Reader’s test: the most powerful bikes of all classes


Reader's test: the most powerful bikes of all classes

MOTORRAD readers as test crew (video)

The strongest bikes of all classes

MOTORRAD invited six owners of the most powerful bikes in all categories to Stuttgart. In the most beautiful sunshine, they should compare how different power can be implemented. But then Murphy’s law came into play: If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.

KDo you see the connection between theft and motorcycling? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you steal two euros or two million. Theft remains theft. Same fact. From this point of view, it doesn’t matter whether you ride a 200 or only 20 hp bike. Motorcycling remains unreasonable: no five seats, hardly any payload, no weather protection, zero airbags. Anyway, it should only be one thing: be fun. It is irrelevant whether some feel sufficiently entertained by four horsepower and others need at least 150 for it. Against this background, performance is not a sin and is therefore explicitly desired by many motorcyclists. How differentiated power is served by conceptually completely different bikes and how it can be implemented in everyday life, our readers should try out for themselves at a so far unique event of this kind.

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Reader's test: the most powerful bikes of all classes

MOTORRAD readers as test crew (video)
The strongest bikes of all classes

Multistrada 1200 S (148 PS) represented the Enduro league, BMW’s 193 PS grenade S 1000 RR represented the super sports car, the Kawasaki 1400 GTR with 155 PS marked the spearhead of the tourer, the imposing 2.3-liter colossus Triumph Rocket Roadster with 148 hp that of the cruiser and Suzuki’s legend Hayabusa with 197 hp that of the sports tourer. The crux of the test driver search: Applicants had to be self-confessed performance fetishists, own one of these machines and, accordingly, have experience with the model.

Readers were asked to use a cross-over test to compare how the torque mountains of a 2.3-liter three-cylinder triumph, the overwhelming acceleration of a Vmax and the seemingly endless speed range of the most powerful sports bike of all time, the BMW S 1000 RR, Moving superlatives. Above all, the field test on the country road under everyday conditions should determine which engine turns on the most and how it can do it. As a tasty country road après, pylon waving in the MOTORRAD top test course was on the agenda. So much for the plan.


Manageable and cozy: the readers before the start in the MOTORRAD conference room. Fleet manager Rainer Froberg takes care of the coffee supply.

Six candidates quickly emerged from around a hundred applications, and May 3rd and 4th were concreted as a date. In the week before, in bright sunshine and temperatures around 25 degrees, nobody wanted to believe the weather forecasters when they thought about an imminent drop in temperature. Just in time for the beginning of the week, however, the low pressure area of ​​Valeska moved over Germany and let the temperatures tumble below ten degrees.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was bad news from Munich: The S 1000 RR test machine was not available. Almost all existing BMW super sports cars in the press department are for tire tests in the industry. Nevertheless, MOTORRAD managed to organize an S 1000 RR practically at the last second. However, one that was still in run-in mode: BMW delivers new machines with a speed limit of 9000 rpm. This throttling is lifted during the first inspection, and the ultra-short-stroke four-cylinder (bore x stroke: 80 x 49.7 mm) is allowed to rotate unrestrainedly up to 14,000 rpm. This run-in regulation is intended to potentially increase the service life of the heavily used engine.

Greetings from Murphy and his law. On the other hand: at 9000 rpm the BMW S 1000 RR produces a respectable 140 hp and with 108 Newton meters reaches a maximum of 116 (10 700 tours) and 93 percent of its torque on the 190 rear wheel. That should be enough for country roads.

Especially since they are soaking wet on the morning of the first day of the test. After the Swabian breakfast classic butter pretzel with a welcome coffee in the conference room of the editorial office, a short tour through the office spaces and departments, including the workshop, is on the program. Around 11 a.m. everyone is sitting on the test machines. Now it’s time to get out of Stuttgart’s basin, take the autobahn in the direction of the Swabian Alb and dive into the thicket of curves.


Author Rolf Henniges as a guide through the clothing store. Touching and marveling allowed.

