Comparison test beginners
state of things
Inexpensive, functional, even sensible: In the past, these words provided sales arguments for the GS 500 E and Co. That still applies today?
The main stand: a bland tube structure, mostly painted matt black, unsightly and so well hidden that it is only noticeable at second glance. But also a thoroughly sensitive part. And that is exactly where his problem related. Because ratio is spelled differently in such dynamic times. It has to really pop. And attract attention. 2.5 kilograms more are just as out of place as a wallflower existence. Who cares about chain maintenance here? Or even the safe position of things? Main stands are out.
The Honda CB 500 has a main stand. The Kawasaki ER-5 and the Suzuki GS 500 E too, MZ Skorpion and Yamaha XJ 600 Diversion anyway. A sure sign that these motorcycles know the old days.
A second is added: the year of birth. It would be difficult to put together any other test field in which the youngest participant, the ER-5, was introduced in 1996. And also not one in which the test persons changed color at most once during the long period of their market presence, because the line of argument "inexpensive + simple = good" always found enough followers.
Is that still the case? The long-time class leader Honda CB 500 is up to prove it. As a side note: Since Honda was unable to provide a test motorcycle, MOTORRAD had to fall back on an older, private CB 500. Nevertheless: The inconspicuous four-valve engine of the CB shows itself squeakily in all speed ranges and soars to a real high between 7000 / min and 10000 / min.
The chassis fits these qualities. Conventionally equipped with two spring struts, the Honda gives the skeptical driver a healthy mix of good handiness and the necessary stability, without which no clean line can be achieved in faster passages. The fact that the shock absorbers could generally use a bit more damping becomes clear when looking at the front passenger, while soloists at the front and rear have nothing to complain about. Since the Honda also offers comfortable seating in the first as well as the second row, the thing rounds off perfectly and shows how entertaining common sense can be.
Elsewhere, Honda has exaggerated the thrift and use of simple resources on the 500. It does not have an adjustable brake lever. That was already incomprehensible at its premiere? and it still is today.
Kawasaki shows how it can be done better. Here even the clutch lever can be adjusted to different sizes of driver’s hands. Except for a fuel gauge, luxury is also alien to the ER-5, what counts is what works. Two cylinders with four valves each, a conventional telescopic fork in front and two conventional spring struts behind. And just like with the Honda, this arrangement offers little cause for criticism. No wonder, because in addition to the quite comparable coordination, the key data such as wheelbase and steering head angle are identical and even the ergonomic conditions for driver and front passenger can be confused.
The fact that it doesn’t come to that is not only due to the fact that the Kawa seat presses the pilot uncomfortably against the tank, but also to the different characteristics of the engines. The advantage that the performance curve of the ER-5 shows in the speed range between 5000 / min and 7000 / min can also be experienced in everyday life. Certainly the Kawa starts at the corner exit, pushes forward robustly and powerfully. At even higher speeds, the tide turns. Then you noticeably run out of breath, it runs into the limiter, while the Honda join in the highest tones. This broader usable speed range has advantages especially with brisk pace, while calmer natures are best served by the Kawa-Twin.
In contrast, the Suzuki GS 500 E is something for dynamic people at first glance. She looks more youthful, more delicate? and it’s cheaper. 7,770 marks. No, this is not the price list from 1988, the year the GS was born. This is the current one. At Suzuki there is a double loop made of square tube, central spring strut at the rear, disc brakes at the front and rear and, in contrast to the other two, an air-cooled twin with a nominal 45 hp. If that’s not an offer!
It is. An ideal companion for every day. Scurry with her in the morning to get bread rolls or in the afternoon to the quarry pond. Sit down, drive off? and let God be a good man. The GS 500 E embodies the idea of the everyday motorcycle like no other. Inexpensive and functional ?? The little Suzuki meets these requirements without any ifs or goals. The downsides of this minimalist philosophy only become apparent when high demands are made on the driving dynamics, which is definitely encouraged by the sporty seating position with a small distance from the bench and footrests. The quality of the individual components is not sufficient for this. In particular, the fork and shock absorber quickly reach their limit. When the pace gets faster and uneven ground lines the way, the GS uses hearty rolling movements to alert you that it was not built for grass. So got into the well-functioning brake, slowed down the pace. The fork is still briefly on the block? and then everything will be fine again. The air-cooled twin also takes a leisurely pace because its crankcase makes it a comfortable companion. Although 43 of the nominal 45 HP remain on the dyno, the way the two-valve engine develops its power is of a calm nature in all speed ranges.
