- This is the top
- The upper class – in the Middle Kingdom
- Brake test – full power back
- The top class – the thing with the displacement
- Mid-range sports tourers – five little underdogs
- Handling – shell games
- Passenger operation
- The burden with the burden
- Overview of the Silfser Joch
Megatest sports tourer
This is the top
When 15 sports tourers from three classes meet in the Alps, it’s not a cross-brand company outing, but one of the most elaborate comparative tests that MOTORRAD has ever done.
Claudio Corsetti has the faxes thick. The test boss and jack of all trades at MOTO SPRINT just doesn’t want any more. Nothing more with »va bene« and »avanti«, just »finito«. Basta. Claudio has a home game. Italy at its best. And curves, curves, curves. But up here, on the Stilfser Joch, at over 2,700 meters above sea level, the air is not only thin. She’s out with Claudio.
The little Italian is actually a tough dog. I was happy to say yes when MOTORRAD invited him to a special kind of test. “Mega Sports Tourer Test”, that means: 15 motorcycles from 600 to 1300 cubic centimeters and everything that is well-known in this category, all equipped with Luggage systems and the necessary ballast, beaten over the handling course, driven by a brutal brake test (see boxes). And up here, to the Stilfser Joch. “That is the summit,” says Claudio. After all, he and four other testers as well as a co-driver have made the 48 hairpin bends up from Gomagoi for the fourth time, and Claudio has now reached his personal low up here. Alps here and there.
It is up to Pere Casas that he continues at all. The cheerful nature of the Spanish sister magazine MOTOCICLISMO doesn’t let the many bends spoil their mood and threatens Claudio to be excluded from this event. That’s right, because the fifth lap around the yoke, which Claudio refused to do, only marks the third break or the end of the first day. Ten more laps, each on a different motorcycle, will follow. Megatest, in all respects. And if you don’t participate, you don’t have a story. Basta.
But that’s exactly what the nine testers from three nations are all about (see driver box). Out of 15 sports tourers – or 14 to be precise, because the Sportstar Touring (MOTORRAD 21 and 25/1998) built by colleagues Mini Koch rides out of competition – to choose the best. But not just like that, from the gut, but with a system. For this purpose, MOTORRAD had previously divided all candidates into three classes, namely the middle class, the upper class and the top class, tested them for suitability for motorways and country roads and subjected them to an extensive measuring procedure. Here and now it is important to transfer these “synthetically” values, that is, determined on a cordoned-off route with grippy asphalt, to the treacherous pavement of narrow alpine roads. After each lap, the European test community has to judge each motorcycle according to predetermined criteria. And only the two best in each class make it to the finals in order to weigh in on their individual and conceptual strengths.
But where are they? Is the top class really top because of its superior displacement? Or does feather-light handling count more than beefy pulling power and pure power? Questions that can be rated differently by the testers depending on driving style and personal preferences. That is why they switched back and forth on the long journey. And that‘s why every pilot now drives exactly the same route with every motorcycle. Also Claudio, who after a short break swings onto the Suzuki SV 650 and tackles the Umbrail Pass.
Here, right behind the Swiss border, the little one should be in her element if the tight winding curve with gravel insert should fit exactly.
This gravel route would be nothing for another discipline of this mega test. While the middle class set out for St. Maria at the foot of the Umbrail, only a few 100 meters further on the descent from the Stilfser Joch in the direction of Bormio, real dramas take place. The top class is on the road there. What is soberly described as “fading test” in the specifications turns out to be a challenge for real men in practice. Brake as much as you can, before every turn. With full ballast and a fully grown co-driver – 1.90-meter man Gert Thole didn’t know exactly what he was getting into – test boss Gerhard Lindner pushes the tires to the limit, brake discs and pads to maximum temperature and the service man when the tail lifts off frequently, the sweat of fear on the face. “That has to be done,” says Gegesch, “to track down any fading tendencies.” “I don’t have to have that,” says Gert in the evening at the hotel – and prefers to brake himself the next day. For the Crosser and Super Moto – Drivers are not a problem either.
