New items 1998: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha


New items 1998: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha

A kettle of color

The fumes from the rumor mill are condensing: a surprising number of new delicacies simmer in the pots of the Japanese manufacturers.

With a few new ingredients and side dishes, Honda is trying to refresh the 1998 model menu. For example, with a mid-range touring bike that will operate under the working title of »Compass« until the final name has been found. The eye-catcher is a knee-free body with convincingly integrated storage compartments in the rear area. Well-tried technology sits beneath the surface: the 50 hp 650 three-valve V2 is just as familiar from the NTV 650 as the steel bridge frame, the single-sided swing arm and the cardan drive.
The CB 600 tries its luck without outer packaging: stylistically based on the now faded CB 1000 (“Big One”), inspired by the powerful CBR 600 four-cylinder – a naked bike that should really get down to business comes up.
The CBR 900 RR has always been able to do this, but it should be able to do it a little better and more beautifully in the future. A subtle increase in performance lifts the Fire Blade over the 130 hp limit – a fact that is carefully documented to the outside by a facelift on the cladding.
Despite rumors to the contrary, there is no new CBR 600 F and (for the time being) no “R” version of the VTR 1000. The “changes” for 1998 – as in the rest of the Honda range – are limited to new color variants. Nevertheless, good news: VTR and CBR 1100 XX will be available with an unregulated catalytic converter in the future (see MOTORRAD 18/1997).
Bad news, on the other hand, for fans of large-capacity travel enduros: the XL 1000 V (with modified VTR engine), which you can imagine as an oversized Transalp, has been fully developed, but will probably not be released until the end of 1998.
Sports-oriented Kawasaki customers are expected to be less patient, as a completely redesigned ZX-9R is waiting to take off. Lighter, more compact, more agile, faster – according to this motto, the new edition has been slimmed down to just 207 kilograms (ready to drive), slightly increased in performance and given a chassis that rolls on a shorter wheelbase. Her little sister ZX-6R has undergone subtle technical retouching that is supposed to remedy the slight posture problems of the previous model when used on the racetrack. A visible practical upgrade of the machine comes in the form of a stainless steel exhaust system with an aluminum silencer.
The cruiser flagship VN 1500, on the other hand, got down to the nitty-gritty. A new engine was launched here, which – it is to be hoped – ensures a level of driving dynamics that is appropriate for the enormous displacement. It is also to be hoped that the catalytic converter technology, which Kawasaki has reportedly developed for markets with particularly restrictive emissions regulations across the range, will not be withheld from German customers.
Even before the quarrels about the technical problems of the TL 1000 S have subsided, Suzuki is adding a more severe version of the two-cylinder athlete. The TL 1000 R presents an engine with revised oil sump and clutch, which thanks to a modified throttle valve ensemble (with the same intake manifold diameter) and a newly programmed injection control unit should deliver a whopping 136 hp to the transmission. The visual flagship of the »R« is a blue and white lacquered full cladding. The »S« goes unchanged into the next season – except for interventions in the injection management, which are probably aimed at getting the engine used to drinking.
The topic of software will also be relevant for the GSX-R 750 in the future. Instead of the previous carburetor battery, an electronically controlled injection system takes on the task of feeding the four-cylinder in-line. With around 130 hp, the increase in performance is just as tight as the changes to the appearance of the machine – just a new windshield reveals the change in model year.
Even the small GSX-R does not show any signs of serious upheaval: The 600 presents itself as usual, but offers more inner values ​​in the form of higher engine power.
The veteran GSX 600 F, on the other hand, had to undergo cosmetic interventions. With a completely redesigned cladding with double headlights and a new seat, the mid-range sports tourer should experience a second spring. The equally beefed up GSX 750 F will not be available on the German market.
There is another Suzuki newcomer in the three-quarter liter class. The GSX 750 is a bare machine with a subtle retro look, which is already available in Japan with 400 cubic meters under the name Inazuma. With a stately 20-liter tank and a spacious storage compartment under the seat, the GSX 750 plays the practical card, while its gem of an engine – the well-known, finely ribbed, air / oil-cooled four-cylinder -, sturdy fork and lush tires for the eye.
The successor to the VS 1400 will also be an eye-catcher. With more corpulence, a motor enlarged to 1.5 liters and rolling on thick soles, she changes from the chopper to the cruiser compartment. What remains is the name: Intruder.
After a creative break, Yamaha worked hard. In the sports segment, this is emphatically documented by the YZF 1000 R1, which has all the systems that make it a class leader: with a weight of around 200 kilograms (with a full tank), an output of 152 hp and a wheelbase that has shrunk to 1390 millimeters. Behind these sensational key data is a newly designed, extremely compact motor that is supposed to be 25 kilograms lighter than the previous 1000 (which continues to work in the “normal” YZF 1000).
Yamaha responded to the success of the Suzuki Bandit 600 with the FZ 600 – a naked bike that is not only supposed to be naked, but also to be really dynamic thanks to a water-cooled five-valve engine. That has always been the XJR 1200, and that is what it will be in the future as the Gauloises blue painted XJR 1200 S »Sarron Replica«.
Exuberant liveliness is not the main characteristic of the XJ 600 models. Nonetheless, the N and S versions have an additional disc brake on the front wheel.
Yamaha is also donating when it comes to drag star. The XVS 650 is accompanied by an XVS 650 A, which is supposed to convey the cruiser theme even more emotionally: With interconnected standpipes à la Royal Star and with veritable sheet steel fenders.
D.Enduro fans can only smile about that. On the other hand, they will shine with anticipation in the face of an approved 400cc four-stroke sport enduro, which – apart from an electric starter – is technically closely based on the brand new cross machine.

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