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Comparison test, BMW R 1100 S, Honda VTR 1000 F Firestorm

BMW R 1100 S versus Honda VTR 1000 F

"The R 1100 S is not a super sports car," emphasizes BMW again and again. We understood. And the Honda VTR 1000 F as well.

Without wanting to offend BMW: But the hint that you like them R. Do not misunderstand the 1100 S as a super sports motorcycle, would not have been absolutely necessary. You just have to look at the new sports boxer from the forehead, look him in the wide-open eyes, and then he’ll show you that he’s flirting with strange attributes from behind. He takes the oath of disclosure at the weight control: 246 kilograms – this is not necessarily classified under the heading of anorexic in two-cylinder circles. However – and to save one’s honor – nine kilos of it go to the account of the ABS, which is subject to a surcharge. The 229 kilograms promised by BMW are still wasted.

The Bavarians did not raise any false hopes in terms of performance: 98 hp were promised, 103 achieved our test copy. Most remarkable for an air-cooled twin. For example, a Ducati 900 SS that is well placed in the drilling only generates 85 hp. But it weighs almost a hundredweight less.

To determine the rental of the new boxer, MOTORRAD had the Honda VTR 1000 F compete. Why? Very easily. Just like the BMW, it does not make any super sporting claims, attaching more importance to suitability for everyday use than to racetrack qualities. In addition, the VTR is still considered a two-cylinder reference outside the closed roundabout.
So that the youngest Munich child is not too frightened by the authority from the Far East, we ordered the water-cooled V2 in a throttled version – with the positive side effect of getting to know it after all these years. So far we have only tested open VTRs. But there are supposed to be people who drive with 98 hp, and we haven’t been able to tell them anything so far.

Now we know more: Not because of 98 HP – 105 of them are measured on the Bosch roller dynamometer. And outside, in real life, there are hardly any differences compared to the free-breathing, 111 hp variant. On the other hand, there are clear contrasts between the Honda V-engine and the transverse driver from BMW. Two completely different cultures collide: Bavarian rough legs here, Asian striving for perfection there.

Well-groomed, thoroughly trained, ready to perform at all times – this is how the Honda engine works. While the boxer shakes himself vigorously when starting up and needs 5000 revolutions to get into the area that suits him most. And there it begins to vibrate violently from sheer creativity, which is noticeable in a drowsy manner on the hands and feet.
One thing is clear: the R 1100 S is not for the sensitive. But it is also clear: as long as she does not throw at least three valves off, the true Bayern fan will smile and push 21 giants and a few crushed people over the counter, knowing that they are buying the most powerful boxer that BMW has ever built. And he doesn’t really care that it has lost its running smoothness, continues to jerk at a constantly low speed and continues to make the ugliest noises when shifting. He was never promised a rose garden. He knows what he’s getting into. And such a licked Japanese would bore him to death. Driving a BMW Boxer has always been different. Why should that suddenly change??
However, if you’ve never experienced it, you can’t imagine how different boxer driving is. And anyone who changes from a Honda VTR 1000 F to the saddle of an R 1100 S first asks: What can you find on such a huge, heavy block? Nothing works there. What a fight. How can you get around the corner quickly with a thing like that??
Well – you just have to gain trust, have to force yourself and the machine a little. Don’t just sit on it and hope that everything will go by itself. Driving a BMW means dealing with the matter. Who’s got it, you’ll like it more and more, throw yourself more and more boldly into a sloping position. The revised chassis can take it. Remains stable in all positions. The S distances itself for miles from the swing of the R 1100 RS. From the usual BMW suspension comfort, however, as well. Tightly tuned, the Telelever forks up just about any crap, and far too many uneven road surfaces are presented to the crew from behind.
Another not only advantageous characteristic: even when the powerful double disc brake grabs with extreme hardness, the R 1100 S hardly pulls its head. The experts say about it. And that something like that is good in principle. In the case of the R 1100 S, however, they seem to have done too much of a good thing. In any box, a lot of feeling for the front wheel is lost. You never really know when it’s over. Probably those who have opted for the anti-lock braking system, which costs almost 2,000 marks.
The Honda goes a completely different way: Their fork simply breaks through in rough delay actions. Not necessarily the yellow of the egg either. Apart from that, however, the VTR takes a proper chassis test. Cornering stability, straight-line stability, steering precision and comfort okay. Braking satisfactory. Handling great.
It really makes it easy for you, the Honda. With it you do a curve dance on the asphalt that has washed. As easy as it can be. As casual as it throws itself from one lean angle to the other. Unlike the BMW, it never gives the feeling, "watch out, when I get into a tailspin, there’s a lot going on". On the one hand, this is due to the fact that the VTR weighs 30 kilos less, on the other hand, because of its much narrower design and, last but not least, the ergonomic conditions play a role. The seating position on the Honda is more assembled. You are closer to the motorcycle – do not take it for a walk, as is the case with the R 1100 S. Which somehow feels pretty German. On the other hand, the R 1100 S offers better long-distance comfort.
And finally we have come to the topics that are closer to the new boxer than anything else: touring and suitability for everyday use: The VTR does not fool him in these segments, because the Bavarian knows better than the Japanese. The BMW trumps with a low-maintenance cardan drive. Then there’s a friendly handset that makes it much easier to adjust the rear spring base. Ace? Oh yes, there’s another cog on the top of the tank that is used to adjust the rebound stage at the front. You can play around with it while driving – it doesn’t have a noticeable effect on the damping.
Of course, the BMW also offers good wind protection, a select, comfortable space for the pillion passenger and almost exemplary rear-view mirrors. Standard equipment includes hazard warning lights and a regulated three-way catalytic converter. Heated grips, cases, touring handlebars, main stands and 17 other items are available as special equipment. The accessories range includes things like foam rubber handlebar grips and electrical sockets. And at Honda? There’s nothing at all. Not even a decent rear seat or luggage hook. But VTR also has a catalyst – that’s right. Unfortunately no injection.
In order not to let Bayerische Motorenwerke appear in the wrong light here: Of course, Munich has also thought of customers who do not want to trim the new boxer for a cruise ship, but for a sports fanatic. And they can be helped with the so-called sports package. Inside is a steering damper – that’s what you wear today – and elongated struts that raise the chassis by 20 millimeters at the front and ten millimeters at the rear, which should increase the lean angle from 50 to 52 degrees. You can also order a 5.5-inch rear wheel with 180 tires. But whether that will bring the big breakthrough?
Hardly likely. A sports boxer can hardly become a real sprinter. He simply lacks the genes necessary for this.

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