Comparative test of V2 athletes
90 ?? 60-90
Whoever speaks of dream measurements, speaks in numbers. 90 degrees for Ducati and Honda, 60 degrees for Aprilia. If you are still thinking of something else, you should step up to the youngest generation of V2 athletes as soon as possible? and enjoy their perfect proportions.
Superlatives are not their thing. As much as possible, as little as possible: of course, that’s what the two-cylinder engines are all about within the given technical framework. Goal never in absolute numbers. Others can pant for the extremes as they want, all four-in-a-row in this world can carry PS numbers like silicone implants. At some point they all come down. From their gigantism. At the latest when such a well-formed V2 overtakes the outside in all its balance. Because he has no more than he needs and no less than what I’m good at. In the world of the potent V2, only one thing counts: the right amount.
The pioneer of this balanced V2-Couteure was none other than Massimo Tamburini, whose design of the century 916 redefined the two-wheeled design language, while namesake Bordi put V2 technology on pioneering foundations in the same breath. Temporary high point: the current Testastretta series and the recent Superbike world championship title by Troy Bayliss.
That others jumped on this bandwagon may not come as a surprise. Aprilia’s entry into the real big motorcycle world was ?? clear, a V2. The Mille, a great success from the start. Quite different than the Ducati, with a 60 degree cylinder angle, with an aluminum bridge frame instead of a steel tubular frame, overall larger, more flat. But just as coherent in itself. A little more problematic: the Japanese search for the right V2 balance. Honda provided the SP-1 with the tourist VTR 1000. The engine received a lot of praise. And little for the chassis. But Honda wouldn’t be Honda if they didn’t stay on the ball. So: SP-2. A little more here, a little less there. Small but subtle differences that play a major role in these circles.
On the chassis side, the changes are particularly evident in the hindquarters. There is now a swing arm modeled on the factory racers ?? a component that in itself can be seen as an exhibition piece for aluminum processing ?? the still six inch wide, but now lighter rim. But the hidden modifications are more important. The fork and shock absorber were revised because of the not entirely successful coordination and should offer a wider adjustment range, the already stiff frame was reinforced again. And because you were at it, the exemplary engine didn’t get away with it. It now breathes through huge 62-millimeter throttle valve throats, and two twelve-jet injection nozzles now atomize the fuel instead of the previous four-hole nozzles.
So equipped would the Honda-V2 with 134 measured horsepower be despite its subtle appearance? only the windshield, indicators and paintwork have been changed? was the undisputed number one in the field of big twins even a year ago. But Ducati also worked in secret, donating racing technology for the street with the Testastretta cylinder head ?? and in her noble restraint she is even more buttoned up because the plastic dress is now devoid of any fissures. Among them, the Bolongnes promise a proud 136 hp for the S variant. And still understate. The Ducati puts an enormous 137 hp on the test bench. That is a whopping 17 hp more than the competitor from Noale can deliver, who only gave the current vintage new colors. But also that can? in this world of just the right measure and with the well-known qualities of the mill ?? be just right to put your opponents in their place.
So, gentlemen, start your engines! A process that, in its grandeur, is far above the casual pressure on the button with which the four-cylinder conspecifics start their work. It lives, it trembles, is a little miracle every time, makes you humble. Ducati in particular celebrates this act, lets the starter run around as if in a trance, bracing it against enormous resistance, sometimes even garnishing the whole thing with a moment of thought in which nothing happens, giving the pilot hope every time anew the miracle happens again. The Honda, on the other hand, is completely Honda. Tremors, lives a lot more naturally, right away and almost always without a choke, which was therefore able to wander into the periphery of the left panel, while the Aprilia awakening quickly degenerates from relaxed bolling to hectic stakato without the regulating hand on the left end of the handlebar. But only until the next traffic light. Then everyone runs smoothly. Calm before the storm, just short bursts of gas that send pleasant showers down your spine. V2 enjoyment in its almost most beautiful way.
But also in an unknown, at least as far as the Ducati rider is concerned. Because the Testastretta engine, especially in its S version (see box on page 39), has abandoned the mechanical present of bygone days in favor of a smooth running that is second to none. A V2 never turned up so spontaneously, so smoothly and willingly. Even the exemplary Honda drive has to line up at the rear, while the rustic rumble of the Aprilia is legend, especially in the lower speed range.
