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2009 Daytona SportBike Comparison

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
2009 Daytona Sportbike Comparison
The contenders (from left): Kawasaki ZX-6R, Aprilia RSV1000R and Buell 1125R. While this may seem like a strange match-up, DMG thinks it works. Time to find out...
Never in its history has so much controversy surrounded AMA Pro Road Racing. Under the broken wing of DMG (Daytona Motorsports Group), a company rooted in NASCAR, massive changes have turned American road racing into what some are calling a traveling circus. Much to the dismay of riders and fans alike, a black cloud has been cast over our already struggling sport. Is the end near? Not according to DMG, they claim this is the future. But in the process of shaping the “future” they have seriously ruffled some feathers, to say the least…

One of the most significant and the hottest topics of discussion is the allowance of Aprilia’s RSV1000R and Buell’s 1125R in the new Daytona SportBike class, racing against the likes of supersport-spec 600s. A couple hundred extra cc for a V-Twin over an Inline-Four is one thing, but is it really fair to let them have almost double the displacement? And why is Buell allowed 1125cc and Aprilia only 1000cc? Both have Rotax-built liquid-cooled engines and must adhere to the same minimum weights, thus right there the rules seem a tad flawed. That is, unless you look at it in terms of dollars and cents. Then one would want to give the American-owned Buell whatever it took to win, as nothing would be better for an American Series than an American bike winning...
Eslick powered the Buell 1125R to the front and never looked back - Daytona SportBike Race 1 Fontana
Danny Eslick (9) spearheads Buell's effort this year and has been winning races right from the start. Begs the question: Is it the rider or the bike?

According to AMA Pro Racing President Roger Edmondson, “AMA Pro Racing (DMG) is dedicated to ensuring that we deliver to our fans great competition on the track between a variety of brands. This was an important step in getting the formula where it needs to be to make good on that commitment." Interesting wording, don’t you think?

In their defense, they have gotten far more manufacturers up front, with as many as six different marques in the top-10 on several occasions this year. But it's the tactics in which they have done this that are questionable.

With the AMA paddock in an uproar over the speed of the Buell and their come-from-no-where race wins, those crazy wheels in our head once again began spinning (not to mention those voices I keep hearing, but that’s just because I skipped my meds for a couple days): Why not take the Buell 1125R, Aprilia RSV1000R and Kawasaki ZX-6R (our 2009 Supersport Shootout winner) and see how they match up in stock trim at the racetrack? We all know the Daytona SportBike-spec machines hit the track in what is pretty far from street trim, but they had to start somewhere.

The tough part in this equation is defining what modifications are legal in this DMG circus. DMG does like to make rule changes on the fly, but a quick click over to www.amaproracing.com reveals a basic rulebook, though it seems to focus more on number sizes and bodywork legalities than the differences allowed between bikes. It very cleverly skates around the issues fram what we can tell. We also made several attempts to gain said complete rulebook, none of which were originally responded to or even acknowledged.

Videos Our Sponsor
2009 Daytona SportBike Shootout
Click to view video
After the release of the article they contacted us to speak of a few things, showing they are very interested in what the press and public thinks of their series. Stay tuned for an interview with them in the future...

They also list a host of “Competition Bulletins” that are essentially changes to the rulebook. In these it is states minimum weight for the Inline-Fours is 360-pounds while the larger-displacement twins is 380-pounds. Though, talking to those in the pits, the Buells are well above that weight, as they roll off the track somewhere around 390 pounds anyway, thus this new rule will have no effect and serves as nothing more than a media hush - more than likely, DMG knows this full well. This may also be aimed at keeping the Buell from focusing on future weight reduction development, though. AMA also lists a Competition Bulletin with all the special allowances for each motorcycle, which is worth and read and very interesting to see.

Obviously this is a sensitive subject for the boys at AMA Pro Racing (DMG), as they put out a press release following  Fontana and Barber AMA Nationals to defend their rules. When was the last time you heard of a sanctioning body issuing a press release defending their own rules? 

2009 Aprilia RSV1000RR
2009 Aprilia RSV1000R.
A quick look at our spec-charts reveal a power-to-weight ratio of 3.54 lbs./hp for the stock Buell, 3.90 lbs./hp for the stock Kawasaki and 3.96 lbs./hp for the Aprilia. The Kawasaki and Aprilia are the closest, while the major disadvantage for the Aprilia lies with its rather hefty wet weight of 476 pounds. And talking to the KWS Aprilia team, shedding this weight in attempt to get even close to the minimum is impossible without the addition of very expensive (and not-allowed in some cases) parts, thus holding them back. Buell, on the other hand, gets another 125cc over the Aprilia and can get much closer to the minimum weight, it seems. Right there the rules start to look fishy.

