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Comparison test of cheap entry-level motorcycles from Europe


These people’s representatives come from the core countries of the European motorcycle industry, they represent the cheapest all-round offer from four well-known brands. Reason enough to put a cross on the order form?

Europe 2004, a continent in transition, one that has learned its lessons. After dark epochs of nationalism, war and dictatorship, borders fall, people get closer, states move closer together. And in the middle of it there is a very lively and self-confident motorcycle industry. One whose products have always stood for a slightly finer fit between man and machine. They have great, traditional names, BMW and Ducati, Moto Guzzi and Triumph. Do you bring brand loyalty to life? Anyone who appreciates such motorcycles usually wants nothing else.

the external appearance
Motorcycles from Europe combine individual detailed solutions and independent styling. This also applies to the cheapest road machines from these brands. BMW F 650 CS, Ducati M 620 Dark, Moto Guzzi Breva and Triumph B.onneville Black Edition can be considered as a candidate to join an illustrious club, which the optionally available 34 hp variants underline. Otherwise, as in debates in the EU Parliament, there is only agreement on a few points. Center stands are frowned upon in Europe’s entry-level class, as are double disc brakes at the front. Noble, steel-sheathed brake lines are used without exception.
Otherwise, the four Europeans embody surprisingly independent characters. The CS, christened Scarver by BMW, turned out to be avant-garde. “Doesn’t look like a BMW at all,” remarks an interested man in his fifties at a street cafe in Constance. A multifunctional storage compartment takes up the space of the tank, which is under the seat, its filler neck in the right rear panel, just before the stubby tail. The Lego design of the Teutonic Techo motorcycle looks playful ?? the Scarver is designed to appeal to a younger audience. What interests not only youngsters in times of crater-sized household holes: For 7600 euros without freight and extras, the Scarver is the most expensive offer of the round. Particularly popular during the ice saints: the optional heated grips for 180 euros.
While BMW is spoiled for choice – there is a choice of 24 different color combinations for paintwork parts, side covers on the dummy tank and seat at no extra charge – the British Empire relies on modesty. Classically simple, the Triumph Bonneville Black Edition, a technically unchanged standard Bonnie with black cooling fins and engine covers. And black is beautiful, contrasts perfectly with the extensive chrome jewelry.
Triumph honors the color waiver with 540 euros, so the 7150 still have to be paid. Not a mere austerity edict, but stylish noblesse up to solid metallic mudguards. Pure asceticism, on the other hand, prevails in the equipment, which is limited to the bare essentials; The thick handles take some getting used to.
Achromatic matt black characterizes the Monster M 620 Dark. Like the Triumph, Ducati’s candidate for membership is the brand cheapest offer and, as a “single disc” version for 6795 euros, it is also the cheapest of this test quartet. In addition to the second brake disc at the front, it has to do without the six-speed gearbox and the new, less powerful clutch mechanism. Only the “Dark Double Disc”, which is 400 euros more expensive, combines all these features. The 620 shares the timeless, elegant design with its bigger siblings from the famous family. Simply ingenious, it comes from the original 900 monster from 1993. Still particularly bold: the rear.
The no-frills Breva appears as a synthesis of the classic spirit of Moto Guzzi and new shapes. The contrasting program of the 750 series includes the traditional engine layout, white indicator glasses, dark windshield, wine-red seat and multi-reflector headlights. It is named after a wind that brings beautiful weather to Lake Como from the south. Does the Breva mean, as it were, a flood of wind for the brand from Mandello del Lario? In any case, she holds up the EU flag for a diet of 7680 euros.

