Comparison test Honda VTR 1000 F against Suzuki RF 900 R against Yamaha YZF 1000 R


Comparison test Honda VTR 1000 F against Suzuki RF 900 R against Yamaha YZF 1000 R

Target group

Sporty tourers? Athletes fit for travel? Grand Tourisme machines? Do the Honda VTR 1000 F, Yamaha YZF 1000 R and Suzuki RF 900 R even fit in a common drawer? It doesn’t matter – a common concern brings the three together: to find the way to the goal as quickly as possible with open effort.

W.he says it so beautifully: You shouldn’t stop travelers. And what is stopping the traveler? For example, heavy, bulky pieces of luggage and nagging companions. One thing is clear: sporty motorcycle travel means traveling without fiber. However, the restriction to the essentials should stop at motorization. You can never have enough performance, especially when it is confidently drawn from the full.

Yamaha YZF 1000 R Thunderace

As with the Yamaha YZF 1000 R, which does everything to live up to its stage name “Thunderace”. Which is not difficult for her insofar as her four-cylinder can play a number of game-determining trump cards: a full liter displacement, five valves per cylinder, plus an exhaust control in the form of a flap that varies the exhaust cross-section depending on the speed. Yamaha puts the result of this large technical contingent at 145 hp. In the case of the test YZF, a careful indication of how it should show itself. The driving performance measurements provide first indications of the excellent training status of the YZF. A top speed of 265 km / h and an acceleration from zero to 200 km / h in a good nine seconds are really not everyday values. The next day, the Bosch test bench provides the reason for the lively temperament of the Thunderace: 149 hp – hats off.

And put on your helmet to feel the pulse of the Yamaha YZF 1000 R Thunderace under real driving conditions – and keep an eye on your own heart rate. It remains in the deep green area for the time being, because the Yamaha is extremely binding, has nothing of a baring teeth monster. The confidence-building measures begin with the fitting. Despite the dynamics cast in plastic, which the YZF shows with its long-nosed fairing, it offers absolutely acceptable space: the handlebar ends not too deep and within comfortable reach, a wide tank that is perfectly shaped for a good leg fit, the footrests at an acceptable distance to the seat – a successful arrangement for sporty, but relaxed hustle and bustle.

The engine of the Yamaha YZF 1000 R Thunderace is also quite unspectacular. Mechanically relatively quiet and with a discreetly whispering exhaust, the four-cylinder pulls the chain so emphatically, even at the lowest engine speeds, that most overtaking maneuvers turn gears into a pure pastime – a fact that Yamaha confidently takes into account by limiting it to five gear stages. Hardly anyone can resist the attraction of pulling through the existing corridors from time to time. Because freed from all performance-limiting obstacles, the engine rushes so effortlessly and quickly through its power band at full throttle that hearing and seeing pass by. What an engine.

Yamaha motorcycles on

Suzuki RF 900 R

What a motorcycle – this question arises in the face of the Suzuki RF 900 R. With a pointed nose and spectacular rib work on the fairing flanks, the better (front) half of the RF tries its hand at Italian design, while the thick end nourishes the suspicion that it has a American pick-up model for the designer. In the field of tension between thick and thin, there is a seat with a sporty finish: limited space for the legs, handlebar halves that require the driver to incline, a wide tank to snuggle up to. Everything is similar to that on board the Yamaha, but without completely achieving its ergonomic fine-tuning in detail.

Similar to the YZF, it is also under the fairing of the Suzuki RF 900 R. Their four-cylinder engines strive for power and magnificence with more conservative means: “Only” 900 cubic meters, “only” four valves per cylinder. If it is all about how much comes out of the back, there is hardly any reason to complain: After all, 132 hp, enough to keep up close with the Yamaha in terms of performance. If you are interested in quality as well as quantity when it comes to performance, you have to be prepared for a differentiated answer.

Although the Suzuki engine pulls smoothly and powerfully from the deepest depths like a four-cylinder, it signals with a slightly annoyed grumble that it doesn’t really like very low tours. Cheering in the five-digit speed sky is more his thing, but he is always acoustically present with mechanical noises, he misses the matter of course with which the Yamaha engine seems to shake its power out of its sleeve.

Suzuki motorcycles on

Honda VTR 1000 F Firestorm

That the Honda VTR 1000 F Firestorm has the gears ready in a pack of six is ​​only a surprise to those who believe in the myth of the endlessly wide power range of high-displacement two-cylinder engines. The Honda-V2 is still a model boy, which starts smoothly at 2500 rpm and only starts panting at around 9000 rpm. Which doesn’t change the fact that it cannot be driven as lazy as the big four-cylinder engines, nor does it show their irrepressible will to perform. Well, measured 114 PS are not a stick-out, and the performance is impressive.

