They are definitely more exciting than modern dozen items. But how do the old stars BMW R 80/7, Kawasaki 900 Z1, Morini 31/2 and Triumph Bonneville cope with today’s traffic?
D.he life can be really cruel: someone decides to buy a new bike, torments himself through brochures, sorts credit lines – and then nobody cares about him and his metal dream. You dreamed wrong, because the attention paid to motorcycles also has an expiry date, and even good buddies refuse when they are to applaud the forty thousandth GS 500.
The solution: motorcycles from the seventies. Fortunately, there is a life afterwards for bikes that guarantees benevolent attention even to top sellers at the end of a certain dry spell. And the owners of this Yamaha RD 250, Honda CB 750, Moto Guzzi V7, or whatever they are called, claim just as convincingly as they are convincing that the modern classics are significantly more fun than current creations. Reliability? No problem, especially if manageable handicrafts and maintenance work is definitely desired.
So MOTORRAD put the test to the test. For a street comparison over several days the following were loaded:
BMW R 80/7. The 50 hp successor to the very successful 750 boxer models built until 1977 was considered a robust and dynamic all-rounder, which carried its rather inconspicuous existence in the shadow of the one-liter boxer, especially the sporty, fully wrapped R 100 RS, with serenity.
Kawasaki 900 Z1. The most powerful mass-produced motorcycle of its time can now safely be regarded as an icon. In 1973, contemporaries were almost shocked by the power it offered: With 79 hp, the Z1 easily surpassed Honda’s CB 750 bike of the century by ten horses. The tested Z1, built in 1976, still drove ahead. At the same time, the Z-styling with the teasing duck tail set accents.
Moto Morini 3 1/2. The smallest motorcycle in comparison is representative of a whole series of Italian designs that revived the middle class almost thirty years ago. On the other hand, the 3 1/2, which was built from 1973 onwards, occupies an exceptional position thanks to its robust 72-degree V-two-cylinder, which produces lively 35 hp, and proves that technical finesse also thrives on a small scale.
Triumph T 120 R Bonneville. The roots of the bumper twin go back to before the Second World War. Undaunted, he drove the most successful Triumph series with 650 or 750 cm³ for five decades. The rough journeyman in the two-carburetor version of the Bonneville, built in 1970, should deliver almost 50 hp.
The starting procedure of this very special test is not without a certain comic: While the Kawasaki wears its switches and levers where they belong according to today’s standards, European youngtimers demand basic historical knowledge of motorcycle construction. The BMW keeps its choke lever on the left of the air filter housing. The Morini relies on filigree levers on the slide covers, and the Triumph wants to be flooded according to old fathers’ custom. BMW and Kawa come on the button, the other two on the second or third step. Well please, then we can start.
First course in. Casually flowing with the Z1, robust clacking with the Boxer, and … Damn it, Triumph and Morini have right-hand gearshifts. Of course, fans of Italian and British brands will object, to which the excitement. It’s good, nobody gets upset either, but it should be pointed out that at least the first few hours on such a robust scrap iron require some concentration.
In detail: All those who actually wanted to become a train driver fall in love with the BMW. Above all, noiseless downshifting into third, and especially second gear, requires gentle empathy for rough mechanics. And that little bit of patience that today‘s driving machines are rarely allowed to do. Thanks to its low center of gravity and narrow tires, the very comfortable chassis can still be considered handy. Longitudinal grooves on motorways or waves in fast bends are acknowledged with clearly noticeable but harmless pendulums.
Precisely because the disc brake, which was supplied as a double pack on request, was heavily praised at the time, its deceleration performance is astonishing: only those who grapple brutally can make the 19-inch front tire sing, of course there is no longer any question of comfortable metering. After all, the engine brakes properly with its heavy flywheels. And that’s precisely why it is not one of the bundles of temperament under load. He would like to be kept in the speed range between 3000 and 6000 rpm, so that he can develop his bearish power with pleasure. It doesn’t die below that, but it looks, well, about as agile as a steam locomotive.
The seating position for driver and front passenger is still one hundred percent correct in terms of touring. Exemplary the perfect places for suitcases and tank bags as well as the large tool compartment. Incidentally, in the comparison field, BMW is the only one to cast an acceptable light.
