2007 Liter Bike Shootout
Honda CBR 1000RR : Kawasaki ZX-10R : Suzuki GSX-R1000 : Yamaha YZF R1
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What does it take to win? If you take a moment to consider competition, whether it be in the realm of sports, business, interoffice battles or even in nature, there are often clear-cut winners. But this becomes less and less the case as you move up the food chain, so to speak.
Sports are what we most easily relate to when we think of competition. And what better, universally accepted example – or it least it should be – of competition than the Olympics. To compete in the Olympics, one doesn't merely show up on the day and jump into the field of play.
There's an arduous process to get yourself on your nation's team, let alone actually find yourself in the Olympics. Then the competition really begins. All those competing have earned the right to be there and are deemed potential winners. It's no longer so easy to delineate between the weak and the strong. A gold medalist today could be tomorrow's loser. And so it is with the current crop of literbikes from the Big Four. All of them, given an equal chance, have the potential to win your heart. But like so many Olympic champions, the winner may be separated from the runners-up by the slightest of margins. With so much trickle-down tech coming from MotoGP and World Superbike, the forces from Japan have made exceptionally talented machines that can – for all intents and purposes – be yours for a song.
"Can you really go wrong with any of these bikes?"
Spring is in the air so it must be time for Motorcycle.com to rouse the troops, dust off the leathers, get our game faces on – some of us could just use new faces – and pit the 2007 literbike offerings from Japan against one another in an effort to answer that question. With a total of seven willing slaves to evaluate four motorcycles, this year's team a had broad mix of skill and experience. We figured we have enough talent to pluck a hands-down winner out of the group. Oh, were it only so easy to pick the perfect 1000cc motorcycle. Like a young Elton John sussing out which flamboyant accoutrement will match up deliciously to each song, this wasn't going to be easy.
Two new, two not-so-new
Before we get to far down the path of subjectiveness, let's size up the players. In October 2006 Yamaha unveiled the familiar looking but heavily revised 2007 R1. Loaded with revisions and new tech, the R1 is almost completely new for 2007. It was only two years ago when Suzuki revamped its Gixxer Thou, but here we are with another new generation.
The word "new" was used no less than 19 different instances in the GSX-R's press materials. There must be a motivational poster somewhere around Suzuki headquarters that reads, "You can rest when you're dead!"
As for Honda and Kawasaki, both motorcycles retained all of their design from the previous year. Typical sportbike production cycles lead us to expect a major revision to the ZX next year, while the CBR is due for a ground-up redo.
Motorcycle.com isn't a technical e-rag, but there are enough changes on board from Yamaha and Suzuki this year that it warrants a visit to each bike's important innards.