Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide, Moto Guzzi California 1100i and Triumph 900 Thunderbird
Comparison test of classic motorcycles
Stronger, faster, lighter – important arguments when buying a motorcycle. But then there’s a Harley Dyna Super Glide, a Moto Guzzi California 1100i, a Triumph 900 Thunderbird – and that’s where the heart decides.
“I’m not stupid, you’re not stupid, he, she’s not stupid. . . “The radio commercials inevitably hammer their way into the brain at breakfast. It is the small prices that are advertised and are intended to encourage people to buy electronic items. If we close ourselves to these solid arguments, our reason will be doubted. It’s that easy. The motorcycle scene occasionally makes use of just as hard-hitting arguments, the disregard of which only causes colleagues to shake their heads pitifully. Not the low prices – motorcycling just isn’t cheap. But what has more power, is faster and more manageable, easier to master and perfect to steer, must also be more fun. Anyone who thinks differently cannot be very tight. Seen in this way, the comparison test between a Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide, one M.oto Guzzi California 1100 i and a Triumph 900 Thunderbird, each of which in its own way embody technology, driving characteristics or at least the look of bygone motorcycle epochs, today for many people with incomprehension.
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Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide, Moto Guzzi California 1100i and Triumph 900 Thunderbird
Comparison test of classic motorcycles
Dyna Super Glide is extremely tiring in the long run. On the high Buckhorn handlebars, your arms soon threaten to fall off, and your feet do not find the right support to support yourself on the footrests, which are not really far forward or back, in order to occasionally relieve one or the other part of the body, to relax. And what was it like at the last round table talk, the talk of the beefy Harley sound and the rich, pounding draft of the 1340 V-Twin? The reality is sobering. If you adhere to the legal rules of the game, leave the series silencers on and don’t fumble with the carburettors, you will be left with a whispering exhaust whisper and gentle acceleration that gets tougher with increasing speed. But who needs increased speeds? The last gear and the lowest revs promise more luck.
The image of the “American way of drive” rises in your mind on an empty highway: endless straights, warmth, no car far and wide, nothing but landscape. But things are different on the Autostrada, where the missing punch is already missing. Hasn’t Harley left a lot of money in the Porsche development center in Weissach to cure the old age of the “evolution engine”? Improvements to the air filter and exhaust system should give the 49 hp twin back to the end of 1993 with seven additional hp, i.e. 56. But there is little evidence of that. And a later measurement confirms the subjective impression: Not 50 PS are left, not more than with a Super Glide measured in spring.
However, such bad news can hardly shake the joy of riding a Harley. Riding a Harley means relaxing: absorbing the gentle vibrations of the twin and gliding through the country at low speeds. A calming game that starts at the traffic lights. The first gear stage is engaged with a hard “clone”. Gently accelerate, disengage, shift through. Feel how a few more revs per minute translate into gentle thrust. The Dyna Super Glide rolls forward like a gentle giant, the engine shakes powerfully in its chassis. Little of it can be felt, but it can be seen all the more clearly. Only a slight tremor and pounding pass through the driver’s body. From now on, only fourth and fifth gears are engaged in and out of town. The back and arm muscles have recovered.
The Harley glides over the bumpy asphalt as if on a cloud, swings gently through every bump as if it were wrapped in cotton wool. There is really nothing wrong with the sensitivity of the telescopic fork and the two shock absorbers. But they are clearly underdamped, which you can clearly feel when they start to trample in a series of potholes or when they rock the load in fast, wavy passages. The Super Glide weighs an impressive 295 kilograms. A lot of steel, which is surprisingly easy to maneuver and, thanks to the low seating position, can be well balanced. Only when winding roads are on the timetable does the Harley mutate into an inert mass. She wants to be steered into every curve and then straightened up again.
You get the hang of it quickly. A smooth, rounded driving style makes handling the Harley easier. But be careful: in right-hand bends, the exhaust manifold touches down surprisingly early. The brakes are an issue in and of themselves. Here it is necessary to rethink. The single disc in the front wheel is really not a hit. It only decelerates properly if you pull hard. The better it goes with the rear window. As the saying goes: together we are stronger. And that’s exactly how you brake a Harley. The Moto Guzzi: in good tradition. Just a few kilometers on the California are enough to determine that it has everything Harley riders say about their base at the regulars’ table: a rich sound, a powerful engine and stylish vibrations.
So we start on the American dream “made in Italy” with its full 75 hp, which are only rarely needed to skilfully present yourself. A push of a button is enough, then the longitudinally installed V-Twin thuds away, shaking the chassis and tilting to the side with every warming throttle. Enter the corridor, and off you go. Cali, weighing 274 kilograms, rises from her feathers and shakes away. The engine revs up cleanly and smoothly, converting every movement of the throttle grip into propulsion. The Weber-Marelli injection system has done the California noticeably good. If only because the gas can be drawn out much more easily than with the carburettor version. The Cali masters several types of motorcycling. On the one hand, 75 hp are easily enough to achieve high motorway sections, on the other hand, the full torque curve of the engine seduces you to lazy, low-speed driving, which is often used for enjoyable cross-country journeys.