However, problems of a fundamental nature concern the test drivers at the table. With beer and wine, they let the day and especially the motorcycles pass in front of their minds. Which bike is now the best mid-range sports tourer? Points are taken back and added – and then deducted again. After a few soft drinks, everyone finally agrees. Yamaha is the day’s winner, across the board. YZF 600 R before TDM is the order of precedence, SV 650 S, ZZ-R and GSX 750 F follow. It is astonishing that the Yamaha have earned their points in very different categories (see points evaluation on page 27). So is the absolute sports tourer in the middle? The upper class could provide an answer. With such established representatives as the Honda VFR, BMW R 1100 S, Ducati ST 4 and the Triumph Sprint ST. The great unknown: the Sportstar Touring. But not for long, because DIY can quickly convince everyone of its qualities. It’s still not enough for the final. Not because of a lack of points or withdrawal of sympathy, but because the silver cannot be bought in any store in the world. Prototypes in the Alpine series classification, that is not possible. But she has already shown what is possible.
Which is not to say that the competition is from cardboard. Pere Casas, for example, a hot-blooded Spaniard on the racetrack and with a knife between his teeth, relies on comfort here in the winding curves. And so on the Honda VFR, while “Gegesch” Lindner favors the powerful engine and the snappy brakes of the Sprint ST. Both are not a bad choice, because the final addition of points shows: These are the two finalists – even if the Mini-R1 cheated in between.
Can the fat things top that? There is disagreement among the test crew when it comes to the HP bolides. Does anyone need the 175 hp of a Hayabusa between two turns? Daniel Lengwenus, who has been a tour guide at the MOTORRAD ACTION TEAM for many years and is therefore a real travel professional, states: “So much steam is total nonsense up here.” Others are more optimistic, but nobody wants the equation “a lot of power and displacement = lots of fun” sign. Because there is also a lot of weight involved. And that could spoil everything on the winding streets.
The next morning the matadors set out for the final battle. Another five laps, another 325 kilometers in a row, plus the arrival and departure from the base camp in Livigno. There is much to do. And there are many surprises. Especially for Daniel, whose foundations have been shaken to the core of his motorcycle worldview, which he has laboriously compiled over the years. As so often lately, it is Hayabusa’s fault. Because the hunting falcon mutates into an alpine glider par excellence under an experienced tour guide. There are very good grades in terms of engine, chassis and brakes. With Daniel, but also with the rest of the test crew. “I’m really embarrassed about that,” the self-confessed TDM fan initially comments on his point faux pas, only to then manfully stand by his grades. “I’m a Hayabusa fan now.”
Less surprising is the customer of the second finalist in the top class. They have it with the mountains, the Bavarians. This is called a location advantage. And you can experience it on the K 1200 RS. Comfortable, safe, fast. The motorcycle for all occasions. Will that be enough in the final against the bustling middle class and the balanced upper class? We will see.
And drive. 500 kilometers are on the agenda, around the mountain and across roads of various colors. All-round talents are in demand here, in a cross-class comparison. Combine as many properties as possible. The small Thundercat is a tad too sporty for that, the engine lacks a bit of displacement despite considerable pulling power. It’s more relaxed on the TDM, which lacks a bit of power and chassis reserves. So the really big class after all? Hayabusa, well and good, but seating position and comfort could be better. BMW, that’s it. But it should be a little easier.
It is the upper class. At least her two representatives in the final. VFR or Sprint ST – ingenious compromises in terms of weight and performance, comfort and chassis reserves. Ideal sports tourers, both. But the Triumph Sprint ST is a little more ideal. More power, more torque, more chassis. That is why it wins the direct comparison. And from now on he can call himself the king of sports tourers. Until the next summit.
