2001 Model Year Bike Reviews
Mark Tuttle Jr.
December 1, 2000
Filed under Aprilia Motorcycle Reviews, BMW Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on BMW Motorcycles, Ducati Motorcycle Road Tests & Reviews, Honda Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on Honda Motorcycles, Kawasaki Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on Kawasaki Motorcycles & Sportbikes, Moto Guzzi Motorcycle Reviews, Suzuki Motorcycle Reviews, Triumph Motorcycle Reviews, Yamaha Motorcycle Reviews
The article The Stars of 2001 was published in the December 2000 issue of Rider magazine.)
by Mark Tuttle Jr.
Ready? Cue Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the theme from 2001, A Space Odyssey. Now, open the pod bay doors please, HAL—the new street motorcycle models rocketing their way to the U.S. for ’01 are all on these pages, even some 2002 bikes and a few others that aren’t slated to splashdown in the States, at least not yet. To get the scoop for this special section we moonwalked the U.S. dealer shows, wore out a pair of anti-gravity boots at the huge International Motorcycle and Scooter Fair (Intermot) in Munich, Germany, and generally made nuisances of ourselves throughout the motorcycling universe. Some of the machines, such as the new Harleys, Suzukis and Yamaha FZ-1, you’ve seen in previous issues, but rather than leave anybody out we touch on them once again here. Finally, near as we can tell, all of the 2000 model-year bikes not listed here will return as 2001s, many with new colors and graphics.
Now, I think I’ll sit down calmly and take a stress pill, because my mind is going…I can feel it. I can feel it. Daisy, Daisy….
In addition to numerous improvements to its sharp RSV Mille line of sportbikes, Aprilia wowed those assembled at Intermot with several examples of two all-new machines, the RST1000 Futura and ETV1000 CapoNord. The former is yet another derivation of the RSV Mille platform, this one an even more distance-capable sport-tourer. Although the SL1000 Falco introduced last year (see Rider, August 2000) was supposed to be the ultimate sporting traveling companion to the RSV Mille, the Futura picks up where the Falco left off by providing even more low- and midrange power from its liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 998cc, 60-degree, DOHC V-twin. Still, the Futura mill is good for 113 horsepower at the crank, according to Aprilia.
The Futura’s single-sided swingarm is bolted to a specially modified version of the RSV Mille frame, and the bike appears to have genuinely comfortable handlebars, a bigger seat, factory panniers, etc. Locating the exhaust under the saddle allows the panniers to be fitted in close, reducing lateral bulk and turbulence. The 2001 Futura is slated to arrive here in the Spring.
For those with a desire to explore the farthest reaches of the globe, the ETV1000 CapoNord should take them there. As Aprilia’s entry into the hot—in Europe, anyway—adventure-touring category, the CapoNord (North Cape) competes with a grunt-laden version of the 998cc Mille V-twin that is said to deliver 98 horsepower at 8,250 rpm. This is bolted into an alloy perimeter frame, the first on a big dual-sport, says Aprilia. If the CapoNord comes to the United States it won’t be before fall of 2001.
Last but not least on Aprilia’s much-improved list is the Pegaso 650 I.E., which gets a new Sagem EFI system, a lower saddle, a new fairing, suspension and brakes for 2001.
Though other new BMW machines, such as a revamped R1100RT, are rumored for later on, the highlight of BMW’s 2001 lineup thus far is the heavily revised Roadster model. Complete with the 1,150cc Boxer motor from the R1150GS introduced last year (Rider, October 1999), the R1150R also has a new six-speed tranny, more power and all-new styling, with some sporty touches from the R1100S model and the oil coolers housed in a pair of tank scoops. Expect the R1150R to show in Spring of 2001.
BMW also revealed that it will introduce a new Integral ABS system to the entire line, starting with the big K1200LT luxotourer in 2001. In addition to retaining the anti-lock feature, integrating the front and rear brakes means that when the rear pedal is applied, it also partially activates the front brake and vice versa. As with several existing Honda models, BMW has found that touring riders can benefit from a braking system that does some of the thinking for them.
