Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term tester

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Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term tester


Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term testers

The MOTORRAD long-term testers on an autumn ride

The traditional autumn ride takes the 2017 endurance test motorcycles to Slovenia. There were Yamaha YZF-R1, Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 1200 CA, Honda Fireblade, BMW G 310 R, Triumph Thruxton R, Honda Africa Twin and Ducati Multistrada 950.

Johannes Muller


The adventure begins where the plan gets out of hand for the first time. ”It’s a Tuesday afternoon in mid-October, and the accurately planned autumn drive, which could have started so comfortably, has turned into an adventure before it actually begins. It was announced by phone the evening before. “I’m standing with the Multistrada in the Ruhr area, flat tire at the front. Sorry! ”The call was followed by a WhatsApp with photo proof that the Duc’s Pilot Road 4 was actually valid and not the possibility of staying overnight in Bochum – and thus the absolution for the valued colleague.

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And now? A slightly tense test editor sits in the MOTORRAD workshop, waiting for a hopefully soon arriving Ducati. And in the certainty of breaking off the journey to Slovenia on the same day – no matter how.

Slovenia? Exactly. Autumn exit, that always means the search for a stable high pressure area, and that was what the weather trip forecast at the time of the trip for the region in the triangle between Austria, Italy and Slovenia. This is exactly where the Triglav National Park lies as the eastern foothills of the Julian Alps, south of the Karawanken. One look at the map and the thing is clear: it looks good. There are curves there, we should go there. Doesn’t always have to be Lake Garda. Nobody from the troop has ever been there, at best you drove past it – the best prerequisites for a discovery tour off the beaten path.

But there is a race to catch up ahead. The clock reports at 3:30 pm when the author finally tackles the first of the 600 kilometers to Bled from Stuttgart in the direction of Munich on a Multistrada 950 freshly fitted with Conti Trail Attack tires and the engine is still warm. Light luggage: roll, no suitcase. After all, it is important to do 8 meters both in the notorious Swabian metropolis rush hour and on the A. At this point, five of the seven endurance test machines are already halfway through Austria. So just collect colleague Schmidt on the endurance test Fireblade behind Kirchheim Teck and fire!

After all, things could have been worse, as Ducati’s rational travel enduro offers a more than comfortable place. Upright ergonomics, plenty of space, comfortably upholstered bench, good wind protection – this means you can move forward without getting tired, even if the driving times are a little strained. It is also nice that, unlike some other travel enduro, the 950 runs reasonably straight on the motorway at higher speeds. Speedometer 220 works without the sweat building up in the socket. Often, however, we cannot play this card in the dense rush hour traffic around Munich. To buy time at a righteous hour on the train? A utopia. This leaves the opportunity to discover that our MTS is only missing the heated grips for perfect long-distance happiness.

It looks different a few meters further back on the right, where Schmitzki is mumbling the miles on the Fireblade in a humble stooping position. A small roll of luggage has somehow found space (the Duc has a huge luggage rack), but the backpack is visibly heavy. So it’s good that we have been granted a few kilometers at a walking speed that is gentle on the wrist at Rosenheim. It’s always wonderful to savor the rare moments when an almost 200 hp sports engine can be turned off the leash in public traffic: Then the world around you comes to a standstill. The other side of the coin: Our travel average does not increase as a result. Every full throttle minute later drains away at the tank. The mood is rising anyway.

6.30 p.m., fill up shortly before Salzburg, the sun is setting. While we are sticking vignettes, the troop is arriving at the hotel in Bled. There is little to report about the following, strictly regulated Austria transit. Except: The Duc is still comfortable, the Honda is not. Neither of them have particularly great light, but the exact same distance until the reserve light comes on: 260 kilometers – great for the Honda, okay for the Duc (which then manages another 80 kilometers). While we are sticking vignettes behind the Karawanken tunnel, the previous drivers are already through with the steak, order a beer and are not even ashamed to deliver a photo proof to the shivering late starters. well then cheers!

