Saturday, 14 January 2012
bikes...Superbikes Superbikes are the pinnacle of high-performance sportbike motorcycles. Superbikes are often referred to as literbikes, or liter-class sportbikes, referring to their large-displacement 1000cc and higher engines. The apogee of production roadracing, most manufacturers deliver full-factory support of their flagship superbikes in the world’s roadracing series – the most notable being the Superbike World Championship (SBK) and various national level series like American Superbike and British Superbike. The Big Four Japanese OEMs have long dominated the Superbike class, with Inline-Fours like the Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki ZX-10R, Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Yamaha R1. Ducati superbikes, like the 999, 1098 and current 1198, hold their own with the Big Four thanks to the torquey Twin powerplant and its current 200cc handicap. Past Japanese models have also embraced the Twin, most notable modern superbike being the Honda RC-51. Other European superbike models include European Twins like the Aprilia RSV1000RR and KTM’s first production superbike – the KTM RC8. Aprilia also produces a four-cylinder superbike with its V-Four-powered RSV4. Another European four-cylinder is the BMW S1000RR, and Inline-Four and the first true superbike racer produced by the Bavarian marque. The American-made Buell 1125R is the first liquid-cooled Buell and features a Rotax Twin powerplant. Defined by racing success, the win on Sunday sell on Monday philosophy is at definitely at work in the superbike class. As such, superbikes are often a showcase for developing motorcycle technology and racers often drive off-track marketing and brand ID. Just look at Mat Mladin's decade-long domination of AMA Superbike aboard the Suzuki GSX-R1000, Troy Bayliss's three titles with Ducati Superbikes, or the incomparable Valentino Rossi, whose MotoGP star power is used to hawk the Yamaha R1. Motorcycle USA gathers the superbike class together annually to test on street and track. The result is our most popular test of the year, the Superbike Smackdown. Stay tuned for Smackdown VI, as the best keep getting better in the high-performance superbike class. Superbike Smackdowns 2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII Street Friday, May 06, 2011 Motorcycle USA rides the latest 2011 liter-class sportbikes on the street in our annual Superbike Smackdown VIII sportbike shootout. Find out what motorcycle gets crowned champ this year. 2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII Track Monday, April 11, 2011 Another year, another crop of brand-new liter-class sportbikes and MotorcycleUSA puts these motorcycles to the test in the Superbike Smackdown VIII Track shootout. 2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Street Monday, May 17, 2010 Motorcycle USA puts the latest 2010 Superbikes to the test in our annual Superbike Smackdown VII motorcycle shootout. 2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Track Friday, May 07, 2010 MotoUSA takes the latest liter-bikes and put's them to the test in our annual big-bore shootout. Welcome to the 2010 Superbike Smackdown VII! 2009 World Superbike Comparison Monday, November 30, 2009 MotoUSA goes to Portugal following the final round of the World Superbike Championship to ride all seven factory WSBK machines and bring you the ultimate Superbike comparison! 2009 Superbike Smackdown VI Track Monday, May 18, 2009 Motorcycle-USA takes the latest liter-bikes and put's them to the test in our annual big-bore shootout. Welcome to the 2009 Superbike Smackdown VI. 2009 Superbike Smackdown VI Street Monday, May 11, 2009 Motorcycle USA tests five production superbikes to see what literbike comes out on top in the competitve world of liter-class sportbikes. See the street ride results in the 2009 Superbike Smackdown VI Street comparison. 2008 Superbike Smackdown V Monday, March 31, 2008 Five motorcycles of the highest performance, we get the best from Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Ducati for a little Smackdown. 2007 Superbike Smackdown IV Monday, May 07, 2007 The Big Four's latest batch of literbikes - CBR1000RR, ZX-10R, GSX-R1000, and R1, we'll put them through the motions on the track and street. 2006 Superbike Smackdown III Monday, April 03, 2006 We assemble the gnarliest wheelie-popping class of sportbikes for a big-bore brawl to see if the mighty Gixxer Thou can be knocked off its high perch. 2005 Superbike Smackdown II Street Monday, May 16, 2005 There's more power on tap in any of these 400-pound bikes than you'll find in a 3200-pound base-model Honda Accord. Hang on tight! 2005 Superbike Smackdown II Track Monday, May 16, 2005 We open up a can of whup-ass at PIR for the second portion of our Superbike Smackdown II. 2004 Superbike Smackdown Saturday, March 27, 2004 Better than you and not afraid to show it, these bikes epitomize the high-performance motorcycle. Oh yeah, and they're freakadillishly f-f-fast! 2004 Superbike Smackdown Track Wednesday, May 19, 2004 We already told ya which literbike was best on the street. iIt's track time, wound out to the max by former AMA champ Steve Crevier. Superbike Smackdown Results 2011 - BMW S1000RR 2010 - BMW S1000RR 2009 - Honda CBR1000RR 2008 - Honda CBR1000RR 2007 - Suzuki GSX-R1000 2006 - Suzuki GSX-R1000 2005 - Suzuki GSX-R1000 2004 - Kawasaki ZX-10R World Superbike Champions 2011 - Carlos Checa - Ducati 1098R 2010 - Max Biaggi - Aprillia RSV4 2009 - Ben Spies - Yamaha YZF-R1 2008 - Troy Bayliss - Ducati 1098R 2007 - James Toseland - Honda CBR1000RR 2006 - Troy Bayliss - Ducati 999R 2005 - Troy Corser - Suzuki GSXR1000 2004 - James Toseland - Ducati 999R 2003 - Neil Hodgson - Ducati 999R 2002 - Colin Edwards - Honda VTR 1000 2001 - Troy Bayliss - Ducati 996R AMA Superbike Champions 2011 - Josh Hayes - Yamaha YZF-R1 2010 - Josh Hayes - Yamaha YZF-R1 2009 - Mat Mladin - Suzuki GSX-R1000 2008 - Ben Spies - Suzuki GSX-R1000 2007 - Ben Spies - Suzuki GSX-R1000 2006 - Ben Spies - Suzuki GSX-R1000 2005 - Mat Mladin - Suzuki GSX-R1000 2004 - Mat Mladin - Suzuki GSX-R1000 2003 - Mat Mladin - Suzuki GSX-R1000 2002 - Nicky Hayden - Honda RC51 2001 - Mat Mladin - Suzuki GSX-R750
Friday, 13 January 2012
Since 2004, Motorcycle USA has corralled each brand’s machine and pitted it head-to-head against its class rivals. We determine where the latest crop of Superbikes rank at the track, where sportbikes are truly meant to be ridden, as well as the street, for those who wish to enjoy the fruits of closed circuit development on the way to work. As we’ve done in the past, we divide out 2011 Superbike comparison into separate track and street reviews so everything you need to know about these bikes on the street will follow this test in a couple weeks. Right now, its all about the track.
