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2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Track

Friday, May 7, 2010

Clash of the Titans

The arms race has resumed. Take the covers off the nukes; the battle for superbike superiority is back in full swing!

Over the past few years we haven’t seen any revolutionary gains in performance from the big-bore sportbike world. Things have remained relatively stagnant; be it due to emissions, noise regulations, or a lack of someone really setting a new benchmark, Honda has reigned supreme for two years running. And though others have found small gains here and there, no one has really dropped our jaw with big horsepower numbers or wowed us with totally new ideas – Yamaha’s crossplane crankshaft being the only exception. But that has all changed for 2010…

While the four Japanese machines remain mostly unchanged, a new European contingent enters the fray alongside Ducati. With BMW’s monstrous S1000RR, Aprilia’s wicked RSV4R and the sinister black KTM RC8R, three totally new rockets have joined the Superbike world and with them have come some big claims and new ideas – both in terms of horsepower and technology. But do these bikes really have what it takes to dethrone the tried-and-true Japanese Inline Fours? Or is it merely a case of a lot of talk but little walk?

Putting all eight of these street-legal track-designed rockets through the wringer, we assembled a talented and experienced team of testers, ranging in ability from expert trackday riders to professional champions. MotoUSA’s regular three-time AMA 250cc GP Champion Chuck Sorenson returned, joining myself and fellow staffers Adam Waheed and Ken Hutchison. Also in the crew was AFM fast-guy and owner of Pacific Track Time Michael Earnest, who can ride Thunderhill quicker than most blindfolded, while young gun racer Frankie Garcia was back for another shootout. Motocross semi-pro-turned-road racer Corey Neuer joined the group, as did Nip/Tuck TV star John Hensley, who has been club racing recently and getting quite fast, the pair providing us with totally different and fresh new angles.

Because of the massive proportions and complexity of this monster shootout, we once again split the track and street portions into separate stories. Furthermore, to get as much objective information as possible, we fitted each of the machines with the latest bolt-on data acquisition systems from Kinelogix for our track test. This gave us head-spinning amounts of numbers and parameters to measure the bikes, but once deciphered, we ended up with ample and interesting hard facts to back up our claims.

For the process of getting the outright fastest lap times in the most evenly-matched and fair way possible, as we’ve done the past couple years, we instated the MotoUSA Superpole system. With Chuck Sorensen and I each putting in an out-lap, one flyer and an in-lap on each of the eight bikes, all fully fueled with pre-heated, brand-new Dunlop tires. Order was drawn out of a hat and the session was done congruently during a 1-hour session. As for the rubber, we used Dunlop’s new AMA-spec DOT Daytona SportBike race tires.

We also rented the defunct El Toro Marine base to gather yet more data, this time from quarter-mile, acceleration and braking tests. Not to mention all were weighed, run on Lee's Cycle's dyno and so forth. And once we were able to regain composure and stop our heads from exploding due to the information overload, the end result is the type of comprehensive shootout the readers of this fine publication have come to expect.

Meet the Giants

2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Track
MotoUSA Superbike Smackdown VII class of 2010.
As usual the Big-Four from the Far East have come out to play: Honda’s two-time reigning Smackdown champion CBR1000RR, Kawasaki’s ever-so-slightly updated ZX-10R, Suzuki’s 2009 GSX-R1000 (no 2010s are being imported to the US) and Yamaha’s YZF-R1 with its unorthodox crossplane crank engine configuration. These are joined by a host of European rides, including Ducati’s 1198S Corse Special Edition, KTM’s RC8R, Aprilia’s new RSV4R and BMW’s S1000RR.

The all-new German machine and the Italian incumbent enter the fight as the most-anticipated bikes of the year. The S1000RR, in particular is BMW’s first-ever true hardcore sportbike. But can it compete with the tried-and-true Japanese its first time out? The same holds true for the KTM, the RC8 being its first production sportbike. Although the base model was out last year, for 2010 we get a higher-end ‘R’ edition. As for the Aprilia, with years of manufacturing sportbikes under its belt, the Italian brand definitely has more information to work with than BMW or KTM. But does that mean it will make a better product? With all eight bikes set up and ready to go we were ready to hike-up our skirts and find out. So it’s time to grab a coffee, sit back, relax, and enjoy the 2010 MotoUSA Superbike Smackdown!

Shout Outs…
To make sure we give love where it’s due, here are a list of the supporters and integral personnel that allowed the ultimate Superbike Smackdown to take place:
2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Track
There are a lot of key people that go into making a shootout of this magnitude possible. Big thanks to them all!

Proving rubber for all eight of these high-horsepower machines is no easy task, thus we knew bringing Dunlop in would ensure testing was done on a consistent, high-performance tire. For this we used their latest GP-A AMA-spec race tire, which did well to withstand the day’s abuse at Thunderhill and made for a completely even playing field, which is exactly what we needed.

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!

Kinelogix Data Acquisition
Owner Kamal Amer fitted our test bikes with his latest data acquisition systems, providing enough information to launch a space ship. The good part is that their new Race Bike Data System is easy to use and proved to be extremely useful for putting hard numbers with the our seat-of-the-pants findings. Be sure to check them out!

Thunderhill Raceway
T-Hill once again went above and beyond the call of duty to fit us in, making sure our day at the track was smooth and flawless. Not to mention how amazing the track and its surroundings really are. If you haven’t been to the ‘Hill, you must go. It’s the hidden racing treasure of Northern California, no doubt.

The OEMs
Big thanks to
Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM, ApriliaBMW and Ducati for providing support for what was a massive undertaking to say the least.

