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2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII Track

Monday, April 11, 2011

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2011 BMW S1000RR Track Shootout Video
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BMW shocked the sportbike world with its S1000RR. See how it performed in this year’s shootout in the 2011 BMW S1000RR Track Shootout Video.
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2011 Honda CBR1000RR Track Shootout Video
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Two-time Superbike Smackdown champ, Honda’s CBR1000RR faces off against the competition see how it performs in the 2011 Honda CBR1000RR Track Shootout Video.

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2011 Ducati 1198 Track Shootout Video
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Ducati’s 1198 Superbike goes head-to-head against the world’s best liter-class sportbikes. Find out how it does in the 2011 Ducati 1198 Superbike Smackdown Comparison Video

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2011 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Track Shootout Video
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Does Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 have what it takes to run up front in this year’s Superbike Smackdown? Find out in the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Track Shootout Video.

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2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Track Shootout Video
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Kawasaki’s new ZX-10R finally faces off against the competition. Find out how it fares in the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Track Shootout Video.

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2011 KTM RC8R Track Shootout Video
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Watch how the KTM’s RC8R performs at the racetrack as tested in the 2011 KTM RC8R Track Shootout Video.

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2011 Yamaha YZF-R1 Track Shootout Video
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Yamaha offers riders a different take on the standard Inline-Four engine. Watch what it’s like to ride in the 2011 Yamaha YZF-R1 Track Shootout Video.

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Michelin signs on as the Official Tire of this year’s Superbike Smackdown test. See how the tires perform in the Michelin Power One Race Tire Review Video.
In the realm of motorcycling, liter-class Superbikes are the pride and joy of every manufacturers’ line-up. These high-performance motorcycles are the apex of production sportbike design showcasing the latest race-bred technologies trickled down from both Superbike and MotoGP racing. Each brand funnels untold sums of cash into its engineering departments in a quest to deliver the lightest, fastest, most technologically advanced sportbikes for motorcyclists to ride, play on and race. Still the question remains: Which bike is the best? 
Since 2004, Motorcycle USA has corralled each brand’s machine and pitted it head-to-head against its class rivals. We determine where the latest crop of Superbikes rank at the track, where sportbikes are truly meant to be ridden, as well as the street, for those who wish to enjoy the fruits of closed circuit development on the way to work. As we’ve done in the past, we divide the comparison into separate track and street reviews so everything you need to know about these bikes on the road will follow this test in a couple weeks. Right now, its all about the track.
Seven motorcycle manufactures stepped up to the plate this year including BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha. Unfortunately, Aprilia opted out, since it didn’t have ’11 RSV4 machinery available. MV Agusta, as usual, also chose not to compete.
BMW’s spectacular S1000RR returns as the reigning champ after wowing us last year with the borderline psychotic performance from its Inline-Four engine, adaptive electronics and well-engineered chassis. The big Beemer was our pick for 2010 Motorcycle of the Year and that, along with the results of last year's Smackdown makes it the benchmark. Aside from colors, price ($16,630 as tested) and an updated crankshaft engineered to meet World Superbike homologation, it’s identical to the ’10 model.
Though it’s been four-plus years since last major overhaul (a lifetime in the sportbike world), Honda’s CBR1000RR is a more than capable adversary having collected consecutive Superbike Smackdown wins in ’08 and ’09. Like the S1000RR, the CBR is virtually unchanged except for graphics and annual bump in price ($13,399 for the non-ABS version).

In the 2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Track shootout, Ducati had a fantastic platform with the up-spec 1198S Corse Special Edition Superbike. This L-Twin-powered machine mesmerized us with its superb trellis-frame, Ohlins-equipped chassis and torque-rich powerband. This time around, we’re testing the base 1198, which for 2011, features standard traction control as well as a quickshifter for $16,495.
Despite Suzuki competing with a three-year old machine due to the company choosing not to import any 2010-model sportbikes into the U.S. last year because of an unfavorable economic balance sheet, the GSX-R1000 performed well. If nothing else, the GSX-R1000 showed us why it has won more Superbike Smackdown shootouts than any other model. For 2011 it wears new colors at an MSRP of $13,599.

