Comparison test motorcycles 800 class

BMW F 800 GT, Ducati Hyperstrada, Kawasaki Z 800, Triumph Tiger 800 in the test

Concept comparison of the 800 class

In the particularly diverse 800 class, there are completely different motorcycle concepts for a trip through the Eifel. With two two-cylinder, one triple and one four-cylinder on tour between radio telescope, race tracks and heavenly tranquility.

D.he giant stands out. A huge white bowl reaches for the stars. The Effelsberg radio telescope, opened in 1972, is still the second largest fully movable in the world today. The semicircle is 100 meters in diameter and is reminiscent of “Star Wars”. It weighs 1,600 tons, its anchoring and kinematics twice as much. Wow. We, Georg, Luca, Stefan and I are astonished. Actually, we should be standing in the visitor parking lot 800 meters away. But Peter Vogt, technician at the giant of Effelsberg, drives a modified Yamaha XJR 1300 himself.

BMW F 800 GT, Ducati Hyperstrada, Kawasaki Z 800, Triumph Tiger 800 in the test

Concept comparison of the 800 class

Ducati Hyperstrada for a fun bike from Supermoto that is trimmed for touring. Fiery, light, strong. Its V2 engine officially delivers a full 110 hp. The Naked Bike, the Kawasaki Z 800, should even push 113 hp. Like the BMW and the Ducati, it is a new model for 2013. But all three are based on predecessor or sister models. The three-cylinder, 95 hp Triumph Tiger 800 steps out of line. The trendsetter appeared for the 2011 season.

Triumph Tiger 800: Real road enduro

The Tiger embodies an all-rounder, a road enduro. Because Triumph still offers the XC version as a real travel enduro with the same engine. With spoked wheels, a 21-inch model at the front, and longer suspension travel, a Tiger for the rough. Our standard version has cast wheels, with a 19-inch front. She clearly prefers asphalt. And how! The 800 m climbs up from the Effelsberg valley basin like a velvet paw. True to the line and neutral, the Triumph moves around the corner, albeit slightly understeering. It falls easily into an inclined position and can be easily controlled with the wide aluminum handlebars that are thinner towards the ends.

When it comes to handling, it benefits from the narrowest rear tire, a 150. Only the largest turning circle of the quartet is annoying when turning around. It’s wonderful how the three-cylinder pushes it. It can be taken very gently on the curb, even in the shallows of the low rev range, in a highly elastic manner. In contrast to the BMW standard gear display, Stefan can actually save himself the look at the gear indicator. No matter what speed, down, middle, up, the Triple always grabs a lot. The linear power output almost seems too even, unspectacular.


Cast wheels, 19-inch front wheels and deep front fenders want asphalt!

The 800 triplet should be peppier, more emotional. Like the 675 it is based on. But the silky, vibration-free running culture inspires. The balance shaft does a good job. Everything accompanied by the wonderfully smoky sound from the chimney-sized silencer. The transmission operates smoothly, the clutch can be dosed precisely (in contrast to Ducati and Kawasaki). Truly a creamy engine. We pass rugged slate cliffs in the eastern Ahr valley. Crystal clear, the waters of the Ahr. We want to go up to the viewpoint above Dernau.

BMW F 800 GT: A good compromise between touring and sport

Our sports tourist is called Leicht, Luca Leicht. Its rather stately appearance leaves the BMW F 800 GT unimpressed. Fluid terrain with mostly wide, fast curves is their territory. Moderate basic chassis data do not make the GT extremely handy. She likes a little emphasis on the wide handlebars in alternating curves. Accuracy? Good, but not razor-sharp. The GT rolls on superb tires, Metzeler Roadtec Z 8 Interact, which stick very well even in wet conditions. The BMW chassis is individually built on the quartet’s only aluminum bridge frame. It heats up quite a bit in high summer temperatures: the optional on-board computer reports an air temperature of 32.5 ° C!

Break above the vineyards, red grapes hang on the vines. Gran Turismo is one of the most illustrious abbreviations in motorcycle history. In fact, the BMW offers a high level of seating comfort, a really good compromise between touring and sport. Luca sits beautifully integrated into the motorcycle behind the wide, sufficiently high handlebars on the comfortable bench. With a nominal 90 hp, five more than the former F 800 ST, the BMW remains the weakest motorcycle in this test on paper. Even if the twin pulls out a real 94 hp, at just 8400 revolutions. The Tiger delivers its maximum of 93 hp 1400 tours later.


The BMW truly lives up to its claim to be sporty and comfortable touring at the same time.

