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Honda VFR 800 F, Kawasaki Z 1000 SX and BMW R 1200 RS

Sports tourers in the comparison test

Klaus is out of the woods. The children are out of the house, the wife is still happy even after twenty years of marriage. So everything is great? Nearly! Klaus wants to get back on the bike. That had to stand back for a long time because of the family. Something new should be here. Sporty, with touring flair, that’s it now. You can choose from the Honda VFR 800 F, BMW R 1200 RS and Kawasaki Z 1000 SX.

F.earlier, at a young age, the gas hand was easy with Klaus. Super athletes were his thing. The quick kick on the evening round is its source of joy. The youth is over. Demands have changed with age. That also shows Klaus ’body. The 190 centimeter slug has become an equally large abdominal support. That’s okay too. But a delicate bacon belt and athlete – that doesn’t get along. Is that why you want to forego the nippy touch when motorcycling? No thanks. For Klaus, therefore, only sports tourers are considered when returning to the bike. They should go around the corner properly and, if necessary, offer the Holden a decent place. After all, the new acquisition has to be paid for from the joint account – with almost no upper cost limit. Every argument counts.

Honda VFR 800 F, Kawasaki Z 1000 SX and BMW R 1200 RS

Sports tourers in the comparison test

Kawasaki Z 1000 SX. It stands for a new approach to the requirements of sport and travel, uses a potent naked bike as a basis and expands its range of applications with a flanged fairing. Finally, number three, the newcomer: the BMW R 1200 RS. The abbreviation RS has a long tradition at BMW, but the propeller brand touring sporting figurehead has been missing from the range in recent years.

"You also get a lot for the money"

Klaus frowns briefly when he sees the price range: the Honda VFR 800 F costs 11,990 euros, the Kawasaki Z 1000 SX costs 12,795 euros, and the BMW R 1200 RS is available from 13,500 euros. In all three, no additional equipment from the manufacturer has yet been installed. Uff! The last time Klaus went to the dealer, there were full-blown high-tech supersport vehicles for the course, including several racing training sessions a year. Well, Klaus. You also get a lot for the money.

Klaus is curious. He immediately picks up the BMW R 1200 RS, even though it is clearly longer than the other two when it is stationary. 1530 millimeter wheelbase. Compact is different. The distance between the wheel axles is significantly shorter on the Honda VFR 800 F (1460 mm) and the Kawasaki Z 1000 SX (1445 mm). “It doesn’t matter what the things can do in the state”, Klaus throws around. He has already covered the first few meters on the BMW. And that’s pretty relaxed. Relaxed knee angle, pleasantly high-hinged handlebars with a stubby look and comfortably padded place for the buttocks, that’s how life is. The BMW weighed 250 kilograms in the test version. Klaus can hardly believe that. But that’s how it is. It feels like not many of them are left on the move, the big boxer swings around corners so lightly and foolproof. It’s amazing how easy riding a motorcycle can be.

BMW R 1200 RS anchors like the devil

Was there a frost break earlier? Klaus on the BMW didn’t notice. The electronic Dynamic ESA suspension of the BMW R 1200 RS irons everything smoothly. The downside of the coin: the feedback could be better. But that is easy to bear with the comfort. Being better is a good keyword because it also applies in nuances to braking performance. Radial brake calipers yes, radial brake pump no: The small saving dictate robs the BMW of the final crispness and better controllability when decelerating.

The BMW R 1200 RS can do this really well. Anchors like the devil if the pads are properly gripped. Sensibly supplemented by an ABS, which scores with the finest control intervals and keeps the rear tire gently prancing reliably on the ground. Fine.

All tests and articles about the BMW R 1200 RS

Honda VFR 800 F next in line

Klaus glides through mountains and valleys completely relaxed on the BMW. In addition to the chassis, the boxer is responsible for this. 1170 cm³ in size, it already runs smoothly at a low 2000 revolutions. And from then on he also pushes forward vigorously. Throttle valve open – without annoying load change jerks – and the BMW R 1200 RS easily climbs the speed ladder. It only gets a bit tougher at the top. Klaus knows how to do it. Squeeze the boxer up to a maximum of 6500 rpm. Then its slightly wavy but always upward torque curve reaches its maximum value. 120 Nm are a word.

