2003 Funky Twins Comparo

BMW R1100S Replika :: Buell XB12R :: Ducati Multistrada


4.) At the track, why was #3 mediocre, how did it handle, and what did it need in order to hang with the other two?

Sean A: BMW. The word "Truck" came immediately to mind, as soon as I exited pit lane on the BMW. The bike feels easily 200Lbs heavier than the Buell or Ducati. It also feels about a foot too long. Of course this makes the bike stable and on the street, it should inspire confidence. But, at a tight racetrack like this, there was no getting away from the feeling of managing a lot of weight and the thoughts of what would happen if it got away from you. The EVO ABS brakes are powerful, and I loved them on the K-1200GT, but on a bike with racetrack pretense, they make about as much sense as a screen door on a submarine. Here's a hint: "Racer's want to control the brake force themselves." The servo assisted BMW would go from light application to major WOAH! in about 0.1mm of lever travel. In a straight line this is not a big deal, but trail-braking the thing into a corner, had visions of tucked fronts dancing in my head. To hang with the Buell, the BMW would need +20HP, -100Lbs, another inch or two of ground clearance and a set of standard brakes.

Jeff B: BMW. The R 1100S just didn't blow my skirt up the way I thought it would, especially given its racer good looks. The BMW motor is too sluggish for me to feel anything other than slow on. Handling is superb, but you always have a lingering suspicion those expensive cylinder heads are just waiting to touch down as costly outriggers. The anti-lock brakes caught me out twice and I ran wide because I got spooked by the unnatural responses coming through the bike.

EBass: Ducati. The Duc was just cracking me up. It's not often that I hear things scraping when I ride, but I felt like I was ice skating on that bike. Just cruising along shifting back and forth from one foot to the other to the sound of screech, screech, screech. The seat height was so tall that my legs felt almost straight as I carved away at what was left of the pegs, brake lever, and heat shield after Sean was done literally "carving" the racetrack with them. At first, the bike felt utterly awkward but I settled into it fairly quickly and just had fun. The acceleration and braking were good, but sharp lean angles were strictly prohibited. I'm sure the tires had plenty more to give, but it just wasn't going to happen without losing some parts.

5.) Which bike did you like best on the street, why? What did it do "Average" What, if anything "Sucked" about it?

Sean A: Buell. Most nimble, most comfortable (for me), easiest to ride, best looking, nice and narrow for lane splitting, does fantastic wheelies! Average? Fuel range was just OK, Mirrors are quite good, not the best, but very usable when the bike isn't sitting at idle. OK comfort when two-up but a little cramped, with the passenger leaning a little too far forward. What sucked? The Buell had massive amounts of detonation, when the weather was hot and the bike was ridden hard, while running CA's 91 octane pump gas. On a hot day, the rear cylinder and exhaust header give off enough heat to cook the inside of my right thigh, while puttering around town, or stuck in traffic.

"Ducati. Power, comfort, handling. Best suited for street riding in general. What more could you ask for?"Jeff B: Ducati. Power, comfort, handling. Best suited for street riding in general. What more could you ask for? Average? Can't really think of anything. Sucked? The seat may get a little stiff on the bum on long rides. One session on the track couldn't really simulate any distance but I'd assume that's going to be the complaint.

Fonzie: Ducati. Handled the road surface better and had a loose / quicker turning response at low city speeds. Highway grooves are taken with stride and a bit less bump to the rear end. What's average? They're all different and making it hard to say. What Sucked? I guess if not being able to smoothly cruise the freeway at 90+ speeds is a sucking point - this bike sucked. Seriously, it did feel like a dirt bike with the higher seat and curved bars, but I didn't think that that sucked about it.

6.) Which bike did you like second best on the street? What, if anything, did it do "Better" than the others? What did it do that's just about "Average" here? What sucked about it on the street?

Sean A: Ducati. It has a commanding view of traffic, is roomy for riding two-up and easily has the best gearbox of the bunch. What's average about the Ducati? Well, the handling is nice and light, but there is a little too much flex and play in the chassis and soft suspension. Let me tell you what sucks about this Ducati: The mirrors are trash, they're small and awkwardly shaped. Like the mirrors on the 999, they have a very limited range of motion and don't stay aimed once adjusted. Ergos are a little funky, seat feels a little too low, bars a little too high with a bend that causes an awkward reach to the grips. My arms got tired fairly quickly when commuting on the Duc. The seat is angled a little too much, so you always feel like you are trying to slide into the tank, BUT the seat has a very grippy cover which makes your jeans stay behind, while you slide foreward, causing quite the serious wedgie.

Jeff B: BMW. Actually, for everyday street use I'd go against my earlier statement (track) and list the BMW Replika as my second favorite street bike. I would have to believe it's a lot more appropriate on the street, than it was on a racetrack. The BMW engineering is hard to question. The bike works well as a handler and has good brakes. The anti-lock system on the track was a bit disconcerting but would be nice for everyday traffic situations. Average? Once again, that powerplant. The sluggish response in a time of raspy 600cc's is hard to acquire a taste for. Sucked? Too many frame/body protrusions to get caught on.

Fonzie: Buell. It has to be the XB12R for the gusto! What it did best was launch off the line with that additional horsepower. Surely the best of the bikes for speed and torque and visibly the fastest during our testing. What's average about the Buell in this comparo, nothing average here. The only thing that "sucked" about the Buell, was that I got to ride this one the least. The other writers liked it too much to let it go!

