Superbike Smackdown VI Street Conclusion

Adam Waheed | May 11, 2009
2009 Ducati 1198 Comparo
For the second year in a row, Honda’s CBR1000RR aces the competition on the streets. Stay tuned until next week for our racetrack evaluation and see how it stacks up on the track.

So there you have it. Another year passes and the Honda CBR1000RR remains on top as the champ in the street portion of this year’s Superbike Smackdown VI. Although Ducati, Suzuki and Yamaha stepped up with updated machinery, which all of our testers thoroughly appreciated, they didn’t deliver motorcycles with the total package. They didn’t present a bike that excelled at the fundamental basics of an entertaining motorcycle ride: Power, control and ease-of-use. These are the basic attributes Honda has in spades. Sure it doesn’t look the coolest and doesn’t the coolest sound, but it just plain works – everywhere. And that’s why for the second consecutive year Honda’s CBR1000RR is the best street bike money can buy.

Check out what our tester’s would purchase if they needed a new sportbike for 2009.

Adam Waheed, Road Test Editor:
A new year and another batch of insanely awesome liter-class sportbikes. Man, it’s a great time to be alive! And for less than the price of a slow, boring four-door car you can have a performance machine that will outperform any brand-new car outside of a million dollar Bugati Veryron. That is, if you exclude outright top speed. Honestly I would be happy to own any one of these bikes. In fact, selecting one is more about how it looks and sounds than outright performance anyway, because they are all so close and you just can’t exploit any of these bikes on the street. You’ll die, it’s as simple as that. Nevertheless if I needed a brand-new sportbike this year it’ll be an R1. Why? I know it’s not the most comfortable bike or even the fastest or lightest, but I like how it looks and how it sounds. Plus, where I live half of the year it gets down right chilly in the morning. And I perhaps more than anything, I hate being cold. Thus the R1’s factory installed seat and leg heaters are a must for me. I’ll take mine in Pearl White/Rapid Red with a set of GYTR pipes.

Joe Wallace, MotoUSA IT Guru:
If money was a bit of an object, I would have to purchase the Honda. It doesn’t look the best and I can’t stand its flat front nose but it is fast, it is comfortable, and it is easy-to-ride. Not to mention that it’s a Honda, so it’s basically guaranteed to run forever. But for me, when I purchase something big like a motorcycle, I want something special. Something that not every guy I see riding around in an Icon jacket and a weird fake fauhawk on their helmet. I want something that looks cool, sounds cool and goes like a bat out of hell. And that motorcycle is the Ducati. That’s why I have a 1098. Unfortunately I will now have to sell my beloved 1098 in order to make room for a shiny new 1198. I hate you Ducati.

Ken Hutchison, MotoUSA VP:
Choosing a motorcycle for the street is more complicated than it is for chosing one for just the track. Comfort and value are almost offset by the cool factor and the thrill of the ride. If it was only the former the Honda would be the easy choice but for me its the latter and that’s why the leaner, meaner and stronger Ducati 1198 would still be the motorcycle I would buy if I had the means to do it. Sure, that Repsol livery turns heads but folks go plum crazy when you roll up on the Ducati.

Brian Chamberlain, VP Graphics Dude:
My money would go to the Honda. While I also really enjoyed the Suzuki and the ZX-10, the Honda became the bike I was always eager to grab first. It just does everything great. The motor is strong and very street friendly. The ergonomics are aggressive, yet very comfortable and the overall package just feels very refined.

Steve Atlas, Executive Editor:
I would say Honda if I actually rode it on a daily basis and money was really a concern. Now, if my medicine cabinet was loaded with pain-pills and I only rode it from time to time, then the Ducati is the obvious choice.

Check out how these bikes held up on the track portion of our 2009 Superbike Smackdown VI Track Test.


Adam Waheed

Road Test Editor | Articles | Adam's insatiable thirst for life is only surpassed by his monthly fuel bill. Whether rocketing on land, flying through the air, or jumping the seas, our Road Test Editor does it all and has the scars to prove it.

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