View Full Version : So.......

pete roper
08-03-2008, 05:33 AM
What do you want from a motorbike?

Among my herd of bikes is a little old late 90's ER500 Kawasaki. It revs to something silly, for a comparatively small capacity twin it seems to go OK as long as you have no mechanical sympathy. It'll probably to 'The Ton' if pressed And it is as boring as batshit to ride!

As a counterpoint I also have two absolutely 'Current' motorbikes. The 8V 1200 Griso and my Aprilia Mana and today I thought I'd do a quick run and ride comparo and also do an 'Off the Cuff' comparison with other *modern* bikes of the non-oddball type I've ridden of late, (By 'Late' I mean in the last 10 years!).

OK, so this morning, with Jude's blessing, I head off to the coast on the Mana. It's cold, the snowflake icon is ON on the dashboard and I haven't yet fitted heated, (softcock!) grips. Press the button and it fires right up and settles into a steady idle. Tog-up and set off and it stalls at the end of the road but immediately fires up again and that is the end of anything that might even mildly be described as 'Misbehavior'. From then on it just runs like a clock.

All the way to Braidwood I hover at about the 110-120Km mark stuck firmly in 'Drive Touring' the 'Non-Gearable' and more *relaxed* mode of drive. It's gorgeous, the sun is out, it's crisp and cold, the motor hums, (Really, it hums! It has none of the usual 90*V-twin rumble or bark.) and the horizon comes towards me effortlessly.

After Braidwood and a few more Km we come to the top of Clyde Mountain. From here for about 70Kms the road decends from 1100 metres to sea level through some very tight, twisty stuff combined with open sweepers and a few short straights. Despite it's, (To me!) high and 'sit-up-and-beg' riding position it seems to just zip round the corners, some of which I really have to man-handle the Griso around, but there again I'm probably going 30KPH faster on the Griso! What can I say? the Mana is now all bagged up and has the big touring screen and is on absolutely stock suspension, (Forks are non adjustable. Shock has spring rate and rebound damping, that's all.) and it just did everything bloody well. No weight in the bags mind but they are big enough to hold a baby Hippopottamus and should by rights make any machine handle like a drunken sailor over 130KPH!

Got down the coast, scooted off to see my mate Steve and give him the cable for his EV Classic then off for a coffee, zip down to the beach house to check it hasn't burnt down or been taken over by aliens. Steve was thrilled by the Mana, like most people who ride an Auto he got off with a grin like an inverted Harbour Bridge and could hardly stop raving and laughing!

On the way back up the mountain I experimented with 'Sport Gear' a bit and had a bit of fun with a couple of sports bike riders. No, of course I couldn't out-drag 'em but you can tell they've got the shits when they can't get by an old fart on a bagged up middle weight . Discretion being the better part of valour though I kept to my '10 Minute' rule, (My concentration gets wobbly after about 10 minutes, its why I don't ride the Motomoda race bike. after 10 minutes I get to be a danger to myself and others if I'm pushing hard.) and then wave' em through, they came past shaking their heads! .

The run back to Bungendore was fairly pedestrian but that is one of the GREAT things about this bike. You CAN ride it sedately, ie around about the speed limit, and it feels GOOD! Problem with the Griso's, either of 'em, (I've got an 1100 as well as the 1200.) but more so with the 8V is that you always feel like you want to be going 10KPH faster, even when you're doing 200KPH!

Once back I found an excuse to take the 8V for a shortish squirt. The difference could not of been more apparent.

The 'Prila, especially in 'Touring' mode, is smooth without being bland and has enough on tap to enable you to deal with most of the cretins you're likely to meet on the highway. Chuck it into 'Sport' mode, 'Gear' or 'Drive' and you can make more rapid progress but it feels harsh and, odd choice of adjective but, 'Silly'! It is everything I wanted it to be but if possible even more fun! It's like going out for an invigorating walk with a friend.

The Griso on the other hand is like puting on a suit of heavy chain-mail, sticking a Viking battle-axe in your belt and going out for a bit of rape and pillage! There is NOTHING even remotely subtle about it in comparison with anything even remotely *modern*. Compared to earlier Guzzis it is of course more sophisticated and considerably more powerful but in essence it is still exactly what it is. A HUGE great lump of coarse, air-cooled brutality looking for someone to have a fight with! It's BRILLIANT!

They both are!

And that's the thing. They're as different as chalk and cheese but both of them have oodles of character. Neither of 'em on paper look anything special but both of 'em are capable of engendering a HUGE smile, if not a roll-around-on-the-floor belly laugh.

In almost every quantifiable way the little ER500 is a better bike, (as are almost any other motorbike on the market with the possible exception of some weird Chinese and Russian offerings.). Oddly enough it will continue to be my customer loaner and all-round beater and strangely enough the customers I lend it too will continue to be disappointed that I don't toss them the keys to the 8V or the Mana while I'm doing the cam chain on their piss-bag T3.

Funny that...........

FWIW the MANA will sit all day, up hill, down dale, in 'Touring' at 110-120kph and sips fuel at a miserly 4.7L/100Km. That's indicated. the actual fuel consumption figure is better, I'll work it out one day exactly!


08-03-2008, 08:58 PM
the actual fuel consumption figure is better, I'll work it out one day exactly!


In my case, real millage is greater by 6 to 8 mpg from indicated by the computer. I am going to create a spreadsheet to help me track all fuel related data.

Is there any way to change the base number to correct the readout???

Micah / AF1 Racing
08-04-2008, 12:11 PM
Pete, the Gods to you gave the gift of prose. I enjoyed that story very much and it was mainly due to how you described the experiences. I share a similar feeling. I ride all sorts of service bikes that are in or shop demos or friends bikes that range from mild to gut twisting wild. But at the end of a day, fresh from 10 or so hours in the service department and the last dyno tune of the day it is almost always the Mana or the Vespa 200 that find the way home for me.

I have the bags for our demo but have never ridden with them so thanks for the report. As for the windscreen, here it is not uncommon for temps to exceed 100F by noon and hover in that region till the sun begins lighting the other half of the world, anything that blocks airflow is bad during the Texas summer.

Thanks for the report. Maybe I will get to do something bizarre with ours soon like a track day...hey, that would make a great story and an even better youtube whether it ends well or not!