2003 Funky Twins Comparo

BMW R1100S Replika :: Buell XB12R :: Ducati Multistrada

When parked at the Burger Barn however, it's another story. This Buell is a looker! Mean and nasty. As for street practicality, it is, after all, a Harley and manages to keep up the reputation and weep little mysterious drops of oil from the cases. Also, forget about ever being able to make out anything in the rear view mirrors due to excessive vibration at low rpm, around town. The mirrors are clear and vibrations are well damped at highway speeds though.

"After all the laps and the somewhat harsh evaluations listed above, we were asked which bike we would choose overall. To each his own. And to that end, choosing a bike for all-around use, each bike came away as somebody's little darling."

The BMW is the looker of the three but on the track, it doesn't quite live up to the race claim of its name, and by the same token, its riding position means you'll need to stretch out every so often when churning out miles on the street. This is a shame, because most boxer twins are great sport tourers. Now, perhaps the most surprising bit of all.

 Eric Bass chose the BMW RS1100S Randy Mamola Replika, forgiving its sluggish low-end for what you get out of the motor on top. Eric is an art lover and the BMW tantalizes with extremely clean, bold lines.

If Sean Alexander, fastest man on the track, had to choose, he would put the Buell XB12R in his garage. He thinks it's the fastest and most fun bike with the fewest compromises.

Photographer Phonzie Philmed Phaithfully Phor Phunky Phunfest.Fonzie, MO's Photographer + all around handy computer guy, graphics guru and handyman, diligently sat out the track sessions to capture our track comparison on film, rode the bikes in everyday street situations and came away with the nod going to the Ducati Multistrada. Comfort and the best of the three over a mixed bag of riding conditions made it the most attractive.

Jeff B picks the Ducati, hands-down. Saying: What it does (provide a comfortable, fun, good handling, well-engineered kick in the pants), it does better than the others. The engine, transmission, brakes and ergos are top notch.

The riding position gives you a bird's eye view of traffic ahead yet you can get down to business in the canyons if you like and hang onto the back end of many a GSXR. In my opinion we unfairly put this bike on a track and it came out none the worse for wear. Actually, it performed quite well. And assuming my transponder was working properly, it just goes to show, you can't judge a book by its cover.

BMW R1100S Replika Buell XB12R Ducati Multistrada

Fastest Laptime

Sean - 1:11.8 Sean - 1:10.2 Sean - 1:11.4

Horse Power

84.2Hp. @ 8,100rpm 89.8Hp. @ 6,700rpm 81.95Hp. @ 7,900rpm
Torque 61.9LbFt. @ 6,200rpm. 72.6LbFt. @ 5,750rpm. 61.3LbFt. @ 4,900rpm.
Claimed Dry Weight 485 lbs. 395 lbs. 441 lbs.
Overall Width 28.2 in. 28.2 in.. 27.9 in.
Overall Length 85.8 in. 76.2 83.9 in.
Engine 1085cc air/oil-cooled,
two-spark, 180 degree Boxer-twin, 4 valves per cylinder, cam-in-head valve actuation.
air/oil/fan-cooled, 45 degree V-twin, 2 valves per cylinder, pushrod valve actuation.
992cc air-cooled, 90
degree V-twin, 2 valves per cylinder, Desmodromic valve actuation.
Bore x Stroke 99.0 x 70.5 mm 88.90 x 96.82 mm 94 x 71.5 mm
Rake N/A 21 degrees 24 degrees
Brakes Front BMW EVO, 4-piston calipers with dual 12.6-in. (320-mm) diameter rotors. Rear Single 11.2-in. (285-mm) diameter rotor with twin-piston caliper. Front ZTL type brake, 6-piston, fixed caliper, 375 mm single-sided. Rear 240 mm stainless steel, single piston, floating caliper, fixed rotor. Front brake 2x320 mm discs, 4-piston calipers. Rear brake 245 mm disc, 2-piston caliper.
Tires Front tire 120/70ZR-17 tubeless. Rear tire 170/60ZR-17 tubeless. Front Tire Dunlop D207FY 120/70 ZR-17 Rear Tire Dunlop D207FU 180/55 ZR-17. Front tire 120/70 ZR 17. Rear tire 180/55 ZR 17.
Wheels Front wheel 3.50 x 17 cast alloy. Rear wheel 5.00 x 17 cast alloy. 5.50 x 17 cast alloy on Boxer Cup Edition. Front 6-spoke, ZTL™, cast aluminum; 3.5X17"; Translucent Amber Rear 6-spoke, cast aluminum; 5.5X17"; Translucent Amber. Front wheel New 6-spoke design in light alloy 3.50x17. Rear wheel 5-spoke light alloy 5.50x17.
Fuel tank capacity 4.7 US gal Including 1.0-gallon reserve. 3.7 US gal. Including 0.7-gallon reserve. 5.3 US gal.
Color Pacific Blue, Alpine White Race Red, Midnight Black Two Tone Grey, Black, Red, Metalic Grey
BMW R1100S Replika Buell XB12R Ducati Multistrada

