Test year review

Test year review

That was in 2002

There are so many ways to take stock when a year full of test work comes to an end: in total, in an average, cross-sectional and longitudinal section, quantitatively, qualitatively or by simply ticking off. But there is only one that is really exciting. A review of the year in extremes.

Admittedly, the temptation was great. On the occasion of this story, chaining the intern who smashed a blinker in our endurance test V-Rod and bent the handlebars to a lonely desk. To fill him up with bills, fuel cards, logbooks and notebooks and to give him the following job with ease: “Tomorrow morning you tell us how many motorcycles we tested in 2002, how much fuel we burned for how much fuel and how much tires we crumbled. How many kilometers we drove, how much we spent on wear and tear parts. Don’t forget your own and make a nice power point chart. Good night.”
Luck for interns that we find this kind of statistic only moderately exciting ourselves. Much more exciting is what comes out when MOTORRAD drives 386 machines of 250 different types over countless remaining kilometers over the course of a year in order to describe them in driving reports and tests. “Which one achieved the most points in the evaluation, which one has the best chassis, the lowest consumption, the highest weight?” Very simple questions to which MOTORRAD can promptly provide simple answers. Seemingly simple, which, however, fan out into a web of numerous and multi-layered individual pieces of information at the first, somewhat deeper inquiry. This is what makes it really clear how much can be found in a single 1000-point rating in a reader-friendly way.
So which one got the most points in 2002? Short answer: the Honda VFR with 750 meters. Why? Yes, it takes a little longer. In any case, it’s not down to the performance. Here the VFR at least manages to keep the gap between the fastest and the fastest. When it comes to the chassis, the VFR comes out as a serious contender for test wins for the first time. Compared to the previous models, their tuning, the skilful way in which they conceal their 500 pounds, means that they lose little ground even compared to the prizewinners Ducati 998 R or Suzuki GSX-R 1000. In an unofficial interim evaluation of all chassis-relevant criteria, it is 191 to 206 points. With the bonus points for the safety-giving ABS and Dual CBS systems, with the latter taking again slight deductions in terms of controllability, it overtakes its tough competitor Yamaha FJR 1300 and stalks close to the brake specialists. Mostly they are super athletes.
Then to get back to the big coup: As far as everyday usability and comfort are concerned, be it that of the driver alone or that of a co-driver, the VFR can do almost as well as the two-wheeled long-distance luxury buses that have scored points in the previous rounds under also ?? the FJR 1300, of course, notably excluded. And of course much better than the extreme athletes who were ahead of the pack. What is still to come will cement the VFR’s lead. Processing, inspection costs, emission values, price-performance ratio? all domains of the model student.
If you look at their qualities again in comparison to the specialists of one or the other discipline, one notices the apparently tireless consistency with which the Honda engineers tackle even the smallest problem. Yes, even virtues that seem to be mutually exclusive, seek to unite in one and the same motorcycle. So the only serious problem the VFR poses is more of a psychological one. There are people who are suspicious of what is all too good. There are quite a few motorcyclists, and Harley fans probably make up close to 100 percent. Whenever a Harley-Davidson rattles through in a comparative test against the competition from Bavaria or the Far East, they patiently explain to us that a 1000-point rating is not the right medium to adequately appreciate the Harley phenomenon. You’re right and deep down we know that too. Read the comparison test in issue 21, in which the Electra Glide Classic buzzes against the new BMW R 1200 CL.
This psychologically very interesting text was written by my colleague Jörn Thomas, who not only shows his sympathy for the fat guy from Milwaukee between the lines, but in every space between words and letters. The fact that the E-Glide came out of this comparison with the lowest number of points of the whole year didn’t break his heart because he could be certain of the self-confidence of the Harley community. Furthermore, sensitive colleagues knew how to strengthen him with the deep point restrictions: Harleys would also ride in this world, and maybe the Americans would be a little encouraged to equip their flagship with brakes in the future. If it had to wobble from 120 km / h at the latest, as a warning of American speed limits. Of course, you meant adequately strong and easily controllable brakes.
Which was quite common in the top-end area in 2002. After all, four different models, all with very different deceleration systems, romp around at the top of the brake ranking with equal points, composed of the criteria of deceleration / manual force and brake dosage. Three super sports cars and, as a big surprise, the Ducati Monster 750. It appears here in a symbolic photo that shows it with the fork almost fully compressed while braking in an inclined position. The fact that a motorcycle enables such maneuvers, i.e. delays precisely dosed, counts just as much in an assessment as enormous braking power. In this context, it is also noticeable that the four front runners have one thing in common, despite their differences. Stable front guides with upside-down forks and thick wheel axles that allow an authentic feel for the front wheel. Among the motorcycles with ABS, the master brakes in the sum of all properties, how could it be otherwise, is the Honda VFR.
