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2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII Conclusion

Monday, April 11, 2011

Adam Waheed – 6’0”, 175 pounds – BMW (racing) / KTM (trackdays)
The 11 KTM RC8R finally has the power to run with the big boys in the Superbike class.
Waheed said he'd take the RC8R for track day riding.

Without a doubt if I was going to start road racing I would do it with the BMW. It just makes sense. It would cost you the least amount of cash to convert into a competitive racebike. Reliability wise if it’s engineered and built by BMW then it is pretty much guaranteed to go the distance too. However make no mistake about it: riding the S1000RR is gnarly. With 184 horses at the back tire things happen quick and even with its rider aids it’s not necessarily an easy bike to ride fast. On the flip side, if I wasn’t going racing and wanted a bike to play around on I’d pick the KTM. Although it is a little goofy to ride at first compared to the other bikes, I like its quirks. I also like how comfortable I am aboard it with its relaxed and fully adjustable ergonomics. It’s the only bike I can get off after riding for 30-minutes and not feel like I just sat in a leg press.
Steve Rapp – 5,8”, 165 pounds – BMW (racing) / Yamaha (Trackdays)
Steve Rapp put in a competitive time in Superpole aboard the R1.
Rapp would race a BMW but prefers to ride the R1 based on its fun factor.

The Yamaha is so fun to ride but it isn’t the fastest bike so I wouldn’t pickup that one to race. The Kawi is too new and maybe not quite ready for me to race. I didn’t gel with the KTM and wouldn’t race the Ducati if it was set-up like that. If it was the Suzuki or Honda I would probably go with the Honda based on the fact that it was easy to ride and that it had great power and good throttle connection. The shortfalls that it had could be fixed easily. The BMW is an animal. It’s a lot of bike that’s for sure. If I was going to Daytona I’d pick the BMW but if we were going to Streets of Willow I wouldn’t want anything to do with it. But overall I’d pick the BMW for racing and the Yamaha for trackdays.

Corey Neuer – 5’10”, 170 pounds – BMW
It’s very simple, BMW got it right! I can t even begin to explain what an absolute thrill it is to ride the almighty S1000RR. It simply did everything I wanted it to and never once gave me any kind of problem. I love the ergonomics everything is super fitting and roomy. The motor is no joke—it straight up hauls
The BMW scored well in anything related to acceleration.
While the traction control system works well it is now second-rate compared to the system employed in the 11 Kawasaki ZX-10R.
Both Neuer and Siglin would pick the BMW to go racing with.
ass! The power delivery is so friendly and has a very linear power curve. The transmission feels a bit sloppy under down shifting but no big deal. The brakes are super strong and consistent. As a package this bike a great bang for the buck and is very easy to turn into a race bike as it can compete at a high level straight off the showroom floor.

Chris Siglin – 5’8”, 150 pounds – BMW
BMW has no doubt done its homework throughout the process of developing a superbike. The S1000RR is an exciting bike to ride that keeps you pushing harder lap after lap with its class-leading horsepower, fantastic chassis feel, and amazing stopping power. The setup of the bike was very good, with great handling entering the corners and a tremendous amount of grip coming off the corner which is amazing considering the amount of horsepower the bike makes. Accelerating down the front straightaway leaves your eyeballs sunken into the back of your head and blisters on your hands from holding onto the grip for dear life when the BMW afterburners are on! One of the very few down falls of the BMW is the transmission and electronics. The transmission seems to be a bit notchy on back shifts and must be made with a very positive push or pull (GP shift or standard) of the shifter lever. The electronics package that comes with the BMW seems to be a great option for the street and the average Joe track day enthusiast, but as the pace picks up on the track with the BMW S1000RR traction control and wheelie control seem to be a bit abrupt when they kick activate. I like the BMW so much I already bought one to race!
Ken Hutchison – 5’8”, 185 pounds – BMW
Every one of our test riders were blown away by the performance of the BMW.
The 2011 BMW S1000RR retails for  16 630 as tested.
If there were one place the BMW struggled it would be with the front fork.
Hutchison, Earnest and Atlas would all pick the BMW to race if it was their cash.

I hate to beat the dead horse here but the BMW S1000RR is too bitchin’ to pass up. It is fast, looks bad-ass and has more technological gizmos than any bike other than the ZX. It works great on the track and it’s a blast to ride. I’m not sure how we could pick another open-class bike over the S1000RR. If you’re looking for the ultimate superbike for 2011 then look no further than our two-time defending Superbike Smackdown champion.

Michael Earnest – 6’1”, 195 pounds – BMW

If I was going to spend my money I’d probably buy the BMW. You get a lot of motor performance for the dollar. It is comparable to the rest of the bikes as far as the handling and the electronics package you can’t beat it. For the price you get some serious performance for the dollar.

