2009 Supersport Shootout VII

Steve Atlas | March 20, 2009
2009 Supersport Shootout
Say hello to the Class of 2009! (Clockwise from left to right) Suzuki GSX-R600, Kawasaki ZX-6R, Ducati 848, Triumph Daytona 675, Yamaha YZF-R6 and Honda CBR600RR.

Darwinist Domination

Competition drives the world we live in. Stop for a second and take a look around – it’s easy to see how our daily lives are directly affected by the survival of the fittest theory. Be it retail sales, automotive industry, mortgage companies … just about everything. The strong thrive and the weak die; it’s Darwin’s natural selection and has been this way since the days of the dinosaurs. In our kingdom of two wheels this is no more apparent than our annual large-scale shootouts. They are knockdown, in-your-face, drag ‘em out competitions, clearly ranking today’s latest sportbikes from first to last – no sissy stuff here folks. And for 2009 we have pulled out all the stops, shredded 48 Michelin tires and broke the bank (doing our best to support the world’s economy), to bring you the biggest and best Supersport Shootout – ever!

Check out the Supersport Shootout video for a quick peek summary of the test and make sure to watch the individual motorcycle video reviews on each model page as well. You get to see and hear the bikes in action and hear what our test riders had to say about each bike on some of our sickest sportbike videos to date.

Big money makes for big players and high supersport stakes. All six of this year’s top middleweight sportbikes showed up in force on the track, complete with full-factory support (for the most part…) for two full days of racetrack exploitation: Day 1 at the uber-faster Willow Springs and Day 2 at the tight and technical Streets of Willow. Add extensive street mileage, quarter-mile and top speed performance testing at Honda’s top secret HPCC center in the Mojave Desert, plus the always imperative dyno and weight numbers, allowing us to give you thorough breakdown of each and every machine; all at the hands of six vastly qualified test riders.

This year was the closest race to date...
By far the most trouble-free and action-packed Shootout we’ve produced to date, ’09 has proven to be a big year for the Supersports. So, sit back, climb on and strap yourself in for one heck of a ride.

Included in the racetrack group are 2-time AMA National Champion Chuck Sorensen as well as 9th-place finisher in last year’s Daytona 200 and MotoUSA’s Executive Editor Steve Atlas (that would be me). They are joined by 17-year-old racing prodigy and former X-Games Supermoto rider Frankie Garcia. A combined 15 years of moto-journalism experience pads the testing resumes of Road Test Editor Adam Waheed and MotoUSA’s VP Ken Hutchison, with photographer/club racer extraordinaire JC Dhien rounding out the supersport squad.

For the street portion, we crossed into the mainstream entertainment world, sourcing our celebrity crew of rock band and television friends to join us for some canyon carving. TV star John Hensley of Nip/Tuck fame and Angels and Airwaves’ David Kennedy joined Waheed, Dhien, motocross-ace-turned-street-junkie Scott Simon and myself for some serious roadway miles to see how these middleweights faired in the ‘real world.’

The Contenders…

This year’s class of supersports comes from the East in the form of the Big-Four Japanese manufacturers – Honda CBR600RR, Kawasaki ZX-6R, Suzuki GSX-R600, Yamaha YZF-R6 – as well as two strong Euro additions – Britain’s Triumph Daytona 675 and the ever-popular Italian Ducati 848.

As far as which of these little rockets are new for ’09: Kawasaki is changed from the ground up, following in its big brother ZX-10’s footsteps, with a complete overhaul of the Zed-X 6R. The Triumph receives a “host of small changes,” said to make an overall much better motorcycle. Some minor tweaks are said to give the Yamaha slightly more mid-range for ‘09. The rest stay mostly the same with the exception of BNG (Bold New Graphics),

Go big or go home, it’s that simple. So, without further ado, we give you the 2009 MotoUSA Supersport Shootout in all its glory…

Shout Outs…

Making this shootout happen was no easy task. Thanks to everyone who helped!
Putting on a Shootout of this size is no easy task. Big thanks to everyone who helped!

To make sure we give love where it’s due, here are a list of our supporters and key personnel that allowed this amazing test to happen:

No easy or cheap task to supply 48 tires for our shootout, the French company stepped up to the plate with its new Power One race tire and came through with plenty of black sticky donuts . Day One was spent on the consumer-available standard tire, which you can buy from Parts Unlimited, etc., while Day Two was on the full-fleged race-only heat, which are available through trackside retailers. The new tire from Bib was praised by all. Stay tuned for a full review of the rubber this time next week!

Racer’s Edge Performance
Providing track-side tire support was the always hard-working Dale Kieffer, who made sure all the bikes had fresh rubber right on time. Not to mention Dale is one heck of a talented racer himself, so when the guy gives tire advice, we listen.

Making sure we had ample on-board footage for this many machines in the time we had was no easy task, but if it were not for GoPro’s wide angle Hero it would have been impossible. They worked flawlessly and produced some awesome footage. Be sure to check out the videos!

Willow Springs Raceway
The ‘fastest road in the west’ once again went above and beyond the call of duty to fit us in, making sure both of our days at the track were smooth and flawless.

The OEMs
Big thanks to Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha and Ducati for providing support and doing a great job at it. Too bad Triumph could not provide anyone, as their bike would have fared much better if they had. Goes to show how key machine set-up really is.

Laguna Beach Doctors
SCOS’s Doctors first put a new knee in my right leg last year. This time around they used screws and plates to fix Associate Editor Adam Waheed’s right arm a mere five weeks pre-shootout and he was back in full force, dropping his personal best lap times at Streets of Willow by two full seconds. The bionic boys were bringing it!

Be sure to check out the Supersport Shootout video . We supersized our production and hired moving-picture ace Ray Gauger to keep you TV-loving folk grinning from ear to ear!


Steve Atlas

Contributing Editor |Articles | Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

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