Cagiva’s competition for the highly successful Ducati Monster sport-standards are the Raptors, the larger two of which are based upon the liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 996cc, 90-degree Suzuki TL1000S V-twin (see Ridden & Rated, May 2000). The naked base-model is complemented by the V-Raptor, which has additional (over?) styling right out of a high-tech Japanese anime comic, and the X-Raptor, which substitutes a bunch of carbon fiber bits for the standard parts. For 2001 the liter Raptors are joined by 645cc versions powered by the liquid-cooled, carbureted, 90-degree Suzuki SV650 mill.
On the adventure-touring side of Cagiva’s lineup is the new Navigator 1000, which replaces its porkier Gran Canyon predecessor with a much narrower, more svelte design that may come in under the 500-pound mark. Better still, instead of the Gran Canyon’s air-cooled Ducati mill, the Navigator is also powered by the Suzuki TL1000S V-twin. Except for the odd Gran Canyon—which is out of production—lingering at a dealer here and there, no street-legal 2001 Cagivas are currently slated for sale in the United States, but that could change soon.
Ducati’s Monster S4 Desmoquattro, or MS4 for short, is a new version of the popular Monster 900 sport-standard. The MS4 is based upon the liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 916cc, four-valve-per-cylinder engine in the ST4 sport tourer. Fun stuff. In turn, a new ST4S gets the original 996 engine, though only the existing ST4 will be sold in the United States for the 2001 model year.
Okay, what about the 996? Glad you asked. A new 996R model receives 10 percent more power than the regular 996 sportbike thanks to several engine revisions such as a narrower included valve angle, larger bore, redesigned intake manifolds, throttle bodies and combustion chambers, etc. But don’t rush on down to your local Ducati dealer just yet—the 996R was released purely for racing homologation and limited to 500 examples, which went on sale exclusively on Ducati’s all-new website at www.Ducati.com, starting at 9 a.m. on September 12. Where they sold out the same day.
Little Monster fans will be happy to hear that the 600cc version is coming to the United States. It has an air-cooled, 583cc, 90-degree carbureted V-twin and a very low seat height. Finally, the new 750 Sport is an affordable version of the 750SS with a single front disc and non-adjustable fork.
After several years of lagging in the big V-twin cruiser market, and not having done a major revamp to its venerable GL1500 Gold Wing since its 1988 introduction, Honda has poured out two 1,800cc buckets of major-league whup-ass on the competition.
For 2001 Honda has revamped the Gold Wing as a sportier-looking machine. Its less-enclosing bodywork, exposed front disc rotors and rounded, slightly larger saddlebags enhance a more open, lighter appearance. Its fairing reminds one of a larger version of what’s on its VTR1000 sportbike; Honda claims it produces 10 percent less drag than the GL1500’s bodywork.
In the engine department, Honda buffed up the liquid-cooled, opposed six-cylinder engine by boring and stroking it to 1,832cc, and adding fuel injection. Honda claims it produces 118 crankshaft horsepower and 125 pounds-feet of torque, so the bike ought to flat run! A Honda spokesman informally told us that this new Wing will be quicker than the existing 1500 Valkyrie.
The conventional two-valve-per-cylinder engine is fed by two 40mm throttle bodies delivering air to six Keihin high-pressure fuel injectors with four nozzle tips each. No 600-mile check is required for the shim-under-bucket valve system, and the first valve inspection is not due till 32,000 miles. Power transfer is through a conventional five-speed transmission. With two exhaust catalyzers, the Wing already meets the CARB 2008 emissions standards.