The upper class – in the Middle Kingdom
It is not easy for them, the five subjects from the upper class. Should they combine the advantages of the small, agile machines from the small class with the pulling power and comfort of the big ships of the top class. The BMW R 1100 S, Ducati ST4, Honda VFR and Triumph Sprint ST have all already shown in comparative tests that the performance potential of this class is at a very high level. The international test crew speculated heavily in advance about the capabilities of the self-made MOTORRAD called Sportstar Touring, but it doesn’t take long before even the last skeptic has to admit that the combination of low weight, sporty, stiff chassis and a comfortable seating position and an immensely potent drive is an extremely refreshing one. The Sportstar can be circled through the tight bend with ease, the elastic four-cylinder catapults the silver-blue self-made construction towards the next corner with high speed, and the neatly metered R1 brake system safely decelerates before the next, rapidly approaching bend. The sports star copes with the road, which has been severely scarred by frost damage, with serenity, even at a brisk pace. Only the single case mounted on the left is a bit annoying. The ten kilograms of ballast constantly require a slight but annoying counter-steering. The biggest shortcoming of the R1-based Sportstar is the fact that it is not available for sale. The do-it-yourself works well and gets into the hearts of all testers as quickly as possible, but unfortunately out of competition and therefore without a chance at the final. The Ducati ST4 misses this chance for another reason. Above all, the gear of the slim Italian woman causes bad grades. Bony hard and too imprecise, the gear train always gives a jerky gear. The non-stop switching work in the Alps causes a sore big toe due to the high expenditure of force, despite the sturdy footwear. The conditions at Ducati are not bad at all. The two-cylinder power is a bit rough in the lower speed range, but always easy to control, and thanks to the favorable torque curve, annoying speed excesses can be dispensed with. The chassis is sporty and stiff, but still sufficiently comfortable, and thanks to the slim line, the seating position is okay even for short contemporaries. In addition, a great integrated pannier system and good pillion characteristics. What is still missing besides the transmission: good brakes. Effect, dosage and feedback are not at the level of the competition. In addition, the stiff clutch makes life unnecessarily difficult for a motorcyclist, and the BMW R 1100 S does not necessarily help to sweeten it. None of the 15 test machines put the test driver’s nerves to the test like the BMW. With the most brutal vibrations in the handlebar ends, footrests and all add-on parts, the boxer draws attention to itself in a very unpleasant manner. Other boxer engines – for example the BMW R 1100 GS – are much more likeable. And the enduro drive develops significantly more power in the lower and medium speed range. In return, the R 1100 S earns good marks for handling and comfort, appealing thanks to its superbly controllable braking system, which increases safety, especially on the sandy descent of the Umbrail Pass. And the sports boxer also makes a positive impression in two-person operation. However, it will be clouded again the next time you stop for fuel. A maximum consumption of up to nine liters is not the right recipe for making friends, and that is exactly what the last two participants in the luxury class get along extremely well with. The Honda VFR in particular shines in the “everybody ?? s darling” role. Sitting on it and feeling good is the order of the day, from the first meter. There is hardly anything to complain about. From the main stand to the informative cockpit, the Honda shines with almost perfect equipment. The only thing missing is a decent, better integrated packing system. The suitcases from the accessory market stick out way too far and just look bad. However, the VFR lacks engine power in the meandering Alpine passes. Even in solo operation, not exactly a bolt of temperament, the four-cylinder looks even tired and limp under the load of a passenger. The same applies to the chassis: very comfortable, but imprecise and not particularly stable, it shows weaknesses, especially when fully loaded. The fully packed VFR reacts like no other with disruptive steering reactions when the road surface is poor. Nevertheless, in the sum of the evaluation points: The VFR is enough in the final. Where the VFR has its weaknesses, the Truimph Sprint ST has its strengths. Powerful, powerful engine with an unmistakable three-cylinder sound and a chassis that guarantees a clean line under all conditions. No rocking, no rolling, the ST pulls its course with the stability of an athlete. You have to do without excessive comfort, but a maximum of driving pleasure is guaranteed. In addition to the chassis, the brakes are also among the best in terms of effectiveness and dosage in this comparison. Even the case system earned excellent marks. And so not even the easily hooked gear of the ST can thwart the entry into the final.
