Comparison test: naked bikes BMW, Suzuki and Yamaha

Comparison test: naked bikes from BMW, Suzuki and Yamaha

Three naked bikes with a classic look

Unfiltered motorcycle experience, classic design and engines that push hard even at low engine speeds – this is what Bandit, XJR and the new R 1200 R offer. The boxer BMW fights for the title in the ring?

M.ies maker or fine speaker? Almost everyone knows representatives of both the one and the other species who judge the same facts completely opposite. When it comes to pressure, some people automatically think negatively and of pressure from above, i.e. from the boss, of a painful pressure point due to the too tight shoe or of the annoying clasp hugging their great-aunt as a greeting: "Let yourself be hugged, my boy." Positive-thinking people and sunny spirits, on the other hand, associate pressure with only positive things; friends of large-displacement bikes automatically conjure an expectant grin on their faces: fat torque, power in all situations, powerful pulling power even at low speeds – fed up with pressure.

Comparison test: naked bikes from BMW, Suzuki and Yamaha

Three naked bikes with a classic look

Yamaha XJR 1300 at their expense, fans of rustic two-cylinder roadsters will find what they are looking for at BMW or Moto Guzzi. The Griso 8V was actually supposed to join the column of handles and face the comparison, but unfortunately the Italians could not (or did not want to) take part in the comparison test (see box on page 37). Unimpressed by this and with its usual self-confidence, the new BMW R 1200 R rolls out to the start, which now also has the DOHC boxer, ie now with two camshafts per cylinder, which is already in the travel enduro R 1200 GS and the luxury tourer R. 1200 RT is used. The differences on paper do not seem serious at first: 110 instead of 109 hp, a maximum speed increased by 500 to 8500 rpm and a slightly increased torque from 115 to 119 Nm promise no noticeable differences when driving. Or is it? The test bench certifies the new one with 109 HP in any case exactly the same maximum performance, but also a few horses in the range of 4000 to 6000 rpm. The higher torque below the 3000 mark is also visible on the measurement log and noticeable when driving.


Always look ahead: Curvy mountain passes put you in a good mood with the fat naked bikes – downhill and uphill.

What has happened inside the boxer? Well, the inlet and outlet valves, which are now radially arranged, have been increased in diameter by three and two millimeters, respectively, the throttle body has also increased in diameter, and the newly designed intake snorkel and a new air filter element with a higher air flow rate ensure that you can breathe more freely. A newly developed oil cooler takes care of the thermal household, i.e. moderate temperatures of the lubricant, so that the boxer does not get too hot even after an energetic battle with winding mountain passes on warm summer days. Just like the air / oil-cooled two-cylinder in the BMW, the almost legendary, air-cooled four-cylinder in the Yamaha, which is already aged in terms of its structural features, does not use any cooling liquid. Thick, lavishly ribbed outer cylinder walls help to remove the heat and give the Yamaha engine that unique 1980s look. The half-disguised ancestor FJ 1100 from 1984 sends his regards. Equipped with injection, G-Kat instead of U-Kat and with the EXUP system since 2007, the XJR still manages to meet the increasingly strict emission and noise regulations.

The more modern, liquid-cooled Suzuki Bandit 1250 has no problem at all. It replaced the successful, air / oil-cooled 1200 series (also in 2007) and continues the glorious tradition of the Bandit, whose name has always stood for uncomplicated, extremely strong everyday naked bikes. The start-up procedure is uncomplicated for all three: the two four-cylinder engines spontaneously come to life when the button is pressed and immediately run smoothly, the Yamaha at a slightly higher idle speed. Even the boxer only needs half a second to think about it, shakes himself briefly at the start and then lapses into an astonishingly cultivated run. No trace of the trembling, shaking boxer, of the throaty rattle of earlier specimens of his type. The quiet bubbling changes, however – intentionally, mind you – when you open the gas heartily. An electronically controlled flap in the exhaust that opens and closes by pulling cables raises the hairs on the back of the boxer friend’s neck: Pithy, snotty roaring accompanies the pleasurable twist on the throttle, even if subjectively felt to be not quite as intrusive and chubby as with the equally equipped R 1200 GS.

In terms of sound, the Bandit 1250 cannot shine any more than with its somewhat inconspicuous exterior. The four-cylinder whispers quietly, strongly dampened and unspectacularly from the thick exhaust silencer, vibrations are barely noticeable over the entire speed range, let alone annoying. Anyone who understands motorcycling as a sensual experience and hopes for acoustic fascination from the engine room is logically wrong here.


