The last four-cylinder without control electronics
Test: Honda Fireblade against Suzuki GSX-R 1000
They are the last current four-cylinder superbikes without complex control electronics. Fighting machines for sensitive wrists and original driving pleasure.
Take it easy, dear, it’s for your own good! Hard to the right, the slope stretches up the mountain. Behind it, the route in Portimao, Portugal, falls steeply into a depression, in front of which the 1000s like to stick their noses into the sky. But that second-gear hook in front of it is such a neuralgic point in this test: medium speeds, massive torque – no traction control. If you simply set the throttle valve to full power here, you will no longer experience the top of the hill in the saddle.
It was always like that in the past. But in 2012, many Superbike pilots like to rely on traction controls that are actually offered by all manufacturers today – with the exception of two major Japanese brands. The Honda CBR 1000 RR alias Fire-blade and the Suzuki GSX-R 1000 rely on the traditionalists among sports fans for at least this season. And PS is worth an exchange of blows in Portimao; without a net and a false bottom, without frills, without fanz. The gas hand has to fix it, the rest is feeling and listening.
Power stalemate isn’t everything
The core of both superbikes is a one-liter four-cylinder, which our test bench attests to be just over 170 hp. But the similarities are limited. Let’s take a look at the new Kilo-Gixxer and do a few lively laps.
GThe engine picks up shocks very gently. The Suzuki also hangs wonderfully – directly on the gas. A slight twist of the handle and hui, the GSX-R goes to work. The four-cylinder also pushes hard from 3500 rpm. Exactly right for an “old school” motorcycle, because if the electronics do not iron out driver errors in the area of performance, the performance at this point should be as transparent as possible. That is the big plus of the Suzuki. The pilot on the GSX-R comes out of the already mentioned second gear right without stress, by gently but steadily turning up the gas and sweeping away on the torque shaft. Sometimes the line may not be quite right, the input may not have fitted properly and the speed may drop slightly, that can all be ironed out with the throttle hand and a little intuition.
This is where the Honda Fireblade is a bit trickier. Your engine is a dream of linearity, but in the speed range up to about 7000 rpm the Suzuki simply pushes more decisively. And the driver has to be prepared for the somewhat hard and slightly delayed throttle response of the Honda, especially at the apex. In this respect, the Blade requires a little more sensitivity. For this it rewards the driver with a silky smooth engine run. The Gixxer driver has to cope with a rough running engine, which chases clearly noticeable vibrations into the footrests.
Speaking of hunting: If the exit of the bend fits on both superbikes, the Suzuki takes the Fireblade down quite a few meters on the long start-finish straight. At first we suspected that the test Suzuki had a lot more flavor than the Blade. However, according to the test bench, this is not the case, which suggests that the Suzuki comes out of the corners with more momentum thanks to the torque advantages below and can conserve this up to the braking point. And since we have reached the braking point, both transmissions slide wonderfully from sixth down to third gear. The Gixxer is generally even a bit more silky and precise.
Suzuki GSX-R 1000.
It’s driveability that counts
Portimao is a devious thing. -A lot of blind curves, which have all possible radii and even change them in their course, require a precise and light-footed motorcycle. In our case, this is undisputedly the Honda Fireblade. Against the Suzuki, the Blade rides in the swarm of curves and ups and downs of the World Championship track like a 600, despite almost ten kilograms more weight. The CBR is still a handling master and has gone one better with the new chassis. Every impulse to change direction is willingly implemented. In doing so, she is not nervous, but steadily and precisely aimed at the desired exit in an inclined position. On the Bridgestone S20 standard strips, there was also no sign of the moment of erection. Even when braking in an inclined position, the blade was in full position and never lost sight of the target.
The Suzuki driver, on the other hand, has to work harder in corners. Just folding it down requires more determination on the Gixxer. But the understeer was particularly noticeable. If the blade could be drawn into ever tighter lines with little effort, the Suzuki pushed vehemently outwards and the pilot had his hands full to hit the right exit at all. The fact that Suzi stood up easily on the brakes was no longer significant.
What was nice about the GSX-R 1000 was the transparency at the front. The Suzi fork reported somewhat better about the grip and the condition of the front slack. Instead, she tended to chatter when anchored very hard.
The Suzi was more stable when braking. That is probably the compromise for the sluggish handling. The Blade, on the other hand, was more nervous in the braking zone, prancing towards the turn-in point and was more easily unsettled by bumps. By the way, the vote went to ex-GP crack Jeremy McWilliams.
In the braking zone, we noticed another little thing: The blade’s anti-hopping clutch works completely inconspicuously. Down gear, let the clutch slip out – no problem. The AHK of the Gixxer, on the other hand, is a bit more rustic, which can even be felt in the lever.
Suzuki GSX-R 1000 and Honda Fireblade.
The important trappings
Both fighters are blessed with good sports brakes. From a racer’s point of view, the Gixxer brake makes the race in this area. The new Brembo stoppers are sharp and very easy to dose. Its pressure point is also stable and, above all, crystal clear.
Honda’s C-ABS still offers something like electronics for the false floor. It regulates late and decelerates superbly thanks to the coupling with the rear brake. But those who are used to hard braking maneuvers on the race track will always miss something that they find in the Suzi stoppers.
