Comparison test Ducati 900 SS against Honda VTR 1000 against Laverda 750 S Formula

Comparison test Ducati 900 SS against Honda VTR 1000 against Laverda 750 S Formula

Who dares, who twint

Brand new and already in the large comparison test. The Ducati 900 SS faces the Japanese challenger Honda VTR 1000 and the exotic Laverda 750 S Formula under the motto: Two cylinders are really enough

Miracles happen. And sometimes just when you really need them, because time was of the essence for this two-cylinder comparison test. Not only Ducatisti want to know what the new 900 SS is good for. But the first Desmos were just finished at the Bologna plant. Will the promised test motorcycle come over the Brenner on time? A phone call in Italy. Careful follow-up. "No problemo", says the new managing director of Ducati Germany, Umberto Uchelli. And indeed, the papers and the ignition key are on the desk in Stuttgart on time.
As if that weren’t enough, the weather gods also understand and let the sun shine. Two tough competitors are already lurking for the Ducati: Last year, the Honda VTR 1000 (comparative test, issue 7/1997) was no less than the Suzuki TL 1000 S. The VTR, a sporty country road sweeper par excellence that offers a lot of performance at an affordable price. And with the special model 750 S Formula Laverda finally wants to prove that the legendary Italian brand can seriously be reckoned with again.
Their first test (issue 10/1998) turned out to be mixed. A delicate, exclusive water-cooled parallel twin, this formula, built by Laverda with great attention to detail? on the one hand. On the other hand, the motorcycle suffered from set-up problems and an unusually large thirst for petrol. The German importer P.G.O. promised a remedy and quickly made a new test copy available.
So, now butter with the fish. For all Ducatisti, those who want to become one? And to everyone who’s colleague Moni Schulz made their mouth watery with their first driving impressions: Yes, it’s true. Really a completely new motorcycle, the 900 SS, not just on the outside, even if the antiquated, spring-loaded side stand is still good for a moment of shock when parking.
This is how they are, the Italians: Just at the moment when many are already singing the swan song for the air-cooled Desmo engine, Ducati conjures up a new, "old" V-Twin, which the new electronic manifold injection breathes life into. The test machines lifted a healthy 85 hp. The Ducati is clearly outnumbered, because the Laverda bravely squeezes 94 Cavalli despite the displacement deficit. And the water-cooled Honda muscle man casually shakes their 111 out of his sleeve? and that with an unregulated category. Clean, clean.
But sheer top performance may stand out when playing quartet in the schoolyard, but not in real life, i.e. when driving these twins. In Formula One they would now be talking about the perfect overall package. They have put together something nice in Bologna. The 26 HP weaker Ducati hangs loosely on the rear wheel of the bearish Honda? and the Laverda falls further behind with every bend, regardless of which tester tries his hand at the petite motorcycle, wants to make friends with the very collected sitting posture and the handlebars positioned unusually far forward. Which is not due to the poor chassis. Oh no, the previously criticized upside-down fork from Paioli now responds very sensitively to uneven ground, and the Formula has the best brakes of the comparison.
The raucous, mechanically loud engine of the Laverda messes up the tour together. Behaves almost like a sophisticated two-stroke engine and still indulges in a little too much gasoline. Below 3000 rpm, not much happens apart from an incredibly robust shaking, tentatively noticeable propulsion only follows from 5000 turns. That leaves a narrow usable power range between 7000 and 9500 rpm. But then the rev limiter kicks in hard and relentlessly. The inexperienced Laverda driver gets to know it more often than he would like. The little motor is very capricious ?? Incidentally, this also applies to the starting behavior, regardless of whether it is hot or cold. The Laverda is definitely only for a magnanimous and sporty driver whose left foot tirelessly tries hard to shift the gearbox and who doesn’t mind the too long gearshifts and the gigantic turning circle of eight meters.
The high-torque Ducati drive is a lot easier on your strength and nerves. A lot of steam in the middle speed range from 3000 rpm, easily rushing to the next bend without shifting, is the motto. The revised V2 has a crisp, precise transmission and hangs wonderfully spontaneously on the gas. He never gives a tortured feeling, the typical V2 vibrations are more pleasant than annoying? and it has a bewitchingly beautiful sound. Sounds suspiciously like the legendary 916, that staccato that sounds under the tank. The new one clearly feels more like the Ducati flagship than the old 900 SS. The largest and tallest motorcycle by comparison, but also the lightest at 204 kilograms. Even drivers over 1.80 meters have to stretch powerfully over the elongated fuel tank to get to the well-cranked handlebar halves. This strange rubber knob on the tank, which Ducati says is supposed to "strengthen the unity between man and machine," steals valuable centimeters, but also protects the paintwork from scratches.
The Honda VTR 1000, on the other hand, looks almost delicate. If it weren’t for the inconveniently cranked handlebars and the too narrow seat, it would even advance to become the perfect sports tourer, not just among the Twins. It offers perfect knees on the narrow tank like no other in comparison. The Honda in general: It is still annoying with its somewhat too high consumption, the resulting ridiculously low range and with a new, smaller tank filler neck. Because of an additionally attached metal panel, filling up becomes a test of patience. But otherwise the Japanese amateur athlete is convincing almost all along the line. The chassis impresses with stable straight-line stability on the motorway and playful handling in fast changing bends. Narrow serpentine streets are also a preferred area of ​​the VTR. The only drawback: the fork bottomed out loudly when braking hard on bad roads. It has a strong character, the VTR. And a big heart. The powerful engine takes on gas in every speed range without complaint and runs very smoothly mechanically. Nonetheless, it doesn’t just whisper, it thuds happily to itself, accompanied by noticeable, but never annoying, vibrations. If you look behind the small, comparatively effective, but unfortunately annoying fairing with loud wind noises, the Honda will carry you up to over 240 km / h.
So the engine is the pound with which the Honda proliferates. In terms of chassis, however, the Ducati is slightly in front. There is no longer any trace of the predecessor’s powerfully wrenching hindquarters. Even on bumpy country roads, the sporty, tightly tuned Ducati behaves in an exemplary manner, not jumping after every bump. The 900 SS with its relatively narrow tires also drives more precisely and with noticeably less steering force than the rivals. The Italian light-footedness quickly disappears when the pace increases. Similar to the Ducati 916, the 900 SS also has to be pulled through alternating curves with a tight hand. Chassis expert Mini Koch suspects the long caster of 100 millimeters in connection with the relatively heavy three-spoke cast wheels to be the cause of the stubbornness at high speeds.
Probably the biggest surprise: The Ducati brakes. Without reaching into the expensive accessory shelf, but ex works. The revised Brembo system has a long-term delay and is easy to dose, but requires a little more manual force than the Laverda stoppers. The Honda reveals neither light nor shadow. Your Nissin brake system is a tad duller, but always reliable. For the sporty country road hunt, it is enough every day, those who love biting things, the said accessories trade will help (see also VTR hairdressing salon, issue 4/1998).
W.under happened, really. Not only did the Ducati arrive at the editorial office in time for the test, no, the 900 SS also has the cheek and almost knocks the Honda VTR from its throne. Molto bene, Ducati. Who would have seriously thought that was possible. You have successfully given the venerable Desmo engine its second spring.

