Comparison test between Kawasaki ZX-9R and Suzuki TL 1000 R


Comparison test between Kawasaki ZX-9R and Suzuki TL 1000 R

How you take it

Finally: the Suzuki TL 1000 R wants to make V-Twin fascination affordable. Two or four cylinders? A matter of taste or belief?

Questions almost as old as the history of the motorcycle: do two or four cylinders make the biker happy, and how many pots does it take for sporting triumph? Questions for which new answers grow with the appearance of the new TL 1000 R. This had disappointed a little in the individual test (MOTORRAD 12/98), but as is well known, it is the comparison that brings the final clarity.
The unconventionally styled R ?? Alias ​​coati ?? takes to the field against a four-cylinder machine that has already proven its sporting potential in several MOTORRAD tests and most recently won praise in the super test as the queen of the racetrack: the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-9R. This shines not only with super sporty key data and low weight, but it also knows how to please with everyday qualities such as the moderate seating position for a super athlete.
So where are the differences, where are the advantages and disadvantages of the competitors? First of all, of course, in the different engine concepts: On the one hand, the eye-catching V-Twin of the Suzuki, slightly modified from the TL 1000 S predecessor, but much more revving. On the other hand, there is the conventional but cleverly thought-out row quad of the ZX-9R.
The advertising strategists hold back little: The Suzuki should be equipped for superbike triumphs, they claim. Therefore, the twin is now more compressed, the timing is tightened. Heat-treated connecting rods and forged slipper pistons take into account the increased speed level of the 90-degree V-Twin. Incidentally, this is nowhere near as high as the rev counter would lead you to believe: the red area from 11000 rpm only corresponds to a real 9700 rpm. The engine peripherals have also been heavily revised: the air box that has grown in size now draws dynamic pressure via two intake snorkels protruding from the side of the cladding, depending on the speed. The mixture preparation has probably caused a lot of headache. The problem was with the injection system of the TL 1000 S, where excessive enrichment in the lower speed range led to oil dilution and poor running behavior in the partial load range. With the new one, two independently controlled, better coordinated injection nozzles per intake port and a sophisticated ignition map are supposed to ensure perfect mixture formation and combustion in all speed ranges.
The effort was worth it: The twin, trumpeting with a fantastic two-cylinder thud, not only consumes astonishingly little fuel, MOTORRAD was also unable to detect any oil dilution over more than 4000 test kilometers, even with the most provocative driving style. Fine. Less great that the TL 1000 R is below 3500 rpm ?? an area that provides enough power for a sonorous rumbling stroll? with constant speed jolts, even annoying with rough dropouts at around 2500 rpm, sometimes as if the Suzuki was hacking around on the kill switch for fun. It still takes some cultivation. Great, again, that the Twin has become a real elk and with its performance curve surpasses the predecessor TL 1000 S in every situation, in order to add a fat peak in the upper speed range. 132 horses, even a 916 SPS looks old.
But not a ZX-9R. Really, the power of the robust in-line four-cylinder always knows how to surprise, sometimes even to frighten. The ninja uses even the shortest straights for catapult-like acceleration and breathtaking top speed. A bit of a shame, but actually also nice that the short-stroke vibrates robustly. It is uncomfortable, however, that it bites a bit brutally when transitioning from thrust to pull.
Speaking of speed, speaking of concepts. It is well known that speed is not only generated with raw power, but also with sophisticated aerodynamics. A narrow V-Twin should actually have it easier than a transversely installed in-line quad. The TL 1000 R remains far removed from the sleek silhouette of a Duc. Compared to the slim Kawa, she looks downright obese. In fact, it is not really slow at 258 km / h, but the performance could have been expected more. The Kawa even seems to be more streamlined, because mathematically, the increase in performance is not enough for the clear speed advantage. Suzuki has obviously forfeited a conceptual advantage. Nevertheless, the performance of both is of course not off the shelf. It is difficult to convert the Kawasaki’s speed advantage into a head start on public roads, the traffic density is simply too high for that. What is more noticeable is the clearly noticeable lead of the green force during intermediate sprints or acceleration festivals, where the desperately booming TL 1000 R always shows the rear of the vehicle in a bold and confident manner.
And the key question? What about the programmatically announced sportiness of the Suzuki? At least in terms of the seating position, the TL driver feels more sporty. Bent over, the handlebars almost at the level of the seat bench, with high, far set back footrests ?? very gathered the whole. With so much acrobatics, the driver is happy to accept the limited wind protection. The Kawasaki offers more comfortable seating, even if the bench reflects the somewhat unpolished character of the Greens. Nevertheless, a clear advantage in everyday life and actually no restriction in sports. On the contrary, the ninja can be directed precisely via the high stub, because its wheel load distribution guarantees enough pressure on the front wheel. You can change direction with the sharpness of a razor, and the powerhouse remains handy even at high speeds, jumping greedily from corner to corner. Only the Bridgestone series tires put a stop to too pronounced dynamics, which unfortunately turn in a bit nervous and imprecise and, compared to the Metzeler ME Z3A Racing from Suzuki, stick much worse.
As an experiment, MOTORRAD also put the Kawasaki on the Munich tires, which turned out to be not at all easy. First of all, a set of ME Z 3B Racing was delivered, which did not want to stick at all and caused significant unrest in the otherwise stable ninja chassis. The Suzuki Racing A mixture had already caused displeasure in the individual test. Finally, in the tire confusion, they agreed on two sets of ME Z 3 Racing without A, without B and without any other special confusion specifications. Surprise: The tires that are not homologated by the manufacturers harmonize much better with both chassis.
Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that the very comfortably tuned Suzuki cannot hold a candle to the ZX-9R with the same soles. Again, the TL disappoints with spongy spring elements, especially a soft, sprung fork that plunges away quickly and which apparently converts every compression into a steering movement. The result is constant unrest around the steering axis. And the TL is not particularly handy with the normal Metzeler Racing either. After all, it has advantages exactly where you would least expect it: the TL 1000 R is very soft and comfortable. It literally glides over bumpy country roads, where the stiff ZX-9R paints the road in Braille on the driver’s backside. Thanks to the comfortable basic set-up, the TL 1000 R quickly reaches its limits.
In terms of the basic data, both chassis are similar: caster and steering head angle are the same, the wheelbase on the Suzuki is just one centimeter shorter. More significant are the wide rear wheel slippers of the TL 1000 R and above all the inglorious rear-heavy weight distribution, which in the case of the TL 1000 R is still quite overweight.
NOh, as before, in the dark, the advantages of the separate suspension and damping of the rear wheel remain. Not only that, instead of the spring, a very normal shock absorber with piston damper would have fit into the Suzuki. The vane damper gets extremely hot even when driving on country roads, and the harmony between the spring and damper characteristics probably only exists on paper. It goes without saying that the front and rear wheel suspension can only work together with great effort and contribute to the eternal couching movements. This tendency becomes stronger the harder the pilot takes the TL. On the other hand, the R knows how to please when it comes to leisurely, brisk country road travel. Amazing, amazing, the supposedly so sporty Suzuki turns out to be a good honest man who really drives the moderately sporty conception of the Kawasaki. After all, when braking, the TL 1000 R is convincing, not as snappy as the Kawa, but still brutal and easy to control. It really depends on how you take them.