When it comes to the most popular of all questions, the question of the fastest machine, for the first time in this history it is not the winner that is really interesting, but the third-placed. Because everyone knows immediately who will be first and second; the correct answer for Günther Jauch would not be worth 200 euros. Kawasaki ZX-12R and Suzuki Hayabusa, that’s for sure. 298 and 295 km / h top, and only because they are electronically slowed down before the 300 km / h mark. From zero to 200 in 7.2 or 7.4 seconds, which other one could run against it? Only the Suzuki GSX-R 1000. In top speed with 285 km / h still clearly behind the power bikes, the light 1000 series delivers practically a dead race for both of them in the less academic, because more frequent possible acceleration. Most of the time, just a ridiculous two tenths of a second, the 201 kilogram super sports car loses acceleration from zero to a hundred, precisely because it is so light. With just 103 kilograms on the front wheel axle, the front of the GSX-R 1000 rises so brutally when accelerating that the maximum possible propulsion is slowed down by the acute risk of rollover. This also applies, but not to such an extent, to the ZX-12 R and the Hayabusa, which at least put 126 and 128 kilograms on the front wheel and also enjoy advantages thanks to their longer wheelbase.
At the other end of the tempo scale, the Yamaha XT 600 E makes itself comfortable. Of course, it is still faster than an A1-compliant 125cc driver’s license. But because they have to be throttled to 80 km / h by law, it would be hugely unfair to hang the red lantern around them because of their legality in this story. No, it belongs on the XT’s neck, especially since it has to be pelted by an Aprilia RS 125 with 31 hp with a top speed of 146 km / h. The enduro grandma can slip a meager two-tenths faster than the 100 km / h mark than the Aprilia with its poisonous, hard-to-measure performance when starting. But shortly afterwards it literally stops in the sharp two-stroke smoke of the no less sharp Aprilia sports equipment.
It will leave Harley riders cool, but Jörn Thomas will certainly be pleased that in the year-long handling comparison it was not the Electra Glide, but the Honda Gold Wing that came in last. Incidentally, with a weight of 409 kilograms, 3.4 times the lightest motorcycle in the test, the Kawasaki KMX 125, it was super heavyweight of the year. When it comes to handling, the KTM Duke won the race. When test editor Rolf Henniges found out about the result of this extreme value analysis on his cell phone, he was just back in the south of France, on an echo trip, as it were, from the autumn trip during which he was on fire for the Honda. His reaction is accordingly sensitive. If he had known at the time that the handling marks of the Gold Wing were the worst over the year, he snapped into the phone and he would have stated his dissenting opinion about this blatant injustice in the booklet. He could only calm down when he learned that the Gold Wing and another KTM, the LC-4 640 Supermoto, had swapped places in the comfort rating. So the best result for the Honda, the worst for the Supermoto, whose narrow, hard seat received another five points less than that of the Duke and whose engine ran a little rougher.
If you don’t see the issue of comfort in full, but at least occasionally with two people, if you continue to factor in chassis qualities that favor journeys with a passenger, then for the first time in this history a BMW comes out on top in a ranking. As a specialized tourer, the R 1150 RT only scored six points more than the Honda VFR. As indicated above. Of all the motorcycles that get any points for pillion suitability, the Honda Hornet 600 has fished the fewest. This is surprising in view of the numerous top-class athletes in the competition, whose rear benches are more likely to be seen as poorly disguised launching ramps for unwelcome passengers than as decent accommodation. The great advantage of the athletes, however, lies in the suspension and damping reserves of their chassis, which can cope with the higher loads with passengers much better than the shock absorber of the Hornet, which with the pillion “bounces happily from end stop to end stop”. So the test in issue 19.
One of the most important changes introduced into the assessment at the beginning of 2002 concerns emissions. Last year there were still points for the type of exhaust gas purification, but from issue 1/2002 the decisive factor was how little the ECE cycle achieved. The BMW models R 1150 RS and RT together with the Yamaha TDM 900, the Honda Pan European and ?? You guessed it? the VFR as the cleanest motorcycles. If the fuel consumption, which is at least responsible for the CO² emissions, is included, the title of the most environmentally friendly motorcycle belongs to the Yamaha TDM 900. Although it consumed more in the comparison test with the Suzuki V-Strom than before in the top test, that’s reassuring A rural road consumption of between 4.4 and 5.2 liters per 100 kilometers, but equally the ecological and the economic conscience. If you are interested in fuel consumption alone, not even the BMW F 650 CS goes under the Triumph Sprint RS, which is satisfied with exactly four liters per 100 kilometers. In contrast to the Suzuki GSX 1400, whose 1402 big block could not be brought under five liters in the last gear with idle. With a politically correct driving style on the country road it is a smooth six liters. Just to emphasize again: that’s two liters more every 100 kilometers.
With an annual mileage of 5000 kilometers, you can easily add up to 100 euros of fuel. Anyone who thinks and calculates in this way should, however, carefully consider whether they will not accept a slightly higher consumption, but instead choose the motorcycle that drives the cheapest, taking into account the purchase price, tax, insurance, inspection and tire costs. It is called the Honda CB 500 and has the great pleasure of having 248 motorcycles between itself and the most expensive machine, the highly exclusive Benelli Tornado. The fact that the Benelli appears with a certain nonchalance is also shown by the many nasty fumes that it presses from its carbon silencer.
A word about the rating “The best super sports car”, which was sent to the equally sinful Ducati 998 R goes. This crowning achievement comes when you do what many Ducati fans have vehemently wished for in numerous letters. Because everything that is somehow important for driving fast counts, and everything that even remotely looks like common sense, everyday life, comfort or similar disdainful stuff is simply ignored. However, dear Ducatisti, you could have turned yourself around for a long time. After all, one can also play with a serious evaluation; we just did it ourselves for twelve pages. So everyone is invited for the next year to ignore things that are not important to them to their hearts’ content. Whether he does it or not, he will know more about his dream motorcycle afterwards than before. That’s the only reason why we organize the whole thing.

