Two-cylinder comparison test
Miles and more
What good are the new power twins in everyday life? How do you look against the Ducati 916 on the racetrack? To which places do they refer the underdogs Ducati 900 SS and Yamaha TRX 850?
We wanted more. And we got more: Above all, more and more practical knowledge about the formation of baboon asses.
He was different. Completely different. But mostly it was longer. We – those affected – still had a lot of dizziness because our colleagues outdid each other in terms of ingenuity: »10,000 kilometers would be great. Oh yes. And a 24 hour race track. The engines have to run uninterrupted. ”To determine the location of the new power twins, all the sporty two-cylinder engines in the world should go on tour. From BMW to Moto Guzzi.
We were able to prevent the worst, agreed on 5000 kilometers – including the racetrack – and traded the field of supporting roles down to three: a Ducati 916 as a reference for the racetrack, a Yamaha TRX 850 because it embodies the vanguard of the Japanese two-cylinder offensive, and a Ducati 900 SS, archetype of twin culture.
Stuttgart, February 16, 1997. Mileage zero. Sub-zero mood. Parts of Germany have been wrapped in snow overnight. Out. No two-wheeled progress. Motorbikes silt up and head for the sun. The day is in the can.
Orange, February 17th. Mileage zero. Mood rising. "Spring lets its blue ribbon flutter again … "Honda and Suzuki out of the van. The rest stays in until Calafat, where we want to set up our base camp – if only because of the race track that is booked for Friday.
Last check at TL and VTR: tanks full, oil okay. It starts at the push of a button. Both machines start immediately. First gear in: flutsch at TL, clack at VTR. And Gaaas: The Honda is gone, the Suzuki stops. Engine died, just like that. A problem that already occurred in the individual test (MOTORRAD 5/1997). When idling, the injector has misfires.
In a way, however, this weakness gives him something human. Once the V2 gets going, it seems possessed by the devil. Burns away like a fire brigade full of holy water is after him. Pressure, pressure everywhere. And without any effort. As if torque was the most natural thing in the world.
The Honda is different, seems more harmless. Although it only accelerates a fraction of a second more slowly and even pulls a bit better through it, it has nothing of this hot-headed, bellicose character. This is probably due to the fact that the VTR does not run as turbine-like as the TL. You can still feel something like mechanics with her.
Mileage 66. Motorway exit towards Barcelona. We do it. Finally have to catch up a day. Pull out tickets and go full speed ahead. Heavenly thunderous weather again: What kind of machines are they. So much steam. And roller on top of that: Nothing twitches, nothing wobbles. With stoic calm things run straight ahead. 220 km / h: The Honda is tougher, turns unwillingly, while the Suzuki continues to grow. 230, 240, the VTR crumbles in the TL rearview mirrors. 260, 270 – sure, the speedometer is lying. At 280 km / h it finally stops. There is infernal noise behind the cladding, but the wide half-shell offers good wind protection. Even with a tank bag you can endure over 200 km / h. On the VTR, taller bikers have nothing to laugh about from 170 km / h.
At Perpignan it’s off the track. We don’t miss the coastal road from Argelès to Rosas. So many bends, so brilliant views, such fantastic asphalt conditions: sometimes really nice with grip, sometimes really bad, everything you need for testing. And the Honda has already come out as a tourer in Port-Bou, while the TL underpins its sporty character.
Nevertheless – or precisely because of this – the VTR sweeps around corners more easily: higher handlebar stubs, better knee closure, narrower rear tire, suitable series tires – there are various factors that make the VTR more manageable. Of course, the Suzuki is no big deal either. On the contrary: You are surprised how easily this motorcycle, which is not necessarily graceful, curves through the area. However, the leaning forward seating position has just as negative an impact on handling as the display roller, size 190, Metzeler brand, on the six-inch rear rim.
In addition, this ME Z1, which was specially developed for the TL, is world champion in egg dancing: a stupid feeling but also when he walks around with a list on his soft flank. When braking in an inclined position, caution is required, because hardly any front tire has more set-up torque than the ME Z1 A Front.
Mileage 750. Calafat. End of the day’s stage. Extensive exchange of experiences over a large number of glasses of very dark wine: »You don’t find a good motorcycle, the Honda? … Yes, but kind of boring … Whaaas? … Yes, boring, so little two-cylinder feeling … Pah, and the Suzuki has it, or what? … No, but it has this unearthly engine … Unearthly, that’s good. How I hate it when the front wheel strives skywards … It’s great, with the TL you ride the most beautiful wheelies in the world … And on bad roads you have the most beautiful handlebars in the world … The rear- heavy wheel load distribution. .. But the Honda hangs deeper in the back … Other things also play a role: wheelbase, seating position. You just have no idea.
By the way, how is your bum? … Bad … Ridden too much Honda, huh? It’s just too narrow, this bench … That’s right, but you’d better get it? I ride a Honda baboon ass than big wrists and bow legs on a Suzuki … You just have to give more gas, lift, you see. "
The discussion about the response behavior of the spring elements ends with a draw. While the Honda responds poorly to minor bumps, the Suzuki builds up too much progression on rough waves at the rear.