Brake test – full power back
The test setup: five full brakes from 80 to 0 km / h with every motorcycle, on an open route, all fifteen machines with a uniform load of 15 kilograms, all braked by one and the same driver in constantly dry weather conditions: Werner “Mini” Koch really gives everything to scrutinize the braking systems of the test candidates. With astonishing differences in effect in some cases: there is a five-meter difference between the shortest (Suzuki Hayabusa) and the longest braking distance (BMW R 1100 S, see also table). Mini attests the Suzuki brake system a crisp pressure point, clear conditions. Your tightly tuned fork remains stable and does not block, the blocking limit remains easily controllable for the tester. The ABS of the BMW R 1100 S ensures ?? especially when it is wet ?? for a plus in safety, your brake received good marks from all testers in a comparison in the Alps. But pushed to the limit by a professional, i.e. the blocking limit, it wastes braking distance because the ABS does not regulate finely enough. It works a little better with the heavy K 1200 RS. Same phenomenon with the Honda: Both the CBR 1100 XX and the VFR have a composite brake, called CBS for short, in which the front and rear brake circuit are coupled. They are also rated well in the test drives in the Alps. However, they take some getting used to during the brake test. Especially with the XX, the dosage of the foot strength is not easy. Above a certain pressure, no further increase is possible. The dosage of manual force is also difficult for Mini because he does not feel enough feedback at the limit. Result: The front wheel overbrakes without notice. The lighter VFR provides the tester with a slightly better balance and more feedback, but a fork that is too softly tuned also has a negative effect on the braking distance. The best example: the Triumph Sprint ST, blessed with vehemently gripping stoppers in the front wheel. But the fork hits the block too early in the event of an emergency braking and costs Mini a lot of feeling for the blocking limit. This has an even more striking effect on the Suzuki GSX 750 F, which offers respectable deceleration values, but no feedback for the driver, which almost leads to the tester’s departure. The braking systems of the two Kawasaki act similarly callous, and on the ZZ-R 1100 there is also the fact that the touring front tire develops little grip. The result: multiple overbraking, also when driving through the handling course (see also page 21). The cheapest motorcycle in the comparison demonstrates that there is another way: Despite a soft fork, the Suzuki SV 650 offers acceptable braking values and good feedback. Mini really goes into raptures with the brake systems of the three Yamaha, especially the YZF 1000 impressed the experienced tester.
