Splitting hairs... that really is what these shootouts come down to. The fact that the poor Yamaha R6 brings up the rear in our 2013 Supersport Street scoring proves how competitive the class is, as it's a fantastic bike. The Italian exotica from Ducati and MV Agusta both suffered in the rankings, but for different reasons. The track-biased 848 is too uncomfortable compared to the Japanese mounts, while the promising F3 is simply unrefined at this point in its development. In contrast to the F3, Honda's CBR600RR and Suzuki GSX-R600 are incredibly refined and technically sound - but are unable to claim top honors on the street. The GSX-R600 in particular suffers for letting the refurbished Supersports pass it in the rankings, as the little Gixxer tumbles from first to fourth - all those ahead of it bikes that were revamped for the 2013 model year. The Kawasaki and Triumph stand apart from the class - with the consensus of our testing troop focusing in on these as the bikes to beat. On the scorecard the Daytona just edges the Ninja, based primarily on its Inline Triple's performance and personality.
All eight bikes in our test deliver thrilling performance for the street. Each rider had their favorites, but what bike would they buy if it was their money on the line? Below is our test rider listings and their For My Money Pick:
Bart Madson; 6’1” / 205 lbs; Years Riding: Eight; Occupation: MotoUSA Scribbler
Triumph Daytona 675R
When it comes to shelling out the cash, I'd buck up and find the extra cash for Triumph's Daytona 675R ($13,499). I’d be content with any of the Japanese bikes, and the R6, while finishing last, is a magnificent sportbike – and a bargain at $10,990. But the Daytona delivers in every department. Even the ergonomics and comfort felt improved from the previous model. Brakes and suspension live up to their R-spec designation, and the slim, taut chassis is so responsive and maneuverable. The Triumph is a treat to ride, and I haven’t even lavished praise yet for its playful Triple.
Still, I have to admit that the Triumph’s Triple gets outdone by the MV in terms of character and sound… Same goes for the styling. Of the doppelganger Triples I find the F3 more stylish and engaging. But the MV was just too temperamental with its fly-by-wire, which almost spit me off once when it caught me off-guard. It also overheated 30 minutes into our ride… which made me wonder what else is going to break – and how expensive it would be to fix! The fact that I’m spending so much time explaining why I couldn’t pick the MV, shows how alluring it is. Fortunately, the Triumph is a better bike, and less expensive.
Adam Waheed; 6’ / 181 lbs; Years Riding: 18; Occupation: MotoUSA Road Test Editor
This year's decision is harder than ever. I really like what Triumph's done with the new Daytona. It stayed true to its roots and the 2013 version feels similar to the original only it is a little sharper in terms of acceleration and handling performance, plus it is a whole lot more comfortable and it looks much more modern. Even though it looks similar to the Kawasaki, I like the Triumph's more rounded edges and I think it looks about as good as the MV. The craftsmanship has also been elevated and it is now comparable to that of the Japanese bikes, which is saying a lot. Even better is that the price is still plenty reasonable and in the ball park of the rest of the bikes. But it's hard to ignore the exceptional value Suzuki brings to the table with the GSX-R750. Its $1300 less expensive than the Triumph and serves up more performance, plus it's more comfortable too. If I could somehow get a smoking deal on a '13 Daytona I could be lured over to the British side, but dollar for dollar my money would be on the GSX-R750, no question.
Brian Steeves; 5'10” / 165 lbs; Years Riding: 14 years; Occupation: Land, Air, and Sea, I try and shred all three
What does it take to be the best performing middleweight sportbike in the year 2013? That's the magic question seven bikes this year strive to answer. Ten years ago you'd need to be a refined machine with effortless handling, a useable torque curve that compliments the chassis, and mates power to the tires in a smooth sequence between throttle and braking. As daunting of a task that alone is, todays engineering geniuses seem to continue to pull rabbits out of a hat we didn't think could exist. The field of motorcycle development is on course to deliver us Tron bikes next week it seems.
For the time being, a sword wielding Ninja lays claim to the spoils in 2013. Seamless corner entry on the brakes, combined with predictable apex aim, and exiting power makes this bike a dream to ride. Fit and finish is excellent, from seating position to well-placed controls makes for a great fit for me. The electronics package on the ZX6R is informative without being clustered. A solid bike that elevated the middleweight bar to a new high, Kawasaki will have the rest of the manufacturers scrambling for refinement and more cc's in the future. And this is a beautiful thing… I can't wait for 2014!
Adey Bennett (Adeysworld); 6'3" 190-ish lbs; Years Riding: Nine years; Occupation: Professional Badass
Triumph Daytona 675R
If I had 14K burning a hole in my pocket, I'd have to scoop the Triumph Daytona 675R. It embodies everything I would want in a supersport machine. Useable power, nimble, great looks and comes with factory bling that makes it race ready.
Massimo Bruzzi; 5’6 / 145 lbs; Years Riding: Almost 20 years; Occupation: General Contractor
I don’t think she is the best looking bike, but from the rider point of view she has everything you need to enjoy a good ride wherever you feel like going. Downtown for a coffee, Ortega Highway (http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/1/4624/RGR/Ortega-Highway.aspx)for some curves and/or Fontana for some track time. Equipped with top of the line features and good price for everything you get.
The Suzuki GSX-R600 always appealed to me, I love the tail section and the aggressive look. The performance, agility and now, the sound, are the qualities for which I always wanted her to be in my garage as my second bike. Plus, she fits me pretty well. But now she has a really good opponent in the bike above. I don’t think I would need the 750 (you can invest the $600 difference on a good exhaust) and the price is pretty much the same as the Kawi.
Nathon Verdugo; 6’ / 170 lbs; Years Riding: Been riding since I was 3. Been riding sportbikes for past six years; Occupation: Troy Lee Designs Employee
Ducati 848 EVO SE or Honda CBR600RR
If money wasn’t an object, my pick would be the Ducati 848 EVO. I’m a sucker for aesthetics. Even though I should probably date the girl that comes from a good family and likes to cook and clean, you are way more likely to catch me with the temperamental super model that’s most likely going to break my heart and my bank...
If I had to be fiscally responsible, I’d get the Honda CBR600. This bike wasn’t the fastest but in my opinion it was the most user friendly and second-best looking – at least the all-red version is, not the red, white, and blue one we tested.
Jason Abbott; 5'11 / 190 lbs; Years Riding: 25 years MX / five years street; Occupation: Mechanic / MX test rider
If I were to spend my own money on one of the bikes we rode it would have to be the Kawasaki ZX-6R. Out of all the bikes I felt the Kawi had the best throttle response and a mid-range power delivery that definitely had some get up and go! Also the Kawi felt like it was the most consistent from side-to-side and had the most grip through the corners which was very confidence inspiring. For someone who doesn't ride sportbikes on a regular basis the Kawi was the easiest to get used to. The cockpit felt the most comfortable for my build and it didn't have a stinkbug feel to it.