Drag site icon to your taskbar to pin site. Learn More

Superbike Smackdown VI Street Conclusion

Monday, May 11, 2009
2009 Ducati 1198 Comparo
For the second year in a row, Honda's CBR1000RR aces the competition on the streets. Stay tuned until next week for our racetrack evaluation and see how it stacks up on the track.
So there you have it. Another year passes and the Honda CBR1000RR remains on top as the champ in the street portion of this year’s Superbike Smackdown VI. Although Ducati, Suzuki and Yamaha stepped up with updated machinery, which all of our testers thoroughly appreciated, they didn’t deliver motorcycles with the total package. They didn’t present a bike that excelled at the fundamental basics of an entertaining motorcycle ride: Power, control and ease-of-use. These are the basic attributes Honda has in spades. Sure it doesn’t look the coolest and doesn’t the coolest sound, but it just plain works - everywhere. And that’s why for the second consecutive year Honda’s CBR1000RR is the best street bike money can buy.

Check out what our tester’s would purchase if they needed a new sportbike for 2009.

Adam Waheed, Road Test Editor:
A new year and another batch of insanely awesome liter-class sportbikes. Man, it’s a great time to be alive! And for less than the price of a slow, boring four-door car you can have a performance machine that will outperform any brand-new car outside of a million dollar Bugati Veryron. That is, if you exclude outright top speed. Honestly I would be happy to own any one of these bikes. In fact, selecting one is more about how it looks and sounds than outright performance anyway, because they are all so close and you just can’t exploit any of these bikes on the street. You’ll die, it’s as simple as that. Nevertheless if I needed a brand-new sportbike this year it’ll be an R1. Why? I know it’s not the most comfortable bike or even the fastest or lightest, but I like how it looks and how it sounds. Plus, where I live half of the year it gets down right chilly in the morning. And I perhaps more than anything, I hate being cold. Thus the R1’s factory installed seat and leg heaters are a must for me. I’ll take mine in Pearl White/Rapid Red with a set of GYTR pipes.

Joe Wallace, MotoUSA IT Guru:
If money was a bit of an object, I would have to purchase the Honda. It doesn’t look the best and I can’t stand its flat front nose but it is fast, it is comfortable, and it is easy-to-ride. Not to mention that it’s a Honda, so it’s basically guaranteed to run forever. But for me, when I purchase something big like a motorcycle, I want something special. Something that not every guy I see riding around in an Icon jacket and a weird fake fauhawk on their helmet. I want something that looks cool, sounds cool and goes like a bat out of hell. And that motorcycle is the Ducati. That’s why I have a 1098. Unfortunately I will now have to sell my beloved 1098 in order to make room for a shiny new 1198. I hate you Ducati.

Ken Hutchison, MotoUSA VP:
Choosing a motorcycle for the street is more complicated than it is for chosing one for just the track. Comfort and value are almost offset by the cool factor and the thrill of the ride. If it was only the former the Honda would be the easy choice but for me its the latter and that's why the leaner, meaner and stronger Ducati 1198 would still be the motorcycle I would buy if I had the means to do it. Sure, that Repsol livery turns heads but folks go plum crazy when you roll up on the Ducati.

Brian Chamberlain, VP Graphics Dude:
My money would go to the Honda. While I also really enjoyed the Suzuki and the ZX-10, the Honda became the bike I was always eager to grab first. It just does everything great. The motor is strong and very street friendly. The ergonomics are aggressive, yet very comfortable and the overall package just feels very refined.

Steve Atlas, Executive Editor:
I would say Honda if I actually rode it on a daily basis and money was really a concern. Now, if my medicine cabinet was loaded with pain-pills and I only rode it from time to time, then the Ducati is the obvious choice.

Check out how these bikes held up on the track portion of our 2009 Superbike Smackdown VI Track Test.

Dealer Locator

Login or sign up to comment.

