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The ten most important motorcycles

Regardless of whether you voted online, by letter or fax: This is the vote of the MOTORRAD readers. They chose their ten most important motorcycles from 20 types available to choose from. With a clear winner and some surprising results.

Thomas Schmieder

07/05/2007

Phew, that wasn’t easy. Not for the editorial team when it was time to add 20 groundbreaking motorcycles since 1980
To include the proposal list. And not for you, dear readers, when you had to commit yourself to a single vote for the “most important motorcycle of modern times”. But it was worth it. Because you have decided which ten motorcycle types you consider milestones. And now like to see it recognized again in the magazine.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the strict voting system, the results were clear. The BMW F 650 GS, the ABS pioneer in the middle class, landed behind in 20th place. A lot of technology, little fascination. Even the 125cc racer Aprilia RS 125 met with more approval: technology plus fascination. It is just before that Yamaha Drag Star, the first serious little chopper from Japan. Hardly rated better: Harley’s Softail series ?? the finally reliable Evolution engine with a rigid frame look ex works.
Amazing: the moderate performance of the Honda Gold Wing. After all, the only remaining six-cylinder motorcycle and the fattest of all luxury touring bikes. Thus the exact opposite of the KTM LC4, which was previously established: robust and light, the first hard enduro. The Honda CBR 600 F is one of the best-selling motorcycles in the world and founded the 600 class as a “yoghurt cup”. Super sporty as well as suitable for everyday use. Respected, but not very much loved.
Like the MV Agusta F4? In 1997, at the presentation, the journalists called them »sex on wheels«. Yet few readers voted for the rolling sin. Especially when you compare the result with the clear winner of this election. But pssst, nothing is revealed yet. Just this much: there is a clear management trio from Europe.
The BMW RT series did not make it into the top ten. Already in 1978 with XXL cladding and standard cases, consistently developed to this day. Kawasaki’s Z 1000 landed on the ungrateful 11th place. The first street fighter from Japan gave the brand back its self-confidence and image, but has to line up just behind Ducati’s monsters. Exotic readers’ suggestions such as the Munch Mammut 2000, the failed project of a modern new edition of the mother of all big bikes, could not prevail.
Before going into the full range of this vote, it is important to compliment everyone involved in the election: You did not automatically vote for your own make or model if it was up for election. This is both an incentive and an obligation for us. We will ask you, dear readers, for your vote again soon. they
it is up to you which motorcycles should be honored in the next election. Thank you for participating. Oh yes, a set of Metzeler Roadtec Z6s goes to Hagen Schmidt from Grobraschen for his Suzuki Bandit 1200.

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Place 10: Ducati Monster – Monstrous

A moving horror story: The Monster is what the Golf is to VW. Their success kept the brand alive. But the Golf scores with utility, the monsters with design. The M 900 from 1993 marked a milestone: a filigree tubular space frame clamps in a beautiful V2 engine. The open-hearted technology is crowned by seductive, rounded shapes for headlights, instruments, folding tank and pillion seat cover.
Only connoisseurs can immediately distinguish the many types from 600 to 1000 cm3, from 54 to 130 hp, with air or water cooling. It’s just a really nice family. Everyone is chic and classless. No wonder many women succumb to the charm of this clan. Even with the smaller, smirking monsters, you won’t be smiled at at the motorcycle meeting place.
Injection and increased displacement have done the monsters good over the years; now the V-Zwos work very smoothly and cultivated. The upside-down forks, which have always been poorly appealing and tend to stumble on mogul slopes, are different. And a seating position stretched far over the tank and a huge turning circle look old-fashioned today. The success of the series means a heavy burden for the future. Soon the 200,000th monster will move out. Who wants to renew a design icon? Tsr

9th place: Yamaha FJR 1300 – TraumTourer

Simply magical: In 2001, Yamaha brought a tourer from a standing start that combined performance and comfort like never before. 145 HP paired with a full-size, elegant fairing. the FJR 1300 zooms in on the horizon rapidly. And that despite the somewhat sluggish handling and heavy weight: The current “Eff-Jott-Err” weighs almost six hundredweight. Nevertheless, it is low and compact.
Low-maintenance cardan drive meets great touring equipment. This includes the electrically adjustable disc and the best
Case integrated at the rear. These are now standard. Just like the ABS, which is unfortunately just clumsy. Only a sixth gear is still missing.
The current »AS« version is the only motorcycle with an electronically controlled clutch for an additional charge of 2000 euros: when changing gears, initiated from the handlebars via Tiptronic or conventionally by foot, the clutch is computer-controlled, completely without a hand lever. An FJR with a conventional clutch is still in the range.
Either way, the FJR, which has been sold 12337 times in Germany, remains the thorn in the flesh of BMW. With this choice, it not only distanced the Gold Wing, but also the RT series. And MOTORRAD readers have named it “Motorcycle of the Year” seven times in a row. Compliment. Tsr