Perhaps the most anticipated machine in this contest is Kawasaki’s new from the wheels up ZX-10R ($13,799 non-ABS version) as tested in the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R First Ride. In a time where redesign cycles are getting longer, Kawi is swinging for the fences in hope of taking the crown and creating a platform for a successful World Superbike effort. The pieces are all in place and the new Ninja looks great on paper. But does it have what it takes to beat the BMW?
Although KTM’s Twin-powered RC8 has been around for a few years the Austrians continue to make subtle refinements each year in hopes of perfecting the formula. So far it seems to be working as we came away impressed with the updated and much less expensive RC8R ($16,499) during the 2011 KTM RC8R First Ride. Could this finally be KTM’s year to become the top Twin?
Last but not least is Yamaha and its crossplane-equipped YZF-R1. Similar to the GSX-R, the R1 is now in its third year since a major overhaul in ‘09 and hasn’t seen any updates aside from colors and the annual increase in price ($13,590). Although it’s had considerable success in the form of World Superbike title and AMA Superbike titles the R1 has always struggled in our tests. Will Yamaha prove its might in stock trim and turn things around this time? Climb on and lets see how it all shakes down.
Having utilized northern California’s fabulous Thunderhill Raceway for the last two years we wanted to shake things up so we headed to Southern California’s newest road course, Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. As opposed to other circuits Chuckwalla is all about cornering and momentum. Here you won’t find any long straight-aways or funky chicanes. Just a near constant mix of flowing mixed speed corners that maximize time spent on the edge of the tires. And a big shake-up in the running order is just what we got!
Speaking of tires, while the standard street rubber nowadays is better than ever, we needed to push these bikes near the limit of outright performance. So to reduce the likelihood of shiny plastic sliding against tarmac, Michelin stepped in as the Official Tire of Superbike Smackdown VIII Track with its latest Michelin Power One DOT-labeled treaded race tire as tested in the Michelin Power One Race Tire Review. Introduced in ’09 and updated continually, the Power One’s feature a multi-compound design that allowed us to achieve consistent footpeg grinding lean angle.
Flying around the track at the helm of motorcycles that pump out upwards of 150 horsepower to the back tire is no walk in the park. Accordingly, a high-caliber test crew was assembled highlighted by veteran AMA racer Steve Rapp. Having ridden everything from the full-on, real deal AMA Superbikes of the past to Harley-Davidsons in the newly formed Vance & Hines XR1200 Series, Rapp’s experience is invaluable. Also lending a throttle hand were AFM racers Michael Earnest, Corey Neuer, Chris Siglin, as well as do-it-all test rider Frankie Garcia and Contributing Editor Steve Atlas. Lastly, boss-man Ken Hutchison, and I represented the in-house MotoUSA crew. Welcome to the eighth annual 2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII Track shootout!

Superbike Smackdown VIII Photos
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Michelin Power One Race Tire Review
After decades of domination during the era of 500cc Grand Prix racing, and more recently, the first five seasons of MotoGP competition, Michelin vanished with hardly a whisper having lost out to Bridgestone as the MotoGP spec tire supplier three years ago. The French tire brand didn’t stop developing sportbike tires, however, and the proof is its Power One line of high-performance motorcycle tires...
Read the full review in the Michelin Power One Race Tire Review
Kinelogix Data Acquisition
Opinions are like backsides…everyone has one. Therefore to help separate fact from fiction we recruited the assistance of Kinelogix. Specializing in data acquisition systems for the motorsports world, owner Kamal Amer fitted each motorcycle with the latest version of its Track Day Data Logger. The compact device is completely self contained and can be mounted atop the rear passenger seat or cowl of most any motorcycle. It records a number of variables, in real-time, including acceleration and braking forces, speed, lean angle, and of course lap times which we used to verify our cockpit assessment.
Superbike Smackdown Track Scoring
Each motorcycle was rated based on an equal mix of objective data (horsepower, torque, curb weight, Superpole lap time, acceleration force, braking force, top speed, corner speed and lean angle) and subjective performance criteria ranked solely on rider opinion (engine, brakes, suspension, turn-in, mid-corner, corner exit, drivetrain, ergonomics, preference). Points were then tallied based on a hybrid Formula One points scale with 10 points for first, eight for second, seven for third, six for fourth, etc, etc. with all 18 categories scored equally. Points are then calculated the bike’s finishing position and this year’s King of the Superbikes.