February 18, 1997. Consumption measurements on the country road, two-person evaluation and Photo drives. Full program. It goes without saying that there are hardly any kilometers. So the counters only stand at 1198 in the evening. But we have a lot more experience. First: The Honda is an excellent double partner. Second: You don’t sit too badly on the Suzuki back seat. Third: The TL 1000 is the greatest drunkard before the Lord. Pulls in over six liters of fuel even at a snail’s pace. Fourth: The Honda consumes an average of one liter less than the TL, which is still too much. Fifth: a bum like that can take a lot.
19th of February. We eat 821 kilometers. Record. Latest finding: Honda is lying. It was hard work to find out. It happened on the autobahn, average speed 200 km / h: the VTR trip meter is at 109 kilometers when the fuel lamp lights up. A tank is just flying by. Next service station 33 kilometers. Okay, that’ll do. Mileage 110: The Suzuki flashes. Mileage 135: The Honda is at a standstill. Ebb, tank absolutely empty. That is the height of insolence – after 135 kilometers. The seven kilometers towing the Suzuki are no fun either. When it finally arrives at the pump, exactly 15.2 liters flow into each tank. There we have it: 16 liters should fit into the Honda.
20. February. Again over 800 kilometers, there are now 2831 in total. We are pretty good. News of the day: The VTR engine develops strange mechanical noises and starts to vibrate horribly after 5000 tours.
Friday, February 21, 1997. It’s off to the racetrack and everyone is participating. Also the TRX and the 900 SS. Just like that, to see. But this day should be all about the TL 1000, because it will finally roast the arrogant Ducati 916 one thing: with real 124 horsepower it just has to work.
As with every MOTORRAD match on the racetrack, the same tires are fitted first: Pirelli Dragon MTR 01/02. The sporty tire does not build up quite as much grip as the series tire of the TL 1000, but it is much more stable and true to line. With the new soles, the Suzuki reacts almost playfully to the commands on the handlebars.
Goal what begins as a game becomes bitterly serious: never before has a test motorcycle hit the handlebars so hard on the Calafat racetrack that a spectacular shortcut through the gravel bed became necessary. Til today. Perhaps you shouldn’t have accelerated fully out of the left-hand corner in second gear, perhaps not prepared for the following chicane with a subtle hanging off despite the front wheel being slightly raised? Maybe a steering damper would have helped – who knows?
But one thing is clear: the TL 1000 S is not for Softis. Like no other, it shoots towards the nearest corner. Immediately afterwards she shocks her conqueror with her terribly bad brakes, which in spite of the high level of hand strength only slow down reluctantly and can hardly be measured. Then there is this almost limitless ground clearance and the smooth transition of the injection engine from the sliding to the load state. And finally the eerie twitching again in the front building, which is prancing slightly above the ground. This machine wants to be tamed. And she fights vehemently against a better lap time than 1.37.25 minutes.
A Ducati also defends itself. Against quick changes of lean angle, for example. In her well-known stubbornness, the narrow, angled course does not seem to please her at all. The undulating asphalt in Calafat doesn’t follow her either. And yet it shows the rebellious Suzuki who is in charge of the sports arenas of the world. Despite the comparatively sluggish performance curve and the well-known sluggish braking system, the Italian knows how to put down easy 1.36 times without much fanfare.
She does her laps in a less spectacular way, no wildly raised front wheel, no transverse rear wheel. The special driving experience conveyed by a 916 is similar to what a racing driver has to feel when his car is stuck on the road thanks to the ground effect.
In view of its qualities, which are clearly identified as tourist, it is difficult to force the Honda into sporting activities. But it is not so much the exhaust system that causes surprises than the fact that the VTR is just behind the aggressive Suzuki with 1.38.13. The real joy of driving fast may not flare up on it, however.
The complete opposite is the Ducati 900 SS. With 1.43.39 the slowest of the quintet, but in terms of driving pleasure a real treat. Accurate, stable and blessed with the unmistakable Ducati sound, it pulls its course. And the TRX? Not bad either: 1.41.63. Somewhat more stable spring elements, better brakes and an engine that turns 1000 rpm higher, the Yamaha would be armed against the attack of the new two-cylinder.
February 22nd: The race track covered around 300 kilometers. So we are over the mountain. Another 500 kilometers around Calafat, then it’s home. The Honda always sounds worse. The Suzuki croaks a little now. Maybe defeat is in her throat.
AT.On February 23 and 24, 1997, we undertook the almost 1500 kilometer journey home. Spring reigns as far as Orange, behind which the bad weather begins again. And here are the last messages: At 4850 km, the hot clutch of the Suzuki begins to slip. After completing the 5000 kilometers, the Honda drives straight to the workshop for a check. The test team goes to Wilhelma. Monkey house.