Like previous Wings, the GL1800 is meant to provide the height of luxury. Rear suspension preload is adjustable by computer control. The electric reverse has been simplified (no more lever to pull), as has the electronic cruise control. Add your lights and crank up Puff Daddy, because the audio system with optional six-CD changer is now powered by an astonishing 1,100-watt generator! It offers a linked braking system with 45mm anti-dive fork, and an optional model will be available with anti-lock brakes. Heat exits through a pair of side-mounted radiators. Heated grips will be optional, but Honda will not offer heated seats.
A single-sided swingarm should optimize wheel removal, and the all-new alloy perimeter frame is a claimed 25 pounds lighter than the 1500’s. While Honda did not offer an official overall figure, the display models (lacking fluids) felt much lighter than their GL1500 predecessors.
Bring along your gear as the 61-liter trunk is supplemented by a pair of 40-liter saddlebags. The rider can manually ratchet the windshield up or down through six settings and 4 inches of travel, then utilize the motorized headlight aiming system. Hop aboard and enjoy the new instrument cluster including LC display as you run gas through the 6.6-gallon tank. The GL1800 comes with a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, and is priced at a very reasonable $17,499, which is $100 less than last year’s Aspencade. Add $1,000 for the ABS model.
Honda’s other shoe dropped when it showed a prototype of a new V-twin cruiser called the VTX. The company’s 1100 Shadows have been around more than a decade, and the competition has offered bikes in the 1,500cc range for several years. Partially for this reason, Honda lost the No. 1 sales crown to Harley-Davidson. Well, Honda wants it back, and that fact is no more clear than with the VTX, which will debut in the spring of 2001 as a 2002 model.
Everything about this drag-style bike looks massive, from its stretched-style 4.4-gallon tank to its 67.5-inch wheelbase, its 45mm inverted fork to its 180-series rear tire. At its heart is a liquid-cooled, 1,795cc, 52-degree V-twin engine that Honda claims generates 103 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, and 117 pounds-feet of torque at 3,000. It’s got a bore and stroke of 101 by 112mm, and an offset dual-pin crankshaft with two primary shaft-mounted balance weights. According to Honda this combo, along with rubber engine mounts, will allow the bike to “eliminate unwanted vibration while preserving the V-twin character.”
Two 42mm throttle bodies deliver the air, while fuel is sprayed through 12 nozzle tips per injector. The two-plug heads also feature two intake valves and a single exhaust, and valve lash is set via screw-and-locknut adjusters. Exhaust exits through a three-way catalytic converter.
The VTX has a tube-steel frame and transfers power rearward through a five-speed transmission and driveshaft. Like the Gold Wing, it offers a linked braking system in which operating either brake pedal or lever activates calipers at both ends. Seat height is a relatively low 27.3 inches. The bike will come with a transferable one-year, unlimited-mileage warranty; Honda did not release a price.
With an attractive price of just $5,999, Honda intends for the new Shadow 750 Spirit to woo buyers away from the competition’s 650cc V-twin cruisers. The new Spirit offers a chopped-style rear fender, low, swept-back drag-style bars and wire spoke wheels. Also, the speedometer has been moved to atop the fuel tank. A complete line of accessories will be offered for the Spirit 750 including a windshield, chrome and billet accessories, leather luggage and more.
A major redesign enhances the venerable F4 with fuel injection, a retuned frame and more aggressive styling. According to Honda its new injection system delivers a five percent increase in peak horsepower at 12,500 rpm, and it’s now the lightest CBR600 ever. Chassis upgrades produced a claimed 7.4 percent increase in lateral frame rigidity, and a 10.9 percent increase in torsional frame rigidity. To slightly improve acceleration in all gears—which also increases rpm—the chain-driven bike’s rear sprocket has gained a tooth to 46 teeth. With all-new bodywork, the fuel tank has been increased to 4.8 gallons (over the previous 4.5) to bring capacity up to the competition’s. Price will be $8,199.
Last in Honda’s hit parade is the Reflex, a major-league scooter with a liquid-cooled, 250cc single, aerodynamic bodywork and Honda’s Combined Braking System. ABS is available as an option, too. This machine replaces the venerable Helix, and guess what it’s called in Europe? The Silver Wing!
