You wonder when it will ever end. Thankfully, it hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.
Ever since the debut of the Yamaha R1 back in 1998, the manufacturers have been engaged in a literbike arms race of unrivaled intensity. The game of annual one-upmanship has continued unabated, but the difference between this battle and other classes, such as 600s, is that literbike performance levels have literally blown through the stratosphere. Any of today's open-class machines-straight off the showroom floor-would've mopped up the racebike-prepped competition Superbikes of 10 years ago. We know we keep saying this every year, but it bears repeating: The outright performance of today's literbikes is simply astounding. There just isn't any other word to describe them.
The latest entrant in this war is Suzuki's '05 GSX-R1000. The '03 iteration blew the competition out of the water, but its reign lasted only one year before it fell from the top of the heap to fourth place in '04. Obviously smarting from that result, Suzuki's engineers once again dove into the big GSX-R for a complete upgrade. The details are covered in the tech sidebar (see page 40), but in a nutshell, Suzuki pursued the usual design brief: more power while still being usable, less weight, smaller size and sharper handling.
Needless to say, matching up the new GSX-R with the rest of the literbikes has been one of the most highly anticipated comparisons this year. Let's get on with it, then.
All but the new GSX-R are basically unchanged from last year, so their overall street characteristics are the same (see "Breakin' Out the Big Guns", June '04). For those who missed that issue, here's a quick overview of the three.
For taller riders, the Yamaha probably works the best ergo-wise. It has the most legroom by far in this quartet, and the seat is roomy enough for those long of inseam to stretch out a bit. The suspension spring rates are on the soft side compared to the others, which makes for the smoothest ride overall if you don't like changing suspension settings from canyon to street all the time. The mirrors are OK, and the engine is fairly smooth, but the downside is that first gear is tall, requiring clutch work to get off the line aggressively. The R1 also runs pretty hot, and will cook your legs medium rare on warm days.
|Test Notes Honda CBR1000RR|
Stable chassis with good feel
Smooth, broad power
Stable chassis with good feel
Smooth, broad power
|If you could term a "starter" literbike, this is it|
Other than a somewhat hard seat, many of our testers liked the Honda. Its ergos are the best compromise overall, with a fairly short reach to the nicely angled bars and decent legroom to the rearset pegs. The engine is easily the smoothest (it and the GSX-R run counterbalancers), and its low-end fueling is the best-sorted of the four bikes. On the other hand, the CBR also consistently returned the worst fuel mileage, which we originally thought was due to the dual-injector throttle bodies; however, the new GSX-R is equipped with dual injectors, and its fuel consumption wasn't out of the ordinary.
The Kawasaki turned out to be a favorite of many, with a well-balanced seat/peg/bar placement. The reach to the bars in particular is short, and the seat is probably the most comfortable of the four. Control feel is nice and crisp like the Honda, though some felt the bar angle was still a tad too wide. The spring rates on the Kawasaki are by far the stiffest of the bunch, which makes for a harsher ride than the others, even if you soften things up after a canyon jaunt. Although all but the Honda vibrate noticeably to some extent, the ZX-10R is the worst of the group. And we can't wait until Kawasaki ditches the circular LCD tachometer.
|Suggested Suspension Settings|
|FRONT: Preload: 9 turns out from full stiff. Rebound damping: 2 turns out from full stiff. Compression damping: 2 turns out from full stiff. Ride height: Set fork tubes flush with triple clamp.|
|REAR: Preload: Position 4 from full soft. Rebound damping: 2.5 turns out from full stiff. Compression damping: 8 clicks out from full stiff.|
The GSX-R has obviously undergone some major changes, and those modifications to shrink the overall package have altered the ergos significantly from last year. The seating position is more compact, with less legroom than before (which will spell cramping for taller riders), despite the reach to the bars being much shorter. Still, the basic ergos are nicely laid out (some felt the pegs were a bit too far forward), with most of our testers stating that the Suzuki simply "felt the most comfortable" to ride. Mirrors, however, are a step backward; due to the integration of the turn signals into the mirrors, the stalks are not adjustable, only the mirror itself within the housing. This restricts adjustment, meaning your elbows fill more of the view than before no matter what you do.
