Comparison test middle class: Harley-Davidson XLH Sportster 883, Moto Guzzi Breva V 750 I.E, Yamaha BT 1100 Bulldog
POWERED BY EMOTION
There are motorcycles that weren’t just built to drive. They want to be petted and loved. The new Moto Guzzi Breva wants to be one of them.
If you believe the legends, bikes with technical defects and oddities sneak straight into the hearts of their owners. Why? They are sympathetic problem children who need attention. That makes sense. Somehow everyone knows the acquaintance of the acquaintance who takes his motorcycle to the cozy living room to spend the winter, quickly dismantles it in the kitchen for inspection, repairs or cleaning with a toothbrush or sits next to it in the evening and toasts it. So much love and admiration. The question that literally arises for the manufacturers is whether this something that demands a certain amount of dedication cannot simply be mass-produced.
In this respect, the cult brand Harley is showing everyone up. Even in the sales room, the myth of freedom and individualism nestles around the high-volume part like a cat around its owner. And that with the base model with a measly 883 cm³ by American standards. For Harley circles a mere 7600 euros, the customer flips over for the Sportster 883. Oil loss? According to the seller, it is as tight as a beer can. Electrics? Reliable. Engine? Steadfast. Drive? Low maintenance due to toothed belt. Driving feeling? Unique. The Harley sellers are already self-confident. And at Yamaha? The Bulldog, manufactured in Italy under Japanese direction, is also said to be an ex-factory Emotion bike. For 8650 euros, there are plenty of bezels, corners, edges and cooling fins. Wide curved shapes, a dominant round spotlight and the exposed steel backbone frame attract the eye of detailed observer. The drive is a nostalgic air-cooled V2 with 1100 cm³, which was already doing its job in the TR1 at the beginning of the 80s. And then the XV 1100 Drag Star pushed more or less brilliantly from the spot. The visual impression of the Bulldog is, as the name suggests, beefy.
In contrast, the € 7,650 Guzzi Breva looks almost like a dainty plant. One would hardly want to remove its 750 cm³ from the V2 with a lengthwise crankshaft installed across the direction of travel. Just like the Harley, Guzzians sell a myth. To be a real guy. Someone who can weave cable harnesses himself, has soulful but oil-smeared hands and is used to getting out of every emergency. Someone who, despite changes in load like pubescent mules, can circle a bike through any radius in a targeted and sporty manner. That makes an impression. Just mentioning the company name is enough for recognition at the regulars’ table.
But myth or not. What is left after all the improvements and the step into the technically almost perfect 21st century? Keyword Harley freedom. Classically styled 239 kilograms, bumpers and only one 40 mm carburetor. Slowly, infinitely slowly, the engine massages its swing with a friendly estimated 300 rpm. After every revolution of the crankshaft, the wager arises as to whether he can still manage the next one. You want to listen to the idle gasp for hours. But don’t expect too much from the air-cooled V2. So get into the saddle, grab the murderous handles and go. Indeed. The driving feeling is unique. Because the 883 is not willing to compromise. As if ergonomics and the lightness of being were frowned upon in America, the hand levers are neither adjustable nor even remotely graceful. The gears want to be searched for, found and shifted vigorously. The engine gives a lethargic impression despite 53 HP.
The subdued revving is due on the one hand to the huge flywheel mass of the crankshaft and on the other hand to the far too long secondary transmission. This also has the effect that the engine’s braking effect can hardly be expected when downshifting. Then you sit on this boom and you can’t get rid of the feeling that someone is indulging a ship’s engine on a shore excursion by simply screwing two wheels on it. Sure, the 883 can? assuming the driver integrates their idiosyncrasies into their driving style? Especially thanks to the tire widths of 100 millimeters at the front and 130 millimeters at the rear, you can precisely circle through the radii. But she remains stubborn. When turning into bends, accelerate and especially when braking. Hand strength and support from the foot brake are required here. On the suspension side, the 883 is designed for solo operation. The fork dampens sufficiently, but the struts can go a little further, especially when riding with a passenger. So how in the world does Harley get millions of fans? The Americans manage like no other manufacturer to convert the minus in driving dynamics into a plus in experience. An emotional engine experience that, despite objective criticism, can only be described with the word cool. So much for originality.
The Bulldog doesn’t take a stab at this originality. It is simply a motorcycle that inconspicuously fulfills its calling. A pleasant, 63 hp driving machine without any claim to records. Take acceleration, for example: The motor tends to be agile, but very pleasantly, following the commands of the throttle grip. The V2 vibrates gently and massively and trots from 2000 rpm jerk-free and powerful, but a little uneventful to the red area. Or driving: the chassis and tires harmonize like an old married couple. Without contradiction. The 1100 turns in as if by itself, it turns neutrally and precisely around all corners. The 251 kilograms are unexpectedly agile and handy. Especially narrow passes and hairpin bends can be wonderfully surfed thanks to the power available from the speed cellar. The suspension setup is a successful compromise between firm and comfortable, the brakes are almost perfect for a bike of this classification. Stable, easy to dose, efficient in its effect. No wonder. They come from Yamaha’s flagship athlete R1.
