From the unchained environment of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where performance is the sole consideration for victory in our 2015 Six-Way Superbike Track Shootout, we move to the confines of public roadways to determine which superbike renders the best street-legal exhibition. As tight as our track test results were, the street shootout was just as close with a half-percent separating second from first place. If the MO offices were located in Florida, I’d demand a recount.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

While the contestants remain the same: Aprilia RSV4 RF, BMW S1000RR, Ducati 1299 Panigale S, Honda CBR1000RR SP, Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, Yamaha YZF-R1, we did swap out our track ringer, Doug Chandler, for yours truly. To test acceleration abilities, we brought the group to a run-what-ya-brung drag night. Sadly, for the birthplace of dragracing, SoCal lacks a selection of quarter-mile dragstrips, so we were forced to settle for the eighth-mile strip at Irwindale Speedway. Sean Alexander would be our reference rider, getting runs on all six bikes, while the rest of us were limited by the track to passes on just one bike. Then on the last round, in a typical MO moment, we just said, “Screw it, we’ll switch riders anyway, because they can’t kick us out after it’s over!”

Otherwise, with model introductions, dyno charts, test explanation and thank-yous littered throughout the preamble of the track test, we’re left with nothing more than getting to the nitty gritty of where and why each bike placed as it did in the street shootout. So, let’s get to it.

Sixth Place: Honda CBR1000RR SP 83.7%

070915-2015-superbike-street-shootout-honda-cbr1000rr-sp-_M1D0504 copy

In my single-bike review of the CBR1000RR SP I gave the Honda a score of 83.5%. Against its peers, with five other editors involved we collectively scored the CBR 83.7%. Can’t say we’re not consistent. This solid B score would be perfectly acceptable were it my high school report card, but in this instance, it’s only good enough for last place.

Bereft of tech and weak in horsepower, the CBR remains a good package due to its well-balanced chassis. The SP produces more torque than the other Japanese bikes in this shootout. In the pounds per pound-feet category of the ScoreCard, the Honda comes in third behind the Ducati and BMW. With very streetable mid-range power and gearing, the CBR proves a six-axis gyro isn’t necessary for high-octane street riding.

“Despite its lack of whiz-bang technologies, the big CBR was one of the most user-friendly bikes of the bunch,” says Evans Brasfield. “It’s a great reminder of both how far we’ve come in just a few years and how good we had it – with a taste of what was lost by bringing GP technology to the street.”

With a 39.1 mpg average the Honda bested the runner-up mpg average of the BMW by 1.7 miles per gallon, and the worst offender, the YZF-R1, by 9.4 miles per gallon.

With a 39.1 mpg average the Honda bested the runner-up mpg average of the BMW by 1.7 miles per gallon, and the worst offender, the YZF-R1, by 9.4 miles per gallon.

The CBR does claim a slipper clutch, which is great for both street and track riding. Its other notable technology is its Öhlins suspension. The fully adjustable NIX30 inverted fork and Unit Pro-Link Öhlins shock conspire to give the SP a supple ride for the variety of road conditions you’ll experience.

“Suspension is a nice compromise for the street, providing good control while being relatively compliant,” says Kevin Duke.

“The CBR’s great for soaking up small chop on the Crest and riding home 400 miles,“ adds John Burns. “Strange its ergos aren’t as good as every other CBR. On the track it’s slow; on the street, you’ll never know it’s 30 horses down on the BMW. When the BMW is in for warranty work, the CBR will be waiting for you in the garage. Ditto the Kawasaki.”

Öhlins and Brembo are two of the best names in the biz, and you feel the quality when riding the CBR, but Duke makes a good point: “No forged wheels on a $17k Honda?”

Öhlins and Brembo are two of the best names in the biz, and you feel the quality when riding the CBR, but Duke makes a good point: “No forged wheels on a $17k Honda?”

No one particularly cared for the CBR’s seating position. Not a surprise considering Honda tweaked the footpegs and clip-ons to be more aggressive for track duty. The instrument cluster is uncluttered with only traditional information displayed plus a gear-position indicator.

We can continue praising what the Honda does right against the likes of newer models equipped with more formidable arsenals, but let’s get to the elephant in the room – the SP’s price tag. At $17,299 the CBR is the fourth most expensive bike here: $1,700 more than the ZX-10R and $809 more than the GP-for-the-street R1. That’s a hard pill to swallow when the other bikes here are armed to the teeth with the latest and greatest technological wizardry.

At The Drag Strip: 7.437 @ 105.60 mph

Curb Weights (full tanks)
Aprilia RSV4 RF 456 lbs – 51.0% front
BMW S1000RR 451 lbs – 52.3% front
Ducati 1299 Panigale S 427 lbs – 52.6% front
Honda CBR1000RR SP 444 lbs – 52.5% front
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 446 lbs – 51.6% front
Yamaha YZF-R1 438 lbs – 52.4% front

“The CBR SP was straightforward and easy to ride at the strip,” notes Sean Alexander, our rider who made the most passes on these superbikes at Irwindale. “What was a surprise, however, was how quick it was off the line, thanks to its moderate gearing and tractable powertrain. Once into third gear, it starts to feel a bit slow compared to everything else in this test, I suspect it wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive beyond the 1/8th mile mark. However, the CBR makes a most willing partner in crime for stoplight banditry.”

