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2009 Supersport Shootout VII

Friday, March 20, 2009
2009 Supersport Shootout
Say hello to the Class of 2009! (Clockwise from left to right) Suzuki GSX-R600, Kawasaki ZX-6R, Ducati 848, Triumph Daytona 675, Yamaha YZF-R6 and Honda CBR600RR.
Darwinist Domination

Competition drives the world we live in. Stop for a second and take a look around – it’s easy to see how our daily lives are directly affected by the survival of the fittest theory. Be it retail sales, automotive industry, mortgage companies … just about everything. The strong thrive and the weak die; it’s Darwin’s natural selection and has been this way since the days of the dinosaurs. In our kingdom of two wheels this is no more apparent than our annual large-scale shootouts. They are knockdown, in-your-face, drag ‘em out competitions, clearly ranking today’s latest sportbikes from first to last – no sissy stuff here folks. And for 2009 we have pulled out all the stops, shredded 48 Michelin tires and broke the bank (doing our best to support the world’s economy), to bring you the biggest and best Supersport Shootout – ever!

Check out the Supersport Shootout video for a quick peek summary of the test and make sure to watch the individual motorcycle video reviews on each model page as well. You get to see and hear the bikes in action and hear what our test riders had to say about each bike on some of our sickest sportbike videos to date.

Big money makes for big players and high supersport stakes. All six of this year’s top middleweight sportbikes showed up in force on the track, complete with full-factory support (for the most part...) for two full days of racetrack exploitation: Day 1 at the uber-faster Willow Springs and Day 2 at the tight and technical Streets of Willow. Add extensive street mileage, quarter-mile and top speed performance testing at Honda's top secret HPCC center in the Mojave Desert, plus the always imperative dyno and weight numbers, allowing us to give you thorough breakdown of each and every machine; all at the hands of six vastly qualified test riders.
This year was the closest race to date...
By far the most trouble-free and action-packed Shootout we've produced to date, '09 has proven to be a big year for the Supersports. So, sit back, climb on and strap yourself in for one heck of a ride.

Included in the racetrack group are 2-time AMA National Champion Chuck Sorensen as well as 9th-place finisher in last year’s Daytona 200 and MotoUSA’s Executive Editor Steve Atlas (that would be me). They are joined by 17-year-old racing prodigy and former X-Games Supermoto rider Frankie Garcia. A combined 15 years of moto-journalism experience pads the testing resumes of Road Test Editor Adam Waheed and MotoUSA’s VP Ken Hutchison, with photographer/club racer extraordinaire JC Dhien rounding out the supersport squad.

For the street portion, we crossed into the mainstream entertainment world, sourcing our celebrity crew of rock band and television friends to join us for some canyon carving. TV star John Hensley of Nip/Tuck fame and Angels and Airwaves’ David Kennedy joined Waheed, Dhien, motocross-ace-turned-street-junkie Scott Simon and myself for some serious roadway miles to see how these middleweights faired in the ‘real world.’

The Contenders…

This year’s class of supersports comes from the East in the form of the Big-Four Japanese manufacturers – Honda CBR600RR, Kawasaki ZX-6R, Suzuki GSX-R600, Yamaha YZF-R6 – as well as two strong Euro additions – Britain’s Triumph Daytona 675 and the ever-popular Italian Ducati 848.

As far as which of these little rockets are new for ’09: Kawasaki is changed from the ground up, following in its big brother ZX-10’s footsteps, with a complete overhaul of the Zed-X 6R. The Triumph receives a “host of small changes,” said to make an overall much better motorcycle. Some minor tweaks are said to give the Yamaha slightly more mid-range for ‘09. The rest stay mostly the same with the exception of BNG (Bold New Graphics),

Go big or go home, it’s that simple. So, without further ado, we give you the 2009 MotoUSA Supersport Shootout in all its glory…

Shout Outs...
Making this shootout happen was no easy task. Thanks to everyone who helped!
Putting on a Shootout of this size is no easy task. Big thanks to everyone who helped!

To make sure we give love where it’s due, here are a list of our supporters and key personnel that allowed this amazing test to happen:

No easy or cheap task to supply 48 tires for our shootout, the French company stepped up to the plate with its new Power One race tire and came through with plenty of black sticky donuts . Day One was spent on the consumer-available standard tire, which you can buy from Parts Unlimited, etc., while Day Two was on the full-fleged race-only heat, which are available through trackside retailers. The new tire from Bib was praised by all. Stay tuned for a full review of the rubber this time next week!

Racer’s Edge Performance
Providing track-side tire support was the always hard-working Dale Kieffer, who made sure all the bikes had fresh rubber right on time. Not to mention Dale is one heck of a talented racer himself, so when the guy gives tire advice, we listen.

Making sure we had ample on-board footage for this many machines in the time we had was no easy task, but if it were not for GoPro’s wide angle Hero it would have been impossible. They worked flawlessly and produced some awesome footage. Be sure to check out the videos!

Willow Springs Raceway
The ‘fastest road in the west’ once again went above and beyond the call of duty to fit us in, making sure both of our days at the track were smooth and flawless.

The OEMs
Big thanks to Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha and Ducati for providing support and doing a great job at it. Too bad Triumph could not provide anyone, as their bike would have fared much better if they had. Goes to show how key machine set-up really is.

