My first impressions of the 919 Hornet
Until a few days ago, I owned a VTR-1000 which I bought new two and a half years ago. I had never owned a V twin before the VTR and may never own another, thanks to the 919. Even though I loved the VTR's sporty nature, I never did experience the so called V Twin grunt. I just NEVER noticed it. It took forever to run in, initially freeing up a little at about 1000 km (600 miles) then again massively at about 2200 kms (1300 miles) then again at about 3500 kms. No, it was not gruntier at 3500 kms than it was at 1000 kms,, it was plain gutless at 1000 kms but better at 3500 kms,, even so, I was still waiting for that gutsy V twin power to kick in real soon but it never did. Don't get me wrong, it still had usable power, just not what I expected. Meanwhile, I had performed the air filter mod and got a noticable hike in "off the mark" power and it also stopped the clunky engine sounds at about 2000 rpm when rolling it on. I also set up the suspension, front vs rear, to match each other,, and generally tinkered with the bike and made quite a great little hot rod out of it in the first 12 months. From there I simply rode it and got more and more aquainted with it.
Deep down I guess I was only moderately impressed with the VTR. I still wanted to get back to 4 cylinders though but was not really wanting a rocketship and the more I pondered on which bike to buy, the more I just sat back and got confused. I am more into touring than being a suicide jockey on the road so the thought of lying down on the handlbars for the rest of my riding days and getting numb hands and aching shoulders became less and less appealing when I thought about CBRR's or GSXR's or the like, and, they cost a whole lot more.
Just one week ago today, I rode a 919 Hornet just to see what it was like to have 4 cyls buzzing between the legs again. I was not expecting anything to greatly impress me but from the moment I let out the clutch and started moving, I experienced a feeling I haven't had for a long time. The 919 took off with a reverence with its fuel injection and nearly threw me off the back and at about 3500 rpm as the engine leapt into life and I almost let the handlebars go. I was not expecting that. That power delivery alone was enough to capture my interest. This bike has more grunt that the VTR ever had,, and that's no exaggeration... Sitting upright was a little strange, for a while, but I soon forgot that as I felt more and more at home on this beast. The rear suspension felt a little mushy for my liking but other than that, this baby and I were put on this planet to be together, so 3 days later I traded the VTR and bought one. It's been 4 days now and I have done about 400kms (250 miles) and here's what I think...
The first thing was getting used to the upright position. By the time I got home from the bike shop (120 kms - 75 miles ** The long way,, if you get my drift), that had happened. I grew up on bikes like this so it was second nature to me. No problems... The first few times I conered on some exciting curves I had to sort of fight to lean right over but it was more having to remember that I was physically further up in the air and leaning it meant having to simply tip myself over a bit more than I would in the prone position to get to the same lean angle.
Second... Ahhhh. There isn't any second...
Everything else about this bike has impressed me so much that it has simply moved on from where the VTR left off... The power even from a barely run in bike is a whole lot more than the VTR. I don't like labouring a bike from new so I genorously used lower gears and more revs but the few times I rolled it on in top, I new the VTR just could handle this type of rush - no way. It wasn't even in the same league. The VTR does pull and hard at times but reaching about 8000 revs sees the bike almost out of breath. The 919 seems to just keep going, although I have not tried it out for top speed, as any fool can go fast, its the usable power I am interested in and the 919 is a clear winner here. I have taken it up to about 8000 rpm a few times in the lower gears and can not get over the pulling power this engine has. Getting up to 160 kph (100 mph) happens so fast that its not even funny. I have also felt that front wheel get very light under moderate to hard low gear acceleration and it seems that lifting it is just a matter of times and revs.
Seating is so comfortable compared to the VTR, I feel like I am in heaven. Hanging on at higher speeds is a breeze,, just put the head down a few inches and all is well. I wound up the rear damping a tiny bit and I have the suspension just where I like it. It's not race stuff but for my kind of riding it's more than adequate. Throwing this bike from side to side in the tight stuff is the biggest surprise to date... Wowww... It's easy and feels great and the low down power delivery makes for some very quick exiting of corners. When I left the shop the brakes were a little sad but in the first ride this changed to pretty darned good. I might put some braided lines soon and I bet this will step their performance up a notch or two.
Economy,, well you can't measure economy when running in. I certainly used the revs in a kind but exacting way, staying clear of top gear as much as possible so as to not load the new motor up. Second, third and fourth gear being my favourites even at highway open road speeds. Yet I was surprised to see that the first top up of gas revealed that I got slightly better than the best economy of the VTR, so I live in hopes that once I settle down after run in, I will get a reasonable gas mileage. I was still horrified at the gas pump at the cost of a tank of gas though as I have not filled up for about two months now,, but that not the bikes fault.. We all know about the price of gas lately - DON'T WE...!!!
All in all, I think I have received a shot in tha arm since owning this bike. It has revived my interest in riding and even though I went down in engine size, I have definitely gone up in performance.. No Doubt about that...!!!
What a surprise this bike has turned out to be... In a single word.... GREAT..!!!