It took dozens of gallons of gas, 14 race-compound tires, three factory-support crews and two racetracks to figure out which of the four supersports performs best.
Okay, we assume you're already up to speed after reading the street version of our Supersport test, so now you're ready to really
get up to speed.
The four supersport machines assembled here have such great performance capabilities that it's only at their outer limits that one can hone in on how differently they rate. Although we know we're not alone in enjoying riding briskly on the street, we also know that it's only in the controlled conditions of a racetrack that we feel comfortable in exploring the outer limits of a sportbike's performance envelope.
For those who may not care about how these bikes perform on the track because you don't plan to take your supersport there, shame on you. Going to a track-based riding school is still one of the best investments a rider can make, and open trackdays are springing up all around the country. You'll find out things you never knew about riding and you'll have the time of your life. Don't be intimidated and stop making excuses!
In a softer tone, you may also read about how these bikes performed under street situations by checking out our Street Shootout
You may already be tired of hearing of how closely matched this quartet is, and indeed the differences are quite few. Here are some stats to chew on:
- All four share a DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled, transverse inline-Four motor.
- Each uses aluminum alloy for their frames, subframes and swingarms.
- Each uses a single-shock rear suspension and an inverted fork, all fully adjustable.
- Fuel-injection throttle body sizes vary only 2mm, from 38mm to 40mm.
- Each has radial-mount brake calipers up front.
- Each uses ram-air induction for greater horsepower at high speeds.
- Each has a 180mm rear and 120mm front tires in 17-inch diameters.
- The wheelbases of this group vary by less than 1 inch.
- Maximum horsepower falls into an 8-horsepower range. - Peak horsepower occurs within a 500-rpm window.
- Peak torque figures are within 3 lb-ft of each other.
- Just over 0.2-second separates this group in quarter-mile dragstrip times.
- Only 5 pounds separate the lightest from the porkiest.
The ZX outshines the competition on the street, can it take top honors on the track as well? Read on, friends.
Well, there you goâ€”they're obviously so closely matched that there's no need to write the test anymoreâ€¦
Not so fast, Motul breath. There are plenty of differences that make each bike distinct from the other, and the track is the best place to divine what they are. We first headed to the undulating Infineon Raceway
in Sonoma, California, to join our new buds at Zoom Zoom Trackdays
. Reps from Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha came along to help us hone the bike set-ups to suit our riders. Unfortunately, we had only limited time aboard the GSX-R600 on this day and it wasn't fitted with a set of Dunlop's sticky D208GPs like the other bikes. Check out this story
to read why.
Pushing aside deadlines, we scheduled another session on the track a few days later, this time with our pals at Pacific Track Time
at the gnarly Thunderhill Raceway north of Sacramento. On this occasion, we rode all four bikes for the entire day, and this time each bike was equipped with identical Dunlop rubber.
Reporting for track duty is our usual cadre of supersport testers, including staffers Don Becklin, Ken Hutchison, Brian Chamberlain and myself, along with multi-time OMRRA champ Shawn Roberti. FoK (Friends of Korf) will be sad to hear that our prolific Brian Korfhage didn't get any track time on these bikes. We made him shoot the accompanying video and street photography as punishment for crashing a Gixxer on cold tires during last year's supersport test.
After taking reams of notes for two solid days, we strapped on our trick Vbox data logger at Thunderhill
to back up our impressions with hard data like lap times, corner speeds and maximum speeds attained at the end of the front straight.
As with the street portion
of our shootout , we'll run though each bike one at a time, beginning alphabetically.