It should also be noted that the low-end fueling characteristics of the new GSX-R are definitely fluffy; off-idle response is murky, with a distinct burble right when you crack open the throttle that quickly gains rpm once the quick-revving engine clears its throat. This can make maneuvering in tight spaces an exercise in contortion skills and clutch/throttle control, as the bars come very close to the tank at full lock, and the poor off-idle response means deft manipulation of the clutch and throttle are a must for any smooth movements. Interestingly, this fluffy low-end throttle response didn't seem to hurt the Suzuki's top-gear roll-ons (it basically stomped on the others, even the Kawasaki), despite sounding a bit off-song at low rpm.
It was pretty obvious during our canyon testing that subjective opinions would play a major role in how each tester ranked the bikes. There simply is no way to get anywhere near the edge of the performance envelope of these literbikes on public roads; at speeds that would have smaller machines wrung out, these four open-classers basically loaf along, wondering when you'll start to give them the whip.
|Test Notes Yamaha YZF-R1|
|Strong, quick-revving engine|
Agile, narrow chassis
Best brakes in a superb class
|Slightly soft spring rates|
Radiates a lot of engine heat
Needs a bit more midrange
|A bit more torque and stiffer springs and the outcome might be different|
It was a bit surprising to find some of our testers ranked the Yamaha at the back end of the group in the canyons. Although nearly everyone enjoyed the R1's superb chassis feel during hard cornering, as well as its excellent brakes (the best in this test, and all the bikes in this comparo have outstanding brakes) and fairly supple suspension action, a few were put off by the engine's need for more rpm to get the same thrust as the others, especially when approaching the flat spot in the powerband at 7500 rpm. Get caught anywhere near that spot on the tach when the throttles are opened and the Yamaha definitely loses ground to the others.
The R1's top-heavy powerband also contributes to a bit of flightiness with the front end under acceleration once the powerful five-valve mill starts to spool up. Although the Yamaha is equipped with a steering damper, its "speed sensitive" bypass valve allows a brief wag of the bars before it quells the disturbance. We'd prefer a little more damping, as that quick tank-slapper is too unnerving to ignore during spirited riding.
|Suggested Suspension Settings|
|FRONT: Preload: 4 lines showing. Rebound damping: 11 clicks out from full stiff. Compression damping: 12 clicks out from full stiff. Ride height: Set fork tubes flush with triple clamp.|
|REAR: Preload: Position 7 from full soft. Rebound damping: 26 clicks out from full stiff. Compression damping: 9 clicks out from full stiff.|
There's no getting past the Honda's excess heft in comparison to the others. Even though it's only about 20 pounds heavier, it feels like much more when you're really flinging the bike through tight switchbacks or braking hard from high speeds for a slow second-gear corner. And yet some of our testers were willing to overlook that fault because the CBR's rock-solid chassis and well-chosen damping/spring rates instill enough confidence in corners to fully utilize the engine. Like its 600cc sibling, the big CBR's user-friendly nature quickly endears itself to all who ride it.
The Honda's comparatively soft power delivery helps in that regard. One reason testers found they were able to use more of the CBR's power is because its slower-revving character requires using more throttle (and often more rpm) to get the same drives off corners as the others. This muted response, coupled with the Honda's comparatively long wheelbase (55.6 inches, the longest of the literbikes), means you're not constantly fighting unwanted wheelies while accelerating out of a bend. When you have a powerplant with an immense spread of responsive power available any time at literally any rpm, you have a nice advantage. Stuff that engine into an agile yet stable chassis and you have a big advantage. The ZX-10R almost doesn't care where you are in the powerband; all you have to do is twist the throttle and you seemingly get the same amount of acceleration whether torquing through the midrange or screaming toward top-end.
