It’s a ‘Marmite bike’, love it or hate it and opinions do vary but when I first spied its ugly nose cone protruding from a crate I felt the Sachs appeal; like the B805 being different isn’t always a bad thing.
One of the founding fathers of two wheeled transportation created in 1895, Fichtel & Sachs, produced their first motorcycle in 1904. Ernst Sachs always enjoyed a passion for two wheels, especially within the cycle racing fraternity. An accomplished engineer who was granted the patent for the Torpedo freewheeling bicycle hub in 1894 just prior to going into partnership with Karl Fitchel. The company continued with ball bearing manufacture before installing small capacity engines into modified bicycle frames. After Fitchel died in 1911, Sachs took over the remaining shares before he too passed away in 1932 leaving his son Willy to continue the business. Willy fell in with the Nazi’s and it is believed every German tank was supplied with Sachs ball bearings and clutches. Post war, Willy was interned by the Americans and upon release committed suicide. The remainder of the Sachs empire had Willy’s son Gunter Sachs at the helm but he preferred the playboy lifestyle and after the death of his first wife, he went on to marry actress Bridget Bardot in 1966, followed by Mirja Larsson, a Swedish model in 1969. During the sixties they took control of the popular DKW brand who produced the RT125; the motor that formed the basis for BSA’s Bantam and got Suzuki moving. The Wankel propulsed Hercules was one of Sachs achievements, purchasing the motorcycle manufacturer in the late sixties just prior to Gunter selling his remaining shares in the company; he would follow his father in a tragic way also committing suicide in 2003. German company Mannesman bought Sachs in 1987 along with suspension supplier Boge and the name Sachs continues today suppling clutches and suspension OE parts to many manufacturers around the world.
Was the turbulent but brilliant engineering history of Sachs the reason I purchased a B805? No. My biking history resembles most folk; SS50 Honda followed by the two stroke terrors of the RD and KH, 250s mostly and onto a 600 CBR. As I got older and the bank balance looked healthier I launched into the super bike brigade, including the GSXr range. The ultimate being the 1100R, last of the oil cooled beasts, this along with the Sachs remains one of the few machines I haven’t watched sliding along the road without me still attached to the seat. Having endured a few years delivering packages around London in the 90s, where long hours in the saddle were the norm, one Suzuki VX800 earnt me a good living for over 100k miles; this would influence the Sachs decision. Away from the chaos of the city, a new life beckoned and what else would a country boy require, a Honda Blackbird obviously. Being skittled by an errant driver on the big Honda was messy and would also influence my Sachs decision; along with the 9 speeding points on my licence.
Time for a Change
Although middle age was approaching faster than my bald patch could cope with, I wasn’t willing to curtail the passion; no need to explain as I am preaching to the converted here. One Saturday ride-out, discovering new twisty’s to hone my skills on, I found a tiny establishment featuring mainly off road machines near Selsey Bill; a retirement paradise where Madness took their Morris Minor. Anyway, in this shop (that sold nothing of any consequence) was a wooden crate, the top was open and protruding forth was the nose cone of the B805. The proprietor was keen to show me the single page brochure that accompanied this German built master piece (he only had the one) explaining this was number 16 of just 150 and this was my one-time chance to own it. So, after 30 minutes’ consideration as to the unattractive features of the bike (of which there are plenty) I bought it; a decision I have not regretted since.
Sachs insisted their motorbikes and scooters stood out from the crowd and with the Swedish-Folan V twin 1000cc ‘Beast’ and their ‘Mad Ass’ moped range they also offered some of that famous German humour. Styling that says ‘we do it our way’ (maybe one reason the company has faced financial meltdown) Sachs did offer the buyer something unique; individuals judgement would determine their success. The original concept came from Target Design, the same minds that produced the Suzuki Katana, suddenly the vision offers some similarities. They also had a hand in BMW’s R100 GS Paris Dakar rep from the 90s but in 2002 the first of the 150 limited edition B805 machines were launch onto an indifferent public. At the time one German motoring scribe, who may have enjoyed several Bavarian Bierkeller’s, wrote ‘The Sachs B805, creative minds of avant-garde brainstorming, a design forged by a motorcycle manufacturer not weakened, has the chance to go beyond a concept study’. Blimey, somewhat over the top and whilst the designs may have been ‘penned’ near the snowcapped peaks of the Alps (very ‘Sound of Music’) all of the 150 bikes were hand built in their Nuremberg factory. That said, this Sachs was not just a home grown affair, far from it. A tubular steel frame constructed on site accepts the motor and gearbox lifted straight from Suzuki’s VX/VS/Intruder range, tweaked slightly for the B805 to around 60bhp with 70 plus Nm of torque. Shaft drive through to alloy rims supplied by German manufacturer BEHR, quality certainly as they still look impressive twelve years on. Upside down forks from Italian supplier Paioli who have been around for a century, supplying globally from Yamaha GP racers to Guzzi and Bimota road machines. Rear shocks courtesy of Bitubo from Italy, as are the Grimeca brakes which also adorn current Aprilia and KTM machines; ideal in a ‘top trumps’ game of bike parts with fancy names. The question is, does this all translate to an incredible riding experience? Well, no. The B805 does everything well but nothing brilliantly. Much of the base is straight from the company’s earlier 800 ‘Roadster’, a rather non-descript machine that did what it should for £5700.00. A comparable amount to the era’s Japanese mid-range machines (but more than most) available at the turn of the new millennium. My B805 would be reduced down to £5995.00 when I handed over a 50 quid deposit in July 2004 and as this was numbered ‘16’ I surmised it had been in the crate for at least a year. I recollect riding away from the dealers, happy with my purchase, I hadn’t even taken a test ride. I felt at home straight away and convinced myself it would go much faster once run-in; it didn’t and maybe that’s a good thing.
