BMW R 1150 GS
Comparison test, BMW R 1150 GS, Honda Varadero 1000, Honda XRV 1000 Desertstorm
BMW R 1150 GS against Honda Varadero
Enthroned at a lofty height behind the broad handlebars and reigning over massive amounts of torque: Whoever swings the scepter in the saddle of a majestic five-hundredweight hammer can feel like a king.
For almost five years, the BMW R 1100 GS received top placements in registration numbers, tests and reader polls. Until, with the Honda Varadero, a strong opponent attacked the Bavarian top dog. And with success, as test victories in MOTORRAD 1/1999 and 6/1999 and over 2200 units sold between January and June 1999 prove. Although interest in the big GS continues unabated, by June more than 2,475 units were sold, BMW sent the dethroned travel enduro to the training camp: cylinder with enlarged bore and valve covers made of magnesium, a revised exhaust system, six-speed gearbox including overdrive and one because of the Longer gearbox shortened swing arm should bring it back to the executive chair under the name R 1150 GS.
The opponents should show their colors on the winding country roads of the Swabian Alb. But before the unrestricted pleasure in curves comes the hard work of city traffic. With the two big enduros, swimming in the stagnant sheet metal avalanche is half as bad. Seats with a view and wide handlebars turn your riders into bosses in the City-Ring – only when bumbling through are the sail poles sometimes in the way. In terms of ergonomics, BMW pursues the sporty approach with a fairly firm seat cushion and narrow leg angles, the Varadero is more of the integrative type with its soft bench and footrests placed further forward. The same applies to the passenger compartments. They are both comfortable, the Varadero arrangement can boast advantages due to an even more relaxed leg posture.
Be careful when stopping at traffic lights, when the 22-liter tank is full, the BMW must be balanced carefully, especially when the height-adjustable bench is on the top step. Small drivers are often looking for the curb as a welcome footrest. In the stop-and-go operation, it is noticeable that the fat boxer no longer makes any worries when he sinks evenly over a low flame. BMW seems to have banished the annoying constant speed jolting in the white and blue history books by means of a changed tuning of the new Motronic in the partial load range.
Get out on the expressway. In no time at all it becomes apparent that the supposed smoothness of the evenly bubbling, carburettor-supplied Vauzwei of the Honda is deceptive: from 3000 tours it picks up slightly, but accelerates. When the GS drive reminds you to change gears with increasing vibrations beyond 6500 tours, the Honda heart seems to remember the beginning of his career in the VTR 1000 sports car and cheerfully trumpeting a shovel of power.
Still, the Varadero of the R 1150 GS cannot show the exhaust pipes. With a sonorous humming sound, the strengthened boxer pushes from below to offer between 3000 and 5000 tours of shirt-sleeved punch. It is almost astonishing how smoothly the 1130 cm3 flat twin produces its performance. Switching early is the recipe for success. Don’t worry, gear changes are much more fluid with the Bavarian than with the previous model. The aisles of the six-speed box from the R 1100 S slip in without fuss. The incredibly long overdrive also proves to be a real benefit: for a speed of 100 the crankshaft only needs to rotate 3000 times, for a speed of 140 it takes 4000 revs. The sixth is just enough for majestic gliding on the country road and for motorway speed anyway. The Honda driver, on the other hand, has to come to terms with a higher speed level – the sporty origin and the displacement shortfall cannot be denied. In return, the BMW pulls the shorter one with the draft measurement. The sixth has to go there, as the fifth is not a fully-fledged gear – here the BMW runs into the rev limiter when it reaches top speed.
Get off the expressway, into the maze of curves. During a brisk ride over the humped asphalt worms of the Swabian Alb, the BMW does a sovereign job. Even ambitious sports drivers have to watch out for the Bavarian here. It doesn’t matter what road condition the GS gets under the wheels. The Telelever system on the front wheel – lighter than its predecessor by one and a half kilograms and adjusted in terms of damping – as well as the Paralever swing arm with its now more sensitive shock absorber make it thunder almost unmoved over all kinds of faults. Full throttle and above. Rocking movements or even banging the handlebars are alien to the complex chassis. Practically no intrinsic movements of the front during load changes spoil the line – that’s how GS riding tastes. Thanks to Paralever, even the cardan drive doesn‘t spoil the game. If you don’t at least let your elbows scrape on the ground on sports cars, there’s nothing to complain about in the saddle of the BMW in terms of lean angle.
The Varadero prefers to try it with comfort. Their motto is: no sports, please. The soft, slightly underdamped fork flatters itself with its comfortable nature, but lacks clear feedback. It is just as soft and diplomatic as official statements at court. Even a little bit of exercise on winding terrain requires increased concentration, especially since the footrests often come into contact with the ground. In addition, the fact that the front wheel guide has its own life makes it difficult to consistently maintain the desired line when the load changes. At the latest when braking, the front collapses. Braking downhill with a full load force the fork to push the lever to the stop, even with a soft grip. It’s actually a shame, because the CBS composite brake system can be precisely dosed and impresses with good deceleration and little effort.