Luca is pleased with the good payload of the GT, 199 kilograms without a case. One of the technical delicacies of the F 800 series is the swiveling connecting rod as a mass balance between the pistons moving in and out in parallel. Actually an ideal engine: this engine has the least short stroke of all four. When idling, the twin sounds like a tuning boxer. Also hums upstairs like one. Acoustic illusion? No, it has the same, even firing order.
The exclusive, tight steering damper lets the GT stagger slightly at creep speed. Her engine hangs well on the gas, but certainly not greedy. Below 3000 rpm, mechanical noises come from the engine room, a violent clacking. Around the 5000 mark, more severe vibrations become noticeable, but then the parallel twin also pampers you with an extra helping of punch. Nevertheless, the BMW has to tear itself pretty much on the easy-care timing belt, the only one in this test field and in the entire BMW program, in order to keep up with the rest of the trio during a brisk drive.

Because the F 800 GT has a very long translation. 3800 revs in sixth gear are enough for 100 km / h, the crankshafts of Ducati and Triumph already rotate 4500 and 4600 times. That turns the BMW in the fourth! And the thirsty Kawasaki doesn’t do it below 5050 rpm in the sixth at the legal country road limit! No wonder that the BMW / Rotax engine is the most economical. Subjectively, however, he also doesn’t kick a lot, forcing downshifts more often because of the worst pull-through in the sixth. Free a wish? The nifty variant from the Husqvarna Nuda 900 in BMW’s F models – with more displacement and torque as well as a crankshaft whose 270-degree firing order imitates the key and robust character of a 90-degree V-twin.

Ducati Hyperstrada: Travel-ready supermoto is variable

Or drive the original right away, the 821 cubic V2 from the Ducati Hyperstrada. The new "Testastretta 2" has, as is typical for Ducati, timing belt-operated and desmodromic, positively-controlled valves. Tame eleven degrees of valve overlap make it easy to handle, it already runs nice and smooth at low revs. But the way it pops explosively out of the middle is pure fascination. Real 107 hp catapult the 207-kilogram lightweight forward. The fiery red machine offers three driving modes: Sport, Touring and Urban.

The 52 throttle valves, electronically operated via ride-by-wire, react extremely quickly to gas commands. Almost too rough and brash. Especially in sport mode, the “L-Twin”, as Ducati calls the engine, is super sensitive to the extremely smooth throttle grip. The touring mode is more gentle and is also really good fun. And "Urban" only serves a moderate 75 hp. All driving modes have one thing in common: the V2 snorts and trumpets its joie de vivre acoustically. Almost annoyingly loud, despite or perhaps because of the exhaust flap. Quieter would not only be better for local residents.


Airy, light, high. In addition, sporty, slim and compact.

The smooth-running cable clutch with servo effect should be more sensitive. In Altenahr’s stop-and-go traffic, it grabs extremely when starting. Digital clutch: on, off, on again … At least the anti-hopping function prevents the rear wheel from stamping and rolling when downshifting heavily. Sporty: The two-stage adjustable ABS can be switched off. It has an effective lift-off detection for the rear, controls great. Eight stages and can also be switched off: the effective traction control. AT good feeling when the red warning lamp flashes at the exit of the curve. Because you got everything out while a guardian angel is still watching. As with the BMW, there for an extra charge.

Kawasaki Z 800: A streetfighter off the shelf

Class: Ducati’s long 15,000 service intervals. BMW and Triumph call for service every 10,000 kilometers, Kawasaki overcautiously after 6,000 kilometers. First and foremost, Japanese four-cylinder engines stand for absolute reliability. This one scores points together with the V2 of the Duc with great acceleration. The Z accelerates smoothly, thanks to the double throttle valves. Because of its crisp, short final gear ratio, the Z 800 achieves the most powerful pulling power. And still even the highest top speed, a full 230 km / h. Exhausting, we have a naked bike. The engine is a stunner. Why is there actually no Z 800 SX with a half-shell??

The lively Kawa engine chases its crankshaft in circles up to 11,000 times per minute without immediately shooting the 16 valves into orbit. It is easy to turn and combines the smallest individual cubic capacities and the shortest-stroke design. Annoying: The Kawa’s high manual clutch force makes metering difficult. Why is the hand lever not adjustable? In Adenau we move into the hotel "Blaue Ecke". This is popular with motorcyclists from all over Europe.


A fighter with rough edges. Amazing: the Z 800 is the heaviest motorcycle in this test field.