Sparky Cushman -Known Tempter of Fates-Habitual.  June 8, 2010 08:45 AM
Took Rusty Wood's Kwacker out yesterday.
He'd new and improved it.
The shop won't run the bike I.R.W.C. to redline in top gear; fear factor.
Rusty won't, he understands that this motorcycle was already more than he could use, but he makes a lot of money.
Rusty can afford to go fast.
Real fast.
But, the charging billygoat rampant stance of the wicked wicked on wonder can intimidate one.
Enter me.
Felt great.
232 R.L.I.T.G.
Who'd believe "brutal" could describe such a beautiful feeling?
On a streetbike.
Keeping it in the banshee wail range, row, row, row yer trans, play like it's an RM125 motocrosser...keep it in the rip zone...let it's voice be heard in the hills and hollows.
Camera car...needed a lot bigger zoom.
Accidently drifted two curves that just got tight faster than normal.
This monster can play speedway bike on dirt roads, polished asphault, tarmac, or concrete.
Personal best up on 2 in real world with twisties, and some ups n downs, and a beautiful 7 mile straight over in the flats.
Only saw two other happy motorists...., going the other way....God likes me...so far.
Cruised the speed limit as dusk began hiding things in the shadows. Flicked on the lights....damn, they put purple neon here and there on it....back in my day we put blue-dots in and were damned proud to have em too.
Home to my beautiful rose colored Panhead (factory red paint polished to a sweet rose over the decades).
Me and my old lady are going to run Route 66 end to end on the Pan this summer(BTW, she was not at all pleased that I put Rusty's performance modified speed demon through a half days work and all I got for it was monkeybutt.)
Can't see Rusty's Kwacker on that ride.
There's some chicken heads over by my Piss Elum tree...just let me get the old Red Ryder....and....lol, BB to buttcheek...bet he thinks a bee stung him.
Hey you brats!
Git off my lawn!

Jerry -The R1 is the bike to beat  December 8, 2009 02:17 PM
I hate to burst your bubble all you brand loyal followers but the R1 reigns supreme. It is the best 1000cc superbike out there and that is why it kicked the gixxer 1k's, cbr1000rr, s1000rr,duc 1198R,zx10r's azz all over the world. Remember the racetrack doesn't lie, the R1 won every single significant WORLD CLASS caliber racing. The r1 won the World superbike Championship, British Superbike championship, Dutch Superbike Championship, FIM world Endurance Championship, could honda,kawai,ducati,bmw,suzuki 1000cc machines do that? no the truth is they get spanked by the R1 this year. Let me hear the excuses now....
James -Superbike Smackdown Comfort  November 21, 2009 07:55 AM
Being 5'4', having a sportbike at a stop isn't the most comfortable thing at first it just takes getting used to. It's ironic how sportbikes have higher seats meant for taller riders but have ergonomics that make them more comfortable for shorter ones. Fortunately, I've had the opportunity to throw a leg over all of these bikes and altogether, comfort is a matter of opinion. The Suzuki and Yamaha are the most uncomfortable because they just feel too bulky in the front and feel the heaviest out of the superbikes. The Honda feels like it has the highest seat height even though though the Yamaha has 1.4 inches over the CBR; it's also a matter of how the suspension is set up. The Kawasaki is manageable and comfortable but the Ducati just seems like the perfect fit for a 5'4 rider with a 29" inseam. Sure it's seat height is high but it also has the most narrow seat which makes planting a leg down a whole lot easier. It's also the most slender of the bunch. It is true that it puts the most weight on your wrists compared to the four Japanese bikes, but again it just takes getting used to. One could even do forearm workouts to get stronger wrists! Personally, I have a Ninja 250R and a Ducati Hypermotard in my garage. The Ninja is just a dream seat height and ergo wise but even someone my height can manage the 33.3" height of the Ducati. Anyway, I hope this helps any shorter rider looking to get one of these ridiculous bikes.
sam -what are the reviews sizes?  October 23, 2009 04:55 PM
What size are the reviews that completed the street reviews and was there differences between the size of the review and their opinions?
Tony - Smackdown 2009 -2009 Liter Bikes  September 22, 2009 07:15 PM
I've had 2009 DUCATI 1198S GSX-R1000, 2008 HONDA CBR-1000RR,And now i own 2009 YAMAHA R1. All i can say is this bike is far more comfortable for me. The bikes power is so smooth its sick. As for a street bike... its great, And for roadracing its (awesome) in fact unbelieve!!! very easy to control. Brakes are great. And this Smackdown is so far off its not funny!I raced this bike against the new CBR 1/4 mile. I won by a bike length 9.96 was my best time three runs we did the other two runs we where neck & neck i was so shocked because the cbr was not stock. The yamaha is heavier then the honda plus i'm 30 pounds heavier then the rider. Bike is stuid fast.The honda has a z-bomb and Exhaust done.As for trackdays in millville NJ MOTORSPORTS raceway. i was doing really well with control and having nobody pass me in advance group. Yes the exhaust is a little hot in traffic when its 90 out. I love this bike better then my 08 r6!!!
Just give the bike a little to get used to. you have to bring the RPM' up a little higher leaving from a stop light so its smooth, or if you dont it will feel like an 1198 Ducati