The basic version of the BMW R 1200 R Classic is 800 euros cheaper, has cast instead of spoked wheels and a single-color finish.

For an air-cooled four-cylinder, the Yamaha engine sounds very subtle, perhaps too cautious. Above all, the XJR lives with its extremely harmonious, classic outfit from the aura of past decades and its youngtimer charm. Modern technology in a stylish guise – the 1300 makes it possible. And after all, the four delivers signs of life between 3000 and 4000 tours in the form of clearly noticeable vibrations. These aren’t really annoying, fans will probably rather enjoy them. It also quickly shows that the four-cylinder is extremely lively when you pull the clutch, which is not particularly smooth, shifts into first gear of the easily and precisely shiftable gearbox and engages at low speed. The performance comes in gently, not abruptly or hectically, but emphatically – it is probably best to be confident. The Yamaha four-wheeler pulls steadily and vigorously through the rev range, delivers almost 100 hp at 6000 rpm, reaches its maximum output of measured 107 hp at almost 8000 tours and regulates at 9500 rpm.

In practice, this means: Even those who want to be on the move fairly quickly switch to 5000, or 6000 tours at the latest. Speaking of gearboxes: A bull like the 1300 engine does not need a sixth gear, five of which are sufficient, narrower gradations superfluous. Even if you sometimes catch yourself trying to upshift again in the last gear, because you would trust the Big Block, which is fed up in the food, with an even longer gear ratio without drastic loss of temperament. The Suzuki has it, the very long sixth gear, which actually already has overdrive characteristics because it is translated to an astronomical 270 km / h. The torque values ​​of 60 to 140 km / h in the last gear, which are roughly on the same level in all three, therefore only incompletely reflect the subjectively felt thump. Quite clear: If you spontaneously pull the cable in any gear at medium speed while fiddling around on the country road, you will subjectively reap the greatest kick in the back with the Bandit. Whereby BMW and Yamaha by no means have to hide.

Comparison test: Naked Bikes – Part 2


See-through: The BMW clearly offers the best light and the best view in the mirrors.

The Bayern boxer also pleases with the gentle, spontaneous implementation of the gas commands, and comes down to business with force and jerk-free from 2000 rpm. The trailer between 5000 and 6000 rpm visible on the measurement log is less of a break-in when driving, more of an afterburner at 5500 rpm, when the boxer sniffs the second breath again and gives it a lot more. The top performance is at 7500 rpm, turning down to 8500 rpm makes little sense and does not fit in with the normal use of the Bayern Roadster. For sporty maneuvers, too, the R’s broad usable medium speed range is sufficient. Disturbing drive influences from the cardan, as they used to be annoying for boxers, annoying load change reactions – hardly an issue with the new boxer generation. The Kardan Lady drives as smoothly as the chain-driven Japan ladies. Undisturbed strolling is possible, but the Bavarian woman with her excellent handiness and precise driving behavior always leads to a sportier pace. Even if the deep seat and the wide handlebars look more like comfort than sport, this is exactly where the secret of the BMW lies. Sitting relaxed, relatively close to the wide handlebars, with loosely bent legs, the driver in the saddle does not have to worry about tilting, stubborn turning or lack of precision – the BMW moves lightly and stoically on its way.

The new fork, which has 41 instead of 35 millimeter thick stanchions, should also ensure more stability. The standard steering damper is inconspicuous, does not show any disruptive influences, but prevents handlebar flapping very efficiently. No question about it, the comparatively light BMW is the most fun and the least work on winding roads. With the ESA (electronic suspension adjustment) on board, which is subject to a surcharge, as with the test machine, the setup can be adjusted to sport, normal or comfort at the push of a button on the handlebars, whereby the changeable parameters ( rear preload and rebound and compression damping, front only rebound damping) Don’t let the Bavarian woman become a staggering rubber cow even in comfort mode. Proper lean angle is easy on the driver’s stops and nerves, making heating fun. The well-behaved bandit conveys significantly fewer emotions. Even the compact seating position makes it look like a 600 in comparison. The bandit driver has to pull harder on the narrow, slightly cranked handlebars when turning, the padded seat feels like a tough lump of dough and gives little contact with the bike. In addition, the petite stature cannot hide the weight of 253 kilograms. Although the Suzuki can also circle corners quite quickly, it requires more concentration, tends to wobble a bit and needs to be guided with care. Standing up when braking is also an issue, and the mounted Dunlop D 218 tires do not really convey confidence in their grip on larger lean angles. Especially when the smallest bumps come into play, which are not particularly sensitively filtered out by the fork, which is generally quite moderately damped and only adjustable in preload.


