Comparison test Honda Hornet, Suzuki GSF 600 S Bandit, Yamaha FZS 600 Fazer


Comparison test Honda Hornet, Suzuki GSF 600 S Bandit, Yamaha FZS 600 Fazer

No more fun

The carefree days of the Suzuki Bandit seem to be numbered. Because with the Honda Hornet and the Yamaha Fazer, the 600 series got competition for the first time. Two models that have what it takes to wiggle the throne of the licensing king.

It almost looked like the competition was frozen in awe. Since 1995 the 600 bandit has climbed one approval peak after another. Such a sweeping concept that the Suzuki managers quickly added a thick 1200 variant. And none of the otherwise resourceful Japanese competitors seemed willing or able to put an end to this hustle and bustle with a similarly promising motorcycle. The Bandit recipe is as simple as it is ingenious: Take a robust, well-engineered and extremely attractive 600 cc four-cylinder engine, put it in a well-balanced chassis with good brakes, give the motorcycle a pleasing, timeless look and, above all, protect your customers’ wallets . This is what the Bandits stand for, be it the large 1200 or, as in this comparison test, the small GSF 600 with the suffix S, i.e. the half-boarded version.
Honda and Yamaha are finally presenting answers to Suzuki’s bestseller, do the Hornet and FZS 600 Fazer want to shoot out the bandits of this world, right? put it kindly? Send to a well-deserved retirement. Outwardly two completely different motorcycles. The Honda Hornet comes across as Spartan and rustic. A striking motorcycle, if only because of the raised exhaust system, the extra-wide tires in Fireblade dimensions or the wildly jagged water-cooled four-cylinder that comes from the 1995 CBR 600 F. The Hornet engine has smaller carburettors and a modified air filter box for better draft. The Yamaha technicians also borrowed from the tried and tested, at least when it came to the Fazer’s engine. They simply borrowed its base from the fully wired 600 super sports car YZF ?? better known as Thundercat ?? out, and modified cylinder and head. Compared to the Hornet drive, this engine appears more compact, just like the entire motorcycle. It’s hard to believe that the Honda weighs a whopping 20 kilograms less than the Fazer.
Such motorcycles require curves, as narrow as possible, as many as possible. Everyone in the editorial team knows of course an even better test track: Swabian Alb, Black Forest or would you prefer to go to the Vosges? Nothing there, the weather gods don’t play along, winter returns to Stuttgart in mid-March. Drifting snow, temperatures just above zero. So quickly pack the van and speed to France, more precisely to the Ardeche valley. What a lucky coincidence. Where tens of thousands of tourists feast on Mother Nature’s bosom in summer, and a caravan of mountain bikers, moped riders and tin carriages torment their way through the winding curves, there is almost eerie calm at this time of year.
But that’s over after the bus has been unloaded. At least for two days. Out with the bikes, put on the station wagons and helmets and then nothing like rushing into the labyrinth of curves that is blessed with such a grippy surface that some race tracks would look good on. Three quick fingers crossed the starter buttons, problem-free cold start behavior for all three, even if the choke on the Bandit has to be pulled a little longer. Warming up the engines and tires, the trio quickly got used to the new surroundings and stepped on the gas. And schwubs, it’s gone, the Fazer. No chance for the Hornet driver to keep up. Less weight, almost the same performance, but the Yamaha seems to drive up and away effortlessly. And to top it all off, the nominally weaker Bandit shows her front wheel boldly, following the Honda seemingly effortlessly. Something is going terribly wrong. The Hornet driver plagues self-doubt. Endless curves later the Fazer is already in a parking lot. It’s high time for a change. Let’s get on the Yamaha. Wouldn’t have laughed if it didn’t work out better. Lo and behold, the change is worth it. Yamaha’s lead can be experienced in the truest sense of the word. Impeccable razor-sharp handling and a relaxed sitting position, even if the knee on the narrow Hornet tank works better. Nevertheless: Everything fits right away on the Fazer. It relentlessly reveals the weaknesses of the Honda. The Yamaha can be easily and precisely circled around bends after just a few meters. The Bandit can do that really well, but with the Hornet it is much more difficult. When reaching into the Honda parts store, the technicians seem to have put exciting design before practical use. There is no other explanation for the extra wide tire choice. As if a 180 mm slipper on the rear wheel wasn’t already a bit overgaged for a 600 mm, a 16-inch rim with a thick 130 mm rotates at the front. That makes it difficult to get a clean line, especially with the first Bridgestone BT 50 tires. With the Michelin TX 11/23 alternative tires, things worked better when the Hornet was first presented. Nevertheless, the wide tires make the potential of this motorcycle nonexistent. In addition, the pronounced righting moment when braking in an inclined position is just as annoying as the discreetly rubbing rear tire in corners with poor surfaces. Which must be due to the somewhat overdamped strut. In any case, the Hornet is manned by two people. Why easy when it can be complicated, was apparently the motto of the Honda developers. All you had to do was take over the rims and tires from the CBR 600 F. It has been rolling wonderfully and successfully through the country for years on the dimensions 120 / 60-17 front and 160 / 60-17 on the rear wheel. MOTORRAD will try out narrower tire pairs on the Hornet as soon as possible, because the rear five-inch wide rim can withstand a 160 tire without any problems.
The Fazer makers show how it works better. With the Yamaha even a 110 front and a 160 rear tire on common 17-inch rims are sufficient. And the Bandit also retains its clear lines thanks to a narrow 150 mm rear tire. The fact that the Suzuki does not fully show its limits to the Hornet is partly due to the weaker engine, but mainly due to its chassis. Although criticized in various tests, Suzuki sees no need for action. On the contrary, the telescopic fork of the test copy is extremely weak this time. As soon as you jack off the main stand, the Bandit dip tubes sink almost never to be seen again. When braking hard before bends, the fork logically locks up much too quickly. The lazy rear shock absorber struggles with similar problems in two-person operation when driving through undulating passages. When traveling quickly, the softly tuned Bandit is the most fidgety on the track. In addition, the freedom from leaning of the Suzuki suffers tremendously: the main and side stands and the exhaust manifold touch down in front of the footrests. Bad habit.
In contrast to the Honda Hornet. Only the footrests scratch. Exemplary. With the sporty, firm and all-round well-tuned Fazer, the extra-long fear nipples moved from the notches to the large storage compartment under the easily removable bench seat. These things not only scrabble across the asphalt far too early, but also forcefully move the rear wheel. Has anyone underestimated the grip of the first Dunlop D 207 tires?
The alternative original Bridgestone BT 57 tires planned by Yamaha, however, could not convince. Suddenly the Fazer seems fidgety. But the Dunlops are perfect for a sporty country road sweeper. Just like the 98 hp, extremely responsive and powerful engine. If you want to make rapid progress on the Bandit, then five-digit speeds are required, the Yamaha four-cylinder, on the other hand, pulls cleanly from the basement? and is also very frugal. Together with the perfectly graduated, but sometimes a bit wobbly Thundercat transmission, a real high-flyer. The Hornet, on the other hand, suffers a little from its too long gear ratio: in sixth gear to a theoretical 277 km / h. Your engine is also drinking excessively. And the bandit is missing at least ten horsepower to keep up with the two challengers.
The Suzuki is still quite competitive when it comes to braking. The front double-pane system works with a somewhat spongy pressure point, but otherwise flawlessly. The Fazer shows what is currently feasible in terms of decelerators: the front double pane system responds perfectly and decelerates vehemently.
In contrast, the brakes on the Hornet are disappointing. Honda relies on the same double piston system from Nissin, which has proven itself thousands of times in the CBR 600 F. It is all the more astonishing that the Hornet brake reacts poorly and is difficult to adjust. According to Honda press spokesman Klaus Wilkniss, the tame response is just as intended and should have something to do with the changed brake pads. Honda VTR drivers know a thing or two about it. Honda slows itself down with this delay philosophy. Especially in two-person operation, a very persistent and powerful right hand is required to achieve acceptable deceleration values ​​on the Hornet. With the CBR 600 F brake pads tested by MOTORRAD at short notice, the brakes respond much better.
Vo Maybe in Offenbach one thinks about another model maintenance measure: A main stand is painfully missing on the Hornet, standard for Fazer and Bandit. The fact that the Hornet comes along without a protective disguise is okay, however. Even if the half-shell fairings of the competitors noticeably relieve their pilots from the airstream from 140 km / h. No, the lack of a vestibule saves weight and somehow fits in with the puristic design of the Honda, the moral loser of this test, because the distance to the Bandit is surprisingly small. The Fazer, on the other hand, achieved a clear triumph. Biggest drawback of the test winner: It is not good for passengers. Should you offer the emergency seat to your mother-in-law? and only if you don’t like them.

