The fascination of two-cylinder
Gottlieb Daimler would certainly never have dreamed that. The V2 engine, his ingenious invention, has remained a multifaceted and changeable drive source for modern motorcycles to this day.
Ob Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach knew in 1889 what kind of avalanche they would set off with their steel-wheeled car?
The Japanese found it a little difficult at first with V2 engines. Timid attempts, the Yamaha TR1 is mentioned here as an example, was not followed by anything outstanding for a long time, apart from the large-volume, but not exactly unique V2, which washed onto the market with the emerging chopper wave at the beginning of the 90s. With the TL 1000 S, Suzuki then ventured into direct confrontation with Ducati – and paid a bitter apprenticeship. Their twin was bursting with power, but unfortunately neither the engine nor the chassis were really mature when series production started. Nevertheless, a little later, Suzuki managed a really big hit. Not with a 1000 V2, but with a rather unconventional concept called SV 650. The small SV proved that middle class does not necessarily mean mediocrity. A compact, modern 90-degree V-engine, which, in contrast to its big TL brother, impressed with more consistent detailed solutions. Its crankshaft drives the two overhead camshafts per cylinder via timing chains without intermediate gears. There is no need for intermediate shafts or gears, which saves overall width and weight. Gear shafts offset in height in the vertically divided engine housing and inlet and outlet camshafts arranged at different heights also benefit a compact design. In connection with an almost upright V – it is inclined 15 degrees forwards to the vertical – the technicians have the opportunity to place the nominally 71 hp engine in the aluminum chassis, i.e. with as much load as possible on the front wheel.
Because Suzuki had broken new ground with this compact motorcycle, the MOTORRAD editorial team sent SV at the beginning of 1999 with a mixed field for the first extensive test to the south of France. Wonderful things could be experienced. Despite its cubic capacity and performance disadvantage, the small Suzuki bravely managed to tackle true pulling miracles like a Kawasaki ZRX 1100. The Yamaha YZF 600 R Thundercat, a seasoned 600 cc four-cylinder personality, easily put the V2 with its inimitable punch from the low rev range and wonderful twin staccato into the bag. Full torque combined with sheer revving and an almost unrivaled ease of handling, that is exactly what defines an SV to this day. Suzuki will follow this seamlessly with the completely revised version for 2003. The Japanese have recognized the signs of the times and equipped the SV with electronic manifold injection and catalytic converter. It will be interesting to see whether the somewhat sluggish response behavior, due to the constant pressure carburettors used so far, will improve fundamentally with the injection.
The Twin Cam 88 baptized drive of a Harely-Davidson Fat Boy now also has this contemporary form of mixture preparation. The modern theme has already been dealt with. Water cooling and four valves per cylinder? It is available with the V-Rod, but not with the classic, air-cooled 45-degree V2. God forbid. So many innovations would only scare off regular customers. Harley stands by its tradition like hardly any other manufacturer. For good reason. After all, they wrote an incomparable, billion-dollar success story in Milwaukee. Therefore, the Fat Boy should be emphasized here.
“I want your shoes, your clothes – and your motorcycle.” With these words, action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger entered a pub in 1991 in “Terminator II”. After a brief but heated exchange of views with the former owner, Arnie finally got on the “All American Motorcycle”: a Fat Boy. To save the world afterwards. Schwarzenegger and the Harley brought this scene immortal fame. To this day, the following applies to the Fat Boy: often copied, but still unmatched. Especially when the Big Twin is allowed to dispose of its exhaust gases through a US exhaust system, it casts a spell. Is not legal in Germany. But still sells like sliced bread. Which of course does not legitimize the matter. But this wonderful sound, by no means loud, at most always present, just like a Harley should actually sound. Driving performance? Completely irrelevant. It all depends on the feeling. A mighty motorcycle, as if carved out of solid. An engine that pushes forward from the chasms of the lower speed range, blessed with a lush flywheel, with this finely balanced mixture of vibrations and smoothness. Overwhelms you, takes you with you when it comes to saving the world again.
Which currently seems to be out of joint at all corners and ends. Economic downturn, bin Laden, fear of the future. A society in a crisis of meaning orients itself back to old values. Things to hold on to. A Moto Guzzi V11 Le Mans is just the thing. Embodies tradition. For the author, the wild 80s, the first motorcycle and the respectful look at the Guzzi boys in the clique. Everyone who was self-sufficient drove one back then. Despite all the Kawasaki GPZ 900 R and Yamaha FZR 1000 Genesis. Were nonexistent for the Guzzisti. No matter how fast they are with their superior power and also much more reliable. No matter. The Le Mans boys briefly changed the defective throttle cable when they went out together during a cigarette break, dismantled the open Dellorto carburetor or, without further ado, the cardan. No problem, everything you need is well sorted in the tank bag, the technology for this is provided by the Guzzi: clearly laid out and transparent.
