Concept comparison sport enduros

Concept comparison sport enduro bikes

heaven and hell

Joy or sorrow? Often a question of displacement for sport enduro bikes. But how many cm3 do you really need in tough off-road use? And does power make you fast at the same time? A cross-class comparison provides the answer.

Hedge up, hedge closed ?? Branches crack, then the four-stroke sound suddenly falls silent in the thicket. That is the provisional end of a brisk enduro lap. Was that a concentration error, or was it the machine? The sweaty chase through the undergrowth only applies to the answer to the question: What makes a sports enduro really fast? Is it the achievement? The displacement? And which factors determine the fun at speed?
To clarify, MOTORRAD sent the highlights of the season out onto the slopes. Above all the WR 250 F. Yamaha relies on five-valve technology, lightweight construction and enormous speed reserves. With only 114 kilograms and 31 hp on the rear wheel, she fights in the flyweight class. The middle class is represented by the Suzuki DR-Z 400 E. The well-known four-valve engine delivers a whopping 41 hp to the rear wheel and essentially corresponds to the previous year’s model. The electric starter is new, this variant was previously only available abroad. The Japanese are optimistic about not having a kick starter, but the DR-Z is relatively heavy at 126 kilograms.
Clearly, the KTM 520 EXC Racing is at the forefront of the power league, which is why it was a must for the off-road shootout. With its 49 horsepower on the rear wheel, performance freaks get sparkling eyes, and its 118 kilograms curb weight with the standard electric and kick starter are top.
Husaberg marks the upper end of the displacement scale with the FE 650 e. The Swedes, known for extreme off-road machines, have developed a new four-valve engine which, with 49 hp on the rear wheel and a dry weight of only 117 kilograms, also delivers top values, goal according to the motto "displacement cannot be replaced by anything" it just goes one better.
The only thing the four machines had in common was the Michelin Enduro Competition III tires. The drivers also covered a broad spectrum. Above all, the six-time German motocross champion Dietmar Lacher. In the midfield there are three veterans with many years of enduro or cross experience. The quintet is rounded off by a talented newcomer with little enduro practice.
However, before the start flag falls and only the distance to the next curve or edge or the end of the ruts counts, first a trial lap. Fast bordering meadows line up, before zigzagging over rubble-studded earth walls. At the latest when the path to the slalom turns into the forest ?? Hedge up, close up – it’s clear to everyone: this isn’t a children’s party. Full concentration is required on the partially wet clay soil, the roots and in the knee-deep ruts. In order to make up for lost time on the few straights, full commitment is required. Which concept offers the best conditions for a clean line and thus fast times on this four-kilometer circuit??
Out with the stopwatch, now it’s time to do it. After a standing start in the style of a special test, the drivers dash individually over the special test. After completing a lap, take a short break, change vehicles and continue, always fighting the adversities of the track and time.
Then the amazing balance sheet. Despite the subjectively slow impression, three of the five drivers are the fastest with the small WR. "There are no symptoms that are typical for acceleration, such as a lurching rear end or a rising front wheel," says one tester, describing his impressions. Indeed, the blue pushes inconspicuously but steadily forward, making good meters even on the slippery ground. However, on the straights you also have the feeling that nothing happens at full throttle; some drivers lack the "power kick".
"With the Yamaha you are faster in corners because you accelerate much earlier and without fear of a rear wheel breaking out," summarizes Didi Release. The WR really tempts you to play with the speed in the corners and thus increase your own speed. However, some practice is required to take advantage of this. In addition, the gait must match the current speed exactly. "It works best if you always drive a gear lower than usual," says the ex-professional. "So you get used to the higher speed level and still have enough reserves up and down thanks to the wide usable band."
The little one is also ahead when it comes to handling and provides a light-footed driving experience. Since it also reacts good-naturedly to driving errors with its soft suspension elements, it is the right choice for hectic laps. The energy-saving performance development also enjoyed unanimous approval as the test day progressed.
The Suzuki surprises with its powerful yet very easy-to-dose engine. "It’s a real piece of cake," says Lacher casually. With its very cultured single, the DR-Z offers the perfect mix of safe traction and a good portion of fun, because the straights really get going at full throttle. No one needs more power on this slope, everyone agrees.
The fact that the exceptionally handy Suzuki still does not achieve top times is mainly due to its ergonomics. The rather wide tank, which protrudes far above the seat, and the very flat handlebars, which are mounted close to the body, restrict freedom of movement on the yellow, and you cannot optimally load the front wheel when cornering. As a result, she sometimes pushes over the front wheel in turns. In addition, you feel little integrated into the bike. "In terms of balance and overall geometry, the DR-Z is more like a road than a sports enduro," says one tester.
The Suzuki chassis presents itself as softly tuned as is typical of Enduro. As with the WR, these spring elements also generously forgive careless mistakes and thus guide horse and rider safely through the labyrinth of tracks. However, the steering behavior is a bit too indirect for the cross among the drivers.
The KTM proves the enormous influence the ergonomics of the machine has. With its flat, slim tank-seat unit and the high handlebars, it offers optimal freedom of movement when riding through woods and fields. At the same time, the driver is well integrated. So it’s not surprising that the two greatest drivers have the best times with her. Even the beginner, who finds it very difficult with the aggressive performance characteristics, is faster with it than with the good-natured Suzuki. The characteristics of the fast-revving KTM engine are clearly in the direction of four-stroke cross and is actually too powerful for enduro use. The enormous power is still relatively manageable on dry ground, but the enormous power of the KTM requires significantly more effort from the driver than the DR-Z, for example. "At the end of a day of driving or a race distance, errors are programmed due to progressive exhaustion, "Lacher sums up. Especially since the spring elements of the KTM are noticeably tighter than those of the rivals. The fork in particular offers very good feedback, which gives a feeling of security at higher speeds , but at the same time costs more strength.
The Austrian and Swedish enduro show how different two almost equally powerful motorcycles can be. The rough one; On the one hand, the uncultivated Husaberg engine does not have the top performance that one expects from a sporty 650. On the other hand, it grips so hard even at low speeds that the rear wheel constantly loses grip on wet surfaces. There is simply no controllability. "The FE 650 e is very difficult to drive due to its huge displacement," says Didi.
E.Handling is another difficult topic. "You have to grab it by the horns and force it on course, which is typical for such large displacement," says the top driver. And if the strength dwindles at some point, the FE jumps uncontrollably over hill and dale. The two flat feet after punctures on stones – the only failures with the same tires and the same air pressure – are symptomatic of the fact that 650 cm3 are simply too much, because the rough engine running has a strong effect on handling. So it is not surprising that the Swede is the last in the lap times, because the drivers reach their own limits, especially in the forest passages? Hedge up, hedge shut.