A motor on wheels: the Suzuki Bandit 1250’s 1250 four-cylinder engine dominates the look.

The Yamaha makes the most powerful impression of the trio, although at 251 it is even two kilograms lighter than the Suzuki. The slightly stretched sitting posture behind the slightly cranked handlebars, which is reminiscent of the posture on the superbikes of past decades (there they were again), is quite relaxed for tall riders, but encourages less sporty activity than sovereign gliding from the start. In fact, the chassis is a bit old, the steel frame has proven itself, but no longer at the cutting edge of chassis development. The aluminum swing arm is supported by two fully adjustable Ohlins single spring struts in the tried and tested manner, which are, however, let down by the fully adjustable, but too soft fork when it comes to matching them. So it’s better to adjust everything to comfort and forego the very last sporty claim to firmness. The XJR doesn’t like fast lean changes and tight terrain anyway. It tends to understeer, ie to push over the front wheel towards the edge of the curve, wants to impose larger radii on the driver, and the long wheelbase in combination with the comparatively high weight makes it difficult to handle that would be necessary for the Suzuki or even the BMW to be able to record. Whereby the XJR could easily keep up when it comes to braking when the pace is tough: the four-piston system that was inherited from the YZF-R1 meets the highest demands. It offers a great effect, including a merciless bite and at the same time extremely fine dosing – first cream. Unfortunately, the XJR still has to do without an ABS.

The BMW brake with its huge 320-millimeter discs decelerates a little better, though not quite as easy to dose. But when it comes to protection against overbraking, BMW drivers can rely on the very well-functioning, sovereign, if clearly noticeable, integral ABS (1080 euros surcharge).


Retro style: the Yamaha XJR 1300 offers a classic tank seat line with a rear bumper.

The Bandit also brakes with ABS as standard. The anti-lock device regulates sufficiently sensitively and at justifiable short intervals, but the braking effect of the Suzuki remains a little behind that of the other two and the bandit stoppers require more manual strength with a more blunted response. And while we’re on the subject of addressing, which concept appeals to which naked bike fan?

Anyone who is enthusiastic about print products and would like to subscribe to Torque will be well catered for and well served with all three. The four-cylinder fan who likes the classic big bike feeling is most likely to be happy with the now cult-suspicious Yamaha and is unlikely to be enthusiastic about the BMW boxer. The XJR not only offers a successful, classic design, but also the flair and charm of the big bikes of earlier days, paired with a decent chassis, excellent brakes and a smooth, beefy engine. The Bandit mimes the inexpensive everyday variant, uncomplicated, with the most powerful motor, but hardly arouses emotions and looks a little like the gray mouse even in the already less colorful test environment. The sporty, agile BMW follows with its powerful boxer engine, the unusual, well-functioning Telelever / Paralever chassis and its very own design concept "we are we"-Attitude that Bayern are known for. Undoubtedly the most modern and overall best bike in comparison, but with a very idiosyncratic appearance. Choose B for BMW, S for Suzuki or Y for Yamaha – press now!



The Metzeler Roadtec Z8 of the BMW offer the best grip on curved slopes with changing surfaces.

1st place: BMW R 1200 R Classic
There is no herb here against its strong, cultivated boxer, the handy, stable chassis, the great comfort and the upscale equipment.

2nd place: Suzuki Bandit 1250
The reason bike of the trio scores with its powerful four-cylinder and the very affordable price, but otherwise mostly offers mediocrity. Which in turn is not bad.

3rd place: Yamaha XJR 1300
The bandit’s XJR only just has to admit defeat. Your gently gripping, beefy engine and the excellent brakes inspire. The missing ABS costs points.


Category engine:
It is relatively tight: Great torque values ​​and a pleasantly shiftable gearbox secure important points for the BMW for victory. The actually strong Suzuki loses when pulling because of the long sixth gear, its four-cylinder offers the best smoothness. The gentle Yamaha giant scores consistently everywhere and at least draws level with the bandit foursome.

Winner engine: BMW

Category chassis:
Light and handy: The BMW doesn’t let anything get burnt here and translates its low weight and great balance into top handiness. Precise driving behavior, easy-to-swallow spring elements – just great. Bandit and XJR suffer from their mediocre forks, both lacking stoic precision and neutrality in corners. The chassis of the cheap Bandit offers hardly any adjustment options. 

Chassis winner: BMW

Category everyday life:
Sporty and comfortable: the BMW manages the balancing act and is equally suitable for sporty rides and long stages. Equipment and workmanship are at a high level. The well-made Yamaha scores points with its range due to its large tank. With the Suzuki the low price takes revenge in the form of partly loveless workmanship and mediocre equipment.