Going into hiding is what it actually hits on this cloudy morning. Each guest tester unwinds the first 50 kilometers to get used to the motorcycle that he decided on in real life. A quick question to the six: According to legend, specially prepared bikes are served to the press, can you find anything in this regard? Except for the fact that all motorcycles have fresh tires, the guest testers attest to the same characteristics as the machine they purchased.

Only BMW driver Chris Kuhnen surprisingly finds that the handbrake pressure point on the test machine is much clearer than on his copy. And what about the sheer power on wet surfaces? Both the Ducati, Suzuki and BMW allow the driver to choose a mapping that reduces performance in a rain-appropriate manner and makes the machine more drivable in the wet. Triumph even goes one step further. In the mighty Roadster, the torque is generally reduced by around 25 percent in the first three gears. Traction help in a completely different way. This makes perfect sense on damp roads with a displacement of 2.3 liters.

In short 20-kilometer alternating stages, it goes over the winding streets of the Swabian Alb. So everyone can quickly enjoy trying out all six motorcycles. Nobody complains about too much power. Rather, one is amazed at how differently the power can be accessed with the bikes. Example situation: The team runs into a tractor and brakes to 50 km / h. Every driver shifts down to second gear and then overtakes with a lot of smack.

On the performance diagrams it looks like this at the start of the overtaking maneuver: At 50 km / h the BMW turns 4,000 rpm in second gear and produces just 45 hp. The 2.3-liter Triumph engine turns 2500 rpm under the same conditions and pushes 60 hp via the cardan shaft to the huge 240 mm roller. The other three bikes are around 3300 to 3600 tours at 50 km / h in second gear and each have around 65 hp close together. So much for the theory. There are also influences from air resistance and weight. Not to forget the ability of an engine to turn due to frictional resistance, the size of the flywheel, successful and unsuccessful translation and the response behavior to gas commands.

Other power bikes in the test: BMW S 1000 RR, Kawasaki ZZR 1400 and Yamaha Vmax

Reader test: part 2


Formation driving for the photo: The guests hardly needed to be given instructions – natural talents, indeed. The driving ability was at a high level.

Whenever it rushes out of the slipstream of the tractor, the Yamaha stands out immediately. If you tighten the gas rope on this acceleration monster, the Vmax twists in second gear from 50 to 120 km / h in just 2.4 seconds. For the tractor driver, it must be like being overtaken by a bullet. The Multistrada torpedoed itself from 50 to 120 km / h in 2.5 seconds, closely followed by the Hayabusa (2.8 seconds) and the BMW (3.0 seconds). The 314-kilogram Kawasaki GTR, which takes 3.2 seconds for the sprint, and the 369-kilogram Rocket Roadster, which takes 3.8 seconds for it, prove that weight plays a decisive role here. In this example, the BMW compensates a lot with its low weight of only 208 kilograms.

But acceleration cannot only be expressed in numbers. Added to this is the perceived value. Because in addition to sound, seating position and wind protection also play a role: on the BMW as well as on the Suzuki, acceleration feels less violent than, for example, on the Triumph and the Vmax. With the latter, the upper arms and body have to compensate for almost all acceleration forces due to the upright posture. Forward footrests have an even more drastic effect, making it impossible to support against the force of acceleration. Imagine a skateboard with a man standing on it (Vmax). If the board accelerates with force, it simply moves away from under the driver. However, if this is on top (BMW and Hayabusa), it is also accelerated. With the Vmax three things come together: It not only accelerates the most powerfully, it also feels extremely intense due to the almost upright sitting position, the robust V4 roar and the hardly existent wind protection.


Departure. In the front: test drivers Georg Jelicic and Rainer Froberg, who accompany the tour on MOTORRAD long-term test bikes as tour guides.

