italian engineering. Its L-twin engine is a monster. You can toggle between riding modes depending on where you’re riding, and if you want to feel the full effect of the beast, then all you have to do is to switch to Sport, and you’ll have an experience worth sharing with your grandchildren – if you’re lucky enough to survive the speed that is. The Monster 821 excites you in terms of acceleration and speed, thanks to its high torque. The downside, though, is that it’s not the smoothest unit out there – but that’s your typical Ducati engine. It’s rough around the edges, but it’s got enough firepower. The best thing about the Monster is the riding position – it’s comfortable, but aggressive and, definitely, the most enjoyable. And, you also have the option of adjusting the seat height.
The handling of the Monster is also brilliant, as the chassis design and the suspension setup allow you to take on twisty roads with great confidence. At 43mm, it has wider front forks than the RS, and, on Indian roads, the Monster does feel more compliant. And that’s why I still think that the Monster is more enjoyable everyday machine when compared to the RS, which is a little too over the top – at least for me.
The GSX-S750 is the most relaxing bike to ride when you’re in an urban setting. The riding position is definitely tilted more towards comfort. It’s quite easily manageable in the city. The best thing about the bike though is its 4-cylinder engine, which is super smooth. It definitely feels the most refined and the most tamed. But, at the same time, it still offers you a mighty punch of power. The bike is a bit heavy, which does affect its acceleration, but it’s still enough to give you a hair-raising experience. The suspension is also decent in the city, but not the most impressive if you’re an aggressive rider. The bike handles well, but it’s not as light on its feet as the RS or the Monster. The GSX-S750 is more of an everyday pocket-rocket that will offer you plenty of comfort and excitement. The GSX-S750 also looks bigger and sounds very good, but if you’re looking for raw power and performance, this is not the machine for you. But if you’re on a tighter budget, then this bike will not disappoint you at all.
Last one standing
With all of the equipment and high-end technology packed into a tiny frame, the RS is undoubtedly the most engaging and exciting machine of the lot, but it’s also the most expensive. I wouldn’t recommend this machine to anyone who’s looking for a manageable or easy and cheap to maintain motorcycle. However, this is definitely the bike for those who occasionally ride on the street but mostly like to feel the power and excitement on the race track. And if you want the same riding dynamics with a little less power, then you can save some money and go for the Street Triple S, which is also one of the best machines in its class.
For me, the Monster is the best looking and offers the best of both worlds – comfort and performance. Not to mention the fact that it also handles incredibly well and costs a lot less than the RS. Moreover, you also get to enjoy that weird euphoric feeling when you say – ‘I own a Ducati Monster.’ It’s got all the tech and safety features you need, and it’s almost as fast as the RS.
Moving further down the field, you have the GSX-S750 – which is a bit more basic in terms of technology and features. A lot of people who can afford a motorcycle in the price range of `8 – 12 lakhs don’t choose the GSX-S750 for one simple reason – it doesn’t really have that wow factor. But, what most people don’t realise is that it’s not only the safest buy but also the most usable motorcycle – especially on Indian roads. If you’re looking for a big bike that’s comfortable, practical, reliable, powerful and good looking, then the GSX-S750 should be your first choice.
So, to sum up, the Street Triple RS definitely remains numero uno in terms of performance. However, I still think that the Ducati Monster 821 is the most fun to ride on city streets. So, between the RS and the 821, my personal choice would be the latter. But, in terms of value for money, there’s no beating the GSX-S750.
- Triumph Street Triple RS
- Suzuki GSX-S750
- Ducati Monster 821
Engine: 765cc / 3-Cylinder Liquid-Cooled
Power: 121bhp @ 11,700rpm
Torque: 77Nm @ 10,800rpm
Price: Rs.11.13 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-factor: It is the best-of-the-best naked middle weight bike. Period!
• Litre class like performance
• Naked track machine
• High price tag
Engine: 749cc / In-line 4-Cylinders / DOHC / Liquid Cooled
Torque: 81Nm @ 9,000rpm
Power: 113bhp @ 10,500rpm
Price: Rs.7.45 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-factor: A sublime combination of raw performance and practicality. Plus, it offers best value-for-your-money.
• Strong engine performance
• Value for money
• Inline-4 music
• Awesome brakes
• Slightly heavy
Engine: 821cc / L-Twin Liquid-Cooled
Power: 108bhp @ 9,250rpm
Torque: 86Nm @ 7,750rpm
Price: Rs.9.51 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-factor: The Monster 821 is a total package, and, more importantly, it’s just as fun and powerful as the best motorcycles .
• Handling & comfort
• Power & looks
• Not the most refined motor