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Nürburgring test comparison

Once to hell and back

Nürburgring Nordschleife. 94 curves, 46 crests, four super athletes and a greenhorn. A test story about the sneakiest street in the world.

He spins. No doubt. The winding curves, called Hatzenbach, were still okay. But now he’s killing himself.

And me with. Beyond 180 km / h we race towards a hill. Zero visibility. His words can still be heard in my ear: Trust me. Follow my line. But the gray asphalt seems to end in nothing. As if the earth were flat. I pinch. Turn, brake. Roll over the Quiddelbacher Höhe at 80 km / h. One of many peaks on the Nordschleife. A hilltop that my previous driver Georg Jelicic, tester at MOTORRAD, takes at almost 200 km / h. And Helmut Dähne, the uncrowned king of the Nürburgring, with a whopping 213 km / h.
"Nordschleife – it’s like swimming naked in a cloudy pool full of pike," said the colleague, who always knows everything. "Or feel your way barefoot through a dark room full of open razors, "added another. Now I figuratively know what they mean. 20.8 kilometers, peppered with 46 peaks, some of which cannot be overlooked, and 94 bends. 48 of them on the right, 46 on the left in the direction of travel.
I do not care. I’m one of those people who would probably drive the course equally fast in both directions. AT greenhorn. A newcomer to the ring whose job it is to chase four super athletes through the green hell of the Eifel. To evaluate together with the test team which one is best suited for this. Especially for an ambitious Nordschleife beginner like me.
The bikes, all with Michelin Pilot Sport tires: Ducati 998, the living legend with intrepid straight-line stability. Suzuki GSX-R 1000 with ultimate power in an uncomplicated chassis. As well as Kawasaki ZX-6R. Due to its displacement bonus – 636 cm³ – the most powerful 600 of all time. And the Triumph Daytona, the British snack for hungry asphalt surfers.
Put an end to the anxiety. I’m ready. And trust your colleagues. Schneider, Jelicic and Schwers are not suicidal. As a “sandwich” they take me in the middle, guide me and increase the pace lap after lap. The three-cylinder Triumph snorkels beneath me, hissing out of the raised tailpipe. Shifting operations require more than just force. The British heavy metal – at 223 kilograms it is the heaviest in comparison – makes me almost comfortable for touring and is easy to handle. But in no time at all, work is the order of the day. The combination of Hatzenbach, consisting of four right and three left turns, requires maneuverability. And exact throttle response. Not exactly a great discipline for the British. Because the first 15 percent opening angle of the throttle does nothing. The three-cylinder reacts annoyingly delayed. Turns upwards phenomenally snappy from the middle area, shooing his 147 horses out of the stables. A full-liter displacement with a 600 with a 600 character?
Something else becomes clear in the Hatzenbach. The spring rate both front and rear is too low. Far too quickly it pushes the Triumph far too far into its springs. Rapid changes in lean angle cause unrest in the chassis. It rocks up. In combination with the many bumps on the Nordschleife, this is particularly problematic, and precise steering becomes difficult. The Triumph Daytona gauzes through the radii at higher speeds. It goes without saying that she doesn’t like the Fuchsröhre at all. At over 200 km / h it goes through a depression, the bikes are mercilessly pushed into compression. Have to, hardly rebounded, after a steep section in full incline through a left turn. If the driver knows.
The legendary Adenauer Forst passage is the most intriguing part of the Nordschleife. Malicious tongues claim that the grass here thrives on blinker and disguise instead of earth molecules. Tea forest aisle becomes wide, the guardrail leads straight ahead. And many astray. Instead of the expected straight, a tight left-right combination throws itself in front of the front wheel. Thank God you can rely on the Triumph stoppers. But be careful: snappy brakes. A little less toxic would benefit the dosability. Perfect to experience on the two kilometers between Metzgesfeld and Kallenhard. Here the route drops by around 150 meters in altitude, braking in an inclined position becomes a constant activity. The Daytona cannot completely suppress the desire to line up. And that although the Michelin Pilot Sport front tire in special specification E is supposed to counteract the tendency to pitch.
I can see that for myself ten minutes later on the Kawasaki ZX6-R. The six rolls, like all the others, on a front tire with a 120/70 cross-section because of its better self-damping. 120/65 is standard. The green deserves a medal for her brakes. The Tokico six-piston system spoils you with precise metering, the best bite and constant pressure point. Great. Furthermore applies to the six: gymnastics made easy. Only 200 kilos have to be juggled through the combination of curves in connection with the wide handlebars and the moderately touristy seating position. If you miss the ideal line, you can correct it with the ZX-6R easy. But speaking of the ideal line. Connoisseurs boast theatrically that the Nordschleife is a living being. Change their surface, move their bumps, give birth to one or the other slide devil. And by the way, one or the other ideal line.