A Le Mans, built in 2002, conveys precisely this incredible charm. The air-cooled, mighty V2 still dominates the scene. The fact that it takes today’s demands on modern engine construction ad absurdum with its lower camshaft, its bumpers and its enormous dimensions, does not matter. The basic features of the Twin are still based on the legendary drive of the V7, even if the engineers have successfully managed to change sensible details over the years. An electronic intake manifold injection replaces the difficult-to-use carburettor, which saves energy, as does a hydraulic clutch. None of this dilutes the shirt-sleeved character of the V2. The two-valve engine, which has now grown to almost 1,100 cubic centimeters, still gets a pleasant shower when you pull the throttle. In the meantime, he’s always good for over 90 hp. He stomps out of the speed cellar with full thrust, allowing himself a little breather in between to get really perky over 5000 rpm. Is always communicated over its entire speed range by noticeable but not unpleasant vibrations. And degrades a BMW boxer, the great rival over the years, to an almost soulless perfect engine.
On one point, however, the nature of Le Mans changed quite radically. This name used to stand for stable straight-line stability, but not for an almost playful easy handling. Today Le Mans falls almost casually from one corner to the next. Like hardly any other motorcycle, it shows you how it would like to be ridden. Everything, just no rush. Requires a fine hand on the gas and the brakes, otherwise harsh load change reactions will ruin the line. If the coordination fits and you drive the Guzzi through the corners, then a feeling of seldom satisfaction arises because it suddenly pulls its radius as if by itself.
No comparison to another, almost mystical V2 legend from Italy: the Ducati 998 R. Sinfully expensive, hand-picked and desirable. Only one purpose: to be fast on the racetrack. In order for Messrs. Bayliss and Co. to be able to burn ultra-fast, a series basis is required, as stated in the rules of the Superbike World Championship. I bet if it weren’t for that, Ducati would still build the R version. For their own sake alone. To show the world what beautiful and unique motorcycles are made in Bologna. Combines the finest Öhlins spring elements, expensive carbon fiber parts – and a legendary V2, the basis for countless racing successes. Like hardly any other colleague in the editorial team, test director Ralf Schneider, who is privately on the way on a lovingly cherished 916, has taken this Testastretta twin into his heart. Because despite intimate familiarity, he always surprises him in the same way and yet again and again. The typical scene takes place when you accelerate out of curves – rather violently on the racetrack, or more moderately on the country road. The Testastretta engine hums with the 104 bore, the ultra-short stroke – it is less than two thirds of the bore – and the extra-large valves that this makes possible, as if it were a cozy teddy bear. Already strong, but not exactly overwhelming. In order to then trace on a sentence at the transition to the medium speed range. Then the tachometer needle clicks towards the end of the scale, the front wheel in the air – and the driver’s pulse at anaerobic levels. This even works in third gear and when driving downhill. Well, that’s how an engine turns when it is allowed to juggle light titanium connecting rods for around 500 euros each instead of steel. A little bit better, because the engine with the 100 mm bore runs more smoothly and with even less vibration, it inspires the original Testastretta 996 R, the 998 S and, recently, the 999 S. Superbike has to feel. The Testastretta-V2 has a good 190 hp. Guarantors for world titles non-stop.
If it weren’t for an upright, brave and ready-to-go Texan. Colleague Andreas Bildl, editor of “PS – Das Sport-Motorrad-Magazin”, had the rare pleasure of driving Colin Edward’s wonder weapon. An experience that is etched into his memory forever. However, his first encounter with the Honda VTR 1000 SP-2 ended in disappointment. Because no nice technician wanted to help with starting. On the next turn, Bildl knew: just press the starter button. Honda simply left it in the engine in order to achieve the minimum weight of 162 kilos. And so the SP-2 hums like its serial counterpart on the first try. This is followed by a somewhat laborious sorting of the limbs. The sloppy Edwards prefers a very front-wheel-oriented seating position with pegs mounted fairly high. After a few bends, however, you get used to it, take your heart in your hand and bravely plunge into the next corner: the madness takes its course.
It’s hard to see how snappy the SP-2 can be fired into the corners. As soon as the line is sighted, whoops, the Honda is already sloping. A slight tug on the handlebar is enough. The superbike cuts its radii with a razor-sharp edge and draws wonderfully tight curves even when exiting a curve. The powerful force of the 90-degree V2 can be used early on. The twin hangs on the gas spontaneously, reacts without the slightest load change jolt and with thrust even to the smallest gas command. And now he really has a lot to offer.
With impetuous force, the two-cylinder pulls out of the corners, kneads the 16.5-inch slick tremendously and powers forward without any breaks. It is precisely this uniform, controllable type of power output that makes it easy for the pilot to use this enormous punch well-dosed. And even if it wasn’t enough to downshift in time in the hustle and bustle and the speed at the apex of the bend drops to 5000 rpm, the SP-2 pulls forward like a bull. Power is simply always and everywhere in abundance. The driver especially feels this when it comes to the next straight. Because the 190 PS strong SP-2 by no means runs out of breath even at higher speeds.
