It has always been said that Honda make very civilised road bikes, of course you can remove the lights and ride on the track whereas Yamaha make race bikes and of course you can fit some lights and ride on the road. And to an extent that is still true today, 30 or 40 years later. Yamaha really started making track bikes whereas Honda made road bikes, these days those lines are blurred but some character differences remain.
I started my road bike “career” on a 2 stroke Suzuki GT185, moved up to a brand new Yamaha RD400 and then onto an almost new Honda CB750 Four. I then bought a lovely almost new Honda CBR1000 and kept her for 10 years cos I loved her so much and I rode her down to Roma from the Midlands when I moved south in 1990.
Well let’s come up to date. I am now lucky enough to own several bikes and not just one like in the old days. My current bikes include two naked 1000s, one a Yamaha (MT10SP) and one a Honda, the CB1000R. Both are recent bikes with low miles and full service history so I decided that a quick comparison would be interesting. They both live in my lovely garage in Tramonti (near Ravello) but one was here in Amalfi so I decided to ride one up to my garage and then return with the other one so I get the feeling of riding them back to back.
Here are the 2 contenders: Honda in red and Yamaha in blue and black.
On paper they are similar beasts. Four cylinder in line 1000 4 cylinders both making plenty of power, both quite small and light (the Honda is 212kg dry and the Yamaha 210kg). It is true that the Yamaha has more power (160 v 143) but in my opinion and experience anything up to 100 horses is fine and I can handle, any more is just good for pub talk!!
So what did I find? Perhaps not suprisingly they feel quite similar to ride. Fast, easy to ride and great fun. Gear changes are both great (the Yamaha has a quickshifter), clutches light and both bikes very easy to control with excellent brakes. The main difference between them is the “feel” of the engine. Riding the Honda you could be on a 500 twin until you open the throttle, then she will take off like a scalded cat but you feel that you are in charge. The MT10 with that R1 big-bang engine instead lets you know that you are riding a performance bike and make no mistake, this bike wants to FLY so you feel that you must keep her on a short leash or else!! She stands up on the back wheel with the slightest provocation, be warned.
I truly love both riding experiences, the Honda for a gentle relaxed ride and the Yamaha for a thrash!! UPDATE. Last weekend I convinced my mate Beppe (he has a lovely FZ1 Yamaha) to take firstly the Honda and then the MT10 for a ride. He previously owned a Honda Transalp 700 and then he bought his dream bike the FZ1. He needs more riding to really get used to the 1000s cos they are in a different league to the Transalp and he is loving the power of the FZ1, but his bike is from 3 generations ago so has no electronics at all, not even ABS, whereas of course the 2 new bikes have loads of rider assistance from ABS to traction control etc etc.
His impression??? Well more or less like mine and he loves them both, both new bikes are smaller and more nimble than the FZ1 so much easier to ride, and he really wants to buy the MT10 from me as soon as he can raise the cash!!! STOP PRESS the weather here is getting much more spring-like so today the new FJR1300 came out of the garage for a short ride, WHAT a bike!!