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motousa_adam   May 7, 2011 11:31 PM
bswizzle: wsbk racing like most other road racing series with real high-performance machinery (not ama) is all about traction control. and bmw choses to develop its own system rather than buy one. so it's taking some time to get it set-up right. once it gets it dialed tho it will win every race for the forseable future mark my words.
bswizzle   May 5, 2011 07:37 AM
Adam, I'm curious what you have to say about the following. Off the rack for the average track day enthusiast, clearly BMW has put together a very competitive package performance and price wise with the s1000RR, what with it winning back to back shoot-outs so soon after its initial introduction. But in WSBK, they are still more mid-pack. Is that just a product of there being more tech on the bikes at that level, and the other manufactures just have more of the details smoothed out? Is it because the s1000RR is "too powerful", and doesn't manage tires well? What's the deal with that? What is BMW missing to start winning races there?
B-kings Rock   April 22, 2011 03:52 PM
First, thanks for a great superbike test.....appreciated all the written stats and the videos were very cool.
Missed seeing the Aprilia and MV Augusta included in the comparison.
Chuckled at the Star commercials before each video...but say "thanks" to Star for the sponsorship.
Sidenote: would love to see a re-test of the latest V-Max with a
Shinko drag tire.....all the tests I read of the V-Max complained about a lack of traction. Thanks again for a great test!!!!
Opethlover123   April 16, 2011 11:33 PM
I'm sad to not see an RSV4 up there, but it's good to see Kawasaki & KTM get a mention.
mersal   April 15, 2011 02:55 PM
wish to have Suzuki gsxr 1000 2012
Real_Maverick   April 15, 2011 12:56 AM
It's funny how those that don't supply bikes for these shootouts are often forgotten when conteplating what to buy.
Keep up the good work guys, most comprehensive tests and shootouts that add a lot of weight when weighing up my options.
SICKWITHIT   April 14, 2011 09:07 AM
Its a shame there's no RSV4. Another site just dyno'ed one and claim ~175 at the rear wheel. That would have bridged the gap between the Kawi and the BMW nicely. Does the new RSV4 use gear driven cams? or was that just on the WSBK.

Hutchy   April 12, 2011 03:19 PM
Aprilia chose not to provide a bike...
Rumblestrip   April 12, 2011 10:57 AM
Ummmmm no Priller RSV4??????????
screamer69   April 12, 2011 10:43 AM
thats good to hear..the Kawi should be right up there with the BMW in modified trim..
Hutchy   April 12, 2011 08:57 AM
ZX-10R: Well, we are going to give these bikes a chance at redemption by following this test up with a Modified Liter-Bike Shootout similar to what we did in 2010 with the Supersports. It should answer some questions as we get a shot at uncorking the other bikes to see if they can ake a shot at the S1000RR.
Physics   April 12, 2011 05:54 AM
Maybe, but it would only improve peak power after about 11k by about 10hp, not midrange or bottom end. I think the coolest thing about the new 10R isn't the awesome peak power as much as it's the significant weight reduction: it's like free power that makes everything else better too.
09zx6r   April 12, 2011 04:42 AM
Kawi needs the Euro ECU here in the US so it can make full power. Sounds like it would've made a difference in this comparo.
screamer69   April 11, 2011 01:08 PM
when i get my Kawasaki, its gonna spread the Butt Cheeks of everything on the road..