The blade pilot is gathered together and found lying on his vehicle. Active, on top, in harmony with everything – that’s how it sits and works on the Honda. The Suzuki, on the other hand, looks incredibly large and cumbersome. Somehow you sit in it, you are stretched further forward and the wide tank and the engine are positioned like a monument in between. That makes Suzi look dusty and old.
In contrast, the fun that such racetrack laps make is timeless. It doesn’t really matter on which motorcycle. And even a little tempting is the challenge of really turning up the gas on the 1000 at the end of a second-gear curve, sanding some rubber off the side of the rear tire and brushing it onto the asphalt as if by an artist’s hand. No flickering warning lamps in the cockpit, no control impulses, only slightly dilated pupils, nervously tense lips and then the fabulous feeling of smacking the crest of a weapon with more than 170 hp. The front wheel takes off, quickly into the next gear. It pushes you in the saddle, then…
Sports & scene
Portrait: Tadao Baba
The father of the Honda Fireblade
PS rating / judgment
|Load change reaction||10||7th||8th||Running culture||10||9||7th|
|Gear actuation||10||8th||9||Gear ratio||10||8th||8th|
|Clutch function||10||9||8th||Traction control||10||–||–|
|Suspension tuning in front||10||8th||8th||Chassis set-up at the rear||10||8th||8th|
|Braking effect||10||8th||9||Brake metering||10||9||9|
|Righting moment when braking||10||9||7th||ABS function||10||7th||–|
|Subtotal||100||85||72||Everyday life and driving fun|
1. Honda CBR 1000 RR
Fireblade is the winner of the duel of the traditionalists because the Fireblade is a superbike from the ground up. Well balanced, great driving characteristics, a solid engine. On this basis, the technology goodies and a little more performance, then a hammer Honda could come in 2013.
2. Suzuki GSX-R 1000
It needs to be heavily revised. The engine is a good base, but the bike itself needs a makeover.
Suzuki GSX-R 1000 and Honda Fireblade.
Suzuki GSX-R 1000
Four-cylinder in-line engine, 4 valves / cylinder, 136 kW (185 PS) at 11,500 rpm *, 117 Nm at 10,000 rpm *, 999 cm³, bore / stroke: 74.5 / 57.3 mm, compression: 12 , 9: 1, ignition / injection system, 44 mm throttle valves, mechanically operated multi-disc oil bath anti-hopping clutch, six-speed gearbox, G-Kat, chain
Light alloy bridge frame, steering head angle: 66.5 degrees, caster: 98 mm, wheelbase: 1405 mm, upside-down fork, Ø fork inner tube: 43 mm, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression level. Central spring strut with deflection, adjustable in spring base, rebound and compression (high / low). Suspension travel front / rear: 120/130 mm
Wheels and brakes
Light alloy cast wheels, 3.50 x 17 / 6.00 x 17, front tires: 120/70 ZR 17, rear: 190/50 ZR 17, test tires: Bridgestone S 20, 310 mm double disc brakes with radially attached four-piston fixed calipers at the front, 220- mm single disc with single-piston floating caliper at the rear
measurements and weight
Length / width / height: 2045/705/1130 mm, seat / handlebar height: 810/855 mm, handlebar width: 640 mm, 203.5 kg fully fueled, v./h .: 51.8 // 48.2%
Rear wheel power in last gear
120.5 kW (164 PS) at 253 km / h
Fuel type: Super unleaded. Average test consumption: 7.2 liters / 100 km, tank capacity 17.5 liters, range: 243 km
14 790 euros (plus additional costs)
Four-cylinder in-line engine, 4 valves / cylinder, 131 kW (178 PS) at 12000 / min *, 112 Nm at 8500 / min *, 1000 cm³, bore / stroke: 76.0 / 55.1 mm, compression ratio: 12 , 3: 1, ignition / injection system, 46 mm throttle valves, mechanically operated multi-disc oil bath anti-hopping clutch, six-speed gearbox, G-Kat, chain
Light alloy bridge frame, steering head angle: 66.8 degrees, caster: 96 mm, wheelbase: 1410 mm, upside-down fork, Ø fork inner tube: 43 mm, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression level. Central spring strut with deflection, adjustable in spring base, rebound and compression. Suspension travel front / rear: 120/138 mm
Wheels and brakes
Light alloy cast wheels, 3.50 x 17 / 6.00 x 17, front tires: 120/70 ZR 17, rear: 190/55 ZR 17, test tires: Bridgestone S20, 320 mm double disc brakes with four-piston fixed calipers at the front, 220 mm single disc with single-piston floating caliper at the rear, C-ABS
measurements and weight
Length / width / height: 2090/830/1130 mm, seat / handlebar height: 815/860 mm, handlebar width: 650 mm, 212 kg fully fueled, v./h .: 51.9 / 48.1%
Rear wheel power in last gear
119.8 kW (163 hp) at 255 km / h
Fuel type: Super unleaded. Average test consumption: n / a, tank capacity 17.7 liters, range: n / a.
14,990 euros including C-ABS (plus Nk)
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