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Enduros test comparison

Last groove

How much leisure time can you have with everyday enduros like the XT 600 E, the KLR 650 or the new DR 650 SE? On firm and loose ground, the three test candidates did their best to clarify the question.

Everyday-oriented utility enduro – that sounds about as exciting as road sweeper ready for winter use. In order to get a value-free introduction to this comparison test, it is not mentioned here in which MOTORCYCLE catalog which of the three motorcycles was named. Rather, at the beginning of the test the question should be asked whether the Yamaha XT 600 E, the Kawasaki KLR 650 or the Suzuki D.R 650 SE might even pass as a leisure-oriented, fun enduro, and if so, on what terrain?

Enduros test comparison

Last groove

Kawasaki probably otherwise driven to ruin – the off-road responsibility for the Greens rests mainly on the handlebars of the KLR. It starts the season with new colors and a surcharge of 20 marks. Technically, it remained unchanged, its water-cooled, 42 hp single rattled through the silencer in 1995 with the current 80 dB (A). A circumstance that indirectly gave KLR last place in the same place in the final accounts a year ago: Your “Engine with the characteristics of a farmer’s engine – powerful in the start, but without revving" was mainly criticized at the time. In 1995 the competitors were still two dB (A) and a few horsepower ahead. This time the KLR was even the strongest on the test bench role with 43 HP.

In the stranglehold of the new noise regulations, the XT lost five horsepower at the turn of the year; it fell by the wayside in new labyrinths in the intake duct and inside the silencer. The air-cooled single cylinder was trimmed to an official 40 and measured 39 hp. In addition, Yamaha donated the old lady a new clutch actuation mechanism and a few new colors, all at the old price.

When the DR 650 SE was presented, many were disappointed, as they had expected a powerful sport enduro, a stable and inexpensive alternative to KTM, Husqvarna and Husaberg, in short 50 HP. There are now 44 of them on paper, of which 41 came together on the day of the performance measurement. On the other hand, the new Suzuki is not stingy with fine details such as the spring strut adjustable in the compression stage, aluminum rims and swingarm, and stainless steel exhaust system. But what use is that if the frame of the test Suzuki starts to rust after almost 4,000 kilometers? The Kawaski booked a luggage rack, the Yamaha a rev counter as an equipment bonus.

At temperatures around freezing point, the three stews are reluctant to go to work and take the first few kilometers of rural roads under their wheels. The vibrations in the Kawasaki engine are suppressed to a minimum, the balance shafts in the other two enduros don’t take their job that seriously. Nevertheless, what still reaches the driver via footrests, handlebars and seat is hardly worth mentioning. Only the passenger on the Yamaha gets an intensive foot massage, the one on the Suzuki has to fold his legs badly. In addition, the seat of the Yamaha and the Suzuki is so short that the backbenchers sit on the hard edge instead of on the upholstery as on the Kawasaki.

The KLR is also most comfortable at the front: the rear go snuggles into a wide and soft seat, the high handlebars and the low seat integrate the to ride into the motorcycle. Unfortunately, this sitting position is completely useless from an Enduro point of view: Instead of being able to initiate rapid changes of direction via the handlebars, the KLR has to be tilted by shifting your weight. But the main criticism deserves the suspension elements, they are too soft at the front and rear and completely underdamped, the fork almost locks when braking, and the rear swings over bumps. In addition, there is a front wheel brake with at spongy pressure point, so that the chassis of the KLR leaves the worst impression on asphalt. Only the engine collects plus points, especially in the upper speed range the Kawasaki engine has the noticeably largest reserves.

Although the performance curves speak a different language, the single cylinder of the DR delivers the most convincing performance in the lower speed range. With his powerful acceleration he leaves the competitor no chance when accelerating out of tight corners, certainly also because of the up to 20 kilograms less live weight of the Suzuki. Its low weight and its spontaneously gripping engine also make the DR the winner in the wheelie classification – a very crucial point in fun enduros: only it lifts the front wheel voluntarily and without any tugging. But back to the seriousness of the situation and the tight corners: The steam of the Suzuki can only be drawn out of her with a fine hand, because her air / oil-cooled single cylinder needs to be gently wound from low speeds. If you open the throttle too abruptly, you reap a sonorous Oooaaa instead of acceleration.

