10 years of progress in motorcycle series production

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10 years of progress in motorcycle series production
Rossen Gargolov

10 years of progress in motorcycle series production

10 years of progress in motorcycle series production

10 years of progress in motorcycle series production

10 years of progress in motorcycle series production

36 pictures

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In a mirror of the times: the BMW R 1200 GS, old on the left and new on the right.

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The old boxer engine had reached its design limits in order to be able to counter the increased competition in terms of power and torque.

Responsible for this: the valve control via bumpers and rocker arms.

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2007: Load-bearing engine-gearbox combination, delicate appearance compared to its successor, air-cooled boxer engine.

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2017: Beefy design, steel tubular space frame with screwed-on rear, semi-active chassis, new water-cooled boxer engine.

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(2007) The new TFT display opens up to the driver …

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(2017) … completely new waves of information. From tire pressure to playlists.

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(2007) There are many buttons, switches and dials on the new GS. …

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(2017) … Fortunately, the indicators were combined to form a switch.

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(2007) The original handwheel for adjusting the spring preload …

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(2017) … has given way to the semi-active ESA chassis, which is subject to an extra charge.

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(2007) The air supply is vertical in the 2017 engine, …

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(2017) … a new turbulence system makes the previous double ignition unnecessary.

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Honda Fireblade, in gray from 2007 and in red from 2017.

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2007: The SC 57 was the first real 1000 in Fireblade history. And so far the only one to win the Superbike World Championship.

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2017: The current Fireblade, type SC 77, is also available as an SP with forged wheels and semi-actively controlled Ohlins spring elements.

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The view from above shows the differences after a decade.

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(2007) The digital-analog display mix of the old ones is easy to read. …

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(2017) … The TFT display of the new Blade looks friendly.

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(2007) Different driving modes can be selected on the left handlebar end of the SC 77, …

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(2017) … swapping the indicator and horn button is irritating.

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(2007) Both have a gear with superimposed shafts. …

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(2017) … The current Blade comes with a shift assistant with a bipper.

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(2007) One-piece Tokico brake calipers, with the SC 77 with a stiffening rib, …

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(2017) … the bike received a sensor ring.

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Suzuki SV 650: the left from 2007, the right ten years later.

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2007: Frame made of cast aluminum profiles with screwed-on rear frame. Two-part bench, classic round headlights.

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2017: tubular steel frame, narrower tank and crisper rear section. The round headlight is the same as in 2007.

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(2007) The analog tachometer is easier to read. …

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(2017) … The 207 LCD provides much more information.

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(2007) The two-piston floating calipers have not changed. The ABS sensor …

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(2017) … sits on the left in 2017. The system regulates much more finely.

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(2007) The two-arm swing arm made of aluminum profiles is in the current version …

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(2017) … gave way to a steel box swing arm. Simple chain tensioner for both.

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(2007) The engine is basically still based on the original SV. …

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(2017) … Good to see: changed manifold routing and missing oil cooler.

counselor

technology & future

10 years of progress in motorcycle series production

10 years of progress
Series production of motorcycles

Can you also feel progress while driving? Three model pairings in comparison shed light on the darkness: the current BMW R 1200 GS, the Honda Fireblade and the Suzuki SV 650 each meet their predecessor from 2007.

Roman Kirschbauer, Ralf Schneider, Lenas Stumpenhorst

07/23/2018

When it comes to progress, worlds of life collide like heads. Can you consider a USB socket under the bench to be a technical advancement? Do we have to speak of progress when the TFT display delivers colorful images, but cannot be read in direct sunlight?

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Can you also feel progress while driving? Three model pairs in comparison shed light on the darkness: The current BMW R 1200 GS, the Honda Fireblade and the Suzuki SV 650 each meet their predecessor from 2007. An exciting combination because the athletes have developed development capacities from motorsport into the Series production is flowing, the travel enduros have risen to the SUVs of the motorcycle industry in recent years and the SV 650 is priced extremely hard then as it is today.

