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Comparative test of the two-cylinder Supersport

Speed ​​triple

This is not about an English three-cylinder, but about the Italian trio of the fastest two-cylinder athletes. Which of them is the Speedking?

Allow! Three mechanical sculptures from a master hand, three high-tech twins with almost a full liter of displacement, three southerners with powerful voices, who blow their tone from two cylinders spread in a V.
First of all, the Aprilia RSV mille, the brainchild of the Noal world champion forge, winner of the last Supertwin comparison test (MOTORRAD 21/1998). Due to homologation, the Mille has now lost ten horses. Is the performance still enough?
Then the Bimota SB 8 R, developed from the pen of Ingenieur Marconis, a still unwritten slate with a long (development) history. The small series diva in the robe of predatory fish puts the potent Suzuki TL 1000 R engine in the limelight?
Finally, the Ducati 996 Biposto, that legendary masterpiece by Massimo Tamburini, the tamed progenitor of the superbike. In 1998 the 916 Biposto had a hard time gnawing at the strengthened competition. Can the fresh cell 996 regain the dominance of the class?
Three applicants with strong personalities. The Aprilia looks distinguished, round and smooth with its large paneling surfaces, which have repeatedly proven its slippage. Sitting means feeling good on the Mille, because compared to the competition, the body rests quite relaxed thanks to the handlebar stubs that are not too low and the moderately placed footrests. Subjectively, there is great freedom of movement, the knee joint is narrow, the tank curve hardly constricts even strong pilots. Controls, fittings and multifunctional cockpit show the much-cited complete and high standard. No doubt, the Mille makers know what it’s about.
This also applies to the Ducati creators, who already breathed ergonomic racing spirit into their 996: An inimitably compact feeling spreads, the footrests angled the knees sharply, the handlebars bend the upper body. The Duc offers everything you need – such as adjustable hand levers – but dispenses with features such as the gearshift lightning or lap timer, as offered by the Aprilia. The 996 remains the undisputed beauty queen even in the high model series age of six years. So narrow the waist, so dynamic the lines, ready to jump and full of character, really unique, a classic.
In contrast, the Bimota, with its coolers on the right and left of the front cylinder head and the massive tank, looks untypically brawny for a twin. Unexpectedly narrow then the knee and wasp waist, followed by the aggressively pointed rear end, underlined by two macho silencers – quite sexy, the SB 8 R.
In view of the expansive tank flanks, it is all the more surprising that it is quite comfortable to sit on on its sparsely padded workstation. The wide, not so deep handlebars lead your arms around the thick, not at all long tank, the footrests positioned far back ensure a stretched position – a seating position that finds fans among testers big and small.
Three ergonomic philosophies, three different frame concepts: a tubular mesh for the Ducati, large, welded aluminum profile sheets for the Aprilia, a screw and adhesive bond of aluminum profiles at the front and carbon fiber panels at the back of the Bimota – the elaborate construction should save weight and increase rigidity. So that nothing wobbles, the forks and swingarms of the three twins also rely on stability thanks to their large cross-sections. And all three use their engine as an element to reinforce the chassis.
And what kind of engines they are. Basically unchanged, the large-volume You are working at least on the periphery, revised in the current year. As mentioned at the beginning, the Aprilia pinwheel bobbing at an angle of 60 degrees had to give way. The pithy sound remained, eight hp went, and a performance curve emerged that unfortunately no longer harmonizes so perfectly with the gear ratio. In the upper speed tidy, the Mille looks quite tame, and has also lost performance. But it is still strong, and this test copy ran surprisingly with little vibration.
The Duc’s Desmo-Vau, however, has increased noticeably. It presses a full 121 hp on the test stand roller. Enough to make the beautiful jump with a full rumble: 272 km / h is a new Ducati record. And that despite the longer geared primary drive, which in the 996 at most has a negative effect on the torque values ​​that are less relevant for a super sports car than the two competitors.
