Comparison test Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, Kawasaki 1500 VN, Yamaha XVZ 1300 A


Comparison test, Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, Kawasaki VN 1500 Classic, Yamaha XVZ 1300 A Royal Star

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, Kawasaki 1500 VN, Yamaha XVZ 1300 A

There can only be one boss – okay. And tonight the decision will be made. Definitely.

No unnecessary banter, no unnecessary introductory words, no exchange of already lying politeness – after all, this is not a coffee party. So let’s get straight to the point: What it is about should be clear, which guidelines are also used. Or does anyone have any questions? No. Nice. But if no one should come later and say that he was not aware of the scope of this undertaking: Whoever remains silent and participates now gives his consent to recognize the winner of this nightly meeting as ruler over cruising.

There are three noble representatives of the high snobiety in the clinch over the venerable patronage. At the forefront is a heavy boy from the Harley-Davidson manufactory, called Fat Boy, who rightly refers to his pioneering achievements: He was the pioneer, was already there when the big things with the big tires weren’t even called cruisers . A very favorable condition. But the Kawasaki VN 1500 Classic means it has more: more than any other. And it actually has more: namely, more displacement. But that’s about it. For now, at least. Because technical size alone does not give rise to supremacy. And if that were the case, the Yamaha XVZ 13 A Royal Star would be more likely to win – with four cylinders and 74 horsepower, the power bike in this lap.

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Comparison test Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, Kawasaki 1500 VN, Yamaha XVZ 1300 A

Comparison test
Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, Kawasaki 1500 VN, Yamaha XVZ 1300 A

Fat Boy outnumbered its competitors, however, when it comes to price. With around 32,000 German brands, such an American custom bike is on the list. The VN 1500 costs about 12 grand less, the royal star rises with exactly 24,500 stones.

However, money does not play a role with such daredevils. Sometimes horrendous sums are even used as a sales argument. Good must be expensive. But above all, it has to have character: Yes, a strong character is one of the most important qualities in tough show business.

Outwardly, none of the three test candidates lack serious systems. Equipped with disc wheels, shotgun sidepipes, 40s fork, rigid frame look and lots of chrome, the Harley looks well-hardened and traditional. As the name suggests, the Kawasaki relies on classicism, with wire-spoke wheels, a more cranked handlebar and conventional, external suspension struts. The Yamaha looks a bit more modern: There are cast aluminum spoked wheels, a double disc brake on the front wheel and then this no-frills, centrally sprung cardan swing arm. The VN 1500 is also driven by a cardan, while Harley still relies on a toothed belt.

The overall softest impression is made by the Kawasaki, whose lines are somehow too playful, despite all the reference to the Harley design. In addition, the lush curves give it a light – let’s call it a “matronly” look, while the Royal Star and Fat Boy act more like the strict godfathers. This is also the easiest way to get close to the Kawasaki, although it too has enormous dimensions.

Appearances are not deceptive: the VN 1500 is a softie. Without being asked for long, the one-and-a-half liter engine starts up, a dull V2 melody babbles slowly and quietly from the side pipes, and the giant stroke cautiously shakes a few vibrations out of itself. In the long run it can certainly be an advantage if such an engine does not develop too crazy behavior, if it does not shake the chassis like a prisoner on the bars, but when you first make contact, as there is still all sorts of idealism, such a cultivated one works A piece of mechanical engineering in the context of a cruiser like a bloodless handicraft teacher in a discotheque.

The Yamaha V4 is much more spirited, emits – after the not unproblematic starting process – bitter angry sounds through its four pots into the environment, pulsates noticeably under the saddle, sets the bike in remarkable motion even at idle. And when you switch to the Harley, it’s clear: that’s it. Everything else suddenly seems grotesque. Just imitated. The Fat Boy is real, elemental, unplaned – like a raw piece of iron. She knows no mercy and makes it clear from the start that she despises any kind of gentleness. Abyssal. Everything about her demands strength and nerves.

The start ceremony has something mystical about it: if the starter is operated, the metal beams crunch. There are snorting noises emanating from every hole: the machine trembles, and should it actually come to life, it acts as if it was the last time. One believes in a miracle, in the glorious victory over indolence. And how the engine twitches in its suspensions, how it rattles and crawls and tingles everywhere – that must be it.

As befits a real cruiser, the Harley was equipped with running boards and a rocker switch. The Japanese have that too, but with these accessories they attract much less attention. While the Far Eastern technicians tried to keep vibrations away from their feet, the Americans seem to rely on reflex zone massage: The Harley running boards tremble like aspen leaves, vibrate with the greatest commitment from all machine parts. And the rocker switch – not that sensational in itself, but in connection with the cracking gearbox one of the main attractions in the Davidson Ore Mountains: When first gear goes into the gearbox, it sounds like a carpenter’s hammer falls into a ten meter depth Metal shaft. The following gear changes also have a certain harshness.

The Yamaha transmission, although not one of the Butter variety, shifts relatively smoothly, but on the Kawasaki this point also degenerates into a sore spot: The change from first to second gear almost never works. Most of the time, idling gets mixed up in the game, followed by a caustic, grinding-of-teeth noise, and only when the foot vigorously grabs the second gear. It sounds so unprofessional that over time you try to get by without the lowest floor of the four-stage switchgear.

