Harley-Davidson Dyna Street Bob, Triumph Thunderbird ABS
Comparison test heavy chunks
Does heavy metal really make you happy? Editor Rolf Henniges found two completely different answers to this question.
A memory comes alive. The year is 1984. It is a scorching hot day in Ancona, Italy.
July 13, 2009, underground car park of the MOTORRAD editorial team. My bottom tester snaps into the wide saddle of the Harley-Davidson Dyna Street Bob. There it is again, this saying, like a warning sign, a warning it hovers in the room: "If it tips over, you have a problem …" Without even having driven a meter, you are suddenly a bad guy. This overarching, excessive overconfidence that the Milwaukee Iron Mountains convey to their riders is one of the best-kept secrets in motorcycle construction. Not to copy. And slightly schizophrenic. 301 kilograms of mass inflate the ego like a balloon. You feel unassailable. Protected by an invisible dome of power. Whereby power is by no means generated from engine power: the heart of the Street Bob is the Twin Cam 96 engine with just 76 hp, traditionally air-cooled, 45 degree cylinder angle, 1585 cubic centimeters in size. The new Triumph Thunderbird, which test driver Karsten Schwers maneuvers casually out of the gap, is parked next to the Harley. The 338 kilogram motorcycle is powered by the world’s largest parallel twin: 110 kilograms in weight, 1596 cubic meters thick. With a nominal 86 hp, it has ten hp more than the V2 from the USA. At the same time Karsten and I turn the ignition key. The acoustic rating goes to Street Bob. The notes of the Triumph sound more like Bird than Thunder, but the grumble of the Harley is downright magical. In addition, the American engine chunk in its tricky rubber mounts bounces excitedly in the frame, shaking the handlebars, footrests, and driver. There is something musical about it. Two pistons mix reggae, funk, blues and soul. The machine bobs to the beat of this unique beat. Something like this conjures up a sun face even in continuous rain.
But it doesn’t have to. Because the sun hangs in the sky today like a cracked egg. We turn onto one of these streets that kiss the horizon and I get to know the darker side of coolness: Apehanger handlebars and forward footrests – that might look cool. But it is not. The feet cannot support themselves properly and always want to slip off the notches. As it turns out later, this Bob is slightly pimped in contrast to the series: A forward-positioned footrest system, double seat bench, pillion pegs and various chrome parts drive the price up by 876 euros. The seating position is the exact opposite of active: no real feel for the front wheel, no sense of the tire limits. And not for braking either, because they’re blunt. ABS is missing and the blocking point can hardly be estimated. Wait a minute: Dyna is short for dynamic, right? While I want to kiss the world despite the shortcomings described, it lies in front of me like a red carpet and I feel like Captain America, the freak from Easy Rider, one could of course also look at it objectively: With physical effort, that is Shifting weight or pressure on the thighs is not possible on the bob. Steering commands are only carried out via the rambling handlebar. However, this does not happen as casually as one would expect from the two narrow tires. And while the mighty 49er fork does its job satisfactorily, the struts pass hard blows on to the driver. And the anachronistic pounding could also be viewed critically, because somehow the engine is phlegmatic, revving is not its strength. For furious traffic light starts, the V2 lacks power around the bottom, and at the top it looks tortured.
The downside of objectivity is the feeling: The Street Bob is made for feudal cruising between 80 and 120 km / h. This makes you look like a sail in the headwind on the boat anyway. And this is exactly where the engine feels most comfortable at speeds between 2500 and 3500 tours. Then the vibrations are most refreshing, the music is most powerful, the experience of movement is most impressive. In this area, almost in the big bang of casualness, you don’t care about anything. Buying a motorcycle is worthwhile just for this truly priceless feeling. We take a break. Have a drink in one of those bars with womenless men who don’t want what they get and don’t get what they want. It’s hell Or maybe the forecourt too. And that’s why we’re changing bikes. Have you ever landed at the opera ball in a carnival costume? I’m just as surprised when switching to the Triumph. It sits lively, contemplative, casual. And somehow more active, sportier. The saddle is more comfortable than the Bob, the handlebars are more comfortable in the hand, the legs don’t have to stretch, and the footrests are where they belong: set forward, but not too far away. It has little to do with mainstream. It just turned out well. Only the look of the machine is mainstream. Apart from the monumental engine, the Triumph is surprisingly Japanese. Kawahonduzuki might as well be on the tank.
