Comparison test: the strongest touring athletes


Comparison test: the strongest touring athletes

Comparison test: The strongest touring athletes (with video)

Test: Sporty bikes with long-distance ambitions

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They are significantly heavier than athletes, lighter than tourers, and with their concept they try to achieve a balancing act between these two types of motorcycles: sports tourers. Does the Honda VFR 1200 F have what it takes to conquer the crown in mass sport?

Jo Bauer skilfully puts the Honda VFR 1200 F on the rear wheel.

Shortly after the apex of a curve, somewhere in the south of France: professional stunt professional Jo Bauer provides the Honda VFR 1200 F. on the rear wheel and storms out of the corner with a wild lean wheelie. PS photographer Dave Schahl almost tears the camera off in shock; even he rarely gets the action at the physical limit with such a motorcycle in front of his lens. Then his eyes sparkle, he smells the shot of the year. He lets Jo repeat the trick until the picture is perfect. The photo artist then stows the equipment in the car in a good mood and roars to the next location in anticipation of more such performances.

Besides Bauer on the Honda, other PS testers follow him there BMW K 1300 S, Kawasaki ZZR 1400 as Suzuki Hayabusa. Their mission: to find out how much sport there is in the bikes. Each of the displacement giants offers almost inexhaustible power. Between the weakest in the field, the Honda VFR with its innovative V4 and measured 164 PS, and the 196 PS muscle man Hayabusa, the BMW (174 PS) and the ZZR 1400 with 180 thoroughbred stallions sort themselves.

The Kawasaki ZZR 1400 shines with its gentle throttle response and ingenious control of the thrust.

In particular, the four-cylinder in-line cylinders with their powerful punch really knock speed freaks off their feet. Take Kawasaki, for example: the ZZR 1400 starts buffing up just above idling speed, accelerates wonderfully gently and offers its power in an excellent metered manner. The 1400 delivers outstanding thrust, especially in the partial load range when bolting out of curves, where it enables sensitive throttle and rewarded with maximum propulsion – fantastic! On the first few meters at the exit of the curve, nothing has grown against the Kawa. If the field allows throttle valves to be opened a little further, the K 1300 S and the Hayabusa zoom back in on the Kawasaki. The Suzi owes this mainly to its unearthly torque, which from 3000 rpm is constantly above that of the competition and has a peak value of 156 Nm. The juice of the Hayabusa gives its driver absolute sovereignty. When it comes to maximum output, there is no getting around it. The fact that it does not mercilessly leave the competition behind is due to its long translation. Electronically limited to a top speed of 295 km / h, the sixth gear of the Suzuki theoretically reaches up to 325 km / h. Even in the fully twisted fifth there are already 297 items.

The chassis of the BMW K 1300 S offers the best handling.

BMW translated its sports tourer in a more practical way. In sixth gear there are 285 km / h at the locking speed; exactly the speed that the Munich-based K 1300 S writes as the maximum value in the vehicle registration document. Thanks to this crisp, short gear ratio, it stays with the ZZR and Hayabusa in spite of slight disadvantages in terms of top performance and torque, even leathering them off in the torque rating. In the last gear it sprints "K" from 50 to 150 km / h in a sensational 8.1 seconds. A comparison illustrates the fabulous dynamics of the BMW: When it comes to pulling through, it is almost on par with the best production bike in this discipline, the Yamaha R1. The bottom line is that each of these in-line four-cylinder has advantages in its own way, none of them can stand out significantly.

And the VFR 1200 F? Honda was a long time coming with a new sports tourer. The CBR 1100 XX expired in 2007 after ten years of construction, and the VFR 800, which is still available, with 109 hp and 80 Nm torque, cannot attract fans of powerful, disguised big bikes from behind the stove. With the VFR 1200 F, Honda kills two birds with one stone. The new one offers both: full performance and attractive V4 technology.

Unfortunately, the VFR does not in every way live up to the high expectations that motorcyclists have of a brand new machine from world market leader Honda. This is especially true for performance. In contrast to its competitors, the 1200 does not quite get out of the quark in the lower speed range, which is important for country road sharpening. Only from 5500 rpm, when a flap in the exhaust pipe releases the maximum cross-section, does the VFR march as a bike of this genre should. From this mark onwards it also hisses great V4 sound from its very own shaped, short muffler. Underneath, the Honda whispers rather harmlessly, a colleague even pointedly says: "It sounds like a scooter." So that no misunderstandings arise: Taken alone, the VFR offers a stimulating driving experience. However, it does not come up against the strong driving forces from BMW, Kawasaki and Suzuki. The load change reactions are also most pronounced with her. Due to the very hard use of power, the VFR sometimes forces its pilot to correct the line when accelerating out of tight corners.

On the drive side, the strength of the Honda is clearly its smooth running. The mass balance of your unit turned out perfectly, nasty vibrations are alien to the VFR in contrast to the competition with their rough units. Especially at higher speeds, VFR riders only feel what they should feel: a fabulous V4 punch.


Sports Tourer: The Simbiosis of Sports and Tour.