MOTORCYCLE measurements

David versus Goliath ?? The superiority of the large four-stroke engines seems obvious in the performance diagram. But tough off-road use shows that the feasibility and controllability of the performance as well as the maneuverability of the machine determine the speed in typical enduro use. And here the lightweight 250 is clearly ahead. But when a good portion of fun is required, a 400 is the better choice, after all, lap times are not everything in life

Point of view: Dietmar Lacher, six-time German champion

»Power is nothing without control! Only when the dosability is correct, fast and at the same time safe rounds are possible. The Yamaha shows that the easy-to-use power of a 250 on the narrow, often slippery enduro tracks can best be converted into propulsion. The steam hammers require too much concentration and strength to convert performance into controlled propulsion. With a small four-stroke engine, however, it is important that the shift points match exactly and that the speed never drops too much when cornering. A 400 has more reserves, but does not overwhelm the pilot in difficult situations and, on balance, offers a higher fun factor. Yes, a lightweight 400 is definitely the best choice for beginners and ambitious amateurs. My ideal enduro? Well, when it comes to the engine, the Suzuki is clearly ahead, and in terms of ergonomics, I like the Yamaha best, plus the KTM’s fork and detailed solutions. In terms of shock absorber, none of the four motorcycles completely convinced me, unfortunately.

Jorn Thomas about the Yamaha

Jorn Thomas, performance fetishist »Less is often more ?? The WR 250 F has proven this. But I missed the fun factor. The 250 is astonishingly fast despite the subjectively slow impression, but what do lap times count in comparison to a wildly rising front wheel and a wildly lurching rear ???

Sascha Zdrahal on KTM

Sascha Zdrahal, thoroughbred enduro rider For me, the 520 EXC is the smooth operator among the steam hammers. The enormous power can be precisely dosed and implemented in fast laps. The agile handling was also surprising. With the posh workmanship and the noble components, it is indeed "ready to race".

Nicolas Clausen on the Suzuki

Nicolas Clausen, four-stroke fan The DR-Z 400 really surprised me. Uncomplicated driving behavior, powerful engine, well-controllable brakes and electric starter – this is how you can be quick without stress and with little effort. Unfortunately, the cheap, loveless details and the ergonomics that take getting used to annoy.

Gert Thole on the Husaberg

Gert Thole, Cross-Veteran Just rough. With its powerful displacement and rough acceleration, the FE 650 e requires a lot of strength and concentration. This is where the fun ends. The unwilling start behavior and the unbalanced chassis do not exactly contribute to the popularity of the 650s.

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