Comparative test touring athletes with ABS

Comparative test touring athletes with ABS

Absolute beginners

Ducati presents a sporty anti-lock braking system. Blessing or sacrilege? A comparison of the brand new ST 4 S ABS with the tried and tested touring aces BMW R 1100 S and Honda VFR ABS provides the answer.

They want to taste the sweet scent of freedom while biking carefree, enjoy control over technology. Romp around the home track, attend a race training session and travel to sunny climes with your better half. No problem, what are touring athletes for. Can you do anything and much more? even stop safely with the anti-lock braking system.
Like the Ducati ST 4 S ABS. Beguilingly roaring Desmo-Twin plus fully adjustable chassis in a travel-friendly atmosphere. With the racy Italian, the fully adjustable upside-down fork from Showa is accompanied by an elaborate Ohlins shock absorber that can be adjusted completely without tools, the suspension base even while driving if necessary. In contrast to the push rod of the lever deflection, which requires tools to be adjusted. It is worth playing around with the set-up, as the Ducati can be trimmed over a wide area. Raised a tad at the back, the ST 4 S peppers around curves of all kinds at lightning speed, without missing out on target accuracy. Weird birds are only warned late about touching down parts. Wobbly? Minimal, but the sports cannon with Michelin Pilot Sport tires passes fast changing curves both willingly and calmly. In contrast to earlier test copies, the fork is extremely sensitive, and ample damping reserves are a matter of honor anyway. It looks similarly nice at the rear, only the compression damping could use a few clicks of reserve.
The famous braking system also offers reserves, for an extra 1000 euros with ABS. However, this occurs very late on. Before that, the pilot can almost brake his eyes out of his sockets thanks to sintered metal linings and pressure-resistant lines. A clearly defined pressure point and a brutal effect at the front – it stops more slowly at the back – make the ST 4 a queen of braking zones.
When accelerating out, however, the handling-enhancing lifting of the rear takes its toll in the form of slight nervousness – up to and including the start of handlebar bumps. It doesn’t come to extremes, but the Italian always seems to be lurking to frighten her pilot with a big shrug. Regardless of whether you are accelerating jaggedly on an uneven country road or driving through steps on the highway? That is not an imperturbable straight line. The ST 4 S itself proves this with its rear lowered? and in return it loses its agility. It’s all a matter of attitude.
Honda’s VFR runs according to the motto: sit on it, drive off. Stop, the fork offers an adjustable spring base, as does the spring strut, on which the rebound stage damping is also variable. Overall, however, the setting range is less than that of the Duc. But who cares? The VFR plays its role as a handy, comfortable partner for almost the entire touring repertoire in a very convincing manner. Your territory already begins at the start, extends over the city to smoothly developed country roads. There it swings in a wonderfully balanced way and tempts even the less versed to move quickly. Which also likes to extend onto the motorway? Top speed with full cover almost two fifty. Always safely braked thanks to the Dual-CBS composite brake, for an extra 1000 euros with ABS. Fine control of the compound brake and the same level of controllability are fun? both with gentle braking and with full stop.
Only when an extremely sporty driving style is on the agenda, the damping should be crisper and the feedback more transparent. It also gets a little more difficult in tricky hairpin bends and narrow passages with an alpine character. Here several peculiarities of the VFR combine to form an unrelenting alliance: The low-torque 782 cm3 V4 in direct comparison to the larger-displacement competitors requires speed for rapid progress, which in turn leads to inharmonious use of the V-Tec system, which at around 7000 Tours switched from two to four valve operation. – Depending on the situation and position of the throttle grip, this happens smoothly or jerkily. The second problem is the noticeable load changes: They can be filtered out in tight bends with sensitive use of the footbrake, but the braking front wheel influences the line taken. Something similar threatens when braking hard with simultaneous downshifts: Here the rear wheel stamps. Not tragic, but at least takes some getting used to. Ergo: Driving in unknown, tricky terrain requires concentration, everything else is pure pleasure with the VFR.