Big Ron -Question for the Staff  July 19, 2009 10:00 PM
Hey guys I am a larger rider (6-4 and 265lbs athletic build). It seems that most of these bikes are made for smaller guys. Which of these bikes did your taller riders prefer and how tall were they?
streetbiker77 -1198s  May 30, 2009 01:11 PM
Great article guys, thank you for all the information.When it comes to the litre bikes it is always hard to choose since they are extremely close on the performance and handling. I just bought a black Ducati 1198s black and i am certainly in love. I also have a 2006 GSX-R 1000 which i believe it is the best gixxer ever. But maaan, when i jump on my 1198s it is totally different story, i love it accelerating, i love it at the corners i love it at the straight lines and yesss when i park my bike amoung bunch of bikes always he is the center of attention which i love it.. Before i make my choice i stepped on almost all the 1000s but ZX10R which really was too ugly to pick. R1 was really heavy on the corners and really def low on the power and torque compared to the other 1000s including my 1198s, gixxer def not better than my 06 which was a disappointment. CBR was great just like the 1198s actually friendlier, easier to ride. but the look of CBR just pushed me away every time i looked at him. I couldnt stand the flat nose...no bike gave me the pleasure that 1198s torque and quick power gave me!!! corners so easy with him, he goes wherever i turn my head..silly
badlikeme -where is?  May 26, 2009 01:59 PM
BMW S1000rr, KTM RC8, and Aprilia rsv4? cant leave those out, they are part of the superbike family.
john Naunton -Superbike Smackdown  May 24, 2009 11:27 AM
I live in the UK and I chose the ZX10 over the Blade - mainly due to it being a better fit for me, having a more exciting and smoother power delivery, smoother gearchange and fantastic fuelling - my nephew has the repsol blade and he loves it. They are all pretty fantastic really. One day when on a visit to see my sister in Buchanan VA I am going to have a good ride on the blueridge parkway
Tim_Chesapeake VA_ZX14 -Superbikes?  May 22, 2009 06:25 PM
I think they are all cute little bikes.
cloud9 -shane  May 20, 2009 11:15 AM
Don't be deceived by the times. These bikes probably are faster than the previous years. Quarter mile times can vary on any given day because many variables go into effecting how fast the run is. Tire pressure, humidtity, tire temperature, wind, air temperature and many many others. Regardless first-class work by you guys as always. Only thing I would like is a few more shots of the rear tail sections on the motorcycles. Can't wait till the naked/standard shootout is available.
Miffy -...  May 19, 2009 02:54 AM
Fact is none of us have ridden them all round a track and street and none of us are are good as the riders in this review. If you don't agree then fair enough but you can't say all their opinions are wrong seeing as you wern't there.
Naveen -Super bike smackdown VI Street  May 18, 2009 09:52 AM
Always honda is the best automabile manafacturer and best all rounder dont u guys quarrel they are the worlds no.1.
shane4000 -WOW  May 18, 2009 08:35 AM
you know i just looked at the old 2006 super bike smack down and the 2006 zx10r pulled a 10.09 for trap speed at 145 mph, that is fast as to where all the other bikes besides the honda where pull around 10.01 to 10.09 doing less speed at 141 mph or 139 so if anyone out there still got a old zx10r of a gsxr 1000 they still can keep up with these new bikes.
Eric Shindollar -Ergonomics  May 17, 2009 04:29 PM
How can the CBR be rated with the best ergonomics/comfort here, and last over on motorcycle.com shoot out of 2009 liter bikes? 1. GSX-R1000 – 98.75% 2. ZX-10R – 85 3. YZF-R1 – 85 4. CBR1000RR – 81.25 It is nice to know they both agree on the over all top rating is the CBR
shane4000 -WOW  May 17, 2009 10:50 AM
you know i just looked at the old 2006 super bike smack down and the 2006 zx10r pulled a 10.09 for trap speed at 145 mph, that is fast as shit to where all the other bikes besides the honda where pull around 10.01 to 10.09 doing less speed at 141 mph or 139 so if anyone out there still got a old zx10r of a gsxr 1000 they still can keep up with these new bikes.
Avinash -is CBR da best on the track?  May 16, 2009 01:15 AM
we all knw the ovious winner on the track is the ducati which cost a great deal of money compared to the japanese bikes..i reli want to knw which of the japanese bikes r better on entering turns fast and keeping a reli tight line and reli explosive on the exit..i follow the world superbike series and on that the r1 is brillant not only coz of ben spies..i reli dnt knw if shud consider da same with the stock bike??
