Shootout: Suzuki Gixxer vs Honda CB Unicorn 160 vs Yamaha FZ V2
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 85,400/- (Suzuki Gixxer), Rs. 86-91,000/- (Honda CB Unicorn 160), Rs. 93,000/- (Yamaha FZ-S V2)
These three Japanese motorcycles are very similar in several ways but well distinguished
The number of categories in the 150cc segment is a clear indication of the popularity of this displacement class. We have entry-level 150s (Discover 150, Unicorn 150), mid-level 150cc bikes (FZ V1, Hunk, Pulsar 150) and high-end offerings also referred to as sporty 150cc bikes (R15, CBR150R). Somewhere between the mid and high-end 150cc categories come the new creed of premium 150cc commuters, giving a balance of performance and economy. These premium 150cc machines are of course the Yamaha FZ Version 2.0, Suzuki Gixxer 155 and the most recent launch of the lot, the Honda CB Unicorn 160. The key question then, which is the pick of this Japanese litter?
Motor Quest: The Yamaha FZ is the oldest in the segment and was launched in 2008 with the first major update coming in the form of Version 2.0 in 2014. The Suzuki Gixxer and Honda CB Unicorn 160 were both launched last year, thus all these three bikes went on sale in 2014.
Styling – Since these motorcycles are targeted at the youth, design plays a very important part. The CB Unicorn 160 might be the freshest bike of the lot but it is also the least appealing here. Honda has continued with its conservative design which simply doesn’t look as attractive as the Suzuki Gixxer or the Yamaha FZ Version 2.0. Things like the massively long seat, single-piece grab rail and full chain case are big turn-offs from the styling perspective. While the Honda Unicorn 160 does look neutral, it won’t solicit a second glance. Meanwhile in terms of dimensions, the Gixxer is the longest and widest while the Unicorn is the tallest and narrowest, the FZ has the least length here.
There are some similarities between the Suzuki and Yamaha as both are beefy street-fighters carrying a lot of visual appeal. However, the Gixxer manages to look the best of the trio with its sportier design although it misses out on a split seat set-up which is seen on the FZ. Still, one simply can’t miss the massively creased tank, Hayabusa inspired wheels and superbike inspired exhaust on the Suzuki. The Gixxer being a fresher design than the FZ comes across as visual delight while the Yamaha’s headlight design is what robs away some brownie points from the popular street-fighter’s design.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – All three bikes come with an all digital console, the CB Unicorn’s being the smallest in size. All motorcycles get speedometer which takes centre stage, tachometer on the top, odometer and fuel meter. The FZ is the only bike here which gets only one tripmeter while the Gixxer and Unicorn get two. The FZ also misses out on a clock which is present in the other two bikes here. The Gixxer’s console is the most loaded with the smartphone like screen flashing “Ready GO” on start-up, the Suzuki also gets a first in segment gearshift indicator and shift light. The Yamaha and Suzuki offer excellent switchgear but Honda continues with its basic one which still doesn’t have an engine kill switch. The FZ misses out on a kick start but it doesn’t need one because it is fuel-injected.
Ergonomics – The Honda Unicorn is known for being a comfortable motorcycle and although the 160 is slightly less comfy, it still is the most comfortable bike here. One sits straight on the CB Unicorn 160 with the footpegs being forward set, all this makes city riding a breeze. The long seat further helps matters, making the Honda the most pillion friendly. The FZ and Gixxer have a sportier riding position with their rear-set pegs. The FZ’s handlebar comes the closest to the chest and the second most comfy bike here is the Gixxer. Mirrors on all bikes offer decent visibility of what’s behind, none are great in this regard.
Performance – These three bikes are vividly different when it comes to their engines, the Yamaha FZ is the lowest on displacement with its 149cc motor, it also is the lowest on output with 13 HP and 12.8 Nm. Naturally it’s the slowest here both in terms of acceleration and top speed, taking 20.4 seconds to do the 0-100 km/hr sprint, with the real top speed being 109 km/hr. Meanwhile the Suzuki Gixxer is the highest on power, the 154.9cc mill belting out 14.6 HP and 14 Nm. This results in the Gixxer taking 16.89 seconds to do the 0-100 km/hr sprint while the top speed is the highest of the trio at 115 km/hr. The Honda CB Unicorn has the most displacement on offer, the 162.7cc mill belting out 14.5 HP of power but the highest torque of the trio at 14.61 Nm.
Ironically all these three bikes produce their peak power at 8000 RPM and peak torque at 6000 RPM
The highest twisting force, narrowest rubber and tallest gearing here makes the Honda CB Unicorn 160 the fastest bike of these Japanese machines, taking just 16.15 seconds to do the 0-100 km/hr sprint, top speed being almost on par with the Gixxer at 114 km/hr (all figures are VBOX tested). Thus if outright acceleration is your prime agenda then the Honda CB Unicorn 160 is ahead of the other two Jap machines. The lightest bike of the three is the Yamaha FZ, it is also the only bike here which uses fuel injection, the others being carbureted. Naturally with FI on-board, the FZ is by far the smoothest bike in the whole 150cc segment, vibrations lacking and refinement being top of the class. But its lack of output does hurt it, making it quite slow in front of the Gixxer and Unicorn 160, the Yamaha lacking top-end punch.