Mechanically there are very few issues with the Sachs, either in performance or maintenance, parts are available for all of the Suzuki equipment and the reliability has proved impeccable. The fuel tank, like all of the bodywork is plastic so if care is not taken refitting parts will crack when tightened and they are not replaceable; therefore, if this one hits the concrete it’s curtains. Originally, the tank featured a large graphic in black proclaiming ‘B805’ and being anti-sticker I felt obliged to remove it. Cheap tyres don’t sit well on what is a ‘weighty girl’ but with the rear suspension set to take my bulk (I’m no tinker-belle either) the handling is precise and enjoyable. The front brakes are superb, early road tests from those much more proficient than I confirmed this and they have saved my blushes several times. Motorways are a chore, the B805 is much more at home on A-roads as Suzuki’s gearbox is happy to be worked and although too many revs create nothing but noise and vibration, the low down torque offers enough to escape from all but the fastest of four wheelers. The exhaust note has increased and improved over the years (it’s probably rusting out) and the seat is perfect for eight hours on the move. Part of the Target design included a lack of clocks, no speedo or rev counter just a small electronic box with instructions in German; most useful. It does though offer speed, revs, volts, water temp and milometer which reads 26,500 kilometres travelled; once a friend’s multi-lingual girlfriend explained all. In twelve years I have only replaced service items and tyres, the worst task involved replacing both air filters, one for each carb. The wiring to this unit and the ignition switch has been a pain since the early days, ultra-thin with poor connections, forcing several days with a multi-metre and some re-routing of the original spaghetti.
A Future Classic?
That depends on the market place and like anything else supply and demand is a factor. The prices of used B805’s did fall away over the first few years and the odd machines appeared at half their showroom sticker price but more recently they seem to have recovered slightly. Limited production numbers ensure I am never short of someone to talk to, the question ‘what the hell is that?’ occurs regularly and whilst the ‘look’ was often subject to derision a decade ago, it’s much more acceptable in 2017. With the bike market full of stealthy shapes and brutal designs, the old Sachs offers far more normality than it did at launch. So, should you desire a bike that doesn’t offer high performance, is comfortable, doesn’t go wrong, costs nothing to run, will introduce you to new people who all ask the same question and makes you the only person in town with a strange orange and chrome café cruiser, then this unicorn of motorcycles could be for you and it seems far more relevant today than it did in 2002. As middle age heads relentlessly towards retirement I wouldn’t trade this multi-brand curiosity, in fact I wouldn’t mind a second one. Current dealer offerings are all too hot for me, being too old for the vindaloo I am not ready for the Korma either; the Sachs B805 is different, more Paella for the pre-pensioner.
Sachs B805 Technical specifications
Engine; Suzuki two-cylinder four-stroke 45 ° V engine, liquid cooled, 805 cc bore: 83 mm, stroke: 74.4 mm, compression ratio 10: 1, power: 58 hp (42.5 kW) at 6000 rpm. Torque: 71 Nm at 4000 rpm, Overhead camshaft, chain driven, four valves per cylinder, 2 Mikuni 36 mm carbs. Digital transistor ignition (CDI), electric starter, secondary air system
Gearbox; Five-speed, primary drive via gears, multi-disc oil bath clutch, cardan/shaft drive
Frame; Double loop steel tube. Paioli upside-down (slide tube 40mm) forks. Bitubo adjustable rear shocks
Wheels; Spoke wheels Fr 3.50 X 17 Rr 4.50 X 18; Tires Fr 120/70 ZR 17 Rr 160/60 ZR 18
Brakes; Fr 2x Grimeca two piston calipers-disc brake diameter 320 mm. Rr drum brake diameter 180 mm
Dimensions; 2130/830/1070 mm
Wheelbase; 1475 mm. Seat height 770 mm
Tank capacity; 17 litres total