Everything bella or what? Not quite. The Bulldog seat fixes the pilot in one position. You feel restricted in your freedom of movement. However, that is the only thing that opposes the Yamaha sense of freedom. The key question: How can this unspectacular motorcycle require special attention? For Bulldog lovers, who undoubtedly find them harmonious and beautiful, it would be a sin to drive them uncleaned. She literally screams for attention from a toothbrush, three cleaning rags and a can of Amor All. And still cuts a fine figure under the nastiest low pressure areas.
The latter also applies to the new Breva. Sit on it and feel good is the motto. The very first contact signals security. Handlebars and grips appear delicate, the driver is perfectly integrated into the bike through the seating position. The V2 responds to light thrusts while standing with a hefty creak and a reaction torque that tilts man and machine slightly to the right. So nothing new. What is new about the completely redesigned engine, the Ex-V50, in addition to the larger displacement, is above all the injection, which the Breva lifts over the Euro 2 hurdle in conjunction with a G-Kat. And the Guzzi feeling?
Has remained. Below 2000 rpm, the 750 shakes like a child at the sight of chocolate. Simply cozy. Then it runs silky smooth and so disrespectfully round that even die-hard four-cylinder fans would be surprised. Between 2400 and 6500 rpm there is over 50 Nm of torque. In conjunction with the 48 hp, that’s easily enough to master any everyday situation. Changing gears is a bit tough when it’s cold. However, as soon as the gearbox has a healthy oil temperature, it almost shines with Japanese standards. Guzzi-typical load changes are completely eliminated. The cardan is barely noticeable. Most noticeable peculiarity of the Breva: the outrageous ease of steering. It’s so direct that the driver almost thinks he’s holding the front wheel in his hands. The reasons: first, the narrow tires, a 110 in the front, a 130 in the rear. Second, the weight distribution, 45 percent at the front to 55 percent at the back. Third, the handlebars are very close to the steering axis, as is the driver.
The downside of the lightness is unfortunately a swaying around the steering axis when driving fast wide radii in connection with bumps. And a slightly wobbly driving behavior. Not unsettling, but takes some getting used to. Just like the suspension setup. 70 millimeters of rear suspension travel is simply not enough. At Guzzi, however, it’s traditional. The fork copes with its tasks satisfactorily. In contrast, the braking system very quickly reaches its limit in two-person operation. Other peculiarities: The side stand is stiff, refueling through the cute opening requires practice and the plasticine cockpit looks more cheap than classy. So what does Breva want to be??
Basically it is the Italian answer to the Suzuki SV 650. A motorcycle that is child’s play to drive. But with so much charm and peculiarities that one almost has to speak of character. Which brings us back to the starting point of this story.
M.Motorcycles are actually like people. You want to be conquered. This is especially true for the Harley and its peculiarities. And also for the Guzzi. Although decorated with plastic, the incomparable 90-degree Vau still shakes feelings from the hearts that guarantee immediate family connection. The Bulldog shows that technical charm cannot be constructed. Objectively judged, it is indeed the best driving machine in the comparison, but compared to its two opponents, it is slippery and less expressive. More clearly: We break down the term »motorcycling experience«. With the Bulldog the driving experience dominates, with the Harley the motorcycle experience dominates. And both at Breva. Congratulations to Italy.
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Comparison test middle class: Harley-Davidson XLH Sportster 883, Moto Guzzi Breva V 750 I.E, Yamaha BT 1100 Bulldog
POWERED BY EMOTION
Technical data: Harley-Davidson XLH Sportster 883
HARLEY – DAVIDSON XLH Sportster 883 engine Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 45-degree V-engine, transverse crankshaft, four lower, gear-driven camshafts, two valves per cylinder, hydraulic valve lifters, bumpers, rocker arms, dry sump lubrication, a Keihin constant pressure carburetor, Ø 40 mm, transistor ignition , no emission control, electric starter. Bore x stroke 76.2 x 96.8 mm, displacement 883 cm³, rated power 39 kW (53 PS) at 6000 rpm, max. Torque 67 Nm (6.8 kpm) at 4400 rpm Pollutant values (homologation) CO 11.01 g / km, HC 1.99 g / km, NOx 0.23 g / km Power transmission Mechanically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch, five-speed gearbox, toothed belt. Chassis double loop frame off Steel tube, telescopic fork, standpipe diameter 39 mm, two-arm swing arm made of steel profiles, two spring struts, adjustable spring base, front disc brake, Ø 292 mm, four-piston caliper, rear disc brake, Ø 292 mm, four-piston caliper. Tires 100/90 H 19; 130/90 HB 16 tires tested Dunlop D 401 F chassis data Steering head angle 60 degrees, caster 117 mm, wheelbase 1510 mm, spring travel f / r 175/92 mm. Dimensions and weights Seat height * 770 mm, weight with a full tank * 239 kg, payload * 191 kg, tank capacity / Reserve 12.5 / 1.9 liters. Two-year guarantee with unlimited mileage. Colors: metallic blue / silver
Technical data: Moto Guzzi Breva V 750 I.E.
