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2009 Superbike Smackdown VI Street

Monday, May 11, 2009
2009 Honda CBR1000RR Street Comparo
Another year, another batch of brand-new candy-colored Superbikes. This year Motorcycle USA presents separate track and street evaluations for your liter-class sportbike pleasure.
More than anything riding a contemporary liter-class sportbike is an exercise in restraint. Whether it be keeping yourself from using all 150-odd rear-wheel horsepower at every given opportunity, or controlling the desire to wheelie past every other vehicle you see on the road, if you wish to live a long prosperous life aboard a sportbike you simply must show restraint.
And for 2009, the ability to control one’s self while at the controls of new 1000cc superbikes becomes more difficult than ever when the usual suspects from Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha are at your disposal. Two of them, the 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 and 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 are all-new and feature significantly upgraded engines and chassis wrapped in new bodywork.

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2009 Superbike Comparison Street Test
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Check out the latest Superbike crop in street action in the 2009 Superbike Smackdown VI Street Video
The 2009 Ducati 1198 looks the same but received a boost in displacement as a direct result of the Ducati Corse World Superbike homologation effort. Then there’s the returning Superbike Smackdown-champion Honda CBR1000RR, which offers an innovative anti-lock braking system as a factory option for ’09 but is otherwise unchanged. As is last-year’s runner-up, the potent 2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.
For this Superbike Smackdown liter-class comparison Motorcycle USA brings back our old school-approach by separating the vastly different environments of street and racetrack. Our track test took place at one of California’s most underrated racing circuits, Thunderhill Raceway, in Willows, California. Executive Editor Steve Atlas has his hands full crunching performance numbers and deciphering our test rider’s scribbles to determine the winner in outright performance around the racetrack. 
2009 Honda CBR1000RR Street Comparo
$60,000-plus worth of machinery. But which one is right for you? Follow along and let's find out.
So that leaves us to evaluate what the majority of sportbike motorcycle riders actually do with these superbikes – ride them on the streets. Since we were already in Northern California for our racetrack test at T-Hill, we headed to Redding to ride some of NorCal’s long stretches of curvy and often untraveled roads. Enjoying a heavy dose of unseasonably warm spring weather along the way, our route stretched between Highways 299 and 36 with a few adventures along the backroads connecting those two main thoroughfares. The tarmac was twisty, the cops nowhere to be found and the speed limits, well, let’s just not go there right now…
We followed that weekend of canyon carving by bringing them back down to Southern California for a few weeks of daily commuting to get a better feel for what they’re like to live with day-in and day-out. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what this year’s Superbikes have to offer.

2009 Superbike Smackdown Horsepower
2009 Superbike Smackdown horsepower chart courtesy of Mickey Cohen Motorsports.

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Daniel Vasconcelos -Go Honda!  November 29, 2009 08:17 PM
Go Honda!
CBR 1000 RR HRC!
Honduh -Jerry you are the fool  October 21, 2009 01:27 AM
That is all.
lou - jerry  September 12, 2009 07:17 PM
hey guys dont forget that jerry works for yam yam
Jerry -You fools are clueless about bikes, damn magazine readers!  September 7, 2009 12:40 PM
Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki better come up with a liter bike that can keep up with the R1, the R1 is the bike to beat this year, want proof? just ask every true racer, its bike of the year, won many awards and shootouts, but most important at the highest level of racing World superbike champion to be the R1, suzuki, honda and kawasaki are getting their azzes kicked all over the world by yamaha , not only the r1 but the R6 as well. and motogp champion, and josh hayes recent success in AMA superbike.
MAZHER SHAH -WHICH IS THE IS BEST GSXR 1000  July 26, 2009 11:59 PM
Emanuel -ema750  June 4, 2009 09:44 PM
the suzuki is more fast than the others bikes SUZUKI SUZUKI
Jeremy -Buell  May 24, 2009 07:26 AM
O.k. BMW,KTM,DUCATI,APRILIA,YAMAHA,KAWASAKI,HONDA,SUZUKI(big names in motosport,all in WSBK.KTM enters next year.).But explain to me please what is that Buell you are talking about?