Georg has had enough in the hard seat of the Z 800. The smallest distance between the not very comfortable "cushion" and high-mounted footrests leads to a narrow knee angle. Too pointed for tall guys. The handlebar is mounted flat and deep. Front wheel oriented. Even the moderately legible instruments duck far. In terms of design, the Zett has an extremely square-edged line. Steel for the bridge frame and two-arm swing arm makes the Kawa a lush 231 kilograms. With the feather-light panniers from Vanucci, it’s 234 kilograms. There are only 177 kilograms of payload left. Fortunately, nobody willingly board the pillion seat anyway. On the special “Performance” model, it consistently gives way to a cover. And the chunky series muffler a slim carbon damper from Akrapovic. He is very Kawa-like: dull, deep, hoarse growling. But not rowdy. Fine. In addition, the “Performance” has a mini disc. All in all, that’s 10,395 euros, 900 more than for a standard Z-800. Not a bargain, the Kawa, given the sparse furnishings.

Ducati in its element on empty streets

The next morning we meet Jan Leek. The author and native Swede has lived at the Nurburgring for a quarter of a century and is a great connoisseur of the Nordschleife. But that is booked by Porsche today. Not bad, we don’t have an MV Agusta F3 800 with us anyway. Jan accompanies us with his Ducati GT to Breidscheid, to the old driveway to the Nordschleife. In his snack bar we meet Rainer Strack, who worked on the Nordschleife from 1959 to 1995, with the petrol heads of the world. He tells of an eventful life. The people in the Eifel are open to strangers.

Or rather the curves towards the GP track, where the GSX-Rs, CBRs and R1 gather to drive freely, the lap at 23 euros? We drive on, pass “Paddock-Cafe”, “Mario’s pit stop” and “Rent a race car”. Being a little crazy helps in this region. Hardly ten kilometers further, the Ducati is in its element on deserted streets.
Behind Insul, serpentines wind their way up the slopes covered with thick green fur. Dynamic, agile and lively, the Duc follows the meandering tar ribbon. Hyper, hyper. The touring supermoto clearly offers the greatest driving fun on winding mountain roads.


The Ducati Hyperstrada’s supermoto genes make a big impact on deserted streets.

Super handy, the Signora scurries and whispers through the most varied of curve radii, catching the most jagged hooks. Like a hare on the run. Open to course corrections at any time. Lines can be found again and again. Without the Duc being nervous about it. Your supermoto genes really take off. After all, the Hyperstrada is based on the very similar Hypermotard. Is only more suitable for touring. Thanks to a higher disc, minimally cut spring travel and reduced seat height. But above all because of the better features (sockets, hand protectors, main stand) and the well usable, widely protruding 25-liter softbags with waterproof inner pockets.

Playfully prancing, she chases up the mountains. Absolutely inspiring. Until you notice how, after the footrests, she shaves off the brake and shift pedals and, ultimately, the tips of your boots. It even grinds the (easy to use) main stand. This can also be badly leveraged when sagging in a full tilted position. The tires, Pirelli Scorpion Trail, encourage you to run around. The feedback from the front wheel should be a tad bigger, and the righting moment when braking in an inclined position is even lower. The comfort-oriented 43 mm upside-down fork takes asphalt distortions with astonishing ease.


The conventional, soft telescopic fork of the BMW springs and dampens a lot.

Better than the soft, conventional 43 mm telescopic fork of the BMW. It swallows a lot, does not respond badly, but is not particularly well damped. Cute: the fork stabilizer of the F 800 GT, just like in the 80s. At the rear, the picture is reversed: Both suspension struts dispense with rocker arms. Are directly hinged, which saves costs and weight. But also limits the progressive effect.

The spring strut of the F 800 cuts a better figure, fishes out more uneven ground. The “Mini-ESA” of the mid-size sports tourer seems to be dispensable: only the rebound stage is electronically adjustable at the push of a button. There is a handwheel for the spring base, like the one offered by the Ducati. The Hyperstrada shock absorber springs and dampens more tightly. The lumbar vertebrae often take “punch holes” literally.

The Italian-style seating position has two sides: You sit close to the wide handlebars. And the one on high risers. Conditionally great overview and almost upright posture. But there always remains a body tension, made for attacks. Great in alternating curves, exhausting on long journeys. Because the trough-shaped bench grabs you close to the tank "without alternative". After all, the distance to the notches is nice and large. The radially hinged Brembo monoblocks decelerate most effectively and easily. In addition, the Ducati, which costs 12,895 euros including ancillary costs, is best processed. The BMW costs a whole thousand less at a basic price of 10,300 euros including all extras.