2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Gallery
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Scoring Breakdown
Scoring the results of Superpole.
Both the objective performance numbers and subjective rider opinions are all scored equally. We used our hybrid old-Formula 1 based scoring system to judge each and every category, with 10 points for first, eight for second, seven for third, six for fourth, five for fifth and so on, with all categories equally scored. Points are then totaled and positions determined

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YAMAHA guys -long live yamaking...  January 9, 2011 01:56 AM
thumbs up 4r yamaha
racinghart -ducati  January 9, 2011 01:52 AM
when ducati factory will introduce 1198r model????
GANDON -shootouts  July 29, 2010 01:19 PM
I mean even if these reviews wont sway your purchase they at least help in making manufacturers work harder. Obviously in some circle more bike are popular than other, a few years ago 26 of 32 starters or so in AMA superbike and maybe same in AFM used suzukis. Prob cuz they gave plenty of support cheaper bikes etc etc. So obviously they are figured out and done to death so you have great support if you go down the suzuki path. But the shoot outs should make the Japs work a bit harder - then again maybe its just that everyone else neglected motorcycles for a while.....
HONDA CRAZY -HONDA ROCKS  May 25, 2010 08:01 AM
For all Honda hater, you don't need to sit up a bike for the bike to be perfect, if you can just ride the bike the way it is, and it give you good results, than that's a good bike, good job HONDA, and good job Motorcycle USA
mndbones -whats up ?  May 18, 2010 12:27 AM
I have read other reviews on the BMW S1000RR and they made time to set up the suspension, and there lap times were up to 1.3 seconds faster then any other bike they were testing. Why wasn't there time set the bike up properly ?
R34 -The Players...  May 17, 2010 09:21 PM
Nice shootout...wish I could have participated. Now, if only KTM would line up on the WSBK grid. KTM, while an awesome bike is just another GSX-R750 to me. Imagine how many more bikes they could sell if they threw more dough in their racing program.
Mike S -Bogus  May 14, 2010 09:19 PM
C'mon, these reviews are sooooooo subjective.
Jason -Jason  May 14, 2010 12:41 AM
Thanks for the test, great job.
Miffy -...  May 12, 2010 06:26 AM
Why would Ducati need to worry? The BMW is an ugly generic fish with a monical, The Ducati is a fine piece of art. Who really cares about a second here or there on performance, fact is none of us will be able to push the bikes to the limits.
BillBull -@Woodystock - Compare uncoparable  May 11, 2010 07:48 PM
Trying read the ducati section first before giving comment. Bringing the 1198S Corse is Ducati intention to compete with BMW. They have known for sure if they bring the plain 1198, they will lose big time.

Bringing the Corse also makes them weak in the Value point
Alexandre -Suzuki GSXR Rules!!  May 11, 2010 01:57 PM
Suzuki GSXR Rules!! That's my bike !!! Go! Go! Go!
Woodystock -Compare uncoparable  May 10, 2010 05:06 AM
I wonder why they included Ducati Corse, practically WSB Haga´s replica, an ultra expensive and rare toy, and next to it regular RSV4. It´s not fair, because they compare uncomparable. It would be OK if they 1) chose 1198S or rather regular 1198 and keep RSV4 R, or 2) RSV4 Factory and included Ducati, or 3) provided Aprilia wouldn´t have V4 Factory, keep it like this (since Aprilia wouldn´t have anything better in the litre market). But not like this. BTW new MV Agusta´s F4 is missing.
Miffy -lol  May 9, 2010 02:37 PM
Man that BMW makes me sick, until they make the lights match I can't look at that thing.
ty -Great comparison, but  May 8, 2010 12:28 PM
It would've been nice to have seen included (or, if impracticable, replaced with) the RSV4 Factory, the regular 1198, and the CBR with the ABS. Also, would be useful to see dyno charts with overlaid graphs. And, since you took the bikes to the El Toro base, why not show the absolute top speeds (not race track limited), just for the hell of it?
H -THANK YOU  May 7, 2010 10:31 PM
Thanks once again for another fantastic Superbike comparison... I have been waiting since last June for the 2010 smackdown! can't wait to dive on in. Thanks guys!
Cal -Big Cheese Read the Article  May 7, 2010 01:02 PM
The BMW has a slower lap time than the Honda only because the staff did not have time to perfect the set up on the bike. Set up is crucial when bikes are so closely matched. Great job Motorcycle USA for an excellent article and great videos. Thank you for the post.
J-Dub -AMAZING!!!  May 7, 2010 12:21 PM
Awesome shootout gents. Really stepped up the game on this one. The sheer amount of data combined with the opinions of the expert riding staff makes for one of, if not the best Superbike comaprsion I've ever seen. Keep it up!


PS: The videos are equally amazing! Better then most shows in TV and far better than anything on TV motorcycle related. You guys need to start your own cable TV show - ASAP!
x2468 -yes yes and.... YES  May 7, 2010 12:18 PM
haven't read this yet but glad you guys got all the players!!!
MCUSA -RE: Weights incorrect  May 7, 2010 10:43 AM
Thanks for bringing that to our attention Big cheese! The chart is correct, the weights have been corrected under each bike.
Case -you're down the street and you don't invite me?  May 7, 2010 10:10 AM
You guys took this to El Toro, 20 minutes from my house, and you didn't invite me to come hold a clipboard and/or stopwatch? Weak. Very weak. You're on friend probation until further notice. (You heard we were friends, right?)
Big cheese -Weights incorrect  May 7, 2010 09:40 AM
I dunno who makes your guys graph for the weights but its always off from whats listed under each bike, same thing from last year. Its funny how the bimmer makes 30hp more than the honda and has a slower laptime, goes to show power is nothing without control.