Kawasaki aims to stomp the sport-standard competition with its new ZRX1200R, a larger version of last year’s ZRX1100. An increase in bore and stroke increases engine displacement from 1,052cc to 1,164cc and power by a claimed 13 percent. Bigger pistons reciprocate in a new, all-aluminum cylinder with plated bores, and the ZRX1200 also has new cam profiles, improved shift feel and clutch operation, a new crank and a new, all-stainless exhaust system. In addition to the bikini-cowled ZRX1200R we’ll be getting here, two additional overseas versions debuted at Intermot, one with a half fairing and the other starkers. As in naked.
Chassis improvements start with a larger, stiffer aluminum swingarm, the triangulated construction featuring bracing grooved for added rigidity. Additionally, a relocated swingarm pivot, wider rear wheel and wider rear tire, a reduction in fork offset and a host of detail changes all enhance the ZRX’s performance and handling. Finally, unlike the ZRX1100, Golden Staters will be able to buy the ZRX1200 along with riders in the other 49.
2000 Kawasaki ZR7 owners may wish they had waited a year, as it will receive a slick-looking front cowling and multireflector headlight for 2001. Both the Drifter 1500 and 800 are updated with standard solo seats (dual seats are optional) and acres of chrome in place of many of the blacked-out areas on the earlier models. Last and quite possibly least is the new entry-level Eliminator 125, which wraps low-slung, dragstrip-inspired styling around an air-cooled 125 single.
On the eve of its 80th birthday in 2001, Moto Guzzi—now owned by Aprilia—celebrated by unveiling a special, limited edition of the V11 Sport (Rider, December 1999) called the Rosso (Red) Mandello. Only 300 examples will be made, each with a numbered plaque on the side panels. In addition to special red paint and anodizing, many of the bike’s components are carbon fiber, and its clutch and front brakes have both been significantly upgraded. The standard 2001 V11 Sport is unchanged.
Guzzi’s California EV and Jackal cruisers will be joined by the California Special in 2001, which Moto Guzzi says is a direct descendant of the 1970’s models with which it clinched the deal to supply the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The Special is equipped to a higher level than the Jackal, and is characterized by side panels with softer lines and more heavily valanced fenders. In various states of tune, Guzzi uses an air-cooled, fuel-injected, 1,064cc, 90-degree V-twin with two valves per cylinder to motivate all of the bikes in its lineup.
MuZ’s entire 2000 line will return for 2001, including the Yamaha 660 single-powered Skorpion Tour, Skorpion Traveller and Baghira/Mastiff dual-sports. The company’s hoped-for growth seems to lie in the 1000S, however, a prototype of a twin-cylinder sportbike on display inside Intermot which may eventually see the light of day. No details were available on the machine, though, not even engine layout, and based upon the company’s topsy-turvy finances we’re not holding our breath.
Suzuki’s big news for 2001 is on the GSX-R front, which has been significantly fortified with a new GSX-R1000. Both it and a much revised GSX-R600 are based upon the GSX-R750, which shed 28 pounds for the 2000 model year and has had a novel, double-throttle-valve EFI system since 1998. In addition to the EFI, special equipment on the new liquid-cooled, 998cc, DOHC 16-valve GSX-R1000 includes a gear-driven engine counterbalancer in the solid-mounted engine to cancel out vibration, and a servo-controlled Suzuki Exhaust Tuning unit in the collector that optimizes backpressure. The GSX-R1000 shares its cylinder head, valves and throttle bodies with the 750, and its wheelbase, rake and trail are identical. Claimed dry weight is 372 pounds, too, just 10 more than the 750.
The 2001 GSX-R600 is now fuel-injected and lighter than last year’s model by a claimed 24 pounds, bringing its claimed dry weight down to 359 pounds. Compared to last year’s model the new Suzuki 600 has a larger cylinder bore and shorter stroke, the same rake and trail as the 750 model and is 10mm shorter. The 600 also has fully adjustable suspension front and rear like the 750 and 1000, but unlike those bikes gets by with an unbraced swingarm.
