BMW F 650, Suzuki GS 500 E, Yamaha XJ 600 S, Yamaha XV 535 Virago
34 HP motorcycles in comparison
Four newcomers and re-entrants completed four stations – on four fundamentally different motorcycles in the 34 hp class around Lake Garda: To test for MOTORRAD which is the best according to their standards.
Volete ordinare? “” Yes, please. A Four Seasons Pizza and an Orvieto. “” Scusi, but we don’t have Quattro Stagioni. They only have pasta here. ”Basta. And already Helmut has to say goodbye to his pizza. But the fantastic pasta dishes that Bruno served the MOTORRAD test team in his little restaurant “da Bruno” in Villa de Tremosine on a plateau above the western shore of Lake Garda reconciled him with the world again.
Zfor luck. Italian cuisine plays an important role in keeping the mood of the testers who gathered in the sunny but cold northern Italy at the end of January in high spirits – because tough testing is the order of the day during the day: “Man, that’s really work,” was not only Martin’s opinion of the MOTORCYCLE -Test program wondered. The four who were asked to find out the strengths and weaknesses of four fundamentally different motorcycles from the top ten of the 34 HP entry-level class in a concept comparison for MOTORRAD had a slightly different picture of the motorcycle test. Because Alexandra Weidlich, Francesco Santoro, Martin Stöckigt and Helmut Herder – otherwise pursue completely different professions: Alexandra, 26, is an employee at Mercedes-Benz, Francesco, 28, is a student, Martin, 40, brokers insurance and Helmut, 45, holds them Balance sheets of a mail order company in plumb.
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BMW F 650, Suzuki GS 500 E, Yamaha XJ 600 S, Yamaha XV 535 Virago
34 HP motorcycles in comparison
XJ 600 S slips away. Because she only drove at walking pace, hardly anything happened. A blinker glass later, the world is all right again. But she and a helpful Italian worker have their hands full lifting the heavy four-cylinder sports tourer back upright.
Your wish to drive the XV 535 from the same manufacturer instead of the high, heavy XJ 600 S on the following narrow, winding descent to the lake is therefore understandable. Many aspects play a role here. The XV 535’s low center of gravity and its wide handlebars give confidence even when maneuvering without engine power. Thanks to the low seat, the driver can always put both feet safely on the ground and has enough strength to hold and push. And the seating position of the XV 535 signals peacefulness: “Relax”, I’m not rushing you. “Francesco, the enduro fanatic, grabbed the BMW F 650 and grinned. That’s how he imagined it. Upright, comfortable – and the full blow of single-cylinder engines suits him anyway. But do these strange BMW cases and the top case really have to be? When getting on and off, his right foot is always booming against the black thermoplastic. The antidote is simple but unfamiliar. Step over the machine with one giant step – similar to Carl Lewis in the hurdles. Martin, who was in the clothing store of the MOTORRAD editorial office and chose a textile touring suit with style and accuracy, is clearly happy with the XJ 600 S, which he was able to inherit from Alexandra. That’s his thing: Heavy, but solid, half-faired and blessed with an evenly purring engine – the pure sports tourer.
Only Helmut feels a little out of place. He’s the one with the sportiest motorcycle at home in the garage, but the sitting position on the Suzuki GS 500 E seems too leaned forward to him: high footrests, the low handlebars, then the stretched sitting position. No, Helmut is not really happy with the little athlete. And then there is also that about his back … But don’t worry. It won’t stay the way it is now. After all, each of the four should spend half a day on each of the motorcycles in order to be able to form a reliable opinion: Which type of motorcycle suits whom best?
The line of the four on the demanding roads around Lake Garda becomes increasingly safer with the first few kilometers. The first differences between the engine concepts soon become apparent (see also page XX). The supposedly powerful single cylinder of the F 650 has to be kept in its best speed range much more often by shifting gears. Under 3000 tours, the hacking single cannot elicit any useful performance. The other cylinder extreme, the XJ 600 S, pulls through bravely at only 2000 rpm. The XV 535 lives up to the myth of the bubbling, low-speed V-two chopper. And even the GS 500 E, the lowest displacement in the test, keeps up with the group at a slow pace.
Then the first vehicle change: “Where are the footrests here?” Alex takes over the GS 500 E, Francesco the XJ 600 S, Martin the XV 535 and Helmut the F 650. Who, like Alex, is used to having the footrests on his motorcycle are far ahead can get lost on the Suzuki. Helmut, on the other hand, is much happier with the BMW, because: »I hate nothing more than when something grabs me while riding my motorcycle. It just has to be comfortable. «Every small car today has a seat and sometimes even a steering wheel adjustment. However, the fact that not even a motorcycle manufacturer is able to design handlebars and footrests in such a way that every driver can adapt them to his needs is actually a disgrace to the motorcycle industry. On the flat, spacious southern shore of Lake Garda, there are fast country roads.
Helmut and Francesco on the half-faired F 650 and XJ 600 S have a good laugh. 120 km / h don’t bother them in the long run. Alexandra, who at first didn’t seem happy on the undisguised GS 500 E, is visibly relaxing. At this speed, the bent forward posture is great. The wind supports the upper body, the wrists are relieved of weight. Only Martin grumbles. With his wide touring suit and the cranked handlebars of the XV 535, he now hangs in the wind like the proverbial sail.