The mechanical start
Again the view wanders over Lake Constance and the alpine panorama. The Austrian Rotax single makes the BMW F 650 a real European bike. It is the only water-cooled engine in this quartet and the only one with automatic cold start enrichment, press the button, done. Scottish stingy is its fuel consumption, at the usual EU motorway speed 130, the single-cylinder only burns a good four and a half liters per hundred kilometers, plus normal gasoline. The engine adds coals steadily and powerfully, accompanied by a hard-knocking suction noise and rough vibrations at the top. Almost a little suddenly, the 53 hp single locks up at 7,500 tours, even in the last, fifth gear
In Italy there is agreement about the advantage of 90-degree V-2 engines, but not about the correct installation position. A crankshaft must lie lengthways in Moto Guzzi, across in the Ducati-L. The smallest monster engine, cuddly 618 cm3 in size, really doesn’t have to hide. Since the introduction of injection technology, its smoothness and elasticity have been very acceptable. The V2 can be accelerated even at low speed without shaking the two valves per cylinder from the desmodromic forced control.
The Duc snaps out of the middle of the rev range with great commitment, no other engine in this comparison is so easy to revolve, depends so directly on the gas. In addition, it impresses with its low fuel consumption, muffled exhaust rumble and deep intake snorkeling. Va bene, that puts the sluggish throttle grip and the rather high manual force of the hydraulically operated clutch of the Signora from Bologna into perspective.
The Moto Guzzi cannot really make use of its displacement advantage with a measured 46 hp peak power. At the top, the bumper-controlled 750 injection engine just keeps turning slowly. The gear changes that are often necessary as a result are accompanied by hard, sometimes loud gear changes. Because of the long shift travel, the Guzzi gearbox requires concentration; the first one does not always click precisely when the gear is engaged.
Despite or because of its small weaknesses, I quickly come to terms with the engine from Mandello del Lario. Learn to appreciate his honest character after a day in the comfortable saddle. The running culture is high, the bass voice quite low. This engine is alive, shakes itself at a pleasantly low frequency, and continues to crackle seemingly endlessly after being switched off.
Triumph celebrates its glorious line-up tradition. Air-cooled, of course, and with "analog" mixture formation, using 36 millimeter constant pressure carburetors. The elastic 790 cm3 engine responds to throttle commands with almost no load changes, but with a slight delay. Its pistons run up and down in parallel, ignition in both combustion chambers occurs with one crankshaft rotation offset. The short-stroke engine turns freely, Good Vibrations keep the two balancer shafts in check almost too successfully.
You never feel underpowered, but it should be a little more punch? the largest and thirstiest engine pulls the most modestly. In terms of sound and character, the Bonnie is less reminiscent of old-fashioned steam hammers and more of a large Honda CB 400 N: not fiery, but predictable and good-natured. Especially since the twin still has plenty of potential, as Triumph’s new Cafe Racer Thruxton 900 (MOTORRAD 10/2004) proves with increased displacement and more power.

Small and tiny streets carry the quartet northwards across the Swabian Alp. The Monster was lucky and, like its bigger sisters, was allowed to apply the characteristic tubular space frame of the former Ducati superbike 888. Suitable for both big and small, is an eye-catcher and a stable backbone at the same time. With outstanding steering precision, it circles the 620 bends of all radii and remains extremely stable even when running straight ahead. The spring elements work tightly but not uncomfortably. The Sachs shock absorber is progressively articulated, the high breakout force of the upside-down fork is only annoying when the vehicle is stationary. After years of criticism, it is finally responsive enough when driving.
The active driving position also plays a big part in the playful handling. The wide, tubular handlebar mounted well in front of the man or woman literally spans the round tank, making you think you’re sitting directly over the front wheel. Total feedback from the front tire (Pirelli MTR 21) and a highly direct driving experience are the result.
Competitors cannot offer comparable sovereignty. Although the BMW is just as handy around the corner, it comes out somewhere at the exit of a curve, constantly looking for new lines. Their poor aiming accuracy requires fine corrections, which feels like driving with insufficient air pressure. Tea heavily shortened caster on the CS compared to the 650 GS, a full 86 millimeters, requires little steering force, but also makes it wobbly.
The Metzeler ME Z3 tires in special code B offer little feedback on the current liability status; attempts with alternative pairings are advisable. The payload is too low, and the central spring strut of the 650s kneels in pillion mode. At least it can? extra charge ?? Extremely easy to pre-tension using a hydraulically operated handwheel. The deep seat recess on the BMW is literally beginner-friendly. The handlebars are too high for a street motorcycle, while the seat height can optionally be adjusted with a higher or lower seat.
Classically you sit up, not in the Triumph. High and wide her handlebars, the knee grip on the steel tank moderately. The conventionally knitted chassis swings on the comfortable side, with slack damping, but works better than expected. The suspension struts reach their limits only on badly furrowed roads.
Despite its live weight of 228 kilograms, the Triumph rushes through meandering tar ribbons on its particularly narrow tires, and the 19-inch front wheel requires a comparatively high amount of effort when turning it quickly. Light but good-natured agitation in the framework only occurs when the driving style becomes improper. The Bridgestone BT 45s, which are impressive again and again, offer great grip, but the footrests grind quite early.
The Breva can be more slanted, but its stubborn suspension struts quickly used up a meager 75 millimeters of travel. With a pillion passenger, they hit hard, heavy humps make the rear wheel jump. The conventional fork, however, does its management tasks properly.
The 750 falls on a lean angle and even tends to tip over on its own. In the face of globalization, the Italian struts on Brazilian-made Pirelli Demon Sport tires that adhere perfectly. It should be more stable, the Breva, shows a slight tendency to tumble in all driving conditions. Tea seating position turned out well in front and behind. Praiseworthy: Moto Guzzi offers female riders a "Lady" bench specially tailored to the female anatomy..

