Bikes for 999 euros and the consequences – part 5

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Bikes for 999 euros and the consequences - part 5


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Bikes for 999 euros and the consequences – part 5

Bikes for 999 euros and the consequences – part 5
With the used vehicles to the Alps

People laughed at them, didn’t take them seriously, and sometimes insulted them. We’re talking about the four 999 euro bikes in the editorial team’s long-term test fleet. An ultimate alpine ride should now bring it to the day: fun maker ?? or brakes on fun? A very special kind of endurance test.

Michael Schroder


Meeting point at the Schonbuch service station. The first on the A 81 south of Stuttgart. Six o’clock sharp. Four men, four motorcycles, one mission: to collect as many vertical meters as possible for two days in the heart of the Alps. One might think that the prospects are fantastic. In a small group, however, you are not quite so sure. At first glance, the four bikes at the pump seem like real pickles: a Suzuki GS 500 E (built in 1992), one Yamaha FJ 1100 (1985), a Honda CX 500 C (built in 1981) and a Yamaha XT 600 (built in 1984). Each part bought for less than 1000 euros and brought into shape with more or less effort to cope with everyday life.

But now the big challenge? a pass tour through Central Switzerland. Fed up with curves and bends. Plus long uphill and downhill sections. Still the ultimate ultimate tensile test for every component. The looks of the pilots reveal skepticism. Secretly, nobody seriously believes that they will be able to return home in Stuttgart on their own. 6.15 a.m. Begin. The quartet arrows with a good 120 things over the railway towards the south. The FJ and GS could do more. The XT certainly also, if it were not regularly slowed down by severe hiccups at just under 140 (the matter will be investigated). The “slurry pump” moving at full throttle is ultimately the measure of all things on the straight.

Because nobody knows how many of her once 27 hp are still working, you can’t really blame her for the slow pace. At least for a while. Stefan at the helm of the big Yamaha can no longer stand this twitching somewhere halfway to Constance: “120 are completely beneath the dignity of an FJ!” The fact that we meet a thoughtful pilot on Lake Constance is due to the fact that the FJ barely runs more than 180. Too little for a nominal 100 hp.

The group trundled a good bit through Switzerland in the slipstream of the Honda. Autobahn to Thusis and not a single meter of fear of getting into trouble with the authorities for driving too fast, i.e. a maximum of 120? not bad either. But tough. The first kilometers of country road seem like a breakout. Curves. Finally! The Via Mala Gorge to the right of the narrow track in the rock ?? a quick look has to be enough this time. All the attention is given to the vehicles. Lean angle, braking distance, the optimal cornering style, so as not to lose any momentum due to lack of power. First impression: With these baroque wagons you can do more than expected. Much more. The agile XT and the light GS are already considered contenders for the title “King of the Alps”. The north ramp of the 2113 meter high Splugen Pass. Almost perfect asphalt and at the top 14 closely spaced hairpin bends. Give everything is the motto. Now everyone wants to know where they are with their treasure.

That the author’s Yamaha XT 600 has to be taken off the accelerator very early due to sluggish brakes and yet always plunges into the abyss at the front? no matter: freedom of inclination until you drop and at the end of the bend there is always pressure in the boiler? the XT is made for life on the mountain. In contrast, the speed-hungry Suzuki regularly starves at the exit of a curve. Holger: »The GS clearly wins the decisive meters when braking. And on longer straights, when the engine seems to literally explode above 7000 revolutions. “

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Bikes for 999 euros and the consequences - part 5

Photos: Kunstle, Hertneck

The tour goes from Stuttgart 1050 kilometers across Eastern Switzerland and back again.

Still, both of them are not enough to capture the great Yamaha. Despite minimal ground clearance and a ramshackle shock absorber, the FJ pulls up and away sparkling and rocking wildly. A clear performance advantage that comes into play all the more the higher the path leads. Jorg in the saddle of the slurry pump simply keeps out of all of this. As said ?? maximum 27 hp. Death lurks at every corner exit. The fact that he lands only moments later on the top of the pass clearly speaks for the qualities of the Honda (and for those of the driver).