And completely different from a hearty single-cylinder. The single friend reaches for the MZ. Over the years, it not only lost its extroverted charisma, but recently also a U in the brand name. The typical full blow, for which the 660 cm3 single from Yamaha is responsible, remained undiluted. Still a real robbery, the MZ engine grabs where it counts. Between 3000 / min and 6500 / min it is in power and torque well above the small two-cylinder and with its spontaneous acceleration exudes a presence that the twins miss. The fact that little goes below 3000 rpm except for chain slapping and the single runs bluntly into the limiter at 7000 rpm, however, takes getting used to, especially after switching from the revving Honda.
This does not apply to the chassis of the MZ. With the exception of the slightly underdamped mono shock absorber and a slightly more pronounced tendency to stand up when braking in an inclined position, it definitely maintains the level of Honda and Kawasaki, and is even a bit tighter and more direct. In addition, the front brake with four-piston caliper, steel braided brake line and 316-millimeter disc outperforms the competition, at least when it comes to pure braking performance. Disadvantage here: the non-adjustable brake lever is too far away, the necessary hand force is too great. In addition, there is little to complain about the ergonomics of the MZ, on which you sit a little more upright than on the Twins, for the driver and front passenger.
At least not if you assume the usual sizes in this class and the Yamaha XJ 600 S is not part of the party. From the appearance of a significantly larger motorcycle, it is definitely in the same league in terms of price. Otherwise, however, it initially offers more of everything: four cylinders, around forty kilos more weight, more power, more cladding, in the Tour version even a suitcase ?? and more space. Result: The comfort rating for driver and pillion goes clearly to the XJ. Likewise the imaginary image rating, because the 600 very convincingly conveys the awareness of sitting on a full-blown motorcycle.
Who cares that the performance, with the exception of the top speed, does not rise above the level of the qurily Honda. Actually no one, because the XJ on the other hand manages to hide more of the crowd. Just as lively as the little ones, she whizzes from one corner to the next, nimbly throws herself into all kinds of curve combinations. That’s fun ?? and could be even more fun. Aha, spring elements. This time it gets the fork. Too weak in all respects. And has been for years! But otherwise: all respect! The brakes do their job perfectly, the shock absorber still has reserves even with a pillion passenger. In addition, there is an engine that works in a very sophisticated way compared to the two-cylinder and especially the MZ single. Only a vibration attack around 4000 rpm is a bit annoying, but nobody stays in this speed range anyway. If you want to move forward, does the Yamaha need significantly higher speeds? the four-in-line then also has significantly more fuel.
D.hat is the state of affairs. Not a bad idea of the low budget class. Only the GS 500 E falls off a bit. But Suzuki wants to revise them for next year. Hopefully not only technically but also optically. A little more pep wouldn’t be bad. This also applies to the others. You are welcome to keep your main stand.
1st place – Honda CB 500
Tea greenest of the evergreens. Uncompromisingly designed to work. That still works today. The engine is lively, the chassis is agile. So the only sticking point of the little Honda is also typical of the class: With this outfit you hardly lure anyone out from behind the stove, especially since there are refreshing motorcycles like a Suzuki SV 650 one level higher.
3rd place – Kawasaki ER-5
It came a little later and copied Honda’s CB 500 one-to-one. And the ER-5 isn’t a bad copy. Only the engine is not quite as lively. Therefore, tea critical appreciation of the home-made design applies here as well. A little more freshness couldn’t hurt. Because nowhere is it written that economic reason has to come along in a dreary outfit.
4th place – MZ Scorpion tour
The scorpion bravely holds up the single-cylinder flag. The single does not lose much on the Honda and drives with the Kawa, the lower top speed is due to the too long secondary transmission. On the road or in the city, however, the Scorpio looks very much alive. Their shortcoming: their design, which was exciting back then, also looks homely today.
5th place – Suzuki GS 500 E
Last place for the old lady. The GS 500 E, a refreshing splash of color in 1988, is the gray mouse today. The low price only helps outspoken pragmatists over the inadequacies in terms of driving dynamics. Hopefully, Suzuki won’t do anything by halves with the revision, even if it costs a few marks. This applies equally to technology and design.
2nd place – Yamaha XJ 600 S.
A lot of motorcycle for little money: the XJ 600 S is still a recipe for success that works. Tea fact that it has to admit defeat in terms of economy of a CB 500 is to get over, because it is at the front in the section on suitability for everyday use. Very comfortable, maneuverable, and well equipped. In addition, it looks a little fresher to the viewer than the competition.
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