Certainly – this is less about changing gears than cruising, and because the Kawasaki can cruise so nicely, these dropouts can be forgiven as much as possible. How – what does that mean? Cruising? You don’t know what CRUISEN means? Oh. Well, how can you explain that? Not easy. Cruising is actually about the same as chopping. But please don’t ask what chopping means.

You definitely need a powerful engine for cruising. None of the three Ferris wheels did – and this should be said here very clearly – but the Kawasaki at least shows goodwill. Even if the four-valve unit seems rather boring from its disposition, which is probably mainly due to its polished running and noise culture, it surprises with the greatest elasticity in this trio. In third gear – the last one is designed as a gentle gear, i.e. overdrive, like the others – the Kawasaki plots the whole day long to itself. Uphill, downhill, left, right and around in circles, no matter what.

The Royal Star and the Fat Boy, each equipped with five gears, have a harder time. While the Yamaha still has their desire for a more varied translation activity of the transmission under control, the Harley is asking for a different gear on almost every corner. Certainly, those who have patience can wait for the passage and pass the time with philosophical considerations or with numbers games. For example: A VN 1500 takes 11.4 seconds from 60 to 120 km / h, the Royal Star takes 12.3 seconds and the Fat Boy takes more than a quarter of a minute.

The fact that the Harley is not so fresh out of the quark is hardly surprising in view of its meager performance, but this shortcoming can be got over, as it impresses with the B-grade to compensate for it: the bumper motor is not too artistically expressive outbid. What was already indicated at idle continues to the (bitter) end. Bitter because the shaking of the two-valve – at least during boring motorway stretches – is already exhausted after 50 kilometers. On the other hand, this temperament ensures the best entertainment on country roads.

Nonetheless, the Yamaha V4 treads the golden mean between the Harley and Kawasaki V2: The blows of its pistons hit the nerve, but never get on your nerves. And – unlike on the Fat Boy – you don’t get the bad feeling here that the load could be damaged by the vibrations. In general, the XVZ 13 A appears invulnerable: It makes the most solid impression, which is not least due to the fact that it is the largest, thickest and heaviest of the three iron heaps.

On the chassis side, however, the machines are initially very similar: Sitting on all of them is extremely uncomfortable – arms outstretched, legs stretched, the upper body slightly tilted backwards. Sure, that’s how it has to be, it also looks casual, no question about it, but it’s still uncomfortable, that has to be said. Furthermore, everyone likes to ride straight ahead, but none particularly well, with the Yamaha still doing best in this discipline. In addition, all three struggle with stability problems even in corners. Worst of all behaves the hopelessly underdamped Kawasaki.

Nevertheless, winding country roads can be taken more easily with the VN 1500 than with the Royal Star, because the latter only provides a minimum of accuracy. The extra-wide front tire always drives the inconceivably unwieldy chunk outwards in curves. More lean? Not in it: The load scratches the asphalt earlier than any lowered Manta on the curb. Brisker deposits with the Yamaha therefore need to be practiced. Although Kawasaki and Harley do not take their adherence to the line very seriously, they are roughly following the direction they are aiming for. In addition, the two have more manageable talents and more ground clearance.

The worst that there is to offer in terms of brakes can be found – as always – on the Harley: The American bike continues to push around with an almost unusable single-disc system. To get something like a delay value, pull the lever like an ox. The double disc system of the Yamaha doesn’t require much less manual force, but there’s what is commonly known as the braking effect. In keeping with the style of the house, the Kawasaki comes up with an acceptable braking system.

Without drifting too far into the small scale, a few anomalies should be named at this point that do not make the handling of motorcycles easier. For example, one looks in vain for a central ignition / steering lock on such a cruiser, there are no choke levers near the handlebars either, and the ignition locks themselves – terrible: On the XVZ 13 A, you can only get to the crap, which is crossed at the bottom right, on the XVZ 13 A. On the Kawasaki, the key needs to be inserted in the front left, and to start the Fat Boy you don’t even need a key: turn the knob on the tank and off you go. Woe to those who forget to complete the part.

Harley also came up with something very special when it came to filling the tank. The petrol barrel has two screw caps, none of which can be locked, and – no joke – if you really want to fill the tank, you have to let the petrol in on both sides. Unfortunately, only the Kawasaki company remembered the beneficial invention of the flip-top tank cap. Admittedly, this little convenience does not replace strength of character, but the VN 1500 could cope with just that.

And that answers at least part of the question asked at the beginning: Unfortunately, the Kawasaki VN 1500 does not have what it takes to be a chief cruiser. Who else? Well, the Harley has good facilities, a lot of personality, pretty much everything you’d expect from a custom bike, but with all due respect, it’s too weak on the chest. With this clogged engine she can’t possibly beat the others. So that’s the XVZ 13 A. Yes, yes, everyone has already thought that, because the Yamaha is so big, has so many cylinders and so many horsepower. But that’s not all, because the Royal Star also conveys this special feeling: behind the wide handlebars everyday life becomes very small. Problems? There is not any. Stress? Is rolled flat. The world? Belongs to me. The boss? I am.

But wait and see: this six-cylinder, this monster called the Honda F6, is coming soon.

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