The Bimota is the best in terms of performance. The Italian engineers have even trained the TL 1000 R-Twin to perform better. This could be owed to the Weber-Marelli injection with 59er intake ports, but also to the ABE, which was given with a wink, because the SB 8 R breathes and roars bloodcurdily. It’s really impressive how the Japan twin catapults the Bimota forward and not only achieves acceleration but also pulling force. The V2 hangs on the gas as spontaneously as it is somehow possible – a virtue that is also mastered by its colleagues. It’s nice that the consumption of the Bimota power plant remains moderate. It just doesn’t like starting, regardless of the working temperature of the engine, clouds of unburned fuel indicate that the cold start enrichment is too abundant. Oh yes, and those vibrations that shake the chassis vigorously. Apparently, Suzuki knows how to introduce the vibrations caused by mass forces into the frame in a less disruptive manner. And they are particularly annoying with the SB 8 R when driving at constant constant speed, i.e. on the motorway, where the Bimota does not actually belong, but where it does a lot at 277 km / h and offers quite good wind protection. So fast on the road, it then moves slightly around the vertical axis, probably a tribute to the geometry designed for good handling. Even in fast corners, it reacts to abrupt changes in the throttle position with constant stirring.
The 996, on the other hand, runs straight ahead like a TGV and is inclined as if sucked into place. The only drawback: The Ducati is stubborn in fast changing curves. An alternatively mounted 180/55 rear tire brought a noticeable improvement on the test motorcycle. Handy is still different, which is also the burden of the heavy wheels – the front Ducati rim weighs one kilogram more than that of the Aprilia. Ace usual, the Duc uses every bump and every braking in an inclined position for violent positioning.
Disciplines that the Mille has mastered better: It follows steering commands much more quickly, does not want to stand up either when braking or on bumps, shows no understeer or oversteer tendencies even when accelerating sharply in an inclined position – the driving behavior is simply exemplary.
And the bimota? The lightest in the field packs a lot of weight on the front wheel and carries it in an extremely stiff fork, which in turn is hinged to an equally stiff frame. Result: playfully easy turning and turning in alternating curves as well as enormous feedback from the front wheel. If necessary, this property can be increased by varying the steering head angle using an eccentric (homologated!). Changing the Michelin TX 15 front drawn in the unusual 120/65 ZR 17 format is also helpful, as it causes a strong pitching moment and steers less homogeneously than the Pirellis tried out for comparison in the usual 120/70 dimension (see racetrack section).
The SB 8 R chassis has ideal conditions, but the test motorcycle suffered from a spring that was too soft (80 N / mm) at the rear. Import Konemann promises a 90 spring for every SB 8 R delivered, which unfortunately was not yet available for testing. With the mounted spring, the exemplary Ohlins shock absorber has sufficient damping reserves, but these do not help over the long distances that the excessively soft tuning allows the rear of the vehicle and thus causes unrest in the chassis, for example when turning.
Otherwise, there is almost nothing else to say about the test subjects’ suspension elements; those of the Ducati are perhaps a bit tight for pure road use. And then there would be the same brakes on all candidates at the front and different at the rear, but always almost ineffective. With the front stoppers, the Bremboians have simmered a bit on the pad mix, so that the double disc brake – with aluminum brackets and thicker steel discs – still does not come close to the top products of Japanese bikes, but with moderate manual force it decelerates excellently and can be dosed quite well.
D.hat is much less surprising than the outcome of this test. The quality of the Aprilia is hardly surprising. The good performance of the Bimota, however, amazes. Something is happening in Rimini, and the Bimotisti should manage to deal with the few points of criticism. A bit sad that the noble Ducati only remains in the thankless third square, because it has hardly lost anything of its fascination.