MOTO GUZZI Breva V 750 iEMotor Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 90-degree V-engine, crankshaft lengthways, one lower, chain-driven camshaft, two valves per cylinder, bumpers, rocker arms, wet sump lubrication, electronic manifold injection, Ø 36 mm, engine management, regulated catalytic converter , Electric starter. Bore x stroke 80.0 x 74.0 mm, displacement 744 cm³, rated output 35.5 kW (48 PS) at 6800 rpm, max. Torque 55 Nm (5.6 kpm) at 3600 rpm Pollutant values (homologation) CO 2.67 g / km, HC 0.28 g / km, NOx 0.07 g / km Power transmission Mechanically operated single-disc dry clutch, five-speed gearbox, cardan. Chassis, double-loop frame off Steel tube, screwed down beams, telescopic fork, stanchion diameter 40 mm, single-joint two-arm swing arm made of cast aluminum, two spring struts, adjustable spring base, front disc brake, floating brake disc, Ø 320 mm, four-piston caliper, rear disc brake, Ø 260 mm, two-piston caliper. Tires 110/70 – 17; 130/80 -17 Tires in the test Bridgestone BT 45 F / R chassis data Steering head angle 62 degrees, caster 109 mm, wheelbase 1449 mm, spring travel f / r 130/75 mm. Dimensions and weights Seat height * 780 mm, weight with a full tank * 198 kg, payload * 206 kg , Tank capacity / reserve 17/4 liters. Warranty two years with unlimited mileageColors red, green, silver metallicPrice including additional costs 7650 euros * MOTORCYCLE measurements
Technical data: Yamaha BT 1100 Bulldog
YAMAHA BT 1100 Bulldog engine Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 75-degree V engine, transverse crankshaft, one overhead, chain-driven camshaft, two valves per cylinder, rocker arm, wet sump lubrication, Mikuni constant pressure carburetor, Ø 37 mm, digital transistor ignition, secondary air system, E- Starter.Bore x stroke 95.0 x 75.0 mm Displacement 1063 cm³ Nominal output 48 kW (65 HP) at 5500 rpm Max. Torque 88 Nm (9.0 kpm) at 4500 rpm Pollutant values (homologation) CO 8.89 g / km, HC 0.91 g / km, NOx 0.11 g / km Power transmission Mechanically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch, five-speed gearbox, cardan shaft. Chassis, bridge frame off Steel tube, load-bearing motor, telescopic fork, stanchion diameter 43 mm, two-arm swing arm made of cast aluminum, central spring strut with lever system, adjustable spring base, double disc brake at the front, floating brake discs, Ø 298 mm, two-piston calipers, rear disc brake, Ø 267 mm, single-piston caliper, tires 120/70 ZR 17 ; 170/60 ZR 17 tires tested Dunlop Sportmax D 205 Chassis data Steering head angle 65 degrees, caster 106 mm, wheelbase 1530 mm, spring travel f / r 130/113 mm. Dimensions and weights Seat height * 800 mm, weight with a full tank * 251 kg, payload * 199 kg, tank capacity / Reserve 20 / 5.8 liters. Two-year guarantee with unlimited mileageColors blue metallic, silver metallic, blackPrice 8650 euros Additional costs 195 euros * MOTORCYCLE measurements
3rd place – Harley-Davidson XLH Sportster 883
Sorry again. Emotions can only be assessed subjectively and fall through the MOTORCYCLE point grid. Despite all the feelings that come over when riding a Harley: Why does the 883 have such a damn long secondary gear? It ruins a lot. Above all, it transmits lethargy instead of coolness. You can get used to the oversized handles and the enormous motor flywheel. The tractor feeling should and can have a more dynamic effect.
2nd place – Moto Guzzi Breva 750 I.E.
What a surprise. The little Italian exudes charm and is, above all, absolutely beginner-friendly thanks to its striking handiness and the unusually easy driving for Guzzi. Engine, chassis and feeling harmonize perfectly and convey the feeling of dynamism plus having found a friend for life. Only the brake system and struts should be improved. Otherwise, the Breva is unconditionally recommended.
1st place – Yamaha BT 1100 Bulldog
Powered by emotion? No, powered by engine and chassis. That is why the Bulldog also wins on points and in terms of driving dynamics. The BT 1100 is a balanced motorcycle with no peculiarities that almost everyone can get along with right away. However, the character of the beefy V2 cannot be compared with the engine experience of a Guzzi or Harley. It is the strongest of the comparison, but strength is not everything.
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