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2014 Heavyweight Supersport Road Shootout

Monday, February 24, 2014


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2014 Suzuki GSX-R750 Street Comparison Video
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After a respectable showing on the track, the Suzuki GSX-R750 has another crack at the Euros on the road. Watch the 2014 Suzuki GSX-R750 Street Comparison Video to see how it finishes.
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2014 Ducati 899 Panigale Street Comparison Video
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Ducati has touted its 899 Panigale as a superior street bike. View the 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale Street Comparison Video to see if it’s true.
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2014 MV Agusta F3 800 Street Comparison Video
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Riding on a wave of shootout success, the F3 800 by MV Agusta is ready to score another win. Watch the 2014 MV Agusta F3 800 Street Comparison Video to find out if succeeds again.
Sportbike manufacturers forever brag about the performance of their machines and how each component was engineered with racing in mind. And while that’s important to many, the reality is most motorcyclists spend time racking up mileage on the street, not the track. That’s why MotoUSA continues to offer two sides of every story in our performance sportbike shootouts. Now that we’ve calculated the grid winner, it’s time to find out which bike performs best during work week commutes and weekend shred-a-thons in the Heavyweight Supersport Road Shootout.

While other brands spend time reconfiguring the size of their engines, Suzuki knows it’s got a solid foundation with its GSX-R750 ($12,299). Since its inception three decades ago in 1985, the Gixxer remains powered by a 749cc Inline Four engine that’s designed to offer more torque and acceleration than a 600cc supersport without the brute one-wheel in the sky force of an open class sportbike.

Over the years the GSX-R’s architecture has carefully evolved with water cooling, fuel injection and other modern tuning tricks. In its current configuration the twin-spar frame equipped Suzuki is the veteran in this class, having received its last batch of mechanical updates three years ago. While it offers two different engine maps, it is still missing the more contemporary electronic countermeasures found on some class rival including traction control and a quickshifter. So to even the playing field, we retrofitted a set-up from Bazzaz Performance. The Z-FI TC box ($849.95) adds a rate-of-change traction control (non-wheel speed sensor enabled), quickshifter, and the ability to alter the fuel and ignition mapping. But will this aftermarket goodie help the mighty Gixxer run with the newer bikes?

Ducati enters this test with an all-new weapon in the form of its 899 Panigale ($14,995). Based off the top-of-the-line 1199 Panigale, this smaller Twin features a highly oversquare and rev-happy 898cc V-Twin engine that also serves as an integral part of the chassis. The 899 is a significant departure from its clunky steel-framed predecessor, the 848 EVO. Despite the minimal differences between it and its hard-edged Superbike brother, Ducati is eager to proclaim that the 899 was designed with the street rider in mind. And we have to agree after our initial riding impression, conducted in the rain at Imola, where we experienced first-hand its useful array of electronics, including ABS, electronic brake control, eight-way adjustable traction control (wheel speed sensor-equipped), quickshifter, and three different engine power modes. But how will it function compared to the other two machines in this contest?

MV Agusta is keen to grab a chunk of the heavyweight sportbike sales with its F3 800 ($15,798). Based off last year’s all-new F3 triple-cylinder platform, as the classification suggests, the 800 is powered by a 798cc Inline Three. It’s harnessed in MV’s equally innovative frame that neatly integrates both steel and aluminum pieces. Like the Ducati, the MV comes from the factory with an integrated electronics package that includes eight-way adjustable traction control (rate of change), quickshifter, and the ability to tune various parameters of the engine and throttle. The package proved a winner during the track portion of this test but will its success transfer onto public roads?
Light-Heavyweight Supersport Shootout
 Suzukis classic GSX-R750 lines up against a new breed of heavyweights which include Ducatis 899 Panigale  and MV Agustas F3 800. And because it was the winner of our middleweight shootout last year we included the 636-powered Ninja by Kawasaki just to see how it would fare.
If you can’t tell by looking at them, things move pretty fast in the world of sportbikes. From the technology that propels these bullet bikes through the air, to the ever-evolving engine size and class structure, bigger, lighter, faster rules. And for 2014 this segment is further scrambled by two new entries: Ducat’s 899 Panigale and MV Agusta’s F3 800. Together with the venerable Suzuki GSX-R750 and revamped Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R we’ve got the ingredients for this year’s inaugural Light-Heavyweight Supersport Shootout.
 

