We gathered five of the sexiest naked sportbikes available and tested them on street and track, just in time for our second annual Streetfighter Comparo.
Cutting down tight canyon roads with knifelike precision, hooligan antics abounded. Rolling through gears and wicking up throttles, redlines were bounced more often than checks at a liquor store. Wheelies popped like pills at a Lindsay Lohan post-rehab party. Tires smoked like a $40 baggie of hippie lettuce in a state college dorm. Stoppies stopped like, well, a lot of stoppies. As for speed limits, let’s just not even open that can of worms…
What motorcycles could inspire such reckless, irresponsible behavior from our usual law-abiding test riders and rambling analogies from this author? Well, my friends, it’s time once again for the MotorcycleUSA Streetfighter Comparo.
The literbikes and supersports may be the hot sellers here in the States, but in our opinion there’s nothing wrong with garage full of naked streetfighters. For the majority of riding situations, streetfighters, with their upright riding positions and relaxed ergos, are often a more preferable mount than the race replicas. We discovered as much last year conducting our first Streetfighter shootout, which we billed as the Euro Streetfighter Comparo – all our ’06 entries hailing from the Old World.
For 2007 we diversified the comparo lineup by tossing in a couple of Inline-Fours from the Land of the Rising Sun – the Yamaha FZ1 and Kawasaki Z1000. The FZ1 has been a stalwart of the standard/streetfighter scene since its 2001 inception, and the redesigned Kawasaki made a strong impression on us at the 2007 Z1000 press intro. We were eager to see how both would fair against their three Euro competitors, a pair of Twins and lone Triple from our ’06 test – the Aprilia Tuono, Ducati S4R Monster and Triumph Speed Triple.
The Italian Twins return to defend their top two positions from ’06, with the Aprilia Tuono our reigning Streetfighter champion. The Ducati is unchanged from ’06, but Aprilia saw fit to equip us this year with its 2007 Tuono Factory – the Factory moniker entailing dolled up bodywork, carbon fiber bits and Ohlins suspension. Like the Tuono, the Speed Triple returns from last year’s test invigorated, with Triumph lending us one of 50 special-edition 2007 Speed Triples it released this summer – the British beauty brandishing an aftermarket exhaust along with a host of carbon fiber accoutrements out of the Triumph accessory catalog.
Rolled onto the dyno, the Yamaha FZ1 displayed its horsepower stud status, producing just a whisker short of 130 ponies at the rear wheel.
We’ll get into the details of the modified Triumph and its four competitors in more detail in the following pages, but just how improved the aftermarket Triple was became apparent when we rolled all five machines onto our Dynojet 200i to snag some performance numbers. In this year’s 2-3-4 dyno battle royal, the four-cylinder FZ1 came out on top in raw horsepower, peaking at 129.3 hp at 11,500 rpm – not an unexpected result, given the Fazer’s R1-sourced mill. The pair of Twins put up respectable numbers, with the Tuono maxing at 111.9 hp at 9,700 rpm and the Duc hitting its 110.4 hp power ceiling at 10,400 rpm. The other Inline-Four, Kawasaki’s Z1000, was a bit of a surprise as the lowest pony producer, cranking out 107.5 hp at 9,700 rpm. The jaw-dropper on the dyno, however, was the Triumph, with its 123.1 hp at 9,400 rpm good enough for second overall and stomping its ’06 horsepower stat by 13.5!
The Triumph dominated in the tourque figures, with its 73.2 lb-ft registering 6.6 lb-ft above the next highest producer, the Z1000 at a devilish 66.6 lb-ft. The Yamaha was right behind the Z at 66.2 lb-ft, with Ducati and Aprilia registering an almost identical 62.4 and 62.3 lb-ft.
The bikes having been dynoed, it was time to fill them up with gas and toss them on our Intercomp scales. Subtracting the weight of fuel, the Ducati emerged as the lightest with a tank-empty weight of 430 lbs. The buoyant Duc was followed by the Triumph at 439 lbs and the Aprilia next at 443. The bulky FZ1 tipped the scales at 467, leaving the chunkiest of the lot the 481-lb Z1000, which, having loaded and unloaded the hefty Kwakker a number of times, was not a shock to us. The shock, once again, was from the Triumph, whose pipe and carbon fiber goodies trimmed 23 lbs off last year’s weigh in.
Raw numbers on a spec sheet are great for the objective-minded bean counters out there, but the character and practical application of that power and weight in the real world is what counts. To help us make these subjective evaluations, besides myself, we tapped out our regular test riders and MotorcycleUSA employees Editorial Director Ken Hutchison, Creative Director Brian Chamberlain and our new Associate Editor Adam Waheed. We also enlisted the services of So-Cal master of motorcycle mayhem, Brian Steeves, who would evaluate the one-wheeled potential of our machines without mercy – the San Diego resident being the true instigator of the do-not-try-this-at-home behavior outlined in our opening paragraph and highlighted in the numerous videos accompanying this test. We also got the opinion of former 250GP AMA champion, current MOTO-ST competitor and Motorcycle Hall of Fame member Jimmy Filice. Our diverse testing fold included skill levels ranging from novice to professional road racer and riders varying in size from Jimmy’s 5’3″ 130 lbs to my 6’1″ 210 lbs. The preliminaries concluded, it was time to do some serious riding.
When it came time to measure the torque, the hopped up Triumph was in a class its own, with its 1050cc Triple tallying a torque curve well above its competitors.
Our testing evaluation took place in two major phases, a street ride through the mountainous backroads surrounding our Southern Oregon HQ and a track evaluation at Willow Springs’ Horsethief Mile. We had tested at the Horsethief Mile during last year’s comparo and felt it was a perfect arena to push our streetfighter mounts in a safe environment, with the hilly circuit closer to a hazard/ticket-free street ride than a knee-scraping, tire-shredding day on the racetrack.
For our street evaluation we shipped our Southern California boys up North to get the full Southern Oregon experience. Our So-Cal employees wondered at mountainsides with actual trees on them and riverbeds not constructed from concrete. Steeves, our mercenary hooligan, even got his first two-wheeled close encounter with Bambi when a couple of deer jolted out in the road. It was just one of the surprises in store for us on the asphalt, which also including a punctured radiator.
A couple hundred street miles and countless track laps in the books, our six test riders buckled down to rank this year’s crop. No easy feat. Trying to choose my favorite out of this bunch was like jumping in a DeLorean to visit my 13-year-old self and telling him to rank his favorite models from the Victoria Secret catalog. It wasn’t easy, but after much silent study and consideration, it was just a matter of time before the Heidi Klum of our Streetfighter flock would be found. Our evaluation came straight down to the cold equation of a revised 100-point scorecard. We gave our six test riders ten questions, rating each bike on a 10-point scale and then added them up for the winner.
Although it looks like that pool of greenish liquid is being expelled by the fella in the blue jacket, the true source was the Z1000’s cracked radiator – one of the surprises in store for us in this year’s streetfighter test.
Oh yeah, we also crashed another streetfighter this year, just like in ’06. Last year it was the MV Agusta Brutale. Needless to say, we were unable to secure another beautiful Brutale for this year’s test. Well, as the classy novelty hat says “pobody’s nerfect” and this year we managed to nerfectly mangle another of these beauties. Was it the budget-friendly Z1000, a cheating aftermarket Speed Triple, or the luxurious $16,999 Tuono Factory?
The above statement, my friends, is what we in the business call a hook, so if you’re reading this test at work, start shuffling some papers around your desk to look busy because you’re just going to have to keep on reading.