On the Kawasaki it is initially surprising that it – so little surprised. Frankenstein’s daughter had scored the ancestors, a motorcycle exclusively for the hands of seasoned, possibly race-tested men. What nonsense: The girl in the test team is very obsessed with these gentle giants, and with great pleasure she brings the Z1 to its lean angle, which is marked by far-reaching footrests. Only rapid intermediate spurts through undulating, fast corners provoke those pendulums that were said to be Kawa’s greatest 25 years ago. Well, admittedly, at the time, full throttle driving was an obsessive part of the program. 210 things – nobody discusses that anymore.
Even the brakes fit into the picture of a powerful, civilized naked bike. Correct! Because not least the burgeoning renaissance of the Z1 initiated this genre, so it’s no wonder that all well-made nudes look a bit like 900 Kawa. It’s even more strange that this Z1 could cut a good figure among its successors. Comfortably appealing fork that only hits through with rude attacks, acceptable struts at the back. The wide, slightly unfavorably shaped handlebars are always easy to control when cornering, with slight weaknesses in fast changing bends. Then the good one wants to be balanced. All-round inspiring, however, is the precision with which this early Japanese work of art was made. How well everything works.
Moto Morini demands a little more concessions. First of all, because today’s drivers have to get used to their small-volume, speed-hungry engine. In addition, the clockwise shift, strange fittings and a snappy duplex drum brake in the front wheel. The fork does not quite play along in the stable, ultra-handy chassis. Harder springs and thicker oil would have adapted them better to the overall sporty character. But even so, the 350 always follows the much more powerful machines on foot: the motto is to stir the very precise and easily shiftable six-speed gearbox and keep the engine running. The relaxed seating position is pleasing when driving, although the test specimen bench could use a new cushion. And looking at it, you notice how wonderfully clear this little bike was drawn. The workmanship and solidity are somewhat worse than with BMW and Kawasaki, but the bottom line is that the annoying idle search remains the biggest annoyance. And what is that??
Because tolerance is considered a traditional British virtue, Triumph goes one better here. The oldest bike in the test field, also challenged by its owner in everyday life and veteran sport, shows clear signs of use in the form of sloppy switches, a sagging bench, wobbly levers and drooling seals. Okay, the latter falls under British charm again. On the other hand, its twin always starts up without complaint, does not lose any vital parts despite heavy vibrations and defies even the worst roads with the world-famous toughness of English athletes. Whereby, however, underdamped fork with inner workings in need of overhaul and rock-hard struts never really want to harmonize.
The engine, of course, a real sounding body thanks to the open intake funnel, is a stunner: between an estimated 2000 and 4500 rpm – the rev counter does not give more precise information – it gives the Bonnie a good push. It stays lively up to around 6000 tours, shakes considerably and makes life difficult for the significantly heavier BMW. Four gears are completely sufficient with this characteristic. The Triumph also relies on the braking effect of its twin, otherwise the poor brakes could not be explained.
A total of three test days passed like nothing, the four youngtimers drove in a whole helping of extra fun with tight route cuts. Not least because they require a more conscious approach. And because they kept coming home, the conclusion was daring: especially people who do not drive all year round, who may barely cover more than 5,000, 6,000 annual kilometers, are offered attractive alternatives to new purchases among young classics – more show for less money.
What to watch out for: Kawasaki
The Z 900 is actually not for sale, says Bernd Burbulla. But to give a benchmark, the Stuttgart Kawasaki dealer (phone 0711/6572131) puts the value of his private 900, built in 1976, at around 8,000 marks. But it is there almost like from the store and has relatively few kilometers under its belt. Offers from 5500 marks often provide a good basis. The good news: apart from most of the painted parts, the supply of spare parts can generally be regarded as secure. And a decent tank can somehow be obtained from used parts dealers. However, as with almost all old Japanese, most parts are quite expensive. Before buying a machine that is still to be restored, it is essential to ask a trustworthy dealer about the prices for the required spare parts. The mechanical basis of the 900, regardless of whether it is a Z1 or its successor, is healthy, with normal use the crankshaft needs a new one for around 60,000 kilometers Storage. Occasional cracks in the cylinder head that stretched from the exhaust valve to the candle caused trouble. If there is any initial suspicion in this regard, only a compression diagram can help. The Kawa has also never been able to get rid of the stupid habit of shattering the light bulbs in rows with their high-frequency vibrations. The rather simple undercarriage reacts quite sensitively when the plastic bushings of the swing arm bearings are knocked out. Less worrying is when the carburettor of the old darling is crazy: deposits almost always prevent correct function, often after a long period of time. After thorough cleaning, the four-cylinder purrs as usual.