Winner everyday life: BMW

Category Security:
If you brake, you win: the upside down old sportsman wisdom makes use of the BMW. Despite the rather blunt brakes, the Bandit is in second place here, because the Yamaha is giving away points due to a lack of ABS despite the terrific stoppers.

Safety winner: BMW

Category costs:
Not the cheapest wins, but the Yamaha. The bandit gambled away the victory because of their short service intervals.

Winner cost: Yamaha

 Max points  Bmw  Suzuki  Yamaha Overall rating  1000  692  615  614
placement    1.  2.  3.
Price-performance note  Top grade 1.0  2.2  1.9  2.4

Price-performance winner: Suzuki
Good performance at a mercilessly low price – the Bandit clearly wins here.

BMW R 1200 R Classic


The BMW R 1200 R Classic.

Air / oil-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke boxer engine, crankshaft lying lengthways, one balancer shaft, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, rocker arm, wet sump lubrication, injection, Ø 50 mm, regulated catalytic converter, 720 W alternator, 12 V battery 14 Ah, hydraulically operated single-plate dry clutch, six-speed gearbox, cardan shaft, secondary ratio 2.75.
Bore x stroke 101.0 x 73.0 mm
Displacement 1170 cc
Compression ratio 12.0: 1
rated capacity 81.0 kW (110 hp) at 7750 rpm
Max. Torque 119 Nm at 6000 rpm

landing gear:
Load-bearing motor-gear unit, telescopic fork, Ø 41 mm, two-jointed single-sided swing arm made of aluminum, central spring strut, directly hinged, adjustable spring base and rebound stage damping (spring base adjustable with ESA, rebound and compression stage adjustment), double disc brake at the front, Ø 320 mm, four-piston Fixed calipers, rear disc brake, Ø 265 mm, double-piston floating caliper, partially integral brake system with ABS.
Spoked wheels with aluminum rims 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17
Tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17
Tires in the test Metzeler Roadtec Z8, front "VS."

Mass and weight:
Wheelbase 1495 mm, steering head angle 62.9 degrees, caster 119 mm, spring travel f / r 120/140 mm, seat height * 790 mm, weight with a full tank * 237 kg, payload * 213 kg, tank capacity / reserve 18.0 / 3.0 liters.
Guarantee two years
Service intervals 10,000 km
color Black and white
price 12,540 euros
Price test motorcycle** 14,940 euros
Additional costs around 350 euros

* MOTORCYCLE measurements
** including: ABS (partially integral) 1080 euros, ESA 680 euros, on-board computer 145 euros, heated grips 195 euros, ASC 300 euros.

Suzuki Bandit 1250


The Suzuki Bandit 1250.

Water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, bucket tappets, wet sump lubrication, injection, Ø 36 mm, regulated catalytic converter with secondary air system, 400 W alternator, 12 V / 10 Ah battery, hydraulically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch, Six-speed gearbox, O-ring chain, secondary ratio 43:18.
Bore x stroke 79.0 x 64.0 mm
Displacement 1255 cc
Compression ratio 10.5: 1
rated capacity 72.0 kW (98 PS) at 7500 rpm
Max. Torque 108 Nm at 3700 rpm

landing gear:
Double loop frame made of steel, telescopic fork, Ø 43 mm, adjustable spring base, two-arm swing arm made of aluminum, central spring strut with lever system, adjustable spring base and rebound damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 310 mm, four-piston fixed calipers, disc brake at the rear, Ø 240 mm, single-piston floating caliper, ABS.
Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17
Tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17
Tires in the test Dunlop D 218, front "T", back "NOT"

Mass and weight:
Wheelbase 1485 mm, steering head angle 64.7 degrees, caster 104 mm, suspension travel f / h 130/136 mm, seat height * 800 mm, weight with a full tank * 253 kg, payload * 222 kg, tank capacity 19.0 liters.
guarantee two years
Service intervals 6000 km
Colors Brown, gray, black
price 9,190 euros
Additional costs around 220 euros

* MOTORCYCLE measurements

Yamaha XJR 1300


The Yamaha XJR 1300.

