BMW HP4 Sportbike
When you take the winner of this category last year, the BMW S1000RR, and make it even better by putting it on a diet, enhancing the software for better lap times, and add an electronic suspension that adjusts itself automatically, then it’s no wonder the HP4 is our 2013 Sportbike of the Year.
The HP4 had just been announced when our 2012 awards were being named, but we knew even then that the competition’s chances weren’t looking good. We’re happy to report the HP4 lives up to the hype, as evidenced by it winning our 2013 Exotic Literbike Shootout. Despite being one of the most powerful mills in its class, the HP4 engine, unchanged from the S1000RR, is extremely user-friendly thanks to perfect fuel metering. Forged aluminum wheels make it feel light on its toes, while impressive Brembo monobloc brakes provide improved power and feel to quickly slow this rocket.
But when talking about the HP4, the conversation always comes back to the electronics. Only the best of riders would feel inhibited by the traction control in its least-intrusive levels. For the rest of us, the confidence it inspires would make us feel like we’re on a record run every time, whether at the track or playing in the canyons. The Dynamic Damping Control is unlike anything ever seen before, and we can’t wait for it to trickle down to cheaper motorcycles. Starting at a price just north of $20K, the HP4 ain’t cheap, but we think it’s worth every pfennig.
Best Sportbike Honorable Mention: Kawasaki Ninja 300
From one of the fastest production superbikes on the market to one meant for beginners, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 deserves massive amounts of credit for making the beginner bike segment more exciting. The seemingly modest 50cc bump in engine displacement from its predecessor gives the baby Ninja enough guts to feel like a legitimate motorcycle. Not only that, but it now looks like part of the Ninja family as well — we sometimes mistake the 300 for a ZX-6R or ZX-10R during our commutes.
It’s fun to ride, cheap to buy and own, and a competent handler, perfect for a new or returning rider while still plenty of fun for someone with experience. Added bonus: the 300 is great on gas. With some dedication to fuel conservation (and some extreme riding tactics), editor Siahaan was able to squeeze out more than 100 miles on a gallon of dinosaur juice.