Honda VFR
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic

The Honda VFR distinguishes itself as an exemplary motorcycle, which not only achieved the best result in 2002, but also the best ever since the 1000-point classification was established. While the mighty Harley E-Glide demonstrates that you can also be a motorcycle without wanting to be as good as possible. The differences in the point yield are correspondingly clear: 750 to 463.

Kawasaki ZX-12R
Yamaha XT 600 E.

The Kawasaki differs from the Yamaha not only in the more than twice as high top speed, 298 to 146 km / h. But also through a world of power, liveliness and driving dynamics. And even those who just want to cruise lazily, are better served with the Kawasaki than with the very cautious Yamaha. Except for homeopathic enduro hiking, of course.

Ducati 998 R.
Suzuki GSX-R 1000
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic

The noble Ducati has slight advantages where stability and steering precision are required. Ultimately, the Suzuki can catch up with its better handiness. While the Harley-Davidson E-Glide has apparently internalized American traffic morale. From 120 km / h it commutes to warn of »speeding«.

Review of the year 2002 – KTM The Duke
Honda Gold Wing

So light, so narrow and also equipped with wide handlebars. This means that the Duke leans so jaggedly that it glows its driver in all the fires of enthusiasm for curves. The Gold Wing, on the other hand, behaves like a luxury steamer. Changes in direction need to be planned for the long term. Their captains don’t care, who would never drive Duke anyway.

