2012 Hypersport Motorcycle Shootout

MotorcycleUSA Staff | April 30, 2012

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R gets some important upgrades for ’12. Will it be enough to take top honors in the class? Watch the 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Comparison Video.

The BMW S1000RR, a two-time Superbike Smackdown winner faces new competition in the Hypersport class. Watch how it does in the 2012 BMW S1000RR Comparison Video.

The Hypersport class of sportbikes is the closest thing you can get to a time machine. These motorcycles achieve epilepsy inducing velocity while maintaining a reasonable degree of riding comfort. Their engines are powerful enough to drive many small cars, wedged in stretched aluminum chassis, and covered in streamlined bodywork allowing them to pierce air like a bullet, delivering the rider to his or her target like few things can in this world.


For the last few years, this arms race has been between Japanese manufacturers Kawasaki and Suzuki, with both companies routinely besting each other with a bike that is marginally faster here, better handling there, etc. The original Suzuki Hayabusa (released in 1999) shocked the world with its 1299cc Inline-Four engine, swoopy bodywork and nearly 200-mph top-speed claim. Not to be outdone, Team Green unleashed an updated version of its then top-of-the-line Hyperbike, the Ninja ZX-12R. Despite sporting a smaller displacement engine, the ZX-12R delivered an awful lot of performance for its size. But it wasn’t until 2006, when the ZX-14 was introduced, that it had a true tit-for-tat competitor.

Suzuki quickly fought back and updated its GSX13000R for the ’08 model year which saw a small boost in engine displacement among other things. This was just what it needed and it reclaimed its crown as the ultimate Hypersports bike in our 2008 Ninja ZX-14 vs. Suzuki Hayabusa comparison. Things stayed the same until this year when Kawasaki engineers fitted another round of technical updates that it claimed would push the limits of performance into the ‘R’ category and put the Ninja back to the No. 1 spot once and for all… but we’ve heard this before, haven’t we?

While the Japanese companies were waging war, a new, unlikely competitor had emerged onto the scene. Although the BMW S1000RR doesn’t exactly fit the exact niche of the other two, considering the absurd top-end performance of its much smaller 999cc Inline-Four engine and exceptional power-to-weight ratio we wanted to see how the German-built machine would stack up amongst the heavyweights. So the stage was set for the ultimate showdown.


2012 Hypersport Shootout horsepower dyno chart.
2012 Hypersport Shootout torque dyno chart.
2012 Hypersport Shootout dyno charts.

We began by painting fat lines of rubber at Arizona’s Firebird Raceway drag strip – rifling off quarter-mile runs to see how effective these rockets are during a run-what-ya’-brung-style street race. Next up was a visit to SoCal’s Chuckwalla Valley Raceway for some high-speed cornering action to learn how the bikes react when leaned over on the side of the tire. After all, what sport rider doesn’t enjoy the occasional track day to get a speed fix without having to worry about the fuzz? Lastly we logged mileage on the street to find out which machine would be deemed the best getaway tool if the need arose. Each bike was rated based on our standardized street scorecard thereby revealing the winner and true king to the title of world’s best production Hypersport bike.

2011 Luxury Touring Shootout 1/4 Mile

MotorcycleUSA Staff