Joy ?? Munich’s sports badge bearer, the R 1100 S, gives her driver this even on bad roads. The Telelever front with the spring strut that can be adjusted in the rebound stage using a wheel eats up practically everything that the paved road network has to offer. Slap the handlebars? Never heard. Forehand submergence when braking? A little to offer the pilot the usual feedback when he savored the possibilities of the surcharge (1040 euros) partially integral brake with ABS. The system, equipped with an electric brake booster, does its job splendidly, decelerates vehemently without much manual effort, even fully loaded. However, their sudden gripping with gentle adaptive braking requires getting used to. Likewise, the peculiarity of opening up bends littered with bends with undaunted braking and leaving man and machine unbraked for a moment. Unfortunately, the hindquarters, with a cardan single-sided swingarm and paralever, stumble a little awkwardly over short heels, and hectic gas-to-gas-to-close causes unrest. But if you have the game with the boxer and cardan reactions out of the way, you can let the almost five hundred pound cow, soled with Bridgestone BT 56/57, fly in a refreshing manner.
Cow, udder, top hat – there was something. Exactly, with a measured 99 hp boxer, not only nominally the strongest boxer, never really knows whether he would rather pull down or turn up. In any case, it vibrates. From bottom to top – with varying intensity. Whereby "above" is to be defined differently than for the competition that is present. While Honda’s VFR is willingly screwing its way into five-digit positions, the 1085 cm3 four-valve engine would already keep Engel Aloisius company, with him at 8500 rpm is scythe. Ducati’s four-valve lighter is located somewhere between Bavaria and Japan. And how! Tea domesticated Ex-996 engine still rumbles a bit gruffly under 2500 tours, only to tackle it all the more lively and to start burning with great pressure. Quite clear: The Desmo deer awakens sporty ambitions, especially from the top, with a dull roar.
Somehow you wait in vain for that with the Honda V4. Sure, the high-tech unit is not really weak, but below 7000 rpm it does not really come into its own. And the four-valve insert beyond the 7000 mark, accompanied by a rattling noise? Funny, yes, but kind of pubescent. Our wish: the full liter displacement and away with the V-Tec. With which the eleven hundred boxer would have rehabilitated himself. Because he can torque, even if according to the test bench curve no better than the Duc. And the white-blue ones have character anyway. Plus the associated beer rest because of the cold-blooded performance distribution.
On the other hand, even the most agile want to shake out their lower extremities every now and then, because they are badly folded in the firm Bavarian woman because of the high footrests. Honda and Ducati are more comfortable thanks to their more homogeneous posture. The wind protection puts it into perspective again, with a clear advantage for the Honda. As with the light: The projection low beam headlights of the R 1100 S and ST 4 appear almost scintillating against the Nippon floodlights, as do the high beam. Otherwise, all three readily meet touring demands: from complete cockpits including fuel gauge (Ducati and Honda) to an extensive range of accessories, such as the case system and heated grips (BMW) to the passenger comfort that the three offer, albeit differently. Ducati passengers can inhale a huge portion of Desmo fun without having to painfully sort their bones after the trip, Honda companions simply travel comfortably, while the rear of the sporty BMW is downright comfortable.
There are also differences in exhaust gas cleaning: BMW and Honda filter with a G-Kat, Ducati only with a U-Kat, but still complies with Euro2. And the expectations of very sporty touring riders, after all, the ST 4 S does not hide its attitude despite the ABS safety net. Even cast-iron Ducatisti can therefore safely use the S.T 4 S to ogle ABS ?? she remains a real Ducati. Red, fast, exciting and always a bit sportier than the competition from BMW and Honda. Which in turn counter with balance, respectively character and comfort.