Big Ron -Re: Rob - pretty obvious why the buell was left out to me.  May 15, 2009 05:51 AM
I took a look at the Daytona Sport Bike comparison after reading your comment and see the numbers you are referenceing; Buell is advertising 146 hp, 82 ft-lbs and 375 lbs. The difference between the two must be that the advertised numbers were measured at the crank or created in a marketing meeting. I stand corrected.
Billy Wyatt -Super bike smack down  May 14, 2009 10:25 PM
Lets all be honest, there all cracking bikes.I would be happy with any one of them.
Rob -pretty obvious why the buell was left out to me.  May 14, 2009 06:24 PM
Plain and simple, it WAY lacks in the power and torque departments. The buell's mid 120's RWHP and mid 60's RWTQ numbers just wont hold up the 150 or so RWHP and 75-90 RWTQ these bikes put out. And while the Buell does handle quite well, it wont do any better than most of the bikes here. Comfort wise in my experience it definitely falls behind the gsxr and CBR and generates tons of heat on the riders legs out of the side mounted radiators. The Buell 1125 falls in the "tweener" class occupied by the Gsxr 750 and ducati 848 which would be a rather interesting comparison to see.
Big Ron -Adam/Hutch - Why not include the Buell in the test  May 14, 2009 06:02 PM
Adam/Hutch, I am curious why you didnt include the Buell in the test. I read the Daytona Sportbike article which only confirmed to me that it is in the wrong class and should be in the superbike category. Based on the CR test I could see it being number one on the street and doing middle of the pack on the track.
David Hartman -CBR1000RR  May 14, 2009 11:34 AM
Christos, it is difficult to assess the percentage of bikes with the oil consumption problem due to the fact that 1) the procedure to check the oil is complicated, 2) most owners do not regularly check their oil level, 3) it is difficult to assert the ratio of people reporting issues on boards to those of the general public. Conservative estimates are between 2% - 5% of the 08's are affected. Also, I forgot to mention the clutch 'update' that affected 08 & 09 models, which was supposed to address issues with the slipper breaking. Unfortunately, Honda incorrectly packaged the updated parts & directions, so many people had to bring their bikes back a second time after the clutch was updated due to excessive slipping. Mine has not been updated yet for this very reason. I've had editors from Sport Rider and all over the world contact me regarding their oil consumption problems. I have not, as of yet heard of this issue surfacing on the 09 models though.
Christos... -HONDA CBR1000RR  May 14, 2009 10:46 AM
" am on my second 08 CBR1000RR after Honda replaced the first one due to excessive oil consumption & loss of power. I had to retain legal counsel for Honda to cooperate. Now the replacement is consuming >1 quart per thousand miles and is also down on power, and I will have to face this rigmarole again. A search on CBR boards shows this problem has been reported worldwide, and by several prominent motorcycle magazines, yet Honda refuses to deal with the issue responsibly." O didnt know that honda make lemonade. thats horrible. To roughly how many bikes has this happend to david? Any idea? Im sorry to hear it man! that makes me think twice... Id pick reliability any day of the week. To me, that SHOULD be No.1 priority. Nothing makes me laugh more than to ride past a broken down ducuti on the freeway. That saying is true you know... 'ducati,making mechanics out of riders since 1946 ' lol
David Hartman -CBR1000RR  May 14, 2009 08:50 AM
I take issue with Joe Wallace's statement; "Not to mention that it’s a Honda, so it’s basically guaranteed to run forever." I am on my second 08 CBR1000RR after Honda replaced the first one due to excessive oil consumption & loss of power. I had to retain legal counsel for Honda to cooperate. Now the replacement is consuming >1 quart per thousand miles and is also down on power, and I will have to face this rigmarole again. A search on CBR boards shows this problem has been reported worldwide, and by several prominent motorcycle magazines, yet Honda refuses to deal with the issue responsibly.
John -Can't wait for the track comparison  May 14, 2009 06:12 AM
Good stuff! I believe the Honda deserves the number 1 spot on the street, but we'll see about on the track. I don't think the Kawi gets enough praise for it's lowest cost, that's a big selling point to some. Also, why does everyone think the Suzuki is so ugly, I think the Honda has the ugliest face of the bunch.
Superlight -Test Winner  May 13, 2009 04:42 PM