8th place: Suzuki Hayabusa – as if in flight

Men, I want to see contrails! «The shrewd Suzuki sales manager Bert Poensgen found pithy words in 1999 at the presentation of the Hayabusa. After that, you could actually see rows of black rubber lines. The door to another dimension had been pushed open. The Hayabusa was the first production motorcycle to break the sound barrier of 300 km / h, the speed of a jumbo jet taking off.
Biggest torque met excellent drivability. Plus sophisticated aerodynamics, keyword: »coati«. After the media hype had subsided by 300 km / h, the Suzuki, which has remained almost unchanged to this day, was able to calmly reveal its true qualities: as a sovereign motorized sports tourer. Although it lacks an ABS, it is good for pillion rides and big touring. Hayabusa is the name of the Japanese peregrine falcon, which swoops down to beat its prey at speeds of up to 300 km / h.
The 1300 series, which has been approved 8,350 times in Germany, is rather pious in its handling, and does not encourage heating up that much. It makes you casual. You could if you wanted to. That was also what Bert Poensgen, who was sitting in a car at the time, had to experience when the Hayabusa crowd flew past him. Then he whispered to his chauffeur: “Mr. Rudolph, what are you doing, you’re standing!” Tsr

7th place: Suzuki GSX-R – Start-up

7th place? Guys, you can’t be serious! The GSX-R deserved more, a lot more. Because never again did a motorcycle make the world sit up and take notice like the groundbreaking one GSX-R 750 at the IFMA trade fair in Cologne in 1984. After that, nothing appeared as it was. The GSX-R was an initial spark. With it, racing found its way directly onto the road. Without the GSX-R would be ?? with all due respect ?? one 916 was not possible. The GSX-R is the mother of all sports motorcycles. For this reason alone, she deserves a place of honor in the Hall of Fame.
Anyone who was not there can hardly imagine how this motorcycle electrified the masses. Suzuki presented them next to the prototype, the long-distance racer. A difference could hardly be made out. Slim, slim, reduced to the bare essentials. With an aluminum frame, where everyone else relies on steel. With a tailor-made cladding that had none of the compromises in accessories that were widespread at the time. With a four-in-one system? ex works. In short: with a race-like appearance that was only very, very seldom achieved again later. And can still inspire today.
The same applies to another criterion. The weight. From then on, it drove the development of two-wheelers into new dimensions. 199 kilograms factory specification, later measured 201, that is still, 23 years later, a house number. It is therefore not surprising that the technically innovative FZ 750, Yamaha’s first five-valve engine, which appeared at the same time, has long since been forgotten. But the GSX-R lives on. Meanwhile in three displacement classes and the umpteenth generation. Sec

6th place: Yamaha YZF-R1 – The synthesis

Radical, light and strong as a bear. What Yamaha placed there in 1998 was quite simply a stroke of genius. In contrast to the Honda CBR 900 and Kawasaki ZX-9R, the YZF-R1 made the full liter capacity. And drew a bearish 150 hp from it with a weight of just 202 kilograms. In words: two-zero-two. How does that work? Thanks to a filigree construction, ingenious lightweight construction, in which every component, no matter how small, is put to the test.
Would you like some examples? The shift linkage, for example, led through the frame, the lever of which only had a rubber armouring on the underside (!). Technical flair was combined with perfectly shaped styling like perhaps never before with a motorcycle “made in Japan”. And then this posh workmanship. Designers and engineers pulled out all the stops. And together. Your engine is ultra-compact and short, thanks to the gear shafts arranged one above the other ?? common practice today. Which in turn enabled a very long swing arm for optimal traction.
Whether the »R1«? The ingenious name alone? because of that immediately became a cult bike? Or because of her extreme speed? She drove as if an angel was pushing! In terms of dynamics, the beast opened up a new world with five valves per cylinder, and even in third gear suddenly got onto the rear wheel. That was far too much torque for inexperienced pilots when they turned the agitator too hard in an inclined position and then flew off in rows. Ouch. Only the tough got through.
Whoever knew how to use it, the Yamaha revealed the qualities of its excellently tuned chassis ?? on which, however, some people wanted a steering damper? and excellent braking. That has
nothing changed until today. In 2002, an injection system was added that enabled a gentle response thanks to the upstream, vacuum-controlled slide, and a new chassis with a bolted rear frame. The aggressive and elegant silhouette was retained in all types. So it’s no wonder that the Yamaha YZF-R1, which has been sold around 23,000 times in Germany alone, is sure to secure a place in the motorcycle Olympus. abi / tsr