Comparative test touring athletes with ABS

Absolute beginners

Delay in road ledges

The BMW takes a protruding parting line or a bridge landing with complete deceleration. Even with maximum deceleration, the Telelever still has enough spring travel reserves. With the Ducati, the regulation reacts more slowly, the front wheel locks almost completely. That of the Honda briefly reaches about 60 percent slip.

ABS comparison – pulse generator

With an ABS for sports riders, Ducati is setting new accents in the importance of the safety feature for two-wheelers. How can it hold its own against the established systems?

When it comes to the right to exist for anti-lock braking systems, everyone, from the manufacturer to the customer, is stubbornly fighting for the pros and cons. It has been proven that technology is vastly superior to humans in many situations. The lightning-fast car swerving on the motorway, the child unexpectedly appearing behind a parked car, wet bitumen just in the braking zone not only require the last bit of braking distance, but also absolute driving stability when panic braking. A fall can only be avoided if the ABS prevents the front or rear wheel from locking. So there are many examples that cannot all be understood, but standard situations in the MOTORRAD test offer good comparison options, such as emergency braking on dry and wet roads. Likewise, the jump in the coefficient of friction that simulates the famous oil stain. Or the shoulder of the road, which can bring the bike to a standstill in a flash. The different systems had to master these tasks: the BMW R 1100 S with partially integral brake system, brake booster and ABS, the Honda VFR with composite brake and anti-lock braking system and the Ducati ST 4 S with conventional brake actuation and now also ABS. Even the deceleration on dry roads shows the different philosophies. With both brakes, the BMW achieves excellent values. The ABS intervenes sporadically, but clearly noticeably. Delayed only with the hand lever that actuates the front and rear brakes (page 58) is at a similarly high level. With the foot brake, i.e. only with the rear stopper, the stopping distance is then more than twice as long. The Honda VFR, on the other hand, behaves inconspicuously, it regulates almost periodically during the entire braking process and gives an extremely safe feeling. However, it takes two meters more to come to a standstill. The explanation: In order to avoid the rear wheel lifting off, the Honda technicians cut off the last bit of delay. Amazingly exactly reproducible, the Honda decelerates time and time again with 9.3 m / s². Is only the hand lever operated? he also activates all the brakes ??, the VFR stops another two meters later. With the foot brake alone, it clearly stands out from the competition at 47.6 meters due to its composite brake, which also operates the forehead stop. To do this, however, the driver has to literally put himself on the brake pedal. In contrast to Honda, the Ducati technicians go all out and make full use of the power reserve. However, depending on the coefficient of friction between road and tire, this design leads to very indifferent behavior. At outside temperatures of just five degrees Celsius, even a tire that warms up slowly produces completely different results. At first the ABS worked hard, the Ducati stopped after around 40 meters. If there is little grip, roughly regulating it, which is expressed by hard impulses in the hand and foot lever, the braking distance decreases steadily as the tire temperature rises. Until the tire grip increases so much that the ABS no longer intervenes. The driver determines the stopping distance by walking the tightrope at the rollover? for the Bremsprofi, it’s a sensational 37.7 meters. The Ducati only falls with the front brake? it then comes more often into the control range ?? clearly. Braked at the front and rear on a wet road, all three machines achieve almost the same results (around 41 meters) ?? again in very different ways. The BMW is even more noticeable through irregular ABS interventions. The Honda behaves as inconspicuously as in the dry and gives the safest feeling, while the Ducati repeatedly plays rodeo with the rear wheel lifted off, even on wet asphalt, with violent rule attacks from tough grabs to completely opening the brakes. The jump in the coefficient of friction (page 57) is simulated by a watered color patch that is exactly reproducible for all measurements and has a coefficient of friction similar to that of wet cobblestones. MOTORRAD tracks the quality of the ABS control with a speed sensor on the front wheel. With the BMW and the Honda, the front wheel slips quickly, but quickly reaches the stabilizing wheel speed again. The Ducati is different: the wheel locks almost completely and takes almost twice as long to reach full speed again. In several, successive attempts, even the ingenious system of the Honda lifts the rear wheel and even more so the BMW after the color patch. The Ducati is so extreme that the pilot has to reduce the brake pressure in a flash to prevent the rollover. Another picture is provided by the final discipline, driving over a bridge or a concrete joint with full deceleration (page 57). The BMW is almost unimpressed by the obstacle. From the test run, however, it is known that the R 1100 S can be startled by suddenly and unexpectedly long opening of the brakes on pronounced bumps. When driving over a joint, the Honda reacts more strongly to fluctuations in the wheel load. The front wheel of the Ducati comes to a standstill again and takes longer to roll again at vehicle speed. In the sum of their properties, the established systems from BMW and above all from Honda can claim a clear development lead in terms of control behavior. Especially when it comes to rollover, BMW, but especially Ducati, should come up with something quickly. For normal petrol drivers, with a lightning-fast, full grip on the brakes, driving stability must enjoy absolute priority over the last bit of braking distance. Nonetheless, the Ducati ABS is a welcome addition that may finally pave the way for ABS into the supersport motorcycle camp.

1st place – Honda VFR-ABS

The maximum of points. Why? Clearly, you immediately feel at home at the VFR and despite the occasional indecisive V-Tec, Honda’s V4 touring athlete is a polished partner on almost every floor. Agile handling and high comfort make you want to travel long and short. In addition, there is the inconspicuous, effective ABS. However, we have one wish: Please fill the liter capacity. So that the VFR really gets going downstairs.

2nd place – BMW R 1100 S

The sports boxer charms? slightly modified – the spectator in the GP supporting program is good enough for hair-raising duels on the verge of driving physics. It hums just as well every day on the house route and carries the driver and passenger plus suitcases on annual vacation. Preferably over the back of the road, because that’s where his chassis talents come into their own. Except for the somewhat harsh braking system and the engine vibrations, the S is literally a touring athlete.

Dry road delay

BMW’s ABS intervenes sporadically on dry roads and ensures high deceleration. With the Ducati, the ABS regulates either not at all or rather strongly and irregularly, depending on the frictional connection between the tire and the road surface, and the wheel keeps slipping a lot. With the Honda, stronger slip occurs at the beginning of the braking, then periodic regulation limits the maximum deceleration.

3rd place – Ducati ST 4 S ABS

Ducati has managed to give the ST 4 S the right ABS: crisp, sporty, strict ?? and not quite perfect. Fans of the disguised athlete can therefore continue to burn around in spite of the emergency parachute brakes, balance on the last groove and enjoy the unadulterated, honest character. Especially since the stoppers bite harder than before and the chassis hardly shows any weakness. Just like the engine, which, however, demands indulgence in the lower rev range.

Delay jump in the friction coefficient

When driving over a circular area with an extremely low coefficient of friction, the front wheel of the BMW slips around 60 percent, but the ABS quickly releases the brake. The Ducati control is less sensitive, the front wheel almost comes to a standstill and needs more time to get back up to speed. The control of the Honda reacts similarly to that of the BMW ABS.

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