BMW R 1200 GS from 2017 and 2007

The top dog in the travel enduro segment made an astonishing evolution between 2007 and 2017. The BMW R 1200 GS currently offers the full package of assistance systems and comfort extras, and the boxer engine has more pressure than ever before. Progress in the right direction?

When BMW presented the new edition of the R 1200 GS with the model code K25 to the world in 2004, it took on a great legacy. After all, the predecessor combined “terrain and road” like no other large enduro before, and was also valued for its excellent travel qualities. It is hardly surprising that the K25 was able to continue the success story of the great GS, which has continued to this day, and that it has delighted customers, dealers and experts alike from the start. A look at the key data, especially the weight and the performance, is enough to understand that the GS had pushed into another dimension at that time. She had lost around 30 kilograms, with 98 hp made a whopping 13 more than its predecessor. A milestone that was followed by others.

From 2013 BMW R 1200 GS with water boxer

From then on, it took around nine years before the 90-year tradition of purely air-cooled BMW boxer engines came to an end. In 2013 the boxer suddenly stepped onto the stage in a tight water vest, the engine-gearbox composite frame had given way to a tubular steel frame with a screwed-on rear frame, the clutch in the oil bath and the cardan on the “right”, the left side. The exhaust moved to the right-hand side, which means that it is no longer so easy to come into contact with the machine when getting on and jacking it up. The BMW R 1200 GS had reinvented itself in almost every respect.


10 years of progress in motorcycle series production


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In a mirror of the times: the BMW R 1200 GS, old on the left and new on the right.

Here an enormous technical progress manifests itself. Japanese manufacturers and BMW itself have been using water-cooled four-valve engines for a long time, but the boxer’s charm was precisely the fact that it stretched the hot outlet zones of its cylinders into the airstream and thus saved the water cooling with its hose loop. With the current boxer, this is kept as short as possible, which is why the technically incorrect designation water vest. A water jacket would be far too extensive.

The water cooling was necessary because the boxer had to be upgraded in terms of performance and at the same time made fit for stricter emission standards. The air-cooled boxer of the K25 operates the valves via a raised camshaft, short bumpers and rocker arms. Due to the inertial masses of the valve train and the forces of the valve springs, the push rods always bend a little during operation. The possibilities of using high-performance cam profiles for large valve accelerations and valve lifts are limited by the elasticity of this so-called high camshaft valve train, which is why the engine builders at BMW initially developed an air-cooled boxer with two overhead camshafts each. At first it was no longer delivering top performance, but it was pleasing with a strong and homogeneous performance. It is still used today in the R nineT retro models.

The next step was to make the flow through the cylinder head more efficient – instead of creating the mixture from behind into the combustion chamber and expelling the exhaust gases towards the front, it now whistles through the heads from top to bottom. Of course, this creates a hot problem area around the rear exhaust valves in the slipstream. They can only be prevented from burning by means of water cooling, and since you were already there, the combustion chamber and the hot upper cylinder area were cooled at the same time.

In order to save weight and to be able to use sharp cam profiles, the valves are operated by two overhead camshafts via rocker arms, which better support the lateral forces when the cam opens and closes. In principle like the air-cooled dohc predecessor, but designed differently. The double ignition has been shelved. In favor of efficient combustion, BMW now uses a turbulence system: air is fed into the main intake flow from the side via a secondary duct, thus swirling the gasoline / air mixture even more.

Moving away from the dry clutch

Less noticeable than the water cooling, but also the end of a long tradition, means the abandonment of the dry clutch. The compact oil bath clutch of the current BMW R 1200 GS comes from the Japanese manufacturer FCC and offers an anti-hopping function. When the accelerator is released, the clutch springs are relieved; if the engine has a strong braking torque, the clutch simply slips through. In return, thanks to this mechanism, softer clutch springs can be used, thus minimizing manual forces. When you accelerate, the clutch springs are pretensioned more strongly, preventing the clutch from slipping. Quasi a win-win-win situation, apart from the higher costs for such a coupling.