Refueling break – this is given by the very drinkable Yamaha Vmax, which, when driving cautiously, allows itself around eight liters and thus up to two liters more than, for example, the almost equally strong Hayabusa. Power still comes from fuel. With a tank volume of 15 liters, the tank is dust-dry after 187 kilometers. Coffee runs down your throats, the rain drips from your clothes. Nevertheless, the six are in a good mood. Two-cylinder hater and Triumph fan Andreas Weidner openly admits that the relatively even power of the Ducati in conjunction with the sublime, casual seating position can best be implemented under these conditions. BMW friend Chris Kuhnen enjoys the Suzuki’s transmission: short distances, perfect detent, smooth operation. With a sideways glance at his S 1000 RR, he says: "The Munich-based company still cannot build transmissions. A pity."

New Ducatist Thomas Oberlander grins quietly to himself: "This cross-over comparison shows me that I have absolutely decided on the right motorcycle." Nils Gessinger, who has a GTR and a new Vmax in the garage, is quite disappointed with the Rocket: "Here the customer gets a gigantic engine, but only in an extremely flimsy, far too soft chassis." And Hayabusa warrior Rolf Hambach stands amazed in front of the Vmax and says: "Open the gas and then you get the feeling that the engine would just drive away without you – despite the 197 Hayabusa horses I’ve never experienced anything like it. You tell your grandchildren about the experience."

After a further 200 kilometers, the crew sits together in a cozy evening and philosophizes about the advantages of the engines. BMW owner Chris praises the greed for revs and power delivery of the S 1000 RR above 9000 tours: "You have to imagine the four-cylinder in the last third of the speed like uncorking a champagne bottle. The acceleration is so intense – suddenly you are faster than your shadow and the braking point races towards you with incredible speed. Unfortunately, the advantages of the BMW can only be implemented on the racetrack. That’s what she was born for. Just for that." So much for everyday life.


After driving 400 kilometers through heavy rain and drizzle, the motorcycles are cleaned before the last photo shoot.

The 1300 Hayabusa drive is the most user-friendly among the readers: smooth running, power linear from idle speed to the highest regions, soft throttle response, easy to dose – the hunting falcon can do everything between lawn and travel, always appears balanced and also transmits this state of mind on his driver. What more do you want? There is criticism for the comparatively inharmonious GTR drive, which lacks punch in the lower third of the speed. With the Ducati, the jerky, rough concentricity below 3000 rpm is a problem. And that the Triumph provides all of its performance practically like a dam burst: everything at the beginning, then only ebb. The guest testers can only think of one description of the Vmax: excessive and impressive, what the 1680 cubic V4 does to the driver and its own weight. Up to 4000 rpm he gives himself with the nominally only three HP weaker, 1300 cm? strong Hayabusa drive equal. From 5500 rpm it shocks with the power of a hand grenade. And still remains controllable without traction aid or other electronic restrictions. It is the measure of all things in terms of experience value up to 200 km / h and can hardly be topped.

Nice anecdotes round off the evening. Thomas Oberlander, for example, reports on the warning from his Ducati dealer when buying his new Multistrada: "Beware, the electronics also use a lot of electricity. If you play around on the display for more than 20 minutes without the engine running to adjust the electronically adjustable chassis, the battery is empty. " No problem for Oberlander who fell in love with the new Duc. As a precaution, he had sockets relocated in his van and garage so that the Multistrada was always supplied with charging current…

Murphy’s law allows no exceptions. On the second day of the journey, the radio reports snow in Spain and a 90 percent probability of rain in the southern Black Forest. The meteorologists are right. On the airfield in Neuhausen, the area for the MOTORRAD top test course, an icy wind is blowing rain in front of it. The test is terminated after two or three attempts to accelerate. Too dangerous. It goes back to Stuttgart via the autobahn. Whereby the BMW never loses connection despite throttling with a remarkable 190 km / h speed. In addition, in the unthrottled state it would be right at the forefront of the autobahn due to its low weight in connection with a short gear ratio. In a test carried out later, the Suzuki, BMW and Yamaha moved at almost the same level: In just 6.6 seconds, the S 1000 RR and Hayabusa accelerated from 100 to 180 km / h in top gear, the Vmax made it a tenth of a second more quickly.

