Concept comparison travel motorcycles

Concept comparison travel motorcycles

Four make the bend

Not because of a "crooked tour ": The point here is to find the right travel companion.

Sure – the journey is the goal. There are people who torture their Great athletes over gravel passes, intrepid people who hobble through the desert on choppers and very tough ones who tear down 1000 kilometers of motorway in one go with the 350 single-cylinder enduro. There is nothing that is not there. Goal there are also motorcycles that are explicitly designed to cover long distances without stress. The most varied of characters: sporty mile eater like the BMW K 1200 RS, thoroughbred »Comfortable Travel"Motorcycles like the Honda ST 1100 CBS-ABS, half-naked reminiscences of the 70s à la Suzuki GSF 1200 SA Bandit and giant enduros from the style of a Triumph Tiger 900.
Four no less different MOTORRAD testers set out to find out about the talents of these selected travel companions. And so the decision of the testers for a certain type of motorcycle at the beginning of the tour criss-crossing the Alps was not just a matter of chance.
Gegesch, for example, could never claim to have an intimate relationship with tourers. That’s why he immediately grabs the BMW K 1200 RS under the nail. It offers at least something like sportiness. "Lindi" almost tears at the sight of the suitcase protruding far, but he nicely stuffs his luggage into the lavish plastic containers. At least they can be removed with a single movement. The suitcases have to go down because otherwise the seat lock cannot be opened, but Gegesch, with its 190 centimeters, prefers to direct the BMW from the upper floor. So with a lot of patience he fumbled the wide, comfortable bench in the upper of the two positions. And despite his size, he pushes the handlebars all the way towards the driver so as not to have to stretch uncomfortably far over the bulbous tank. He leaves his fingers off the footrests, because adjusting them makes no sense for tall or short people.
That leaves the adjustable windshield. This relieves the driver’s helmet from the annoying wind pressure in the raised position when driving fast on the motorway, but when driving in the rain, shoulders and upper arms are constantly sprinkled. And it rained terribly on this alpine tour. It’s a good thing that the test machine had heated grips, which were subject to a surcharge. This at least kept the water in the gloves at a comfortable temperature.
So that certain degree of tact was retained that the otherwise almost playfully easy to maneuver 290-kilogram bolide requires in the countless tight turns of the Stelvio Pass and the Umbrail Pass. The slower the pace, the more wobbly the heavy athlete reacts.
Another problem in alpine regions: from 1500 meters the air becomes thin – too thin for the BMW. The engine repeatedly dies when the clutch is disengaged without warning. Even the long-legged test boss stumbles when turning. Even when changing gears, things suddenly don’t slip as smoothly as in the flat country. A delayed throttle response turns the supple rubber cow into a stubborn mountain goat with every gear change. A programming error in the control unit, says BMW, which should be corrected as soon as possible within the scope of customer service on all K models that have already been delivered (see also page 36).
In the lowlands, the BMW drive is again perfect. Power in all positions, gentle use of power without disruptive load changes and almost vibration-free engine operation make the Bavarian personable. Despite sporting ambitions, comfort is very important, and the richly equipped cockpit leaves no questions unanswered. Only with the redesigned turn signal switch, especially small hands find it difficult to reach the reset button on the right handlebar.
In contrast, the ABS system works almost foolproof. It has a very calming effect, especially when driving down passes on wet roads. It’s hard to believe what kind of deceleration can be achieved under these adverse road conditions before the system comes into control. Even if an ABS system is not the panacea for slip-ups, the risk is reduced many times over.
Reducing risk is also Uli’s motto. Namely, the risk of a disc damage. So for Uli there is only one question: the Honda ST 1100. The 328 kilograms of the Honda can not scare Uli, he likes to lift weights to build his body anyway. In addition, his height of 190 centimeters is an advantage on the ST. Not because the travel steamer is built particularly high, nor because the seating position would not be just as good for short people. But the right view through the extremely high, strongly curved window is easily lost for small drivers, especially in rain and darkness. That doesn’t bother Uli, because Uli looks over it. And so he enjoys the perfect wind protection and the most comfortable seat – 1000 kilometers at a time, says Uli, no problem with the ST.
No problem for Uli either to follow the illustrious tour company. Regardless of whether it’s fast bends or tight bends, the ST goes with you at any speed. Not because Uli is so terribly strong, but because the difficult ST can be directed more easily and naturally than its fellow campaigners. Once in motion, it steers in with almost no effort, maintains the selected curve radius neutrally and can be straightened out of the inclined position with just as little force. A prerequisite for this neutral driving behavior, however, is a maximum pre-tensioned strut. Otherwise the hindquarters are much too slack, the ST begins to lurch in corners.
Bad country roads, fast motorway sections – the Honda offers comfort everywhere. And also for the pillion passenger. Lots of space, a wide, comfortable cushion, a relaxed knee angle and a sheltered spot. And that suitcases can offer enough storage space without being as wide as a truck, even Gegesch seems a little impressed.
The performance of the Honda brakes is more than impressive. This combined braking system called ABS-CBS is simply inspiring. Even the skinny rider is able to keep the ST in check with just one finger. Foolproof and equally effective the operation via hand or foot lever, incredibly confident and brute the braking power, which brings this colossus to a standstill in the twinkling of an eye from any speed. And here too the reassuring feeling of being able to trust in a functioning ABS. The traction control system (TCS), the slip control of the ST, which never had to prevent the rear wheel from spinning even on slippery asphalt sections, is less important.
