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Comparative test of big bikes

Fisherman`s Friends

Kawasaki Zephyr 1100, Suzuki GSF 1200 Bandit, Yamaha XJR 1200 – how do they drive? Don’t ask, try!

Or study first: "It’s a completely different world of driving … Anyone who has the physical constitution, toughness and toughness to sweep freely in a storm from 160 to 180 km / h over the major European routes no longer counts 150-km weekend trips, that only counts in 500-mile trips. It’s not a motorcycle for immature journeymen or people who can run out of temperament, it’s a wild primal animal that needs a master and crushes a servant. ”Pithy words that Ernst“ Klacks ”Leverkus found in“ Das Motorrad ”8/1966.

The background to his impressions cast in Krupp steel sentences: a test ride on the 60 hp and 190 km / h four-cylinder Munch Mammut 1100 – from today’s perspective the mother of all undisguised big bikes. 30 years later we know that no-brainer is "master and servant." "Theory has not withstood the passage of time, which has given us masses of powerful, lightning-fast super athletes on the one hand, and falling accident figures on the other. And yet he was right in his assessment that powerful, large-displacement naked bikes, such as those represented by the Kawasaki Zephyr 1100, the Suzuki GSF 1200 and the Yamaha XJR 1200, demand certain characteristics – at least of a physical nature – from their owners The cheeks seemed to be fluttering signal pennants … I had to duck forward so that the tremendous pressure of the wind did not throw my upper body backwards. "

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Comparative test of big bikes

Fisherman`s Friends

Zephyr 1100 and the XJR 1200: The handlebar ends, which are placed relatively high in relation to the low seat surfaces, make it difficult to descend in a condition-friendly manner. With a more sporty stance with a more bent upper body, the Suzuki offers somewhat better conditions for preventive measures. "Fear? – Naturally. The first three fast kilometers of motorway. Goal then I noticed that the landing gear stayed perfectly on track. – no Completely unimpressed by the shaking wind, the Yamaha pulls its course. Ruts are just as little an issue as jagged vertical accelerations on steps running across the direction of travel – at best, they sometimes cause the rear wheel to briefly lose contact with the ground.

The Kawasaki driver often feels slightly lifted by the catapult effect of the suspension elements, which are not very easy to swallow. On top of that, he has to tolerate the fact that his machine repeatedly lapses into persistent, discreet wagging when stimulated by external disturbances. That is not dangerous, not even particularly annoying, but at least it makes for raised eyebrows. The Suzuki, as the only one blessed with a long-stroke central suspension, sails more smoothly than the competition over road inconsistencies, but nevertheless now and then affords nervous, but harmless and immediately subsiding jerks.

“It was only at the top that I noticed that it had been another long and tough climb. Nothing noticed. “The beneficial effect of the displacement. Top speed – all well and good, but what makes the real appeal of Big Bikes is the sovereign power that arises from wide, voluminous performance curves and makes the throttle position the determining speed factor. Accelerate from idle speed without jerking? Anyway. Dash forward from 2000 to 3000 rpm in fifth gear with a twist of the throttle – one of the nicest exercises. Or accelerate with full use of all gear stages and with the front wheel jerking towards the sky – not bad either. In all performance-related games, the greatest joy comes on the Suzuki. The GSF 1200 engine combines the finest bite, lard and sheer power. Measured 110 PS in connection with 236 kilograms of life weight allow the Suzuki to triumph over their fellow campaigners in every situation: Acceleration, pulling through, whether solo or in pairs, the GSF is in a class of its own.

With 109 hp, the XJR is by no means a child of sadness. But almost 20 kilograms more weight compared to the Suzuki clearly falls behind in terms of acceleration and elasticity. The Kawasaki falls even more behind. With 99 HP in the test bench measurements, it was also brilliantly presented (rated output 93 HP), but it carries a heavy load of 272 kilograms. In addition, the machine sailing under the name of a mild wind (Zephyr) seems to have suffered particularly from the winter temperatures.

The Kawasaki is definitely weather-sensitive when it comes to starting after a frozen night. Hesitant starting, coughing, withering, starting again, swallowing, withering – it takes time for the Zepyr to signal that it is ready to work. The competition for deep sleep in winter is just as unslept: groaning, coughing, scoffing – no trace of happy activity. When the three of them finally roll, at least no filigree technology on the choke levers is necessary: ​​"Thanks" to the lean carburettor setting, material-killing speed orgies with full jump start are a thing of the past. This is of particular benefit to the Yamaha: Their choke lever is inexplicably far away from the handlebars, on the carburetor battery. In other respects, the XJR also challenges ergonomic trends: the competition has adjustable brake levers – the Yamaha does not.

Even with the suspension components, the fathers of the XJR did not want to encourage manipulation on the part of the driver. Nothing can be turned on the tuning of the fork, and the two spring struts only allow the spring base to be adapted to the load condition. But luckily: the Yamaha frame reacts sensitively to the smallest bumps in the floor and – in combination with the most comfortable seat in the group – offers a cozy ambience.

The fact that the fork knees as far as it will go during sharp braking maneuvers with the front wheel brake, which can be easily adjusted, must be accepted as well as occasional bottoming out of the rear wheel suspension. The Zephyr also has a strong connection with the crew. The fork responds tough and struggles to filter away short, dry bumps. The tight spring struts, adjustable in rebound and compression damping, try in vain – especially in solo mode – to convey something like comfort. The Suzuki offers the best compromise between comfort and driving safety. Sensitive response and the ability of the central suspension on the hindquarters, which is blessed with a progressive identifier, ensure that the GSF 1100 also looks good on bad roads at a jagged speed. "The machine … is definitely not a" pile of iron ". It is handy and easy to drive …"

This is most likely to apply to the Suzuki. From an objective point of view, it is also a big chunk and does not have the razor-sharp handling of a super sports car. Nevertheless, in the Tetrzett it offers the greatest incentive to let it fly more often. The GSF is more agile, light-footed and more dynamic than its fellow campaigners: without fear of disruptive chassis reactions on bumpy ground, with the certainty of being able to squeeze the load with two fingers on the brake lever if necessary. Gear changes are a rarity, but succeed quickly, smoothly and noiselessly despite lack of practice.

The Yamaha, visually the real big bike in a three-way comparison, loves it a bit more comfortably, has a somewhat more sedate temperament: a little more clumsy when initiating the lean angle, not quite as precise when executing steering commands, a touch more unstable in the course stance bumpy curve surfaces. All in all, however, a wholesome mixture, which is rounded off by a precisely switchable gearbox and easy-to-dose, stable brakes.

The Kawasaki, with its spoked wheels now even more visible a representative of the old school, falls a little behind when it comes to sporting activities. In order to stay on the heels of the Suzuki and Yamaha, the gearbox has to be agitated a little more often, which is not pure joy given the hard and sometimes noisy gear changes. The Zephyr is quite manageable on a brisk ride, is a bit stiff on the hips in tight bends, and on bad ground in an inclined position, your ideas of the right path sometimes deviate from those of the driver.

The front brake system, although "only" equipped with floating calipers, decelerates without hesitation, albeit with relatively high hand strength. "… the men who will enjoy their free time with it will not be numerous." They will, because the undisguised ones Big bikes offer the cheaper option of enjoying sufficient power from a large displacement in its purest form. You just have to try it to get a taste for it.

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