In the evening, the test team reached the editorial garage, dripping wet and full of impressions. Sure, things didn’t go quite as planned. But that’s life, as Murphy would say.


Chris Kuhnen about the BMW S 1000 RR: "I ordered the machine blindly and am only disappointed with the plastic parts."

Chris Kuhnen, 33, a freelance graduate engineer from Butzbach near Frankfurt, is a motorcyclist through and through. He bought his first car at the age of 32. His father, the carrier of the biker virus, a Guzzi and BMW fan, was already there where the sun shines and you can get there by motorcycle. During his studies, Chris made huge savings and ultimately bought a BMW K 1200 R. He ordered the S 1000 RR blindly and is completely thrilled after around 4000 kilometers. 


Nils Gessinger: "No other motorcycle comes close to the thump of the Vmax."

Nils Gessinger, 46, musician from Hamburg with his own band (, is currently in the process of producing his fifth CD. He wrote the songs on it on his alpine tours, they are all named after high passes. In addition to his Vmax, the piano player with a penchant for jazz, funk and soul also owns the first model of the 1400 GTR. Despite his stressful job (up to ten gigs per week), he always averages 25,000 motorcycle kilometers per year.


Rolf Hambach: "Hayabusa – my dream bike. But I could well imagine the Vmax as a second motorcycle."

Rolf Hambach, 43, vehicle developer and diving instructor from Odenthal near Leverkusen, works full-time at the automobile manufacturer Ford in the exhaust technology area. The Rhenish cheerful nature is now driving his second Hayabusa and is the operator of the Internet forum Due to a back problem, he prescribed a superbike handlebar for his machine. So far he has not been able to imagine an alternative to his flying hawk.


Andreas Weidner: "I have the Triumph glasses on, but the Vmax is my absolute favorite."

Andreas Weidner, 43, commercial artist from Steinweiler near Landau, swears by triumph. The former Bundeswehr pioneer trainer and enthusiastic marksman has been riding a motorcycle continuously since 1991. Currently in his garage: Triumph Tiger 1050, Ur-Vmax, Palatina-Rocket RSIII and a Streetfighter based on the Honda CBR 1100 XX. The two-wheeler bacillus runs in the family: his father, a motorcycle veteran, often sits at the Gold Wing regulars’ table to talk about gasoline.


Ricky Lowag about the Kawasaki 1400 GTR: "Beefy power, maximum comfort – this is how traveling becomes a pleasure."

Ricky Lowag, 33, chief detective from Ostringen near Karlsruhe, dreamed of a career as a journalist at an early age, but has been with the police since 1996. The billiards fan and Kawasaki GTR pilot is an avid touring driver who also likes to take it sporty. He bought a Hayabusa in 2004 for the residual value of his scrap-ripe Kawa ZX-10R and openly admits that he is a speed fan. He also likes to indulge in the rush of speed – on the racetrack.


Thomas Oberlander about the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S: "Battery problems? Then I just put a spare battery in my luggage."

Thomas Oberlander, 43, accident reconstructor from Bremen. A man who has ridden all GS models in recent years and, in addition to the Multistrada 1200 S, also owns a Triumph Daytona 675 and Street Triple. It is his first Ducati and he sold his KTM 990 SMT for this bike. His secretary scans the new MOTORRAD in for the security fanatic, who also worked as a tour guide for Harley, and sends it to him on one of his two iPhones.

Technical data BMW S 1000 RR


The BMW S 1000 RR: light, strong, valuable. Germany’s answer to the Japanese supremacy in the 1000s.

Four-cylinder, four-stroke in-line engine
Injection Ø 48 mm
Clutch mechanically operated multi-plate oil bath clutch, (anti-hopping)
Bore x stroke 80.0 x 49.7 mm
Displacement 999 cm³
Compression 13.0: 1
Output 142.0 kW (193 hp) at 13,000 rpm
Torque 112 Nm at 9750 rpm

Mass and weight:
Wheelbase 1432 mm
Tank capacity 17.5 liters
Weight with a full tank 208 kg
Service intervals 10000 km
Price test motorcycle incl.NK 17,286 euros

Consumption (MOTORCYCLE measurements):
Country road 5.9 liter Super Plus
Range Landstr. 297 km

Technical data Ducati Multistrada 1200 S


The Ducati Multistrada: Slope-friendly, innovative, powerful, distinctive – fresh, powerful wind in the enduro area.