The top class – the thing with the displacement
The representatives of the top class fired the first warning shot in front of the bow of the rebellious lightweights before the start of the Alpine tour. Both on the tight handling course and during the brake test, they impressively demonstrated that mass – provided it is in motion – can also have a positive, stabilizing effect. Strength lies in calm, and the five Big Bikes draw from their abundance on the one hand, and from the sometimes inexhaustible torque reserves of their large-capacity drives on the other. However, cubic capacity alone is by no means a guarantee for superior performance. So the aging Kawasaki ZZ-R 1100 only manages to keep the Triumph Sprint ST or Ducati ST 4 at bay with great effort. Compared to its classmates, the Kawasaki engine is quite economical in its use of fuel, but otherwise a real disappointment. He fights his way through the lower speed regions quite listlessly. Even in the most frequented area around 5000 to 6000 tours, it still seems like in a trance. The performance potential of the four-cylinder can only be elicited at super sporty revs. If the ZZ-R finally storms off, it lacks the appropriate landing gear. The fork is way too soft and makes a loud metallic bang on the block when braking. The load is too soft and too weakly damped at the rear, even small bumps cause great unrest. Rolling and swinging in fast corners, especially when fully loaded, is part of the not very amusing repertoire of the Kawasaki. Unfortunately, its good brakes are of little use to the ZZ-R, as the too softly tuned, underdamped fork dilutes any feeling for the right dosage. The stark opposite of the ZZ-R is the Yamaha. Born as a super athlete, the Thunderace moved more to the touring camp after the appearance of the R1. But its roots cannot be denied, and so the 1000 series shines with a great chassis. Tight, direct and handy, it masters every challenge. Never leaves anything unclear or even recognizes weaknesses and only has to put up with the accusation of inadequate comfort properties. The handlebars are attached too low, the legs are too bent. But the excellent braking system is convincing, and the motor, in conjunction with the low weight, ensures driving performance that even the Hayabusa hardly tops. Compromises, however, in the luggage system. The softbags from the Yamaha accessories program only make travel professional Daniel Lengwenus smile. On the other hand, sheer horror on the face of Sozius Christan. Zero comfort, no support and no way to support yourself. The ride on the YZF 1000 is a punishment for him, and the Honda CBR 1100 XX just barely misses out on the round of the top six. Balanced in all respects and without major weaknesses, it collects top marks for engine and brakes. Unspectacular, but powerful, well-bred and yet ready to break out in temper at any time, the in-line four-cylinder ensures vehement propulsion in all situations. On the other hand, the fact that the aisles do not always click cleanly when switching quickly between turns is less attractive. Weaknesses also in pillion operation. Both a too soft suspension setting and a lack of seating comfort cause displeasure among the driver and pillion passenger. Even more serious, however, is the fact that the short test drivers in particular have a hard time with the seated position stretched far forward. Rapid fatigue of the wrists and a lack of feeling for the front patient cost the Honda important points and the coveted place in the final, which the BMW K 1200 RS secures by a narrow margin. The Bavarian‘s talents are completely different from those of the Honda. The Munich resident is all about comfort. Both for the driver and for the pillion passenger. Nowhere is it so comfortable, nowhere does the fairing provide better protection from the wind, and nowhere does the pilot feel better informed from the cockpit than on the BMW. The case system is perfect, the height adjustment of the bench seat is practical and the heated grips (XXX Mark) from the extensive range of accessories are pleasant. The fact that the heaviest chunk with 290 kilograms can even compete with the CBR 1100 XX in terms of pulling power also speaks for the qualities of the BMW, which presents its strengths less in the sprint than in lazy shifting gliding. The same applies to the chassis: Not particularly stiff and true to line, but incredibly light-footed and comfortable, it offers ideal conditions for hours of fatigue-free alpine glow. The Suzuki Hayabusa does not go through the mountains without effort. But not because it tears your arms out of your shoulder joints with its 175 hp (these are robber stories), but solely because of the far too sporty sitting position. Huddled up extremely tightly, the wrists hurt after just a few kilometers, the leather suit pinches the hollows of the knees, and the neck tenses. In addition, fine vibrations on the handlebars and footrests and the fact that the flat windshield covers the upper half of the speedometer and rev counter for tall drivers are annoying. Otherwise the Hayabusa is a real dream. What an engine. Always confident, no matter which gear is currently engaged. Speeds over 6000 / min are rather rare, it is more fun to enjoy the power of the 1300 cubic centimeters from the cellar. In addition, a chassis that is in no way inferior to that of the Yamaha YZF 1000: stable, accurate and blessed with plenty of reserves. The brakes: up to any situation. The handling: easy. Passenger comfort: what’s the matter? In “touring” terms it is the absolute surprise. Travel instead of racing: the Hayabusa can do it.
