How much horsepower do you really need? - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
    Daboo's Avatar
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    I spotted this thread over on ADVRider. I thought we might have our own opinions.

    How much horsepower do you really need?
    https://www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocia...es-my-bike-use

    Motorcycling will always be one of those things where mostest is best. Forget octane ratings and rpm, we should measure biking by TPM - testosterone per minute. Imagine if we approached life in the same way, we’d all be wearing trousers with ten legs – accepting that while we didn’t actually need the additional eight, ‘it’s good to ‘have the extra fabric to get me out of trouble’ Maybe we’d pay extra too for ‘Flaption control’ to stop those extra legs causing aerodynamic drag when we ran faster than 5mph.A few years back I was involved in a fascinating feature demonstrating how much of our bike’s horsepower we actually used. We took four very different bikes; a Suzuki GSX-R600, Yamaha XJR1300, Honda ST1100 Pan European and Harley V-Rod, fitted them with state of the art datalogging equipment and measured how much throttle was used and how much horsepower around a 50-mile blast on our favourite roads. The bikes were chosen for their difference in character, but also because they all made around 100bhp.

    To make the test more interesting we used the most talented rider in Corby – a racer and stunt rider who was more likely to use more throttle than we were.
    The results were fascinating. The XJR1300 was the only bike to use more than 70bhp, peaking at 89bhp, but only for about ten seconds in the 48 minutes it took to complete the route. The Pan European had the highest average power-used figure at 43.8bhp and the GSX-R600, being ridden by a fast racer averaged just 29bhp and never got above 50bhp once.

    He was as surprised as we were, reporting that he’d had the Suzuki’s needle in the red for much of the time. Thing is… you can hit the red line on any bike at far less than full throttle. Try it next time you’re out – hold the throttle about a third open in the lower gears and see how quickly you hit the limiter.

    And that’s where it gets confusing because revs don’t equal power unless you’re at full throttle. Why does this matter? Well, thank you for sticking with me for 365 words, here’s the point.
    A few weeks back I was reading a thread on social media about sports bike electronics. Opinion was split as to whether they were a good or bad thing and it didn’t take long for some online hero to explain how ‘now bikes like his make 200bhp, they’d be unrideable without all these electronics’.

    I might have missed something here, but back in the bad old days when a decent sports bike only made 180bhp and had no electronic restriction I don’t remember every ride being peppered with cartwheeling R1s and Fireblades highsiding themselves into oblivion. Most crashes not involving a SMIDSY car driver had a rider misjudging a corner, hitting the front brake, which stood the bike up and ran them wide into a ditch. Now it’s possible that cornering ABS might have saved that, but traction control would be irrelevant because in that crash, the throttle is shut.

    The boffins that did our 100bhp feature all those years ago explained what happens very clearly. On the road you use your throttle (and therefore power) to accelerate up to a certain speed and then back off, holding a steady throttle to maintain that speed. It needs a certain amount of power to achieve that speed, but once there, you only need a whiff of throttle to overcome the airflow and maintain momentum. Arrive at a corner and you need to slow down. Once through the corner, you accelerate up to speed again.

    The reason our heavy tourer used almost twice as much power as the sports bike is because at every corner on our very twisty route it had to slow down more (because it was heavy and handled much worse) and consequently, then had to accelerate harder to get back up to speed, which used more power.

    The good-handling sports bike had to slow down much less for the corners and so needed less power to accelerate back up to speed. So, in order to use our bikes most efficiently, Honda should be making 200bhp Pan Europeans and 60bhp Fireblades.

    Which is, of course, exactly what we are getting with the latest generation of traction control. TC is a metaphor for power restriction. It allows a manufacturer to build a 200bhp motorcycle to satisfy the marketing dept and their customers’ machismo trouser requirements, but then electronically restrict it in order that, should anyone who buys it actually be clumsy enough to use more than half that power, the restrictors will cut in and make up for their lack of talent. Not only that, but they can charge us extra money for the privilege. Genius.

    On track, of course, the situation is very different. Our boffins explained that any racer or wannabbee track day hero - safe in the knowledge that all they have to do is get to the next corner faster than everyone else - should be aiming to use either full throttle or no throttle all the time, anything else is the behaviour of a dithering loser. And that’s where the electronics come in. Because if you or me, with a lifetime of smoothly using 29bhp on the road to go faster than we ever dreamed, suddenly gets giddy and finds the guts to unleash the full potential of our engines, then, yes, maybe, if that potential is 150bhp-plus, we might just need an electronic version of ‘perhaps this throttle should go the other way now’.

    What’s needed here is a bold manufacturer, prepared to build a bike that makes relatively low peak power, but delivers it in a way that helps us use more of it. Funnily enough a mate of mine is currently looking to buy an ancient Honda VFR400. Imagine if there was a modern version of that bike? A 500cc V-four making 80bhp and weighing 140kg. sounds brilliant to me.

    And a trip the other week on KTM’s new 790 Duke showed it to be exactly that kind of bike Not too much power, but all delivered in a huge great slug of drive in a chassis that made life feel very, very exciting. If only I can find my turbocharged, ten-nibbed, rainbow-inked Titanium biro I could sign on the dotted line right now.
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder

    John 14:6 

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  4. #2
    notacop is offline The original Schwartz Wald Troll
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    Whatever the maker provides it seems is never enough for some people. I thought the 08 ST had plenty and still got good mileage, My G650GS has enough to do what I need and the same of a 1st generation DL650.
    My '76/6 had 50 hp, the '83R65LS had 50 hp and the 80/7 also had 50hp. I was perfectly happy with that. I had an '89 R100GS that had more power cus the 1st owner changed the cams and did some other hop up things. It sucked gas though. It was fast but stopping for fuel all the time was PITA. Thankfully it had a 6.5 gallon tank. The average mpg's were in the 30's.