Two cylinder four stroke 90 degree V engine
Injection Ø 64 mm
Clutch Multi-plate oil bath clutch, (anti-hopping)
Bore x stroke 106.0 x 67.9 mm
Cubic capacity 1198 cm³
Compression 11.5: 1
Output 108.8 kW (148 hp) at 9250 rpm
Torque 119 Nm at 7500 rpm

Mass and weight:
Wheelbase 1530 mm
Tank capacity 20.0 liters
Weight with a full tank 234 kg
Service intervals 12,000 km
Price of the test motorcycle incl.NK 17990 euros

Consumption (MOTORCYCLE measurements):
Country road 6.3 liter super
Range Landstr. 317 km

Technical data Kawasaki 1400 GTR


The Kawasaki 1400 GTR: massive, comfortable, powerful – a house on two wheels.

Four-cylinder, four-stroke in-line engine
Injection Ø 40 mm
Clutch Multi-plate oil bath clutch
Bore x stroke 84.0 x 61.0 mm
Cubic capacity 1352 cm³
Compression 10.7: 1
Output 114.0 kW (155 hp) at 8800 rpm
Torque 136 Nm at 6200 rpm

Mass and weight: 
Wheelbase 1520 mm
Tank capacity 22 liters
Weight with a full tank 314 kg
Service intervals 6000 km
Price test motorcycle incl.NK 17,175 euros

Consumption (MOTORCYCLE measurements):
Country road 4.9 liters normal
Range Landstr. 449 km

Technical data Suzuki Hayabusa 1300


The Suzuki Hayabusa 1300: lightning fast, ultra-stable and meanwhile legend. Unfortunately still only without ABS.

Four-cylinder, four-stroke in-line engine
Injection Ø 44 mm
Clutch Multi-plate oil bath clutch
Bore x stroke 81.0 x 65.0 mm
Cubic capacity 1340 cm³
Compression 12.5: 1
Output 145.0 kW (197 hp) at 9500 rpm
Torque 155 Nm at 7200 rpm

Mass and weight:
Wheelbase 1485 mm
Tank capacity 21 liters
Weight with a full tank 264 kg
Service intervals 6000 km
Price of the test motorcycle including additional costs 14,635 euros

Consumption (MOTORCYCLE measurements):
Country road 5.7 liter super
Range Landstr. 368 km

Triumph Rocket III Roadster


The Rocket III Roadster: the undisputed benchmark for displacement and torque .

Three-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine
Injection Ø 52 mm
Clutch Multi-plate oil bath clutch
Bore x stroke 101.6 x 94.3 mm
Cubic capacity 2294 cm³
Compression 8.7: 1
Output 108.8 kW (148 hp) at 5750 rpm
Torque 221 Nm at 3250 rpm

Mass and weight:
Wheelbase 1695 mm
Tank capacity 24 liters
Weight with a full tank 369 kg
Service intervals 16,000 km
Price test motorcycle incl.NK 17240 euros

Consumption (MOTORCYCLE measurements):
Country road 6.7 liter super
Range Landstr. 358 km

Yamaha Vmax


The Yamaha Vmax: a defining experience for every biker with petrol in their blood. Maybe the last real cannon.

Four cylinder four stroke 65 degree V engine
Injection Ø 48 mm
Clutch Multi-plate oil bath clutch, (anti-hopping)
Bore x stroke 90.0 x 66.0 mm
Cubic capacity 1680 cm³
Compression 11.3: 1
Output 147.2 kW (200 hp) at 9000 rpm
Torque 167 Nm at 6500 rpm

Mass and weight:
Wheelbase 1700 mm
Tank capacity 15 liters
Weight with a full tank 314 kg
Service intervals 10000 km
Price of the test motorcycle including NK 22,705 euros

Consumption (MOTORCYCLE measurements):
Country road 8.1 liter super
Range Landstr. 185 km

MOTORCYCLE measurements

Drawing: archive

Performance diagram of the six power bikes.

