Ducati 1198 vs
Honda CBR1000R vs
Kawasaki ZX-10R vs
Suzuki GSX-R1000 vs
With a crop of literbikes as capable as the class of '09-boasting power and performance that has already generated a lot of hype and expectation-it's pretty easy to expect something dramatic or major that will make the difference and boost one above the pack.
After all, you've got Ducati's new 1198 that associate editor Siahaan sampled at Portugal's new Portimao circuit ("Bigger Red", March '09)-well, actually Siahaan rode the 1198S, with Öhlins suspension, lighter wheels, and DTC (Ducati Traction Control), but the same basic engine and chassis as the standard 1198-that easily sets performance standards the previous 1098 couldn't touch. Or Yamaha's new cross-plane crankshaft R1 that we tested last issue ("Cross Trainer", July '08), offering a supreme connection between the throttle and rear tire unlike any other. Or Suzuki's latest GSX-R1000, an all-new incarnation of the big Gixxer boasting more power, less weight, and sharper handling. Add the two returning models for '09, the Honda CBR1000RR and Kawasaki ZX-10R-whose superb performance needs no introduction-and you've surely got at least one standout aspect of speed that puts one of them over the top.
Per our usual modus operandi, we gathered these five literbikes together and ran them through the gamut of SR's testing regimen, with several days on the street, a day and a half at Buttonwilllow Raceway Park's West Loop circuit (with our Racepak G2X datalogging system), along with dragstrip/top speed runs at Honda Proving Center of California, and dyno testing on our own Superflow dynamometer. For our racetrack sessions, we fitted all the bikes with Michelin's new Power One DOT racing rubber (see sidebar page 50). Datalogging specialist and avid track day rider John Olsen joined usual SR guest testers Steve "Vegas to NY" Mikolas and Jim "Police Test" O'Connor to assist El Jefe and SR associate editor Troy "Trizzle" Siahaan with testing duties. As before, each rider rated each bike at each venue in 10 categories, resulting in a total of 50 scores for each bike at the track and another 50 for the street. The averages of those scores are listed with each bike in the following text, with the overall scores-averaging all 100 ratings on each bike from both track and street-listed in the SR Ratings chart at the conclusion of this story.