Fifth Place: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 86.8%

070915-2015-superbike-street-shootout-kawasaki-ninja-zx-10r-_M1D0144 copy

Twenty years passed between Kawasaki’s first World Superbike Championship title in 1993 with Scott Russell and the company’s second title in 2013 with Tom Sykes. But win it that year Sykes did, and he did it aboard this motorcycle (largely unchanged since 2012). The Ninja 10R – reigning champ from our 2012 Japanese Superbike Shootout – held up well against its new competitor from Japan, the YZF-R1, losing out to Yamaha’s new flagship superbike by only 2.4%.

By way of the lowest MSRP, the third lowest weight and strong finishes in the power-to-weight categories, the Ninja did win the Objective section of the MO ScoreCard with a 92.1% to the R1’s 91.6%. The 10R lost ground to the other bikes in the Subjective scoring categories, but judging by the notes of all the testing editors, the Kawi does nothing terribly wrong, nor does it stand out in any particular way.

The ZX-10R’s bar-graph tach is colorful and easy to read, but the LCD info window is on the smallish side.

The ZX-10R’s bar-graph tach is colorful and easy to read, but the LCD info window is on the smallish side.

“A well-honed machine with no acclimatization needed,” says Duke.

“Fat midrange, beastly top-end, perfectly weighted steering, perfectly good suspension, and the knowledge that TC is there even if I’m too slow to really use it,” says Burns.

So, why doesn’t the Ninja do better in this shootout? At $15,600 it’s the bargain bike here, undercutting the CBR by $1,700 and besting it by having a relatively impressive arsenal of technological rider aides. Here’s the pinch, for only $890 more you can have the all-new R1, which certainly seems to be the real bargain. And although we didn’t test the base model Aprilia, the RR, it should at least be considered as an option because it’s only a Ulysses S. Grant away from the Kawi ABS model.

“Shame the Ninja’s only a 50 bucks less than the base-model Aprilia, which isn’t any more competent but is way more, ahhh, exciting and better sounding,” says Burns.

The Ninja’s graphics “are flatteringly slimming,” according to Duke.

The Ninja’s graphics “are flatteringly slimming,” according to Duke.

The Kawi’s brakes drew good reviews with Siahaan saying he couldn’t “believe the brakes weren’t Italian.” The seating position, however, seemed more appropriate for the larger editors while not so much for the smaller editors, who complained of the reach to the bars, and the overall aggressiveness of the seating position.

When it comes to fuel economy, the 10R ranked fourth with an average consumption of 33.2 mpg. And despite its tall gearing, the Ninja was third fastest at the drag strip behind the BMW and Yamaha.

At The Drag Strip: 7.721 at 102.19 mph

MPG
Aprilia RSV4 RF 34.9
BMW S1000RR 37.4
Ducati 1299 Panigale S 31.7
Honda CBR1000RR SP 39.1
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 33.2
Yamaha YZF-R1 29.7

“The ZX-10R can be a nightmare to launch due to its overly tall stock gearing causing it to fall into a torque hole right around the time the clutch gets fully engaged,” says Alexander. “This makes it way too easy to bog out of the hole. Siahaan got one good clean run on it, out of four tries, and ripped to a 7.1 at 112.5 mph, so it isn’t slow at all, just very difficult to launch in stock form. ZX-10Rs actually do great on the dragstrip once properly geared and set-up.”

Fourth Place: Yamaha YZF-R1 89.2%

070915-2015-superbike-street-shootout-yamaha-yzf-r1-_M1D0747 copy

Coming in fourth is the last of the Japanese entrants, Yamaha’s YZF-R1. The 2015 R1 is an all-new model, a technological tour de force, and it was almost universally lauded in reports from its media introduction. Consequently, we had high expectations for it, so it was a surprise to see it slotting down in fourth place on our scorecards.

“I liked it at the track pretty well, but only midpack,” says Burns. “On the street, its ergos are cruelest, and its rear suspension and seat the meanest, placing my droopy old boys in such a position that every bump treated them like a pair of ping-pong balls being dribbled by the Harlem Globetrotters. I understand the ‘racetrack first’ thing as a marketing ploy, I guess, but this is a streetbike. The Aprilia and BMW are both faster around the track while being much more comfy on the street.”

Ergonomically, no one liked the reach to the R1’s clip-ons – the farthest and lowest of the group. This is not a problem at the track, but for street riding, any other bike here has a more comfortable rider triangle.

Ergonomically, no one liked the reach to the R1’s clip-ons – the farthest and lowest of the group. This is not a problem at the track, but for street riding, any other bike here has a more comfortable rider triangle.

One thing no one complained of is the sound emanating from the R1’s crossplane crankshaft inline-Four. “Equally as exotic as the Aprilia,” says Siahaan. But even though most testers commented that the 150 horses of the CBR are plenty for street riding, everyone was still amazed at the R1’s low output of 163 hp (only three more than the Ninja), and the least amount of torque, producing only 72.5 lb-ft at 8900 rpm.

One of the Yamaha’s strongest features is its digital tech. “The electronics package is impressive, and I particularly loved the lift control that allowed me to carry a slight wheelie for extended periods on Laguna’s front straight and at the Irwindale drag strip, which was quite exciting for a wheelie-deficient rider, like myself,” says Brasfield.

