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2005 Superbike Smackdown II Street

Monday, May 16, 2005
If you see this quintet in your rearview mirror it won t be for very long.
If you see this quintet in your rearview mirror it won't be for very long.
So you like to go fast, eh? Blazingly, obscenely fast? Well, you'd better hang on tight because this quintet can bring felony-levels of acceleration and speed without even getting out of first gear.

"You don't buy 1000s to go 55," notes Editorial Director and chief mullet Ken Hutchison. "You buy them because you're going to go out and break some traffic laws."

At MCUSA, we're all mature and experienced motorcycle riders and generally have an outstanding reputation among our neighbors and acquaintances. And yet, on these bikes, seemingly no one is immune from their irresistible urging to go fast. An innocent little photo shoot on one of our rides through the sparsely traveled backroads of Southern Oregon soon involved a couple of members of the Oregon State Police, one circling our group overhead in an airplane and another sent out on four wheels to chase us down. So, as you can see, these bikes invite trouble for the less-disciplined.

Although these bikes are docile enough to putt around at in-town speeds, a full twist of the grip in first gear will result in law-smashing acceleration and speed. Think we're kidding? In the amount of time it took to read the sentence at the beginning of this paragraph (less than 8 seconds), these bikes can top 120 mph from a standing stop!

If ever a motorcycle test required frequent exclamation points, this is it. Riding these bikes is like dating a porn star: It's amazing fun for awhile but they can make their rider feel somewhat inept and under-endowed.

Headlining this test is Suzuki's all-new GSX-R1000. Last year's Gixxer had to fight against all-new challengers from the trio of other Japanese manufacturers, and its older generation wasn't able to keep pace with its fresh rivals. But in 2005, the tables have turned. The Suzuki comes into this battle with the newest design, and it's another great leap forward in the evolution of the legendary line of GSX-Rs.

The new Gixxer faces a stout challenge by the winner of our 2004 Smackdown, Kawasaki's potent ZX-10R. A few subtle changes to its suspension and transmission for '05 have the potential of making this formidable machine even better.

Ducati's stunningly exotic and stunningly expensive 999R adds a new factor to this year's Superbike comparo. While the standard 999 or the tricker 999S wouldn't be able to hang in the crowd, our experience with the 999R had us believing this Duc would fit in nicely. After all, this bike is the basis on which Ducati Corse competes with the Japanese 1000s in the Superbike class, so it definitely belongs here.

This quintet actually drew the attention of the Oregon State Police - big surprise.
Last year the ZX-10R was the winner of our Superbike Smackdown; this year changes are on the horizon.
Yamaha's YZF-R1 and Honda's CBR1000RR soldier on unchanged from their runner-up and third-placed rankings, but more time in their saddles and a more varied street riding environment resulted in a slight shuffling of their 2004 placings.

While some other publications rushed their comparison tests to print, basing the performance of the bikes on a single day of street riding, we took our time so we could bring you the most accurate results. We're proud to say that our rankings don't agree with some other publications, because we're confident our miles in the saddle with six staffers of varying abilities offer up the definitive evaluation.

Now, we know there are plenty of finger-waggers out there who say that any of these machines are overkill for the street. While that may be true, adrenaline junkies who like roller coasters, jet airplanes and adventure sports will fall in love with the highly visceral experience offered by these land-bound rocketships.

The only caveat we'll offer is that any one of this stunning quintet should not be considered by those without a high level of skill and experience. A casual ride can quickly turn into a life-threatening, butthole-clenching moment faster than you can you can ask God for help. So, please, don't get all squidly on us and think you're capable enough to handle these as your first bike; they make a 427 Shelby Cobra feel like a Kia in comparison.

Some of you will wonder which of these bikes is fastest around a racetrack, while others don't even know where their nearest track is. For the former, you'll have to wait two more weeks to find out how they fared in the crucible of a race circuit. As in last year's Superbike comparo, we're once again dividing this shootout into street and track categories.

You readers out there with pope-like restraint or a relative in the judicial system should turn the page to find out how each bike performs on the street.


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