Laguna Beach Doctors
SCOS’s Doctors first put a new knee in my right leg last year. This time around they used screws and plates to fix Associate Editor Adam Waheed’s right arm a mere five weeks pre-shootout and he was back in full force, dropping his personal best lap times at Streets of Willow by two full seconds. The bionic boys were bringing it!

Be sure to check out the Supersport Shootout video . We supersized our production and hired moving-picture ace Ray Gauger to keep you TV-loving folk grinning from ear to ear!

Videos Our Sponsor
2009 Supersport Shootout Video
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2009 Supersport Shootout - Horsepower Bar Graph

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Shaswata Panja -Supersports Bikes are faster than the mightiest of Supercars!!!  September 10, 2009 04:59 AM
The Fastest Bike in the Group the R6 is faster than the mighty 640 bhp ZR1 tested by Edmunds (Fastest Laps) by a whopping 3.53 secs!!!!! It is faster than the Nissan GT-R by a massive 4.75 secs...I wonder whether the the litre bike would be able to pull off another 3-5 secs!!
riduan bp -supersport  September 4, 2009 09:24 PM
kau good
rr -600 shoot out  August 26, 2009 07:37 AM
you must of got a friday machine for your cbr600rr,99hp that bad mine got dynoed at 113hp stock and 47 lbs of tq
Skeptic -Oh come on...  April 20, 2009 01:03 PM
We all know that reviews arent exactly subjective, when FACTORY sponsors are on hand... These guys get flown to Japan for first rides of the new ZX6R, of COURSE it won!
power997 -?!  March 30, 2009 02:11 PM
i am astonished really. daytona praised since 2006 in so many reviews and tests including masterbike and supersport.. and here this agile and good bike, with quite an advantage in power and torgue is just second counting from the end. What have you done to this bike?? its so unrealistic..
marcus -relevence - as per John C  March 30, 2009 03:06 AM
- " Big thanks to Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha and Ducati for providing support and doing a great job at it. Too bad Triumph could not provide anyone, as their bike would have fared much better if they had. Goes to show how key machine set-up really is" I agree with John C. Let me add that you buy a bike with the tyres it is on and the set-up from the factory. Next year could you do an "out of the box" comparison first - the sort of seat of the pants thing that we as normal people would do when test-riding these guys? Follow that by a 'fettling for dummies' session where you see how easy it is for the average joe-shmo to set the bike up - and then if you really want to go the whole hog - an expert section - but no one from the manufacturers - please! It's so unreal it hurts.
Steve Atlas -RE: John c - Relevance  March 26, 2009 03:56 PM
We see your point. And while it may feel vary racetrack-based due to all the photos and video being done there, we did spend a great deal of time on these machines on the roads with all level riders. We also did so with zero factory support and with all the machines initially set up to showroom settings. And this played a large role in the final scoring. Due to safety reasons we keep most all the photography and video production on the racetrack though.
John c -Relevance  March 26, 2009 01:08 PM
First let me say that I think your tests are very comprehensive and as good as any around. That said I am concerned that they won't mirror the experience of the average Joe (me). I'm going to spend the vast majority of my time on the road, I'm not going to have the benefit of a factory team to set my bike up to my weight/riding style/particular track and conditions. In short I'll take the bike with standard settings and tweak it a bit to match my size and weight. Now I don't expect you to mirror my (in)competance, but you might try to get a bit closer to the view of Joe Public rather that that of experienced racers/teams (I'd like to aspire to that, but regretably....)
Steve Atlas -RE: mugwump - Joint Replacement and Orthopedic Surgeons  March 24, 2009 05:12 PM
While that was somewhat of a joke, SCOS (South County Orthopedic Surgeons) are who Adam and I both use and are amazing. They are in Laguna Beach, CA. I can't speak for any others as that is the only place I go...
mugwump -Joint Replacement and Orthopedic Surgeons  March 24, 2009 03:53 PM
You brought it up. These are the reviews I need. I've had insurance doctors, should've had sports doctors. So let's see a review, who should we be going to?
Superlight -Supersport Comparo  March 22, 2009 05:24 AM
Nice job! Now all we have to do as consumers is take your info and insert it into our personal charts, where we determine our own selection priorities. For me, who values style as much as machine dynamics, that would result in a Ducati victory.
Johnny -Supersport shootout  March 21, 2009 07:32 PM
This was definitely a welcome article to read. I love the fact that you guys included the ducati and Triumph. While japanese bikes are quite awesome I have a slight distaste for them since I see every cookie cutter, fast and the furious tool riding one. I find it interesting that the daytona was dead last in this comparison. At motorcyclenews.com they rated it #1 in their shootout. I guess there is a lot of subjectivity involved in comparisons. Being a speed triple owner I was saddened by your results, but I'm just glad you included the daytona. Thanks for doing what you guys do and keeping me somewhat satisfied as I wait for warm riding weather to get here.
Erik -!!!!!  March 20, 2009 07:26 AM
Fantastic job! Not only is this the best supersport comparison you guys have put together to date, it's certainly the best one I've read out of all of the magazines/websites. I can only hope that the '09 Superbike Smackdown is this comprehensive!