The Kawasaki has the better ride quality of the two. In terms of suspension setup, the Kawasaki gets longer travel suspension on both ends. The rear might only be adjustable for pre-load, but the front USDs are Showa SFF. Meaning, these are adjustable for pre-load and rebound damping but these settings are carried out on separate forks. Showa says it helps improve performance. Compared to the Benelli, we have no doubts that it does.
The Benelli 600GT too uses USDs, upfront but with a meatier diameter. These are non-adjustable and have lesser travel than the Kawasaki’s. The rear monoshock on the Benelli has lesser travel too but it gets both pre-load and rebound damping adjustments. The rider can adjust the pre-load, but for rebound adjustment, the bike must be taken to the service station.
On the road, the Benelli’s ride is harsh in stock factory setting. The best way to ride it over undulating or broken surfaces then is to turn the pre-load down to its softest setting. The ride still isn’t great, but it is less jarring. However, if you hit a winding section thereafter, it’s best to go up on pre-load, else the GT wallows uncomfortably and you can feel all its weight causing a weave which is no good for a rider’s confidence.
The Versys isn’t a great handler either. It feels a little loose lacking the tautness one expects on a good handling motorcycle. But, it is lighter and the suspension clearly is setup more thoughtfully on the Versys compared to Benelli. So, it works well on straight and mildly winding roads. It’s not the best around tight, technical sections, but one can always slow down and enjoy the scenery instead. But, the ride quality is great. Even with a pillion on board. The long travel suspension absorbs almost everything with aplomb never really troubling the rider or pillion much.
Moreover, because of the comparatively lesser weight, the Kawasaki feels better under braking too. The difference in bite, feel or progression between the Versys and the 600GT setups isn’t much, but because you know the Versys has ABS, you are just more confident riding the Kawasaki harder.
Benelli TNT 600GT: 6/10
Kawasaki Versys 650: 7/10