“The gauge cluster is bright, colorful and informative. I find that its menus and buttons are pretty easy to navigate, too, much more so than the Duc’s,” says Siahaan. With an average 29.7 mpg, the R1 recorded the worst fuel economy, even running out of fuel during our first group fuel stop. Yamaha claims a capacity of 4.5 gallons; ours was filled to the filler neck (on its sidestand) after 4.25 gallons.

“The gauge cluster is bright, colorful and informative. I find that its menus and buttons are pretty easy to navigate, too, much more so than the Duc’s,” says Siahaan. With an average 29.7 mpg the R1 recorded the worst fuel economy, even running out of fuel during our first group fuel stop. Yamaha claims a capacity of 4.5 gallons; ours was filled to the filler neck (on its sidestand) after 4.25 gallons.

There were complaints that Ride Mode A is too aggressive, forcing many of the testers to use Ride Mode B in order to smooth throttle application. Siahaan and I both shared this opinion, with Brasfield dissenting, saying “Strangely, I noticed the abrupt throttle transitions more on the track than the street – unlike a few of the other riders. Perhaps this was because I found the R1’s engine braking to be absolutely perfect for my riding style on the street, allowing me to better anticipate my throttle roll-on and make it smoother.”

We did have a strange episode with the R1’s front brakes. As we got ready for a street photo session, we noticed its front brake dragging and registering brake pressure on the instrument cluster. After inspection, it was discovered the master cylinder spacer Yamaha’s testing department removed to allow the brake lever to rotate further downward (at an angle experienced riders prefer) caused an unforeseen issue. With the factory spacer removed and the lever angled lower, firmly pulling the lever to the bar, as we did after we reinstalled tires, allowed a tang on the brake lever to bend slightly and thus caused clearance issues. The R1s delivered to dealers, all with the master cylinder spacers, have no such issue.

In the end, the general sentiment seemed be that the R1 makes a better track bike than a street bike. But its second place finish in the Objective scoring category of the ScoreCard helps justify purchasing it over the other two Japanese bikes. Throw in emotional factors such as sound and styling, and the R1 will rev the lust engine of any sportbike enthusiast.

At The Drag Strip: 7.389 at 103.84 mph

“The new R1 was consistently quick and straightforward on the dragstrip,” says Alexander. “I enjoyed its intake honk and ability to haul ass without being temperamental. Its electronics package clearly allows the R1 to launch controllably without placing any unnecessary restrictions on its forward-progress.”

Third Place: Ducati 1299 Panigale S 90.3%

070915-2015-superbike-street-shootout-ducati-1299-panigale-s-_M1D0172 copy

Scoring an overall 90.3% the 1299 Panigale S is the first bike to break into the 90% range. At $24,995 it’s the most expensive bike here, but it should be noted that the standard model retails for $5700 less at $19,295. You lose the electronic suspension and forged wheels but keep all the most important stuff. Even if we were to have used the lower-priced base model in this shootout, it would still have to settle for third against the two top finishers – the competition is just that good.

Still, it all depends on what you’re looking for in a superbike for the street, and if you want just that – a superbike for the street – the Duc is your motorcycle. Like most Ducatis, the experience is raw and visceral, and with 92.5 lb-ft of torque anticipating any right-wrist twist, the new Panigale assaults every sense in the most pleasing ways possible.

“The ride on the Ducati draws emotion,” says Siahaan. “There’s character here, and it’s exciting. The wide bars let you toss the bike wherever you want it, and the narrow midsection makes the bike feel pretty small.”

Being the only bike here with a sexy single-side swingarm, booming V-Twin sounds, and sans all the racer-boy graphics is reason enough for some to choose the Duc over the others. It’s 31.7 fuel mileage and sub-100-mile fuel light illumination is reason to not.

Being the only bike here with a sexy single-side swingarm, booming V-Twin sounds, and sans all the racer-boy graphics is reason enough for some to choose the Duc over the others. It’s 31.7 fuel mileage and sub-100-mile fuel light illumination is reason to not.

For most street riding on the Panigale, it’s best to avoid Race mode which takes the superbike-for-the-street ethos to extremes. Using Sport mode avoids grumpy low-rpm fueling and also relaxes the semi-active suspension to better absorb the harsh irregularities of public pavement.

Burns found himself enjoying the Panigale’s street performance saying, “Best front-end feel of the bunch, plenty of grunt even when the tachometer bar has just begun to register at only 5000 rpm. I found myself closing up on riders ahead of me on the Crest without trying as hard as I was on the other bikes.”

But not everyone was enamored with the Panigale. Here’s Brasfield’s two cents: “The 1299 was the only bike that I liked significantly less after riding it on the street. Even with the Ride Mode set to Sport, the choppy throttle was a constant nuisance, particularly when an unfamiliar road got significantly twisty. Otherwise, its steering was slightly better than some of the competitors, as were the brakes. The clutchless up/downshifts were impeccable but not enough to wash out the bad taste left by the balky EFI.”

“You can feel the electronic suspension firm up in the fork to control dive,” says Duke of the semi-active Öhlins NIX30 fork. The Brembo M50s easily won the Braking category of the ScoreCard.

“You can feel the electronic suspension firm up in the fork to control dive,” says Duke of the semi-active Öhlins NIX30 fork. The Brembo M50s easily won the Braking category of the ScoreCard.