To find out, I spent a few days commuting back and forth to the office on each bike. We also put an eight-hour shift at one of our favorite stretches of windy, freshly paved asphalt just north of Los Angeles. Joining us on that ride were overseas colleagues Chris Northover from Superbike magazine along with his British pals, Simon and Llewelyn Pavey, who were also in town soaking up some California sunshine. We also did our usual gamut of performance tests to get some tangible numbers to support, or for that matter, refute, what we felt behind the handlebar.

Although it doesn’t fit in this class, for reference, we wished to see how the Supersport Shootout Street X winner, Triumph’s Daytona 675R would fare against these heavyweights. Unfortunately we didn’t get our hands on one in time. Lastly, if you’ve read last month’s Heavyweight Supersport Track test you might be wondering where the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is hiding? Since it finished runner-up to the Daytona last year, it wasn’t invited to play with the big boys in this competition. So let’s dig in and learn which of these three motorcycles perform best on the open road.







2014 MV Agusta F3 800 Street Photos
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2014 Suzuki GSX-R750 Street Photos
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2014 Ducati 899 Panigale Street Photos
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Comments
Miffy   April 14, 2014 05:49 AM
Would have to be the 750 for me, £4000 cheaper, cheaper to insure, cheaper to repair, easier to live with and it's every bit as good, if not better for 99% of people out there. That rear cylinder head of the 899 is in the worlds dumbest place, you'd never be able to ride it around for very long without the heat annoying you.
OutOfTheBox   February 27, 2014 06:59 PM
@mistery ...yeah...and I believe that this *is* the worlds' first "heavyweight supersport" shootout :) So you're part of history just reading it :)
mistery   February 26, 2014 11:20 PM
@thisistoomuchwok You just spoke for yourself and a small group of readers. These articles are meant for a wide audience and I trust there was still something a fine connoisseur like yourself could take away. What you are asking them to do is to be subjective which is clearly something they are trying NOT to be! Plenty people care for MPG figures on sport bikes. You might ride your bike only on weekends, you might have other bikes for daily use. Other people will only have money for one of these and that one bike must tick all boxes. Sexiness, handling, equipment, ergonomics, weekend carving, some long range hauling etc. Fuel might not mean much in the US but on this side of the Atlantic in country Yurop we care about it, trust me. And go figure, even Yuropans read this site because it delivers good content just like this one. The gixxer is not a sexy Italian model and may be long in the tooth but its bang for buck is right up there with the other tested bikes, maybe even better. I know plenty people who long for a Duc for what it is but would never commit to one because the Japanese bikes are easier to live with.
OutOfTheBox   February 26, 2014 08:47 PM
Dude I don't care which bike they pick, except for he fact that they take the top pick and use it in other shootouts. The main thing is that they actually generate objective data and often on the same track in the same test-conditions, and that means you can compare the bikes on a lot more than weight and 1/4mile times. You will not understand how valuable that approach is until you deal with a site like RideApartSucks that is nothing more than subjective nonsense. Ok each rider may have their own preferences but they don't base the entire article on their own subjective evaluation, at least not in these shootouts. These are gems.
thisistoomuchwork   February 24, 2014 05:07 PM
Okay, so the Ducati got the 10 in engine, handling, and looks, and you guys still picked the 38 year old Gixxer. Are you actual sport riders or no-nuts accountants. Yeeesss I like the 750, and yeeessss I have a friend who is an accountant, but this is a Sport bike shootout. The bikes need to look sexy and handle like gems, and shoot forward like a .308 headed for an afgan hind end. Unless it is crippling, what sport bike rider even cares about MPG and things of that nature. Just my 2 cents. Keep up the good work !