Ducati 900 SS
Believe us, we neither had too much red wine nor Italian glasses with us. You just have to buy the story from us. And be certain – we were somehow affected too. But how you turn it around: Such a Ducati 900 SS is actually the epitome of the roadworthy, sporty two-cylinder. This binding stroke of the pistons, this binding type of power delivery, this absolutely binding sound – something just happens. We had pig, caught a noble Nuda with measured 83 hp and a perfectly tuned engine. No tough, jerky struggle below 3000 rpm, but usable performance right from the start. Compared to the new Power-Vaus, the Desmo motor seems a bit strained. If it were to rev up a little more freely and pull off a few more horsepower, the two-cylinder luck would be perfect. Especially since the spartan Supersport is also externally more clearly committed to the twin culture: it is ranked, it is slim, it is beautiful – not just beautiful, that’s right. So some might turn up their noses at these handlebar halves, which are reminiscent of wheelbarrow handles. However, you soon appreciate the parts: upright posture, easy handling, good feeling of control. There is something very, very satisfying about the way the 900 SS thunders along the road, as long as it is flawless. Bad, however, how badly the central spring strut responds. The hindquarters reacts to hard edges with such blows that even the handlebars begin to twitch. Other disadvantages of the 900 SS: the bitless brakes, the drooling tank, the gloomy indicator lights, the lousy, spring-loaded side stand, these cheap handlebar fittings, yes, the turn signal switch was already in the bucket after 1500 kilometers … Oh, have you heard all of this before? Let’s hope that Ducati has also opened its ears.
Yamaha TRX 850
If Yamaha made a mistake with the TRX, then it was to present it in red with a white frame back then – when the project was still in a nappy state: "What a shameless copy," the Ducatisti shouted and swayed it People against the "would-be". That wouldn’t have happened in green or blue, but despite all the hostility, 1630 people in this country got involved in the TRX in 1996. And now they can sit back and relax, considering that their machine was nominated for an Oscar in handling in this test. Because none – not even a VTR – can be thrown around corners so casually. Not least thanks to the narrow rear tire, but how nice it can be to drive TRX only becomes apparent after the tires have been changed from the standard Michelin Macadam 90 X to the tried and tested Pirelli MTR 01/02. From then on, the feedback is correct. The Pirelli provides a much more direct contact between man, machine and road, and it has a lot more grip. What is still missing are harder fork springs to put an end to this nervous mess on bumpy roads. The engine, the only parallel twin in this field, needs to be turned and shifted more diligently than the V2 competition. Although it can – like the others – regulate every situation in the fifth or sixth, it seems a bit bland when driving at low revs. It only reveals its quite robust character when you deliberately shift into a lower gear than necessary. And don’t worry: the consumption is still at least one and a half liters below that of a TL 1000 – at the same speed, of course. If you can evade the pressure to perform, the TRX is a solid sports tourer with a comfortable seating position, good wind protection and lovable Corners and edges. Apart from those on the seat cushion, which leave very bad impressions in the long run.
She is and will remain the queen of sports: slim, lightning-fast and in possession of that certain something that the Japanese will probably try in vain to copy for the next millennium. The trolley in the tubular structure is unparalleled in terms of stability. The spring elements are the very first choice. And the seating position is thoroughly trimmed for sporty use, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that something like this can go in the pants in everyday life. Although a 916 can also be used for pleasure trips overland. However, these should not last too long and lead over well-developed routes. Because the 916 is rather clumsy on patched up little streets. And at the latest when the wrists ache, the neck stiff and the forearms hard, the pride of Italy begins to lose some of its irresistibility. The Tifosi, on the other hand, can slowly crush their engine, which was previously praised as a marvel of technology. Because Suzuki has created a new dimension with the TL 1000, at least in terms of power, torque and durability. If the 916 didn’t have this fantastic, almost forgiving sound (even if not everything is legal), we really wouldn’t have to cry after the Desmo from a racing point of view. Nevertheless, the concept as a whole is still unbeatable: There is no second Series sports motorcycle that stands out so clearly from the competition, that conveys such a unique, unmistakable driving experience and combines so many technical and craftsmanship details. Despite all the fascination, one should not forget that this red racer is almost twice as much like a Japan twin costs. And the follow-up costs such as inspections or repairs cannot be financed with small change from the postage in the long run.
1st place – Honda VTR 1000
It is a victory of reason. The VTR simply does what it is supposed to do without a fuss: it works. Although the Honda struggles with such serious shortcomings as the much too small tank volume and much too high fuel consumption, it still beats the Suzuki by far in everyday use: better seating position, easier handling, good-natured and comfortable chassis that still offers the necessary reserves in pillion operation. The fact that the absolute strength of the Vau two-cylinder engine is starting from the lowest engine speeds fits perfectly. With such a good upbringing, there is of course little room for an independent character.
2nd place – Suzuki TL 1000 S
This machine needs a master because it crushes a servant. No question about it: the TL 1000 S is an absolute highlight. Your engine, in the open version not only a dream in terms of performance, opens – unfortunately including the outrageously high consumption – new dimensions in the two-cylinder industry. But this huge drive puts a lot of pressure on the chassis. Especially on bad roads, the Suzuki keeps twitching its handlebars threateningly. In addition, it defends itself against turning into tight corners and can only be kept on the targeted course with great effort. With the TL 1000, nothing goes easily by hand.
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