Conclusion Honda – 1st place

Congratulations, Honda. The VTR wins this group test mainly because of its balance, the good-natured, comfortable chassis ?? and her beary V2 engine. Unfortunately, it still needs a little too much fuel. Maybe the Honda technicians should think about an electronic injection system, then the catalytic converter would make even more sense.

Conclusion Ducati – 2nd place

Sportier than ever, livelier than ever. Anyone who wanted to put the venerable Ducati 900 SS on the old side will be punished by this motorcycle. In addition, a great chassis, finally good brakes and the incomparably beautiful sound of the air-cooled Desmos. 916 feeling for the country road, and that under 20,000 marks? The 900 SS makes it possible.

Conclusion Laverda – 3rd place

The Laverda 750 S Formula, an uncompromising motorcycle with lovingly made, high-quality details. Nothing for the commuter or to get bread rolls. But if you are not bothered by the extreme performance characteristics, prefer to be on your own anyway and are looking for an exotic motorcycle with a sonorous name, you should secure one of the rare special models.

On the subject

Ducati dared? has laid hands on his classic. When looking at the first photos, you could lean back, patting the old 900’s red cheek and assuring her that she could stay relaxed, the new one was completely wrong. Not to be taken seriously at all, as funny as it would look. And no one needs injection and five more horsepower, so it’s good that you still have an old one. Uncultivated and rowdy, not exactly bulky in terms of performance, but wonderfully individual. Classic, beautiful, no frills. Just yourself, with its angular V2, the airy tubular space frame, a panel that just covers the bare essentials and that fantastic sound. A motorcycle that can make you forget time and hour. But not only when driving. Countless evenings where the carburettor was jetted, the final gear ratio changed, the strut, brakes and tires tinkered with, in order to perhaps one day have a halfway well-engineered motorcycle. Okay, that was the price. And now that. Now this new, bizarre 900 SS is really good, forms the synthesis, creates what the Porsche 911 embodied in the automotive world for decades? to become perfect without losing character. This is exactly what Ducati has achieved with the Supersport. The designers have sensitively got to grips with almost all the annoying weaknesses in the chassis and engine and managed to do the somersault of still creating the old, wild Ducati feeling when driving. I only see two problems: ergonomics and design. Going back from the compact all-rounder to the uncomfortably elongated super sports car and giving up clear shapes in favor of bulky plastic trays is literally painful. For the back as for the eyes. For me, the old 900 SS is a piece of practical art, aesthetics for everyday life, so to speak. Too bad that the new one fails on this point. Otherwise it would be perfect.

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