Air-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, bucket tappets, wet sump lubrication, injection, Ø 34 mm, regulated catalytic converter, 340 W alternator, 12 V / 12 Ah battery, hydraulically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch, five-speed gearbox, O-ring chain, secondary ratio 38:17.
Bore x stroke 79.0 x 63.8 mm
Displacement 1251 cc
Compression ratio 9.7: 1
rated capacity 72.0 kW (98 PS) at 8000 rpm
Max. Torque 108 Nm at 6000 rpm

landing gear:
Double loop frame made of steel, telescopic fork, Ø 43 mm, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping, two-arm swing arm made of aluminum, two spring struts, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 298 mm, four-piston fixed calipers, disc brake at the rear, Ø 267 mm, Two-piston fixed caliper.
Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17
Tires 120/70 17; 180/55 17
Dunlop Sportmax D 252 tires tested "L."

Mass and weight:
Wheelbase 1500 mm, steering head angle 64.5 degrees, caster 100 mm, suspension travel f / r 130/120 mm, seat height * 800 mm, weight with a full tank * 251 kg, load * 199 kg, tank capacity 21.0 liters.
guarantee two years
Service intervals 10,000 km
color black
price 10,990 euros
Additional costs around 215 euros

* MOTORCYCLE measurements

MOTORCYCLE measurements

Drawing: archive

The performance diagram of the three nakeds.

Amazing: Despite the almost identical displacement, the Bandit engine clearly outperforms the Yamaha four-cylinder up to 5000 rpm. This confirms the subjective driving impression. The bandit also packs a bit of revving up above, where the XJR is already reluctant. The wavy torque curve of the BMW is less pronounced than expected when driving. The boxer is quite powerful over the entire speed range and increases noticeably, especially at 5500 tours.

Maximum speed (manufacturer information):

Manufacturer  Km / h Bmw  220
Suzuki  225
Yamaha  213


Manufacturer  0-100 km / h  0-140 km / h  0-200 km / h (sec)
Bmw  3.4  6.1  15.0
Suzuki  3.3  5.9  14.7
Yamaha  3.4  6.1  15.0


 0-100 km / h
 0-140 km / h
 0-200 km / h (dry) Bmw
 3.9  4.0  5.0
 3.9  4.3  6.3
 3.9  4.0  5.0

Fuel consumption (Country road):

 Liters / 100 km
 Super plus 5.7
 Normal 5.8
 Super 5.9

Theoretical range (Country road):


Technology news: BMW R 1200 R

The BMW R 1200 R..

The Bavarians gave their Roadster R 1200 R some model updates for 2011 in the form of fine-tuning of the design and technical innovations.

Better and more beautiful – the new R 1200 R only looks like the old one at first glance. The installation of the new DOHC engine in particular was long overdue, as it is already successfully used in the R 1200 sisters GS and RT. The classic version that has been tested and shown here, which is 800 euros more expensive, offers a very special flair with spoked wheels, chrome-plated exhaust mufflers and special paintwork.

Changes in detail:

  1. Fittings / cockpit: Redesigned cockpit with two analog round clocks, redesigned fork bridge, aluminum handlebars.
  2. fork: Newly designed fork with a standpipe diameter of 41 instead of 35 millimeters.
  3. rims: New light alloy cast wheels (basic version) or wire-spoke wheels (classic version).
  4. oil cooler: Newly developed and specially designed oil cooler for improved air flow.
  5. Cylinder head: Valve control now by two overhead camshafts. Larger valves, now arranged radially, cylinder head covers now with two instead of four fastening screws
  6. Hand stand: Standard for the basic and classic variant.
  7. Exhaust flap: An electronically controlled exhaust flap that can be adjusted by means of cables provides a powerful sound.
  8. Final pot: Rear silencer 60 millimeters shorter in compact roadster design, chrome-plated (base) or in brushed stainless steel (classic version).
  9. New stern: Redesigned rear with optimized passenger grab handles. Weight-optimized tubular frame construction in the rear area.

The alternative


Classic drive, modern design: Moto Guzzi Griso 8V.

Naked bikes with character and style, a Moto Guzzi shouldn’t be missing – actually.

The transition to the modern age was not easy for some formerly successful manufacturers. Moto Guzzi, for example, struggled with it, in the 1990s they got bogged down with aesthetically unsuccessful neo-classics and antiquated technology. But then came the Griso. Initially presented as a study at Intermot 2002, it heralded a new era in 2006: for the first time, a synthesis of classic drive technology and current design was achieved. Especially since the four-valve heads of the Griso 8V raised the output from initially 88 to later 110 hp.

The Griso would certainly be an interesting alternative to the machines in this comparison, a motorcycle with rough edges. Why was she still not allowed to ride? Because Moto Guzzi failed again to provide a test machine. Despite a timely request from the editors, a Griso 8V could not be found in Germany or Italy. And the attempt to organize a test copy from dealers failed because their machines were pepped up with power commanders and non-standard exhaust systems. It’s a shame actually.

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