KAWASAKI ZX-10R 92.0Showing just how much a set of tires can transform a bike, the ZX-10R made the most of the swap to DOT race tires, with a solid performance at Buttonwillow. The engine is still the Kawi's highlight--with smooth output matched by the best throttle response and best slipper clutch in the test--but the more neutral handling made it far easier to use the mammoth motor's output at the track.
While the Kawi's engine isn't quite as powerful on the top-end as the Suzuki's, it's easier to use and has a smoother torque curve with more midrange. And, with almost 20 fewer pounds to haul around, even the difference in top-end doesn't feel like all that much. Where the Kawi loses out to the GSX-R is in the chassis department: We still had pitch problems at the track, with the bike squatting too much under acceleration. Otherwise, steering is quick, the chassis is stable, and the suspension handles big hits well.
SUZUKI GSX-R1000 95.0
With a dominating performance at the track, the GSX-R1000 claimed top scores in nine of 10 subjective categories, fastest-lap honors and a unanimous vote from our testers. Big speed comes easily to the GSX-R, with the potent motor matched by a stable and solid chassis. Steering is light and neutral, despite the weight disadvantage, and the new electronically controlled steering damper keeps things under control. We did try the alternate maps on the track, but noticed the same characteristics as on the street ride: The bike was no quicker, but more throttle was required for a given drive.Just as on the street ride, there are a few details that detract from an otherwise superb overall track package. The binders require a big effort for serious stopping power, and it's under braking that you notice the bike's heft. Other than that, well... O'Connor pointed out that the left-side midpipe does look a bit cheesy.
BACK AT THE OFFICE
Yawn. Another year, another literbike crown for Suzuki. This has been going on since the GSX-R1000 was introduced in '01, aside from a brief interruption in '04 when the ZX-10R reigned. It's worth looking back to our last year's test ("Literbike Lunacy," June '06) before we close. The unchanged Honda and Kawasaki posted slightly lower scores in this test than they did last year (an indication that our expectations were higher this year) with the same gap between them. The Suzuki's advantage over that pair, however, has decreased when compared with last year's scores, and you could make an argument that the '07 GSX-R isn't leaps and bounds superior to the previous model. Suzuki had only to mind the gap it already had over its competitors, and it did just that. Perfectly.