American Suzuki is bringing in the sportier SV650S model of the SV650 for 2001, which adds a fairing, windscreen, lower clip-on handlebars, more rearset footpegs and a slightly taller final drive ratio to the naked platform. Among its cruisers, the new Intruder Volusia 800 is a long, low machine based upon the Intruder 800 shaft-drive engine. Tuned to maximize low-end torque, the SOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder V-twin in the Volusia is said to make peak torque at just 2,500 rpm, and have an extremely tall fifth gear for relaxed highway cruising. The bike has a nearly 65-inch wheelbase, spoked wheels and heavily valanced fenders.
As promised the new Bonneville debuted at Intermot, but instead of the liquid-cooling and fuel-injection we expected, the 790cc parallel twin with double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder is air-cooled and carbureted like the original T120 Bonneville layout. There’s also an oil cooler, but the throttle position sensors and electric de-icers on the carburetors were not found on Trumps of the ’60s.
Pistons rise and fall together on the 360-degree crank, which also spins a pair of balancer shafts to quell vibration. The twin is said to make 61 horsepower and 44 pounds-feet of torque at the crank. And never fear, fans of authenticity—tank pads and fork gaiters are on the way as options, just like the original. Look for the Bonneville in the United States early next year.
In addition to some minor changes to the TT600’s fuel injection and ignition, Triumph has also upped the popular Tiger’s status with the beefier, six-speed 955i fuel-injected three-cylinder, pumping it up to 104 horsepower. Growl.
What a sport-standard lineup we’ve got for 2001. First the much-improved 2001 Suzuki Bandit 1200 (Rider, October 2000), then news of a 2001 Kawasaki ZRX1200R, and now the Yamaha FZ-1, a naked sportbike with the liquid-cooled, 998cc, 20-valve in-line four and six-speed transmission from the potent R1. The 2001 FZ-1 also benefits from the R1’s EXUP exhaust control and all of the transmission and shifting improvements made to the 2000 R1. A 10 percent heavier flywheel and 37mm sidedraft carburetors in place of the R1’s 40mm carbs should help move some of the FZ-1’s power into the midrange, though it’s said to still whip up 140 peak horsepower at the crankshaft. Sign us up.
A tubular-steel, double cradle frame supports 17-inch radials and fully adjustable suspension at both ends of the FZ-1, and the front pair of its triple disc brakes are R1 spec. The bike appears to have a fairly relaxed seating position well-suited to sport touring, a centerstand is standard and the gas tank holds 5.5 gallons. Finally, the FZ-1 should weigh-in somewhere in the 445- to 455-pound range dry, and will cost just $8,499.
Though the impending arrival of the FZ-1 is great news, to this writer’s mind the star of the Intermot show was a model we will not be getting in the United States, at least not initially. The FJR1300 has everything a sport-touring rider could want, including a seating position, ergonomics and bodywork that fall somewhere in-between the full-faired Kawasaki Concours, Honda ST1100, etc., and bikes like the sporting Honda VFR800FI and Triumph Sprint ST.
Based upon an all-new liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 1,298cc in-line four with a five-speed tranny, the FJR has shaft final drive, factory optional panniers and an electrically adjustable windscreen. With a claimed 145 horsepower and gobs of torque, the FJR should just about blow away any of its sport-touring competition—in the countries where it will be sold, that is. Boo hoo.
Other improvements to Yamaha’s line include a slightly lighter R6 with improved throttle response and uprated styling, a much-requested pair of footboards in place of the rider footpegs on the V-Star Classic and a front disc brake on the formerly drummed TW200. Finally, a special version of the Road Star cruiser called the Midnight Star will be available for 2001. It has a blacked-out engine with polished fins, a chrome front end and studded seat. i