Many bikes are electronically throttled at the top speed set by the manufacturer. In the case of the Vmax (220 km / h) and Rocket (193 km / h), an electronic brownie puts a stop to the will to shoot particularly early, although the machines are geared for much longer. It is therefore possible that the maximum power is not generated in the last gear and is therefore only available in low gears (see measurements in 4th gear on Yamaha and Triumph or Suzuki in 5th gear). The dashed line shows the power curve of the unthrottled BMW S 1000 RR, which in the upper third of the engine speed squeezes out ten hp more than the Vmax, but cannot convert this power on the country road. The heavy Triumph cannot convert its paper-based performance advantage at low revs in everyday life.

Drawing: archive

Power diagram of the tractive effort in 2nd gear.

The greatest pulling force is of no use if it cannot be transferred. In addition to the influences of air resistance and vehicle mass, which cannot be shown in the diagram, there is also grip. For this reason, MOTORRAD measured it: According to the diagram, one would assume that the Yamaha Vmax will leave everyone far behind when sprinting from 50 km / h in second gear. In practice, however, it accelerates up to 120 km / h only a tenth of a second faster than the Multistrada, which has a similarly short ratio in second gear, but weighs 80 kilograms less.

Drawing: archive

Power diagram of tractive effort in last gear.

On the other hand, the Rocket does not set any records in the last gear when accelerating to 200 km / h – it is simply too heavy at 370 kilograms. In addition, the 2.3-liter engine produces its maximum torque very early and works hard at higher speeds. The handicap of the GTR is its great air resistance and heavy weight.

   BMW  Ducati  Kawasaki  Suzuki  triumph  Yamaha
 2nd gear,
 50-120 km / h
 3.0 sec  2.5 sec  3.2 sec  2.8 sec  3.8 sec  2.4 sec
 last course,
 100-180 km / h
 6.6 sec  9.2 sec  11.4 sec  6.6 sec  10.0 sec  6.5 sec
 0-200 km / h
 7.0 sec  10.1 sec  10.4 sec  7.3 sec  16.3 sec  8.3 sec

The conclusion of the guest testers


Clear announcement from everyone involved: They would like to be there again. And since the event went really well despite the absolutely bad weather, MOTORRAD is considering a follow-up event. In the coming year, of course. With new opportunities for all applicants.

There was a saying from the previous century that caricatured the desire for sovereign performance: Better dead than lose momentum. Honda CB 200 drivers, for example, could sing a song about what it means to overtake a truck out of the slipstream. All guest testers made a conscious decision in favor of the most powerful motorcycle in each segment. Power was a key criterion for this choice. And not because it only makes things quick. Or, as many like to assume, animated to brainless rushing. Power primarily makes you confident and relaxed and in most cases transfers this to the driver. In addition, it generates joy from speed, dynamism and acceleration. In other words: for the essential vital energies, boredom may be something like a savings account.

Seen in this way, emotional and potent engines are combined for many committed bikers such as Christmas, Easter, Caribbean holidays and a raise. Each engine in the test field was impressive in its own way. With smooth running (GTR), torque (Rocket), turning ability (BMW), linear power development (Hayabusa) or character (Multistrada).

One, however, united almost all of the facets mentioned: Yamaha’s V4 unit. A muscle man with a gigantic experience value, with which sneaking is almost as much fun as heating.


Drawing: archive

* Evaluation for a reduced-power engine in the run-in program

Interesting comparison: the guest testers had to evaluate the engines themselves, except for the points for torque and acceleration defined by the measured values. The result is the mean of the six. It’s amazing how close your rating is to the MOTORRAD rating.

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