This quickly becomes tiring. The evening interim balance with Bruno already sheds light on the judgments of the four test drivers: “The seating position on the XV 535 is great at touring speed,” Martin sums up, and Alexandra agrees. “But if you want to drive long distances on the autobahn, then good night,” he continues. Francesco and Helmut like the F 650 equally. “But the difference between the single-cylinder and the four-cylinder in the XJ 600 S amazed me,” admits Francesco. “The four-cylinder pulls a class better at the bottom.” The liveliness of the XJ 600 S is punished by its high weight and long standard gear ratio. The unchanged final translation must have a negative effect on the temperament in the 34 hp variant. The one- and two-cylinder engines look considerably livelier, especially when overtaking on the narrow Italian country roads.
The night at Bruno’s will be long and fun. But the four volunteer testers have fewer problems getting started the next morning than some motorcycles. It’s January and freezing temperatures are always in there at night. With the choke fully pulled, the F 650 does not wait long and puffs white condensation clouds out of its huge cannon barrel. The GS 500 E needs more start-up. But once you get going, your parallel twin also takes on the gas. The two Yamaha, however, the XV 535 and the XJ 600 S, start up only with great difficulty, even with the choke fully pulled, and are then asked for a long time until they accept gas without choking. Yamaha is aware of the problem. The XJ 600 S has a carburetor heater to shorten the warm-up phase. The fact that the XV 535 has the choke lever on the carburetors does not pose a problem for any of the guest testers.
Francesco, a well-trained man of 185 centimeters and 100 kilograms, feels like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput on the GS 500 E, which is tiny by his standards. It is exactly the other way around for Alex, who can barely climb onto the XJ 600 S, her scary vehicle. A tip: Experienced motorcyclists never hold their motorcycles by the handlebars when getting on, but place them on the side stand with first gear engaged as a “handbrake”. Martin has no trouble climbing the F 650, but Helmut sits down on the low hollow XV 535 seat with just a roll of his eyes. The XV 535 is on bad roads – and they are the most fun to drive around Lake Garda – the most uncomfortable of all four motorcycles.
The firm suspension elements allow the highest of all possible payloads at 219 kilograms, but the suspension comfort is noticeably limited. In addition, the road bumps also hit the upright spine vertically. BMW F 650 and Yamaha XJ 600 S, on the other hand, only fly over the bumps. The Suzuki follows, not uncomfortable, but one or the other bump shakes Francesco’s line. The bent forward sitting posture also lacks the overview of the upright BMW and XJ 600 drivers. Their wide handlebars also ensure low steering forces and precise, less annoying steering than on the Suzuki. Even the heaviest, the XJ 600 S, reacts surprisingly lightly to steering impulses and changing curves. The XV 535 can keep up in terms of sheer handiness. Only your front wheel needs a larger radius when cornering. Helmut’s driving style is somewhat reminiscent of the sign “Caution – vehicle swings out” on long trucks.
It is striking how little each of the four guest testers said about the braking systems. A comparison of the brakes on an empty parking lot under controlled conditions also reveals the reasons. None of the four brought about the possible braking deceleration with the test motorcycles. “Better to brake earlier, but safely and without locking the wheels,” Helmut sums up, and the others nod. A smooth application and good controllability of the brakes are much more important to normal drivers than a clearly defined pressure point, direct gripping or the maximum deceleration, which the experienced MOTORRAD testers prefer.
The last motorcycle change brought about no different results than before – with the exception that Alexandra on the obedient BMW F 650 finally loses her fear of high animals and lets it pepper with her around the corner. Only Francesco moans because his knees bump into the broken XV 535 handlebars in serpentines time and time again. Back in Vesio, the small town just above Villa, the petrol pump at the small village petrol station unearths one last surprise – how little fuel you can have so much fun with: The Suzuki GS 500 E traveled 100 kilometers of country road with 3.9 liters under normal driving style far, and the other three only needed 4.5 to 4.8 liters of petrol on this basically typical motorcycle tour.
Bruno has slowly got used to his guests from Germania. The mountains of spaghetti on the plates get bigger every evening. And the conclusion of the individual? Alexandra: »I still prefer the XV 535. I like chopping. And the XV can do everything I need. What more do I want? «Francesco:» The BMW F 650 is great. But please without this luggage system. And a better adapted final translation would also be good for the 34 hp version. That would be a better way to cover up the engine that hacked under 3000 rpm. “Martin:” Either the XJ 600 S or the BMW F 650 – but those for me with the suitcases, please.
The XJ 600 is the only one that seems a bit underpowered to me. If so, I would prefer those with at least 50 hp. «And Helmut:» For me, the same applies: BMW or Yamaha XJ 600. Although I would probably use the four-cylinder because of the better running smoothness. «And the Suzuki GS 500 E? In this MOTORCYCLE group test it plays a bit of the role of the outsider. In real life, however, things look different – with over 3000 motorcycles sold, the GS 500 E is clearly in first place on the 34 hp hit parade. But this objection from a MOTORRAD editor who was concerned about balance simply gets lost in the conversations, sounds and noises one evening at an Italian pasta table.
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