The new GSX-R's 998.6cc mill is very close in overall power spread to the Kawasaki, with more on top to boot. Its only disadvantage is that fluffy throttle response below 5000 rpm, but anywhere above that the Suzuki can match the mighty ZX-10R stride-for-stride. The Kawasaki just seems to have a slightly crisper connection between the throttle and the rear tire (we should note here that the Dunlop D218s on the ZX-10R and Yamaha R1 showed much more wear than the Bridgestone BT014-equipped GSX-R and CBR); its throttle response is a tad more immediate, yet without the Suzuki's quick-revving tendency that requires an even more deft throttle hand to keep the bike reigned in through tighter sections.
|Test Notes Kawasaki ZX-10R|
|Monster motor, anytime, anywhere|
Still the class lightweight
Agile chassis, good brakes
|Overly stiff spring and damping rates|
Please ditch the LCD tach
Requires muscle to steer at speed
|Probably the best engine for the street rider|
The GSX-R definitely has the upper hand in the chassis department, however. It steers quicker and easier than the Kawasaki, and the bike just has a more compact feel than the 10R. While the brakes are a fairly even match, the Suzuki's suspension rates are more palatable with average-weight riders at the speeds you would normally see on public pavement; the Kawasaki's spring rates are very stiff, translating into a harsher ride over rough pavement that compromises stability and traction. It was an extremely close call, but all our testers eventually put the Suzuki at the top of their lists.
After replacing the stock tires with Pirelli's newest DOT race tire-the Supercorsa Pro (see sidebar page 42)-we headed out to Buttonwillow Raceway in Central California to let these literbikes cut loose in an environment more suited to their capabilities. As with the 600 comparison last issue, we were surprised at just how close these bikes are in overall performance, despite their distinctly different characteristics. This was graphically demonstrated by how tightly grouped the top three bikes were, with the lap times covered by 0.3 seconds!
|Suggested Suspension Settings|
|FRONT: Preload: 5 lines showing.Rebound damping: 4 clicks out from full stiff.Compression damping: 7 clicks out from full stiff. Ride height: Set fork tubes flush with triple clamp.|
|REAR: Preload: 14mm thread showing.Rebound damping: 1.5 turns out from full stiff. Compression damping: 3.5 turns out from full stiff.|
It was in this more open setting that the Honda's disadvantages were simply too glaring to overcome. The biggest problem was the CBR's excessive heft seriously working against it under braking, with the brakes quickly overheating after several laps and the lever turning to mush. Bleeding the system failed to cure the problem. The Honda also proved to be a handful flicking from side to side at speed, requiring a lot of physical effort to pull the bike up from full lean. And despite the high corner speeds afforded by the chassis and suspension, the sluggish-revving engine simply lacks the top-end acceleration of the other literbikes. Nonetheless, the CBR recorded a very respectable 1:09.31 lap time.
The wide-open surroundings of the racetrack suit the Yamaha's character far more than the confines of street pavement. Finally allowed to stretch its legs, the R1's top-heavy powerband was much easier to access, making use of the quick-revving engine and close-ratio gearbox to gobble up pavement in huge chunks. Scrubbing off that intense velocity is easily dealt with, as the monoblock/radial-mount brakes provide fantastic power and feedback. The Yamaha's precise, nimble chassis permits you to place the bike anywhere in a corner with a confidence-inspiring feel when leaned over. That agility was a slight liability accelerating hard out of bumpy corners, however; the same front-end flightiness we experienced in the canyons tended to upset the chassis, and trying to adjust the suspension to get more weight on the front only worked so far before it began adversely affecting cornering manners.
Much of this can be attributed to the R1's somewhat soft spring and damping rates. We had to crank in quite a bit of rear preload and compression damping before we were able to keep squat during hard acceleration under control, and the shock still had too much rebound damping on its lightest setting. Still, these are problems only aggressive track day riders or racers will encounter; the average riding population will be perfectly happy with the stock setup, which was good enough to card a 1:08.36 lap time.
