All Hail Riding Sportbikes at the Racetrack
Friday, August 19, 2011
After a four or so month hiatus from the world of sportbikes I finally had the opportunity (and desire) to spin some laps at northern California’s Thunderhill Raceway. It’s crazy because after creating our industry leading sportbike comparison tests this year (2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII Track
, 2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII Street
, 2011 Supersport Shootout IX Track
, and 2011 Supersport Shootout IX Street
) I had little desire to sit-on, ride, or let alone think about sportbikes (excessive amounts of anything will make you hate even stuff you normally love).
But a few months off testing other more conventional two, and even three wheeled machines, the high-performance bug is back and I had an overwhelming desire for wheelies, power slides, and general mayhem around the racetrack. So I loaded up our long-term ‘11 Suzuki GSX-R600 and ‘11 BMW S1000RR and hit the circuit.
Having not ridden in a while I thought I’d take it “easy” and start off on the 600. And wow what an absolutely incredible motorcycle. The thing is so easy and straight forward to ride that it boggles my mind that sportbikes have advanced to this level of refinement. A few highlights are how nimble it is and the strong mid-to-top engine performance, not to mention the overall character of the engine as it sounds like pure mechanical ecstasy at high rpm. It’s a shame that the bike finished in last place in the track edition of our Supersport shootout because it’s definitely not a last place bike when set-up properly.
After feeling like a absolute hero at the controls of the GSX-R I hopped on the S1000RR…Oh my God. I forgot how retarded-insane-fast this bike is. I started out by riding it with the ABS-enabled (I like the safety of a well-sorted ABS system), traction control disabled (I’m fond of BMW’s TC set-up but the wheelie control functionality is unacceptable and they don’t operate independently-- so it’s all or nothing), and selected the “Sport” power mode (Slick and Race mode make the throttle too sensitive and Rain mode is for well, rain).
Riding this bike at speed flat out makes all other sportbikes seem like play toys. From the engine to the chassis, brakes and electronics-- this bike is head and shoulders above anything else on the market. It’s a testament to the engineering prowess of BMW’s design team. If NASA ever truly wanted to explore Mars I bet if they enlisted the help of BMW it could be done, and in a way that would actually fun!
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