MotoUSA -RE: benroe - missing bikes May 18, 2009 07:26 PM  May 19, 2009 08:59 PM
We have the Buell in our DMG shootout as they asked not to be in this one and as for the rest of the bikes you mention they aren't even in the US until next year with the excpetion of the KTM and they didn't want to come and play.
benroe -missing bikes  May 18, 2009 07:26 PM
So where is the BMW, KTM, Benelli, Aprilia, and Buell. You guys fell short on this one.
is the R1's undertail exhaust really unbearable ho -R1  May 18, 2009 06:20 PM
is the R1's undertail exhaust really unbearable hot
Fred -Nice job but no Buell...  May 16, 2009 12:57 PM
Really good job, kinda what i expected with the honda on top, ducati being best looking and most exotic and everything else having its own ticks and tricks. can i ask why there wasn't a Buell 1125R? That would have REALLY shaken things up.
speedjunkie_7@hotmail.com -Hutchy Reply  May 14, 2009 10:12 PM
I want it all and I want it now ... Can`t wait for the track stuff !!!LOL Thanks for your reply and good work.
Big Ron -Re: Bob K - Potential ST?  May 14, 2009 05:54 PM
Bob, I would highly recommend that you look at the ZX-14 as an ST bike. The engine and suspension will fulfill your need for speed. The bike is comfortable stock and you can add handle bar risers and rear sets to the bike to further improve the comfort. I beleive Corbin makes hard bags for it as well. A good source of info on the zx14 can be found on this site; especially the shoot out with the Busa. Happy Hunting
Shaswata -The whole possible range of competitors  May 14, 2009 04:14 PM
Okay the next time the bikes I would Like to see in the open class shoot out 1) Honda Fireblade 2) Suzuki GSX-R1000 3) Yamaha R1 4) Kawasaki ZX-10R 5) Ducati 1198S 6) Aprilia RSV4 7) BMW S1000RR 8) KTM RC8R 9) Benelli Tornado Tre 1130 10) MV Agusta F4 R312 1078RR 11) Vyrus C4 12) Bimota DB7 13) Buell 1125R
John -waheeds jacket  May 13, 2009 09:50 PM
Just wondering how you like that fieldsheer corsair jacket. Seems like you wear it quite often. Looking at one myself. Specifically wondering how it wears in hot weather or weather it is a spring warm weather type jacket.
Ravi meena -bikes  May 13, 2009 09:40 PM
I like bikes
Johnny -RE: Correct info for CBR  May 13, 2009 07:39 PM
I have 07 Cbr 1000 with full Akrapovic exhaust system, K&N air filter and PCIII. First i had only muffler and air filter (153hp at the rear wheel). Then with the full Akrapovic system 161hp. The Power Commander added more additional 8hp. I used the same Dyno. So in my opinion if you want to buy a full exhaust system, the air filter and the mapping device are recommended for your bike. Sorry for my english. Regards from Bulgaria ;)
y32dsm -Correct info for CBR  May 13, 2009 07:09 PM
i just bought my 09 cbr! everything they said about cbr is true. it has kinda mellow bottom power. however, once it hit 6k rpm, it flies like rocket! very brutal, seriously! basically, u feel like u ride two different bikes. good mileage and short gear shift(i don't like personally, but can't get everything). there is some frictions on a throttle(highway riding). sometimes, my hand gets numbed if ya ride for couple hrs. overall, it's great! especially, handling is the best of the class. im kinda new in da 1000 class, but i handle cbr as if ive been riding for a longtime. i really feel like i ride 600. so easy, may be too easy to ride. whoever wants to get into 1000, just buy cbr1000. u will appreciate what i said.by the way, if u look for loud sounds, gotta go for gsxr. cbr is very quite bike like they said, but when it hit 6k rpm, it has some bad ass sounds, too. im looking for a new exhaust system. if i get a full system, i must get a racing filter and a fuel mapping device? Or, it's ok to have only the full system. i need info on that.
