The thrust chart shows actual...
The thrust chart shows actual driving force to the rear wheel by taking into account gearing and road speed. The top set of lines represents first gear, with each successive set showing the next gear. The CBR retains the old bike's strong thrust in the lower gears but now carries that advantage through the gearbox. Thrust approaching redline in each gear is significantly down from the Kawasaki and Suzuki, however. The Yamaha's tighter-spaced middle gears give it effectively shorter gearing than the others, with accordingly more thrust-which feels like more power on the road. The Kawasaki has a hefty advantage at peak rpm across the range, but there are gaps between the lower gears; each of the GSX-R's curves ends just as it crosses the next, indicating a gearbox nicely matched to the engine's powerband.
The Final Tally
With the highest ranking for both street and track, the ZX-10R is the overall victor here. The same characteristics that make it our pick for track work also make it the best bike for a canyon romp, but there are sacrifices for that performance when it comes to bombing around town or taking a longer trip. The Kawasaki's overall performance overshadows the new CBR1000RR's, although there's no denying the second-place Honda was quickest around the racetrack, and that is a significant achievement in its own right. For those who will opine the Honda should have won the test for its lap times, by all means go ahead and base your decision on one lap time by one rider on one day at one track. We'll base ours on hours of street and track riding by the whole staff and the resultant stack of evaluation forms and reams of data.
The problem now, of course, is justifying how the GSX-R1000-such an awesome motorcycle last year-is third-place this year. You could be like Nigel Tufnel in This Is Spinal Tap and rate the Kawasaki and Honda as 11s on a scale of 1-10. Or take a page from Mikolas' book and score them as 10+. In reality we have to re-evaluate the Suzuki's performance and score it appropriately lower than last year. The GSX-R1000 is unchanged from last year and still a fantastic machine; it's just that now there's something more fantasticker. This is the price of progress. And we'll gladly pay it.
The Honda's midrange helped it to post top-gear roll-on numbers in a different league from the other bikes at speeds above 80 mph, but the GSX-R held its own in the 60-80 mph range and also logged the quickest quarter-mile time by a hair. The Kawasaki treads a fine line between bogging and wheelying off the line, and our man lunched the ZX-10R's clutch before he figured it out-the quarter-mile run listed here is the ZX-10R's first (and only decent) pass.
The Honda has the beefiest midrange by far but is a bit soft on the bottom and signs off early up top. The GSX-R has the most potent bottom end, and from there the Suzuki and Kawasaki crisscross up to peak rpm, where the ZX-10R pulls out a tiny advantage. The Yamaha is an also-ran in this competition with the lowest peak reading and a sagging midrange.