In order to stick the 113 hp Kawa in the rear-view mirrors of more powerful machines, the precisely switchable, but somewhat bony gear has to be stirred properly, and the little short-stroke engine has to keep its pistons pedaling between 9000 and 13500 rpm. It does this almost vibration-free. But with a friendly recommendation to the hammer and anvil: This sound is worth a second. Especially in the Kesselchen section. The almost four kilometers long, steep uphill section demands the last of its horsepower from the six. And the only true ideal line here is only 30 centimeters wide. Anyone who does not score will be punished by insidious bumps. Chassis attacks that the Kawasaki fends off at least on the fork side. Your forehand responds softly enough to hide the sneaky bumps and offers enough cushioning. Something the strut lacks.
Out of the Klostertal curve, in second gear the ZX-6R burns over a small knoll, cheekily lifts the front wheel. Then she dives into the carousel. A bizarre, inwardly sloping left-hand bend, where the driver and motorcycle make their first steep hiking experiences. Or learn what kickback means. Even in an inclined position and at full acceleration, the carousel spits the machines over an edge. Especially the Kawasaki and Triumph twitch here. Far less the Ducati and Suzuki equipped with steering damper. The ZX-6R goes full throttle up towards the Hohe Acht, a point where the unreplaceable displacement is missing again.
The problem will be eliminated in the next round. The Suzuki GSX-R 1000 catapults me over the Nordschleife. And a new world opens up. The seating position is almost perfect. Only the footrests could be placed a little further back and lower. But this enormous, easily controllable force … 201 kilograms, 160 hp. Just great. Power from the basement, in the middle, upwards. Interconnected? No matter. Simply open the double throttle. Thrust guaranteed. Numbers? Pulling speed from 100 to 180 km / h in last gear: 7.3 seconds. In theory, only three of the six gears are used on the Nordschleife. Unfortunately the GSX-R is a bit hard on the gas. This is particularly annoying in the fast alternating curves of the Hatzenbach or in the Adenauer Forest. In addition, one fights against their relative unwieldiness compared to a Daytona and especially the ZX-6R. Clearly, driving stability comes at the expense of handiness.
Nevertheless, there is slight agitation in the chassis. Especially when accelerating excessively, the GSX pulls itself into the spring. And it cannot compensate for some bumps either. Example Breidscheid / Ex-Mühle. In the wide left curve, it goes downhill into a depression, followed by a steep right curve. Into the compression, quick change of lean angle, at the same time out of the compression, in a flash back in. And then he comes. The blow of an insidious bump. In addition, it sweaters the thousands when applying gas even further into the rear spring. The worst case scenario for every chassis. The consequences are by far not as noticeable as, for example, with the ZX-6R or the Daytona, which are snubbed at this point. But the thousands, highly praised as the ultimate super athlete, are exposed here in the form of slight instability. Another rebuke: the brakes. The correct bite is only achieved when the base and the target are hot-braked. A pity.
The Ducati 998 stoppers behave in exactly the opposite way. Fading creeps in after four successive braking passes. And the effect could generally be better. After all, the 998 only wants to be one thing: Born to race. Tea visual appearance alone leaves no doubt about the destination of the Desmo Queen: the race track. Seating comfort? Marginal. Steering angle? Modest. Sitting position? Front wheel oriented. The tank is so narrow that it could literally have grown between your thighs. The engine is velvety and aggressive at the same time. Even from the lowest speed range, it presses full torque on the rear tire. Evenly. Soulful. And in terms of performance it peaks at 124 hp. Mechanically, it runs even smoother than its predecessor, the 996.
The performance of the Italian super athlete can also be used very effectively on the Nordschleife. Because Ducati has found its Feng Shui. On the chassis side, it is in harmony with itself and the routes in this world. Fuchsröhre and compression? No problem. Braking downhill and turning exactly into Breidscheid? Easy exercise. Bump attack in the kettle? Were there any there? But the light also casts shadows. The 998 wants to be forced through handling passages. The best example of their stubbornness: the right-left curve combination between Hedwigshöhe and Wippermann. At speeds around 140 km / h, the bike has to be folded right and left in a flash. As in the movie "Star Wars", the curbs fly by as enemy spaceships on both sides. Only an excessive shift in weight and a proper pull on the handlebars enable the Ducati to run at high speed.
L.last lap. 26 are behind us. Free choice of vehicle. The Kawasaki is an ideal bike for beginners, but power from high revs only leads me to careless heating. I feel uncomfortable on the racing-oriented Ducati because of the extremely stretched seating position, and I find it difficult to build trust. And the Daytona? I don’t like. My favorite is the GSX-R 1000. Stress-free riding on the wave of sheer torque. And compensate for premature braking with pure engine power. Nothing else makes greenhorns like me go fast.

