Comparison test of show bikes: Bimota Mantra, Moto Guzzi Centauro and Triumph Speed Triple
Just don’t be too humble. Why not stand out with a Bimota Mantra, a Moto Guzzi Centauro or a Triumph Speed Triple?
Haven’t you had this experience before?? On Sundays you drive to a popular meeting point for motorcyclists and you can’t get rid of the oppressive feeling that when you arrive at the biker people gathered there, all conversations will immediately fall silent. Hundreds of pairs of eyes are focused only on you. Park your machine with extreme caution, the brand is irrelevant in the furthest corner and you are also surprised that no one offers you one of the rare seats. They swear to avoid such biker encounters in the future.
It doesn’t have to be. Go on the show offensive. If you show up at your favorite meeting place on one of the three bikes tested by MOTORRAD, you are sure to make a grand entrance. Park your car in the first row. Courage, because the designers of the Bimota Mantra, the Moto Guzzi Centauro and the Triumph Speed Triple have also proven it. What applies above all to the T 509 from Triumph, the motorcycles from Hinkley have so far acted like members of the Conservative Party: solid, traditional, but not necessarily what turns your head spontaneously. Not so with the second generation Speed Triple. A truly daring outfit combined with the finest components, such as the single-sided swing arm or the stable tubular aluminum bridge frame. When it comes to the engine, the English are also relying on a completely new design, albeit with known dimensions for bore and stroke: the 885 cm³ in-line three-cylinder with electronic injection system. However, the engine still suffers from an inexplicable loss of performance. Of the 108 hp promised (see also box on page 35), only 98 remain on the test bench. Anyway, the engine still hangs spontaneously on the gas. And then that incomparable hoarse sound. The Speed Triple cannot deny its Daytona descent. A driving machine, clearly the sportiest show bike that can be bought from the factory, which is also suitable for everyday use and for two people.
Extravagant styling has been the domain of the Italians until now, especially the small Riminese brand Bimota. A manufacturer that produces exclusive and not exactly cheap sports motorcycles in small series. If you are sometimes miles ahead of the times when it comes to experimentation. Just remember the knuckle-jointed Tesi. With the mantra, however, Bimota plays it safe. Although their exterior looks extroverted, the Riminese rely on proven technology for the engine. It is not without pride that the front fairing says “Powered by Ducati”. First a praise: Bimota has taught the air-cooled two-cylinder of the Ducati 900 SS, otherwise known as rough but hearty, fine manners. Clean throttle response, full power with 78 hp and good, low-vibration running culture: Heart, what more could you want? In addition, the mantra of the Triumph Speed Triple is hardly inferior in terms of handling. A feat, with an extremely short wheelbase of 1370 millimeters and a ready-to-drive weight of only 198 kilograms. The fact that the mantra does not only appear a bit fidgety on bad road surfaces, well, you should take it for granted. On the other hand, it spoils at least the driver with the same level of seating and suspension comfort. And a hearty, comforting sound that comes from the carbon fiber-interconnected two-in-four exhaust system. Respect for those who have found such an Italy-friendly TÜV inspector for the individual acceptance. For this reason alone, the mantra is ahead in the unofficial attention rating – even if only slightly ahead of the Speed Triple – regardless of where you appear with it. When it comes to the design of the front, however, opinions differ. At first glance, the bulging headlights are fatally reminiscent of the bumper car stand from the last visit to the fairground. The imitation of root wood in the cockpit is also not to everyone’s taste. What is not up for discussion, however, is the fact that the Bimota technicians must have borrowed the tired, glinting indicator lights from the electrical construction kit of their Bambini. What a break in style. And despite the pleasing price reduction from almost 30,000 to 23,449 marks, it was absolutely not befitting. The designer has put a lot of effort into the rear section of the Mantra: simply beautiful to look at.
This is what quite a few colleagues say about the Moto Guzzi Centauro V 10. It takes a bit of getting used to, therefore, like its name, the mythical creature Centauro (half human, half horse) from Mandello. If the term “macho bike” applies to a motorcycle at all, it is the Guzzi. Hats off first for this daring design. And then for this engine. To paraphrase it in one word: primeval. 99 hp and 96 Newton meters of maximum torque from an air-cooled two-cylinder, someone would say that Moto Guzzi should think about a new engine concept as quickly as possible. The quality of workmanship of the Moto Guzzi is also convincing, which also applies to the Bimota and the Triumph.