In-depth Q&A with the MO Staff

1.) What is Horse Thief Mile, and how does it relate to real-world roads?

Sean A: A winding ribbon of asphalt laid over a freshly cut serpentine dirt trail in the foothills above Willow Springs Raceway. Horse Thief Mile doesn't have any "real" straights, just curving sections of track connecting sharper corners. I don't see a direct correlation with "real" roads, because it is obviously a race track. I suppose it is tighter than average and has some blind corners which makes it a lot closer to Latigo Canyon than your average racetrack, but it isn't going to be mistaken for anything other than a racetrack.

Jeff B: Horse Thief mimics the feel of a typical back canyon run. There are no real straights and multiple elevation changes. Speeds are lower than most racetracks. Braking becomes crucial because of the added momentum of coming down a hill into corners, a good test of brake points and bike control. The track was designed to simulate a traditional canyon piece of road and they've succeeded.

"I found it to be a very unique track that will probably attract riders simply for the fact that there is nothing else quite like it." EBass: I found it to be a very unique track that will probably attract riders simply for the fact that there is nothing else quite like it. Relentlessly action packed with technically challenging elements such as constant elevation changes and visually concealed surprises such as the ninety degree kink at the end of the sweeper, or the second "hidden apex" that pinches off a decreasing radius bender. An excellent training ground for the would-be canyon carver who will undoubtedly be called upon to respond rapidly and assuredly without much information on what lies immediately ahead. Don't bring your liter bike here. You really only need three gears and to be honest, two would do just fine (and did on the Buell). With no straightaway to provide tension release (much like the aforementioned canyon) the intensity level remains relentlessly high both physically and mentally. The 115 degree temperatures don't help much either. I'm sure when the weather cools down that the infamous Willow Springs windstorms will make that decreasing radius nail-biter even more of an adventure as well. Honestly, at the end of our 20 minute sessions, I was toast, and I wasn't even pushing that hard! But a load of fun for sure.

Fonzie: It's a yet-to-be-named track. The latest project by Bill Huth - owner of Willow Springs Raceway Park. Designed to be most like actual street riding with blind curves, descending radius turns, and non-stop elevation changes. With hardly a straight-away, this hillside track is meant to emulate the canyon roads of Oregon and anywhere else you can find a twisty road - less the on coming traffic! The track does need some cleaning up for it to bring on a full scale race. However, the brand new asphalt is breaking up in spots so it does add more "street" realism to the course.

2.) Which bike was fastest on this racetrack? Why?

Sean A: Buell XB 12R. The Buell was the fastest, because it had the lightest weight, coupled with the best ground clearance and the most mid range thrust. The Buell felt solid and planted, giving more confidence everywhere, which translated into higher entry and exit speeds. Since Horse Thief is ALL entries and exits, the Buell was easily the fastest bike.

Jeff B: Buell XB 12R. It had the most usable power and its torque was a huge advantage in getting going out of tight corners, especially when an uphill followed. Top end felt the fastest with the Buell as well. Also, its design as a laid out sportbike made getting off the bike easier. I found a neutral between each gear at some point and several times from 2nd down into 1st, coming up empty handed into a corner, scary. Jap bikes have made us all very sloppy. (Later, after further analysis of the transponder data, we found out that Jeff actually went slightly faster on the Ducati than he did on the Buell. The following is a copy of his email to us, after we informed him of his correct lap-times.)