5th place: Honda VFR – Wie Wickert

Ulrich Wickert moderated the ARD Tagesthemen from 1991 to 2006: charming, unaffected, convincing, confident and friendly ?? almost the personified Honda VFR. Your success is not based on numbers. Because 65 years, 1.83 meters and 78 kilograms say just as little about the character as 782 cm3, 249 kilograms and 106 hp. On the contrary, one only associates: no full liter displacement, little draft, no lightweight construction. We are waiting for the next generation!
Until then, the many VFR disciples are looking forward to absolutely reliable high-tech. 100,000 kilometers without problems, that’s (almost) completely normal. Both the engine and the chassis are considered to be almost indestructible. Quite a few owners of the current VFR are frequent drivers and doers of conviction and have gone through every generation change. They sat in the saddle of the RC 24, the first in 1986, and continued to devote themselves to the VFR via the RC 36 (1990), the first »800« RC 48 (1998) to the current RC 46II (from 2002). Motto: once VFR, always VFR. But why?
Because only Honda still builds a V4 engine as standard. Its sound and structure put its fans in an acoustical-mechanical frenzy. Today with chains instead of gear cascades to the camshaft drive plus exclusive switching from two to four valve operation at 6800 tours. And because the VFR Sport and Touring were the first to combine (e) particularly well to this day. Light, weather protection, range, driving stability and the ABS composite brake are great. With the VFR, Honda is turning every day into a wedding day. Like Wickert. Who could make a side note about the highlight of the day. Rhe

4th place: Suzuki Bandit – Feine Strolche

Straightforward, inexpensive, proven. The Bandit’s recipe for success has many sides. Sure, it’s also her simplicity that makes her so personable. She has no starry airs, plays the nice guy next door, the reliable buddy, but is also there when it comes time to let the pig out. The cautiously revving 600 series fell exactly into the new 78 hp insurance class in 1995. And got off to a flying start.
Delicious ingredients such as a brightly painted double-loop tubular frame and a finely ribbed, air / oil-cooled four-cylinder were immediately appealing. That came, booked down, from the first GSX-R 750. And the basic concept of the more noble, unfortunately never officially imported 400 series. The bandit design combines the look of the seventies with modern elements ?? not too progressive, yet not stale. The cloak of the daring knight under which the good honest man slumbers? Bandit driving is accepted, hardly anyone whistles in appreciation, but neither does anyone turn up his nose. Of course there is enough power for brisk sprints, but everything is always manageable.
Those who wanted more got their money’s worth from 1996, when the Bandit went one better with 1200 cm3 and full torque, right from the start as a naked version or with a half-shell. A hell of a lot of motorcycle for an absolutely humane price. Their fans see the mass image as an advantage. What everyone drives can’t be bad. Bandit drivers do not need a big appearance at the bikers’ meeting or in front of the trendy cafe. And if necessary, a huge range of accessories, including lively internet forums, can help you customize the machine.
Well-engineered engines, simple chassis and decent brakes are definitely good for normal drivers. Don’t get bored and never overwhelm, that’s the motto. If the name says it all? who did the bandit steal from? Well, she stole their hearts from tens of thousands. Of the 600s alone, 41,811 are driving around in Germany? Second place in the portfolio after the Yamaha XV 535 (as of January 1, 2007). In addition, there are 20,546 copies of the 1200s: 14th place.
The adventures of the fine rascals continue unchanged. Meanwhile with a full 650 or 1250 cm3, water-cooled, Euro 3 compliant and with ABS. The classic cooling fins are now history, the touch remains: Wildness yes, but with fully comprehensive insurance please. egg