But the “how” separates the spirits. As bravely as the twin pushes from low speeds, it appears (comparatively) cautiously in higher spheres. Chasing the tachometer needle to the red area is not really fun on the Honda and subjectively is not rewarded with the hoped-for kick in the buttocks. Sensitive minds also encounter the expressions of life of the VTR engine: According to the motto “rattling is part of the craft”, it makes no secret of the fact that it drives two valve trains for a walk.

In return, the Honda VTR 1000 F Firestorm sets positive accents elsewhere, which are directly related to the engine configuration: Compared to the two four-cylinder engines, the VTR looks two sizes smaller, narrower, more compact, without requiring any greater tolerance in terms of seating comfort than her fellow campaigners. That only changes when the Honda is properly used on the autobahn: its flat upper part of the fairing offers minimal protection even to the fully submerged driver, but it creates a stir. This is a shame, on the one hand, because the VTR shows clean lane keeping even at top speed, and on the other hand, it is not so tragic because – with too high fuel consumption and too small a tank – it asks everybody to take a breather.

Honda motorcycles on


With exemplary low consumption and a larger tank, the Yamaha has considerably more stamina for fast endurance runs. This works out well in that it offers the driver the most pleasant travel conditions: surprisingly good wind protection when stooped and straight-line stability that saves adrenaline.
Even the Suzuki does not aim to stress the drivers. With an impeccable course, it invites you to enjoy the pace without regrets on the motorway, and its disguise ensures that the range slumbering in the 21-liter tank can be maxed out without losing stamina.

Yamaha ahead of Suzuki ahead of Honda – this ranking, determined under full sail, is likely to be turned upside down off the high-speed roads. Wherever usable power and nimble, precise handling are required, it is then the slim, comparatively lightweight VTR that comes to the fore. The V2-Brummer wipes the corners effortlessly and with an impeccable course stance, clicks unspectacularly but rapidly from curve to curve, cannot be distracted from the right path by uneven ground or braking forces in an inclined position and, on top of that, convinces with a level of suspension comfort that you get such a sporty motorcycle may not be trusted.
The real surprise, however, is the Suzuki. As chubby and cumbersome as it may seem, it remains loosely on the heels of the Honda on demanding driving routes: hardly less maneuverable, on par with steering precision, just as immune to glitches when leaning and with more energetic braking. With this, the RF comes out as an inconspicuous, but blazing-fast companion, who just doesn’t take it too seriously when ironing uneven floors.

The Yamaha can do that better, and when it comes to brakes, the YZF goes one better with its small but fine four-piston calipers. In terms of handling, however, it cannot quite reach the level of the Honda and Suzuki. She needs a stronger hand, wants to be tilted more emphatically. The YZF has serious problems in tight, bumpy corners and when decelerating in an inclined position – driving conditions that it acknowledges with considerable course losses. A test with a (recently homologated) ME Z4 shows that these are due to the Metzeler ME Z2 front tire fitted as standard: almost no self-steering behavior on uneven ground and a significantly reduced tendency to pitch when braking – which puts the YZF back in the slipstream of its competitors prepares and ensures that the tour group reaches its destination in a closed formation.

1st place – Yamaha YZF 1000 R

The Yamaha YZF 1000 R Thunderace makes an impressive plea for the good old inline four-cylinder: With full power, wide torque, high running smoothness and restrained consumption, the Yamaha five-cylinder is the perfect travel company. As if that weren’t enough, the YZF emphasizes with long-term use that sporty appearance and the satisfaction of basic ergonomic needs are just as compatible as driving stability, proper handling and suspension comfort. With other tires than the original Metzeler ME Z2, the Thunderace’s victory over the two- and four-cylinder tourism competition would be even clearer.

2nd place – Suzuki RF 900 R

Too corpulent as an athlete, too heavily trimmed for young and dynamic as a tourer – at first glance, one does not want to believe the Suzuki RF 900 R that it is a serious companion for edifying kilometers. But it is. Because of the engine, which can not serve with a high level of smoothness, but pulls the chain all the more violently across the rev range and pushes the docked five-speed gearbox into an extra role. And of course because of the undercarriage, which has been washed with all hands. Although the Suzuki RF 900 R is not extremely comfortable, the machine is surprisingly handy, accurate and foolproof to throw around.

3rd place – Honda VTR 1000 F

If it were all down to the sympathy shown by everyone who had the chance to try it out for the Honda, it would be guaranteed a place at the top of the podium. The winning charm of the VTR 1000 results from a mixture of pleasant features: the remarkably powerful engine cultivated for two-cylinder conditions, the agile chassis, the good suspension comfort. In the longer term, however, there are considerable deficits in the consciousness: the poor wind protection and the high consumption, which in combination with the small tank volume ensures a depressingly small radius of action.

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