Not all MOTORRAD testers are giants. And since Moni measures only 158 centimeters in length, she nominates the relatively petite Suzuki as the travel companion she trusts. Not too high, narrow and light, the Bandit is friendly towards small people: Ground contact, right and left at the same time – what a good feeling. Especially when turning with a bag and pack. Anyone who has once done the pike roll with the engine roaring in front of the campsite audience knows what we’re talking about.
And whoever drove a 1200 Bandit with a Bridgestone BT 54 and an expansive Givi case system through the area knows why Moni is already engaged in lively exchange negotiations at the first refueling stop – whether or not safe ground contact. No GSF tested by MOTORRAD has behaved so badly: handlebar flutter, pitching moment, unstable, stubborn cornering behavior – a single poke. First aid measure: suitcase gone. Far away. Preferably so far that you can never find them again. Then it will be better. At least when it comes to the handlebar flutter and this touching driving experience. Good is different, however. Because the bandit wants to be carried around tight turns. It’s the tires. What a bankruptcy, when you consider that this motorcycle on Michelin Macadam drives around the corner on its own.
The performances of the Suzuki take on bumbling trains when it comes to tackling bad stretches of road reasonably quickly under the wheels. Two or three asphalt faults in a row, and the fork quits its job: the front wheel constantly loses contact with the ground. Diagnosis: too little negative spring travel. With two people on board, things look even darker, which means that the chapter on pillion suitability – despite good space – does not end really happily.
When it comes to braking, the bandit finally regains its composure. And how: Pull the lever with two fingers, and the load is already there. If you want to be even safer or like to pack in with your whole hand – here you go: ABS is available for an extra charge. The passionate acceleration of the engine is standard. In its easy-turning manner, the four-cylinder induces a more dedicated use of the throttle and gear lever. Vibrations? But hello. Under your bum, on your hands and feet – it tingles everywhere. On a big tour, it can get on your nerves. We the other hand, you don’t lose touch with your vehicle, while travelers on the BMW or the Honda sometimes suffer a certain loss of reality.
In the case of the GSF 1200 SA, absent-minded bobbing about does not work because of the ergonomic conditions: The seat, which tapers towards the front and slopes slightly too steeply, and the unfavorable cranking of the handlebars prevent long, comfortable meetings. She wasn’t born as a touring motorcycle, this bandit, even this little disguise that was hung around her steering head doesn’t help much. Although the part protects properly against wind at least up to 160 km / h. Says Moni.
Thomas, overall length 1.98 meters, has a completely different opinion. He towers above the cladding of the Suzuki and is strangled from the chin strap of his crash helmet from a speed of 140. For him – also a privately enthusiastic Enduro to ride – only one motorcycle out of the four comes into question: The Triumph Tiger – he thinks. But – surprise, surprise: the tiger may look like big game and, with a seat height of 850 centimeters, seems to be made for long-legged people. But the British made a faux pas with the arrangement of the handlebars, bench and footrests: While pygmies can sit in an excellent position on the 900, but hardly find ground beneath their feet, Thomas wedges his knees between the handlebars and the tank when turning . In addition, he keeps slipping off the footrests that are too short with his square shoes.
Well – at least he has an easy time handling the Triumph. How easily this motorcycle can be thrown around corners – unbelievable. Nevertheless, the really good feeling does not come about: It floats – the Triumph. And she does swing too. Much too weakly damped spring elements are responsible for the impurities in the tiger’s gait. The constant ups and downs of the forehead end require steering corrections of the second order. On top of that, the long fork twists considerably when braking. On the Stilfser Joch, Thomas has got used to the peculiar driving behavior of the Triumph and uninhibitedly beats the hairpin bends up and down. The brakes withstand the stress test, although they are far less convincing than the ABS-equipped systems of the competition. In addition, the rear stopper, which can be fairly dosed, tends to block quickly.
From the displacement deficit of the 900s nothing can be felt. How grim the three-cylinder bites – you have to see it. And you have to like the rough engine running. None of the engines of the accompanying company offers anything like this experience value. The hoarse acoustic background alone makes you want to play with the throttle.
With every kilometer Thomas shoots himself better at the tigers, and finally it happens: Zack – the suitcase claps on a kilometer stone. The Givi system transforms the tiger rear end into a brewery owl rear end: 1.10 meters wide. That can’t go well for long, especially since the handlebars are significantly narrower. Instead of hanging suitcases on the tigers, it is better to strap on softbags and luggage rolls; this also has a calming effect on straight-line stability. Otherwise, the Triumph booked a lot of comfort, acceptable wind protection and adequate pillion suitability under the heading of travel suitability. On the other hand, there is a shortage in the side scenes: There is, for example, no main stand, no oil sight glass, no clock and lots of Torx screws that prevent the front wheel from being removed in the event of a flat tire.
Vhe days of rain and sunshine, four days of lively motorcycle swaps, four days of the Alps with lots of curves and bends. Four days of different driving impressions. And yet, the tester’s spontaneous first choice was actually not just a coincidence. Gegesch rolls back into the editorial garage on the BMW, Uli on the Honda, Moni…

