Gather the latest 600cc Inline-Four racebikes from the Big Four, toss in a 675cc Triple from Triumph and a sexy 848cc Twin from Ducati and you get the lineup for our sixth annual Supersport Shootout.
In the American sportbike motorcycle marketplace, the supersport class reigns supreme. A more than capable steed on the racetrack, for which it is purpose-built, a supersport is better suited to the realities of street riding than its monster literbike counterpart. As such, our annual Supersport Shootout is one of the most eagerly anticipated tests of the year. For 2008, MotorcycleUSA is proud to announce that this is our sixth such comparison, and this year’s lineup is more competitive than ever.
All the major contenders made it into Supersport Shootout VI, starting with the defending class champion Honda CBR600RR. Unchanged for ’08, the CBR must fend off five contenders from Europe and Japan, including former Supersport Shootout winners, the Triumph Daytona 675 and Kawasaki‘s Ninja ZX-6R, a pair that also remains unaltered from 2007. The three other challengers are a revised Yamaha YZ-F R6 and Suzuki GSX-R600, which brings more muscle and a revised chassis to the skirmish, as well as the all-new dark horse Ducati 848.
Testing for our sixth-annual Supersport Shootout centered around the world-famous Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Our Infineon test coincided with a fantastic charity event with 3J’s Motorcycle Track Days, which raised $45,000 for Speedway Children’s Charities and the AFM Air Fence Fund. Over 165 riders participated in the benefit trackday, which was followed by two days of AMA Superbike testing at the Bay-Area circuit. Afterward we had Infineon all to ourselves for supersport testing, a day-long event we opened up to the public.
Track and drag strip analysis at Infineon was followed by three additional days on the track and the requisite MCUSA on-road testing. Pirelli labored to keep us in fresh tires while our test riders did their best to annihilate them. We started on Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tires and in the afternoon switched fresh rubber for a timed Superpole-style fast lap session. With two control riders at the helm of each machine, we factored Superpole lap times into the final scoring. More of those same Supercorsas and Pirelli Diablo Corsa III’s were used during three additional trackdays at Infineon and Thunderhill Raceway Park courtesy of our resident ringer and leader of Pacific Track Time, Michael Earnest.
Mike E. was joined on the Supersport Shootout testing roster once again by MCUSA regulars Shawn Roberti, his OMRRA whipping boy and two-time AMA Supersport champion, Jimmy Moore, as well as AFM wild-child Cory Call, Class School instructor Craig Hansen and your favorite MCUSA scribes Adam Waheed and Ken Hutchison.
Reaching their horsepower peaks well past 10,000 rpm (excepting the Ducati), the high-revving supersports provide plenty of power for the track and felony-enticing performance on the street.
Official street rides took place in Oregon during two long, constabulary-free journeys from our HQ to the Pacific Ocean and a no-holds barred blast through our favorite mountain routes. Half of our track testers rode on the street, along with an assortment of staff riders with various levels of experience in order to glean info from a diverse sample of prospective middleweight motorcycles consumers.
So, the preliminaries out of the way, let’s ride some supersport! Read on with our first bike of the six-bike shootout – Ducati’s 848.
The list of contributors who stepped up and helped to make this test a success are numerous and include:
Pacific Track Time
A blisteringly fast rider and all-around good guy, Michael Earnest has been very generous to MCUSA with track time through his company Pacific Track Time. If you’re looking for a great trackday provider on the West Coast, make sure to check out PTT.
A good set of tires are always critical to success on the racetrack and Pirelli stepped up to provide us with the latest generation supersport treads – the new Diablo Supercorsa, as well the Diablo Corsa IIIs.
A track steeped in history, Infineon is one of those circuits every sportbike enthusiast should ride for themselves, or at least visit during some racing action.
Catalyst Reaction Suspension Tuning
Getting the most out of your sportbike means learning how-to dial in the suspension. Dave Moss with CRS Tuning is one of the best. Stay tuned to MCUSA for upcoming instructional articles from Dave himself.
One of our favorite local dealerships up here in Oregon, the boys down at Hansen’s have always bent over backward to lend us their time and talents and the occassional run on the dyno.
Providing some of the on-board footage in our Supersport Shootout videos, the GoPro Camera is a sponsor of the factory Yamaha MX/SX teams and will be available at one of the 1500 Yamaha dealers nationwide.
Xtreme Recall Helmet Camera
Another part of our on-board video collection, the Xtreme Recall is a small, lightweight camera to collect all your riding heroics for posterity.
AIM Sports MyChron
Settler of many an argument over who’s fastest, the AIM Sport MyChron lap timers keep track of multiple riders with ease and precision.
PowerStands Tire Warmers
When you’ve got seven riders and six bikes, you want to get as many laps in as possible. PowerStands’ Tire Warmers got us up to temp immediately, which allowed us to lay down the rubber right from the get go.