View Full Version : Cafe Sport vs Rockster

17th February 2004, 02:27
(is this forum spamming?? )
(everyone else has seen it - figured you guys might like to too).

2 bikes with a similar outlook and history, but VERY different styles and implentation.


The Moto Guzzi Cafe Sport I tested out of Infinity Motorcycles in Farnborough. The day didn't start well because it was damp, and their insurance won't allow test-rides in less than dry conditions. :( So although I was there at 9:30, I didn't get out on the bike (which wasn't even there anyway) until about 12:30. Luckily the cafe isn't too bad... :)

I loved the look of the bike, the metallic gunmetal/dark gold bodywork and mini fairing, set off by those Bling Ohlins forks is very nice and the paint looked pretty well applied. The riding position is also good, although the seat wasn't the softest, feeling plank-like after a very short time.

The test was a 10 mile or less (didn't really look) ride on town style roads, a bit of d/c with road works and some twisty, up and down country roads - all done at the indicated limit. The d/c was supposed to allow a bit of speed testing - but didn't.

A recce by the salesman might have been a good idea - I'd dropped the hint enough that this was to be a high-use bike on motorways and suchlike. Also the twisty section of road was all 40 limits - which we rigidly stuck to.

Given these conditions it was not easy to get a good impression of the bike. Which was a pity really, as I wanted to like the bike and didn't get to see it in a good light. The bike only had about 850 miles on it and was tight as a gnat's chuff. The bars vibrated like a road digger and although the ride was only about 20 minutes I felt seriously in danger of getting Vibration White Finger - no matter what revs I used. Changing the engine speed didn't alter the amplitude of the vibration - just the intensity.

I wasn't impressed. Despite knowing that these bikes do smooth out after some miles I cannot believe they can improve in the amount the bike would need in order to become ridable for more than an hour at a time.

The engine wasn't the best twin I've ridden either - yes it was pokey, with oodles of torque and acceleration was swift - but it was rather rough and didn't show itself well. I also found it difficult to figure out a good gear to ride in - the bike would pull from 2K with ease, so gears were a matter of trying to reduce vibration rather than gain mechanical advantage.

With Ohlins all round (including the, possibly unnecessary, steering damper I believe) you'd expect it to handle well - and it did. It was neutral and well balanced - given the chance I felt I could have thrown it around with ease - despite it's mass. The front did feel a little vague on the damp surfaces, but that might be due to the tyre - I think it was fitted with a 010 (I forgot to look), a tyre that I just cannot get on with for some reason. I expect that with fully adjustable Ohlins as standard the handling could be setup perfectly.

Overall I wasn't terribly impressed, with either the bike or the shop, especially after the 2nd test-ride that day....


Rolling into Vines of Guildford I spotted the test bike very quickly - the filthy matt-black and bronze Rockster outside HAD to be the test bike! Even though it had appeared never to have been cleaned in it's 2500 (ish) mile life it still looked good and the dirt wasn't detracting from the looks.

Getting the bike was a doddle - the dealership is obviously used to it and I "hired" the bike for a day (effectively), leaving CC details for an 1100 excess. The possibility of damp weather wasn't an issue at all.

Rev Fred turned up as well on his R1100S - which was good, as a comparison bike is always useful, and we ride at similar speeds.

Getting on and starting the bike, two things immediately came to light - the bars are WIDE and the riding position is very much motard/streetfighter - not something I'm used to, but it became acceptable after a short while. Rev Fred commented that the bike's riding position was "... very Boss". (ask him what it means, but he assures me it's good :confused: ).

The other thing was the torque reaction - the Guzzi merely rocks sideways gently with a twist of the throttle - the Rockster practically tries to throw you off!! This attitude is MOST un-BMW like and could be felt at all times even out on the road! Miss a gear and over-rev and you certainly knew about it! Luckily the superb handling means the bike doesn't get too out of shape if this happens in a corner!

