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- Written by Carole Nash Editor
- Created: 24 June 2008
A standard, do-it-all roadbike is something that more and more people in the UK are getting into, and it’s not hard to see the attraction. A ’naked’ roadster can be a great way to travel the backroads on sunny Sundays.
German company Sachs think they´re onto a winner with the Suzuki V-twin powered 800 Roadster, which has Italian suspension and brakes, plus an undeniably man-sized saddle for all day comfort. Have they got the balance right in the 800 Roadster ?
Insidebikes takes a quick spin..
Sometimes the Germans can get things absolutely spot-on. I mean take a look at things like the Audi TT car, the brutally beautiful Munch Mammut, or the Target designed Sachs Beast V-twin prototype, both seen at the NEC show last year. Brilliant, minimalist, engineering sculpture.
On the other hand, our German cousins can get things horribly wrong too. Usually when recording any sort of popular music, setting a trend in men´s fashion, or when thinking up new ways to make cabbage more appetizing.
Somewhere inbetween these two extremes lies the Sachs 800 Roadster, which from certain angles, actually looks half-right, but sadly the riding experience doesn´t really match the pleasantly chunky looks.
What´s the problem ? In a word, it´s the engine. There´s nothing really wrong with the Suzuki 800cc four stroke, V-twin, water-cooled unit, at least inside its donor bike, the Intruder/Marauder cruiser. When it is transplanted into the Sachs Roadster chassis it simply doesn´t have the right power characteristics to do the German bike justice, lacking real grunt and being unpleasantly vibey when you dare to pass 70mph in top gear.
With just 58bhp available and an estimated top speed of around 95-100mph, the Roadster feels like an old British bike from the early 1970s, which believe me - as I´m old enough to have ridden a few examples - is not a good thing. The Sachs/Suzuki motor doesn´t leak oil of course, but it feels wheezy, has deeply annoying patches of vibration at any speed above 65mph, plus a pretty antiquated feeling 5 speed gearbox, which emits various clunking noises once you decide to crack on a bit along a winding country lane.
At first, I quite enjoyed just pootling slowly around the lanes of Staffordshire, near Ross Verdon Motorcycles, ( 01785 254 000 ) who loaned me the demo Roadster ( cheers guys ), in the rare Spring sunshine. Then I caught up to a couple of cars and decided to overtake, which took longer than I expected, with the added surprise of finding a bloke in Renault Laguna easily keeping pace with me and then trying to squeeze by on the short straights, despite me giving the Sachs full throttle. In the end, I let him past, rather than utilize the excellent handling of the Sachs and lose him on the corners, because calming down and trundling at 60mph all day was just an easier way of traveling than wringing the nuts off the Roadster to make it do something it really isn´t capable of doing. To me, that´s a bit sad. Any 600cc plus bike which can´t effortlessly leave a stock 2.0 litre saloon car on a twisting B road isn´t a whole lot of use. You see motorcycles are meant to be fun, even retro machines, which are a bit chubby ( the Sachs weighs 228 Kilos wet ) and down on power. But the shame of it is that the Sachs Roadster just misses out on being a half decent naked roadster, mainly due to having the wrong V-twin motor unit. The SV650, TL1000, Honda Firestorm/Varadero, or Ducati 750SS Vees would all transform this bike. By choosing a cruiser motor, presumably to save a few bob, Sachs have made what could have been a sweet handling backroads retro into a large slug on wheels.
You see, the bike handles pretty respectably, with upside down Paoili forks at the front, plus a pair of adjustable shocks at the back. It isn´t state-of-the-art suspension, but it is well up to the job and you can drag the wide Sachs machine over on the corners with confidence. The other bonus area is the brakes, which are Grimeca twin discs, with four piston calipers at the front, doing a great job. Loads of feel at the lever, very progressive in action too.
There´s an old fashioned twin tubular, cradle type frame encasing the engine, with the radiator hanging neatly from the front rails and no trace of frame flex, even when you nail the Sachs hard through its shaft drive transmission. One curious trait is that the incredibly wide, almost `motocross ‘ handlebars on the Roadster give you so much input, that the slightest movement with your shoulders is all that´s needed to send the bike tipping over into the next corner. It feels odd, but you do get used to it.
Taken all round, I rated the Sachs as being pretty sorted in its handling, at least for a bike which weighs in at about the same weight as a 1300 Hayabusa. It´s also a comfortable bike, with a proper man-sized saddle, plus decent pillion accommodation. There was a grabrail too, which is a genuinely useful feature that every retro bike should have.
Mirrors that showed you clearly what was approaching from behind, were another nice touch, as was the Hella H4 halogen headlight and the classy, spoked ally Behr wheels. It looks a well made machine, but then again, the Sachs Roadster needs to demonstrate quality touches when it retails at 5700 quid on the road. That´s at least a grand more than a 600 Bandit, or SV650, both of which totally demolish the Sachs as top fun, Sunday morning backroads blasters. A 600 Fazer seems like a Fireblade by comparison to the Sachs.
The Sachs Roadster is also available in 34bhp restricted form, assuming you really enjoy motorcycling masochism, but insidebikes verdict is that there are lots of better choices on the market as a first timers machine, or for born-again bikers. What the Sachs needs is another 15bhp and a healthy 20 kilo cut in its overall weight to get in the running in the hotly contested retro marketplace.
Given that Sachs has just seen their chances of making its Beast prototype into reality, after Swedish engine makers Folan have gone bust, the odds on the Roadster turning from ugly duckling into sexy swan seem fairly remote.
Get bike insurance for the Sachs 800 Roadster with Carole Nash.
Engine V-twin, water cooled, four stroke
Claimed power (bhp)
Transmission 5 speed
Frame; steel tubular type
Suspension; 43mm USD front forks, adjustable, twin rear shocks, adjustable.
Brakes; Twin 300mm discs, four piston calipers, plus 220mm rear drum.
Top speed 100mph
Fuel capacity 17 litres