One day, the industrialists and the press invented categories decided to compare their love roadster. Who have just normal motorcycles become the roadsters, over time, are radicalized.
Machines good handyman, they have evolved into powerful, rigorous, and even sporting motorcycles. These are the bestsellers of the last century which paved the way. Here they are faced with their offspring.
The sports roadster today occupies a niche hotly contested by the manufacturers and for good reason: there are many bikers who are these powerful and stripped gears. Often developed from a sporty cousin, the roadsters, apart from the entry-level, are not built at a discount.
Combine this category in the past returned to ogle machines that had similar characteristics without so far aiming specialization. Thus, here 40 years, the appearances of multi-cylinder four-stroke, powerful and strong engine, were in the Japanese production, an alternative to the two-stroke mechanical exclusive… but also a revolution by ease of access. The Honda 750 Four opened the ball.
Performance, reliability, suitability for tourism or daily use… The democratization of the bike was running! Kawasaki 900 Z1, arrived on the market in 1973, is a worthy representative of this category as, less than a decade later, the Honda 900 Bol d’Or.
We wanted to compare them to their current developments: the Kawasaki Z 1000 and the Honda CB 1000 R, machines that retain the original features of the roadster -power and counting – on modern architecture and a deck. A big gap in time…
The pioneers. Honour to the Dean. With its towering four exhausts, the 900 Z retains a general look inherited from the series of the three-cylinder 2T of the mark. Chrome galore, tank and backsplash saddle with sensual curves, spoked wheels… The seat is thick, the handlebar is in cow horns, flashing and mudguard must weigh their value per kilo of scrap! At the time, this four – cylinder 4-stroke is very heavy-duty. On our test machine, the matte black of the motor is characteristic of the first model. The technical options chosen for this thruster testify to the care taken in the construction of the machine and explain the avidity with which lovers of beautiful mechanical watched its output. Strength (82 HP) to believe that the expected performance will be at the venue. Late 1978 landed the Honda 750 and 900 ‘double tree’, the statement expected stainless CB 750.
The mark surfed on his image in endurance to baptize his 900 Bol d’Or, with the complicity of Moto Revue. Engine architecture and patronymic leave no doubt as to its claims of sports. Released only six years after the 900 Z, this machine yet marks a real change of era. Aesthetics abandons the gentle curves for a drawing that seems drawn to rule, and the wheels for models to sticks – this is the time Eurostyle. -Side technique, 16 valves, electronic ignition, oil cooler or the adjustable shock absorbers in all directions (spring and hydraulic) put the know-how of the circuits within the reach of the general public. Between our two protagonists, it is somewhat the gap between flower shirts and pass ‘shovel pie’: the 900 Z represents the latest evolution of the typed machines “seventies”, while the Honda brand the first link in a sharp genealogy “eighties”.
The craneuses. Our old hogging the looks of the passers by, the two modern Shun waiting to show what they have in the belly. However, neither one nor the other makes in stealth. Honda CB 1000 R, with his eye of Cyclops, its unique angular exhaust and her buttocks in the air says its aggressiveness. The single sided swing arm type VFR, red light hung at the end of a pole and fully electronic profile dashboard participate in recount printing. Front view, the stocky Z 1000 displays an offensive air with his wicked’look’. On the other hand, from the rear, with its back splash peak and 4 exhausts the triangular profile, it draws the seduction card. Our small kids are also equipped with 4-cylinder engines, but the years have brought the liquid cooling and injection (which make them compatible with the antipollution standards) with the key, more electrical behavior and, indeed, increased ease, despite a rising power.
Filiation Avant go to the handlebars of the former, some prejudices floating around in our heads: heating tubes, bike and narrow tires brakes frames. A fitting against which the engines seem disproportionate… On the Kawasaki, the kick is, but is suddenly Starter is shakes 4-cylinder. At the stop, already there is to listen to the song of the four exhausts! It takes a good grip to activate the clutch… First, the box is accurate, but firm. Change reports give the sensation of physically moving the walk mans gears on the retiree. The selector will also eventually mark its footprint on the left shoe. The position of driving, discarded arms and back straight, evokes the big trails. An attitude encouraged by the flexibility and the bonhomie of the engine (which readily accepts a”cushy” conduct) as by the softness of the fork. Surprisingly handy, the 900 Z makes almost forget its 230 kg (dry!). But as soon as the substantial exhaust sends a “broarrh”in the ears, and engine changes its behavior to become rougher and more violent.