And the guarantee for a brisk pace without beads of sweat on your forehead. They stay away even when the throttle is heavily used, after all, the BMW R 1200 RS drives a traction control as a safety backup. Since its two-wheeler roots are in the “Fast & Furios ”corner, Klaus next climbs onto the Honda VFR 800 F. And first of all has to stretch. By today’s standards, the tank is long, and your hands have to reach out to the low handlebars. There are also high-hinged footrests. Is everything too tight here? No, it is sporty and comfortable with the best possible contact with the machine – that is more likely.


Honda VFR 800 F in the top test

Running miracle reissued

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VFR exudes solidity

The next bends appear on the radar. The VFR slides almost by itself in an inclined position, despite a stately 245 kilograms full of fuel. Not extremely handy, but very confident. This also applies to the chassis. Fork and shock absorber work exactly as your own head hard drive expects. Provide a lot of feedback, the comfort you need to survive on mogul slopes without missing tautness at the right moment. Man, does it work well, Klaus thinks. Right! Everything fits together on the Honda VFR 800 F. The motorcycle exudes pure solidity and drives that way.

The sport factor is increasingly influencing Klaus ’driving style on the Honda VFR 800 F. No problem for the 800s. However, it must be properly onion for this. Please always over 5000 revolutions. The V-Tec switches on between 6500 and 7000 turns. The valve control turns the two-valve engine into a four-valve engine. So quickly pull the clutch, which requires some manual effort, but which can be easily controlled, and put in a lower gear in the crisp and very precisely designed transmission. More gas throughput for more performance. It gets loud in the upper speed range thanks to V-Tec. But there is no real progress. Even the traction control seems a bit excessive.

And the Kawasaki Z 1000 SX?

Another direction, speed reduction: when decelerating, the Honda VFR 800 F reliably delivers good values, and does not raise the rear tire even in the ABS control range. The braking performance is designed to be very defensive. Even a returnee Klaus thinks that. There is also a lot of free travel on the lever. Anyone who expects a crisp pressure point immediately after overcoming it is mistaken. So pull a little harder. Then, in the end, the negative acceleration is also right.

Turn, turn, turn – Klaus needs a break and a strong sip from the water bottle. His gaze falls on the kawa. Looks sharp, that part. Mean and green. Warning: The Kawasaki Z 1000 SX pushes 135 hp at 10,000 rpm and also serves a powerful 109 Nm at 7900 revolutions. The Honda VFR 800 F that was driven directly before cannot keep up – at least according to the pure paper values: 106 hp at its peak when the five-digit range is gently exceeded and 75 Nm at 8500 rpm. The extra performance of the Kawa is immediately noticeable in real life – not just printed in black on white. Klaus notices immediately. In the best row four manner, the Kawa develops usable propulsion even at low speeds. After the 6000 mark on the rev counter, it adds a noticeable increase in torque. There is fire in the combustion chamber.


Kawasaki Z 1000 SX (2014) in the driving report

Mild and wild combined even better?

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Kawa has been a completely changed being since 2014

Klaus shoots aggressively towards the first corner. Wow that delayed. A pressure point of the brand hard, crisp and instantly there. That fits. It only gets a bit uncomfortable when you anchor very firmly, when the ABS takes control. Depending on the road and load condition, the Kawa sometimes lifts the rear tire slightly, sometimes there is noticeable movement in the front tires. Try it out, and after three attempts you will get used to it. Just like good handling. The Kawsaki Z 1000 SX prefers the classic cornering style: decelerate, turn in, around. Anyone who does not hold on to it and grabs the radial brake pump in an inclined position has to be prepared for a considerable set-up moment. The Honda VFR 800 F and the BMW R 1200 RS are more docile on this point.

The exit of the curve is in sight. Gas on is the next command. But it’s not that easy. The Kawasaki Z 1000 SX breathes in through double throttle valves. They are almost stuck in their position in the closed position. This requires a lot of concentration when you open it gently for the first time. The traction control catches Klaus in a hurry when there is too much power output, but the implementation of the turning commands of the right hand should be smoother. Also because the Kawa is otherwise a wonderful curve sweeper.

Three that can do almost anything: leaned forward to make meters quickly or more upright in the cornering area.

Quite different from the test in MOTORRAD 15/2014. Back then: “… the Kawasaki Z 1000 SX always offers a lot of resistance to the lean angles necessary for cornering. She has to be forced to do anything that requires an incline of more than ten degrees… “, wrote colleague Ralf Schneider about her. And today? Ralf was there again. And certified the Kawa has completely changed being. Both the initial tires (Bridgestone S 20 in Specification N) and the suspension travel and elements have remained the same. However, the tires of the test machine at that time had significantly more kilometers under their belt. The Kawa in the current comparison, on the other hand, started with almost new tires.