Steve Atlas – 5’7”, 145 pounds – BMW

What more can one say about the machine that has single handedly revolutionized the liter-class sportbike world? Stock dyno numbers in the 180hp range at the rear wheel (yes, no lies, we’ve measured it on multiple dynos!!) and a dynamically proficient chassis complete with traction control, racing ABS, and multiple throttle settings brought to light an all-new machine that did far more to the evolution of the sportbike world than machine has done in the last five years. We’re talking at least 14-20 hp on any of the competition, from a bike that is extremely stable mid-corner, has a slipper clutch to take the drama out of corner entry, as well as spot-on fuel injection to make for precise corner exit – the combination is simply impossible to beat. Oh yea, did I mention racing-spec Brembo brakes are truly one-finger units (anything more and you will have you playing tongue hockey with the windscreen)? I do have one complaint: it’s the overly progressive rear shock linkage for track use, which blows through the stroke far too quickly under extremely acceleration, but can easily be remedied with a quick call to Lee’s Cycle for a replacement unit, one which we found to quite a lot faster earlier this month at the very same track aboard out 2010 project BMW in our Long Tern Project Bike. Maybe a different offset triple-clamp could speed up turn-in some, but both are minor fixes. Otherwise this is one utterly amazing motorcycle and it’s going to take some serious time and engineering from the rest of the competition to catch up. This is the reason why there’s a clear winner, and it’s a bike that hails Deutschland – in produced their first attempt at the sportbike market, nonetheless! Talk about coming out with a bang!

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2011 Superbike Smackdown HP
2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII Horse Power Dyno
2011 Superbike Smackdown Torque
2011 Superbike Smackdown VIII Torque Dyno
2011 Superbike Smackdown Superpole
2011 Superbike Smackdown Superpole
2011 Superbike Smackdown Weights
2011 Superbike Smackdown Weights

