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2012 Superbike Smackdown IX Street Conclusion

Monday, June 11, 2012

Adam Waheed – 6’0”, 175 pounds – Ducati 1199 Panigale

There is no question I’d buy the Ducati 1199 Panigale – only I’d purchase the standard model over the up-spec ‘S’ model we
The 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale S was chosen by two of our test riders as the bike they would buy if they had to spend their own money.
tested as I don’t need the electronically adjustable Ohlins suspension. The Ducati is head-and-shoulders a better street bike than its predecessor. The ergonomics are more conventional and Japanese-feeling than ever before. And I like that. It makes it friendlier to ride plus I don’t have to adjust my riding style as much to suit the bike. The character of the engine has improved too. It doesn’t vibrate nearly as much and the fuel injection settings seem to be better and the bike doesn’t run too lean at low rpm. For sure I wish it had a little stronger bottom-end power but the top-end performance is borderline insane. Although it's a few horses down on the BMW it’s so light that it can actually out accelerate it in certain situations – and that’s impressive. The Ducati still isn’t the most comfortable bike to ride, but based on its performance and appearance it’s the bike I would want to ride day-to-day. Lastly, the headlight on it is by far the farthest reaching which makes night riding much safer than any other bike in this class.

Ernie Vigil – 6’1”, 170 pounds – BMW S1000RR

The 2012 BMW S1000RR is just as comfortable in the curves as it is on a dragstrip.
With so many options it’s hard to choose exactly what bike would do it all well. Some stand out better in one category but fall short in another. If I were to take power, styling, and price point into consideration I would have to choose the BMW S1000RR. Sure the Ducati does shine but the price difference between the two doesn’t win me over. The BMW comes in $8000 cheaper and offers just as much. The new Blue colorway is really eye catching. The shark-like ribs on the tank add to an already aggressive feel. The motor sound and power delivery is insane. Almost feels like a turbo bike the power comes on so strong. All in all if I had to buy a bike that was going to keep putting a smile on my face again and again it would have to be the BMW. 200 hp at the flick of the wrist is enough to make anyone want to go out and ride.

Lori Dell – 5’6”, 155 pounds – BMW S1000RR
The 2012 BMW S1000RR earned the highest marks of any in the handling and suspension  categories.

My dream bike for 2012 would be the BMW S1000RR. For me it’s a no brainer. I found the BMW to be the best in quality, features, fit and performance. I could comfortably run around town or jet off to some distant bike night. I would most certainly be thrilled on my weekend canyon carving jaunts with my pack of riding buddies. Whether near or far I feel I would be very comfortable and proud of the BMW and completely confident of its abilities. Also the various traction modes would allow me the opportunity to safely explore my skills at trackdays. In fact, I feel certain that this trustworthy, high performance machine would kick my riding level up a few notches!

Leah Petersen – 5’11”, 140 pounds – BMW S1000RR

The BMW S1000RR receives some changes for 2012.
The S1000RR is an astounding bike, especially considering the price point. It’s sleek, sexy, eye catching and unique. Not to mention it has the ability to be pretty plug and play (in rain mode for example) or a challenge if I want it to be. Each centimeter of this bike is well engineered, but not overly so. BMW walked the fine line of some over-engineered, unusable speed machine and a true motorcycle with street smarts and track smarts.

I truly felt at home from the second I hopped on the BMW. I spent more time being amazed at how everything just flowed than thinking about my riding. The bike’s riding position is aggressive but natural. I feel like this bike is something that would keep me growing and learning as a rider, without killing me in the process. It’s a bike I could see myself owning for many, many years.

Justin Dawes – 5’10”, 220 pounds – Ducati 1199 Panigale S
The 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale S features electronically adjustable Ohlins suspension.

I’d plunk down 23 large for the Panigale S in heartbeat if I had the moola to spend on any of these bikes. I hated the 1198 with an unreasonable passion (now that it’s gone I can admit it). So for me to love the Panigale says quite a bit. The engine character makes so much more sense to me now. I like to rev a bike, and finally a can do that with this Duc. The handling just gets better turn after turn, and it’s got plenty of legroom for my creaky joints for long rides. Even better is that the flatter stance doesn’t crush my wrists and nuts like the 1198. The best part of owning the Panigale is that you wouldn’t have to explain why you bought it; anyone that even glances in the 1199’s direction will understand immediately.