Mid-range sports tourers – five little underdogs
Middle class sports tourers. Does that even exist? Not really, and so it is no wonder that some of the candidates gathered here saw the light of day in the motorcycle world in a completely different sphere. Example Yamaha YZF 600 and Kawaski ZZ-R 600: Both were born as thoroughbred athletes, but then moved into the touring corner during their service. Take TDM as an example: It could never be defined, since its appearance it has held a special position somewhere in orbit between all classes. Take the Suzuki SV 650 as an example: as the youngest in the quintet, although still brand new, their creators probably didn’t think about touring, but only about the simple, quick and unproblematic enjoyment of the motorcycle. A nice thought, but initially it has nothing to do with traveling. And the GSX 750 F? Is basically a stopgap, a coincidental product of evolution. It came because the building blocks were there and it didn’t take much effort to put them back together in a new order. So no chance in a quintet with the big ones, some of which were designed as sports tourers? Wait. First of all, you have to assert yourself among your own kind. With different concepts – and different engines. Only the Thundercat and the ZZ-R 600 rely on 600 cubic centimeters in-line four-cylinder. Suzuki packs another 150 cubic meters on the GSX 750 F and provides extravagant air-oil cooling. And the TDM and SV even do without two cylinders and arrange the two remaining ones completely differently. The SV in V-shape, at right angles to each other, while the TDM pistons march up and down neatly next to each other and at the same time. TDM in general: Everything is different about it. The long-legged chassis seems to have been born on the gravel paths of this world, just like the wide, high handlebars. Both together guarantee a relaxed seating arrangement that none of the competitors can offer. At least not when it comes to scrambling around in the high alpine mountains. The Stilfser Joch, for example, is not as elegant as the TDM, so playful. Also because the engine goes along. It develops its power evenly and unspectacularly, pulls cleanly from below out of the hairpin bends, in short: makes driving a relaxing exercise. The comfortable chassis makes a significant contribution to this. The long suspension travel allows a chest of drawers to be set up, the narrow 110/80 front wheel directs the TDM precisely, without course corrections leading to sweating, and even the passenger can enjoy himself in the second row. So everything is fine? Not quite. Because the lightness of being has its limits. The TDM only gets mediocre marks in terms of driving stability, while the Thundercat from the same company does much better. The same applies to the braking section, where the TDM only has to offer average, while the YZF 600 is equipped with top-class stoppers. A predicate that also applies almost unreservedly to the engine. Blessed with a remarkable draft for the displacement class, the Thundercat does not allow itself to be frightened by tight corners. And so, due to the lower stub handlebars and higher footpegs, the 600 rider doesn’t drive his bike so relaxed, but with better feedback towards the summit. So there was a tie in the mountain classification, but the duel on the faster slopes down in the valley and on the motorway was won by the YZF thanks to the more stable chassis, the more powerful engine and the better wind protection. As long as you are on your own, because nobody likes to make friends with the passenger seat in the long run. Nonetheless, the Thundercat went to the sport touring competition, TDM came in second, where the Suzuki SV 650 S could also have placed. A motorcycle with many talents – and with a V2 that takes the hearts of riders by storm. Powerful, easy to turn, just great. This fellow always has the right answer at hand. Gas up and down the post. And if need be, the other way around, because the brakes are in no way inferior to the engine in terms of performance. Equipped like this, the SV rages quickly from one corner to the other. As long as the surface is level. For almost twelve notes you get a lot at Suzuki, but not everything. High-quality spring elements – such as those of the Thunderace – are not on the delivery note. Even in solo operation, the softly tuned fork reaches the limits of its capabilities and the shock absorber pulls when the full crew is at the latest. And readjusting is not. Another weak point of the SV: their too small tank. 16 liters are a joke even for a pocket-sized tourer. It doesn’t help that the Suzuki can shine with the lowest consumption. Just next to it is also over. A fact that the two