Yech! Did Trevitt pee in my drink again?
This is tough. Do I have to pick just one? All three of these bikes are so good that I'm running out of things to say about them. It seems like someone forgot to tell the Honda that it's the smallest bike here because it likes to scrap with the big boys whenever it can. I even went a hair quicker around the track on it than I did on the Suzuki. Speaking of the GSX-R, what's not to love about this bike? Sure it may be out of breath when the revs pick up, but it's nothing an exhaust, Power Commander and a few other upgrades can't take care of. With the ZX-10 just pick a gear, any gear, and twist your wrist. Chances are you won't need to shift again. For a lazy guy like me that's perfect. On the track the Green Machine was just a handful. I may have done my fastest time on it, but it didn't come easy. With that said my pick for Bike of the Year goes to the Suzuki GSX-R750. I may have ultimately gone slowest on it, but I felt fastest riding it. And unless you're racing, isn't that what really matters?
I feel bad for the Honda CBR600 in this test. As good as it is, and it is good, I think that in this company it always comes down to a 600 going against the power of the bigger bikes. That being said, it just happens that the Kawasaki ZX-10R and Suzuki GSX-R750 in this year's Bike of the Year test are amazing. In fact, I found it extremely difficult to decide which would be crowned the victor.
When it came right down to a decision, I chose the Kawasaki ZX-10R. It beat out the Suzuki GSX-R750 by just a tiny margin. I liked the Suzuki a little bit more at the track as its slipper clutch is smoother than the Kawasaki's and it turns a little quicker. However, the small advantage of the Suzuki on the track doesn't make up for the power and rideability of the Kawasaki on both street and track. The Kawasaki has amazing power and smooth delivery of that power to the pavement. On curvy roads I could keep it mostly in one gear and use the entire rev range to scoot along at a sporting pace. The brakes, suspension and chassis are also really great. The Kawasaki is my pick, but I was surprised at how close the test was.
Do not enter the Via Malcontenti
When the bikes are this evenly matched I find it doubly difficult to rank them because an order infers that one bike is worse than the others, and that is definitely not the case here. What makes the situation worse is that it wouldn't take much to move bikes from the bottom to the top: A set of BT-016s on the Honda would make a great combination down some of my favorite twisty roads, and a sprocket change on the Suzuki would work wonders at the track. The Kawasaki doesn't need anything but money for insurance and tires. Take all that into consideration and it would be easy to own any one of these bikes, but forced to pick one I would choose the GSX-R750 as it really is the best combination of power and agility. The chassis is just magic on the street and it has plenty of power without being overkill. It may be a bit slower at the track than the ZX-10R, but that is easily fixed and as a bonus I could ride more than a couple of sessions without wearing myself out like on the Kawasaki.
Dear Mr. Fantasy: Play us a tune. Something to make us all happy.
It was pretty easy to have some preconceived notions prior to the actual Bike of the Year testing. The Honda CBR would be nimble and light, the Kawasaki would be the monster powerhouse of the group, and the GSX-R750 would offer the best of both worlds-and thus give it the nod for BOTY. But a funny thing happened on the way to the completion of the test...
The GSX-R750 seems like the perfect companion. Nimble, sure-footed handling, better midrange power than the CBR-it really hit the mark with me during canyon testing. And those same qualities made you think you were turning record laps on the track as well. The Honda made you work just a little harder for that speed, and it was nearly as rewarding at both venues.
But the ZX-10R surprised me with how composed and confidence-inspiring a literbike can be while harnessing 161 rear wheel horsepower. Make no mistake, that much power becomes hard work hustling around a racetrack or down a canyon road. But the Kawasaki can be forgiving as well as demanding, and the reward at the end of the ride becomes that much sweeter as a result.