7.) Overall, which bike would you pick for all-around street and track use?

Sean A: No doubt Buell XB-12R. It's a kick in the pants to ride and aside from heat issues, it works really nice in the real world too.  

Jeff B: Ducati. Of the three bikes, I'd take the Multistrada. It does what it does best. It's comfortable, fast and fun.

EBass: BMW. I've gotta give my nod to the Beemer. It's slow and bulky off the line, but smooth and stable with an even and consistent powerband once up to speed. ABS is always welcome on my brake calipers. Also comfortable for longer trips (with the exception of the buzzy bars and high-pegs) and with an ample pillion underneath the tailpiece should a passenger care to tag along. As sinfully ugly as I consider the Rockster to be, the Replika is that gorgeous. A visual delicacy. Not a canyon carver, but for my style of riding, it'd be my pick of the litter.

Fonzie: Ducati. Having ridden these three bikes on the street/freeway only, I would pick the Ducati Multistrada. It's easy to turn and takes the road surface like a champ.

"Ducati. Of the three bikes, I'd take the Multistrada. It does what it does best. It's comfortable, fast and fun."

8.) Overall, what is your second pick good for, and what does it suck at?

Sean A: Ducati. The Multistrada would be perfect for two-up sport (adventure) touring, with the addition of some suspension work and a re-contoured seat. As delivered though, the stock seat has a funny angle, that grips your jeans while your body slides forward, causing the mother of all wedgies.

Jeff B: Buell. More than adequate on the track. Motor is fun. But wear earplugs otherwise you'll swear the engine and tranny are full of marbles and coming apart beneath you. Seriously. It sounds like a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower with a few bolts loose. What does it "suck" at? Long hauls.

EBass: Buell. A better bike for an aggressive rider. Very torquey and flickable. A great bike in tight slow turns. But just too quirky for my taste. Very cool looking when parked or in motion, the thing looks and feels like it's going to explode any second at idle with the turn signals flapping around like they're about to fly off. Surprisingly rideable for longer distances and less idiosyncratic once up to speed, it's just too demanding of my concentration in managing all of its little Buell-isms.

Fonzie: Buell. I like it for the color and accelleration! It's like a bullet from a gun. Riding position takes a moment to lock into, with its sporty ergos and very short wheelbase.

9.) Overall, what is your third pick good for, and what does it suck at?

Sean A: BMW. Un-comfortable on the street and none-too-rapid on the racetrack, the R-1100S is best left to those who want a showpiece to look pretty in their garage or living room. I think the Rockster would be just as fast on the track and WAY more comfortable on the street.

Jeff B: BMW. Sorry, the thing looks bitchin. But I just couldn't get the thing going and my feet and ankles seemed to hang up on every piece of hardware. The BMW had me sweating by lap three and my body felt like it'd been through the gym. I have new respect for the people who are racing the Boxer Cup. It must be a workout.

EBass: Ducati. In my opinion, this bike was designed for a particular terrain, that being poorly conditioned country roads. It's probably great for that, and if you live somewhere with a preponderance of those sorts of routes you should run out and buy one post haste. Otherwise, it's just too tall. I mean dirt bike, gimme a ladder tall. The seat is hard as, well a Ducati seat, and the bike is neither well suited to long straight freeway miles, nor super aggressive cornering.


In Summary

Sean A: #1 In this group the Buell stands out as the most fun motorcycle with the fewest compromises and the highest performance. It is well behaved, nimble and surprisingly comfortable. #2 The Ducati has a lot of potential but suffers from a disjointed feeling and ergos that could use a little fine tuning. #3The BMW brings up the rear, with an extra 100Lbs, mis-sorted ergos, buzzy grips on the freeway, mediocre performance and a steep price.

Jeff B: #1 Ducati. Looks, comfort, engine/tranny. It's new. Perhaps the most practical bike of the three for everyday riding/commuting and could actually make you climax in the canyons. You could chase GSXRs all day long in the canyons then put bags on it and take off up the coast. #2 Buell. Kind of racy. Sounds cool. Plenty of pull with the motor. Vibration would probably get old, trying to hang onto the bars for long stretches and never being able to make out a single object in the mirror. Front brake is awesome, could probably throw you over the bars if you weren't careful. That HD motor is just too antiquated to get very excited about. #3 The BMW isn't as comfortable as I would have expected from first impression. Great looks. Who knows? Maybe with some getting used to I might actually learn to love it. But from my one track session I was looking forward to the next bike. Please note that Arthur Coldwells, Publisher of Robb Report Motorcycling rode the BMW and has decided to buy one. So what the hell do I know?

Fonzie: #1 Ducati. Having only ridden these bikes locally, I would have to suggest giving the Multistrada a second look. I read that a lot of you dislike the look of the fairing, but it's the best of three for a mixed bag of riding conditions. The ability to take some luggage and a second rider is good. The upright riding position is good for the long road trip, but then again the Buell and BMW both would get you there faster, so... #2 The Buell would be pick of the litter, if I needed speed all the time. Built to deliver, the XB12R gives more torque and power than the other bikes. #3 The BMW Replika wins the prize for looking the fastest, but drops out of the race when put up against the Buell on the racetrack, or the Ducati on the streets of LA.

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