The bike will handle very well indeed though, despite a squared off front (dunno what the previous riders had been up to! :confused: ) and certainly showed up my riding mistakes - especially my habit of turning in too early - must work on that! The squared Sportec M1 made the bike difficult to get over at times, but once over it seemed very stable and I hardly felt a ripple on surfaces I know to be far from smooth.

The bike was setup on the pre-load very softly, and could do with some adjustments (rebound on front, preload and rebound on rear), but even so that was only visible to Rev Fred riding behind me. He's ridden one before and acknowledges that against the R1100S the Rockster is no slower and is better in traffic due to it's excellent lock.

We tried a couple of top-gear roll-ons from 70, and the Rockster has no problem at all getting to 3 figure speeds, keeping up with a nicely loose 1100S with ease until the wind-blast beats the rider into submission. And that's the main flaw with the Rockster.

The bike has a tiny shroud in front of the clocks which purports to be an aerodynamic aid - bollox. All is manages to do is left the wind off your stomach. You're struck mid-chest and the rest of your body is left to flap around at anything over 75. As soon as BMW produce a screen for it, they'll sell like hotcakes. (I know someone else does do one, and Vines said they could research that).

The other flaw with the BMW is the optional Servo-Assisted/ABS equipped brakes (750). Although I didn't set off the ABS so can't comment on it, I HATED the servo brakes. With anything more than a gentle caress the brakes slammed on with an almost audible "Thunk". The EVO brakes (395mm discs with up-to-date 4 piston callipers) do not need this assistance and would provide lovely feedback without it, they have braided hoses as standard. :D

With a few modifications for higher speeds, and possibly narrower bars for town work (easily done) the Rockster is very nearly the ideal road bike, it handles like all the other Telelever BMW's, and has the latest 2-spark engine and the latest derivation of the chassis. I'm afraid that despite it's charms the Cafe Sport is running a long way last in this race, even allowing for the poor testing conditions.

I will be lining up tests on a new(ish) R1100S, and a standard GS (to compare with Rev Fred's 30,000 mile S and Animal's GS Adventure), and hopefully with Infinity's Le Mans (or someone elses). Apparently Performance Bikes currently have the LeMans - so fingers crossed it'll come back in one piece!! They'll probably hate it, but I loved the Rockster..... :D:D:D

Couple of other points :

Ergonomics : The Guzzi's switchgear was ok, nothing startling, although the horn being nearer than the indicators was a bit odd, and the switches appeared a little "placcy" and possibly not long lasting.
The BMW was the usual blend of function and solidity - the 3 button indicators are a piece of piss after 5minutes and the heated grips are fantastic - the modern BMW's have 2 heat settings and you can switch between them easily with your right thumb. :)

Price : I've not confirmed this yet, but flicking through the otr prices in BIKE the Guzzi is something like 1k more than the BMW, and is also 2 brackets higher on Equity Redstar's insurance listings. (the salesman at Infinity tried to pass this off by saying "Oh well they don't know what it is" - well, that doesn't get me cheaper insurance does it? :rolleyes: ) The BMW has recently gone up to 7510 or so, before all the accessories are added in - but it's still good value for a 10 year keeper (I think).

17th February 2004, 05:02
Hi there RiceBurner. I have a BM R1150R for sale if you're interested. Very realistic about price. Oct 2001 model, ABS, heated grips, 47,000kms, one careful lady owner. But I think reading between the lines you live in the UK, so this post is probably a waste of time!

Glad you like the Rockster anyway. I don't like it's looks, but the R1150R is a great bike to ride.

17th February 2004, 22:56
Hi there RiceBurner. I have a BM R1150R for sale if you're interested. Very realistic about price. Oct 2001 model, ABS, heated grips, 47,000kms, one careful lady owner. But I think reading between the lines you live in the UK, so this post is probably a waste of time!

Glad you like the Rockster anyway. I don't like it's looks, but the R1150R is a great bike to ride.
yeah - I'm in the UK, but thanks for the thought! :D

Have to admit I really don't like the look of the plain R - I've never much liked big single headlights, prefer twin beams of some sort or other and the mudguard on the R is just nasty. :(