10:20 p.m., late arrival in the tastefully restored old town of Radovljica. Like everything painted, Slovenia collects the first of many sympathy points. Connection to the troop takes place in the opposite restaurant (okay, bar). Management report: No special incidents, apart from the full throttle consumption of the BMW G 310 R. The crisp, short Bavarian single has to make speed over almost five-digit speeds, and that lets the low consumption soar to astronomical heights – reserve after not even 150 kilometers. Things look more conciliatory in the slipstream of an Africa Twin. Fears that the G 310 R could become a brake on the exit were not confirmed. Just as it is hardly possible to gain time with a 200 hp bullet, a machine with a speed of almost 150 km / h loses just as little. Sure, sovereignty looks different, but at the latest in Austria, where there is sharp laser cutting, none of the test pilots on the G 310 R felt underpowered. So another of the long-term test machines will win the “The Dogs Bite the Last” Medal of Honor this year.

Otherwise? The small accessory windshield of the Sportster 1200 CA reportedly amazing protection, the Thruxton not the slightest bit of it. The R1 goes like hell too, but is even more flexible than the Fireblade. It is therefore no wonder that the Africa Twin key has become a highly competitive object of desire for drivers.

We start day two according to plan: together. A rich breakfast is followed by insights into cold start behavior. The 1200 Harley twin is currently operating without any problems, which was not always the case due to a weak alternator. The defective switch unit, which sometimes caused the Africa Twin to die off immediately after starting it, has also been replaced. The R1, however, suffers from a weak battery after cold nights, organizes for a long time until it ignites timidly, and does not accept gas for the first few meters. In action unit with a sharp engagement of the clutch, the morning start-up ritual degenerates into a special fine motor test. The situation is similar with the Duc, which starts without any problems, with a tough cold run and difficult-to-dose, choppy clutch, but also requires sensitive rolling.

So to the really important things on this trip, namely the joy of driving in and around the Triglav National Park. First stop: Vršič saddle. Built by Russian prisoners of war during World War I, the highest pass in Slovenia meanders in 50 wild turns from Kranjska Gora to Trenta, always within a call of the monumental Triglav summit.

Alone, on this one morning of all times, a construction site is blocking our way. Just at the height of the “Russian Chapel”, which commemorates 400 builders killed in an avalanche, a busy wheel loader prevents the passage. Closed today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Again the plan is with the devil, but it doesn’t matter. After an attempt to break through and a subsequent, short conversation with the foreman (which unfortunately is not printable, consisted mainly of gestures anyway and would also paint a crooked picture of the enormously hospitable Slovenes), we quickly turn to Italy, bypass the barrier and board from the back off – a godsend. First of all, the weather forecast was right, and we are on the road in bright sunshine and 20 degrees, every kilometer in this wonderful mountain world, which is almost deserted at this time of the year, is a real pleasure anyway. Secondly, this dangling takes us through the easternmost tip of Italy (Spaghetti Aglio Olio with a view in the “Chalet al Lago”) up the fluid Predil pass, which is absolutely worth driving, to a boldly winding piece of the finest road construction, which we previously only had as an option on our screen : the Mangart.

This twelve-kilometer-long piece of gourmet asphalt, which is tolled in summer, bores through 17 hairpin bends and five tunnels up to 2055 meters. A gradient of up to 14 percent and some exposed passages without a guardrail make safe use of the device a prerequisite. But the dream road rewards with a spectacular view that makes even seasoned men pee in the eyes. It is hard to imagine what the season will look like here, but at the beginning of October we are alone: ​​no car, no overstrained motorhome owner! And above: the dizzying view of the 600 meter deep Lahnscharte!