2009 Buell 1125R
2009 Buell 1125R.
Headlining the controversy is Buell’s Richie Morris Racing and their lead rider Danny Eslick. The young gun was drafted at the eleventh hour to ride for the RMR/Geico team on the Buell 1125R. The decision has paid off greatly for Buell as the young Oklahoman has already scored three wins in the first five races. These results have caused many-an-eyebrow to rise. There’s no doubt DMG is pushing to have more manufacturers in the series, especially an American one, but at what cost?

Taking nothing away from Eslick, though, as he is riding the wheels off the RMR 1125. It’s not like the rest of the Buells in the field are dominating with him (privateer Taylor Knapp did hop on one at Road Atlanta and battle for a
2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R
2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R.
podium position his first race out). But it’s Eslick that is winning and the guy is talented, no question. But on equal machines the past several seasons Eslick has never been a race-winning threat – top-five or occasional podium at best. So, has he improved that much over the offseason, or does the bike give him some advantage?

To keep things in line with DMG, our buddy Jim Allen and the boys at Dunlop generously supplied us ample sticky rubber, the exact same stuff the big boys are racing on week-in and week-out in Daytona SportBike. Scoring was once again based on our modified Formula-1 system, with the test conducted at Streets of Willow. As for riding duties, yours truly spearheaded an effort which consisted of Road Test Editor Adam Waheed and fast photog/club racer JC Dhien, giving us a variety of skill-level riders, though all able to push the machines to the proper pace for a track-based racing evaluation. Lap times were documented and recorded throughout the entire test as this is, after all, a racing evaluation.

So… is DMG on the right track, or totally off its tracks? Time to take a look at how they perform off the showroom floor and see how equal this matchup really is!

(Read the Motorcycle USA's Daytona SportBike Comparison, but don't forget to check out the accompanying Daytona SportBike Comparison Video above.)

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Related Daytona Sportbike Articles
The Scales of Justice?
Daytona SportBike Comparo Weights

The Buell 1125R has a decided weight-to-power advantage in stock trim. The actual advantage for the American-made superbike on the AMA Daytona SportBike track is uncertain, with the DMG secretive about rules and dyno testing results.
2009 Daytona Sportbike Comparison Dyno HP2009 Daytona Sportbike Comparison Dyno Torque