3rd place: Triumph Speed ​​Triple – Born to run

Motors roar through the streets behind the palace. Girls comb their hair in the rear-view mirrors and the boys try to look daring. The highway is overcrowded with failed heroes looking for their last chance. Today everyone is on the run, but there is no longer any place to hide. We have to see that we get out of here while we’re young. Because tramps like us are born to run away. “
When Bruce Springsteen picks up the microphone and starts “Born to run”, blood, sweat and tears ooze out of the speakers. This makes the cult song a perfect anthem for the Triumph Speed ​​Triple. Because like no other model, the »Speedy« reflects the bitter history of the oldest and sometimes largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
A glorious empire that collapsed in the seventies and sank in the dirt in the eighties. Before that, the workers had tried hard to keep the brand and the plant alive through a cooperative. Only after a fresh start in the nineties does Triumph punch its way back up. Persistent and tenacious. We are who again.
the Speed ​​triple is not a snooty-looking diva or a distant, preferably bitchy glamor girl. She doesn’t sip Prosecco from long-stemmed glasses, she doesn’t swirl fine red wine in bulbous goblets. No, it’s just different. Just completely English. She comes across as very down to earth. The Speed ​​Triple is an honestly poured pint of beer that you drink in large gulps to quench your thirst. You sit on it like on a bar stool in a local pub: Years can fly by here, stories are told, people flirt, laugh, argue, discuss and keep quiet here.
The Speed ​​Triple has remained true to this character since its launch in 1994 until today. On the other hand, it has changed significantly on the outside. The mighty, bulky Cafe Racer of yore has become a well-toned muscle pack. The first model, from the T-300 series, was a bit coarse with deep handlebar stubs and therefore tumb. But the chirping of the carburettor-equipped triple was addicting from the start, causing a pleasant grumble in the
Epigastric region.
In 1997 the fitness regimen began: with the T 509, a well-trained muscleman rolled out of the Hinckley factory. Two powerful headlights stared provocatively into a disturbed-looking motorcycle world. Unheard of, people whispered to one another under the hand. Something so cheeky and obscene was not known from series production until then. Something so dirty was left to dark backyard smiths. And now this: Take it or leave it, love or hate.
Sporty, oh yes, that was it, and extremely active driving? as the sister of the noble Daytona T 595 super sports car. But upright and sublime. With a »Speedy« you don’t have to fear death or the devil on winding country roads. Especially not super athletes.
The aluminum frame, artfully welded together from many individual parts, stretches sinewy over the muscleman of Triple. With the updates T 595 (2002) and 515-NJ (2005) the message has been refined more and more: three cylinders, two lamps, one goal in life ?? maximum driving pleasure. True to the principle of English football: kick and rush.
In 1990, the newly formed Triumph team under company boss John Bloor began to sell the second Triumph generation. With its three-cylinder concept, it provided for Fuore right from the start, exclusively occupying a niche. With the Speed ​​Triple, the British have created their most successful model, which has been sold well over 40,000 times worldwide to date. And also gives the Triumph brand an unmistakable face and image. “I want to find out if love is wild and if it’s real.” On the Speed ​​Triple, dear Bruce, it is. Guaranteed. She is “born to run”. Joel

2nd place: BMW GS – summiteer

It didn’t fall from the sky. And yet the R 80 G / S hit like a bomb in 1980: “The best street motorcycle that BMW has ever built,” wrote Peter Maierbacher in MOTORRAD 17/1980 about the 800 series. And went on: “Seen from the left, the rear wheel seems to be hanging freely in the air.”.
Thanks to the exclusive single-sided swing arm, the touring enduros from BMW immediately lost their trademark. Which of course also included the two-cylinder boxer engine. Beefy 50 hp pulled the trigger, sonorous bubbling. Until then, Enduros had
only single cylinder engines. Fully packed XT 500s carried the brunt of the long-haul travelers. And now BMW is bringing a much larger and yet very light touring motorcycle: with a full 19.8-liter tank, it weighs just 196 kilograms. The world, it had become smaller, borders had shifted, Africa was now closer. Just drive off.
The egg-laying woolly milk sow was born. It felt good on the road, was comfortable, and at the same time moderately suitable for off-road use. A real quantum leap. No other manufacturer was able to counter something in this area. From 1982 onwards, the 21,864 R 80 G / S were joined by 5963 units of the handy R 80 ST with 19 instead of 21 inch front wheels. An early attempt at a Megamoto, if you will.
Inspired by the magic of the desert, BMW sent crowds of factory machines to the Paris-Dakar Rally. In 1981 and 1983 Hubert Auriol won, followed by a double victory in 1984: Auriol behind the little Belgian Gaston Rahier. From 1982 70 hp 980 boxers rushed through the sand. They anticipated what went into series production in 1987: almost 1000 cm3 and 60 thoroughbred Arabs in the R 100 GS ?? without a slash. Like the new R 80 GS, it can now tolerate unleaded petrol. That was just 20 years ago.
For the first time, both have the new Paralever swing arm with two universal joints. The rotatably flange-mounted rear-wheel drive is supported by a strut on the frame and has since minimized cardan reactions. Elevator effect, that used to be. The 1000 series rolled off the Berlin production lines 34,007 times, including the Paris-Dakar version with a larger tank and frame-mounted cladding. In addition there are 11375 800 and 1727 almost forgotten R 65 GS ?? with 27 HP, without Paralever.
Then in 1994 the big leap, revolution instead of evolution: 1085 cm3, four valves per cylinder, injection, G-Kat. A triangular swing arm mounted in the motor housing guides the fork, which neither bounces nor dampens. She leaves that to a central spring strut. Somehow clever, this »Telelever«, the high-tech chassis works perfectly. In addition there is beefy power, duckbill design and ABS on request, for a total of 80,139 buyers. The 1150 followed in 1999 with headlights in Karl Dall optics and refined technology. “GS” has long stood for a seal of quality: active and versatile. One for all.
2004 marks a new milestone with the 1200 series. More stroke (space) and power (100 PS!) Meet only 242 kilograms ?? including ABS. Only a KTM Adventure is more off-road, a leaden Honda Varadero more comfortable. But when it comes to the sum of its properties, no competitor can hold a candle to the GS. A GS is the golden ratio in the field of travel enduros. Confident, fast and sublime, a (h) hasty cow in the jungle of curves.
No wonder that R 1200 GS including the long-distance travel version Adventure with 96,852 units (as of May 2007) will become the most-built BMW motorcycle of all time in just three years. In the meantime, the 100,000 limit for the 1200 has already been cracked. And almost the 300,000 of the entire series. Around every third BMW built is now a GS. Anyone who has ever driven one knows why. Tsr

