28 ❘ Motor cycle News february 25, 2009
New for 2009, BMw’s weird and wonderful inline fourcylinder super naked gets a bore and stroke increase, taking capacity from 1157cc to 1293cc. Power is up from 163bhp to 173bhp. Our test bike comes with factory fitted, next generation electronic Suspension Adjustment. It also has traction control, ABS, an upgraded shaft drive and for the first time, a conventionaltype indicator switch.
172bhp BMW takes on best nakeds Does BMW’s new K1300R overpower rival nakeds Triumph’s Speed Triple and Honda’s CB1000R?
hOnDA cB1000R ABS
LAuNched last summer, this is honda’s take on the super naked, which features an inline four-cylinder 998cc motor, making a claimed 123bhp at the crank. The Japanese don’t normally do hot, Italian-style super nakeds, but the honda comes close with its aggressive, supermoto-style riding position, light weight, powerful engine and cool design touches. The bike on test is the ABS version.
TRIUMPh SPEED TRIPLE
ThIS is original super naked – and an undefeated winner of previous McN group tests. Its grunt-filled inline threecylinder 1050cc engine howls like a NAScAR on acid and goes like a greyhound on speed. Out of the crate the Triumph handles superbly on uK roads, offering up lots of poise and stability and its radial brakes urge you to pull stinking great stoppies. It’s born to wheelie and, best of all, it’s affordable and British.
Thanks to Pidcock Triumph, Long eaton (01159-462220) for the loan of the Triumph Speed Triple.
ot everything goes to plan. At MCN, when we undertake a road test, we do our utmost to project motorcycling as fun and pleasurable because these words explain exactly what motorcycling is about. our passion for these bikes is portrayed through words and in pictures of dry roads, sunshine, open countryside and the occasional spot of circuit testing. But today is one of those rare days when all planning goes out of the window at broadband speed. the lady on early morning tV smiles while telling me that the weather is going to be overcast with sunny
‘The BMW has a torque-laden motor between its six-foot wheelbase’ spells. Despite this happy announcement, my mood darkens like the clouds outside my living room window. It’s peeing down and there’s about 150 miles to cover before reaching our destination: the Cat and Fiddle run. Arguably, this is the choicest stretch of tarmac in the UK for motorcyclists. Not only that, this could well be our last chance to ride massively powerful bikes like BMW’s new K1300R on this
mythical route before the imminent introduction of speed cameras to rigidly and digitally enforce the 50mph speed limit. It is still raining as we pile on to the A1 aiming north. From the outset it’s obvious that the BMW has a torqueladen motor between its six-foot-long wheelbase. the triumph Speed triple seems to have more instant grunt, but the BMW revs longer in throwing out its healthy dose of power. It delivers the goods to the rear wheel accompanied by an awesome amount of windblast and a rapidly-lifting speedometer needle. Honda’s CB1000R is keeping pace with the other two bikes with a similar display of simple low-to-midrange
drive – except it feels faster because its tiny headlight cowling has no wind-cheating properties whatsoever. the BMW’s screen and outer edges of the mini-fairing work surprisingly well at keeping the wind off the rider’s upper torso. All the way up the A1, surprised and inquisitive faces peer at us through car and lorry windows; is it because three blokes on bikes are riding in appalling conditions, or the bikes are unusual looking? Believe it or not, even though they are all classed as super-nakeds, each bike is as individual as a human face. Honda’s CB1000R is stylish, compact and visually stunning in white. on the other hand, the Speed tri-
ple’s streetfighter-style twin headlights jutting out from under the accessory cowling could scare children and old folk if it gets any darker. ‘Butch,’ ‘masculine’ and ‘stripped ready to fight’ are comments I hear at the first petrol stop. It’s the BMW which evokes comments from good to bad and back again, ranging from: ‘it looks pre-crashed… BMW! Must be good,’ to ‘did you leave half the fairing behind?’ the unplugged mounting holes in aluminium stays that are utilised on other models (K1300S and Gt) don’t do the BMW justice. the worst part is the bright steel heatshield material halfway along the exhaust’s length. Phrases such as half-baked and un-
finished spring to mind. off the A1 and heading north-west along A-roads, it becomes immediately obvious that the BMW works so much better the harder you work it. Above 20mph its heavy feel disappears completely. At 40mph-plus, the Duolever front forks start to deliver that all-important feel from the front tyre. At the maximum speed limit, the engine feels settled. Its mechanical throbs and whirrs smooth out enough to suggest an autobahn-like 85-95mph would be this motor’s ideal pace. the triumph sits pretty at 70mph and over, with 85mph being the maximum speed for prolonged high-speed runs. Above this, the rider cops a cricked neck and the
february 25, 2009 Motor cycle News ❘ 29
The bikes line up, ready to take on the famous Cat & Fiddle run
Triumph’s Speed Triple is all attitude and hooligan fun
CB1000R is a typically well-packaged effort from Honda
front end goes light, causing it to bang off raised surfaces. Considering that the flat bars/upright seating position on all three bikes lends itself to riders firmly gripping the bars, nothing upsets the han-
‘The Speed Triple isn’t happy on some sections of the Cat & Fiddle’ dling of these machines. The Honda is the most adept at bend swinging. It falls into turns with the grace and ease of a veteran ice skater and sniffs out gaps in traffic with the ease of a pen-
sioner getting to the front of a queue. Balanced in every sense, the Honda makes short work of the Cat and Fiddle run. The rippled and pock-marked road surfaces covered in dampness and criss-crossed with small rivers of run-off water fails to faze the Honda. Its supple suspension takes out most of the road damage and returns a feeling that all is well. That triangle of comfort – the one that connects rider to seat, handlebar and footpegs – is spot on. Anybody can jump on the Honda and immediately feel at home. As one rider put it: “The Honda is like baby bear’s porridge: not too hot, not too cold; just right.” As a fan of the Speed Triple, I’m surprised to find the
bike isn’t happy along certain stretches of the Cat and Fiddle, namely tight secondgear corners. ‘Cumbersome’ came to mind, with the bars set forward and the suspension erring on the firm side. The triple-cylinder lump puts a lot of engine braking through its drive chain and makes careful throttle control a necessity. Back off slightly to alter the line through a turn and the bike staggers and steers into a turn rather than peeling in. Get out of the nadgery sections where the triple can make use of its gutsy lump and it all falls in place. The BMW’s length and weight isn’t a problem as such. Roads need to be read like an Xbox player needs to continues over
BMW’s K1300R is both fearsomely powerful and technologically advanced