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snotrocket -don't kid yourself  March 28, 2010 07:55 PM
i am sorry about what happend to buell. but under the rules it said that 2 cylinder bikes up to 1200cc may enter that means a ducati 1198 could have entered and made weight and if somone said i want a factory ducati 1200 against 600s it would have been laughed out and rightly so
ken thomas -buell  September 16, 2009 01:56 PM
Every time I visit Summit Point Raceway in West VA, the Buell racers dominate their class. I see the XB1200R race against and win vs. Ducati 999/1098, BMW RS1200R. This is club level racing in both Twins and Pro Twins class.
k12rider -Where's Ducati?  August 29, 2009 08:45 AM
Buell couldn't pay for better advertizing! I want one now. If Buell really wants to earn respect and honors they have to race overseas against Ducati. As for buy american, Tell that to Eric Buell he bought european engine to make his "american made" bike competitive.
jake -buell  August 9, 2009 04:59 PM
im not saying screw buell its the best bike they have built as a race machine in a long ass time and its great! but as JP rider said the buell also races in superbike so somebody please tell me how this works. ok i get it they arnt "tuned" to the same extent but come on. i dont ask to race a Viper against a modified civic on a road course... sure the civic could beat it up in some parts of the track but comon thats not the point.
Fast Freddy -video doesn't work  May 26, 2009 08:47 AM
Love the buell, the video stopped working, did you guys take it down???
Dave -Remember these are stock dynos  May 19, 2009 09:44 AM
The dynos are for stock bikes. Remember that the Buell is allowed very few changes to compete and the 600's are allowed a lot more. Why show us a meaninless stock dyno chart when we need to know what the HP figures are on the track bikes. GIGU as always. looks like the whole purpose of the subject is to get people rilled up, and you have.
adam -Buell and 1098R ?  May 18, 2009 02:21 AM
in the same class ? but i think that would be against the rules or ?
anthony-mutationracer -don't kid your self  May 16, 2009 06:25 AM
Do you really think that all the jap bikes are stock? I've raced buells for years and have always been at a disadvantage. Now i race a new R6, the piont is the jap bikes are really what we uses to know as fomula extreme know we call it daytona protbike. They all make about the same power and people just need to face the the facts that buell does make great fast extremely great streetbike oh and also great race bikes to. GO buell
anthony-mutationracer -don't kid your self  May 16, 2009 06:25 AM
Do you really think that all the jap bikes are stock? I've raced buells for years and have always been at a disadvantage. Now i race a new R6, the piont is the jap bikes are really what we uses to know as fomula extreme know we call it daytona protbike. They all make about the same power and people just need to face the the facts that buell does make great fast extremely great streetbike oh and also great race bikes to. GO buell
J P Rider -Take-A-Look  May 13, 2009 09:19 PM
Lighten up people. We all ride for the excitement and feeling when on the bike. Have you ever seen so many differant makes in the top 10 finishes? NO...I agree the displacement numbers look strange, but the Buell is not the fastest bike out there. Look where they start. Never in the front TWO rows. I see other makes challenging them in certain parts of the track, and even beating them in some area's. I find it actually fun to watch the races and look forward more than ever to the next race. Oh and by the way, the 1125 also runs in the AMA superbike class. It may not stand out as much there as it does in the daytona class but remember Yamaha, Suzuki, and Honda have been in the Superbike class a long time. I imagine in time it may shine there as well. In the mean time, sit back and enjoy the race action. I find it very exciting and look forward to the next race more than ever.
duckfan1098 - ama/ dmg  May 12, 2009 05:03 AM
stenman you are so on point! theyre isnt any AMA event that can stack up against a similiar class in WSB or WSS.Go SPIES,HAGA!
Racer -American  May 11, 2009 10:24 PM
I don't what is is not fair, but Jake you sound like you watch racing.
Jake -buy american?  May 11, 2009 08:35 PM
sure buy american! race america! hell only in america can a 1125 beat up on a 600 and call it "racing" its enough of that we can race 1200 twins against 1000 4s... welcome to america! if the buell wants to be taken seriously as a race bike lets have it race against its peers... now in all seriousness with this economy i say sure buy american but lets not kid ourselves and say that the buell is the superstar racer that the dmg has made it look. and heres whats great about a wonderfully "american 1125r... itself and the rsv get punted around by vtwin motors made by the SAME non american company ::cough rotax cough:: built motor yet are of different displacements... hum sounds like fair racing yet again. only in america. but once again love the tests keep kicking ass.
Carl -Great Racing  May 11, 2009 06:10 PM
What I can't understand is why Americans are so against an American motorcycle. I guess Everyone wants Jap or Euro Bikes to win forever. The competition looks pretty equal to me. It is the first time in recent years that the AMA has mixed it up. You don't see the same factory teams winning every weekend. Wake up buy AMERICAN!
Ryan -DMG comparo  May 11, 2009 05:54 PM
Thanks for doing this comparison. The Buell should have to run at 1000cc displacement to be fair with Aprilia. It is great to see them getting more serious about racing, but until they step into the ring on equal footing the race isn't fair. I hope the offer a revised model in the future that actually increases displacement to match the new Ducati 1200 (1198), and proves they can fight in the superbike class in America or at the world level. Fix the styling too!
Barbarino -ow  May 11, 2009 02:40 PM
Is it just me or is the Buell tough on the eyes?
Jake -Agreed...  May 9, 2009 08:46 PM
I have to agree with Steve. Those 600's are V-Twin appetizers on the street and canyons. Let's take it to the steet for real and see.
norCal Randy -Daytona Sportbike comparison  May 7, 2009 05:42 PM