And dry run, because the city gorges are not the territory of the large two-cylinder. Above all, Aprilia and Ducati echo the joy of stop-and-go in town, but in very different ways. The Aprilia punishes its driver below 3000 rpm by reluctant clatter, but offers a reasonably tolerable seating position. The exact opposite with the Ducati: If the engine plays along properly even at a slow pace, it packs all the weight in the world onto your wrists to compensate. As a result, both pilots strive straight for the exit of the town, while the Honda remains true to the brand philosophy and is open to urban sightseeing. Compact, but much more relaxed, the seating position with the handlebars mounted relatively high, the motor’s powerhouse easy to handle. This is how you gain sympathy in everyday life.
Nevertheless, the same thing remains: The ideal area for these ideal proportions can be found far out, in sparsely populated, but generously paved areas. Areas such as the Spanish hinterland, where the sun shines even in winter. And where the proverbial idle gas nozzle has a break, but modern maps can show what is in them. Not in terms of top performance. That’ll come later, on the racetrack. Power delivery and responsiveness are the values that matter. To the chagrin of the Aprilia driver, because his subset is overtaken by the competitors in both disciplines. Not because RSV mille is really bad, but because Ducati and Honda are so good. While the Aprilia hits the gas with a hard blow and allows itself a pronounced breather in the area between 5000 and 7000 rpm that is popular on country roads, her Italian colleague is in top form in these disciplines. With the silky smooth use of gas and minimal play in the drive train, this 998 S degrades load changes to the most insignificant minor matter in the world, reacts finely to every twitch of the throttle hand, no matter how small, and offers a pronounced power and torque plateau, especially in the middle speed range, which one almost incidentally sells into another Speed regions catapulted, in short ?? puts the strengths of the V2 in a light in which it has never been illuminated before.
An impression that is reinforced because the Honda V2 is hardly inferior to that of the Ducati. A little more earthy, but just as spontaneous as it is gentle, the power is deployed, pushing the Honda out of the corners with full thrust and then on, further, further. Stop. The Ducati doesn’t quite have enough revving, because what kind of fireworks it burns beyond 9000 rpm is almost unbelievable. Nonetheless: If this famous noble Testastretta didn’t exist, the Honda drive would be the measure of the two-cylinder things. Even if, due to the huge throttle valve diameter in the middle speed range, according to the test bench curve, it also takes it a little easier. This is reflected in the pull from 100 to 140 km / h, but in driving operation it is ?? in contrast to the Aprilia ?? nothing to feel.
Which is not to say that the Mille is poorly motorized on the country road. 120 HP is always a word, 93 Newton meters are sufficient anytime and anywhere. If necessary, push forward mercilessly. And the lack of smoothness in the speed cellar is forgotten beyond 6500 rpm. Then ?? measured against actual needs ?? Fire under the roof, until the programmable shift light reminds you to change gear at 9200 rpm. What can the Rotax-Twin do for it, that others are even stronger, the Mille, especially in pulling through (the 998 S also in terms of acceleration), where the hammer hangs?
One reason not to grieve for long is the chassis-side qualities with which the Mille spoils. Although it is not quite as handy in slow corners as the VTR, which benefits above all from its more compact seating position, it is more willing to do fast turns. And even if it is not as stable and precise as the 998 S in those curves, it trumps it by worlds in handling at Winkelwerk. This is called a good compromise, which continues in the coordination of the spring elements. They do not offer the razor-sharp feedback that a 998 S with its very finely appealing, but very tightly matched components from Showa (fork) and Ohlins (shock absorber) delivers, but they also do not pass on gross distortions so relentlessly into the extended back. The Mille fork is more resistant to braking maneuvers than the VTR component, which plunges deep into the ground and uses up its remaining spring travel on bumps and absorbs short, hard shocks more effectively on the hindquarters. And the Aprilia brakes, as does the Ducati (the Brembo calipers with the four individual pads are identical) so brutally that sometimes the desire for the somewhat milder Nissin system of the SP-2 arises. It has the most informative cockpit in the field, offers clearly the best wind protection and a possible pillion for short trips a reasonably acceptable place, has good light, but uses too much fuel.