Following the general trend in car and motorcycle construction, the current BMW R 1200 GS looks extremely beefy; their angular shapes make them appear larger and more massive. In direct comparison, the 2007 model looks more delicate, almost shy. If you only take a cursory look at both, you would even consider the older GS to be a smaller model.

Light-footedness and precision

In fact, the BMW R 1200 GS from model year 2017 (model code K50) weighs three kilograms more than its predecessor. The fact that we still have to speak of progress here becomes clear when looking at the additional equipment and assistance systems, which are largely subject to a surcharge. If the K25 shown here only has ABS, heated grips and a practical handwheel for adjusting the preload of the shock absorber on board, the new one offers high-end equipment: different driving modes, tire pressure control, hill start aid, lean angle-dependent ABS, traction control, LED headlights, full-color 6.5-inch TFT display, cruise control, keyless go and, last but not least, the semi-active chassis (Dynamic ESA). Because each of these equipment features actually works, the temptation is great to order the full equipment straight away, following the motto “Close your eyes and through”. Before doing this, however, the interested party should carefully study the contents of the equipment packages, which combine various features sensibly and cost less than each individual special equipment in total.

Anyone who dares to take the step into practice after the theory and does a lap with the BMW R 1200 GS will learn to love the lightness and precision with which it can be moved. It is well known that it does not show its nakedness on the road or off-road, turns motivated into the corner, lies stable in an inclined position, decelerates vehemently in an emergency and, despite its weight, can be safely controlled even off-road. The fact that the boxer always delivers its performance to the rear wheel in a predictable way, hangs on the gas as smoothly as butter and inspires with a high level of smoothness, rounds off the overall package perfectly.

Because the BMW R 1200 GS is no longer a rubber cow, but an extremely important cash cow, BMW is making every effort to develop it further. So we can look forward to the next step.

Honda Fireblade from 2017 and 2007

In 2007 the Honda CBR 1000 RR of the type SC 57 completed its last season, in the spring of this year the career of its successor, the SC 77, began. How does ten years of progress feel??

What has happened in the meantime: A new Fireblade is ready for the 2008 season and is fundamentally different from the SC 57. The SC 59 has a newly designed motor with a one-millimeter larger bore and 1.5 millimeter shorter stroke. The four-cylinder block is no longer cast together with the upper half of the housing, but is clamped onto the housing together with the cylinder head by ten stud bolts. The peak power increases nominally by 7 HP, but since most SC 57 lagged far behind the specified 171 HP, the real increase is 10 to 15 HP.

Optimized in diligent detail work

Photos of a stripped SC 59 next to a stripped MotoGP prototype prove the close relationship of the frame constructions. Immediately behind the steering head of the series machine, almost full-surface light metal cast profiles enclose the engine, while the frame of the racing machine consists largely of deep-drawn sheet metal. Only a relatively small recess for the intake air ducts and a tiny inspection window on each side break through the mighty front section of the SC 59 frame. The frame of the SC 57 in this area consisted of an airy triangular structure on the left and right. In addition to the new cladding of the SC 59 with its short nose, the muffler placed under the engine catches the eye. On the SC 57, the silencer was hanging under the stern.


10 years of progress in motorcycle series production


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Honda Fireblade, in gray from 2007 and in red from 2017.

The narrative present tense of the preceding paragraphs is not only justified as a stylistic device, but also because the current SC 77 has taken over a lot from the SC 59. Apart from the different surface coatings, the Fireblade from 2017 and its immediate predecessor seem largely identical. In fact, a lot has changed in many places that are not visible from the outside, for example the frame has been 2.2 kilograms lighter. It was not just about saving weight. As can be clearly felt when driving, the developers were able to considerably improve the feedback and steering behavior through a defined combination of stiff and flexible segments. They used the nine-year epoch of the SC 59 to optimize the chassis, and indeed the entire motorcycle, in diligent detail work. This is the only way to achieve a weight of 198 kilograms when fully fueled with a Euro 4-compliant silencer, ABS and traction control. How big is the difference to the previous SC 57??