I'm afraid you've lost me on your scoring criteria. Let's see now, all these bikes are crazy-powerful on the street where most people will ride them; no one needs this kind of power, so these are really exciting "toys". But you prize rider comfort on machines which probably won't be ridden long distance anytime soon. I want the one that yields the most exciting riding experience, not the one which leaves the rider fresh after the journey.
Prashant -Superbike Smackdown VI Street  May 13, 2009 02:45 AM
Hey Adam, It's really surprising that the R1 has finished last in this smackdown even behind 1198 and ZX-10R. which are horrible to ride on street as per the reviews from other sites. MCN has rated R1 the first in street as well on track. How can there be such a huge difference.
Ron -Smackdown & Shootout's  May 12, 2009 07:20 PM
I just want add my appreciations for the 1000 and 600 comparo's. I've been following you guy for the past 4yrs now, eagerly anticipating each one to be released. You guys have been doing a fantastic job Thanks
Chris -Thanks for listening  May 12, 2009 03:13 PM
I appreciate you guys including the 60-100 mph roll on data because thats one of the most important stats for me. But I'd imagine all of these bikes could be quicker street bikes if they had lower gearing which could be cheaply accomplished with different sprocket sizes. In your opinion, how fast do you think these bikes could go 60-100 mph if they were geared specifically for this stat? Would it be as simple as decreasing the front sprocket by 1 tooth and increasing the rear sprocket by 2 teeth? Also, great idea to separate the street & track tests as I feel the street test deserves its own criteria & evaluations. Love the new GSX-R!
TP -Euro R1  May 12, 2009 03:08 PM
JSIN- How about the other 4 or 5 Euro comparos where the R1 finished last, Honda 1st??
Mike -Superbike Smackdown  May 12, 2009 01:52 PM
The ducati is obviously the best looking, but overall i think the honda is a good winner. comfort is high on the list for a street bike, but the performance doesn't lack either. all in all a good bike to own... even if it's not a desmosedici
Hutchy -Euro Spec R1  May 12, 2009 01:34 PM
That's what we were thinking as well. I cannot confirm that is the case atthis time but we will look into it and see if that is part of the issue. You know the R1 power delivery speaks volumes - once again the bike is at the bottom of th bunch in terms of HP but thats not the whole story. The Honda isn't the most powerful either.Its the way they make power, the gearing and the overall performance on the street that makes the difference. I know Adam is riding the R1 all over right now and he loves it. Believe me, it sucks to have to rate a bike last at all and I wish we didnt have to. But it is what the reaers ask for and we are nothing if not your humble servants, serving up the entertainment, info and data you long for! I know, it's rough.
jsin -this is odd  May 12, 2009 11:18 AM
The euro spec versions of the R1 must be much different than the US spec because MCN did a street comparison test with the R1 and CBR and the R1 ate the Honda alive.. on the street.
Hutchy -Smackdown VII - 2010  May 12, 2009 10:35 AM
Unfortunately neither the BMW or Aprilia are available for us to test here in the USA. We will need to rely on MCN and the Euro dudes to compare them first unfortunately. We do know that our next Smackdown will be so epic your brains will explode!
Jaybond -Future smackdown - BMW  May 11, 2009 07:10 PM
Probably BMW can also be included in the next smackdown.Just got a look at the official S1000RR street bike and boy, those assymetrical headlights might put off many!!!! It might work on some BMW models, but it just doesn't work on this full fledged superbike.Probably trying to give it some individuality..
Jaybond -Smackdown  May 11, 2009 06:19 PM
The coolest looking will be the Yamaha and the Ducati. But Yamaha needs to extract somemore horsepower very soon to keep up with the competition.And looks like the Duc is no longer has the least horsepower, normally associated with V-twins.
Jester -Superbike Smackdown - Street  May 11, 2009 05:52 PM
Great test! I've been curious to see how the R1 stands up to the CBR. I am surprised it wasn't closer between those two. Maybe in a couple of years Yamaha will strike back with an update for the R1... it could stand to shed some of those 20-odd pounds it has over the CBR. Interestingly, I hated the look of both the CBR and the new R1 when I first saw them, but now think they are both sweet looking. Go figure...
Will Parker -Superbike Smackdown VI Street  May 11, 2009 05:25 PM
Thanks for the shootout, been waiting for this. Funny the R1 rated so low on the street. Bet that will change on the track..i wonder if the whole R1 crossplane crankshaft/ irregular firing order engine is the future b/c i don't like the way it sounds..give me a screamer engine noise anyday..