Brian -How about the "other" liter bikes??  May 13, 2009 04:14 PM
As usual, you guys do a splendid job with the Superbike Smackdown. But, it sure would be nice to get a clear side-by-side comparison which includes a broader range of bikes. Certainly the Buell 1125R (my fav) should be in the mix and probably the Aprilia RSV1000R. Why do these get relegated to a separate article in a shootout with Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R (i.e., the whole AMA-DMG controversy)?? We need them all side-by-side guys! PLEASE?
Bob K -Potential ST?  May 13, 2009 03:35 PM
I'm more of a sport touring bike guy, with emphasis on sport, since I commute and travel by bike rain or shine daily, but I've been looking at race-reps recently to replace my lethargic BMW R1100SA with hard cases. The ST market is rather vacant in regards to high performance bikes in engine and especially suspension while also being lightweight. So these street tests are extremely valuable to me when shopping. Milage, comfort, lighting and ability to wrench on my own bike are very important to me. So is how well these things handle sucking in rain infested air and soaking up bumps on roads with pavement that's cracked and chunked up. At the moment, I know Ducati of Ontario has a beautiful retrofit kit to add the Multistrada cases to the 1098/1198. But if the Duc is a torture rack, maybe soft cases on the Honda with ABS is my ticket.
Matt -Dyno Charts  May 13, 2009 02:15 AM
Hi Guys. Just a quick one. How accurate are those dyno charts? I have looked at previous shootouts and noticed a difference between bikes that are the same. For example. 2007 - 2008 R1 are the same bikes but in both shootouts the dyno show otherwise? Is is to do with weather and humidity on the day?
adam - motousa -test rider height  May 12, 2009 10:24 PM
our testers range in height from about 5-foot, 8-inches to right around 6-foot, 2-inches. (i'm 6-even) and without a doubt the Honda was the most comfortable for us. That being said if you are taller than around 6-2, 6-3 definitely the suzuki or yamaha might be a better fit as you can adjust the foot pegs down lower thereby making more room for your legs.
EWL -Hutchy or Adam - How tall were your riders?  May 12, 2009 08:34 PM
First off, this is a great website - I check it every day. I was surprised, however, that you guys mentioned that the Honda fit all of your test riders quite well. I've read exactly the opposite from some other websites. I'm curious - how tall were your test riders? For future reference it might be a worthwhile piece of information to mention on every ride review. I know that at 6'5", ergonomics are my primary consideration for any sportbike. Thanks!
Dustin -Honda's emissions tune in the US  May 12, 2009 08:23 PM
I just cant understand why you guys didnt mention this in the shoot out last year or this year. This is the only complaint i have about my 08 CBR 1000rr. Midrange is a bitch but it falls flat on its face after 10k rpms. Yea, its a great street bike with all the mid range power, but i really think you guys needed to point out the power difference between the US spec bike and the Euro spec bike.
johnny -1098R  May 12, 2009 07:38 PM
If the price was not a factor - 1098R
adam - motousa -headlights  May 12, 2009 01:20 PM
Out of all the bikes the Yamaha has the brightest headlight both in low and high beam, with Honda having the second brightest. It's not a huge difference however and all the headlights with the exception of the Ducati are excellent for street use. The Ducati has the worst low beam and high-beam and could benefit greatly from a proper headlight re-aim.
Frank -R1 Lights  May 12, 2009 12:51 PM
To the editors - Which bike has the best head lights? Thanks
Frank -R1 Power  May 12, 2009 12:46 PM
Looking at the dyno chart, the R1 falls off at the top but it competitive elsewhere. I think this is unique to the North American model due to stricter noise regs than in Europe. Its the same situation as with last year's ZX-6. I think even Yamaha admits a 6 horsepower deficit on the top end compared to the Euro model. Its nothing a set of slip-ons and a tune couldn't fix but then again the other bikes don't have this problem.
Hutchy -Bottom End  May 12, 2009 10:33 AM
Well, it feels like it has good bottom end - but then it falls off, just look at the dyno charts on the gallery. They show that the poor R1 starts off ok but as soon as you shift out of first, it starts losing ground. You know, we love that bike too, so it sucks that it ranks low.