Here the G 310 R can set a scent mark. Playfully she wags up the narrow, demanding piste, turning switchbacks, patchwork and stains of leaves into a dance floor. Where the super athletes torment themselves around the corner in first gear with a slipping clutch, where the Africa Twin’s wide suitcases are a bit in the way and where the Harley rattles its exhaust clamp, the small single cylinder simply dashes away, completely forgetting the rather grueling journey. One suggestion: if you are riding your motorcycle on a trailer into the Alps, you should put something light on it – more driving fun on such narrow terrain is not possible!

The Thruxton R also experienced a sudden surge in popularity; forget the angular (sagging?) bench, the complete lack of wind protection. Instead, the Triumph driver enjoys finely pulsating, full-bodied torque, tight, direct driving behavior, precise turning, powerful braking, and the best country road ergonomics. Criticism? A long free travel in the lever makes it difficult to apply the brakes, and the Diablo Rosso III, which is actually great in itself, is almost too good for handling and lacks some driving stability. Nevertheless, a great idea that temporarily takes a back seat to the severe quality problems in the endurance test.

Back towards Bled (even the espresso in “Chalet Al Lago” doesn’t need to hide) and we’re late enough to be able to ride the Vršič saddle from the south. Behind Trenta, the 27 hairpin bends of the south ramp direct the focus to Ducati’s Multistrada 950, the group’s most balanced motorcycle even before the Africa Twin. The small Multi swings up the pass in a wonderfully neutral and harmonious way, but then conceals its not so low weight of 241 kilograms in a very elegant way. Thanks to the gear ratio that is not exaggeratedly long and the lack of a power hole in the middle, the MTS 950 storms with verve and with a characteristic V2 thump. You manage a great balancing act between long-distance suitability and driving pleasure. Comfortable, but sufficiently tight, very easy to drive, great brakes, sensible, but not excessive electronics – that’s forgiven Ducati this extremely coherent overall package is well rewarded. A broadband feel-good motorcycle. There is only one thing that the Multistrada driver should keep a close eye on: the engine oil level. Our test copy gladly treats itself to a sip of the good 15W50.

In this regard, the Honda’s Africa Twin is impeccable and is celebrating its strike at the same time with this autumn trip – the speedometer will report 50,356 kilometers upon arrival in Stuttgart. Its greatest strength is also the reason why we have hardly said a word about the CRF 1000 L: It is simply good in an inconspicuous way. Can do anything, don’t stress, and that’s what makes her so popular on this trip. Its 270-degree in-line twin-cylinder has enough power and excellent manners, its ergonomics suit practically everyone (excluding the smallest rider, as with the Duc), good accessory cases hold bags and packs. Above all, the Africa Twin offers insane comfort. The 21-inch front wheel simply rolls over a lot, a soft fork that is wonderfully appealing even after 50,000 kilometers eats holes, the rear suspension strut works smoothly. Everything about this motorcycle is round and polished. The Africa Twin is less tempting to take a nimble pace, but rather invites you to roll smoothly and to enjoy this wonderful Slovenia. Especially when the road builders have reached deep into the nasty box: cobblestone switchbacks downhill, nice and damp!

No problem on the Africa Twin and Multistrada, possible thanks to good winter tires on the athletes, easy on the light BMW and Thruxton R. A job but like for someone who has killed father and mother, for the unlucky person (read: author) who works with the Swap the keyless key the Sportster 1200 caught. In itself, the Milwaukee Bobber drives quite passably, turns in without much effort, and with its low center of gravity almost conveys something like handiness. But: The bulky 39 mm telescopic fork struggles with a live weight of almost 270 kilograms, 54 millimeters of rear suspension travel mostly loses against undulating cobblestones, and then the custom bobber rumbles down the pass in a rough and rather stubborn manner. The chassis is simply overwhelmed in this situation. In addition, the very low lean angle sets tight limits to the right, the exhaust clamp, freshly installed on departure, is sanded through again less than 1000 kilometers later. In the front, a single double-piston floating caliper chews listlessly on the pads and the windshield, the Michelin Scorcher rolls like glazed in the onset of the evening cold, hardly allowing any confidence in its liability. So: slow down, let the troops go and do what the US flat iron can somehow do well: cruising, absorbing the scene.