Jorg: »The motor brake is like a throwing anchor, so you can give in brutally late. Fortunately, this soft chopper can also be thrown at an unbelievably inclined angle. «The 2066 meter high San Bernardino, the old Tremola road up to the 2091 meter high St. Gotthard Pass, the 2478 meter high Nufenen Pass and shortly before sunset also fall Furka (2436 meters) and Grimsel passes (2165 meters). The hierarchy within what is probably the most bizarre entourage since Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps? Unchanged. What is far more surprising: no technical failures, how easy it is to unwind even the longest days of riding on these bikes and that no one else seems to be driving a fleet of vehicles that is even remotely similarly aged through the Alps.

Bikes for 999 euros and the consequences - part 5

Photos: Kunstle, Hertneck

Real mountaineers: the used ones climb the passes.

Day two. The start procedure is dragging on. They all need oil. With the XT, the gearshift lever has to be straightened out because the driver and the driver have fallen into a stable side position when the (annoying) acceleration was carried out. The engine of the great Yamaha also needs to be brought up to temperature with increased idle gas for minutes before it even thinks about running. Later, on the spectacular Susten Pass (2224 meters), the FJ almost loses its left muffler. Does not matter. There is nothing that a meter and a half of wire cannot straighten. Or almost nothing: the cylinder base seal of the XT should now be as full of holes as Swiss cheese. The only thing that helps is regular checks. And if necessary, refilling.

The rattle in the crankshaft area, which was violent from the start, has at least not gotten louder. The hardships are not noticeable on the Suzuki and the Honda. Intoxicated, the quartet sweeps on over the last hurdle, the 1952 meter high Klausen Pass. Give everything again, despite a wide variety of handicaps, don’t lose a single meter of ground. A 600 Ducati Monster is passed through to the rear. It’s amazing what these motorcycles can do once they’re on the move. A driving challenge, no question about it. But it works. The fact that the oldies landed back home in Stuttgart on their own after 1050 kilometers and 17,525 meters in altitude, no, of course none of the participants seriously doubted it.

The motorcycles (Honda and Suzuki)

With 27 little horses on Swiss pass heights? Our 1981 slurry pump started to puff. The driver, however, had it easy. For him there were only two throttle positions on the tour: open or close! The receipt followed at the gas station. With just under seven liters, the CX was the Schluckspecht in the quartet. On the other hand, the lack of lean angle is astonishing: The 500 was anything but a corner parker.

Admittedly, the GS did well in the mountains. However, the engine characteristics are not suitable for tight turns. Little happens below 7000 rpm. If you want to be fast uphill, you have to turn the Suzuki mercilessly. After all, the brakes coped surprisingly well with the pass descents. In addition, motorway stretches with a constant speed of 150 km / h with less than five liters of fuel consumption are no problem.

The motorcycles (Yamaha)

Yamaha FJ 1100
What used to be great can’t be bad today. For long distances, the FJ is still a good choice. Fast but noisy arrival on the autobahn, lively surfing on winding country roads and a powerful start to the alpine bends. Thanks to 16-inch tires, it is still easy to handle, but the freedom from lean angles leaves a lot to be desired. And modern brakes are much better.

Yamaha XT 600
The biggest drawback of the XT: a non-existent electric starter. Fortunately, the old single runs after the third kick at the latest. On the other hand, the XT is a real sweeper on winding roads. Low weight, wide handlebars, enormous lean angle, enough pressure from below and the extremely comfortable, upright sitting position ?? everything great. Just the brakes and the worn out chassis … Sponge over it.

Traveling with used vehicles – the unusual always happens …

MOTORRAD was able to experience first-hand that it is also great to travel with old motorcycles? that there can be unforeseen complications, too. With a little tools and a little manual skill, you can fix most of it yourself. Here are a few things that should not be missing on any major tour: Basic tools for tensioning the chain, adjusting fittings, changing gear, brake and clutch levers, including pliers, adhesive tape and some sturdy wire. In addition, air pressure gauge, air pump, engine oil (old motorcycles use more of it), cable repair kit, chain spray, tow belt (just in case), list of authorized dealers in the country of travel. A navigation device with a workshop menu item is practical, and a cell phone is mandatory. If all repair measures fail on the roadside, with a bit of luck you will find a friendly van or truck driver who still has free loading capacity to take the damaged machine with him to the next workshop. hek

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