The Tiger is more “passive” than the Ducati

Stop at the motorcycle meeting place "Haus Waldfrieden" in debt. The well-known “Wasserscheide” bend route has underrun protection on the guardrails, but unfortunately also a speed limit of 70. Hm. On the Tiger it is more “passive” than on the Ducati, further away from the front wheel. Stefan likes the touring posture: “I have zero weight on my wrists. And even at 1.86 meters, the screen effectively shields you, even with a cross helmet and 210 items on the track. ”The seat height can be adjusted by 20 millimeters in next to no time. Sounds a little? For small drivers, this means a huge difference in seating comfort and the important level of stability!

Via Bad Munstereifel we reach Schleiden-Gemund and the Rursee. They spray even at a moderate incline
Tiger claws sparks – serrated footrests with removable rubber inserts. As with the Duc. The Triumph spoils you with the greatest suspension comfort, followed by the F 800 GT. However, the Triumph fork with its high breakaway torque and strong damping does not respond well on pocky asphalt. It stugs over smaller, closely spaced humps, making the entire front tremble. The hard-shell suitcases swinging elastically in a duet stand far away. They look huge on the outside, but have little usable volume on the inside. In contrast to the much closer-fitting counterpart of the F 800 GT, the right, wide-cut one does not hold a helmet, just small items. Would be better.

The Tiger 800, a well-mannered motorcycle for active leisure

In return, the Tiger 800 shines with its enduro legacy: largest payload, largest tank, largest range, largest ground clearance. Plus the longest suspension travel results in a highly functional, well-behaved motorcycle for active leisure time. Blessed with a full four year warranty. Praiseworthy, praiseworthy. The Triumph brake system is simple but effective, with double-piston floating calipers at the front. Grip gently, still strong enough, not too biting according to Enduro. The wrong signal: 600 euros extra to the 8990 euros basic price for the reasonably regulating ABS. With the F 800 GT, the new Bosch ABS brings shorter, better control intervals. Braking effect like the dosage of the BMW, however, are rather mediocre. A crystal clear pressure point is missing. The Kawa can do better than that.

The Kawasaki needs a determined hand

Its key data predestine the Kawasaki Z 800 for cornering. It combines the most compact wheelbase with the steepest steering head angle and the shortest caster. But it is still not the easiest to handle. Least of all neutral. Because it stands up clearly on bumps or braking in an inclined position. That costs just as much confidence as the moderate grip of the Dunlop D 214 J. They slip early, especially on wet roads. In addition, the Kawasaki Z 800 folds down quite easily, but defends itself against further angling when driving at an angle. And it constantly demands small course corrections. The motorcycle needs traction when cornering, a decisive hand in leadership. Georg always has something to do.

Presumably, other tires would already bring the necessary fine-tuning for the Kawa chassis. For more comfort, it helps to open the damper screws of the fairly tightly tuned spring elements wide. On the plus side, the crisp brakes, the finely regulating ABS and the great freedom of inclination of the slightly over-designed Z have an impact. Hardly any panniers can be attached to its angular rear. Nevertheless, she is a real success type: She is fifth in new sales in Germany and is second internally at Kawasaki. Like Hypermotard / Hyperstrada for Ducati and Tiger 800 / XC for Triumph. The F 800 GT is on the rise, 20th in the country, seventh at BMW.

And then there are also beginner-friendly 48 hp versions of the new driving license class A2. At Kawasaki, this role is taken over by the Z 800e model with simple knitted spring elements, but at the same time grim look for 8595 euros.

We spend the last night of our four-star trip in Monschau, the "Pearl of the Eifel". Tip: the hotel "Graf Rolshausen" with vaulted cellar from 1597 and its own garage. Our conclusion? Without a doubt Eifel! Thousands of motorcyclists every weekend can’t be wrong. Shall we go back to Cologne again, to the crane houses in the harbor? Or to Bonn, where the Rhine is particularly beautiful, with a view of the Siebengebirge and the Museum Mile? Or grab fries in Belgium, in the Ardennes and at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack?

In any case, the next motorway journey with BMW and Triumph will be the most comfortable. In the F 800 GT, the windshield effectively shields the fuselage, but depending on the driver’s stature, direct the wind directly onto the neck. Be sure to wear a scarf. The helmet lies nice and quiet in a turbulence-free, laminar flow. The protection on the Tiger is even better. The wind protection on the Hyperstrada, which the Z 800 cannot offer due to its concept, is not quite as good, but allows you to enjoy pure airflow. Was fun touring with four completely different machines. Hard times begin for big bikes. Because medium is the new big!

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