The super athletes on the racetrack – praise what makes you fast

The battle of blows on the race track is on, and as always, all three candidates will be placed on the same tires. This time on a Pirelli Dragon EVO in the size 180/55 at the rear and 120/70 at the front, which is recommended for sports use. Place of the event: Hockenheim, small course. As the surprise winner of the last comparison, the Aprilia deserves the right of way. And it’s fast. The Mille takes 1.11.39 minutes to complete the demanding course. However, the feeling says it could go faster if … yes, if instead of the Dragon EVO the stickier Corsa mixture was put on. Because after two or three quick laps in the summer heat, the rear wheel begins to slip when you gently apply the gas. Well controllable, but unfortunately the desired propulsion is missing. But that doesn’t matter, as all test persons struggle with it, while the weight of the Mille is the loss of performance due to homologation. In contrast to road traffic, the tachometer needle on the racetrack is mainly in the upper third of the scale. And that’s exactly where the Mille looks unusually toothless and tired. What is particularly noticeable when changing from third to fourth gear, where a larger jump in speed lurks. The two-cylinder is noticeably difficult to push the 223 kilogram athlete quickly over the range between 8000 and 9000 rpm. As soon as it is done, it is time to get back on the iron. With a lot of effort on the handbrake lever, the desired effect is achieved, but the controllability leaves a lot to be desired. A precise feeling when decelerating is particularly important on a beet field like the small course, which is creating more and more insidious bumps in the braking zones. At the RSV, however, there remains an uneasy feeling when turning on the brakes and the knowledge that you have wasted a lot of cornering speed and thus time. Nevertheless: The good handling, the chest of drawers, but the stable chassis and, last but not least, the relaxed seating position are still guarantees of great driving fun even for less experienced pilots, who will have less fun with the 996 – too uncompromising, too extreme. A dream of stability in fast passages, a nightmare when it comes to turning from right to left at lightning speed. Blessed with an engine that gently but emphatically pushes out of the corners, but whose overall ratio of 297 km / h in Hockenheim is completely wrong. In addition, the Ducati is plagued by this dough-indifferent feeling when braking and turning in, which even our thoroughbred racing driver Markus Barth loses the desire for increased risk – 66 hundredths behind for the 996. That‘s tough, she got it in the mega test (MOTORRAD 9/1999) the Aprilia really shown. She was able to use her strengths on the fast track in Barcelona, ​​but the surprise par excellence is the Bimota. The exclusive diva can be whipped around the course extremely lightly. Although the too soft spring of the rear damper makes life difficult for you, especially in the long arch of the crossbar and at the beginning of the Motodrom, the resulting rocking movements can only slow the vehement forward thrust of the SB 8R little. The engine pushes like hell in all positions, turns almost as cheeky as a four-cylinder and leaves the two opponents no chance even in the slipstream. The gearbox matches the characteristics of the engine perfectly, every jump in speed is easily played over by the powerful Suzuki-Vau. The seating position, however, requires some getting used to. Smaller riders in particular find it difficult to grab the broad handlebars while hanging off the bulbous tank. And you shouldn’t be bothered by the horrible vibrations. Because what makes fast be praised. The SB 8R marks the best time of the day with 1.11.2 minutes. well done.

Aprilia RSV Mille

1st place street

Even with less power, the Mille offers more – it shines with a wide range of talent, convinces with high-quality, complete equipment and a strong dose of comfort, without again sacrificing sportiness. In short: an all-rounder, the factotum among the sporty two-cylinder engines. 3. You can turn it around as you like. The standard trim of the Mille is a real all-rounder and ideally suited for fast chasing on the racetrack. Even if the throttled version of the engine is no longer entirely convincing, its great chassis, successful seating position and easy handling are not only good for lots of driving fun, but also for fast lap times.

Bimota SB 8 R

2nd place street

The bells are ringing in Rimini, the small luxury forge Bimota is again building well-functioning motorcycles of a high quality. The SB 8 R is fun, has a lot of personality and offers high performance to well-heeled buyers. What happens when the deficiencies have also been eliminated? 1. 1st place on the racetrack and a very convincing performance despite the too soft coordination of the hindquarters. Above all, the strong and easy-revving engine gives the Bimota this success. It is not difficult to guess that there is still some undiscovered potential slumbering in this extremely rigid framework. However, comfort has to be foregone in every respect.

Ducati 996 Biposto

3rd place street

It is the most beautiful and the most uncompromising, it is still fascinating, driving it is still one of the happiest motorcycle moments. But six model years cannot make up for a drilled out engine and facelift in detail. Nevertheless, the Duc is and remains a classic with class. 2. Place racetrack, oh, oh, oh The world of the Ducati is simply not as narrow as Hockenheim. Much too long translated and too stubborn when changing lean angles quickly. Even on the racetrack, there is actually only one adjective that describes this 996 appropriately: fascinating. Third place is more than tough because there is nothing that makes this Ducati bad. Only the competition has just stepped up.

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