Brian -stuff...  May 12, 2009 08:07 AM
First off, whoever pulled that 1198 wheelie and barely got it stopped before traffic....whoa....I'm sure that was a bit of a scare :-) Anyway, this year I bought the new R1 and I must say I really, really like it! The power is smooth, the D-mode works and the R1 IS different, but in a great way! The heat is no worse than any Ducati I have owned; if you replace the oem catalytic converter this would remedy some of that. For the street the oem suspension is really good and the powerband is really linear and smooth. The bike doesn't feel heavy at all and after I installed Michelin's new Power One 2CT street tires I think it is one of the best bikes I have ever purchased. For 2009 I wanted to have another street bike and since I have a 2004 Kawasaki ZX-10R that I roadrace and a 2008 Ducati 1098 that will now become the next racebike, when considering my choices I really had no other options but the R1. Personally, I don't like the look of the Honda or Suzuki at all! I have a ZX-10R and a Ducati 1098 so it was a no brainer for me, especially since I really like the look of the R1. Also, the R1 has a really, really good gearbox! The rear shock has hydraulic preload! If you set up the bike properly it handles GREAT! The oem bodywork is easy to remove, oem Dzus fasteners! So for those that want something different, I recommend the R1! After all if you have owned twins and inline-fours this bike is something new and interesting and it sounds AWESOME!
Frak! -Uhhh  May 12, 2009 06:38 AM
The r1 has the best bottom end, yet took 5th in this shoot out for STREET use? Chewbacca defense?
Andy -smackdown surprise.  May 12, 2009 05:28 AM
I thought that the results would be the exact opposite. Really surprised Honda held onto the title with a last years model. I still wouldn't buy the Honda, because the face looks like some ugly pug. If they would just change that, I would be happy. Really surprised with the R1. MCN just raved about the new R1...
JImbo -Shootout  May 12, 2009 12:37 AM
I've said it on the Gixxer thou page and I'll say it again. Congratulations on a very solid test of the Litre-class. You've gained a new reader
big ron -Smackdown  May 11, 2009 10:22 PM
Great job guys, but I would have loved to see the Buell in there. Shane 4000; You should sell your 07' Z and find an 05' you will like it much better on the street.
jake -aprilia  May 11, 2009 08:24 PM
just gotta say love what you guys do! but i gotta say after reading the first aprilia rsv4 review i couldnt wait for it to be in the smackdown... did the boys in Italy not learn to play nice and share? not that i would be able to buy one but its always nice to see where the chips fall ya know? before long europe account for equal share of the superbike styled classed bikes whatever we wanna call these 1000cc inline 4s and 1200cc twins. cant wait to see the full smack down bwm ktm aprilia ducati yamaha suzuki honda kawasaki hell maybe the mv agusta. bring them all on and let the smack be handed down. keep it up boys.
Hutchy -How much quicker can it get?  May 11, 2009 08:19 PM
Yo Junkie-o-buddy-old pal. My man... we only got the bikes on 4-20 and spent 3 weeks riding and testing these beasts? Plus, this is only Part 1 - we still have the track test coming next week with more videos, more photos, more data. If you're veins aren't throbbing by the end of this month you better switch drugs!
speedjunkie_7@hotmail.com -timely useful ?  May 11, 2009 06:44 PM
Should I skip this Smackdown and wait for the 2010 model reviews ? LOL What took you people so long ? If your articles were the smack to cure my moto journalism addiction I would be very sick by now !!!
shane4000 -the right bike for me  May 11, 2009 06:02 PM
you know after reading all this i do not think i will sell my 2007 zx10r it fits me great still has alot of power more then what i can use in town or the highway. But i do got to say i been looking up that new r1 and every thing i found out about it, as they say the cbr 1000 is a great bike but that r1 makes it feel like a 600 in down low and up high, as they did a test run both bikes in 6 gear from 50mph and got on it and the r1 pulled away and the r1 won street test also. do i do not think those under tails are the hot spot as my zx10r never gets hot under the seat. But when it hits 210f and it is 80f out then im like oh wow im so dam hot come on light turn green :)