Day three takes us further east. We roam Austria and experience the happiness of sport drivers on the Seebergsattel. The asphalt is flat, the radii open a little – enough to finally take advantage of the inclined potential of Yamaha Flashing R1 and Honda Fireblade. If the R1 cuts through the thicket of curves with unprecedented precision, direct and stable, with excellent feedback from the front, the Fireblade adds one more thing. More compact, more gathered, greedy, with a perfect blipper and less pronounced load changes. Envious glances wander to those two lucky guys who have found space on the sports planes for this stage. Autumn trip is always about being on the right motorcycle at the right moment.

In the pig gallop, you continue to Logarska Dolina, a toll road with a waterfall at the end of which attracts tourists. Its picturesque beauty now in autumn makes this attraction popular with hikers, but from a driving point of view it offers little. It was still worth it: for the mushroom soup and because of the lovely landlady. Further south – we are heading for Ljubljana – we hit Velika Planina, a high plateau of equally breathtaking beauty. Here we gravel a little and confirm what should already be known: Africa Twin great, Multistrada good, G 310 R funny, Harley-Davidson not funny. Spectators: the Grintovec, with 2558 meters the highest peak in the Steiner Alps, and the athletes. Final spurt!

We are finally reaching the capital. It is a condensed image of the whole country. Beautiful, young, steeped in history, tidy and hospitable. Undoubtedly worth seeing and experiencing. But it wasn’t enough for more than a quick farewell photo, because workshop master Gerry is waiting at home with the wrench in his hand to dismantle the Africa Twin. Departure the following morning. It’s a shame, but one thing is clear: we will still discover a lot in Slovenia.

Travel information: Insider tip Slovenia

Why Slovenia does not rank higher in the popularity list of many motorcyclists remains a mystery after the experiences of this autumn trip. The country offers practically everything you could wish for: grandiose nature, great routes, friendly people. German is spoken in many places, the price level is pleasant, and outside the summer season things are relaxed.

Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term tester

MAIRDUMONT / Claudia Werel

It is no further to Slovenia than to Lake Garda.

The Switzerland of Yugoslavia ”- this is a saying one comes across again and again in connection with Slovenia, and it presumably describes the matter quite well. Just around two million people live here on an area of ​​over 20,000 square kilometers – that corresponds to the state of Hesse. Slovenia is a small country and is often overlooked as a motorcycle travel destination due to its proximity to Italy and the Dolomites. However, wrongly, as we think. The approximately 600 kilometers from Stuttgart are, just like Lake Garda and the like, done in one day, frequent drivers take some beautiful routes in Austria or Italy with them on their journey. First of all, the Triglav National Park in the north-west of the country, where the easternmost foothills of the Julian Alps extend inland, is recommended. The Vršič Pass and Mangart as well as the lakes of Bled and Ukanc are a must. Logarska Dolina is a stunning landscape, but not very attractive in terms of tourism and driving. The Velika Planina high plateau is only legally accessible in the lower part, but the gravel route there is still interesting for owners of travel enduro bikes. In the Steiner Alps on the border with Austria there are other attractive routes to the east besides the ones we have traveled on. The best thing: outside of the summer time, which according to the hoteliers is quite busy, there is little going on and the streets are pleasantly empty. Due to an excellently developed infrastructure, however, there was no problem at all. Prices for overnight stays and dinner are comparatively cheap. In the recommended family hotel “Linhart” in Radovljica’s old town, a room costs 60 euros. A seven-day vignette costs 7.50 euros. To what extent the southern part of the country is interesting for motorcyclists, we will find out in the next tourer comparison. Did we forget something important? Do you want to share your impressions of Slovenia? write us!

BMW G 310 R.

