2009 Daytona SportBike Comparison

Steve Atlas | May 6, 2009
2009 Daytona Sportbike Comparison
The contenders (from left): Kawasaki ZX-6R, Aprilia RSV1000R and Buell 1125R. While this may seem like a strange match-up, DMG thinks it works. Time to find out…

Never in its history has so much controversy surrounded AMA Pro Road Racing. Under the broken wing of DMG (Daytona Motorsports Group), a company rooted in NASCAR, massive changes have turned American road racing into what some are calling a traveling circus. Much to the dismay of riders and fans alike, a black cloud has been cast over our already struggling sport. Is the end near? Not according to DMG, they claim this is the future. But in the process of shaping the “future” they have seriously ruffled some feathers, to say the least…

One of the most significant and the hottest topics of discussion is the allowance of Aprilia’s RSV1000R and Buell’s 1125R in the new Daytona SportBike class, racing against the likes of supersport-spec 600s. A couple hundred extra cc for a V-Twin over an Inline-Four is one thing, but is it really fair to let them have almost double the displacement? And why is Buell allowed 1125cc and Aprilia only 1000cc? Both have Rotax-built liquid-cooled engines and must adhere to the same minimum weights, thus right there the rules seem a tad flawed. That is, unless you look at it in terms of dollars and cents. Then one would want to give the American-owned Buell whatever it took to win, as nothing would be better for an American Series than an American bike winning…

Eslick powered the Buell 1125R to the front and never looked back - Daytona SportBike Race 1 Fontana
Danny Eslick (9) spearheads Buell’s effort this year and has been winning races right from the start. Begs the question: Is it the rider or the bike?

According to AMA Pro Racing President Roger Edmondson, “AMA Pro Racing (DMG) is dedicated to ensuring that we deliver to our fans great competition on the track between a variety of brands. This was an important step in getting the formula where it needs to be to make good on that commitment.” Interesting wording, don’t you think?

In their defense, they have gotten far more manufacturers up front, with as many as six different marques in the top-10 on several occasions this year. But it’s the tactics in which they have done this that are questionable.

With the AMA paddock in an uproar over the speed of the Buell and their come-from-no-where race wins, those crazy wheels in our head once again began spinning (not to mention those voices I keep hearing, but that’s just because I skipped my meds for a couple days): Why not take the Buell 1125R, Aprilia RSV1000R and Kawasaki ZX-6R (our 2009 Supersport Shootout winner) and see how they match up in stock trim at the racetrack? We all know the Daytona SportBike-spec machines hit the track in what is pretty far from street trim, but they had to start somewhere.

The tough part in this equation is defining what modifications are legal in this DMG circus. DMG does like to make rule changes on the fly, but a quick click over to www.amaproracing.com reveals a basic rulebook, though it seems to focus more on number sizes and bodywork legalities than the differences allowed between bikes. It very cleverly skates around the issues fram what we can tell. We also made several attempts to gain said complete rulebook, none of which were originally responded to or even acknowledged.

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After the release of the article they contacted us to speak of a few things, showing they are very interested in what the press and public thinks of their series. Stay tuned for an interview with them in the future…

They also list a host of “Competition Bulletins” that are essentially changes to the rulebook. In these it is states minimum weight for the Inline-Fours is 360-pounds while the larger-displacement twins is 380-pounds. Though, talking to those in the pits, the Buells are well above that weight, as they roll off the track somewhere around 390 pounds anyway, thus this new rule will have no effect and serves as nothing more than a media hush – more than likely, DMG knows this full well. This may also be aimed at keeping the Buell from focusing on future weight reduction development, though. AMA also lists a Competition Bulletin with all the special allowances for each motorcycle, which is worth and read and very interesting to see.

Obviously this is a sensitive subject for the boys at AMA Pro Racing (DMG), as they put out a press release following  Fontana and Barber AMA Nationals to defend their rules. When was the last time you heard of a sanctioning body issuing a press release defending their own rules? 

2009 Aprilia RSV1000RR
2009 Aprilia RSV1000R.

A quick look at our spec-charts reveal a power-to-weight ratio of 3.54 lbs./hp for the stock Buell, 3.90 lbs./hp for the stock Kawasaki and 3.96 lbs./hp for the Aprilia. The Kawasaki and Aprilia are the closest, while the major disadvantage for the Aprilia lies with its rather hefty wet weight of 476 pounds. And talking to the KWS Aprilia team, shedding this weight in attempt to get even close to the minimum is impossible without the addition of very expensive (and not-allowed in some cases) parts, thus holding them back. Buell, on the other hand, gets another 125cc over the Aprilia and can get much closer to the minimum weight, it seems. Right there the rules start to look fishy.

2009 Buell 1125R
2009 Buell 1125R.

Headlining the controversy is Buell’s Richie Morris Racing and their lead rider Danny Eslick. The young gun was drafted at the eleventh hour to ride for the RMR/Geico team on the Buell 1125R. The decision has paid off greatly for Buell as the young Oklahoman has already scored three wins in the first five races. These results have caused many-an-eyebrow to rise. There’s no doubt DMG is pushing to have more manufacturers in the series, especially an American one, but at what cost?

Taking nothing away from Eslick, though, as he is riding the wheels off the RMR 1125. It’s not like the rest of the Buells in the field are dominating with him (privateer Taylor Knapp did hop on one at Road Atlanta and battle for a

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R
2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R.

podium position his first race out). But it’s Eslick that is winning and the guy is talented, no question. But on equal machines the past several seasons Eslick has never been a race-winning threat – top-five or occasional podium at best. So, has he improved that much over the offseason, or does the bike give him some advantage?

To keep things in line with DMG, our buddy Jim Allen and the boys at Dunlop generously supplied us ample sticky rubber, the exact same stuff the big boys are racing on week-in and week-out in Daytona SportBike. Scoring was once again based on our modified Formula-1 system, with the test conducted at Streets of Willow. As for riding duties, yours truly spearheaded an effort which consisted of Road Test Editor Adam Waheed and fast photog/club racer JC Dhien, giving us a variety of skill-level riders, though all able to push the machines to the proper pace for a track-based racing evaluation. Lap times were documented and recorded throughout the entire test as this is, after all, a racing evaluation.

So… is DMG on the right track, or totally off its tracks? Time to take a look at how they perform off the showroom floor and see how equal this matchup really is!

(Read the Motorcycle USA’s Daytona SportBike Comparison, but don’t forget to check out the accompanying Daytona SportBike Comparison Video above.)

Steve Atlas

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

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