2017 SPORTSBIKE WAR

New Blade SP, GSX-R1000R, R1M, 1299 Pani­gale S, ZX-10RR, S1000RR & RSV4 RF: Road, track & dyno PLUS Best deals make them oh-so tempt­ing – p4

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Contents - By Michael Neeves & Adam Child MCN SE­NIOR ROAD TESTERS

Wel­come to MCN’S an­nual su­per­bike shootout. This year sees the re­turn of two Ja­panese 1000cc heroes, in the guise of Honda’s Fire­blade SP and Suzuki’s GSX-R1000R.

A lot has changed since th­ese two gi­ants ruled the world. It was BMW that forced the su­per­bike class to shift gears with their S1000RR in 2010 when the Ger­man mon­ster set a new bench­mark. It made 190bhp and came drip­ping with elec­tron­ics. Ever since then the Honda and Suzuki have fallen fur­ther be­hind.

But th­ese two for­mer MCN group test win­ners are back, faster and leaner than ever. Do they fi­nally have what it takes to de­throne the cur­rent su­per­bike roy­alty? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Su­per­bikes have out­grown the real world in terms of price and power, so in the spirit of ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ we’re test­ing the posh ver­sions here: the Rs, Ms, SPS and Fac­tory ver­sions. We’ll be pitch­ing the cheaper base mod­els against each other soon, as well as the mega-money ex­ot­ica like the Pani­gale R, Su­per­leg­gera, HP4 Race and Blade SP2.

But for now, make your­self com­fort­able while we take you on a jour­ney through the fastest, most deca­dent su­per­bike test we’ve ever un­der­taken – a week of ham­mer­ing th­ese seven twowheeled mis­siles in the dyno room, on the test strip, on a two-day road trip and for two days on track.

But which is best? Read on to find out. The re­sult might just shock you... Like most sportsbike fans, I dream of rid­ing a Pani­gale or S1000RR – or any of the cur­rent crop of litre su­per­bikes – on a smooth and sun drenched race­track, day af­ter glo­ri­ous day…

Back in the real world, we spend most our time on the road, pi­lot­ing our 180bhp thor­ough­breds around pot­holes and curs­ing the weather fore­cast­ers. So how they per­form at 60mph is ar­guably even more cru­cial than how they per­form at 160mph.

So we kicked off our test by em­bark­ing on a two-day, 500-mile trip from Northants to Wales and back, tak­ing on ter­ri­ble weather and ev­ery­thing from mo­tor­ways to tiny lanes and shiny cat­tle grids, us­ing Pirelli’s Di­ablo Rosso III as a con­trol tyre.

Kawasaki ZX-10RR

I be­gan on Kawasaki’s neatly un­der­stated-in-black ZX-10RR, which de­spite its race cre­den­tials strug­gled to trans­late its track class to the road.

‘In the wet the less mus­cu­lar midrange helped the ZX-10RR’

Sim­ply, I strug­gled to fit into its bar/ peg/seat tri­an­gle de­spite be­ing only 5ft 6in tall. And if I found the pegs way too high and the bars too low, it was even tougher for the six-foot­ers on test. Worse, the racy screen gave me lit­tle pro­tec­tion against the driv­ing rain while the motor felt starkly lack­ing in help­ful, low-to-midrange power, mak­ing rid­ing at le­gal speed a chore.

The Kawasaki did grow on me. The clocks may be a bit Ôca­sioõ but they are easy to read and itõs rel­a­tively straight­for­ward to add or de­crease the level of TC or to soften the power. In the wet a less mus­cu­lar midrange al­lied to pre­cise fu­elling and tall gear­ing made the ZX eas­ier to tippy-toe over slip­pery over­band­ing than the more ag­gres­sive Du­cati and Aprilia. The quick­shifter works ef­fort­lessly, too, while this RR mod­elõs Akrapovic ex­haust sounds rau­cously up for it for a stan­dard in­line-four.

Yamaha YZF-R1M

Yama­haõs R1M is far more pro­tec­tive. The screen is tall for a mod­ern su­per­bike and thereõs no­tice­ably more wind Road ver­dict

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6 7 PART 1 On the road

Wales in the rain. We suf­fer so that you know the truth...

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