Comparison test Laverda 750 S against Yamaha TRX 850
Parallel twins among themselves: Yamaha TRX 850 with a starting lead, Laverda’s new 750 on the chase.
An early birth does not necessarily have to lead to a graceful existence, nor does a late concept inevitably lead to the penalty box of life. It’s not that easy to find the right time.
Yamaha’s marketing people can sing a song about the difficulty of getting the timing right: With the TRX 850, they are sending a competent, sporty two-cylinder machine from pole position into the race for the favor of those for whom Japanese four-cylinders are too monotonous and Italian twins are desmodromic and what happens? For some, the TRX with its tubular space frame is too much like Bolognese style, others bump into the engine, which – without any cylinder angles – then doesn’t seem Italian enough to them. It’s not nice, it hurts. And then there are Honda and Suzuki as latecomers with their V-twin-cylinder athletes and get a standing ovation.
It would not be surprising if the development in the two-cylinder market segment had created an embarrassed mood at Laverda too. The new 750 is very late, it shares with its long-serving parallel twin the fate of the TRX to have to fight against the trend towards the V-engine, it cannot boast about sensational performance, and its price is quite steep.
The Laverda costs 18,840 marks, to be precise, while the TRX is available for 15,690 marks. The expectation of being served more lavishly at the exclusive Italian for three additional brown notes than at the Japanese around the corner vanishes in view of the two motorcycles. The Yamaha ostensibly offers more motorcycle for the money, is bigger, wider, more stately – just a full-blown 850. The Laverda already needs the sticker on the seat hump to make it clear that it belongs to the class: Short, low and compact as it is, it would easily pass as a 500.
Its inclination to cabaret, its renouncement of physical debauchery is of course an advantage for the machine from a sporting point of view. With a live weight of 206 kilograms, densely packed between 1375 millimeters wheelbase and rolling on moderately wide tires, the Laverda is always wide awake to the wishes of the driver. Lightning-like bending and just as quick straightening up in fast corners, the 750 does this with exemplary ease. And without any deviousness in other areas: the machine circles tight turns without tilting, without twitching it bolts over the edges of bridges at top speed, without losing course it tolerates the grip on the finely adjustable Brembo stoppers in an inclined position.
The best thing about it: The fun of speeding around corners is not lost, even on poor track conditions, because the Lavarda chassis is not about sporty, Italian toughness. The fork and central spring strut respond sensitively to small bumps and don’t capitulate when the going gets tough – a successful basic set-up that can be adjusted at the front and rear using countless damper adjustment options. And then there are the Pirelli Dragon tires, which guarantee high steering precision and so much grip that the side stand literally falls by the wayside in the long run.
So bad cards for the TRX? You can not say it like that. On the scales, the Yamaha belies its beefy appearance with a weight of just 213 kilograms, and the chassis data relevant for handling do not exactly identify the Japan twin as a long timber transporter. Well, the TRX does not display the casual lightheartedness of the Laverda when it comes to sudden changes in direction, nor does it have a direct line between the road and the handlebars – differences that become small differences as soon as the Yamaha does the same instead of the standard Michelin Macadam tires on Pirelli Dragons. But even with original rubbers, their driving behavior is still the best that is offered in the Big Twin class: in curves, whether flat or with an undulating surface, committed to neutrality, nimble when turning, steadfast in straight line at top speed, unmoved at Delay tactics in an inclined position.
Less surprising than with the uncompromisingly sporty Laverda is the comfort-oriented tuning of the suspension elements on the Yamaha. The rear central organ is very careful when filtering out fine bumps, 130 millimeters of work travel is also sufficient for violent attacks, and on top of that – fully adjustable as it is – it takes individual wishes into account. The fork legs also dance nicely on bumpy parquet, but tend to be a bit soft in the knees – tighter springs could alleviate the hasty buckling when braking and the nervous up and down at high speed on really bad surfaces.
The TRX does it pretty effortlessly to click on high speed. It may not rush forward like an unleashed big bike, but it does it with authority and accompanied by the powerful pronunciation of two large cylinders. Only with the rustic start from low revs is there a problem: Little flywheel and the irregular firing order, which goes to the cap of the technically nonsensical crank offset of 270 degrees (somehow the parallel twin would have liked to become a V-engine), with an overly lazy driving style and a stumbling block with careless starts.
The fact that the now water-cooled Laverda engine is also based on a lightweight crank drive becomes apparent when you turn the throttle for the first time: Accompanied by a gruesomely beautiful intake and exhaust concert, the twin races up the speed scale so quickly that you would at the wrong event thinks. This impression is reinforced the first time you try to catapult the 750 cc from the starting blocks in a befitting manner: In the lower third of the speed, the engine jerks and buckes mercilessly, plus there is a clutch with the controllability of a light switch. No, the Laverda cannot be approached with genteel restraint. Powerful gas and slipping the clutch as much as possible – that is the only recipe for getting the machine up and running quickly. Shyness of revs is also not indicated during normal driving, the engine wants to cheer, and it is no coincidence that there are six pairs of wheels in the (thank God) cleanly engaging transmission. When driving undisturbed on free, winding roads, you can live with the “sporty” engine characteristics – only to fall into the trap again and again: every passage through town, every viscosity in traffic is inevitably perceived as an imposition.
Ob the sitting position on the Laverda is perceived as unreasonable, however, is a matter of taste. In any case, it demands a lot of dedication and a pinch of the ability to suffer. In return, there is a particularly close connection between man and machine. The TRX has more space, requires less adaptability, offers better wind protection – good prerequisites for keeping the Laverda at a distance in the long term.
2nd place – Laverda 750 S
Laverda’s new 750 doesn’t believe in compromises. Short, crouched and poorly disguised with a tight-fitting plastic skin, she puts her full on the sporty menu. The chassis fits into the image of the street sweeper: handy, precise, directionally stable and blessed with good brakes, it offers all the prerequisites for uninterrupted cornering fun. At least for those who are willing to get involved in the very “gathered” sitting position. After all, this is easier than getting involved in the engine for a long time: Its unbalanced characteristics – stumbling downwards, turning greedily outwards – can be quite nerve-racking under normal traffic conditions.
1st place – Yamaha TRX 850
Among the blind is the one-eyed queen – this is how one could sardonically comment on the victory of the Yamaha. That wouldn’t be fair, of course, because viewed without prejudice – i.e. not through the current V2 glasses – the 850 is an all-round successful machine without serious weaknesses: its engine is powerful and cultivated, its chassis masters the whole range of sporting activities without Letting comfort get neglected, it is just as suitable for getting bread and rolls as it is for long tours or a few quick laps on a closed route. Only for the ego trip is she less suitable with her unspectacular appearance. Bad?
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