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disreputablebastard   December 14, 2013 01:35 AM
Objectively this is no contest. Only the ZX-10 makes the choice easy. Cutting-edge performance and features at a reasonable price. And in red, or at least black, it actually doesn't look all that bad. Add another 20hp on top just by swapping in the Euro ECU, and a decent ZG windscreen, a nice can and Helibars complete the makeover. If you feel that you really *need* to, throw the Brembo monoblocs on it with reinforced brake lines. In any case for under $20k you now have a bike that handles like a ZX-6R but is as fast as the HP4, with TC and ABS, for much less money. No other bike in this shootout can say that. Of course now people will constantly ask you if that's the new Ninja 300 they've heard so much about, but what are you going to do, buy and ride a Panigale just so people don't think that you're on a 300? Suffer through the stylish nightmare that is the R1? Spend twice as much on an Aprilia or HP4? Give up on TC and ABS entirely and go with the Gixxer? The only one of these bikes that *really* makes sense is the ZX-10R.
xray53   July 22, 2012 01:31 PM
I'm a Honda man from way back and obviously ecstatic with the results but at the end of the day, all these bikes are great. Keep the rubber down.
faze   June 19, 2012 06:14 PM
I've got the 2012 R1, and though I think it is a great bike, some of the concerns brought up in the article ring true. It feels a little heavy, and the low end power isn't out of the world, but it' not hard to ride in any sense. I do commute with it, and I would like to get a double bubble windscreen to cut down on buffetting, but the R1 does make the commute a bit shorter! All in all, I love the bike, and can't wait to hit the track with it!
wbrisett   June 18, 2012 08:03 PM
Darn, I was hoping the EBR 1190 would have made it into the mix. While I doubt it's much on the street, I'm sure the track would have been exciting (at least from the current AMA racing results).
shane4000   June 16, 2012 06:35 AM
All these bikes are great. I myself own a 2007 zx10r and i know everyone did not like the bike. But i enjoy the heck out of it and it does what i need it to do. One bike i have ridden in the past i would love to get is the cbr1000rr. To me the bmw is to much power for street ridding and town ridding. I feel all these bikes have their ups and downs, on what is good about them and what is bad about them so it really comes down what bike you fill you want =)
Piglet2010   June 14, 2012 05:02 PM
I would like to see 5-60 mph times in street bike tests, as it is more relevant to the way people ride on the street most of the time than 0-60 or 1/4 mile times - who does drag racing type starts on a regular basis?
Rucuss54   June 14, 2012 01:05 PM
If it's not too much to ask, could you guys put in overall gear ratios, 0-100mph times and maybe a max rpm sound test for the next Smackdown?
Hutchy   June 13, 2012 04:52 PM
@wildpig: Dude, did a BMW employee steal your significant other? You do get a good rant on about them, wow. From our end here the S1000RR kicks ass. We have great BMW dealers here in Oregon too so they seem to be able to help people. Our pals who purchased S1000RRs because of how much we loved them have had great experiences so far. The one mechanical failure out of four bikes sold was addressed pretty quick too and while I know there's lemons out there is it time to tone it down, maybe? You write ant-beemer propaganda like a wild pig on a mission!
wildpig   June 13, 2012 11:35 AM
bmw - bring more wallet,, an over rated bike , lil dealer support, zero inventory -- worst re sale value of any brand-- period. challenge me on maintenance costs---- i need a good laff. coprate bmw is an abject failure in customer relations -- think i'm over exagerating? check out the bmw foreums.. even those die hards know how secretive bmw is...
neo1piv014   June 12, 2012 08:45 PM
@Justin - I had read the article before it had gone live, so my bad there. Reading the bit at the end of the BMW article, it still didn't get as many rave comfort reviews as some of the others, but I guess that's just a byproduct of having so many other things to rave about. @Detrich - I noticed that on one of their last 600cc reviews. I guess when they're compared to each other, you can afford to split hairs. I'd venture that I could jump onto any of these bikes and have such a variation in 1/4 mile times that it would cover the spread of first-last place in this review. When the final scores are barely .5 seconds from first to last, you can safely assume they're all awesome.
Superlight   June 12, 2012 07:20 PM
I read all the individual tests. From what I could tell, all these bikes are good - you just have to decide which one has the attributes YOU want.
Justin Dawes   June 12, 2012 06:39 PM
@Detrich - Don't think of it as "bad", it's more like "not as awesome." Every bike in this shootout is amazing; some are just more amazing.
Detrich   June 12, 2012 05:45 PM
Is the 2012 R1 really THAT bad? Yamaha doesn't seem to be getting much love lately from many of the industry publications....
Piglet2010   June 12, 2012 03:45 PM
Ducati will work the bugs out when they feel the wrath of Herr Piech. Or they will come out with 2-wheel drive, Diesel powered bikes. ;)
Razzic   June 12, 2012 03:12 PM
@Rucuss54 , Sorry buddy but Ducati have had a LOT more things go wrong with their bikes in the past than BMW's have, I know this cause well, Google is your friend and my father has owned Ducati's all his life, now older he owns a Multistrada 1200 things are going wrong with that, been back to the dealer multiple times to get things done under factory. Anyways the Ducati has the looks that's about it, to be honest it is (here in Australia) for the S model (that was I believe tested in this review since it had the upgraded suspension) $12000 more than the BMW and loses in just about every category to it, it's like building a Ferrari and it looks stunning but every other bike beats it, we have a name for that in the car world, its called a Ricer. All show and no go. Ducati didn't live up to the hype. Maybe next year they will tweak some stuff, fix the heat problems and work out some bugs that will no doubt be on their way since its the first model to be released, and they will out do BMW (specially since Audi have now bought them out) but at the moment, don't be a sore loser mate. 100% agree with the review, another great one Motorcycle-usa :) Basically backs up what the other reviews said around also, but added some more category's in there with the break down for numbers, love it :)
guambra2001   June 12, 2012 02:05 PM
Thanks Moto-Usa for doing these shootouts, I look forward to them every single year. This year I was really hoping to see the Kawi up top, but I guess we will wait till next year. Love the Ducati though, just a little too expensive. Keep up the great work guys.
Hutchy   June 12, 2012 01:17 PM
Rucuss54: Our BMW was solid and overall the folks we know that have S1000RR all seem pretty happy with them. As far as the 'fugly' BMW is concerned, well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I peronally think that bike looks bad-ass. I just watched Avengers so here's my analogy: The BMW is like Iron man: Square edged, technologically advanced but is he a legitimate hero? THe Japanese bikes are like Captain AMerica: Clean, well groomed, basic in essence but still bad-ass. The Ducati is like Thor: Flashy, arrogant but really, out of this world. Yet, every hero and every bike has a legion of fans who think their charater is the best. Me, I like Wolverine best, but he wasn't in this move and the XR650R isn't in this test. Seriously though, to each their own. Come on, someone else has to have some good ones too? Hokie: Yeah, we aren't perfect, thats for sure. As far as the MV goes. That bike is pretty cool but it would have been near the back of the pack. Its tall, taught and top-end biased. Everything is trick, it looks sick too but it wasn't in contention for the win. Screamer69: The Ducati does have the IT factor. It is fast, sexy and fun to ride. Ducati has upped the ante in the superbike wars, similar to what BMW has done.
screamer69   June 12, 2012 12:37 PM
the BMW may have won, but the Ducati has the "it" factor you can't score...
Rucuss54   June 12, 2012 12:10 PM
The fugly BMW with a buzzy engine and questionable reliability won again. I'd take any of the "boring" japanese bikes over these high maintenance euro bikes. Crap
HokieRider   June 12, 2012 11:46 AM
Hey Hutch, thanks for the response. I didn't mean to be a curmudgeon, I just figured that if I had the question, other people would too. However, I don't have a message in my inbox yet but I look forward to getting it. Thanks.