Last but not least
When it comes to final drive, Europe’s development engineers present themselves with a distinctly independent approach. The classic cardan of the Breva and low-maintenance, the latter also applies to the unconventional toothed belt of the CS. The chain drives at Triumph and Ducati are just cheap, and the Bonnie has a modern X-ring design. Completely ineffective: the “chain guard” of the monsters.
Ducati and Moto Guzzi rely on strength through cooperation with the front brakes: both buy the same four-piston brake calipers from Brembo. Gold are these and good in themselves, each with two different sized brake pistons. However, it is difficult for soloists to fight individually. High manual strength and a significant decrease in the braking effect after several hard braking maneuvers (fading) show the limits of the austerity policy. What should that look like when you go down the pass with two people? The Bonnie achieves a similar braking level with its structurally simple double-piston floating calipers.
The big hour of BMW always comes when the road breaks the friendship and the sensitive ABS goes into action. There is no better way to invest money than these 525 euros. It is a shame that Ducati has not adapted the blocking and thus the fall preventer from the Sporttourer ST 4S for other models. But who knows, one thing should never be underestimated in a united Europe? the development potential of its members.

Comparison test of cheap entry-level motorcycles from Europe


Scoring: drive

Paradoxical Europe. The Ducati 620 V2 makes a great impression. Ironically, the engine with the smallest displacement achieves the best values ​​in acceleration and even in pulling power. The rather beefy and elastic BMW single is also remarkable. The Guzzi, on the other hand, lax: the inexact transmission is a bit annoying, the driving dynamics are at 34 hp? Acceleration duels against cars need to be carefully considered. The Triumph-Twin takes up the throttle smoothly, almost free of load changes, but with weak torque and retarded from overrun. And that despite the throttle valve sensor on the only carburetors in this comparison.

Performance chart

Smaller is finer: the easy-to-turn monster only brushes the sails shortly before the five-digit tidy, without being slack below. At first the Moto Guzzi Breva is still on the move, but its mild performance fades early: from 4000 tours it has to admitted defeat to the F 650, from 6000 tours it falls behind the Ducati. The 53 PS strong BMW single competes strongly, in the mid-rev range it mobilizes even more horses than the Bonneville with its deeply cut torque curve.

Scoring: chassis

Erb-Gut: With the chassis of the big sisters, the Ducati is ahead of the competition, especially since the fork is finally working properly. Normally, good suspensions are a BMW domain, but the CS lacks accuracy and a shock absorber with more reserves. The Breva lacks stability, the Bonnie lacks easy handling in fast changing turns ?? due to the great weight and high steering forces of the 19-inch model at the front.

Scoring: Security

It has been shown time and again that the objective and subjective gain in safety through ABS is simply enormous. With this lead, the CS dominates quite rightly. In general, the brakes of this quartet are no fame sheet. With the front-wheel economy brake, which is identical to the Breva, the lighter Monster gets along better. The newly designed monster mirrors offer more consideration. The Duc has the best lean angle, but also the greatest tendency to pitch up when braking in curves. Bonnie grinds early, and if you want to know too much, you grate the beautiful silencers. After all, you don’t know the handlebars on the island.

Scoring: everyday life

Everyday duties, la dolce vita or sweet dreams? The BMW shines with exemplary range, but stumbles badly when loading. The Guzzi masters everyday life unobtrusively, as does the Ducati. Only the Monster has an immobilizer, whereas the Triumph has its scanty equipment Point deduction: not even tool kit is included.

Scoring: comfort

As full as the monster feels? your domed passenger seat cushion is inadequate. The crew is best to sit on the Breva. Their disc relieves a little of the wind pressure, but at the expense of high volume. The low seating position in the CS protects against the wind, but the vibrations of the single interfere. The Triumph Twin runs the quietest.

Scoring: costs / environment

Intelligent engine management and a second spark plug ensure the low emission levels of the BMW in the current model year. Tea better ignited mixture reduces the raw emissions, the regulated catalytic converter does the rest. The Breva, which is also equipped with a G-Kat, is not enough, even the Ducati with a U-Kat achieves better emissions. The low consumption of the F 650 ?? is sensational. 3.6 liters normal on 100 kilometers of country roads. The monsters’ best price-performance ratio contrasts with the high inspection costs typical of the brand. On the other hand, Guzzi and Triumph are very cheap to maintain.

1st place – Ducati Monster 620 Dark

Excitement, not stinginess, is cool: Despite the economy brake, the Mummel monster wins a well-deserved test victory as the cheapest and most active little European.

2nd place – BMW F 650 CS

BMW F 650 CS
No other offers so many equipment options, including ABS and audio systems. But the Scarver goes beyond the scope in terms of price, has too little payload and slight chassis weaknesses

3rd place – MOTO GUZZI BREVA V 750 I.E.

Breva embodies new Euro styling. It requires little getting used to and is frugal in everyday life. Only her V2 acts too well, her struts are stubborn


Last place? No, first choice for classical music fans! Spoked wheels with chrome-plated rims and the lamp in which the vault of heaven is reflected ?? just lovely

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