Ducati Monster 750
Honda Fireblade
Kawasaki ZX-12R
MV Agusta F4 S.
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic

Let’s see it this way: E-Glide fans can now see their darling from all sides. While the fans of the nerdy Ducati Monster 750, Kawa ZX-12R, Honda Fireblade and MV Agusta F4 S have to be content with very small pictures. Nevertheless, the E-Glide should at least cut off one brake disc from the others in terms of effectiveness and controllability.

Most comfort
Honda Gold Wing
Hard, rough, without a windbreak
KTM LC-4 640 Supermoto

If you only think of lavishly dimensioned and upholstered seats or large wind protection when you hear the terms comfort and gold wing, you are forgetting something essential: the smooth running of the six-cylinder boxer, which has been developed to the highest standards. The KTM, without fairing, but with a rough single-cylinder and narrow bench, designed more for enduro-typical standing in the pegs, forms the antipode.

The best pillion suitability
BMW R 1150 RT
Uncomfortable, crumple
Honda Hornet 600

It’s not just about how a passenger sits. It is also important how a motorcycle can cope with the considerable increase in weight and the associated shift in focus in two-person operation. The BMW can do it best, waving happily through the top test slalom even with the pillion rider, while the Honda Hornet pulls in triggers mainly due to its lax, crumple suspension.

The most environmentally friendly
Yamaha TDM 900
Highly polluting and thirsty
Benelli tornado

Five times the amount of CO, twenty times the amount of HC and four times the amount of NOx, the Benelli beats the TDM 900 in the ECE driving cycle. Even lower consumption, once achieved, does not help. With the injection changed, the tornado even began to swallow properly. The TDM is content with 4.4 to 5.2 liters and is on average the most environmentally friendly.

The cheapest
Honda CB 500
The most expensive
Benelli Tornado Limited Edition

The tornado again. Not only the prohibitive price of 36,200 euros for the noble bike, but also the immense inspection and maintenance costs hit the wallet. The CB 500 is a penny fox of high grades. In all cost-relevant evaluations, it almost creates the optimum. Incidentally, in 2002 MOTORRAD didn’t say how many copies the Tornado is limited to. There are 150.

The best super athlete
Ducati 998 R.
Still have to train
Triumph 955 i Daytona

The sports driver’s dream: to be able to choose a motorcycle based on what is optimal for driving fast. Enjoy factory driver status. No problem in the game with the 1000-point rating. Then the Ducati 998 R is the best for a mere 27,200 euros. The Triumph loses points because of its engine characteristics and chassis set-up.

Exemplary fuel saver
Triumph Sprint RS
Quarter drinkers
Suzuki GSX 1400

The wind turbines are only symbolic. The Sprint RS by no means runs on green electricity. But four liters on the country road are exemplary. Suzi swallows 2 liters more every 100 kilometers. But even it was drunk under the table by the Benelli after the injection had been modified. Only the better average can save the tornado.

The best enduro
BMW R 1150 GS Adventure
The worst enduro
Yamaha XT 600 E.

The top seller of the German market, the R 1150 GS, had to be caught. From a variant of itself, a derivative. Just two dots, but still. If you look closely, you will of course notice that series tolerances are more important than differences in principle. And the XT? Should really be renovated.

The biggest imbalance

Just to explain this photo: The tire and front wheel combination with the apparently greatest imbalance brought the expected results in terms of handling.

The largest storage space
Honda Gold Wing

How did Rolf Henniges write about the mountains of suitcases in his Goldflügel Honda? “And if the pillion doesn’t sprint, it goes into the topcase.”

The greatest seat height
Honda CRF 450 R.

Box seat: By far the highest and airiest seat of the year is enjoyed by Moto Cross tester Gabor Grillmayer on the 450cc Honda

The loudest
BMW RS 54

By far the loudest motorcycle of 2002 was one from 1954: one of the legendary BMW RS racing machines with vertical shaft boxer. As a sideline, ear milling machine

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