Genetic inheritance (?), a similar behavior occurs in the Z 1000, on a mode however more linear and less marked; the melody of the exhausts, without being too powerful, also gives to hear when accelerating. On the 900 watts and the feelings that go along with intensified to 7 000 rpm… before scaring the captain on the first brake application! Simple disk does what it can (but is not much), and it is vain to hope for the relief of the rear drum. In short, it brakes poorly. In stretches beyond 130 km/h, the front becomes blurred. Yeah… Without going up to bravery, needed when even a big heart to ride fast with this bike! The 900 Z exudes fun besides the rhythm of the ride. Without the bully take him on a coiled quick rest source of satisfaction and offers a new opportunity to check that there are “under the hood”. At the time of the break, his size of “big bike” recalls painfully to you when upgrading on the central stand. Probable kidney tour! A fantasy unverifiable on the younger sister, since only the side stand is available. Compact and lightweight (compared), the modern Z made “small motorcycle” compared to the former.
The complete dashboard combines round and square, analog and digital. Installed on board, no bad surprise, if the Board acting as saddle. Acute pain in perspective! As the passenger, it will need much love and few kilometers so that he or she accepts to take place on this contoured shelf. In Dynamics, the exhausts also evoke the ancestor by quite nice sound. The highly flexible engine (four-cylinder obliges!) proves to be more nervous than the Honda. The climbs in regimes are frank and “tempting”. Riding the 1000 Z, the urge to turn the handle is strong! Behavior encouraged by the singing of the exhausts. Less rigorous than the Honda, the Kawasaki however is very playful and is swinging in the laces with delight. The wicked brakes will delight lovers of stop pies, but their immediate bite is confusing.
Like home. On the Bol d’Or 900, neat commands (starter on the handlebars) to theselector, passing by the sound of the two-in-one, everything is soft. Driving slightlytilted on the front and the welcoming saddle position will prevent the pilot (and the passenger!) to suffer martyrdom a few hours. Despite his 232 kg dry, the Bol d’Orhandy rest, and slow changes are easy, aided in this by a very flexible engine. It wraps indeed ungrudgingly starting at 2 000 rpm. Linear and premium first almost harmless, the Velvet Glove unveils his grip of iron beyond 6 k RPM to lengthen the arm from 8000 rpm! The box has the characteristic softness of the Honda. Found out like amachine with a good braking, it today offers three discs to calipers single well shypiston, making the right effective braking. The chassis is also a tone above. Suspensionsto the multiple possibilities of settings require to devote particular care to obtain acorrect result. On small winding roads of our test, the sensation of fight with the bike persists, although his behavior was never unhealthy. With an easy grip, this GoldenBowl will carry out daily use without flinching, but it is in high revs it is expected, thenrevealing angry temperament of sports, from of the endurance of the mark wins.
In the young sister, family air persists in the home. “Welcome aboard”, seems to say CB1000 R, both the position and the controls fall naturally. But in the long run, the wind jumped proves to be more aesthetic and effective. The comfort of the lean saddle, however, is somewhat surprising. Not cosy, certainly, but not a nightmare either. Passenger side callipygous profiles refrain as on the Z 1000! Push-button and injection make crack the engine into a discretion which will delight your neighbors. In urban use or at a reduced rate, you feel instantly at home. The handling of the frame isan ally in the electrical responsiveness of the engine. No kicker in the transmission is to be deplored, regardless of the regime or the engaged report. A very linear behavior in sum, even if to pounce of one pin to another, will be the second half of the lap counter. Particularly precise, the part-cycle is very reassuring revealed by providing an ideal compromise between comfort and handling. With the brakes, it is undoubtedly the happy face of modernity. Surprising in descending from the old, they meet the finger and eye with power and ease of dosing.
Epilogue. Objectively (except for the comfort and the ability to the duo), small youth buried in efficiency, safety and performance the old. The opposite had been worrying! However, the interest of such face-to-face is obviously not there. Know that there is more power, better handling or still higher braking verges on the evidence. Ride motorcycle must first of all meet the subjectivity of its owner. The temperament, in contrast to the image, is seldom modeled, but remains essential. 1970s-1980s Japanese machines, now considered classics, can still give a few lessons. But it is because they are in the first phase of a development that, for the moment, ends in 2009.
The modernity of today is likely to seem pretty exotic in the eyes of the motorcyclists in 2030! The democratization of the bike helped the greatest number access to the joys of the two-wheelers, and it is rather a good thing. On the other hand, the “feedback” of this reality to the constructors became an economic fact and therefore a market value. Thus, they are, generally, to reinforce this facility at the expense of the nature of each machine, because a good motorcycle is a motorcycle that sells! Our two modern play top models body builders for all audiences.
Their ancestors had the same specifications, but thirty or forty years later, they won a historic and sentimental value that makes them more endearing. Their flawed technicality participates in this famous “character” which is lacking in the machines of today. And then, at a time when traffic conditions allow more to exploit the exceptional performance of our bikes, it is perhaps time to design the engines in a different, more playful and effective spirit. Fortunately, some already done.
In this test and comparison we are thankful to this team with the participation of Sylvie Morin and Philippe Morand.