As we've stated before, there's no way to overlook the ZX-10R's monster engine. With a prodigious power output on tap literally anytime, anywhere, the Kawasaki is almost as user-friendly as the Honda-but on a much higher level. Throttle response is crisp yet measured, allowing you to dial in the exact amount of acceleration desired without feeling like the velocity will get out of control as the bike wails toward the top-end. Of course, pinning the throttle for any period of time results in warp speed that will get your attention, but thankfully the 10R's brakes are easily up to the task, offering up excellent power, progressiveness and feel.
|Test Notes Suzuki GSX-R1000|
|Absolutely unbelievable engine|
Superbly agile yet stable chassis
Compact feel, excellent suspension/brakes
|Low-rpm fueling a bit fluffy|
Less legroom than before
Mirrors worse than before
|Just watch the race results|
The Kawasaki's chassis is nearly as nimble as the R1's, allowing precise corner placement, but the ZX-10R required quite a bit of muscle to pick up the bike from full lean and flick through switchbacks at speed. We feel the bar angle may be responsible for part of this, as a slightly more pulled-back style would help gain leverage in these situations. The big Kawi's suspension was also rather stiff, which, while controlling weight transfer under acceleration/braking well, also fed big bumps back into the chassis; spring rates and high-speed compression damping were a bit too firm for our tastes. Those minor gripes didn't prevent the ZX-10R from scorching to a 1:08.25 lap time, however.
Which leaves the new GSX-R. By retaining nearly the same bore/stroke configuration (the bore was enlarged only by 0.4mm), Suzuki engineers have succeeded in producing a much more powerful engine that keeps the previous version's excellent torque characteristics. The new GSX-R has all the midrange stomp of the Kawasaki (even if the fueling doesn't feel as crisp), but with a stronger top-end charge that just keeps pulling all the way to redline. While the ZX-10R may come off the corner just as well, the Suzuki continues to pull inexorably down the straight, whereas the Kawasaki's acceleration tends to taper off somewhat on top. Even the GSX-R's partial-throttle acceleration is astounding.
|Suggested Suspension Settings|
|FRONT: Preload: 4 lines showing. Rebound damping: 1 click out from full stiff. Compression damping: 13 clicks out from full stiff. Ride height: 8mm fork tube showing above triple clamp|
|REAR: Preload: 14mm thread showing. Rebound damping: 8 clicks out from full stiff. Compression damping: 13 clicks out from full stiff.|
Sweetening the deal is a chassis offering a compact, agile yet planted feel whether charging through a corner or hurtling down a straight. The new GSX-R can scythe through bends like the Yamaha, but with none of the front-end jitters; its front-end feedback is superb, promoting higher corner speeds to accompany the added straight-line speed. The Suzuki's radial-mount brakes-while not quite possessing the R1's impressive feel-are easily a match with regards to power and progressiveness. Suspension rates and overall action are excellent, with the Suzuki handling Buttonwillow's bumpy sections much better than the others, translating into higher overall speeds everywhere on the track. And it showed, with the GSX-R posting a 1:07.98 lap time. All our testers agreed the new Suzuki would be their choice for track-day sojourns or racing.
It's pretty obvious that today's latest generation of literbikes offers a performance envelope whose outer reaches are unattainable by the vast majority of riders. Yet in all the areas below that top 10 percent of performance, each of these bikes provide a solid platform that anyone would be happy with. We know it's an overused clich these days, but it actually rings true: You simply can't go wrong with any of these literbikes.
But we're not here to dither around praising all of them as a group, are we? There has to be a winner. And when all the data was tallied up, there simply was no denying the Suzuki GSX-R's incredible abilities when the pace seriously heats up. In an era where the performance bar continues to be raised, Suzuki has basically reared back and booted it out of the stadium.
Yes, the styling of the new...
Yes, the styling of the new GSX-R's exhaust canister has its detractors, but there's no denying that it's light, flows well, stays off the deck and keeps noise levels in check.
Thankfully, the manufacturers...
Thankfully, the manufacturers are also designing components with an eye toward easier maintenance, like this captured rear brake-caliper bracket on the Suzuki.