What the Yamaha FZ misses out with the lack of redline performance, it makes up by offering stupendous low and mid-range, making light work of ambling around town. The Honda comes second when it comes to NVH, the counter-balancer helping it nudge ahead of the Gixxer in the smoothness department but both bikes have some vibes on the pegs (close to nil on the FZ). The Suzuki is the best sounding bike of the lot while the induction noise on the Unicorn 160 is quite pleasing, making it more appealing to the ears than the FZ’s butter smooth mill but not a match for the Gixxer. The Honda is also the highest revving bike of the lot, redlining at 11,300 RPM while the other two have their rev limit at 10,000 RPM!
The Honda CB Unicorn 160 is the tallest geared bike of the lot (doing 51, 85, 105 and 111 km/hr in first to fourth gears) and the only bike here which does the ton in third gear, the others taking an upshift to fourth. Many things on the Suzuki are similar to the Yamaha and even the gearing is almost identical because the Gixxer does 45 km/hr in first (FZ does 44 km/hr), 67 km/hr in second (FZ does 66 km/hr) and both bikes will top out at 89 km/hr in third. Fourth will make the Gixxer reach 105 km/hr (FZ does 102 km/hr). This is where the problem lies, post 90 km/hr the FZ starts to lose thrust to pull and that really hurts its 0-100 km/hr acceleration time. The Unicorn and Gixxer do 100 km/hr in fifth gear at 7000 RPM (the FZ does 7500 RPM). So these three motors are so different because FZ has power in the low and mid-range (so much low-end thrust that an aggressive launch results in a wheelie), Honda has mid and top-end while the Suzuki has the best mid-range with good punch coming in post 5000 RPM.
The Unicorn 160 misses out on an Eco mode indicator which is present on the other two bikes, the FZ’s being more visible because it’s a tell-tale light while the Suzuki flashes Eco and Power text on the console display that isn’t seen so easily. The gearbox on the Gixxer is the best with crisp shifts, followed by the FZ, both bikes supporting smooth clutchless shifts that the Unicorn doesn’t manage. When it comes to mileage, all have some tech to boast off, Yamaha – Blue Core, Honda – HET and Suzuki – SEP. Still, thanks to low rolling resistance caused by the smaller contact patch of the thinner tyres on the Unicorn, it’s the most efficient here delivering 50 km/l against the fuel-injected FZ’s 48 km/l and the Gixxer’s 46 km/l. These numbers will stretch on the highway by 2-3 km/l but the difference remains the same between the mileage figures of these bikes. All these bikes get a 12-litre fuel tank.
Riding Dynamics – The Yamaha FZ and Suzuki Gixxer come with fat forks and wide tyres, inspiring one to ride hard with confidence. The FZ and Gixxer’s dynamics are superlative but the CB Unicorn isn’t as far behind as one would expect. The Unicorn 160 has good underpinnings but the smaller tyres (all bikes use MRF rubber, the Unicorn having 80/100/17 and 110/80/17 tyres while the other two bikes use 100/80/17 and 140/60/17 tyres) and front-set pegs really rob confidence to ride hard through the twisties. The Unicorn has the highest windblast while the Gixxer has the least. Without a doubt the best brakes are on the CB Unicorn 160 thanks to the option of CBS (but you have to pay Rs. 5000/- for it), the FZ comes second in stopping power but none of the bikes get a rear disc brake, not even as an option. The Gixxer could do with more stopping confidence.
The best ride quality is on the Suzuki Gixxer while the Honda Unicorn 160 and Yamaha FZ V2 both show some stiffness. The Unicorn’s light steering makes it a breeze to ride in the city and the small turning radius is a boon, unlike the FZ which requires the most effort. The ground clearance is the worst on the Gixxer and one needs to be careful on bad roads (the big exhaust tends to touch). What really separates the Yamaha and Suzuki from the Honda is the big bike feel that the FZ and Gixxer offer. The Gixxer is the most stable bike here, followed by the FZ while the Honda lacks the stability shown by the other two bikes. All things considered, the Gixxer is the most fun to ride bike of the three.
Verdict – This has been a very closely contested fight between these Japanese big-wigs. Due to these bikes being so fantastic, there is no one coming last, rather two second finishers. The Honda CB Unicorn 160 is an excellent bike but is marred by its riding position and conservative looks, something which won’t appeal to the youth who want a sporty looking and riding motorcycle. The Yamaha FZ V2 ties with the fastest bike here, it’s the most proven product of the three and has a huge fan following but its higher price and lack of top-end grunt go against it. The winner is of course the Suzuki Gixxer, a bike which blends the best of everything at the least cost. The Gixxer edges ahead of the Unicorn 160 and FZ V2 by offering the most engaging ride, most appealing looks, best cluster, smoothest ride quality and all that at the most attractive price.
While Yamaha has the best service and resale value, the Honda has the best engine and the Suzuki has the best of everything helping the Gixxer churn its rivals in the mixer. The 155 wins this shootout quite easily.
Further Reading –
Yamaha FZ V2 vs Honda Unicorn 160 vs Suzuki Gixxer – Video
Suzuki Gixxer Review
Suzuki Gixxer Long Term Review
Honda CB Unicorn 160 Review
Honda Unicorn 160 Long Term Review
Yamaha FZ V2 Review
Suzuki Gixxer vs Honda CB Trigger vs TVS Apache 160 vs Yamaha FZ V2
Riders: Viraj David, Omkar Jadhav, Sameer Phadtare, Dhanil Vira; Pictures: Swapnil Jadhav