four-cylinder candidates ZZ-R 600 and GSX 750 F do not necessarily have to worry about. Especially with the Suzuki GSX 750 F, the distance to the top of the table is too big, while the Kawa is better placed, but falls off in central points. Example drive: the ZZ-R motor really only fits a thoroughbred athlete who is generally not moved below 8000 revolutions. But after the change to the sports tourer, the engine, which mobilizes its power almost exclusively in the upper third of the speed scale, makes no sense. If, in addition, the footrests put on at a touristy pace and the adjustment options of the fork and shock absorber are exhausted, good brakes, a clean finish and high-quality equipment can no longer save much. The Kawa falls hopelessly behind, especially in the mountain classification. The Suzuki GSX 750 F has other problem areas. Their shortcoming is mediocrity. It doesn’t really fall off at any point, but it can never inspire you either. Engine, chassis, brakes, suitability for everyday use: everything so-so. Sure, it does quite well on the Autobahn. Just like the ZZ-R 600. But otherwise? There is only one thing worth noting: the price. There is hardly a 750 of its kind for just under 13,000 marks. But for a brown one less of an SV that is just more fun. It’s no wonder, considering the story behind it, and that’s how the two Yamaha qualify for the final. Both very different, but both very good motorcycles, whereby the Thundercat is the better, although not the more comfortable, motorcycle due to its high-quality suspension elements. But this quality has its price at Yamaha in both the YZF and TDM cases. A price that is clearly undercut by the little joker Suzuki SV 650 S. Unfortunately, however, this criterion can only play a subordinate role in this special case, where it is necessary to survive in the final against upper and top class. In keeping with the old sport touring rule: the best should win. Because it will be difficult enough in the fight with the giants anyway.
Handling – shell games
The test course: a narrow, a long slalom (phylon spacing 8 and 16 meters), in between a tricky right-left combination, a fast chicane that can be driven through at around 100 km / h. And two tight 180-degree bends, all spread over a distance of 500 meters. Short, but selective enough to demand the maximum from all candidates, loaded with 15 kilograms. It’s about the sausage, three timed laps, but also about the impressions that the testers, a professional racing driver and a normal driver, describe directly after their drives. How will the fat guys cope with the narrow course? Do the little ones shine? Or will the golden mean win? None of that? and a little bit of everything. The Suzuki Hayabusa drives all flat. Smoothly starting thrust without end, a precise, stable chassis, that instills confidence in the drivers, which is reflected in best times. The smallest sells dearly: the SV 650 S only just retracts. Super handy and very easy to circle the narrow passages, it makes up for the lag in engine power in the faster passages. The surprise of all: the heaviest in the field, the BMW K 1200 RS. With all heavy machines, once in motion, the higher weight is no longer noticeable, especially when cornering, they benefit from their enormous torque. But the BMW show still amazes: Safe, precise and easy to drive, especially in the tightest corners. A bit disappointing: the Ducati ST 4. A strong V2, a stable chassis, there should have been best times. But the Italian of all people suffers from a lack of thrust from the low rev range, demands a lot of clutch use, and hits too early and too hard. The BMW R 1100 S is just behind the ST 4 times, but it requires less effort. Handy, super safe, no candidate can be tighter. Convincing: the Honda VFR and the Yamaha YZF 600. Both compensate for a lack of thrust with handiness and high accuracy in slalom. Not in the field of best times: the Honda CBR 1100 XX. Annoying play in the drive train and too hard response of the injection engine prevent faster laps. Its handling, on the other hand, is convincing, as is that of the Triumph Sprint ST, which also has a stable chassis. Nevertheless, it is not enough for the Englishwoman either. In the tight bends, your engine simply doesn’t want to accept the gas at all, a problem that only occurred in extremely humid weather conditions in Hockenheim, but not in the Alps. The two Kawasaki do respectable, faster times stand in the way of the very softly tuned chassis. The Yamaha YZF 1000, the sportiest motorcycle of the comparison, suffers from only one thing: its completely unsuitable first tire Metzeler ME Z2, which can only partially bring the potential of its power engine to the track.