Continuing the trend of recent GSX-R developments, the '05 1000 incorporates many of the updates introduced last year on the 600 and 750, as well as changes specific to the new model. While the engine architecture is essentially unchanged from even the original '01 GSX-R1000, detail updates are many. Displacement grows from 988cc to 999cc courtesy of lighter 0.4mm larger pistons with shorter, narrower skirts. A new oil-control ring has the chrome-nitride plating debuted on the '04 GSX-R600 that allows the ring to be lighter but still seal as well as a conventional chrome-plated ring. Elsewhere in the cylinder head, the intake ports are larger and, like the 600 and 750, the 1000 now has titanium valves. Flat valve faces contribute to a slightly increased compression ratio, up from 12.0:1 to 12.5:1, and the intake valves grow 1mm in diameter to 30mm. The valves are lighter despite 0.5mm thicker stems, and the lighter valvetrain and heavier valve-spring loading contribute to a 1000-rpm-higher rev ceiling-redline is now 13,500 rpm. A larger, trapezoid-shaped radiator accommodates the increased engine output.
In the bottom end, the crankcase ventilation holes that originally appeared in the K3 1000 have grown in diameter to 39mm, the balancer shaft has been recalibrated and the crankshaft and connecting rods have been beefed up to deal with the increased horsepower. The transmission ratios have been tightened up, with a taller first gear and shorter third through sixth gears; primary and final ratios are unchanged.
The 1000 sprouts a back-torque limiting clutch, which operates via a ramped cam and lifter pins. Engagement is now via a rack-and-pinion arrangement, which is claimed to provide more positive feel. The pins on the transmission's shift forks (that engage the shift drum) have also been reshaped along the lines of the '04 600's and 750's for better feel.
The new frame is 6mm shorter from the steering head to the swingarm pivot, and the cast steering-head section extends farther down the side beams. What's left of the extruded portions have just a single reinforcing rib as opposed to two, and the frame itself is almost three pounds lighter than the '04 model's. Similarly, the swingarm's front section is now cast as one piece (with a smaller-diameter pivot) as opposed to a mix of castings and extrusions, and gone is the extruded/cast subframe, replaced by a new unit constructed of two bolted-together sides. Rake and trail have been relaxed slightly; interestingly enough, the new geometry numbers are almost identical to those of the original '01 model's. A new shock linkage is "more appropriate for racing use," with the shock altered to match. Racers will also appreciate the return of the removable rear subframe similar to the original SRAD 600's and 750's setup.
The highlight of the engine's induction side is the addition of secondary injectors to the standard (but 2mm larger) SDTV setup. Just as the primary injectors point at the primary butterfly valve to aid in atomization, the additional injectors are aimed at the secondary valve and operate only under heavy engine load. Like the 600 and 750, the 1000's outer pairs of throttle bodies are spaced 5mm closer together, which allows the airbox and fuel tank to be slimmer.
Suzuki engineers have shaved...
Suzuki engineers have shaved weight from many individual components, including the ECU, battery, generator, fuel tank, footrests, cylinder-head bolts and cam cover bolts.
New wheels (right photo) are...
New wheels (right photo) are lighter and shod with Bridgestone BT014 tires.
The front discs grow 10mm in diameter to 310mm, and the two-pad calipers' pistons are larger at 30mm/34mm vs. the previous 27mm/32mm. The master cylinder is now a radial-piston style. The front fork may look identical to the '04 GSX-R's, but the diamond like coating (DLC) has been refined and is even more slippery than previously. Inside, other parts are modified to further reduce friction.
A new instrument panel features an LCD gear indicator, reserve tripmeter and 1000-rpm-higher redline. The shift light can now be adjusted in finer increments in the upper rev range
Pirelli Supercorsa Pro
Even more new DOT race tires
PROVIDING THE TRACTION needed for our literbike shootout at Buttonwillow Raceway were Pirelli's new Supercorsa Pro tires, an evolution of the company's Supercorsa DOT race bun. Pirelli has incorporated many changes developed from last year's World Superbike championship series (Pirelli is the official tire supplier) into the Supercorsa Pro, including construction, compound and profile updates.
One major departure for the Supercorsa Pro is the front tire, which retains the Supercorsa's zero-degree steel belt but has a significantly taller and sharper profile to promote quicker turn-in. On the 180/55 rear tire, the tread pattern has been adjusted for more even wear and is said to offer improved stability. And across the range of applications, the tread compounds have been reformulated and an SC0 compound added to the previous SC1-SC3 offerings (though we're not sure what it will be called, as the SC1 was referred to as supersoft).
