All the Duels – Iron 883 ABS Vs XV950R: the Bolt against the Sportster benchmark – More dynamic or more communicative?

Iron 883 ABS Vs XV950R: the Bolt against the Sportster benchmark

All Duels - Iron 883 ABS Vs XV950R: the Bolt versus the Sportster benchmark - More dynamic or more communicative?

Faced with the success of Harley-Davidson, manufacturers regularly draw inspiration from its most iconic motorcycles to give them a response. With the XV950R, Yamaha takes on the Iron 883: does the Bolt shake the entry-level Sportster ? Duel.

More dynamic or more communicative ?

In the saddle, the XV950R welcomes the "biker" with more respect: its very low seat (690 m against 735) at first appears almost comfortable with regard to the piece of solid oak on which we sit on the Sportster Iron 883! Be sure that the foam is not likely to settle on the American !

The wide handlebars of the Yamaha (775 mm measured against 735) are bent enough towards the rear to fall naturally under the gloves, while its pleasantly soft controls (clutch, brakes and accelerator) complete to put at ease. Only downside: its rear cylinder – slightly offset to improve air cooling – easily comes into contact with the left thigh.

To avoid burns, a thin black plastic protection is installed below its cylinder head. Conversely, the cylinders of the Iron 883 are perfectly aligned because the connecting rods are fixed on the same crank pin via a forked connecting rod (and not two connecting rods installed side by side as on the Yam ‘). Thanks to this trick, the American tumbled V-twin takes up less space between the thighs than its Japanese rival, whose distribution uses a simple overhead camshaft..

This relative mechanical compactness is the only advantage of the Sportster over its rival in terms of ergonomics, as its driving position is not really natural. The handlebars slightly stretch and raise the arms, suggesting at first glance a typical "custom" posture: feet forward, pelvis wedged in the bottom of the saddle and cool armpits….

Except that the footrests are installed higher and back than expected (in any case, much more than on the Yamaha), requiring a bend of the legs tiring during long runs. Admittedly, there are models specifically adapted to the demolition of bollards in the Harley range, but all the same !

It suffices to activate the starter to disregard these ergonomic considerations: the twin-cylinder open at 45 ° snorts in a quiver extending to the whole motorcycle (then to its rider!), Before its exhaust system revised. to better contain polluting emissions does not let escape the inimitable "potato-potato".

The opportunity to note that the idle speed is surprisingly high when cold (up to 1700 rpm!), Before gradually stabilizing at 950 rpm. Information taken from Harley-Davidson France, it would be a sequencing programmed at the factory at the level of the injection in order to promote the heating of the heads and the aluminum cylinders.

A little MNC tip: if possible, take advantage of this warm-up time to equip yourself. Otherwise, the combination of this temporarily high idle and a long first report gives rise to fairly lively starts … and it is not the "sticky" clutch and lacking in progressiveness that will fix things! Conversely, the clutch of the XV950R benefits from a new rubber shock absorber to be soft and finely dosed..

In general, the Yamaha is less rough, especially in town where its docility hits the mark. Much less noisy and "vibrating", its twin-cylinder – reworked in terms of injection, exhaust and intake – is certainly more stingy in terms of sensations, but its ability to resume smoothly at very low speeds (up to 50 km / h on the 5th and last gear) gives it a certain charm and a definite advantage.

On the Harley, the same maneuver ends at the dentist to reattach the fillings unsealed due to engine knocking: from 1500 to 2000 rpm depending on the gear engaged, the twin cylinder turns into a jackhammer! Its significantly greater inertia also requires more attention, especially during marked downshifts on wet roads..

Its slow and hard gearbox also requires more decomposed movements than that of the Yamaha, whose main virtues are neither speed nor smoothness. A classic in the category, just like the resounding "klong" at the passage of the first … or even of the following reports !

Yamaha advantage in dynamics

The Iron 883 compensates for some of its bad character traits with a better turning radius (5.20 m measured to turn around against 6 meters for the Yamaha) and superior handling. Below 20 km / h, the XV950R is indeed heavy and drooping, no doubt paying at this stage the price of its higher hunting and wheelbase values ​​(respectively 130 mm and 1570 mm against 117 and 1510 on the HD).

When maneuvering with the engine off and around a tight hairpin, the Milwaukee’s excellent weight distribution gives it a clear advantage. Better: it seems lighter than the Japanese custom, despite a slightly higher weight announced (255 kg in running order for the Iron, 251 kg all full made for the XV950R).

