Buttonwillow Raceway Park
During our track day at Buttonwillow, we monitored each bike's performance by strapping our Racepak G2X data acquisition setup to the passenger seat for each of Kento's sessions-yes, that lets us monitor the Boss's performance as well to keep him honest. The GPS-based system records true ground speed and position, allowing the software to produce any combination of segment times and corner speeds. The numbers listed here can be compared with the same details in any of our comparison tests from earlier this year, as the segments are identical.
The CBR and GSX-R are a couple of tenths quicker in this test than during their respective comparison tests earlier this year, while the Kawasaki is 0.4 seconds slower. Conditions and tire selection were very different in the earlier tests and may be responsible for the discrepancies, but the ranking of the three bikes is similar when comparing these times to those previously recorded. It's easy to see with a glance at the chart that the ZX-10R opens up a commanding advantage in speed every time the track straightens out, but what's equally impressive is that the big Kawasaki-the heaviest bike here-more than holds its own when it comes to cornering speed. The Honda in general shows higher entry speeds than the other two bikes and in many cases stays with the Suzuki on corner exits, while the GSX-R trace shares characteristics with both bikes.
For our track day at Buttonwillow...
For our track day at Buttonwillow we fit each bike with a set of Bridgestone's impressive new BT-003 rubber, in Type 4 front (soft) and type 3 (medium) rear compounds. The tires held up well in scorching temperatures although the ZX-10R's 190-sized rear not unexpectedly lost grip toward the end of a long day. For more information check out our traction control shootout from earlier this year ("Red Rockets", Aug. '08) or visit www.motorcycle-karttires.com
Turn 2-3 segment time
Honda: 13.63 sec.
Kawasaki: 13.71 sec.
Suzuki: 13.84 sec.
An ultra-fast and bump-riddled right-left combination, these turns place a premium on stability and quick turning. The flyweight Honda leads the way here by virtue of its light weight and perfect gearing that has the engine spinning in the meaty part of its powerband. The Kawasaki shows a big increase in speed between the two corners but that speed-and more-must be scrubbed off for the ZX-10R to make the fast transition-overall the Kawasaki loses ground compared with the Honda. The Suzuki straddles the middle ground with some acceleration between the turns, but its tall gearing hurts it here especially, with the Honda almost as quick between the turns.
Turn 4 segment time and minimum speed
Honda: 6.30 sec., 60.0 mph
Kawasaki: 6.30 sec., 62.2 mph
Suzuki: 6.54 sec., 61.3 mph
Amazingly, the Kawasaki posts the highest apex speed for this blind right hander cresting Lost Hill, but the lithe Honda equals its time by-just as amazingly-carrying more speed out of fast turn three and up the hill. The Suzuki falls behind by almost a quarter-second here, its tall gearing hurting it up the hill as well as accelerating down the other side, and it's not until well down the hill and approaching turn 6 that the GSX-R builds more speed than the CBR.
Turn 6 entrance speed, segment time and exit speed
Honda: 83.8 mph, 10.41 sec., 76.8 mph
Kawasaki: 79.1 mph, 10.11 sec., 79.7 mph
Suzuki: 77.8 mph, 10.35 sec., 77.4 mph
Kento overshoots this long sweeping turn with way too much entry speed on the Honda, losing a tenth of a second compared with his second-quickest lap on the CBR and allowing the GSX-R to claw back some ground. The ZX-10R gains big here with a quarter-second advantage and a higher exit speed leading into the chicane compared with the Suzuki, while Kent salvages a decent exit on the CBR to limit the damage.
Chicane segment time and exit speed
Honda: 7.17 sec., 108.3 mph
Kawasaki: 7.18 sec., 107.9 mph
Suzuki: 7.19 sec., 109.9 mph
It's a wash through this section for segment times but each bike uses a completely different strategy to achieve that equality. The Kawasaki gains huge speed in the first section but Kent is hard on the brakes to make the second, quicker transition. The CBR doesn't gain enough speed to make the second part much of a turn, making this section easier and much less tiring on the Honda. Again the Suzuki splits the difference, gaining some speed but requiring some deceleration for the second part; the net result is a very similar segment time but the highest exit speed of the three bikes leading onto the final straight. In the meat of its powerband at the exit, the GSX-R keeps pace with the Kawasaki on the run to the final turn while the Honda loses significant ground.
Turn 8 segment time
Honda: 4.77 sec.
Kawasaki: 4.83 sec.
Suzuki: 4.96 sec.
The Honda charges into the final turn with more entry speed, combining that with a high apex speed for the quickest segment time in the last, 90-degree left-hand turn, while the Kawasaki makes up time on the exit. Kento brakes a bit early on the GSX-R and loses a bit of time, but recovers nicely to keep the Suzuki level with the ZX-10R for speed down the next short chute.