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Kharris   May 30, 2012 08:53 AM
This test just goes to show that none of the riders no how to ride the V-Twin bikes. Let someone like Carlos Checa perform this test and I guarantee the results would be totally different. I think I'll test ride all of the bikes myself and buy the one that fits me the best.
EvelKnievel   March 26, 2012 11:35 AM
I love following these tests and overall the articles are very informative. However, it seems like the scoring system is flawed. If one considers the objective performance items, they individually make sense and informative for the reader, but "superpole fastest lap" is clearly a higher level item that is completely under-emphasized in the points. As bidwell suggested, all that stuff (i.e., all the other objective items) don't mean shit if their combination in the end machine doesn't yield results. For example, take the Honda vs KTM. With a guy as fast as Rapp, the Honda is more than 3 seconds per lap faster than the KTM (10 points vs 4 points). Yet the KTMs "Max Braking Force" advantage (.21g) over the Honda (10 points vs 4 points) by itself completely nullifies the Superpole advantage of the Honda in the scoring. What you have here is an example of one individual datapoint being weighted as heavily as superpole, which represents an entire collection of datapoints combined. It seems to me that Motorcycle-USA goes to great lengths to conduct this track evaluation, yet the very important "superpole time" accounts for only 5% of the overall scoring and 10% of the objective scoring, whereas horsepower + torque + weight + acceleration + top speed + corner speed + lean angle + flick rate + braking force collectively account for 90% of the objective scoring. It seems like a better solution would be to break the scoring down into three categories, specifically track subjective, performance objective, and superpole with a 33-33-33 or 50-25-25 points split. If you look at the overall results of this test, it is clear something is amiss in the scoring when despite all it's objective performance advantages, neither Rapp nor Waheed can make the overall shootout winner come closer than 0.7 of the #3 "objective performance" bike in lap times. There is something special about how all the elements of a motorcycle combine in an attempt toward perfection that highlight how the sum is greater than the individual parts. This is something I think can be improved upon in these comparisons and a closer look at the scoring methodology would be a step in the right direction.
CbrRydah   May 31, 2011 05:34 AM
I, too, enjoy reading the test comparisons on different sport bikes, tires, etc... They seem to have a cyclical nature, though. For instance, back in 2000, the CBR929RR was all the rage, competing with the R1, head to head, in different mags. Some folks liked the R1's torque (wheelie monster as it was), and some folks like the smooth "ride-ability" of the 929. It was clear why one was chosen over the other in each test. Then came the GSX-R1000 (2001) with its huge horsepower numbers. It wasn't particularly faster around any (but the largest of) racetracks, but because it was new,and offered more horsepower (controllable or not), it was lauded as the hands-down winner. Long live the king. Now, we fast forward almost a decade, and the tradition continues... In this article, your own words state "In this test, its all about the track". Well, it seems that that philosophy was lost in the grandeur of BMW's saddle. Anyone who has track-day/race experience knows (and I'm sure you guys do) that horsepower doesn't necessarily equal speed on a racetrack. Technique equals speed and ride-ability equals technique. How is it that the bike that came in second in a race track test, finished 7 to 8 tenths of a second FASTER on the racetrack than the "winner"?? 7 tenths of a second per lap is an eternity!! In a 20-lap race, that's 14 seconds slower than the Honda! And it won?? In a racetrack test?? Wow... That's like judging a cooking contest, and one chef prepares a meal that is balanced in its flavors, seasonings, textures, and plating (presentation), but overlooking that meal and praising that fact that another chef just poured way more salt in his/her food than anybody else! I agree, the BMW is an awesome motorcycle. A friend of mine has one. Not dumping on it in any way, but if the Honda-package just works better (at the RACE TRACK), shouldn't it be the racetrack winner? I don't know, maybe its me, but the power that lifted the BMW to its lofty position of "Sport Bike King" is the same power that scared the gonads of the testers back into their respective abdominal cavities... Phrases like "Make no mistake, its gnarly" and "Its a lot motorcycle", etc... seem to be the commonplace with BMW. All in all, I'm proud to own a bike that, in its stock form, bested a bike by 14 seconds (20-lap race) that it gave away 30hp to, (AT A RACE TRACK). -Dane
G4GO   May 15, 2011 11:34 PM
Love reading these Superbike shoot outs when they are as thourough as you guys do it. I have to say though that some of the scores are cofusing... The Honda you rave about the torque king yet you score it at 6 ? It also accelerated to the second quickest top speed and you give it 5..? Not sure whats going on there but all that aside, nice job.
klm2691   May 14, 2011 09:48 PM
Ok, it is widely-known that the US model of the ZX-10R is down at least 20 HP in comparison to the European model as explained in the "First Ride" article from this publication. It is also explained in great detail why BMW, Ducati, Aprilia, etc. are not held to the same standards as all the Asian manufacturers are because of volume of machines imported. These are the facts, so perhaps you should read them before a blanket statement which is not factual.
jrgt1k   May 5, 2011 11:13 AM
OK, I do own a S1000RR. Great bike, and I fully expect someone to beat it soon. But, can all you Kawasaki fans stop with the "nuetered" comments. Both the BMW and Kawi had to meet the same noise and EPA standards. If the Kawi is nuetered, then the BMW is as well.
klm2691   May 1, 2011 10:46 AM
klm2691 Any and all information on all the bikes is very-useful for my evaluations not having oppurtunity to ride all of these excellent machines. Although, it was not noted that the Kawasaki has been "neutered" by noise restrictions and a "less than optimal" ECU programming because of the EPA. I hope Kawasaki can remedy this thru engineering because it will most likely hamper sales of a true BMW contender for the power-champ. It sounds like the handling issues with the "10R" are largely history though since it is an all new design and not "familar" to riders in the test I believe somewhat tended to skew opinion. Your inputs are still "invaluble" to the "regular Joe" like me before he spends his money!
Hutchy   April 18, 2011 08:17 AM
Noz: Well, Adam loves twins and rides them on a regular basis & Rapp has raced them for years so the riders didn’t really need to get acclimated to the difference in shift points or anything along those lines. In this particular situation the 1198 had some issues early in the day that kept the test riders off of it so when Superpole time rolled around - the bike didn't have a lot of set-up time and it showed. The KTM did have a good set-up though. So, the problem there came with being slightly out of its element on this track. Adam will go into more detail for us later today. Heedy liked the KTM in particular and was surprised that it didn't do better. FYI: That's why we run TWO riders in Superpole so that it gives the bikes the opportunity to make amends if one rider doesn’t get along well with it. I hope that helps a bit?
Physics   April 17, 2011 05:49 PM
Noz: Maybe Adam's times would improve, but Rapp has a lot of experience with twins, so I doubt his times would really change.
Noz   April 16, 2011 12:55 PM
Thank you for the good work. Without detracting from the effort - would it be possible that you could give fair comment as to the effect engine configuration has on the lap-times - particularly with respect to the experience of the testing team.

Twins are in fact very different from inline 4's - as alluded to several times in the article.

