||BMW S 1000 RR
||$13,950 (16,630 as tested with Race ABS, DTC, Gear Shift Assistant and Motorsports Paint Scheme)
||Liquid-cooled, transverse DOHC inline four
||Liquid-cooled, 90-degree DOHC V-twin
||Liquid-cooled, transverse DOHC inline four
|Bore x Stroke
||80.0 x 49.7mm
||106.0 x 67.9mm
||76.0 x 55.0mm
||BMS-KP EFI, single-valve 48mm throttle bodies, dual injectors/cyl.
||Marelli EFI, single-valve oval throttle bodies equal to 63.9mm diameter, single injector/cyl.
||DFI, dual-valve 47mm throttle bodies, dual injectors/cyl.
||46mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.9 in. travel
||43mm inverted cartridge fork, 5.0 in. travel
||43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel
||Single shock absorber, 5.1 in. travel
||Single shock absorber, tk in. travel
||Single shock absorber, 4.9 in. travel
||120/70ZR-17 Metzeler Racetec K3
||120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
||120/70ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-016F CC
||190/55ZR-17 Metzeler Racetec K3
||190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
||190/55ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-016R CC
||23.9 deg./3.8 in. (96mm)
||24.5 deg./3.8 in. (97mm)
||25.0 deg./4.3 in. (110mm)
||56.4 in. (1432mm)
||56.3 in. (1430mm)
||56.1 in. (1425mm)
||458 lb. (208 kg) wet; 430 lb. (196 kg) dry
||432 lb. (196 kg) wet; 407 lb. (185 kg) dry
||440 lb. (200 kg) wet; 413 lb. (188 kg) dry
||31 to 40 mpg, 37 mpg avg.
||29 to 36 mpg, 33 mpg avg.
||33 to 44 mpg, 40 mpg avg.
“Where are my Pepsis?”
To hype or not to hype. The new ZX-10R has a lot of buzz around it at the moment as everyone has these great expectations for something new from the Japanese Big Four, who have been almost left standing still since the slowing economy has affected the world. And while the ZX-10R was a fun bike to ride on the track and on the street, with a great chassis, amazing brakes and user friendly electronics, it still is not quite ready to take the title from BMW. A cupcake from your local Quickie Mart is good, but a cupcake from Frosted is unbelievable. It all boils down to getting what you pay for — the ZX-10R is good, but the BMW really is unbelievable! And while the ZX-10R was a little more comfortable to ride around on the street portion of the ride, the power and other options of the BMW for me outweigh the differences in comfort. The Ducati 1198 is probably the most beautiful bike there is, but it’s just not a bike I would like to spend a lot of time on the street with. This is a race bike that just so happens to be street legal, and belongs on the track (or in a glass case to gawk at if you have that type of money). It is nice having the torque of the twin, but not enough to endure the long street ride to get to use it in the canyons.
“Did I do okay? Did I?”
As I said in my notes, “They all leave nice long blackies, what more could you ask for?” In all seriousness though, each of these literbikes are extremely fun to ride and extremely good motorcycles, which is probably why I am so torn when forced to decide which one is the best. If looking cool is your thing, then the Ducati steals the show. The bike turns more heads than any other bike out there and who can argue with the 1198’s bark. On the track though, it is quite a challenge to ride since you are usually hovering over the front of the bike. And on the street, the Ducati is quite abusive on your body.
The Kawasaki ZX-10R is obviously our returning champ’s closest competition. The all-new 2011 model’s traction control beats the BMW’s hands down and it is so good that you very seldom realize it’s even on. And despite feeling rather docile out of the corners, the Kawasaki is right there in terms of top speed on the racetrack, which says a thing or two about its strong engine.
All told, the Kawasaki is probably the most fun to ride around the track, and it’s definitely the most comfortable around town. But there is still something about the BMW that sets it apart from the others. And maybe it’s not just one in particular thing. It’s just the package as a whole is that little bit more refined than the other’s. That in mind, the BMW takes the cake.
“Of course it’s nap time!”
Just as MotoGP has become an electronics playground (or battlefield, depending on your perspective), the literbike category is now beginning to feel the increasing influence on outright performance by electronics — both in rider aids, and in meeting the increasingly stringent emissions and noise tests. The greater sophistication of the latest electronics has allowed manufacturers some latitude in how aggressively they tune the engines, and we’re reaping what is probably just the beginning of a cornucopia of benefits.
A prime example is the ZX-10R’s sophisticated TC program that allows the system to intervene in such a subtle manner that you often forget that it’s actually working; the systems on the BMW and Ducati, meanwhile, remind you every time they arrest a slide. Remaining behind the scenes as a safety net is the best scenario for rider aids, and the Kawasaki does this well.
It’s hard to ignore the top-end performance advantage and competent handling of the BMW, though. The 2011 model’s heavier crank definitely makes a difference in feel and ability to get the power to the ground, making the S 1000 RR feel like a true racebike when it charges off the corners.
But I also prefer the ZX-10R’s more communicative feel to the BMW’s comparatively harsh and stiff chassis. And I could buy numerous aftermarket goodies to get its power back up to spec with the $2000-plus I’d save. It’d be close, but I’d probably go with the Kawasaki.