1st place – Yamaha Fazer

She came, saw, won ?? and with an impressive lead. With the Fazer, Yamaha successfully proves that cheap does not have to mean cheap. Your workmanship leaves a good impression. And when it comes to the add-on parts, Yamaha didn’t cut corners either: great brakes, sporty initial tires. In addition, an economical four-cylinder engine that grips powerfully even at low speeds and impeccable, uncomplicated driving behavior. Superbike horror value of the Fazer? Very high.

3rd place – Suzuki Bandit

She is falling behind, the little bandit, mainly because you have to rev up her engine to follow the other two. Nevertheless, it is a good and, above all, inexpensive motorcycle. Unfortunately, the suspension setup, which is much too weak, is annoying again. It almost seems like Suzuki has never heard of progressive fork springs. And the shock absorber also belongs in the museum. Convincing: their neutral driving behavior and the relaxed seating position. We can look forward to Suzuki’s answer to the Fazer.

2nd place – Honda Hornet

Actually a good motorcycle with a daring, independent design, this Hornet. Plus the lightest machine in the test. It has great potential. But somehow it doesn’t seem completely thought through. Why was the hornet placed on these ultra-wide tires of all places? The 180 mm rear tire might do something in front of the ice cream parlor, but it leads to stubborn and wobbly handling on undulating slopes. And the blunt brakes aren’t exactly inspiring either. Enough material for the next facelift.

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