With more acclimatization (of the riders) - would the lap-times for the twins not improve dramatically?
Physics   April 15, 2011 08:20 PM
509MXfan: Last year was a larger track if I remember correctly and the CBR still owned in terms of lap times, but you definitely have a point. Hutch: It's awesome that you guys actually read and respond to this stuff. The 100 times are mostly interesting to me b/c they can show how things go down from 60-100 and 100-quarter trap speed. Thanks for the great smackdowns; moto-usa is definitely my favorite source for comparos/reviews.
screamer69   April 14, 2011 10:41 AM
bTW, how good is the Honda when its still winning track shootouts 3 or 4 tears from its release?..in Japanese sportbikes these days thats ridiculous...and with THIRTY less HP no less...something to be said for useable HP i suppose..
bidwell   April 14, 2011 04:53 AM
Very true. I'd like to see how they compare on a track where higher hp can make a difference.
509MXFan   April 13, 2011 06:57 PM
Lap times may be everything at the track, but also consider the track. Had they been at miller, or at big willow, the additional power and speed of some other bikes might have slipped the cbr down a few more notches. At a tight track like chuckwalla, the cbr shines with its midrange.
bidwell   April 13, 2011 04:31 PM
IMO the CBR should have won the track evaluation, bottom line are lap times. Top end power, max accel.G's, max torque, max lean angle and all that stuff don't mean shit. It's all about who gets around faster, bottom line.
guambra2001   April 12, 2011 06:11 PM
I love your superbike smackdown tests!!!! I had a pretty good feeling that the BMW would come out on top again. But honestly I was hoping the zx10r would take it this year. But maybe next year!!! Keep the great articles coming.
Epee   April 12, 2011 01:20 PM
Love the info, tons of numbers, great "seat of paints" that gives us how it feels more than how it tickles the clock. Steve Rapp? OK, mad respect Moto-usa, now that's a review you just have to respect. But riddle me this, I've been to sportbike rides and bike nights all up and down the east coast, I see Ducati racer replicas, Apes, Triumphs, tons of jap bikes, hardly any S1000RR's, ?? where are these bikes, it's not the $, is it we're skeeered of all that nasty HP?
screamer69   April 12, 2011 10:45 AM
these are all Race replicas and they are designed by the stopwatch, that said, lap times should play a bigger part.
Hutchy   April 12, 2011 08:58 AM
Physics: We will include the data you requested, sans the 0-100 but thats all part of Quarter Mile so we will see if we can dig that info out too before it goes live. Stay tuned....
Hutchy   April 12, 2011 08:53 AM
Brad: Data vs Feel. Believe me the data is a critical piece of these evaluations. There are many compnents that go into how a bike "Feels" compared to how it performs, so by including the hard data to support or off-set any seat of the pants results we are hoping to eliminate some of the error that may come from simply using subjective scoring. You're right its not easy & we are just trying to give the readers as much data as possible in order to help them make an educated buying decision. Hopefully it helps.

MV & Aprilia: We wish they would have played this year because we feel the RSV4 in particular coudl have had better results at this type of track than it did it the faster T-Hill circuit.
bradvanhorn   April 12, 2011 07:42 AM
Very nice assessments for each bike. I don't envy the decision making process for picking a winner, since this is a potent group of bikes. Given the Honda was fastest around the track, and received the hightest subjective score, it surprises me the BMW was so clearly preferred in the final conclusion.

Of this group I've only ridden the BMW, and that was last year at Barber while taking a California Superbike School 2-day camp. I am a novice, but the BMW was very confidence inspiring on the track for me. As much as I enjoyed the BMW, after reading your test results I'd really like to spend some time with the Honda for comparison.

As a final thought, some of the test data is a bit curious. For example, the Honda got subjective brakes 8, 2nd best, but objective max brake force 4, 2nd lowest. Obviously the test notes for each bike explain the respective strengths and weaknesses, and I'm not challenging anyone on this, but it seems oddly inconsistent.
Physics   April 11, 2011 11:14 PM
jng1226: In the intro he said that MV and Aprilia opted out of the comparison. Great work as always. That CBR is amazing. I hope you continue the same great data presentation in the street portion you had last year (0-60, 1/4, braking, mpg). Maybe 0-100 times and bringing back roll-on data would be nice too, if possible.
Ruler of the Free World   April 11, 2011 09:19 PM
Nice job guys! Do you have any idea what the settings were on the Yamaha? I'd be curious to try them out.
jng1226   April 11, 2011 08:58 PM
So why no MV Agusta or Aprilia RSV4? Great review as always. You guys are always first with the reviews/comparisons that everyone wants to read. Awesome getting Steve Rapp as a tester, now that's an opinion that supports the "bragging rights" by potential owners who will never be able to ride that fast. Keep up the great work!
screamer69   April 11, 2011 11:09 AM
Ha i could pick your top 3 w/ my eyes closed..in fairness to the Kawi, its restricted and maked good gains w/just a slip- on and remapped ECU..