However, the guys from the Far East would chrome-plate a lot more plastic, that’s for sure. In the case of the British, only metal is chrome-plated. Because there is basically only metal. It’s just the way it is. Even on the Thunderbird, time melts stylishly, elegantly and sublime. In direct comparison with the Harley, however, it is less entertaining and exciting. Why? Because everything is easier on her. Give in, for example. Although the Brit weighs 37 kilograms more, has much wider tires and a go along wheelbase, all you have to do is think about turning and the machine will implement the idea. The same goes for the engine. The parallel twin reacts more spontaneously to gas commands and looks more lively. Despite two built-in balance shafts, fine vibrations are annoying from 3500 turns, but at these speeds you only move the machine on the motorway. In the area of the country road, 2000 and 3000 tours are sufficient for relaxed or, if desired, quite dynamic locomotion. In the lower and middle speed range, the engine presses almost 25 Newton meters more out of the cylinder towers with almost the same displacement as the Harley. Deceleration is just as easy: two four-piston fixed calipers at the front, a double-piston floating caliper at the rear, bite-friendly brake pads, good pressure point, ABS.
This enables effective stopping without fear and with precision. What more do you want? The British want to sell 400 copies of the Thunderbird in Germany in 2010 alone. And the Bird not only fills the displacement gap in its own model range, but is a real alternative to the shaking Twins from the USA or the sometimes quite morbid replicas from the Far East. The Thunderbird is self-contained. Sporty. Dynamic. And a real burner compared to the Street Bob. Where: The Thunderbird touches down earlier than the Steet Bob. And while we’re grumbling: it also consumes slightly more, and the rev counter is difficult to read. Soberly, the Triumph can do almost anything better than the Harley. Sober? No matter, you can have a nice drink, at least as a pub proverb says. The day ends with one of these rides into the sunset. We park casually in front of a bar. If the earth shook and the Thunderbird fell over, I would curse, wipe the dust off and just pick it up. With the Harley – I’m pretty sure – those behind the sky gate would be more careful. They don’t want to be in trouble up there either…
Technical data Harley-Davidson – Harley-Davidson Street Bob
Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 45-degree V-engine, crankshaft transversely, two chain-driven camshafts below, two valves per cylinder, hydraulic valve lifters, bumpers, rocker arms, dry sump lubrication, injection, Ø 46 mm, uncontrolled catalytic converter, 493 W alternator, Battery 12 V / 19 Ah, mechanically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch, six-speed gearbox, toothed belt, secondary ratio 32:66.
Bore x stroke 95.3 x 111.1 mm
Cubic capacity 1585 cm3
Compression ratio 9.2: 1
Rated output 56.0 kW (76 PS) at 5350 rpm
Max. Torque 123 Nm at 3125 rpm
Double loop frame made of steel, telescopic fork, Ø 49 mm, two-arm swing arm made of steel, two spring struts, adjustable spring base, front disc brake, Ø 300 mm, four-piston fixed caliper, rear disc brake, Ø 292 mm, double-piston floating caliper.
Spoked wheels with aluminum rims 2.15 x 19; 4.50 x 17
Tires 100/90 19; 160/70 17
Dunlop D401 / K591 tires tested
Dimensions + weights
Wheelbase 1630 mm, steering head angle 61.0 degrees, caster 119 mm, spring travel f / h 127/79 mm, seat height * 690 mm, weight with a full tank * 301 kg, payload * 191 kg, tank capacity / Reserve 18.2 / 3.4 liters.
Two year guarantee
Service intervals 8000 km
Colors blue, gray, red, black
Power variant 25 kW (34 PS)
Price from 12,995 euros
Price test motorcycle 13,871 euros
Additional costs around 350 euros
The Harley cannot be left out while driving. Thanks to its lower weight, greater freedom from leaning and the shorter gear ratio, it always stays on the ball. If you want. But cruising is more casual with the Triumph, which simply provides more and more power over the entire speed range. In addition, the parallel twin hangs on the gas more spontaneously, always looks more agile and runs smoother.
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