With 15 sports tourers in the Alps? The offer stood. And of course it was gratefully accepted. Who would say no to that? And then the hammer: “With such a mega sports tourer comparison, the pillion suitability is of course also decisive.” Said Gegesch, and he is the boss after all. So, welcome to the second row. One thing first: It wasn’t really comfortable on any of the 14 sports tourers. It was really uncomfortable on the two YZFs, the best was on the two BMWs and the Triumph. With the others, things bothered you in the long run that you don’t even notice on a short joyride for two. Either the bench was too hard. Or it was too soft. The footrests were too high or too narrow, the handles were in the wrong place. If it went well with one of them, like with the K 1200 RS, then the knuckles got into a clinch with the suitcases. That is the price you have to pay as a pillion passenger on a “sports” tourer. My conclusion: respect those who do such a whole vacation. My tip: a Honda Gold Wing with cruise control and CD changer.
The burden with the burden
“Anyone who needs luggage on vacation should drive.” The creed of the credit card generation is gaining more and more supporters among bikers. They create space for a toothbrush even in the tightest leather suit and define storage space by the number of square meters of sealed floor in the German motorway network. And the conservative rest of the two-wheeled youngsters who like to slip into the underpants they have known for years in the morning and have dinner in the neat, crease-free double-breasted suit in the evening? Needs anything to house his luggage. Ideally suitcases, but since MOTORRAD editors usually do not get out of the leather suit even to sleep, these things should not be considered. Rather, the driving dynamics aspects had to be checked, because some bikes react to the attachment of suitcases with unwilling chassis reactions. So each suitcase and tank bag was filled with five kilograms of ballast in a practical beer can format. The second criterion was the accident-free attachment and detachment of the suitcase from the motorcycle in the specifications. To cut a long story short: all the case systems, i.e. the integrated ones on BMW, Triumph and Ducati as well as the retrofitted ones on the rest of the field – apart from the sluggish handling – did not have a serious adverse effect on the driving characteristics. Not even the recently completed Five-Star system with Givi cases on the SV 650 S, although the manufacturer expressly advises not to drive faster than 130 km / h. Serious differences become apparent in the daily handling of the suitcases. The BMW system is exemplary across the board. Advantage number one: the cases can be opened and unlocked with the ignition key. Advantage number two: The pannier racks, which appear as unsightly tubular structures in retrofit systems, are not noticed at all at BMW. The only disadvantage of the system: The fact that the cases are tightly attached to the motorcycle means that their inside is jagged and, especially with the K 1200 RS, storage space is lost due to the bulge for the silencer. Triumph has solved this problem with the option of lowering the silencer, while the Ducati cases are attached high up, but fiddling with the lock is annoying. And the retrofit cases? Build quite wide across the board, with the Honda CBR 1100 XX killing the bird with Krauser suitcases. Another disadvantage with Krauser: When attaching, you have to be careful that the fastener snaps shut. If that doesn’t happen, the happy sports tourist will be overtaken by his own suitcase, as happened in the mega test. The Givi cases, which are clearly fixed or loose, are easier to use. A statement that cannot easily be made with the softbags of the two Yamaha because they are only tightened with belts under the seat. In addition, their volume is clearly limited in contrast to the hard-shell suitcases.
Overview of the Silfser Joch
Mountain races around the Stilfser Joch? Not at all, the stopwatch stayed at home. Nevertheless, even at moderate touring pace, the circuit is tough. On a good 60 kilometers, there are fast straights and long curves in the valley as well as several through-roads before it goes from Gomagoi up to the yoke. The 48 hairpin bends are legend. But whoever has reached the top is still a long way from making it. Shortly after the top of the pass, the Swiss border, then the valley run on the Umbrail pass. And it really has it all, part of the way is unpaved and therefore a difficult piece of work for the sports tourer. From Santa Maria onwards, relaxation is announced again, but only for a short time. The turns are waiting.
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