The pithy shaking and pounding of the 1064 cm3 two-cylinder gives way to a muffled suction rattle and the roaring sound from the two chrome-plated tailpipes with increasing speed. In between, the penetrating rattling and rattling of the valve train consisting of timing chain, bumpers and rocker arms mixes. But don’t worry, the Guzzi is speed-proof, even if you hardly ever have to pull it out of the reserve to get ahead quickly. And because the driver sits so comfortably upright and the pillion also finds a cozy place, extended tours are practically inevitable.
But wait – not for everyone. The seating position does not make everyone happy. Long Lulatsche will certainly nag about the bad knees on the knobbly tank, smaller ones will be annoyed that they squat too high and the plush bench was too wide to be able to maneuver the heavy colossus safely with their feet on the ground. Newcomers to California have to train beforehand anyway: legwork in handling running boards, rocker switches and integral brake systems. Because the main braking force comes from the foot. A gentle push on the pedal is enough to activate a disc in the front wheel and the rear disc brake and to stop the Cali quickly and safely. You just have to lift your foot off the step. The same applies to switching, because the rocker is so high that it is difficult to reach without lifting your feet. Once the ups and downs of the feet are seated, driving in Califonia is a real pleasure.
The winding Italian streets are her, who is surprised, how cut to the fat body. Because of immovable mass. The colossus scurries through winding curves as if it had just successfully completed a diet. The Guzzi fork with Bitubo inserts offers decent comfort in the softest setting, and the rear dampers also cope with a full load. The Triumph: a modern classic.
The third traveling journeyman in the group comes from England, and he makes a big impression. Round fenders and side covers, straight seat bench, cigar-shaped rear silencer, lots of chrome and applications that, like the tank shape, are clearly reminiscent of the 1960s. But the traditional ends with the nostalgic look. Motorcycle technology from the 90s is working under the sheet metal. It’s no wonder that the Triumph does not have any odd, lovable weaknesses or compromises in direct comparison with the Harley and Guzzi. The three-cylinder, which has been described as full of character in so many comparative tests and only has 70 hp in the Thunderbird, remains a bit pale in terms of its power development compared to the two large-volume twins.
But the measurable truth sometimes looks different: Quite unspectacular, only softly and hoarse rattling, the 900 three-cylinder makes its dear colleagues look really old in all engine speeds. As if 237 kilograms were the lightest thing in the world, he sprints up and away. Without a resounding clack and clonk, the five gears are switched through quickly. The fifth shows how good the triplet’s elasticity is. The Thunderbird goes down to 40 km / h without jerking and bucking, takes on the gas cleanly, accelerates spontaneously and powerfully as soon as the throttle is opened. Downshifting to overtake quickly would be a waste of time.
In short, the old-fashioned Thunderbird cannot hide its youthful freshness: Easy to handle, precise, neutral and stable when cornering – the best in trio. The suspension tuning is comfortable, provided you take it easy. But measured against current big bikes, the nostalgic Thunderbird has to put up with some criticism. After all, it has a modern chassis. And that must not show any serious defects: For example, that the telescopic fork occasionally hits through, or the central spring strut that even with a 90 kilo man mercilessly hits the silent block when the road surface becomes bumpy and wavy. Lifting the spring base is of little use.
Everyone has a hard time considering whether to take someone on the back, even though there is enough space. The lonely disc brake in the front wheel quickly reaches its limits during brisk driving and heavy loads. A double disc brake would be appropriate not only because of the better braking performance, but also because when you pull hard, everyone feels the telescopic fork twisting under the force acting on one side. The seating position is comfortable and effortless over the long term, and with the low handlebars (Triumph accessory) it is also suitable for higher travel speeds. The end: the dear money Less than twenty thousand marks doesn’t do much. At least not if the nostalgic Brummer with windshield and pannier are trimmed for travel suitability.
With the Harley factor, the Dyna Super Glide comes to over 25,000 marks. The Triumph Thunderbird is available for a little more than 21,000 marks, including a 25 percent cheaper complete set of leather bags and windshield along with many additional chrome parts. The laudable exception is the Moto Guzzi: The Italo-Californian with thick 40-liter suitcases instead of lean leather bags, a large windshield and crash bars equals a special offer for 19,400 marks. When it comes to the fall and wear parts, the Guzzi is no less cheap. There is even the Triumph over the Harley. As expected, however, the Englishwoman collects plus points with long inspection intervals and low inspection costs. But this is about sanity, and it doesn’t belong here now.
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