Seven motorcycle manufactures stepped up to the plate this year including BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha. Unfortunately, Aprilia opted out, since it didn’t have ’11 RSV4 machinery available. MV Agusta, as usual, also chose not to compete.
BMW’s spectacular S1000RR returns as the reigning champ after wowing us last year with the borderline psychotic performance from its Inline-Four engine, adaptive electronics and well-engineered chassis. The big Beemer was our pick for2010 Motorcycle of the Year and that, along with the results of last year's Smackdown makes it the benchmark. Aside from colors, price ($16,630 as tested) and an updated crankshaft engineered to meet World Superbike homologation, it’s identical to the ’10 model.
Though it’s been four-plus years since last major overhaul (a lifetime in the sportbike world), Honda’s CBR1000RR is a more than capable adversary having collected consecutive Superbike Smackdown wins in ’08 and ’09. Like the S1000RR, the CBR is virtually unchanged except for graphics and annual bump in price ($13,399 for the non-ABS version).
In the 2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Track shootout, Ducati had a fantastic platform with the up-spec 1198S Corse Special Edition Superbike. This L-Twin-powered machine mesmerized us with its superb trellis-frame and Ohlins-equipped chassis and torque-rich powerband. This time around, we’re testing the base model which 1198 which for 2011, features standard traction control as well as a quick-shifter for $16,495.
Despite Suzuki competing with a three-year old machine due to the company choosing not to import any 2010-model sportbikes into the U.S. last year because of an unfavorable economic balance sheet, the GSX-R1000 performed well. If nothing else, the GSX-R1000 showed us why it has won more Superbike Smackdown shootouts than any other model. For 2011 it wears new colors at an MSRP of $13,599.
Perhaps the most anticipated machine in this contest is Kawasaki’s new from the wheels up ZX-10R ($13,799 non-ABS version) as tested in the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R First Ride. In a time where redesign cycles are getting longer, Kawi is swinging for the fences in hope of taking the crown and creating aplatform for a successful World Superbike effort. The pieces are all in place and the new Ninja looks great on paper. But does it have what it takes to beat the BMW?
Although KTM’s Twin-powered RC8 has been around for a few years the Austrians continue to make subtle refinements each year in hopes of perfecting the formula. So far it seems to be working as we came away impressed with the updated and much less expensive RC8R ($16,499) during the 2011 KTM RC8R First Ride. Could this finally be KTM’s year to become the top Twin?
Last but not least is Yamaha and its crossplane-equipped YZF-R1. Similar to the GSX-R, the R1 is now in its third year since a major overhaul in ‘09 and hasn’t seen any updates aside from colors and the annual increase in price ($13,590). Although it’s had considerable success in the form of World Superbike title and AMA Superbike titles the R1 has always struggled in our tests. Will Yamaha prove its might in stock trim and turn things around this time? Climb on and lets see how it all shakes down.
Having utilized northern California’s fabulous Thunderhill Raceway for the last two years we wanted to shake things up so we headed to Southern California’s newest road course,Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. As opposed to other circuits Chuckwalla is all about cornering and momentum. Here you won’t find any long straight-aways or funky chicanes. Just a near constant mix of flowing mixed speed corners that maximize time spent on the edge of the tires. And a big shake-up in the running order is just what we got!
Speaking of tires, while the standard street rubber nowadays is better than ever, we needed to push these bikes near the limit of outright performance. So to reduce the likelihood of shiny plastic sliding against tarmac, Michelin stepped in as the Official Tire of Superbike Smackdown VIII Track with its latest Michelin Power One DOT-labeled treaded race tire as tested in the Michelin Power One Race Tire Review. Introduced in ’09 and updated continually, the Power One’s feature a multi-compound design that allowed us to achieve consistent footpeg grinding lean angle.
Flying around the track at the helm of motorcycles that pump out upwards of 150 horsepower to the back tire is no walk in the park. Accordingly, a high-caliber test crew was assembled highlighted by veteran AMA racer Steve Rapp. Having ridden everything from the full-on, real deal AMA Superbikes of the past to Harley-Davidsons in the newly formed Vance & Hines XR1200 Series, Rapp’s experience is invaluable. Also lending a throttle hand were AFM racers Michael Earnest, Corey Neuer, Chris Siglin, as well as do-it-all test rider Frankie Garcia and Contributing Editor Steve Atlas. Lastly, boss-man Ken Hutchison, and I represented the in-house MotoUSA crew. Welcome to the eighth annual 2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII Track shootout!