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2005 Superbike Smackdown II Street Conclusion

Monday, May 16, 2005
About the only time these bikes don t beg to break the law is when they re at a standstill.
About the only time these bikes don't beg to break the law is when they're at a standstill.
Conclusion

The ZX-10's highest trap speed number tells us that this is the one bike that could give the Gixxer a run for its money. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to use full throttle until partway through second gear because the front end of the Ninja refused to stay near the ground. Knowing the ZX's motor is the equal of the Suzuki, we attribute its greater tendency to wheelie to the higher center of gravity due to its significantly taller seat.

The R1 and CBR ran nearly identical times, although they went about the task completely different. The R1's grabbier clutch hurt its 60-foot times and was the most challenging of the five bikes to launch, but its long-lasting top-end surge saved the day. It narrowly beat the easy-to-ride CBR and its best clutch down the strip.

Tailing the rest of the group was Ducati's 999R. It needed to be launched at a lower rpm because the clutch would grab at high revs and quickly loft the front end. Once halfway down the track, I could tell its mph was going to be down big-time on the four-cylinder bikes. It just doesn't have the outright power of the others, but it still performed quite well.

Fool Economy
If anyone cares about fuel mileage on these bikes, you're probably missing the point. The Ducati returned the best mpg by a small margin but its smallest tank (4.1 gallons) yields the shortest range, as we found out by running out of fuel during a canyon ride. The Fours ranged from 32 to 38 mpg depending on who was twisting the grip.

The Better Half?
We didn't judge passenger accommodations in this test for two reasons. One, the CBR and Gixxer came to us only with a seat cowl, and the 999R has no rear seat available. Second, whoever it was back there probably fell off long ago.

Scorecard

To ensure every staffer's voice was heard equally, we gave each tester a scorecard on which they'd rate each bike in 13 different categories. The first seven categories are most important so they are weighted heavier and are scored out of 10 points. The remaining six categories have a maximum of 5 points. After the points were compiled we converted the scores into a rating out of 100 to make it easy to understand. High scores are in bold while low scores are italicized.

 
GSX-R
ZX-10R
CBR
YZF-R1
999R
Engine
100
97
76
72
74
Handling/Chassis
92
82
89
81
89
Appearance
77
77
81
91
90
Features
87
81
78
79
95
Ergonomics
87
90
89
84
65
Grin Factor
96
95
77
81
83
Value
98
93
87
89
59
Transmission/Clutch
100
86
86
72
78
Suspension
84
84
84
78
96
Brakes
86
82
74
82
98
Instruments
92
56
92
88
76
User-Friendliness
86
78
100
74
64
Fit & Finish
78
78
88
92
96

Average Weighted Score
90
84.7
83.9
81.8
81.5


Part of a cinematographer s job is to sort it out with the State Trooper when the speeds attract attention.
Part of a cinematographer's job is to sort it out with the State Trooper when the speeds attract attention.
Once the marks were tallied, the tightness of this battle fully came into view. In percentage terms, their overall percentage ratings ranged less than 9%.

Coming up just a smidge short of fourth place is Ducati's 999R. The pricey beauty received the lowest marks for value and in regards to its ergonomics and user-friendliness. However, if 30 grand is just chump change to you and regular riding means once a month up the canyons or to a trackday, the exotic Duc will thrill you with its outstanding grace, style and finesse.

Thanks to the arrival of the new Suzuki and a more comprehensive street testing regimen, the R1 dropped two spots from last year's rankings. Poor marks for its engine, transmission and clutch helped sink it in the standings. That said, we fully understand how anyone could fall in love with this gorgeous machine.

Coming in with a solid third-place finish is the CBR1000RR. It received the highest marks possible for user-friendliness and tied with the best rating for its instruments and cockpit. Its low rating in the Grin Factor category held it back from challenging for the runner-up position, but as any CBR owner will tell you, there's plenty to smile about with this well-sorted piece of engineering.

By the looks of our scorecard, the ZX-10R might've been able to challenge for the win if Kawasaki had updated its styling to something close to the pretty new ZX-6R and if it had thrown its much hated instrument cluster in the trash. Some thought the ZX too crude and ugly, while others chose the electrifying Kaw as their favorite.

Two years ago we couldn't imagine anything more formidable than the '03 Gixxer Thou, only to be shocked and awed by the 2004 Japanese offerings. Now it's Suzuki's turn to blow away the competition.

We found little to complain about with the GSX-R  and that included its chassis and suspension.
After hundreds of miles, gallons of gasoline, and plenty of leather sweat, it's our pleasure to crown the 2005 GSX-R1000 the winner of Superbike Smackdown II.
With top ratings in six categories, including perfect scores for both parts of its powertrain, the GSX-R1000 has fully redeemed itself from its last-place ranking last year. Other than low scores for its appearance and fit and finish, the Gixxer was at or near the top of the pack in every category. Suzuki really did their homework on this one, and it's going to be tough to beat when the revised models from Kawahondaha arrive next year.

"Last year I picked the ZX as the bike to beat and it appears Suzuki felt the same way," notes Chamberlain. "The new GSX-R, although vastly different in style and structure, performs almost identically to the ZX, only slightly better."

Ladies and Gentlemen, a new King of Superbikes for the street has been crowned. Stay tuned for how they stack up when we strap on the lap timers and shred some tires on the racetrack.

Special thanks for contributing to this test goes out to the generous people and companies below.

EDR Performance Eric Dorn Dyno Runs 
Viosport Helmet Cameras
GP Suspension Dave Hodges Changing Fork Seal on Duc
Hansen's Motorcycles Mason Hansen Fork Seal for Duc 
Oregon State Police Not Giving Us Tickets 
MotoGP Leathers 
Photographers Tyler Maddox and Tom Lavine
Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha

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Check out the Specs. for these 2005 Superbikes.

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