That’s how Tall Hendrik sits

Gerhard Lindner; 190 centimeters, 81 kilograms. He is certainly not one of the longest in the country, but he is no longer the average driver for whom most modern motorcycles are tailored today.

The LangeBMW seat can only be moved in the upper position, otherwise the knee angle is too extreme. Handlebar stubs are only comfortable in the rear position, which is completely towards the driver. Wind protection with a flat pane poor, with a high pane poor. Knees touch the edge of the paneling. Honda Everything fits here, even for adults. Best wind protection without obstruction of view. Up to 160 km / h no wind is noticeable, above that it only gets loud. And arms and legs are well protected when it rains. Knees hit the edge of the fairing. Suzuki wind and weather protection catastrophic. The upholstery of the bench is too soft, quickly worn out. Inharmoniously cranked handlebar ends, causing pain in the wrists after a long ride. Triumph seat height is great, but knee angle is much too narrow. Knees come into conflict with the wide handlebars when turning. Moderate wind and weather protection, hand protectors keep the gloves dry for a long time in the rain.

That’s how the short one sits

Monika Schulz, 158 centimeters, 50 kilograms. It’s the other extreme. The greatest impassability, however, does not occur when driving, but rather when maneuvering large machines.

This is how the short BMW fits. In the ergonomics package, only seat height adjustment makes sense. Good ground contact with both feet. Tank too bulky and too wide due to the deep seat. Handlebar stubs way too far forward. Comfortable leg position, good wind protection. Honda seat height acceptable, but bench very wide. There is a strong pull forwards behind the panel. Constant support against the handlebars necessary. Catastrophic view due to too high, strongly distorted window.Suzuki Very narrow, therefore safe stand possible. Also easy to maneuver due to the weight. Wind protection quite acceptable despite the mini windshield, relaxed seating position, but awkwardly cranked handlebars. Triumph Much too high when standing, no ground contact with both feet possible. When driving, a great sitting position with a relaxed posture. Wind and weather protection are okay, full throttle stages are easily possible.

Conclusion BMW – BMW K 1200 RS

The BMW likes counter-gear because its engine puts so much pressure out of the cellar and because the shift work is usually limited to engaging sixth gear after rolling. He doesn’t find the sudden death and the poor throttle response at lofty heights funny at all. The chassis is top notch. Only the insensitive response of the rear wheel suspension to small road edges and manhole covers bothers, and when braking hard and in tight hairpin bends, the otherwise playfully directed K becomes a bit stubborn.

Conclusion Honda – Honda ST 1100

Uli likes the ST because he can sit on it sooo comfortably and is the last person to get wet clothes even in the pouring rain. The thick ship can be easily chased through curves. Sometimes Uli would like a little more power from the unspectacular but economical four-cylinder. When it comes to braking, he goes into raptures again. The 328-kilo colossus can be safely decelerated with one finger. Honda‘s CBS system, the coupling of front and rear brakes, is foolproof, the ABS system creates additional trust.

Conclusion Suzuki – Suzuki GSF 1200 SA

Moni likes the ABS bandit because it is slim and light. The travel comfort is not overwhelming, but the Suzuki is a very lively companion. Your engine is snappy on the gas, stingy neither with power nor with vibrations. She was forgiven that the bandit refuses to play the porter. Freed from this, she has already proven this several times, she cuts a fine figure. The driving behavior is heavily dependent on the tires. And Moni cannot make friends with the Bridgestone BT 54 on the test machine.

Conclusion Triumph – Triumph Tiger 900

Thomas likes the Triumph because he’s always been into enduro bikes. He appreciates the upright sitting position, the easy controllability of the machine via the wide handlebars and the inimitable hoarse hissing of the British character actress. The triplet feels strong despite the displacement deficit compared to the competition, but tends, like the Suzuki, to drink. The driving behavior takes getting used to, as the long suspension travel causes a lot of unwanted movement in the driving mechanism. The brakes could also be better.

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