In order to slow down the Münchner Kindl, the Brembo stoppers have to be pushed harder. To compensate, the ABS (surcharge 1995 DM) prevents undesired locking of the wheels – the Varadero doesn’t even get this safety plus for money and good words. Anyone who wants to take control of the brakes themselves, for example on gravel roads, can switch off the BMW ABS using a button on the right handlebar switch. But to be honest, it’s not really fun to drive the rocks over rough terrain. Too big, too heavy and – in the event of a fall, too expensive. Just for the sake of the chronicler’s duty it should be mentioned that the BMW feels more comfortable on gravel with a driver standing at rest than the sweeping Varadero.
So get off the dirt road and onto the autobahn – one of the supreme disciplines of
Large enduro bikes. True to the motto “The journey is the destination”, both offer a comfortable arrangement for fixed transit. Advantage of Varadero: At 200 km / h with the driver sitting upright, it punches a hole the size of Buckingham Palace in the air, without it being particularly stormy behind the handlebars. The lush windshield of the Varadero is especially good for protecting smaller pilots from wind and weather. The BMW shield allows adjustment in three stages or even complete disassembly. Unfortunately, a Torx screwdriver is required for this, the manual setting as with the K 1200 RS would be even more user-friendly. In the highest position, the part offers sufficient wind protection without a disturbing suction effect, as the wind flows behind the pane. However, tall drivers are heavily fooled around at high speeds. But the BMW runs steadfastly in a straight line. Cross joints, which cause exciting handlebar flaps on some super sports cars, only make the boxer driver smile. It’s not that funny on the Honda, the truck suffers from subtle pendulum phenomena from 180 km / h. And the next compulsory break is long, because both giants do not have to go to the gas pump until after 250 kilometers, even with a bolt on the autobahn. Cautious use of the throttle increases the radius to 400 kilometers, with the BMW e-gear creating top conditions for skimpy. Anyone who is on the road until the dead of night will appreciate that both machines reliably illuminate their drivers. The open space ensemble of the Varadero shines with beautifully even distribution, the BMW combination has the greater range, but allows its pilot to look into a black hole in very tight bends because of the sharp cut-off line of the projection headlights.
E.itel sunshine, on the other hand, prevails with the white and blue equipment: a tidy tool compartment under the pillion seat, main stand and easy removal of the rear wheel are standard. Heated grips (325 marks) and the solid luggage system (846 marks) are available for an extra charge. Honda charges 357 marks for the main stand, the luggage system costs 1,089 marks. Equipped in this way, the two large enduros can almost be considered super tourers. And even if the terrain to be conquered is right around the corner, in the saddle of the two giants, even the joyride on the home route is a royal pleasure.
Conclusion Honda Varadero
The comfortable Varadero impresses with a lot of power and well-groomed manners. Just sit on it and feel good. The travel enduro, which has been consistently trimmed for road use, gives away a better ranking, especially thanks to the soft, underdamped fork. With a little fine-tuning of the suspension elements, Honda could reshuffle the cards for the next duel. Until then, the ecological emergency solution “secondary air system” should give way to consistent exhaust gas cleaning of the Vauzwei.
Conclusion BMW R 1150 GS
The king is dead – long live the king: The BMW people have put the lever on the GS in the right places. More power, more sensitive spring elements and a gearbox that can be shifted more precisely. A good motorcycle became a better one, but that is no reason to rest on your laurels. Both the serial spread of the gearbox determined on the basis of several test copies and the short guarantee period cast shadows on the otherwise brilliant result of the R 1150 GS.
Varadero conversion XRV 1000 Desertstorm
Back to the future: XRV 1000 in the color design from 1988
The whining is over. All performance-hungry Africa-Twin drivers and whimpering Varadero drivers whose vehicle is too conservative and unsuitable for off-road use can be helped. Under the name XRV 1000 Desertstorm, a conversion kit or complete conversion will be available from October ´99, which should eliminate the shortcomings of both machines. The base model is the Honda Varadero. A modified spring strut redirection plus a longer fork ensure off-road ground clearance and record-breaking lean angles. The brake system, wire-spoke wheels, aluminum engine protection, side cover, rear and bench come from Africa twin shelves from different years of construction and have been modified accordingly. Despite the steel braided lines, the stoppers do not show the bite of the Varadero combination brake, but ambitious gravel bolts will appreciate the separate actuation – indispensable for off-road use. Speaking of terrain: a 235 kilogram full tank requires a strong hand. Or a tire with enough grip: the mounted Conti TKC 80 in the dimensions 90 / 90-21 and 150 / 70-17 converts the approx. 90 hp into powerful thrust regardless of the terrain. Emotionally, a few horsepower are stuck in the narrow throat of the retrofitted stainless steel exhaust. However, a special rear silencer is in preparation. The carrier of the double-eyed GRP cladding acts as an integrated crash bar for the radiator and a holder for electronic components such as road books and rally computers. 15500 marks are to be invested for a complete conversion. Individual prices and further information by phone and fax: 0561/770273 or e-mail: Sven. Koenig@topmail.de or on the Internet: www.desertstorm.isthier.de
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