Already after the first few meters you will notice how starkly different you sit on both motorcycles. On the SC 57, the legs are spread wide on the sides of the tank, the knee angle is narrower, the tank seems longer, the seating position is less oriented towards the front wheel. On the other hand, the narrow waist of the SC 77 seems almost like a revelation. The driver slips, no, glides along the sides of the motorcycle as if by himself in order to shift his weight inwards and forwards when turning. It finds its way back into the middle position just as easily. This is more difficult on the older Blade. The price for the supple ergonomics of the new is to be paid in the form of a two-liter smaller tank. A disadvantage that is in turn compensated for by the lower fuel consumption.

With the same tires through the course

To find out how these peculiarities affect fast driving, the testers set out a circuit on MOTORRAD’s top test site. A further right bend was particularly selective, at the end of which a slow left bend had to be braked at an angle and as late as possible. Admittedly, this did not always work within the boundaries of the route, but far more often with the SC 77 after deliberately braking too late than with the SC 57. With the same tires, the 77 is less powerful when braking in an inclined position, steers more precisely and changes lean angles more quickly . Almost every driving maneuver succeeds with pinpoint accuracy, while on the older Blade you always have the feeling that you are a blink too late. Unless you drive slower. In this way, the new one increases its lead meter by meter.

The ABS of the SC 77 and its other electronic driving aids should not go unmentioned in this context. The track was dry and grippy, but cold, the tires hardly got lukewarm. In such conditions, it relieves the driver of being able to easily apply the brakes, even at a considerable angle, and, thanks to the adjustable traction control, to be able to accelerate courageously out of corners. In optimal conditions, and especially with racing tires on the slopes, this plays less of a role.

Increased peak performance is of secondary importance

So it is the impressive driving characteristics of the current Fireblade that inform the driver immediately. The electronics, and indeed even the considerably increased peak performance of the motor, are secondary virtues, on the other hand. They only come to light in extreme driving styles (engine power, traction control, anti-hopping clutch, shift assistant) or in emergency situations (ABS). The operating forces for gas, brakes, gearshift and clutch are pleasantly low on both, and the new TFT color display is a nice convenience.

As far as the basic requirements are concerned, the SC 57 already had everything that makes an excellent motorcycle. Many technical details have been adopted unchanged or with minor modifications. For example, the radially screwed brake calipers or the Unit-Pro-Link swing arm, an extremely compact combination of swing arm, lever system and shock absorber.

Not even the engine of the SC 57 is out of date. In 2007 it was only no longer capable of development for use in a super sports car. Otherwise Honda would not have made the effort to completely redesign it. But with adapted peripherals it served to drive the CB 1000 R as well as the CB 1000 F and CBF 1000, and with 145 HP it will also drive the recently presented new CB 1000 R..

Suzuki SV 650 from 2017 and 2007

Between 1999 and the replacement by the Gladius in 2009, Suzuki sold over 28,000 copies of the naked SV 650 and the half-disguised S. Since 2016 there has been a new edition. In a ten-year comparison, it is mainly the small things that change the big picture.

Progress arises in the head. No sooner have you swung your leg over the two-part bench of the SV 650 from 2007, you first grab the key, then the handlebars, turn on the engine, look at the fittings, whoosh, you feel like you’ve been transported back to the time when your back hurt less and the stomach was more crispbread than butter sandwich. It is the many little things that clearly tell you: This motorcycle is old. But the big picture, the essence of the Suzuki SV 650 (apart from the years 2008 to 2015 and the Gladius) has been preserved – which is not only due to the round headlights, which are still identical in construction. The recipe for the motorcycle when it was presented in 1999 was as simple as it was ingenious: the combination of a gripping V2 engine in the medium displacement segment with a timeless, but not boring design, the good-natured, in the early years a bit lax but always solid chassis and the crisp price hit the zeitgeist. Puristic, functional, handsome and emotional at the same time: The SV almost single-handedly managed to strip the middle class of its good driving school character and to make it interesting not only for (re) beginners.