Points also have to be deducted from the chassis of the DR on asphalt: the fork is a little too soft and plunges too quickly and too hard when braking, which means that the front stoppers can be adjusted. With a few additional milliliters of oil in each fork leg, this bad habit could certainly be alleviated. The shock absorber, on the other hand, does a flawless job, as the Suzuki’s suspension elements respond most sensitively to unevenness. And above all, the seating position also earned her the laurel for the best handiness: Thanks to the small tank and the high, far forward seat bench, the driver sits close to the handlebars and puts so much load on the front wheel. As a result, the DR can be directed through winding curves as nimble as possible and without any force.

For rear parts from width XL upwards, however, the bench in the front area is likely to be too narrow. In contrast, the Yamaha bench is tough, but fair to all latitudes. The combination of a tightly tuned chassis, gripping and easy-to-dose brakes, grippy Bridgestone TW 47 and TW 48 make the XT the leaning queen of the trio. The Yamaha steers precisely and stays on course until the footrests touch down. So the Yamaha was able to clearly win the high-speed roundabout classification – another important point in real fun enduros. Only when it goes straight ahead does the XT 600’s chassis begin to weaken: Shortly before reaching top speed, continuous commuting occurs in solo mode.

Nevertheless, the chassis deserves a more powerful engine, but so the Yamaha loses the connection both when accelerating and when pulling through. After so much everyday asphalt, it is finally time for a little off-road fun, so down with the housework and up with the noble rubbers MT 21 Rally Cross from Pirelli – besides the Metzler Unicross the only real off-road tire that is in the dimensions 90 / 90-21 and 120 / 90-17 are available. With the air pressure at the front and rear reduced to 1.5 bar, no meadow is too slippery for the Pirelli and no sand hole is too deep. The approximately 40 hp of the three single-cylinder engines are completely sufficient to master even steep climbs without any problems. However, because of the constant pressure carburettors, the engines only react to the throttle hand with a short delay, which can cause unpleasant surprises on steep ascents. As long as the lane and the balance are right, the effort is limited. Sweat only begins to run down when the course is corrected in deep terrain or after falling over, because all three machines are overweight for such earthworks.

In addition, they are all too long in first and second gear for demanding, narrow cross-country passages. With the chassis, the wheat is separated from the chaff, the everyday from the fun enduros. The weaknesses of the KLR on asphalt can be felt even more clearly on loose ground: the fork springs that are too soft reduce the spring deflection when braking to an unusable minimum, the strut sags and the high handlebars make the Kawasaki unwieldy. In addition, the engine boiled several times because the radiator fan on the test motorcycle went on strike.

Exactly the opposite is the box with the XT: its suspension elements are too tight for tough off-road use, so the suspension travel cannot be used at all, and the wheels quickly lose contact with the ground over short waves. The driver is also sitting too far back to be able to optimally load the front wheel in the turns. The predicate »particularly insidious" deserve the slippery rubber covers on the footrests of the Yamaha, on which you always lose your footing at the worst moments. The Suzuki driver need not be annoyed about such details, because in contrast to the other two enduros, one gets the impression on the DR that their builders have also had an off-road day. Front and rear with significantly more suspension travel, 40 millimeters more ground clearance and several pounds lighter, the KLR and XT drive them into loose ground. Above all, however, because of the sportier seating position with the handlebars close to the upper body, the Suzuki can be thrown from one side to the other more quickly and accelerated out of neighboring areas more precisely. The shock absorber even swallows small to medium-sized jumps without punching through. Only the fork is – as criticized on the street – a little too soft. The Suzuki is the only one to deserve the designation "leisure-oriented fun enduro" on rough terrain. But you can also have fun on gravel roads on a Yamaha or Kawasaki.

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