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Nürburgring test comparison
Once to hell and back

Technical data: Ducati 998

Engine: water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 90 degree V engine, four valves per cylinder, intake manifold injection Ø 54 mm, bore x stroke: 100 x 63.5 mm, displacement 997 cm³, 91 kW (124 hp) at 9800 rpm, Six-speed transmission. Chassis: tubular steel frame, fork and spring strut fully adjustable, double disc brake at the front, four-piston calipers Ø 320 mm, disc brake at the rear, Ø 220 mm. Tires in the test: 120/70 ZR 17; 180/50 ZR 17. Chassis data: steering head angle 66.5 degrees, caster 97 mm, wheelbase 1410 mm, spring travel v / h 127/130 mm. Dimensions and weights: Seat height 810 mm, weight with a full tank of 218 kg, tank capacity / reserve 17/4 liters Price including VAT 15,800 euros

Technical data: Kawasaki ZX-6R

Engine: water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, constant pressure carburetor Ø 36 mm, U-Kat and SLS, bore x stroke: 68 x 43.8 mm, displacement 636 cm³, 83 kW (113 hp) at 12,500 rpm, six-speed gearbox, E -Starter. Chassis: Bridge frame made of aluminum profiles, fork and spring strut fully adjustable, double disc brake at the front, Ø 300 mm, six-piston calipers, disc brake at the rear, Ø 220 mm. Tires in the test: 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17. Chassis data: steering head angle 66.5 degrees, caster 95 mm, wheelbase 1400 mm, spring travel f / h 120/135 mm. Dimensions and weights: Seat height 820 mm, weight with a full tank of 200 kg, tank capacity / reserve 18/5 liters. Price includes VAT 9,195 euros

Technical data: Suzuki GSX-R 1000

Engine: water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, four valves per cylinder, intake manifold injection, Ø 42 mm, SLS, bore x stroke: 73 x 59 mm, displacement 988 cm³, 118 kW (160 hp) at 10,800 rpm six -speed gearbox. Chassis: Bridge frame made of aluminum profiles, fork and spring strut fully adjustable, double disc brake at the front, Ø 320 mm, six-piston calipers, disc brake at the rear, Ø 220 mm. Tires in the test: 120/70 ZR 17; 190/50 ZR 17. Chassis data: steering head angle 66 degrees, caster 96 mm, wheelbase 1410 mm, spring travel f / h 120/130 mm. Dimensions and weights: Seat height 820 mm, weight with a full tank of 201 kg, tank capacity 18 liters Price including VAT 12,510 euros

Technical data: Triumph Daytona

Engine: water-cooled three-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, four valves per cylinder, intake manifold injection Ø 46 mm, bore x stroke: 79 x 65 mm, displacement 956 cm³, 108 kW (147 hp) at 10600 rpm, G-Kat and SLS, six-speed gearbox. Chassis: Bridge frame made of aluminum tubes, fork and suspension strut fully adjustable, double disc brake at the front, Ø 320 mm, four-piston calipers, disc brake at the rear Ø 220 mm. Tires in the test: 120/70 ZR 17; 190/50 ZR 17. Chassis data: steering head angle 67.5 degrees, caster 78.7 mm, wheelbase 1426 mm, spring travel f / r 120/140 mm. Dimensions and weights: seat height 815 mm, weight with a full tank: 223 kg, tank capacity / reserve 21/3 liters. Price including VAT 12,777 euros

1st place – Ducati 998

It was apparently built for the green hell. Its captivating mix of chassis qualities, wonderfully controllable and completely sufficient power as well as stability in any situation gives the 998 victory. This is the only thing that counts on the Nordschleife. That they boycotted the handiness is okay. The only mediocre brake is not. That not everyone feels comfortable on the uncompromising, uncomfortable super sports car, well.

3rd place – Kawasaki ZX-6R

The increased-displacement six, a squeaky everyday athlete, cannot win any laurels against the overwhelming competition. Still hats off. She even masters the Nordschleife with a smile in her big suction throat. It is the easiest machine to drive in the comparison, has the best brakes and does not show any huge weaknesses in terms of chassis technology. The insider tip for connoisseurs with a sporty touch.

2nd place – Suzuki GSX-R 1000

Different laws apply on the Nordschleife than on a normal race track. Apart from in-depth knowledge of the route, the Eifel course places the highest demands on the chassis. Here the Ducati GSX-R has to admit defeat. Although it is more manageable than the Italian competition. But it lacks a firmer chassis that should also address nuances more sensitively. And doesn’t allow as much unrest as the current one.

4th place – Triumph Daytona 955i

Two cardinal errors make life more difficult for the Daytona on the Nordschleife. On the one hand, the very delayed throttle response. On the other hand, the too soft basic tuning of the spring elements. Because despite the available adjustment options, it is hardest to adapt the chassis to the route. Constant unrest in the chassis disrupts both steering precision and cornering stability. And a track like the Nordschleife doesn’t forgive anyone.

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