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Ride Impression YZF1000R Thunderace (and DR650)

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by Bravus, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. Dropped my Bandit 1200 off at Express Motorcycles in Ipswich yesterday arvo for a much-needed major service. Initially they gave me a DR650 as a loan bike. I was fine with that - fun to try out a trailie after all these years - although it was in pretty dodgy condition. The guy checked it over briefly and so did I... but we missed something.

    Rode it out to the road and headed off, and it felt as though it had no power at all... but that was just because I'm used to the Bandit's low-speed grunt: once I revved it a bit it got up and went. The handling felt a bit odd, but I just put that down to the radical differences in rubber, style and geometry with the Bandit. Got to a set of lights where I was turning left and gave it a small handful and the back slewed out alarmingly... the back tyre was flat. Nursed it to a servo and tried to pump it up without success, so I nursed it back and asked for a swap.

    They were short on loaners, and I assume a bit embarrassed by the issue, so the owner looked around the second-hand bikes for sale and loaned me the YZF. Bit of a change of pace from the DR!

    (I'm being called for breakfast, and will return later with an impression of the Thunderace from the ride home last night, and maybe top up tonight after today's commute...)
  2. First impression for me on getting on was how much sportier the riding position is compared to the Bandit. I realise that a 1998 YZF-R is considered almost sports-touring in terms of position when compared to modern sportsbikes, but the bars are a lot lower and the pegs a lot higher than on the Bandit. Not uncomfortably so, but definitely a very different position. I did find my wrists getting a bit sore on the way home, despite my best efforts to hold my weight with my core, and found I was sitting up (no hands) for a rest and to straighten my back more often on the downhill stretches. Fortunately the YZF tracks dead straight and stable for no-hands riding.

    The power delivery is similar - certainly no frustration with the low end, though it really only pulls from about 3 or so, rather than the Bandit's happy shove from 1500. It's a free-revving, eager engine, and keeping it in lower gears and revving a bit means plenty of urge. I rode home via Mount Crosby Road and Moggill Road, which is a nice curvy stretch through the hills, but mostly 60 limits, so got nowhere near really winding it out. Found one quiet straight and revved through to 9 or so in the first couple of gears (allegedly) then backed off from a buck twenty. Definitely *more* of a screamer engine than a grunter (that can scream when asked) like the Bandit, but as I say, at a litre it's not as though it's pathetic at low revs, by any means.

    Handling is good - sportier, obviously, and a bit harsher over the bumps. To be honest, though, it didn't feel as though it tipped in as easily as the Bandit, or held a line as well. That could be just that I'm not used to it at all, it could be tyres or other factors... but I was surprised by the *lack* of the 'telepathic steering' that's so often mentioned in sportsbike reviews.

    In terms of visual impressions, the rest of the family's immediate response was "It's huge!" (that's what she said ;)) It didn't feel huge to sit on, and I didn't think of it as a large bike - I think it's a rider vs civilian issue. I think of a bike as 'bike+fairing' - and the Thunderace has a big fairing, but is not really a big bike. People who don't ride just see the whole package as one thing.

    Anyway, definitely a fun experience. I'd looked at a huge variety of things prior to buying the Bandit, and the YZF had definitely been one of them, so it's nice to get a chance to try it out.

    And it's always nice when bad luck (a flat) leads to a good outcome (a more enjoyable ride until my bike is ready).
  3. Oh, this specific bike is for sale (as soon as I give it back, most likely this afternoon) from Express Motorcycles in Ipswich for $6990, by the way. I have no financial interest in the bike, but these guys have been very good to me with services and support over the years and I can highly recommend them workshop-wise...
  4. Interesting comments about the size and the steering. At the time there were some "thunderpig" comments.

    It was probably these comments that lead to the R1.
  5. Little more from the morning commute, Moggill to St Lucia.

    The YZF handled the commute well, though I continued to find the riding position punishing. Partly that's age, plus what I'm used to, and I'm sure I could get used to it and get better at it with time. It certainly wouldn't be a deal-breaker if I planned to use a bike for track days or more spirited rides on the weekend and needed the extra ability.

    Fueling and everything else was fine at low revs and in stop-start traffic, and there were really no specific commuter-related concerns at all. Much lower mirrors than on the Bandit meant the mirrors were at car-mirror rather than fourby mirror height... which meant more obstacles to filtering, but at the same time the 4 wheel drives tend to be bigger and wider and their drivers more oblivious, so the gaps were actually easier to sneak through... and, of course, the YZF definitely had no shortage of go to get away from the front.

    I took a few of the roads with twisty bits on them as detours, along by the river at Indooroopilly, for example, which was fun... but it firmed up my impression of the handling from last night, and helped me clarify the issue. What it is, is that the bike shows a strong and clear preference for being upright rather than leaned over. In a corner it wants to straighten up, so it needs a firm hand to stop it from drifting wide. Again, it could be a combination of tyres, setup and my own habits, but I found it unsettling, and a definite challenge to the confidence to push on at all. The Bandit, in contrast, is very neutral (in a good way) in its handling, being very comfortable to just sit at whatever angle I want it on for as long as I want it there... the bike has no preference, it's all about what I want.

    Will finish this off after the Ipswich Motorway run out to Ipswich to pick up the Bandit this arvo.
  6. Righto, just wrapping it up. Picked up the Bandit and it's feeling like a new bike: new headstem bearings, brake pads and fork oil have it handling better, and plugs, fluids, filters, carb balance etc have it running beautifully. Great work as always from the boys at Express.

    The ride out from St Lucia to Ipswich at the end of the day on the YZF was kinda hurried: I had 40 min or so in peak hour traffic. That meant that for cars the Ipswich Motorway was approaching parking lot status, but of course I was able to (allegedly) filter merrily and make pretty good time. Didn't get to wind the bike out much at all, but it proved it did a nice job in these conditions, anyway.

    What haven't I mentioned? Oh yeah, brakes are great, very powerful without being grabby or scary.

    I think I figured out the handling issue, and as suspected, it's my fault: something about the low clip-ons had me tending to push on the inside bar in corners, leading to the tendency to want to stand up. It'd be something I'd need to, and could, train myself out of if I owned the bike.

    So I guess the conclusion for me, for my purposes, is "A fun fling but I wouldn't want to marry it". It's a very nice bike, but for what I do, it was a joy to get back on the Bandit.
  7. One last thought: it took me a total of 3 rides, totalling close to 3 hours and spaced over a couple of days, to really get a sense of the bike. How adequate is the average half hour test ride?

    I mean for figuring out whether you like a particular model/configuration, rather than just figuring out if there's anything wrong with a particular bike...
  8. Absolutely, the average 1/2 hr test ride (more like 10mins for most), is more about confirming everything works as expected than truly getting a sense for the bike.

    The percentage of people who purchase without riding anything but the bike they buy (if even that), certainly not the competition.....would have to be pretty high.

    It's nice to have the opportunity to try something you normally wouldn't have though :) .......variety is the spice of life....and all that.
  9. Definitely. A mate has purchased one of these from another friend of mine after he upgraded, and its certainly a whopper of a thing compared to the current crop of bikes that are flitting around. The now-ex owner said that its got brilliant power for pretty much any situation bar a modern race, but handles pretty averagely and doesn't stop worth a damn.

    He rides a ZX-6 now and reckons the current crop of litrebikes are just too bloody powerful unless you're at the track every weekend - this coming from somone who I know as quite a good rider with a fair amount of experience both on and off road.

    Anywho, interesting to hear your impressions, and glad you shared.

    - boingk