  5. #3
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    Here's an interesting chart off the Interweb.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    At the top of the heap, is the BMW S1000XR with 156.6 hp. At the bottom of the pile, is the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 with 91.6 hp. The "winner" is the S1000XR...maybe.

    I'm guessing the bikes shown here are all at around 4000 rpms at 70 mph in top gear. In which case, the BMW is second to last. But really, all are very close to each other. The BMW S1000XR doesn't pull away from the pack till you get over 8500 rpms. Even at 6800 rpms, the S1000XR is neck and neck to the lowly V-Strom. So the question comes to mind...how often would I ride at 9-12,000 rpms? Probably a couple times to see what it felt like, but not often. That would be like riding my F800GT at 7000-8500 rpms all the time. Yes, it is possible. But who wants to? The engine is way to frantic at that rpm and every time you adjust the throttle on/off, I'm guessing it gets pretty jerky. Just because I can ride at 60 mph in first gear, doesn't mean I would want to.

    So then it gets to what the rest of the bike is like to live with on a day-to-day basis.

    After the riding I did in the summer of 2019, I'm convinced all the extra horsepower does for you, is to give the marketing folks something to put in the sales brochures — and it gives you an excuse to justify why you paid that insane price to say your bike has this much manhood...er, horsepower.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder

    John 14:6 

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  8. #4
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    Interesting thread. I have always believed I don't really need much over about 20-25 HP on my daily rider. Heck, back in the day my very first bikes were mostly in that range and I never thought about more power. Of course, i am a grandfather and my fast days are all behind me.

    And it is the same for automobiles also. Once you get up to cruising speed, your engine loafs along at a low RPM and produces quite low power. I used to want to get up to that cruising speed as quickly as I could, but now I'm in less of a hurry.
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  9. #5
    Daboo's Avatar
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    One of my criteria for buying a motorcycle has been that the engine size needs to be less than 1000ccs. (I may change that some day. I'm only human. )

    When I started riding again, I had a Suzuki Burgman 400 scooter. It had only 34 hp...yet it would break 100. I learned to ride fast and smooth through corners because your technique needed to be good if you were going to take multiple corners fast. Carry as much speed into the turn as possible, and then you didn't have to use the throttle to power out...with power you didn't have. As "underpowered" as it was, I did a SS1000 on it, and it didn't even strain. With 34 hp.

    There are times I'd like more hp. But then those times are usually when I'm prevented from doing something incredibly stupid like passing where there isn't any room. And then I realize that I'd probably kill myself with more hp.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder

    John 14:6 

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    on the street, not a heck of a lot of power is needed. On the track, different deal. I ride the streets with a group of pretty quick guys with a wide range of bikes. Some of the north of 120hp variety. On most our rides I can keep up very well on my SV650 or F8. The SV is something like 74hp and the F8 like 85hp. One of the guys in the groups has a WeeStrom and lights it up very well.

    One exception was one of my sons friends with a CBR1000 and I called him 'The Ghost". After the first turn or two - he would completely disappear until a light or he stopped to wait.
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    Well, for me it’s always more fun to ride a slow motorcycle fast than a fast motorcycle slow.
    Of course YMMV
    07 F800 ST 

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    Lot of people here thinking the same, maybe it's the average age?
    Seriously, 10years ago, I started thinking about that; not much power and more torque at low rpm, ans first of all a lightweight bike. Where I live, there are mainly (or only) twisty and narrow roads, now I realize I can enjoy the F8 only on the few fast ones, on all remaining, I ride at the same speed I used to with the CS650 I used to have.
    Su cunnu! 

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    Interesting article. Gimme 100bhp, give or take, nice chassis, tuned for mid-range (i.e. torquey), smooth throttle and less than 440lbs with low center of gravity. Incidentally, my F900R is just about there aside from the weight.
    2020 F900R Blue 

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    My Royal Enfield Bullet 500 only has 19hp at the rear wheel. It can still get me to where I want to go, just not very fast.
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2020 KTM 390 Duke, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

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    Heck...I can have fun on an electric bicycle.
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    One thing that is weird is that 'Nothing to Prove" (who apparently lives in Germany) claims that the Zero S electric motorcycle can be ridden with a 125cc (learner's?) license in the EU because its motor is rated at only 14 hp (continuous) even though it has 78 pound-feet of (instant) torque and a top speed of 98 mph.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scf View Post
    Well, for me it’s always more fun to ride a slow motorcycle fast than a fast motorcycle slow.
    I always tell my students this. Most are young with visions of R1/H2/'busa/Duc running in their heads. My last bike was a S1000R... I just turned "60" and wanted to be a Hooligan again... I'm having more smiles per mile on my "lowly" 750GS...
    Bruce A. Brown #164572
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin313 View Post
    Interesting article. Gimme 100bhp, give or take, nice chassis, tuned for mid-range (i.e. torquey), smooth throttle and less than 440lbs with low center of gravity. Incidentally, my F900R is just about there aside from the weight.
    Completely agree. For what I use a bike for that's what i want/have. Although i am tempted to try a R1200GS at some point as an upgrade.

    Anything above that and you have a bike you're not able to really utilise on the road. And unlike a posh/expensive Car you don't have a nice interior, sound system, or massaging seats to enjoy as a trade off.
    BMW F800ST, 2010, Black, Fuzeblock, Sat Nav, BMW Tank Bag, Givi Touring Screen, Spotlights, 50K Miles 

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