Just leaving this chunk on is an experience. The four-valve engine lives, shakes, rattles, stomps and vibrates, but not uncomfortably? But on the contrary. The injection engine is still a little reluctant when it is cold, but once? advisedly ?? When brought up to operating temperature, it shows its true colors from 4500 rpm. Then the Centauro pulls out your arms and storms the machine, weighing 246 kilograms, irresistibly forward. When it comes to pulling power, the Speed Triple and the Mantra don’t even have to compete with the Centauro? at least up to 120 km / h. Negative effects of the exposed cardan drive? Nothing. But even lazy shifting in the last gear does not cause any problems for the Guzzi engine. The centauric top speed of 216 km / h is of course only reserved for very hardened contemporaries. Even the 180 km / h mark can be considered a theoretical value, which the drivers of the Mantra and the Speed Triple are happy to leave to the fully wired faction. Anyone who has made friends with the seated position on the Centauro, which is far to the rear and denies the passenger, reveals its very own charm on winding country roads. Sure, as light-footed as the Speed Triple or the Mantra, it cannot be chased around corners. But it is by no means as heavy as its appearance suggests at first glance. Your chassis is just as tight as that of the Triumph. In contrast, the mantra appears more like a softie. Fortunately, all three offer their owners plenty of adjustment options on the suspension elements so that they can be matched to suit. There is also zero cause for complaints when it comes to braking. The Triumph brake system from Nissin sets the standard, but the Brembo brakes of the Italians also decelerate well above average and foolproof.
Klar, one can argue about taste? or not. One thing, that should be clear from the start: The three machines polarize. They repel you or cast a spell over you. There is nothing in between. And that’s just as well. Are you now flirting with a test drive (it’s worth it) and maybe you actually decide to buy one of the three? Then please do not be surprised if you are offered a generous seat on your next excursion to the motorcycle meeting point and you are involved in hours of fuel talk. After all, you didn’t want it any other way. And, as I said, park right at the front. Nobody is going to hold that against you seriously? except maybe some envious people.
Speed Triple: In search of the lost horsepower – Triumph programmed a new map for the Speed Triple
In the first test (MOTORRAD issue 7/1997) the Speed Triple suffered from a performance deficit. Instead of the promised 108 HP in the open version, the three-cylinder only put 96 on the test stand. In addition, the triple drank improperly. Together with Sagem, the supplier of the injection electronics, the Triumph technicians went on a search for performance. So far only with a partial success, because with 98 hp the T 509 failed again to achieve the desired top performance. On the other hand, the fuel consumption fell by over a liter at a constant 160 km / h. Speed Triples, the new map will be programmed into the control unit free of charge from the beginning of May 1997.
2nd place – Bimota
You are not interested in top performance. What counts for you is the extravagant look. Do you want an exclusive motorcycle that cannot be seen on every street corner? Then you have come to the right place with the Bimota Mantra, especially since its newly calculated price of 23,449 marks is okay. The mantra not only guarantees a slightly different appearance, but will also convince you with a comfortable seating position, its handiness and a perfectly coordinated Ducati engine.
1st place – triumph
Your nickname is »Stoppie« because you like wild braking maneuvers. You’ve always liked the single-sided swing arm of the 916 anyway. You are also into high-tech: the intake manifold injection is entirely to your taste. And the cramped sitting position on your super sports bike has always been too uncomfortable for you, firstly, and secondly you ride with such a thing ?? In her opinion ?? meanwhile every Heini around. High time for you to think about a test drive with the Speed Triple.
1st place – Moto Guzzi
You won’t be bothered in the least by the malicious looks of confused people who don’t want to get used to the design of your machine. Above all, you demand pure performance from a motorcycle, but you should also feel some of it. Then there’s only one thing for you: the Moto Guzzi. A natural power pack called Centauro with a hard but stable chassis. Only the Italians can do that, but you always knew that. Price and build quality? Fit.
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