The Honda’s gearbox also ensures moments of wellbeing. Gear changes are smooth as butter, only the Suzuki Hayabusa can hold a candle to it in this regard. The switch boxes of the ZZR 1400 and the K 1300 S work a little more slowly. The latter comes with one "Shift assistants" (BMW jargon). Called automatic gearshift by the common people, the technology allows upshifts without interruption of tractive effort, even under full load. The special equipment should create a real racing feeling. Usually, the professional racer also reverses the shift pattern for this – first gear up, the others down. To do this, the BMW needs an additional mechanism. The interruption of the ignition also feels like it takes longer than on a real racing machine.
At lightning speed, the four power packs beam themselves to the next photo spot, a pass with a wide variety of curve radii. Here the ZZR 1400 rolls in front of the lens and should show what it’s made of. The test motorcycle, on loan from the active Munich dealer Kawa Motor (thank you guys!), Corresponds to the series except for a bit of gold on the fairing keel and rims as well as an accessory windshield. This also applies to the tires on the new machine: Bridgestone BT 014 with special specifications. The Kawa only bends into corners with physical effort and needs slight pressure during the entire cornering to stay on course. The ZZR also leaves something to be desired in terms of accuracy; it requires slight steering corrections in an inclined position due to the somewhat indifferent front.

The engine of the Suzuki Hayabusa is magnificent.

The Hayabusa and the VFR 1200 F circle the arches with a similar ponderousness. The Suzuki steers onto the Bridgestone BT 015 fairly manageably, but pushes outwards noticeably from the apex under tension. The Honda locks itself most vehemently against banking; in the corners it constantly demands the active support of the driver. After all, it keeps the given line until you apply the gas. The driving behavior of the three Japanese women suggests that sports tourers did not allow carefree cornering. After all, the bikes weigh between 258 kilograms (BMW) and 268 kilograms (Honda).
The K 1300 S shows that there is another way. To get into an inclined position, it also requires some muscle power for a short time. This is not only due to the mass, but also to its flat steering head angle in combination with the ultra-long wheelbase. But after just a few degrees of angle, the BMW peppers its way through the meander with great lightness, stays on course with laser precision and enables a free choice of line. Curve fun at its best! At first, the Bavarian’s turning behavior seemed almost nervous, and whoever climbs onto her from one of the other bikes will almost ram the handlebars into the asphalt. After a few turns at the latest, K drivers don’t want to do without this lightness anymore. The tires play a large part in this performance: Conti Sport Attack. A thoroughbred sports sole known for its excellent handiness. Pilots naturally go to the tire dealer more often on rubber tires like this than on touring tires. But the increased driving pleasure definitely justifies this investment.

After the ZZR, it is the turn of the K 1300 S with FotoAction. Driven by the demanding gesture of the photographer, the author climbs on the bench and takes the sport cow standing on the back wheel. Click, click, the trigger glows. The stunt works surprisingly well, the erection moment of the cardan is barely noticeable. The Honda is different. Equipped with the low-maintenance rear-wheel drive, their cardan reactions are significantly stronger.

The route becomes bumpier. Chassis test. All bikes tend to be on the soft side when it comes to the coordination of their suspension elements, which creates a lot of movement in the massive machines on furrowed terrain. The BMW rushes over mogul slopes a little more stable than the Far East Brenner. It is equipped with the latest generation of the electronically adjustable chassis (ESA II, surcharge: 740 euros). At the push of a button on the handlebars, the system allows you to choose between different modes that vary the setup of damping, spring preload and spring rate. Rubenacker works on quality roads "Comfort" pretty good, PS recommends on other terrain "Sports". Regardless of the mode in which the pilot shoots, in solo mode he should always select the lowest possible payload in the menu (display: a helmet). In this setting, the Bajuwarin is optimally balanced.

The Kawasaki cannot serve with such modern technology. In return, it counters with the best responsiveness of fork and shock absorber in the test. The spring elements smooth out even the worst asphalt distortions, nothing penetrates the driver. Top notch! The Hayabusa joins just behind. Fork and shock absorber filter impacts very passably, in this discipline it is on par with the BMW. The VFR does not quite reach this level. The shock absorber in particular has a trampling effect on rough, pointed bumps. Furthermore, due to the very comfortably tuned mono-shock, the rear sways clearly on lousy roads. The fork does that better. Much tighter, the front remains largely calm. So that the front and rear end work in sync, the shock absorber requires a very wide closed damping and the fork a completely open damping.
The last single photo action of the day is on the program: Brutal stoppie with the Hayabusa. It is the only one that does not offer ABS. Only bold contemporaries see an advantage in this and play with the thick ship like a supermoto. A case for Jo. But even the crack does not manage this tightrope act so easily; On the Suzi, drivers sit very far back and the handlebars are emblazoned far in front. So it is hardly possible to shift enough weight to the front. This sitting position also takes getting used to in everyday life. In addition, the Hayabusa’s brakes bite cautiously and require a lot of hand strength. How Jo conjures them up on the front wheel remains his secret. The stoppers of the ZZR 1400 do a similar job. Heavy hand strength, tired braking, roughly regulating ABS: There is better from Kawasaki on this point. The Honda trapping iron shows how to do it right. For optimal deceleration they also require a little more hand strength. But the braking effect is perfectly fine and the ABS controls very sensitively. Here, too, the K 1300 S packs a punch. Their pliers grip the discs as effectively and linearly as a good super sport brake. In addition, the system impresses with a crisp pressure point and excellent transparency. Thanks to its special front suspension (Duolever), it does not dip as much when anchoring as its competitors and, in combination with the superb ABS, achieves unique delays.

The K 1300 S clearly wins. It currently forms the ideal symbiosis of sport and touring. With a base price of just under 16,000 euros, BMW can pay dearly for this. The Honda VFR 1200 F finished second, a full five points behind. Only her brakes and the seating position keep her in front of the two older bikes from Kawasaki and Suzuki. It only deserves the title sports tourer to a limited extent, the VFR mainly shines with its tourist characteristics. The ZZR 1400 takes third place in front of the Hayabusa due to its slightly more successful ergonomics.

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