Most testers find the Ducati to be a relatively comfortable sportbike, except for the heat issue. Here’s Burns, “Luckily, 5000 feet up in cool temps was the only place I rode it. Its ‘heat control’ is completely absent, and to me inexcusable. Get custom leathers with asbestos heat shields inside the thighs and butt.”

Is the 1299 Panigale S worth its asking price? That’s for you to decide. For us there are two bikes we found to be better for less money.

At The Drag Strip: 7.303 at 104.31 mph

“The 1299 S was a revelation!” raved Alexander. “Gone are the days when Ducatis were synonymous with fragile and grabby dry clutches and inconsistent dragstrip performance. It was almost ‘easy’ to launch and then really pulled well even if accidentally bogged by the rider.”

Second Place: Aprilia RSV4 RF 91.2%

070915-2015-superbike-street-shootout-aprilia-rsv4-rf-_M1D0486 copy

Coming in last in the Objective category of the ScoreCard certainly didn’t help the reborn RSV4 RF’s chances of winning it all, but much like the Super Duke R did last year, the Aprilia sure won the hearts of all the testers. We’ve secretly willed this bike to win previous shootouts in which it’s competed, but weight and weak horsepower production always interfered. Renewed now with 175.8 rear wheel hp and a host of other upgrades, the RSV4 is everything we’ve always wanted it to be.

“The riding experience on the Aprilia is easily one of the most viscerally exciting of the bikes here, and the way power gets delivered to the ground is equally as breathtaking,” says Siahaan.

Sweet Lord baby Jesus, we thank you so much for this bountiful harvest of V-4 noise! Engine heat from the rear cylinders remains an issue, but not nearly as bad as the Duc’s convection oven.

Sweet Lord baby Jesus, we thank you so much for this bountiful harvest of V-4 noise! Engine heat from the rear cylinders remains an issue, but not nearly as bad as the Duc’s convection oven.

The sound the RSV emits is raucously wonderful but loud. You’ll be announcing both your departures as well as your arrivals even with the stock exhaust. If you don’t already know your neighbors, you soon will.

“I won’t be alone singing the praises of the Aprilia engine, but I’m gonna do it anyway,” says Brasfield. “The sound of the engine under full-throttle acceleration made me wish that Laguna’s front straight was a bit longer, so that I could enjoy that V-4 sound all the way up to redline in sixth gear.”

Nothing pained me more than the thought of not riding the RSV at our Laguna Seca track day, but even on the street, you can feel its mass-centralization. The ease and rapidity in which it flicks from one side to the other. No bike here transitions as quickly.

“Perhaps it was the tallness of the seat (33.6 in.), because the RSV4 felt a bit top heavy to me – but in a good way,” says Brasfield. “The bike turned-in quickly, falling to the lean angle I desired immediately while still allowing for mid-corner corrections if necessary.”

“Excellent brakes, just behind the Duc's stellar M50s,” says Duke. “Very strong brakes, though the Ducati’s were better,” concurs Siahaan.

“Excellent brakes, just behind the Duc’s stellar M50s,” says Duke. “Very strong brakes, though the Ducati’s were better,” concurs Siahaan.

Aprilia, somehow, not only managed to substantially increase the RSV’s power but, at the same time, greatly improve the engine’s fuel consumption. Garnering a third-best mpg of 34.9 behind the BMW and Honda, Aprilia deserves recognition because the RSV was previously notorious for its fuel-gulping nature.

Other streetable improvements include better rearward vision from the bike’s new mirrors, and an ergonomic package that Burns and Alexander extolled as the most comfy of the bunch.

“Best ergos of all of them,” says Burns, “and thin seat padding but perfect shape.” To which Brasfield replies, “The riding position is a bit on the committed side for me to enjoy on the street. If the real world consisted of nothing but winding two-lane roads, that could be forgiven.”

As close as the outcome of this shootout is, we’re splitting hairs between the Aprilia and BMW then splitting them again. There’s so much to like about these two – and the Ducati – it’s damn near impossible to choose a winner. Burns, though, has a wonderful solution.

“If the Aprilia had the Beemer’s cruise control, I would be done shopping.”

Sandwiched by two bikes with semi-active suspension, the old-school twisty knob Öhlins on the Aprilia were still highly praised. Testers also agree that the Aprilia is the equal to, if not better than, the Ducati in emotional satisfaction.

Sandwiched by two bikes with semi-active suspension, the old-school twisty knob Öhlins on the Aprilia were still highly praised. Testers also agree that the Aprilia is the equal to, if not better than, the Ducati in emotional satisfaction.

At The Drag Strip: 7.430 at 104.71 mph

“The RSV4 RF did not enjoy as clear of an advantage at the dragstrip as it does on the racetrack or streets,” observes Alexander. “It bogs right out of the hole as the clutch engages, but then goes apeshit once the revs rise and it starts doing its ferocious and beautiful ‘I’m on the cam and my intake is a black hole’ impression. It’s one of the best sounds in motorcycling in the rider’s helmet, and adds a visceral element that fools the rider into thinking it has an extra 50 horsepower.”

First Place: BMW S1000RR 91.7%

070915-2015-superbike-street-shootout-bmw-s1000rr-_M1D0660 copy

Here’s the Subjective ScoreCard breakdown: Brasfield, Siahaan and myself ranked the BMW 1st, the Aprilia 2nd and the Ducati 3rd. Alexander, Burns and Duke ranked the Aprilia 1st, Ducati 2nd and BMW 3rd. Kind of a six-way standoff. The BMW, however, crushed the Aprilia in the Objective section of the ScoreCard by a factor of 5.5%, thus edging the BMW ahead by a margin of practicality.

The competition is getting stiffer, but the BMW S1k, in my opinion, remains the best all-around sportbike money can buy. And you don’t have to spend as much to get it compared to the more expensive Duc and RSV. It’s the fastest bike here with street amenities such as cruise control and heated grips – technologies the other bikes don’t even have as options. Where the other bikes in this competition are more narrowly focused performance machines, the BMW somehow manages to outperform the others while also retaining a greater amount of streetable civility.

“This is the Swiss Army Knife of the Superbikes,” says Brasfield. “It has the power to kick the ass of all the other bikes, the technology to make it easier for just about any rider to explore their personal limits, and it has cruise control plus heated grips. An aside: After riding the S1000RR on the track in Almeria, Spain – in the rain – I will never, ever question the logic of putting heated grips on a track bike.”

A 37.4 mpg gives the BMW the second-best fuel economy behind the Honda’s 39.1 and in front of the Aprilia’s 34.9, all the while producing the most horsepower of them all: 182.9 at 13,100 rpm.

A 37.4 mpg gives the BMW the second-best fuel economy behind the Honda’s 39.1 and in front of the Aprilia’s 34.9, all the while producing the most horsepower of them all: 182.9 at 13,100 rpm.

Give me BMW’s dynamic semi-active suspension over the old twisty knob stuff any day. It never once crossed my mind that the suspension wasn’t performing up to expectations. Supple when you’re going slow, taut when the speeds increase, and all without me having to do a thing. Simply brilliant. Duke concurs, “I’m a huge fan of DDC, which allows big setup changes via just a button push or two.”

Burns, not so much. “BMW feels bouncy-jouncy to me, especially the rear on the Crest,” he says, continuing with, “BMW is too digital. Even the horn is honk-by-wire. When I want to give my customary polite beep-beep to people snoozing in the left lane as I zip by, I often get a rude HOOONK instead.”

“I don’t think its looks would let me buy it,” says Burns. “Silver swingarm and black frame is like brown shoes with a black suit. For freeway cruising though, it’s the best. Clip-ons not quite so low as most of the others and possibly the cushiest seat.”

“I don’t think its looks would let me buy it,” says Burns. “Silver swingarm and black frame is like brown shoes with a black suit. For freeway cruising though, it’s the best. Clip-ons not quite so low as most of the others and possibly the cushiest seat.”

In top-gear roll-ons the BMW made the other bikes look like they were going backwards. Since the bike’s initial introduction in Spain, BMW has improved the quickshifter’s performance. Fast, slow, around town or in the canyons it simply works. “The Shift Assist Pro works flawlessly – as long as you have the throttle completely closed on downshifts. Once I adjusted to this requirement, I was surprised at how well I acclimated to clutchless shifting,” says Brasfield.

Most testers found the seating position as well as the seat itself to be remarkably comfortable for a sportbike of this caliber – a quality the S1k has had since the model was first launched. These same testers also universally sang the praises of having cruise control available “to give the extremities a break,” as Siahaan puts it.

Brasfield sums up the 2015 S1000RR nicely. “Because it doesn’t look radically different from last year’s S1000RR, the BMW doesn’t particularly stand out when seen next to the new Aprilia and Yamaha. That’s okay. It lets its abilities speak for themselves.”

The BMW’s gauge cluster has a lot of info wrapped up in a small LCD screen that Siahaan says is the most intimidating. “I’m sure if this were my only bike and I had a chance to thoroughly read the owner’s manual I’d learn it all, but to simply hop on and ride, it’s confusing.”

The BMW’s gauge cluster has a lot of info wrapped up in a small LCD screen that Siahaan says is the most intimidating. “I’m sure if this were my only bike and I had a chance to thoroughly read the owner’s manual I’d learn it all, but to simply hop on and ride, it’s confusing.”

At The Drag Strip: 7.422 at 104.87 mph

Our S1000RR was consistently fast under Tom Roderick and set the very fastest time of the night under Troy Siahaan with a 6.894 at 115.87 mph! For Alexander, “it felt middle of the pack, not too hard to launch and capable of going much quicker with a lighter rider.”

2015 Six-Way Superbike Street Shootout
Category Aprilia RSV4 RF BMW S1000RR Ducati 1299 Panigale S Honda CBR1000RR SP Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Yamaha YZF-R1
Price 70.9% 82.3% 62.4% 90.2% 100% 94.6%
Weight 93.6% 94.7% 100% 96.2% 95.7% 97.5%
lb/hp 92.3% 96.0% 100% 80.0% 85.7% 88.9%
lb/lb-ft 78.0% 82.1% 100% 79.3% 75.4% 76.7%
Engine 95.6% 95.0% 90.6% 83.1% 89.0% 92.3%
Transmission/Clutch 92.5% 89.6% 92.5% 77.1% 79.2% 90.0%
Handling 96.3% 94.2% 92.9% 85.4% 85.8% 87.1%
Brakes 93.8% 91.7% 94.6% 88.8% 88.8% 87.1%
Suspension 92.9% 95.8% 93.3% 90.0% 85.4% 81.3%
Technologies 87.5% 100% 95.0% 65.0% 80.0% 90.0%
Instruments 89.6% 90.8% 91.7% 86.3% 85.4% 93.8%
Ergonomics/Comfort 91.3% 92.5% 72.1% 79.6% 85.4% 80.4%
Quality 89.2% 85.4% 92.5% 89.6% 88.8% 89.6%
Cool Factor 96.3% 86.7% 95.4% 82.1% 84.2% 93.3%
Grin Factor 97.5% 93.3% 90.4% 79.6% 85.0% 86.3%
Overall Score 91.2% 91.7% 90.3% 83.7% 86.8% 89.2%

With the Aprilia RSV4 RF winning the track shootout and the BMW S1000RR coming in a close second, then exchanging results in this street shootout requires someone to adjudicate the dispute between which is the best all-around superbike of 2015. Check back with us next week for the third installment to this six-way shootout in which John “The Moderator” Burns wraps up everything we learned about this new era in sportbikes.

After testing this many bikes at insanely fast speeds for as many miles as we have, the entire MO staff is suffering tunnel vision.

After testing this many bikes at insanely fast speeds for as many miles as we have, the entire MO staff is suffering tunnel vision.

2015 Six-Way Superbike Street Shootout Spec Chart
Aprilia RSV4 RF BMW S1000RR Ducati 1299 Panigale S Honda CBR1000RR SP Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS Yamaha YZF-R1
MSRP $21,999 $18,945 (as tested) $24,995.00 $17,299 $15,599 (as tested) $16,490
Type 999.6cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, 65-degree V4, 4 valves per cylinder 999cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, inline-Four, 4 valves per cylinder 1285cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, L-Twin, four-stroke, Desmodromic valve actuation 999cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, inline-Four, 4 valves per cylinder 998cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, inline-Four, 4 valves per cylinder 998c Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, Cross-plane inline-Four, 4 valves per cylinder
Bore and Stroke 78.0mm x 52.3mm 80.0mm x 49.7mm 116mm x 60.8mm 76mm x 55.1mm 76.0mm x 55.0mm 79.0mm x 50.9mm
Compression Ratio 13.6:1 13.0:1 12.6:1 12.3:1 13.0:1 13.0:1
Rear Wheel Horsepower 175.8 hp @ 12,400 rpm 182.9 hp @ 13,100 rpm 175.0 hp @ 10,400 rpm 150.4 hp @ 10,500 rpm 160.6 hp @ 11,700 rpm 162.9 hp @ 12,300 rpm
Torque 76.7 lb.-ft. @ 10,800 rpm 79.9 lb.-ft. @ 9600 rpm 92.5 lb.-ft. @ 8900 rpm 76.4 lb.-ft. @ 10,100 rpm 73.6 @ 11,200 rpm 72.5 lb.-ft. @ 8900 rpm
lb/hp 2.6 2.5 2.4 3.0 2.8 2.7
lb/torque 6.1 5.6 4.6 5.8 6.1 6.0
Transmission 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function 6-speed, multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function, positive neutral finder 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function
Final Drive Chain Chain Chain Chain Chain Chain
Front Suspension Öhlins fork with TiN treatment, fully adjustable 46mm fork, fully adjustable, with Dynamic Damping Control Öhlins NIX30 43mm fully adjustable USD fork with TiN treatment. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with semi-active mode 43mm Öhlins inverted fork with spring-preload, rebound and compression damping-adjustability 43mm inverted Big Piston Fork (BPF), adjustable rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability 43mm KYB inverted fork; fully adjustable
Rear Suspension Öhlins monoshock with piggyback reservoir, fully adjustable Fully adjustable monoshock with Dynamic Damping Control Fully adjustable Öhlins TTX36 unit. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with semi-active mode. Adjustable linkage: Progressive/flat. Aluminium single-sided swingarm Unit Pro-Link Öhlins Shock with spring-preload, rebound and compression-damping adjustability Horizontal back-link with gas-charged shock, stepless, dual-range (low-/high-speed) compression damping, stepless rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload KYB Single shock w/piggyback reservoir, hi/low speed compression, rebound and preload adjustibility
Front Brake Dual 320mm rotors. Twin Brembo M430 monoblock radial 4-piston calipers. ABS with switchable Rear Lift-up Mitigation Dual 320mm rotors. Twin radial-mount 4-piston calipers. Switchable ABS Dual 330mm rotors. Twin Brembo M50 monoblock, radial-mount calipers. Cornering ABS standard Dual 320mm rotors. Dual radial-mount 4-piston Brembo calipers Dual 310mm petal rotors, 4-piston radial-mount calipers w/ABS Dual 320mm rotors, 4-piston calipers, UBS, ABS
Rear Brake 220mm rotor. Brembo twin-piston caliper 220mm rotor. Single-piston caliper 245mm rotor. Twin-piston caliper w/Cornering ABS standard 220mm rotor; single-piston caliper 220mm petal rotor, single-piston caliper w/ABS 220mm rotor, UBS, ABS
Front Tire 120/70-17 120/70-17 120/70-17 120/70-17 120/70-17 120/70 ZR-17
Rear Tire 200/55-17 190/55-17 200/55-17 190/50-17 190/55-17 190/55 ZR-17
Rake/Trail 24.5 deg/4.1 in 23.5 deg / 3.9 in. 24.0 deg / 3.8 in. 23.0 deg / 3.7 in. 25 deg / 4.2 in. 24 deg / 4.0 in.
Wheelbase 56.4 in. 56.6 in. 56.6 in. 55.5 in. 56.1 in. 55.3 in.
Seat Height 33.6 in. 32.1 in. 32.7 in. 32.2 in. 32.0 in. 33.7 in.
Curb Weight 456 lbs. 451 lbs. 427 lbs. 444 lbs. 446 lbs. 438 lbs.
Fuel Capacity 4.9 gal. 4.6 gal. 4.5 gal. 4.6 gal. 4.5 gal. 4.5 gal.
Tested Fuel Economy (Average) 34.9 mpg 38.2 mpg 28.0 mpg 40.6 mpg 33.2 mpg 29.7 mpg
ABS X X X X X
Cornering ABS X
Magnesium wheels X
Forged aluminum wheels Yes Optional (included as tested) X
Titanium connecting rods X
Titanium valves X X X (intake only) X (intake only)
Aluminum fuel tank X
Smartphone app X Optional
Electronic suspension Optional (included as tested) X
Quickshifter X Optional (included as tested) X X
Clutchless downshift ability Optional (included as tested) X
Power modes X X X X X
Traction control X X X X X
Slide control X
Launch control X Optional (included as tested) X
Wheelie control X X X X X
Engine brake control X
Inertial Measurement Unit X X
GPS telemetry Via smartphone app Optional Optional Optional

Free Insurance Quote

Enter your ZIP code below to get a free insurance quote.

Aprilia Dealer Price Quote

Get price quotes for Aprilia from local motorcycle dealers.

Aprilia Communities

BMW Communities

Ducati Communities

Honda Communities

Kawasaki Communities

Yamaha Communities

  • Old MOron

    Thank you, gents. Dreaming about a new speed bike is a nice way to start the weekend. T-rod’s write up is smooth and easy. I guess Duke was speaking in hyperbole when alerted us to “seized brakes” at the conclusion of his peaks-and-valleys column.

    http://www.motorcycle.com/features/dukes-den-peaks-and-valleys-of-a-superbike-shootout.html

    • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

      “Smooth and easy,” I like that. Makes me feel like the Barry White of moto-journalists.

      • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

        …or the Ex-Lax of moto-journalists.

        • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

          Yeah, probably more appropriate considering some of the BS I’ve been known to spew.

          • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

            And you can just call me Summer’s Eve.

          • Goose

            I just met a girl named Summer, you’ve completely ruined that for me.

          • Will

            Burns praised the ZX-10R for its fat midrange. Do you mean it comes alive around 8k? Almost all reviews I’ve read described its power delivery as peaky (with tall gearing playing a factor, too). A local dealer of mine has a new leftover 2013 ZX-10R for $9,998 and no padded fees which is tempting the cheapskate in me. But I really like torque and am wondering if I would be disappointed?

          • TroySiahaan

            If that’s the bike you want, and you’re happy with that price, slap some lower gearing on the 10R and you’ll be well on your way. Not to mention the aftermarket is full of go-fast parts for the ZX-10R that will erase any worries you have about torque.

          • Will

            Thanks for the input. I have a very good relationship with the dealership so I should be able to get a test ride (I’ve sampled the ZX-14R and Z1000 there). In recent years I’ve gravitated toward sporty nakeds (Touno V4, 690 Duke) and, torque concerns aside, I’m not sure if my old body can tolerate the 10r’s ergos anymore.

          • TroySiahaan

            If you want torque, and racer ergos are a concern for you, get the KTM Super Duke R and live happily ever after.

          • Kevin Duke

            Or the S1000R. Or the Tuono 1100… So much greatness out there!

          • Kevin Duke

            I’d say more peaky than fat, as would the dyno chart. But 10k for that much performance is a sweet bargain!

    • Kevin Duke

      Yep, the comment in my editorial came before I was fully briefed on the exact issue. No worries about any stock R1s.

  • Steve Cole

    I think the choices made in this article were spot-on. Personally my
    choice is also the Aprilia. Nothing else makes me want to go ride just
    to hear the motor roar and feels as special. But some people want more
    practicality (although why they wouldn’t move to one of the supernakeds
    is a question mostly of preference, I guess) and the S1000RR is … sort
    of … more practical, at least if you do highway miles or late-season riding. I also would appreciate heated grips, luckily you can buy heated gloves. Being Canadian, I know all about freezing cold hands in spring and late fall.

  • gjw1992

    Just to add my thanks for an excellent set of reviews. Shame you can’t live with all six bikes for a month or so just to get even more of an owners’ type review

  • john phyyt

    This is champagne moto journalism; Thank you so much for bringing your heart and your heads to the digital world:
    What I particularly like is that you have conveyed the point ; by using marvelous word pictures, that the lower scoring bikes are supernovas but just a little red-shifted:
    It must be a delicate balance ; to fully display bikes to the world; in the full glare of their manufacturers ; whilst at the same time needing their co-operation: So thanks to manufacturers (Ducati?) as well.

    Makes me think of Ferrari only allowing certain people to do performance testing; and having a “roll out” distance for zero to 60 shots. Laughable.
    Briliant work boys;

  • DickRuble

    Nice review of the road going talents of these bikes. However, there is a question that remains unanswered; which of these bikes would be best at commuting to and from work? The vast majority of users will be confronted with city traffic.

  • K Paul Cook

    Wow. You got the band back together. Burns, Alexander, now all we need is Buz, Gabe, long ride and Fonzie. Nice article.

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      Buzz drops smart-assed comments from time to time and Gabe is a regular contributor with a monthly column.

  • Branson

    Excellent article and video — very interesting and made lots of sense. I especially liked the closing with each of the 6 testers giving their detailed reasoning for which bike they’d choose. That’s really the bottom line for all of us, isn’t it?

  • John B.

    To review superbikes for the street is like reviewing snowshoes for the beach. Manufacturers design these bikes for maximum track performance, and nearly every characteristic that makes a bike perform well on a track detracts from its street worthiness. Yet, on average, these bikes spend most of their time on the street, so a street evaluation seems necessary.

    For riders who ride exclusively on the street, the question is not so much which superbike to choose, but whether to buy one of these liter bikes or its super-naked/street-fighter equivalent. For riders who never go to the track it would seem the streetfighter is the better option. Street fighters cost less, produce more low end grunt, are more versatile, and have more comfortable ergonomics.

    So (Shootout participants), if you had to choose one bike among the six (6) bikes featured here, and the five (5) bikes featured in the April 2014 Super Streetfighter Smackdown, which would you choose? I would choose the KTM SuperDuke because I am 6’3″, 230 pounds, middle-aged, and ride exclusively on the street. All of these bikes can far outperform my riding skills so why not be more comfortable?

    Great work guys… as always.

    • Steve Cole

      Still love my 2007 Tuono for this reason. I do a *lot* of track riding, however.

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      Super Duke R, by a factor of 10 over any Superbike or Supersport on the street. Not even close. These bikes are incredible, but can’t really compete with real streetbikes on the street.

    • Kevin Duke

      Tuono 1100 over RSV4 any day.

  • João Filipe De Cesaro

    Seems like Ducati’s just lost both shootouts to their own price tag.

    • Mat

      Wow…cool factor (Duc in 2nd!!!)… grin factor (Duc 3rd!!!)…technologies (Duc behind BMW in 2nd!!! )…common guys…what a mess!

      But of course again…Pleasure to watch. Thanks.

  • Rick Vera

    As always, I love these in-depth reviews and accompanying videos. One big question I have though which doesn’t seem to be discussed anywhere in either the article or comments (yet), but I was wondering, how do you all feel the Yamaha would have placed if you had tested the R1M ($21,990)? A $9 delta of the Aprilia and ~$3k of the Duc seems more price-appropriate.

    The R1M has Ohlins suspension that can automatically adjust or be adjusted manually. It may not have changed the street review much considering its aggressive ergonomics, so perhaps more importantly, how do you think it may have placed in the track review?

    • Kevin Duke

      The R1M’s suspension would be better, gaining points, but its higher MSRP would also lose some points. It’s too bad Yamaha’s circuit ECU can’t be used on the street…

  • William Marvin Parker

    Geez the BMW gets a complete styling remake and still looks like a bad Suzuki from 2007..uhh, good thing its such a great bike…

    • azi

      So does the 2015 Suzuki GSXR – oh wait…

  • Alexander Pityuk

    Seems like Yamaha got lost in virtual reality while developing R1’s electronic arsenal. And that hype bubble, inflated around previous model’s truly great success… is a mess. BMW came into the segment and raped it straight away. Without any fuss. MotoGP for the street, huh? Should be called MotoGP-Tech for the street. And why the hell would you want that?..

    • William Marvin Parker

      Speak for yourself, I want it. BMW doesn’t even have an effort in WSBK, let alone MotoGp..oh, and I’ll take Japanese engineering over Euro any day of the week..

    • spiff

      I think the Yamaha got the short end of the stick in this test. It appears the tires were not a good match, and the ecu was not tinkered with. I understand leaving the ecu stock, that is the way Yamaha shipped it. If you start to allow modifications to the bikes where do you begin and end. That said, I know of a bike that made 177 on a dyno with a slip on and tune, and I question how much the slip on mattered. A majority of these bikes would get at least a slip on and flashed ecu by the owner, and most certainly by anyone going to the track.

      • spiff

        I should also add the tuner told me that he wasn’t done, and there was still room to clean up the map. Maybe a couple more ponies in there somewhere.

      • William Marvin Parker

        I believe the Circuit ECU makes about that much, problem is it disables the lights..shame we have restricted version and Europe and elsewhere get all the good stuff…

      • Steve Cole

        So, about what the RSV4 makes with no modification at all.

        • spiff

          I’m all about the Ape, I think it deserves to be on top. I just think the R1would have had a better showing with a different tire. As far as the ecu is concerned I agree they should let it be, but the power is just a tune away.

  • Vrooom

    Man that Ducati is light! 427 lbs, that’s ridiculous for a bike like that. The BMW doesn’t do much for me, but I do like that Aprilia.

    • William Marvin Parker

      Not having an actual FRAME tends to do that yea…

  • DrSubie

    Yep, great article–a seeming testament to unbiased reporting/journalism. Only nit pick would be that I wish you guys were able to test the less expensive versions of the Duc and Aprilia to make it a more even playing field. I don’t doubt that the results would still be similar though…

    Looking at the dashboards of the bikes, I’m puzzled why more manufacturers don’t go to a set up similar to the Duc and Yam. I’d be willing to shell out a few hundred more $$ for that type of set up…