2012 European Literbike Shootout - Video
Europe's best are upping the ante in the literbike wars
And The Winner is...
Deciding on a best overall motorcycle between this trio of European exotica was no easy task. Taking both street and track performances into consideration, each machine built a strong case for itself. This is where the MO scorecard comes into play.
Judged in 13 different categories ranging from engine performance and value to handling and cool factor, our subjective opinions are given an objective score. After calculating all the numbers, this proved to be one of our closest shootouts yet.
After a poor showing on the street, it shouldnít come as a surprise the ultra-focused Ducati placed third, scoring 86.1%. It is, without a doubt, a very exciting motorcycle when ridden in the right context. Unfortunately this window of opportunity is very limited. Revs must be high and the road must be smooth and curvaceous to extract all it has to offer.
However, we did give it top billing in the brake, technology, instruments, fit & finish, appearance, and cool factor categories. But factoring the reasons mentioned earlier and its highest price tag of the three Ė $17,995 for the standard version; $22,995 for our S model test bike Ė and the Ducatiís fate was set in scorecard stone.
From here the judging process was much more difficult. All three testers were enamored with the Apriliaís gentle yet precise and confidence-inspiring engine and chassis, on track and on the street. But we couldnít ignore the less exciting, but extremely practical and equally capable BMW.
The Aprilia took top honors in the transmission, handling, and grin factor (where we judge the intangibles, like the excitement it generates) categories, while the BMW won for best ergonomics, and received perfect scores in both engine and value categories.
The scorecards were so close, with all three testers virtually tied after 12 categories. Our thirteenth and final criterion, value, tipped the scales. Coming in $2000 less than the $16,999 RSV4, the BMW once again wins our Euro literbike shootout with a 90.4% score compared to the Apriliaís 88.5%.
Granted, if youíre looking at any of our high-end combatants, then price might not be an issue for you. If we were lucky enough to be in that category, our hearts would recommend the Aprilia. However, considering the performance, practicality and technology the BMW offers at a relatively low price, itís impossible to overlook. Personally, itís the bike I would choose if I were to ride to a track, do a trackday and ride home.
With minor but cumulatively significant updates for 2012, the BMW S1000RR retains its Euro literbike crown. And with Kawasakiís ZX-10R already named as our Japanese literbike winner this year, the only thing left to do is pit them together for ultimate literbike supremacy in our third and final portion of this test. Stay tuned.
|The Last Word|
|Tom Roderick, Content Editor: The S1000RR is the most pragmatic choice of these three bikes. More horsepower, greater comfort and user-friendly performance in a package costing thousands less than its Italian competitors. The S1000RR is a two-wheel testament to the precision of German engineering.
But as much as my left brain demands that if I were spending my money I buy the BMW, my right brain is arguing aesthetics. Not that the Beemer is an ugly bike, on the contrary, I find the S1000RRís styling and asymmetrical headlight configuration appealing. The fact of the matter is, it simply doesnít turn me on.
Iím addicted to the power delivery of Apriliaís V4 engine and the sound associated with its acceleration and deceleration. The RSV is also one of the most confidence-inspiring sportbikes on the market. The BMW makes more power and the Panigale is an exotic, sexy beast, but if it were my money the RSV strikes the best balance between the track-bred Duc and all-around mannerisms of the Beemer.
|Troy Siahaan, Associate Editor: I was truly torn this time. On track, Iím completely enamored with the Ducati. Itís an exciting motorcycle that begs the rider to try a little harder and ride its wheels off. With all its techno-wizardry thatís also easy to understand, I feel like the Panigale helps make me a better rider at the push of a button.
However, my adoration evaporated during our street ride. Its ďno-compromisesĒ attitude is simply torturous: itís uncomfortable, jumpy down low and incredibly hot. Itís hard to fault the BMWís 172 horses and least expensive price tag, and by no means am I putting it down, but this category of motorcycle is supposed to incite visceral emotion. Simply put, the Apriliaís combination of smooth power, remarkable handling and dashing good looks does it for me every time, and would be the bike Iíd choose if my garage had a vacancy needing to be filled and my wallet had no bottom.
|Kevin Duke, Editor-in-Chief: I take my job as a motorcycle evaluator very seriously, and the S1000RR is definitely at the top of the heap of the European literbikes in our test when judged on the terms of a usable street motorcycle. Thatís a relatively easy assertion to make when youíre talking about the most powerful and most versatile bike of the bunch.
However, this shootout doesnít have as its subject matter scooters or commuter bikes, and this space on these virtual pages gives me the opportunity to speak from my gut. Itís the RSV4 that tugs strongest on my heartstrings. While its V-Four motor is the least powerful, itís the powerplant I preferred most. I love the way it feels as it builds revs, accompanied by an angry but creamy bark that makes me want to rev it up in every tunnel I passed through. And if I was offered a nice prize for blasting up and down a canyon road the quickest, the willing and cooperative Aprilia would be my choice.
I have to say Iím surprised the wonderful new Panigalle wasnít at the top of this subjective list, as it thrilled me in countless sensational ways when riding it both at Yas Marina and at Thunderhill. But our street testing revealed jumpy throttle response that annoyed and sapped my confidence. I predict Ducati will release an updated engine-mapping download this summer. Throw in a barely padded seat and enough BTUs from the rear cylinder to roast a small animal, and the scrumptious Panigale loses any overall battle on the street Ė except at the coffee shop Ö
2012 European Literbike Shootout Teaser - Video
2012 Japanese Superbike Shootout - Video
2012 BMW S1000RR Review - Video
2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Review - Video
2012 KTM RC8 R and RC8 R Race Spec Review: First Ride
2012 MV Agusta F3 675 Review
2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 Review - Video
2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Review - Video
2012 Honda CBR1000RR Review - Video
2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 vs. 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC - Video
2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R vs. 2011 BMW S1000RR Shootout - Street - Video
2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R vs. 2011 BMW S1000RR Shootout - Track - Video
2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Review
2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC SE Review
2010 Literbike Shootout: RSV4 R vs. S1000RR vs. CBR1000RR vs. ZX-10R - Video
2010 Literbike Shootout: Aprilia RSV4 Factory vs. Ducati 1198S vs. KTM RC8R - Video
Italian V-Four Literbike Shootout: Aprilia RSV4 Factory vs. Ducati Desmosedici - Video
2009 Literbike Shootout - Video
All Things Sportbikes