Based on what you know of the MV Agusta from the track, can you speculate where it would rank in the street test? Just curious.
Justin Dawes   June 12, 2012 11:07 AM
Hey Neo - The second to last paragraph of the BMW page has the riders assessments of the comfort of the BMW. I think you may have one of the luck few that viewed the article before we had it completely finished. It's there now. If you are considering the BMW and are worried about all day comfort, don't be. I'm overly sensitive to the comfort levels on sportbikes and the BMW was excellent. I hope that clears it up for you. Thanks for keeping us on our toes!
neo1piv014   June 12, 2012 10:45 AM
Hutch: I realized I should probably post this on the scoreboard page instead of the BMW page, but could you explain how the BMW got the top marks in overall comfort? Not a single word about the seat, wind protection, ergonomics, etc was mentioned in the BMW's review page, and it seems like a pretty big omission if it took 1st place in that category. On the GSXR1000, it was stated that it was that reviewer's bike of choice for packing on mileage and doing weekend trips. The CBR was mentioned as roomy, comfortable, and more upright. The KTM got points for adjustable comfort and ergos with the remark: "If you can’t fit find a comfortable seating combination on the KTM then sportbikes aren’t for you." I'm not contesting the BMW winning that category, but I was hoping you'd elaborate on it. If it really is the most comfortable bike of the test, then that bumps it up a lot higher on my list of bikes I'm considering.
Hutchy   June 12, 2012 10:11 AM
gfox: We got the MV after the Street test was complete. So, it will be included in the Track portion of the test. Stay tuned... mi2tom: Yeah, and the 2-time AMA Superbike champion winning bike is last. Unfortunately, we have to call it as we see it or else we are just weasles. Sometimes, a lack of character can be a good thing though...think smooth. Hokie: The article went live before we were finished, we sent you a classy message explaining it. No one's perfect all the time, bud.
HokieRider   June 12, 2012 09:47 AM
So rather than explain what happened, you delete my comment? Classy.
mi2tom   June 12, 2012 05:06 AM
LOL! The best bike in the TT has the worst engine character. Awesome review guys, well done.
gfox   June 11, 2012 05:34 PM
I thought you were including the MV Agusta this year.