Tried out

The motorcycle manufacturers do not always show a lucky hand when it comes to tire approvals, as is the case with the Suzuki TL 1000 R: none of the MOTORRAD testers could do this with the ME Z3 A first tires developed especially for the R (A stands for a so-called pale-liner carcass) befriend quite. The Suzuki drove much better with the non-homologated ME Z3 Racing. It has the same rubber compound as the A specification, only differs in the carcass: it has a nylon carcass. Approval of this tire by Suzuki would be very desirable, because Suzuki currently only allows one alternative: The Dunlop Sportmax D207. MOTORRAD also moved these tires to the TL 1000 R. Result: With the Japanese tires, the Suzuki has become somewhat more manageable, but without earning the title of “handling artist”. When it comes to grip on fast country roads, the D207 belongs to the upper class. What is annoying is the tendency to slight shimmy between 80 and 100 km / h, both when cold and when warm. At top speed on the autobahn, the TL 1000 R is slightly more nervous with the Dunlops than with the stable Metzeler ME Z3 Racing.

Conclusion Kawasaki

The empire strikes back: The ZX-9R wipes the half-hearted attack of the TL 1000 R off the table with majestic ease. The Kawasaki knows how to convince not only functionally, but also with a good dash of character, which, however, arises from its somewhat rude behavior. It is sportier, handier and, on top of that, more comfortable. The alleged conceptual advantages of the Suzuki only wrest a mild smile from her.

Conclusion Suzuki

Well, the advertising strategists have promised a bit too much. Like its predecessor, the TL 1000 R suffers from small ailments, the cause of which is probably the exotic rear wheel suspension with an external rotary damper. In addition, it was only half-hearted to use the advantages of the V-twin concept. The Suzuki surprises with enormous comfort in everyday use, where it also pleases with the power and character of its beefy engine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *