HONDA CBR1000RR 91.2
Another carryover model from '06, the CBR1000RR carded above-average scores across the board on its way to a solid second place in the street rankings. While the Honda's engine lacks the urgency of the Kawasaki and Suzuki mills, it's no slouch in the power department and has impressive thrust numbers in the lower gears. Still, the throttle can be a bit abrupt, and there is no slipper clutch to offset the more-than-average engine braking--to keep pace with the GSX-R, the Honda needs careful attention to gear selection.
As a daily rider, the CBR is arguably the pick of this bunch. Upright ergos (although the seat is still too hard), a superb dash layout, great mirrors and adequate wind protection combine to make it the easiest to get around town on and survivable for a long day in the saddle despite the seat. Compared with the other bikes in the group--especially the Ducati--the Honda feels big and bulky to sit on, but that sensation disappears once underway, and steering is light and linear at low speeds.
At a moderate pace in the twisties the Honda is quite composed, but start hammering and it comes unraveled compared with the Suzuki. We had a hard time finding suspension settings that controlled the chassis without feeling harsh, and steering becomes heavy with diminished front-end feedback the faster you push--most likely due to the electronic steering damper tightening up at speed. Just as the engine requires good throttle control and precise shifting to make time, the chassis demands precision technique from the rider to match the GSX-R's pace.
SUZUKI GSX-R1000 93.7
While one tester's scores gave the Honda top street marks by a half-point over the Suzuki, and another noted that the Ducati would be tempting if it were $2000 cheaper, the final decision was unanimous: All our testers picked the GSX-R as their favorite street ride. The Suzuki's engine is an equal of the ZX-10R's, and the chassis is a distinct notch above any other--despite the extra heft the bike carries. Our riders praised the Suzuki's user-friendly mill, citing great power (although midrange is distinctly down from last year) with a smooth off/on throttle and a broad enough powerband that gear selection is not crucial to make good time.The chassis is likewise solid, with steering that isn't quite as light as the Yamaha's or Ducati's, but extremely linear with excellent feedback from the front end. The GSX-R--ranked the highest for ergonomics, suspension, and chassis and handling--is simply the most composed bike of this quintet. Midcorner line changes are but a small push on the bar away, the brakes are strong and predictable, and the suspension soaks up big hits and small ripples equally well. The engine and chassis combine for a package that boosts rider confidence to levels clearly beyond what the other bikes are capable of.
That said, all is not perfect in Suzukiland: The counterbalanced engine vibrates in the mid-rpm range. Some testers noted that the close riding position is accomplished by severely angled clip-ons, which can put an awkward pressure on your wrists. And you do feel the bike's weight under heavy braking. Nitpicking, for certain, but it's enough that the GSX-R lost out in five of the 10 subjective categories.
Experimentation with the GSX-R's new three-position S-DMS mapping brought mixed reviews from our riders. While outright power in A and B modes is identical, C mode robs too much steam and throttle response becomes a bit too abrupt. Between the two full-power modes, the only appreciable difference we could detect is that more throttle input is required in B mode for he same power as A mode. It came down to personal preference, with some riders appreciating the muted response on tighter roads, feeling it offered more control, while others favored the immediacy of the A mode.