So, that’s enough. Or does anyone want to know that the windshield on the Honda is not bad either, it has even better light, the Ducati windshield cannot even spell it, and that it consumes terribly little gasoline? Not really, right? Everyone scratches their hooves, the Calafat race tracks are just around the corner. So it is a good thing that Reinhard Sucher from Michelin is currently doing his annual race training and has brand new Pilot Race 2 in his luggage. Even better, the ex-GP star Jurgen Fuchs is part of the team to ensure adequate lap times. So, quickly reassembled the skins? whereby the Ducati gets a 180 instead of the extra-wide 190 on its 5.5-inch rim ?? and let’s go.
First is the Honda hunting for times? and immediately struggles at the second corner with a cardinal problem that was already indicated on the highway. A U-turn, the braking zone peppered with bumps, the famous Nissin tongs bite to ?? and the fork dips down to the stop, the front wheel stamps. Despite the race track set-up (see box on page 39). A problem that reappears at other points on the tricky course and forces you to brake relatively early. Instead, the SP-2 has removed another problem from the previous model. The tendency to tip over into the bends and then make unexpectedly large turns is a thing of the past. The Honda shoots precisely around the course in low flight, does not accelerate as silky smooth as the Ducati, but brings its bull power cleanly to the asphalt, because the shock absorber does not respond very well to hard bumps, but has plenty of cushioning reserves. So it’s just the front that spoils the fun a little. Not only when braking, but also with their flexibility when the load changes. Just sags. A little more fork oil and thus a smaller air cushion would certainly help. Just like a steering damper. Not a big issue on the country road, the VTR twitches its handlebars vigorously on the undulating course, which is particularly uncomfortable because the driver has little grip on the smooth and sweeping seat and in the brute acceleration phases is more likely to hang on the handlebars than to put pressure on the front wheel can. The result in numbers: 1.34.1 min.
So, now it’s true: The Ducati should show what this time is worth, and everyone is actually betting on it. Even if the tricky angular work behind the paddock doesn’t exactly meet the stubborn 998 S. And actually: right, left, right, left ?? this passage demands a lot of effort on the red one and very conscious weight shifting. But the rest is pure joy. Before every bend, the Brembo bend are allowed to bite properly, because the fork springs and dampens precisely under all circumstances. Then with a lot of momentum and feeling for the front wheel into the corner and thanks to the sturdy rear end and the gentle and powerful motor, out again. That fits, especially since the unrest in the front end is nipped in the bud by the fine, adjustable Ohlins steering damper, the driver puts a lot of weight on the front wheel and can enjoy the brilliant thrust again and again. Broooom ?? and Jurgen crashes past again. The clock stops at 1.33.5 min.
A high hurdle for the Aprilia. With a whopping 17 hp less! But first, the RSV mille is struggling with another problem. The hard and imprecise throttle response makes metering difficult at the apex of the bend, causes unrest in the chassis, irritates the driver, as does a pumping shock absorber in the acceleration phase. More cushioning would be needed. That arises ?? like on the country road? the Aprilia compromise of handiness and stability as ideal for this course. With little effort through the chicanes, arousing confidence in the braking zones and the fast links before the home straight. That fits ?? even if the current Mille also clearly twitches its handlebars at this point due to the lack of steering damper. In addition, a very precise gearshift box that allows precise and quick gear changes ?? the performance deficit is quickly forgotten. Until you look at the stopwatch. 1.34.42. Fast, super fast ?? per se. But it’s slower than the other two.
S.Oh, that was it. Pack up, go home. Review what you have experienced. Thinking about numbers, times, ideal measures. About this Ducati, which is damn close, also damn expensive at 20,100 euros. About this Honda, also extremely strong, significantly improved on the chassis side and of high suitability for everyday use. However, not a bargain at 14,590 euros. About the Aprilia, which cannot quite keep up with the engine, but shines with its balance and performs well in everyday life and on the slopes. And with 12,599 euros straight away as a special offer. There are still thoughts about your own account balance. Because when you look at the last extract, ideal dimensions can suddenly regain their very meaning. Dimensions that many can only dream of
Comparative test of V2 athletes
90 ?? 60-90
Still in trend
V2 dominated the Superbike World Championship for almost a decade. Brilliant drivability due to the wide usable speed range, the linear power development, the favorable power-to-weight ratio. And now MotoGP? and no space for the two-cylinder. All manufacturers have opted for three, four or five-cylinder engines. Even Ducati. Because two cylinders are simply not enough to generate power beyond 200 hp. But it is also clear: only a few exceptional talents can move these rockets properly. The normal racing driver is overwhelmed. The same will apply to the civilian offshoots. 170 HP or more HP in series are then easy to imagine, but difficult to move. Nevertheless, will they get the last bit of courage and money out of today’s R1, GSX-R 1000 and Fireblade pilots? but don’t drive faster, which is exactly why I’m sure: The sporty V2 are still very much in vogue! Because what has long been true of the Superbike World Championship is still valid on the road or during race training. Honda reacts to this market with the greatly improved SP-2, Ducati has brought the V2 in the 998 S to unprecedented strength and maturity. And Aprilia is also right with the concept, but would have to devote some fine-tuning to the engine given the strength of the competition. Whether it should be the Ducati 998 S, which transports the spirit of the racetrack one-to-one onto the road, or the Aprilia RSV mille, a real all-rounder and the value-for-money genius in the class, or the extremely strong and yet compromising Honda VTR 1000 SP-2, which is superior to its predecessor in all respects, remains a matter of taste. It is clear that you will make a good choice with each of the three.