This difference gradually fades with increasing speed, the Yamaha becoming almost completely neutral on the angle once launched. Thanks to its more torquey engine and better calibrated suspensions, it takes the opportunity to take the tangent in a series of turns. Dropped during our low and mid-range recovery tests, the Iron 883 also suffers from perfectible damping which makes its physical behavior and imprecise in curves, especially on bumpy roads..

Main responsible for this dynamic deficit: the fork, whose excessive rigidity impairs the feedback of the front axle. This characteristic also penalizes its braking capacities, for lack of a minimum absorption of the forward mass transfer: the divers seem to be frozen in the sleeves when the right lever is taken! This non-adjustable control (ditto on the Yamaha) is also difficult to manage because too far from the accelerator…

At the handlebars of its rival, everything is more padded. And even almost too much mechanically … Not very biting at the front, the braking of the Yamaha has the necessary power to slow down effectively, on condition of strengthening its action with the rear brake.

However, it will be necessary to show a minimum of restraint by pressing the right pedal, at the risk of inadvertently triggering the ABS. On the Harley-Davidson, the anti-lock device comes into action later, but in a much more intrusive manner. Finally, the XV950R’s suspensions do a surprising job despite their low travel, managing to reconcile acceptable comfort and real dynamic efficiency..

Admittedly, its combinations with the false airs of Ohlins end up letting out some pumping movements when the pressure on the angle becomes too pronounced, but this hardly affects the holding of course: under the same conditions, the Harley-Davidson widens towards the outside of the curve, its higher mechanical inertia not helping this tendency to embark.

Consequently, it is difficult to take advantage of its ground clearance, which is nevertheless greater than that of the Yamaha, to gain the upper hand: the XV950R has beautiful joyfully rubbing in each turn, it shows itself to be healthier and more rigorous. And as its 942 cc twin-cylinder (59 cc more than the Iron 883) develops a significant additional torque (79.5 Nm at 3000 rpm against 70 Nm at 3750 rpm), the Japanese keep l ‘exit benefit.

On the other hand, if the Harley marks time mechanically, each of its accelerations marks the spirits by its "gruff" aspect, unlike the very smooth power distribution of the XV950R … And while the "Yamaha orchestra" begins to repacking its instruments at the approach of high revs, the American big band unexpectedly begins a resounding final from 4000 to 5500 rpm !

A rather nice final sprint, but of questionable utility in this category: more torque at mid-revs, on upper gears in particular, would undoubtedly satisfy a greater number of bikers..

Verdict: gentle efficiency against strong character

This conclusion seems agreed, but it nevertheless illustrates the reality perfectly: objectively, the XV950R dominates the Sportster Iron 883 quite largely dynamically, thanks to its engine as available as it is full and its more comfortable and efficient cycle part. So much for the "rational" balance sheet…

But from a more subjective point of view, the Harley-Davidson wins this duel. On the one hand, because the notion of performance is for many only a moderately important criterion in this category of motorcycles: character, style and cachet predominate over the speed to bring down the 0 to 100 km / h.

The tremors of the Iron 883 "take to the guts" (or turn it around, it’s a matter of taste!), Its style has not aged and the Harley-Davidson branding is no longer to be seen. to prove. A last argument so important at the time of resale, and which is lacking in its Japanese competitors…

On the other hand, the price difference between the Iron 883 and the XV950R definitely tilts the balance in favor of the American, posted at 209 euros less. The situation is balanced by comparing the XV950 in "standard" version (only imported into France without ABS) to the HD without brake assist: the American then costs € 8,490, or 9 euros less than the Japanese ( 8499 €).

Of course, Yamaha will not sell off its motorcycle at the risk of devaluing its image. But at equivalent prices, the "copy" could (should) easily outclass the original, in particular by overcoming its shortcomings in equipment and practical aspects. And why not stand out with a few tens of pounds less on the scale? On a daily basis, the not too strong "bikers" – and the bikers – would appreciate, just as they would have probably preferred the American name "Bolt" to the anonymous "XV950"…

"It is a strategic choice of Yamaha Motor Europe", retorts the French subsidiary when MNC asks it about these differences in surnames between the United States and Europe."No bowl (t)", laughs perfidiously the indecisive Iron…

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