Accompanied by an angry rumble of thunder, she storms violently up the speed ladder before the limiter kicks in at 12500 rpm. The enjoyment on long straights is only clouded by the straight-line stability, which is not exactly bomb-proof, due to the chassis geometry, which has been trimmed for handling. But the world is all right again at the latest at the braking point. The SP-2 brakes like the devil. Two fingers are enough to catch the Honda again effortlessly and precisely, even at top speed. The feeling for the front tire when braking hard down to a deep lean angle is simply sensational. While the engine was given even more pressure for the second half of the season with modified combustion chambers and new camshafts, the chassis in the steering head area was reinforced for more stability and feedback in the braking zones. With success. Colin Ewards wrested the Superbike World Championship, which had already been believed to be certain, from rival Troy Bayliss. And not only gave all V2 fans an exciting and unforgettable season finale.
Technical data: MOTO GUZZI V 11 Le Mans
Engine: Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 90-degree V-engine, crankshaft longitudinally, one lower, chain-driven camshaft, two valves per cylinder, bumpers, rocker arms, wet sump lubrication, electronic intake manifold injection, Ø 45 mm, regulated catalytic converter, bore x stroke 92, 0 x 80.0 mm, displacement 1064 cm³, rated power 67 kW (91 PS) at 8200 / min, max. Torque 94 Nm (9.6 kpm) at 5400 / min Chassis data: wheelbase 1490 mm, steering head angle 65 degrees, spring travel v / h 120/128 mm, price: 11990 euros.
Technical data: DUCATI 998 R
Engine: Water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 90-degree V-engine, transverse crankshaft, two overhead, toothed belt-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, desmodromic, wet sump lubrication, electronic intake manifold injection, Ø 54 mm, bore x stroke 104 x 58.8 mm, displacement 999 cm³, rated power 102 kW (139 PS) at 10,000 rpm, max. torque 101 Nm (10.3 kpm) at 8,000 rpm, chassis data, steering head angle 65.5-66.5 degrees, caster 91-97 mm , Wheelbase 1410 mm, spring travel v / h 127/130 mm, price: 27,000 euros.
Technical data: Honda VTR 1000 SP-2
Engine: water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 90-degree V-engine, two overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, wet sump lubrication, intake manifold injection, rated power approx. 190 hp at 12500 rpm, bore x stroke 100.0 x 63.6 mm, Displacement 999 cm³, chassis: aluminum bridge frame, Showa upside-down fork, Ø 47 mm, two-arm swing arm with Showa central spring strut, two floating 320 mm steel brake discs with six-piston calipers at the front, 220 mm steel disc with single-piston floating caliper at the rear, dimensions and weight: wheelbase 1424 mm, dry weight 164 kg, tank capacity 21 liters
Technical data: Suzuki SV 650
EngineWater-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 90-degree V-engine, transverse crankshaft, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, bucket tappets, wet sump lubrication, Mikuni constant pressure carburetor, Ø 39 mm, transistor ignition, no exhaust gas purification, electric starter Stroke 81 x 62.6 mm, displacement 645 cm³, rated output 52 kW (71 PS) at 9000 rpm, max. Torque 62 Nm (6.3 kpm) at 7500 rpm Power transmission Mechanically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch, six-speed gearbox, O-ring chain. Chassis Mesh tube frame made of aluminum profiles, screwed rear frame, load-bearing engine, open at the bottom, telescopic fork, standpipe diameter 41 mm, adjustable spring base, two-arm swing arm Aluminum profiles, central spring strut with lever system, adjustable spring base, double disc brake at the front, double-piston calipers, floating brake discs, Ø 290 mm, disc brake at the rear, Ø 240 mm two-piston caliper. Tires 120/60 ZR 17; 160/60 ZR 17 tires tested Metzeler ME Z4 F / Z4 Chassis data Steering head angle 65 degrees, caster 100 mm, wheelbase 1420 mm, spring travel f / h 130/125 mm. Dimensions and weights Seat height * 800 mm, weight with a full tank * 193 kg, payload * 207 kg , Tank capacity / reserve 16 liters. Price 6,640 euros
Technical data: HARLEY – DAVIDSON Fat Boy
Engine: Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 45-degree V engine, transverse crankshaft, two balance shafts, two chain-driven camshafts, two valves per cylinder, hydraulic valve lifters, bumpers, rocker arms, dry sump lubrication, electronic intake manifold injection, uncontrolled catalytic converter, bore x stroke 95 , 3 x 101.6 mm, displacement 1449 cm³, rated output 47 kW (64 PS) at 5300 rpm, max. Torque 105 Nm (10.7 kpm) at 3000 rpm Chassis data: wheelbase 1638 mm, steering head angle 58 degrees, caster 147 mm, spring travel f / h 129/103 mm, price (single color) 20 010 euros.
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