2011 Gentlemen Sportbike Shootout
Kawasaki Ninja 1000 vs. Suzuki GSX1250FA vs. Yamaha FZ1
Pricing between these three gentlemen sportbikes is possibly the most surprising aspect. The GSX1250FA does have ABS, but even so, the asking price of $11,599 seems lofty for an otherwise low-tech motorcycle with not much more than new clothing differentiating it from its Bandit past. The FZ1, at $10,490, is the most affordably priced of the three but is also cursed with the least desirable engine character.
The Ninja 1000 with its $10,999 MSRP sits comfortably in the middle of the price range, and after thoroughly exhausting the advantages and shortcomings of each motorcycle, it’s the bike I’d choose because of its particular balance of aggressive sportiness and touring comfort.
There are, however, reasons to consider the other two gentlemen sportbikes in this shootout, as noted by Smith and Giardinelli.
“The Yamaha FZ1 is a bike I like a lot,” says Giardinelli. ”Its R1-derived engine is not as buzzy feeling as the Ninja 1000 and it is more agile than the big Suzuki 1250FA. Overall it is comfortable, has decent wind protection, good power (even if a little weak at low rpm) and is very agile. Now that there is more competition in this category, it may not be the new favorite, but the FZ1 does a lot of things right.”
As for Smith, he’d choose the Ninja if he didn’t already have a Gixxer 1000 in his garage. As such, he considers the GSX1250FA as a viable companion.
“I completely understand the appeal of bikes like the Ninja and FZ1,” says the former editor of Motor Trend, “and especially in the case of the Ninja, I'm really pulling for the concept of a modern sportbike in more street-suitable dress to be wildly successful. But so far, as executed, they aren't quite tugging at my own heart (or purse) strings. Of these three, it's really only the outlier, the Suzuki, that makes me want to go somewhere, anywhere, right now.
“The bike is easily capable of running coast to coast or border to border, while still feeling like motorcycles are supposed to feel in the corners,” Smith continues. “It gets me pretty well along to the elusive "all-day sportbike" ideal, while also serving the occasional need for a pure freeway hauler and managing the two-up breakfast run to Laguna Beach.”
Giardinelli didn’t pick the GSX as his favorite, overall favoring the well-rounded Ninja, but he could see why it would be appealing to many riders. “If you are a person who likes the comfort of a Honda ST1300 or BMW RT but don't want all the heft or lack of sporting performance, then this is the bike for you.”
Editor Duke also selected the Kawasaki as his gentleman’s sportbike of choice. Although it’s not perfect, Duke’s remarks regarding the comfortable sportiness of the Ninja illustrates why a sportbike junkie might consider the new Ninja.
“I'll bet I could go quicker through Latigo Canyon on the N1K than on a proper sporting literbike,” speculates our E-i-C. “Tons of grunt and usable transmission gearing gives it more than enough poke for street riding, and its relatively upright riding position is better suited for bumpy canyon riding. Then, after dusting up a few mediocre-ridden Ducatis in the canyons with a youthful grin on my face, the comfortable ride home doesn’t remind me of how old I’m getting.”
2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000: First Ride
2011 Suzuki GSX1250F Review
Best Literbike for the Street
2010 Oddball Sport-Touring Shootout
2010 Kawasaki Z1000 Review
2009 Sport-Touring Shootout
2007 Suzuki Bandit 1250: First Ride
2006 Yamaha FZ1 Review
1997 Power Tourers