1st place: Ducati 916 – La Passionata

Slim, sexy, wiry. Just getting close to the 916 is enough to fall hopelessly behind its fiery red beauty. It was like that in 1994, and it has remained so to this day. What a bewitching design! A mechanical sculpture the likes of which the world had never seen before, everlasting beautiful and irresistible. The Belladonna looks out of bold, angular slits in the headlights.
The MOTORRAD editor-in-chief Michael Pfeiffer attested an almost “animal charm” at the time.
Even when stationary, the 916 appears dynamic, undisguisedly showing off its sportiness. That starts with the noble details like the mighty, hollow thru axles and the ?? a novelty ?? Steering damper mounted across the steering head. Goes on with the graceful silhouette and the bold exhaust system peeking out from under the seat. And listen to technical delicacies like the single-sided swing arm? So far only available in the BMW GS, in Honda’s touring athletes VFR and the extremely expensive RC 30 and 45 ?? and the steering head angle, which can be adjusted via eccentric bearings, is a long way off.
But despite, or perhaps because of, its elaborate design, the 916 can do much more than just look good. She also ventured into new spheres in terms of driving. It does not know touching parts, it offers unlimited freedom of inclination. And how it only lies in curves. Sensational! As unshakably stable, as neutral, as precise as a circular stroke, the 916 prefers to circle further curve radii. Uncompromising, demanding, exhausting. Because their handling ranks between stubborn and stubborn, requires the driver to use all his physical strength and a lot of the ability to suffer.
To which also tight clutch manual power and the deeply clamped handlebar stubs contribute. On the other hand, the rider enjoys perfect contact with the motorcycle thanks to the slim tank in the leg area. Annoying: You can hardly rely on the ineffective, “doughy brakes” (MOTORRAD 12/2007) and the clunky side stand. The 916 is a sensitive diva, a careless wife, a motorcycle that takes and can give a lot. Depending on the situation, bitchy or seductive. Pure, distilled racing.
Something like that has its price. 27,900 marks and high maintenance costs in this case. Just for comparison: A GSX-R 750 was available from dealers in 1994 for 17,500 marks. That Ducati Contrary to the trend towards aluminum bridge frames, he continued to rely on the characteristic steel mesh tube, turned out to be spot on. Because the extremely stable chassis, guided by an upside-down fork at the front, conveys a very full, intense feeling for the road. It is also based on that
the success of this motorcycle, as measured by countless World Superbike titles and by having matured into a living legend.
And the core? The easy-revving V2 engine thunders great, but is not very attractive, totally overgrown by ancillary units. It has desmodromic forced control for each of the four valves, logical and real 916 cm3. Initially, the Ram-Air ventilated V-Twin made 116 hp with a fighting weight of only 214 kilograms. In its last evolutionary stage, the 998 S Final Edition, it had a whopping 136 hp in 2004. But the era of 916 design seemed to be over. They and their successors gave way to the better, but controversial 999 in terms of design.
Now the rare and coveted 916 is celebrating its late triumphs as motorcycle of the century. The “want to have” has an effect on her-
Factor «continued unabated. How much she was ahead of her time is proven by her impulses for the following design icons from Italy: MV Agusta F4 and most recently the granddaughter Ducati 1098. The first place in this poll by MOTORRAD readers also speaks for the timelessness of the 916. Actually a contradiction in terms if a sports motorcycle does not age. Congratulations! abi / tsr

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