The 2nd generation
Michelin Pilot Race ?? For years it has been a fixture at all popular sports events in the world. Special distinguishing feature: great grip in all positions. But the competition didn’t sleep, moved to ?? and sometimes even over. The problem of the pilot race: difficult cold running properties and a very narrow border area between good grip and good take-off. Michelin worked on that. With success. The Pilot Race 2 (available in S, M and H mix, soon also street legal) impressed with very fine handling, a lot of grip in maximum lean angles, a better feel for the front wheel ?? and a much more good-natured borderline behavior. When the tire is hot! Caution is still required in the first one or two laps. After that, the Pilot Race builds up incredible grip, only to stabilize after another three to four laps on a slightly lower, but still very high level.
The pure luxury?
Ducati 998 and 998 S: Can only be distinguished by the lettering, the red-painted mirrors on the S version and the carbon fiber fairing pan. And ?? for connoisseurs ?? on the brake system, because the S decelerates with four individual pads per brake calliper, the brake discs are thinner. Tea really important differences lie under the fairing: While the engine from last year’s 996 R is used in the Sport 998, a civilian version is used in the cheaper sister. In numbers: 124 to 137 HP (MOTORCYCLE measurements). It is clear that this increase in performance cannot be achieved through small official channels. Sharper control times thanks to different camshafts, less flywheel, titanium connecting rods, modified ignition map, larger manifold cross-section (50 instead of 45 millimeters), engine housing made of sand casting ?? a lot comes together. With the chassis, however, everything stayed the same, and these differences can be experienced very well. The 998 S brakes far better than its little sister, and the engine is in a class of its own. Go ?? although the normal 998 is a significant improvement over the 996 ?? More snappy in all speed ranges and can hardly be topped in terms of smoothness. An experience in itself! Everyone can decide for themselves whether these properties and the slightly lower weight (in the Biposto version, i.e. four kilograms with a steel frame rear) are worth the additional price of 4100 euros. For orientation: In Calafat the 998 achieved a lap time of 1.34.17 minutes on the same tires.
1st place – Honda VTR 1000 SP-2
It has developed hard, the sports VTR. Not in terms of the engine, because it has always been great. But in terms of chassis. Handy, accurate, simply good. In intensified sports use and especially on country roads, where the VTR 1000 SP-2 also offers the most comfortable seating position. Then there is the convincing engine characteristics. Together a convincing offer even in the lowlands of everyday motorcycle life. Only the fork set-up deserved more attention. So let’s look forward to the SP-3.
2nd place – Aprilia RSV mille
How times change. The Mille was able to iron out the Honda competition properly last year, but now it has to admit defeat, albeit very close. Because the SP-2 caught up in terms of chassis, but the RSV didn’t get better in terms of engines. The Aprilia already leaves plenty of points in the drive chapter against the powerful Ducati and Honda. Nevertheless: In the sum of its properties, the Mille is a very good motorcycle? and a very fascinating one at that.
3rd place – Ducati 998 S.
And the same old story: The Ducati is really great ?? and still lose! Not quite. Because the extremist from Bologna has probably never been so close to the compromise-ready competition. The engine is a poem, the brakes top notch, the chassis at least as high as the price. Hold, stop: there it is again, the bean counting. It should now be a hymn of praise. But that’s just how we are. And that’s how we will stay. Hopelessly sensitive.
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