To compare racing bikes on the "streets of willow" vs. the real Willow race track is a travesty. The "streets" has next to no straightaways and is always going to give a lighter bike an advantage. The "streets" is all about going thru curves without going really fast like on a real race track. If you had done this comparison on the real Willow race track then I would have been interested in your conclusions.
Steve -Take it to the street II...  May 7, 2009 05:18 PM
Oh, and I almost forgot, I have yet to experience any rider, on any 600cc bike, from any of the Big Four that can keep up, let alone outperform the RSV1000R on my home roads such as Ortega Highway, Palomar Mountain, Borrego Springs etc. It is a clear and real advantage with a V-Twin and the gobs of torque and HP available at your right wrist on these roads. It's safe to say that certain bikes will have an advantage on the track. In this test all of the bikes were pretty close. On the Street, the Buell and Aprilia would eat the ZX-6R alive. Gotta love it.
Wayne -DMG is WRONG!!!  May 7, 2009 04:53 PM
The problem is... you can't equalize motorcycle racing. The rider and team play a bigger role in the speed & winning department than car racing. Mat Mladin and his team would win with any bike, and probably wouldn't even need much development time to do it. That's why you make the rules as equal as possible and let them race. Even now, the WSBK Ducati has advantages the four cylinder bikes will never have, like more torque and a big bang motor by default.
joe -josh  May 7, 2009 04:17 PM
you cant compare track times from one test to another... just like you cant compare dyno numbers from 2 different tests. i would assume that the kawi zx6r was used in the test because it was deemed the winner of the most recent supersport shootout. but what the test basically boils down to is that the rules are fishy as to why a 1125cc twin is slotted to go heads up against a 600cc inline 4. why is a buell 1125 better suited to race the small 600cc bikes but the 1098 ducati cant? but back to you josh i guess if you want to compare the r6 against the rvt and the buell then we might as well round up the cbr600rr and gsxr600r and make it one big comparison.
Josh -I can't compare them? Then what is this about?  May 6, 2009 10:19 PM
I can compare the ZX-6R to the R6 and say that the R6 is faster and then ask the valid question of why compare the 1125R to the ZX-6R instead of the R6. I know that you can't say an R6 is ALWAYS a second faster. I'm just wondering if it would be different... If that is not valid, then no comparison test is.
hasty hughie -art. on daytona sportbike comparo  May 6, 2009 09:21 PM
Your writing asks the question whether or not the people who write your articles have any brains or education. Ahh go beg a question such as please mister question, may I have a grammar book?
Steve -Take it to the street.  May 6, 2009 08:32 PM
Great work on this Comparison. Usually, You will also do a real world street comparison which is beneficial for those of us that do not take our bikes to the track and use them primarly on the street and for back road carving. As an Aprilia Owner, I am impressed with how the RSV competes against the newer technology in stock form. It would have been cool if you were able to list some data about the bikes in true race spec so that we could get an idea of what type of HP and Torque the bikes are generating on the track and what type of weight reduction has occurred. Additionally, it would have been informative if you had compared the bikes with some very simple, street midifications that most of us will do to our bike shortly after driving them home. I added a Leo Vince exhaust system to my RSV along with a BMC airfilter and a Power Commander lll with custom mapping. This alone was a significant weight savings of about 15 pounds, and on the Dyno my RSV produced a healthy 130HP and 74 ft Lbs of torque. Im not sure of many other mods that would get a 600cc bike anywhere close to 130HP or these torque values without significant engine modifications. One last note about the rear shock on the RSV... in the Daytona sportbike class, KWS is actually using a Factory spec machine which is equipped with an Ohlins Rear Shock rather than the cheaper Sachs shock that comes on the base model RSV. I have also added an Ohlins shock to my RSV and it truly balances out the bike with the Ohlins front forks that come standard. Keep up the great work!
joe -the rules are dumb we all agree  May 6, 2009 07:47 PM
ok real quick josh the supersport test was a different day.. you cant compare them. second the new ama daytona is a joke, clearly it is ok to race 1125cc twins against 600cc 4s, right but if it was say 1198 then they would have to race against the big boys on 1000s... amazing what 73cc separates. wait wait why cant they just race a ducati 1098 in the ama daytona series! that is the perfect solution to all this.
Stenman -AMA/DMG  May 6, 2009 07:47 PM
Good article but what the hell is AMA/DMG doing? It's like they are trying to re-create the 750cc class with 600cc unlimited and 1125cc handicapped bikes. If Buell wants to test their metal they should put a team in World Superbike like every other manufacturer on the planet (BMW, Aprilla, Ducati, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda.) AMA/DMG doesnt get it AMA+DMG=WTF?. World Superbike and World Supersport is where its at. Oh and by the way, NASCAR sucks to. See you at Miller in Utah at the end of the month GO WSB!!!!
Mark -Great idea!  May 6, 2009 04:04 PM
Perfect reasoning to compare these bikes. I dig the article!
JOSH -Why the Kawi?  May 6, 2009 02:34 PM
In your supersport comparison the R6 averaged 1 second faster laps. Since the Buell only ran about 1/4 second faster on average, that would put the R6 as the fastest bike in DSB. I love the test, but does this really show that the Buell is a dominant force? It may have been easier to ride, but that didn't translate into a significant advantage. I know that 1/4 second is a lot in a race, but it doesn't seem like enough to declare the Buell a sandbagger. In fact, it makes me thing that race trim could result in pretty even bikes. You said yourself that Kawasaki has a lot more experience making a race bike than Buell does. Still, this was a great test. I just wonder if the results would have been different on the r6.
Ben -Great Comparo  May 6, 2009 11:17 AM
I love the idea of comparing different styles of bikes. It was very interesting and is helpful for us trying to pick a bike to buy. I wish you guys had the chance to do this more and include a street test. I think the Buell would win there too though. Cool Idea -Nicely Done.