For our track day, Pirelli supplied 120/70 fronts in the SC1 compound and 190/55 rears in the SC2 compound, a typical combination we've used many times with the Supercorsas for track days and races. The Pros offered better traction overall compared to the standard Supercorsas, with improved grip at severe lean angles. And even subjected to the brutal horsepower levels of the literbikes, the tires retained good grip over the course of the day, with Kento setting his fastest time on the GSX-R late in the afternoon.
The Supercorsa Pros seem to have a softer sidewall, which pays off with better midcorner bump absorption, but the trade-off here is movement under high cornering loads; in Buttonwillow's fast sweepers all four bikes squirmed around to some extent, some uncomfortably so. The taller front tire definitely speeds up steering compared to the standard Supercorsa, yet it provides good stability under braking and excellent trailbraking characteristics.
The new tires are available in 110/70 and 120/70 front and 150/60, 160/60, 180/55 and 190/55 rear sizes.-Andrew Trevitt
It's interesting to note in the thrust graph (above right) that once past first gear (the first set of lines on the top left), the Suzuki (yellow lines) pretty much towers over the others as speed increases. Even more interesting is the amount of overlap between gears on the Kawasaki (green lines) and Suzuki; the ZX-10R's thrust lines are the smoothest, with a fair amount of overlap, but in the higher gears the Suzuki's overlap is even more. That means you can shift early or late and still have almost the same thrust available.
The R1's midrange dip is easily apparent, but it quickly picks up as speed increases, nearly matching the Suzuki up top. However, the Yamaha's thrust drops off dramatically at the end, meeting the next gear quite early and steeply. That signifies you must shift the Yamaha precisely to maintain maximum acceleration.
A notable thought is that even though the Suzuki has the longest stroke, it has a redline nearly as high as the R1's (which has the shortest stroke). This allows it to have the midrange torque of a long-stroke engine with the strong top-end of a motor like the Yamaha's. The GSX-R's titanium valves surely help its high-rpm capability.
|Performance Numbers |
| ||Corrected Quarter-Mile ||Top-Gear Roll-on, 60-80 mph ||Top-Gear Roll-on, 80-100 mph |
|Honda CBR1000RR ||9.95 sec. @ 144.1 mph ||2.94 sec. ||2.84 sec. |
|Kawasaki ZX-10R ||9.78 sec. @ 148.5 mph ||2.65 sec. ||2.58 sec. |
|Suzuki GSX-R1000 ||9.79 sec. @ 148.4 mph ||2.46 sec. ||2.48 sec. |
|Yamaha YZF-R1 ||9.92 sec. @ 147.3 mph ||2.65 sec. ||2.95 sec. |
|SR RATINGS||HONDA CBR1000RR||KAWASAKI ZX-10R||SUZUKI GSX-R1000||YAMAHA YZF-R1|
|Engine power delivery||8.5||10.0||10.0||9.0|
|Chassis & handling||9.0||9.0||9.5||9.0|
|Instruments & controls||9.0||8.5||9.0||9.0|
|Fun to ride||9.0||10.0||10.0||9.5|
| || || || |
|Type ||Liquid-cooled, transverse, 4-stroke four ||Liquid-cooled, transverse, 4-stroke four ||Liquid-cooled, transverse, 4-stroke four||Liquid-cooled, transverse, 4-stroke four |
|Displacement||998cc ||998cc ||999cc ||998cc |
|Bore x stroke ||75.0 x 56.5mm ||76.0 x 55.0mm ||73.4 x 59.0mm ||77.0 x 53.6mm |
|Induction ||PGM-Dual stage EFI, 44mm throttle bodies ||EFI, 43mm throttle bodies ||SDTV EFI, 44mm throttle bodies ||EFI, 45mm throttle bodies |
|Front suspension ||43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel ||43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel ||43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel ||43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel |
|Rear suspension ||Single shock absorber, 5.3 in. travel ||Single shock absorber, 5.3 in. travel ||Single shock absorber, 5.1 in. travel ||Single shock absorber, 5.1 in. travel |