Date: 10/9/2003
From: Jeff Buchanan
To: MO Staff

Well now, that's very interesting; fastest on the Duc! And that's with slowing down for right handers, because the pipe guard was making such a raspy, grating noise when it dragged on the ground.

I suppose I'm inclined to change my vote now, based on the stopwatch. I chose the Buell because it gave me the impression I was hauling whereas the Duc had me thinking I was tip-toeing around the track. So, as the President does with immunity all the time, I'm going to change my vote and go with the Ducati as best all around.


P.S. Are you sure the transponder guys were keeping accurate track of us -- maybe you're actually looking at Sean's results, instead of mine? He was hauling on the Duc.


EBass: Definitely the Buell. My time on this bike was taken on my first (extremely tentative) session but I went out on a fourth un-timed session later and surely smoked my earlier times. It needs to be taken into consideration that this was a very peculiar track that did not allow power or acceleration to enter into the equation much, if at all. The Buell had plenty of low end torque to get out of the corners and leaned better than the other two. Good ergos for hopping around from side to side. I did get a little handlebar jiggle under hard braking conditions after passing another rider. I'm not sure what the rationale is for leaving a steering damper off of a bike with such steep geometry, but I suppose Erik Buell must have his reasons. I also had the rear end go a little squirrelly on me when downshifting into a turn so you need to be at the bottom of the tach before throwing it into first. Speaking of shifting, the tranny feels like it was lubricated with Bazooka Bubble Gum. The gyroscopic force on the front wheel due to the wide diameter disc brakes makes it feel like it's made of granite at high speed, but on the tight track it gave it just enough stability. If it sounds like I'm complaining a lot, I don't mean to. The Buell was definitely the fastest bike for this track, and a fun bike with a few kinks to work out .

Fonzie: From my POV - behind the lens - it appeared that the Buell was the fastest, paired with Sean on top of it. Jeff is also a fast rider, but that's not important here.

3.) At the track, why was #2 second? How did it handle? What did it need in order to hang with #1?

"To hang with the Buell, the Multistrada would need stiffer springs, firmer damping and a more tightly tucked exhaust header." Sean A: The Ducati felt light and feathery. Unfortunately, it also felt vague and had terrible ground clearance issues with the exhaust heat shield on the right side. Even when hanging off far enough to drag my foot, shin and knee (see photos), the bike quickly made mincemeat out of the aluminum shield. But, the Multi Strada had far and away the best gearbox and brakes of these three bikes. You'd think that the upright ergos and tall/wide bars would give you the leverage to fling it around super motard like, but the long -soft suspension, caused the bike to get a little nervous when ridden aggressively. To hang with the Buell, the Multistrada would need stiffer springs, firmer damping and a more tightly tucked exhaust header. I believe THAT bike is called a Ducati Supersport 1000DS, I wish we could have gotten one for this test.

Jeff B: Believe it or not, I'd take the Ducati Multistrada 2nd. It has good power and great handling, even as an upright bike not really intended for track use. This must be a great bike on the street and in the canyons. The Ducati just isn't designed for any serious lean angle as we found out by mutilating the exhaust guard in right hand turns. I would be interested in comparing lap times against the Buell, for all I know I matched it on the Ducati. (After checking the timing computer, it turns out he actually WAS slightly faster on the Ducati.)

EBass: BMW R 1100S Replika. Although bulk and lack of torque just killed it coming out of the corners, its stability and smoothness in the turns was comforting on such a wicked course. The tranny was also a dream after coming down off the Buell. Unlike Sean and Jeff, I didn't have any problems with the brakes biting on me, but I had spent quite a bit of time on the bike prior to track day and they were on it for literally the first time. They do come on fast and hard but I was used to it. What did drive me nuts was the vibration in the bars. My hands were literally losing feeling by the end of my session. I would say that this was the wrong track for a big bike but the Beemer might have been more fun elsewhere.

Get Motorcycle.com in your Inbox