The better driving characteristics also affect the points table. In terms of handiness and steering behavior, the Z 1000 SX now scores five more points. At the moment, Klaus doesn’t really care. He prefers to surf around a few corners with the Kawasaki Z 1000 SX, and has just grooved himself in with the muscle tourer from Akashi. Even the harsh vibrations at 6500 rpm are generously recorded as character. Klaus and the 235 kilogram Kawa, something grows together.

The BMW offers the most generous pillion comfort

Coffe break. Unexpectedly, Klaus ’wife joins them as the family finance minister. "I called her quickly earlier and had to share my enthusiasm for the bikes," he says briefly. His wife circles the trio. I also want to go along. Keyword pillion comfort. After an hour Klaus took them for a few kilometers on all three motorcycles. From their point of view, they are all not bad. But it has a clear favorite: the BMW. No wonder. The bench is also large and comfortable in the second row. In addition, there is a distance of 52 centimeters between the pillion pegs and the seat cushion on the BMW R 1200 RS. So it’s great to travel with. The others are crisper. The Honda VFR 800 F measures 45 centimeters between the footrest and seat, and the Kawasaki Z 1000 SX only 44.5. The latter also only offers a tightly cut seat bun for the rear passenger. The bottom almost slips over the rear.

And the running costs, the wife wants to know next. The BMW R 1200 RS allows itself 4.3 liters on the 100-kilometer distance during a relaxed country road race. The Honda VFR 800 F is just as close to the fuel, only 4.6 liters. The 1000 in the Kawasaki Z 1000 SX takes a significant gulp more, just cracking the 5 mark. Consumption and tank size: the Kawa has to be the first of the trio to return to the pump. After an average of 380 kilometers, mind you. BMW and Honda jump the 400 kilometer hurdle. "Honey, is that all about spending money?" Klaus shrugs briefly. No.

Inspection intervals of the three test candidates

The Honda VFR 800 F has to be serviced every 12,000 kilometers, and the dealer would like to see the BMW R 1200 RS again after 10,000 kilometers. Only Kawasaki partners are even more looking forward to their customers, who would like to welcome the Kawasaki Z 1000 SX drivers twice as often as Honda would like to greet the VFR owners.

This is also clearly reflected in the 1000 point rating. "Then the BMW comes off the cheapest on average." Klaus ’wife is right. What she doesn’t know yet is the boxer’s all-inclusive price. That amounts to a hefty 16,675 euros for the test motorcycle. Honda VFR 800 F and Kawasaki Z 1000 SX are significantly more affordable. That leaves a lot of money for gasoline and optional extras. The good performance of the BMW R 1200 RS has its price. We leave Klaus and his wife alone. The choice – hopefully without agony – they should make among themselves.

Technical specifications

The Honda VFR 800 F and the Kawasaki Z 1000 SX are significantly cheaper than the BMW R 1200 RS.

MOTORCYCLE test result

1. BMW R 1200 RS
Lots of points, lots of engine, lots of chassis, lots of money: the BMW R 1200 RS is a dynamic, sleek motorcycle that is ideal for traveling and sport. But only if the customer is willing to push a lot of money over the counter.

2. Kawasaki Z 1000 SX
The Kawasaki Z 1000 SX combines great systems that fans of wind protection and brisk lines will appreciate. Your engine stands for superior driving pleasure, your brakes are great. Just a little fine-tuning for everyday life, that’s it.

3. Honda VFR 800 F
The icon among sports tourers only lands in third place. The Honda VFR 800 F, the second four-cylinder in the comparison, clearly shows what it lacks most: power. Hello, Honda, a little increase in displacement – we’d love that.

Weight the 1000-point evaluation yourself

And this is how it works:

On the link above "Adjust the MOTORRAD 1000 point scoring" click; then the 1000-point table appears.

The main categories "engine", "landing gear", "everyday life", "security" and "costs" open by clicking on the plus sign behind it.

Then change the maximum possible number of points in the categories in the first column.

As soon as an input field is left by clicking or tab key, new scores for each motorcycle and a new ranking are automatically calculated using a rule of three.

For example, if the passenger comfort is completely irrelevant, please enter zero points as the maximum value. And if the passage is extremely important, simply increase the number there as you wish.

A total of 1000 points should be achieved – but that is not mandatory.

If you want to return to the maximum values ​​that apply in MOTORCYCLE, you either click on for a category "Reset values" or for the whole table "Reset table".

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