Injection instead of carburetor technology

The fact that the Suzuki engineers have gradually developed the SV 650 further over the years was not only required by the market, in some cases legal provisions were also responsible for this. While the original version still equipped the displacement of the V2 with carburetor technology, the 2003 facelift already received an injection with two throttle valves per intake manifold, an uncontrolled catalytic converter and a new cast aluminum bridge frame with a screwed-on rear and optimized coordination of the spring elements. Although the engine lost some of its characteristic punch, it improved its running smoothness significantly and now complied with the requirements of the Euro 2 standard.


10 years of progress in motorcycle series production


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Suzuki SV 650: the left from 2007, the right ten years later.

With the transition to the year 2007, further refinements were made: the brake system was immediately (in Germany) equipped with an ABS as standard, it was modified accordingly. The cylinder heads were revised, the two-cylinder got double ignition, which is why almost all sensors and components of the ignition and injection system, the air filter box and the silencer have been changed. In connection with the G-Kat (pre-cat in the connecting pipe, main cat in the end pot), the Euro 3 hurdle was jumped immediately. The throttle response was now smoother, load changes were smoother. The maximum power was 72 hp.

Outwardly, 2007 was still dominated by round shapes, from today’s point of view, somewhat chubby: the SV tank is wide, the rear section has a clearly visible muffin top compared to the modern SV! At 199 kilograms, the new one weighs exactly as much as it did ten years ago, but it looks as if you had been prescribed a low-carb diet for months. Whether on the fender, on the mini headlight trim or on the muffler: The current SV carries less pompous trim around with it, imitating a triathlete more than a bodybuilder. The cockpit undoubtedly heralds a world that has only been partially digitized – the smartphone was still in its infancy. Stale? Nope, because the analog tachometer is easier to read than the digital counterpart. In addition, it is simply a pleasure to watch the needle rev up again after each switching process.

The basic construction of the V-engine is identical

Remarkable: Between 2007 and 2017, gasoline consumption fell by half a liter per 100 kilometers. Fascinating, because in both SVs the identical basic construction of the V-engine works with unchanged bore-stroke ratio and only slightly reduced compression. In detail, however, hardly any component remained on top of the other. From coated aluminum cylinders without liners, new pistons with less clearance, other piston rings to a crankshaft flywheel mass increased by ten percent and inlet and outlet valves with larger cross-sections, a lot has happened. A further 60 parts were revised for the new edition in 2016. The result: noticeable in practice, not just at the petrol station. The current V2 surpasses its predecessor in every discipline, always looks more confident, has more smoke, more even power delivery, better manners and less vibrations. The less agitated impression created by this continues with the chassis: The 2017 Suzi with its steel space frame follows steering impulses more willingly, remains stable on deep slopes, even on slight bumps. The damping characteristics of the telescopic fork and the monoshock are sporty and taut, and go better with the lively SV than the somewhat more comfortable, but gummy counterpart in the 2007 version.

And the brakes? Fulfill their purpose in both motorcycles, and there is little to complain about about the pure braking power of the two-piston floating calipers. However, they lack an initial bite and a clearly defined pressure point. The choice of brake pads seems a bit conservative in both cases. Nevertheless, the progress can be clearly seen, the differences in ABS control behavior are glaring. It’s unbelievable how sensitively and imperceptibly the 2017 SV prevents the wheels from locking when anchoring firmly. Except for a slight pumping at the rear, the Suzuki remains stable on course. The older SV, in which the same floating calipers defeat the front discs, decelerates enormously at the beginning, but the ABS then releases the brake for so long that the fork rebounds slightly. Only then does the SV continue to brake. Control intervals every second were the rule back then, today they are surprising. Pleasing: The 2007 model remains absolutely stable on the track when the brakes are applied hard.

Conclusion? With this pairing you might have expected it least: But the differences of ten years of development are clear even with a price-conscious mid-range naked bike. The new SV 650 surpasses its predecessor in all chapters. A result of continuous, detailed further development. Chapeau!

The differences are very clear

Conclusion? With this pairing you might have expected it least: But the differences of ten years of development are clear even with a price-conscious mid-range naked bike. The new SV 650 surpasses its predecessor in all chapters. A result of continuous, detailed further development. Chapeau!

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