Mileage: 13 212, start of long-term test: May 17, 2017
The latest addition to the long-term test fleet. BMW’s small world market roadster is under closer scrutiny due to initial quality problems that were obviously due to the production at the Indian cooperation partner TVS.

Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term tester

Georg Jelicic on the BMW G 310 R..

The good news: There are no more teething troubles to report with our G 310 R. The technically ingenious single-cylinder works its way through everyday life as well as as far as Slovenia, in the winding Triglav National Park, the 162 kilogram machine is even the king of driving fun, encouraged thanks to extreme handling properties, easy-revving engine and good-natured nature to be cheeky Cornering speed. Sitting and driving comfort, luggage rack, good on-board computer are not a matter of course at such a low price. The disadvantages of the concept, however, are obvious: If it goes straight for a long time or up a steep hill, the 34-hp single struggles, has to be wrung out badly. You don’t lose a lot of time off the highways, but there is a lack of sovereignty. And: full throttle arrival acknowledges the edgy single with robust fuel consumption.

Ducati Multistrada 950

Mileage: 21 870, long-term test start: March 9, 2017
Also there for the first time, in contrast to the BMW, but made for the quick and comfortable Slovenia stint. Ducati’s sensible travel enduro scores points in addition to impressively simple drivability with generous space, a sporty drive, wind protection, luggage rack and optional suitcases.

Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term tester

Johannes Muller on the Ducati Multistrada 950.

Together with the Africa Twin, which cannot compete with the sporty flair of the Bolognese, it is definitely the most capable long-distance motorcycle in this field. In view of this virtue, a look at reliability is all the more worthwhile. Balance so far: Only top up oil, apart from a complaint regularly noted in the logbook about the hard gearbox, which is difficult to shift. The poor shiftability and tough idle search improved noticeably after a visit to the workshop thanks to the adjustment of the oil flow to the clutch. However, the 937 L-Twin consumes engine lubricant noticeably, with around two liters added since the start of the test. After all, the inspection is carried out at a glance thanks to the sight glass. The original equipment tire Pirelli Scorpion Trail II represents the optimum so far. The pilot Road 4, which was assembled on a trial basis, may give more confidence in the wet, but steers in less precisely and neutrally, while the currently assembled Continental Trail Attack has sports genes the all-round properties but clearly behind the Pirelli has to classify.

Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 1200 CA

Mileage: 46,772, start of long-term test: March 19, 2015
The longest-serving long-term tester, taking part in the autumn trip for the third time. And for the third time we note: The cruiser has a hard time in the vicinity of “normal” motorcycles, especially in demanding alpine terrain. The chassis quickly reaches its limits, turning to the right the exhaust hits the ground early and grinds its retaining clips.

Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term tester

Sven Loll on the Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 1200 CA.

Left is more, but the notch will soon be followed by a frame festival – dangerous! The tires will certainly last forever, but they are not at all compatible with moisture. The fork springs laxly, the rear shock absorbers dampen even more laxly – one would like to see the longer Ohlins dampers, which were installed in the meantime, back. The blunt front single pane requires enormous manual strength for roadworthy deceleration. On the plus side there is a reasonably powerful motor, a comfortable seating position for pilots over 1.75 meters, the very effective MRA screen and a small but practical accessory luggage rack. And handling that is quite useful in and of itself if it weren’t for the weaknesses mentioned. What doesn’t work at all: The bench soaks up with water.

Honda Africa Twin

Mileage: 50 356, long-term test start: March 16, 2016
Done! Almost 19 months after its debut, the Africa Twin completed the endurance test, and when the autumn drive was completed, the key in the MOTORRAD underground car park clicked in the ignition for the last time at exactly 50,356 kilometers.

Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term tester

Peter Klein on the Honda Africa Twin.