What to watch out for: Triumph
The tested Bonneville, built in 1970, is somehow the last of its kind. Among specialists are especially those Brit Twins who still drive around a real oil tank and do not use the frame as a reservoir. So: At Southern Division, a Munich specialist for old ladies (phone 089/134452), the value is around 10,000 marks. Newer Bonnies are in a comparably good condition, because they are suitable for everyday use and are not built in, and are around 20 percent cheaper. The price for a healthy base is estimated at 6,000 to 7,000 marks. Anyone wondering about the relatively high prices should know that top-restored or preserved 650 or 750 Triumphs now cost around 12,000 marks in England as well. Less sought after by collectors, but much appreciated by drivers, the parallel model Tiger, which gets by with one instead of two carburettors and only produces around 42 hp. Its specifically less loaded engine is also considered to be more durable. But overall nobody needs to worry about this ancient construction: New pistons and valves have to be installed around every 50,000, the engine substructure creates it, especially if it was operated with a fine oil filter, usually twice as much far. All parts are available, and on top of that, comparatively inexpensive. For example, a complete exhaust system with manifolds and pots costs 550 marks – less than today’s Japanese. The only thing that is significantly more expensive is the rare paintwork parts, which are therefore often restored. If you are looking for a Bonnie, because of the simple mechanics, you should proceed as follows: First priority is an unobstructed original condition, the engine will start running again.
What to watch out for: Morini
The Morini tested is a second-hand import from Italy, built in 1975. In its honest original condition, something like this costs around 3,000 marks. Of course, the enthusiastic Morini fans almost exclusively demand the racy sports model (see photo), which seldom goes below 4,000 marks on the second-hand market with its slightly increased engine power and all-round finer ingredients. In return, there is everything from Borani high-shoulder rims to beautiful Lafranconi bags to a double simplex brake that Italo fans desire: In top condition, something like that is worth 5,000 to 6,000 marks, among all Italians In mid-range designs, the Morini quickly gained the best reputation: It was almost as fast as the fastest, but much more durable than all. In doing so, it does not forego any technical finesse: The Heron combustion chambers are located in the piston crowns on its 72-degree two-cylinder. This saves installation height and, thanks to the clever shaping, also ensures turbulence that reduces consumption. In fact, the twin almost always needs five liters of fuel. The high-lying camshaft, kept in motion by a toothed belt, drives very short tappets, which is one of the reasons why the 350 can withstand high speeds without complaint. It also has one of the first electronic ignition systems used in series production. Weak points: The cap screws of the manifold tend to rust bombproof, the switches do not snap precisely, and the linkage of the circuit likes to kick out. Overall, the workmanship can also be considered solid, although the chrome parts do not reach entirely Japanese quality. The Kaiserslautern company Moto Rosso-Morini, phone 0631/3703585, guarantees a good supply of parts in Germany. Stefan Bach, owner and passionate Morini screwdriver, often also offers used Morini.
What you have to consider: Touring BMW
The tested R 80/7 was built in 1979 and was completely renovated three years ago. With an almost brand-new exchange gearbox, it represents a value of around 6,000 marks. Basically, it doesn’t really matter whether the BMW is R 100, R 80 or R 75: All these undisguised boxers are solid all-rounders with high everyday suitability and in good condition from around 4500 To get mark. A plus point is that the parts supply has so far been quick and relatively inexpensive via every BMW dealer. Even the BMW mechanics still get along brilliantly with the old two-valve engines. In the realm of legends, the claim that the old boxers are practically indestructible is part of the story. Cylinder heads, timing chain and clutch, and often enough also the gearbox, are usually ready for overhaul after around 50,000 kilometers. Another problem: the alternator suffers from the bending vibrations of the crankshaft, and the thread of the centrifugal adjuster of the ignition – it sits on the camshaft – sometimes breaks. In addition: leaking Simmerrings between engine and clutch as well as on the fork legs. Beware of howling cardan, it can be expensive.
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