|Front tire ||120/70-ZR17 Bridgestone BT-014F G ||120/70-ZR17 Dunlop D218F J ||120/70-ZR17 Bridgestone BT014F ||120/70-ZR17 Dunlop D218F L |
|Rear tire ||190/50-ZR17 Bridgestone BT-014R G ||190/50-ZR17 Dunlop D218 J ||190/50-ZR17 Bridgestone BT014R ||190/50-ZR17 Dunlop D218L |
|Rake/trail ||23.75 deg./4.0 in. (102mm) ||24.0 deg./4.0 in. (102mm) ||23.8 deg./3.8 in. (96mm) ||24.0 deg./3.8 in. (97mm) |
|Wheelbase ||55.6 in. (1412mm) ||54.5 in. (1385mm) ||55.3 in. (1405mm) ||54.9 in. (1395mm) |
|Weight ||466 lbs. (211kg) wet; 437 lbs. (198kg) dry ||436 lbs. (198kg) wet; 409 lbs. (186kg) dry ||443 lbs. (201kg) wet; 414 lbs. (188kg) dry ||450 lbs. (204kg) wet; 421 lbs. (191kg) dry |
|Fuel consumption ||31 to 34 mpg, 32 mpg average ||33 to 51 mpg, 39 mpg average || 35 to 39 mpg, 37 mpg average||35 to 37 mpg, 36 mpg average |
Steve Mikolas, Guest Tester
The Big Four are still going at it toe-to-toe. The strongest quality of the current-generation CBR is its rock-solid stability at speed, but its heft requires the most muscle during quick transitions, and that just doesn't cut it in this group.
The Yamaha, as always, is a wonderfully styled machine and the suspension is close to dead-on perfect, but the R1's power delivery and iffy front-end feedback separated it from the others. It just didn't have the grunt that defines this class.
The Kawasaki is still the muscle bike amongst its peers, just as it was back in the day. Strong all-round, the ZX finishes as a close runner-up. The 10R also gets bonus points for style; check that new matte finish paint job...very nice!
The Suzuki GSX-R strikes the best balance between power and chassis. Its performance is at or near the top in all categories. The nimble and responsive Gixxer takes it to another level. These bikes are all practically race-ready. What's next...wings?
Marc Cook, Guest Tester
It's hard to appreciate how much smaller and lighter the GSX-R feels compared to the rest of the liter class. Even the svelte Yamaha feels chunkier. I'd bet that if you hopped off a GSX-R750 and onto the new 1000, the 750 wouldn't feel any smaller. What Suzuki has done here is impressive-especially taken in the context of more power, better suspension, and easily the lightest, handling among these four. Well done.
I never managed to try the Suzuki right after the Honda, but I bet the comparison would be amazing. The Honda just feels big-long and chunky. And yet I still find reasons to like the CBR. Its suspension is superb; in my view the best of those here. It steers with both precision and reassurance. You always-always-trust it. And, in a perverse way, its extra heft and comparatively slow-revving engine make it feel more accessible on the street. The Honda was the only bike on which I regularly used full throttle and maximum revs. I suppose there's something to be said for that.
Andrew Trevitt, Senior Editor
I spent some track time on the Suzuki at its press introduction before we had a bike here at the office. My notes from the GSX-R's press launch pretty much sum things up: After the second session, I opened my pad, sat looking at a blank sheet for about 10 minutes, and wrote "There's really nothing wrong with this bike."
Last year, the Kawasaki was my favorite because it was so much fun, so powerful, and worked so well, even though it had-and still has-a few rough edges. The Suzuki has every bit as much power as the ZX-10R, handles lighter and crisper, and is more nicely finished. My objective self knows it's the better bike.
That's what I keep telling myself, but I also find that I enjoy riding the Kawasaki just as much as the Suzuki. Perhaps it's the rawness of the ZX-10R's power. Maybe it's the styling. It could be that riding it is like trying to tame something wild. But most likely, that's what I have to tell myself because there's no chance of me riding the GSX-R again now that the test is done and Kent has the key.