In view of the long-distance expertise of the Africa Twin, the speed at which the test ran is hardly surprising: world travel ergonomics, good ranges, space for two and lots of luggage, suitcases (although the accessories from SW-Motech make a better impression than the original suitcases, which are not necessarily adventure-proof). You can really eat kilometers with it. The MTS 950 can do better quickly, but the Honda can go far. Special incidents during the exit? No indication of how the AT survived the entire endurance test with ease. Only the start switch occasionally went on strike, causing the machine to die off after it was started. Otherwise? One wheel bearing, a new clutch cable, tires and chain set. For the autumn exit we were on the TKC 70, which has a good grip in the wet, but lacks some steering precision in the dry.

Honda Fireblade

Mileage: 18 095, start of long-term test: March 23, 2017
Sports enthusiasts on the move, it’s the little things that make the difference. It goes without saying that such a motorcycle offers little in terms of space, comfort and luggage, and that the conceptual strengths rarely come into play. All the better if, as in the case of the Fireblade, it still works halfway.

Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term tester

Sebastian Schmidt on the Honda Fireblade.

Despite being stumped, you can endure the CBR with a little willingness to suffer, which is mainly due to the compact design with a short tank and handles that are not excessively deep. The throttle response is wonderfully smooth with our long-term tester, the blipper works perfectly. The best thing about the Fireblade: Its enormous precision does not go hand in hand with capricious driving behavior. That makes them bearable, even on the journey, with very low consumption. It hardly needs to be mentioned that the brakes and chassis on the pass are beyond any doubt. More likely that the current tires (Roadsmart III) harmonize well with the machine. With the Dunlop, the Blade does not lose any of its nimble neutrality, but gains surefootedness in autumnal conditions – a recommended combination for winter heaters.

Triumph Thruxton

Mileage: 21 401, long-term test start: July 1, 2016
The good news: The Thruxton R does its travel assignment very satisfactorily for a retro naked bike. The seating position is sporty, but at country road speeds the wind carries the pilot’s upper body nicely.

Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term tester

Helmut Alexander on the Triumph Thruxton.

The 1200 twin runs fine, hardly changes load, hangs perfectly on the accelerator and pushes the puristic driving machine with a highly sovereign thump – a dull thundering delight engine. The chassis works tightly but honestly, the now mounted Rosso III makes the R almost bulky, Metzeler’s Roadtec 01 steered more harmoniously. The rear pouches are funky and rather useless, nothing more than a toothbrush and beard oil fits in there – a luggage roll is the smarter alternative. Due to numerous defects, the Thruxton R has disenchanted itself properly: stator defect and stalling in a row, oil loss on the housing, imprecisely spaced front wheel, engine housing replacement (!) Due to persistent oil loss, vibrated passenger footrest, frequently fogged up speedometer and tachometer. No matter how beautiful she looks in her red bodice: The quality defects cannot be ignored, even if everything went well on the exit.

Yamaha YZF-R1

Mileage: 42,685, start of long-term test: August 28, 2015
R1 is also on the home straight. And that, although the kilometers on it are not the kind that you unwind on the side. Unlike the Fireblade, which creates something like residual comfort with minimal concessions, the Yamaha shows itself to be sharp down to the smallest detail.

Autumn trip MOTORCYCLE long-term tester

Achim Steinmacher on the Yamaha YZF-R1.

It’s quick, but it also sucks. Even deeper the stub, even higher the bench, longer tank, wider waist – downhill through switchbacks is a solid fitness exercise on the R1. Motor-wise, the Yamaha is not a light food either: gruff direct throttle response, hard load changes and a fiddly clutch require concentrated inputs from the operator. After cold nights, our handicapped model, with its weak battery, is happy to abruptly quit work and ask for help in starting. Good: The MRA screen provides effective protection against the wind even at high speeds. Less good: The Pilot Road 4 winter tires have cold and wet grip, but rob the R1 of some of its sharp steering precision. It’s like sending a samurai into a duel with a bread knife. Slicks and the racetrack would be better anyway.

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