For those who’ve lapped up every word, expression, and metaphor of the performance novel that was our 2017 Superbike Track Shootout and Superbike Street Shootout, the heir apparent is as obvious as the bike coming in last place. For those still wallowing in anticipation, unable to decipher our MOrse code, you can take a breath because, without further ado, we give you…

An interesting breakdown of how we came to our conclusion.

With seven bikes demanding seven riders (eight considering there was a separate guest tester for the street test vs. the track test) over the course of multiple days on public roads and multiple trackdays, scales, dyno runs, tire changes, suspension settings, electronics variables, photos, videos – it’s an exhausting undertaking. A labor of love, but also of critical evaluation, analysis, and, yes, math.

The MO Scorecard is divided into Objective and Subjective scoring sections. The Objective section has four fact-based categories (Price, Weight, Pounds per HP, Pounds per lb-ft of torque), worth a grand total of 210 points (total points determined by the amount of bikes in the test). Looking at only the Objective scores reveals an outcome of another nature, and spotlights why it’s important to ride and subjectively score the bikes, because numbers on paper do not determine a superbike shootout winner.

With an MSRP of $13,995 the EBR 1190RX handily won the Price category, and by virtue of its relatively light weight and largest displacement engine took all the points in the Pounds per lb-ft of torque category. The EBR was the only bike to win two Objective categories. The two most powerful bikes, Aprilia and BMW, found themselves at the bottom of the Objective category largely because of price and weight, even though the two shared top honors in the Pounds per HP category.

Ridden in a vacuum the EBR is a ferociously fun, high-performing superbike. It’s only when measured against its contemporaries that it falls short. “Sad they lost a few years of development fighting financial problems instead,” says John Burns.

Ridden in a vacuum the EBR is a ferociously fun, high-performing superbike. It’s only when measured against its contemporaries that it falls short. “Sad they lost a few years of development fighting financial problems instead,” says John Burns.

If the EBR was so dominant in the Objective category, why didn’t it place better overall? Because Objective scoring in a shootout consisting of seven bikes carries a total of 210 points, whereas Subjective scoring among seven testers totals 840 points, imposing a more significant judgement. This is where a bike’s nuances really come into play, but even then the separation between machines is oftentimes microscopically minimal. A perfect example is the 0.03% difference between the Kawasaki and Yamaha in the final combined scores. Hypothetically, a small price change between the Kawasaki and Yamaha could rearrange the two bikes’ finishing positions.

“The top two bikes for me (Aprilia and Honda) were pretty clear and took few thought units,” says guest tester Thai Long Ly. “The third step of the podium is where things get crowded. “Here, something as trivial as cruise control (on a sportbike, that is) could put one bike ahead of another – they’re all that evenly matched.”

Unlike Subjective scores, Objective scores remain the same regardless of venue; street or track. For the testers involved in both the street and track shootouts, it was painfully obvious the Yamaha was a much better track bike than it is street bike – mainly because of ergonomics – and the Subjective scores reflect that sentiment with the Yamaha moving from sixth place in the street Scorecard to fourth place in the track Scorecard.

“Ergos are fine on the racetrack, where you are too terrified to feel pain,” Burnsie poignantly states.

The combined Subjective scores of the Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha are closer than conjoined twins, a mere 0.19% separating the three. Which makes Thai’s quote all the more appropriate. “Every single bike here is worthy of ownership,” says Ly. “They’re all incredibly fast, incredibly stable, and incredibly fun. Which one you buy comes down to feel. How does it feel and how does it make you feel? So buy your favorite shape or color, set the suspension for your weight and go smash!”

The combined Subjective scores of the Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha are closer than conjoined twins, a mere 0.19% separating the three. Which makes Thai’s quote all the more appropriate. “Every single bike here is worthy of ownership,” says Ly. “They’re all incredibly fast, incredibly stable, and incredibly fun. Which one you buy comes down to feel. How does it feel and how does it make you feel? So buy your favorite shape or color, set the suspension for your weight and go smash!”

Interestingly, when we published our track shootout we reported the Honda CBR1000RR as placing second, ahead of the mighty BMW S1000RR. A correct statement when looking at the combined overall scores which accounts for both Objective and Subjective scores (see chart below). What went unmentioned is that according to Subjective scores, testers still preferred the BMW over the Honda. It was the extra price of the BMW’s Prestige Package ($3,150) that cost the S1000RR second place in the track shootout. However, the BMW’s street and track scores were marginally higher than the Honda’s, awarding the BMW the overall second-place trophy. But not by much, with only 0.06% separating the two.

Leaving us with the Aprilia RSV4 RR, which unequivocally won each category of the scorecard, defeating the second-place BMW in the street shootout by 1.72%, defeating the second place Honda in the track shootout by 1.89%, and winning the overall by 1.85% over the BMW. The Aprilia’s win is a veritable landslide victory considering the slim margins between other bikes in the shootout.

“Thrilling. Visceral. Exotic. Sexy. The only bike here that can satisfy Jenna Jameson,” says porn historian Thai Long Ly.

“Thrilling. Visceral. Exotic. Sexy. The only bike here that can satisfy Jenna Jameson,” says porn historian Thai Long Ly.

So, our 2016 Sportbike of the Year can now add 2017 Superbike Shootout Champion to its mantle of MO awards. Here’s E-i-C Kevin Duke to explain why the Aprilia is so damn good.

“It’s phenomenal that you can get a magical piece of Italian exotica like this for less than the price Honda charges for its CBR with the optional auto-blipping quickshifter,” he says. “Not only is the ’Priller far more exotic, it also boasts Cornering ABS, independent wheelie control and on-the-fly-adjustable traction control by dedicated finger/thumb toggles. Oh, and let’s not forget that mellifluous V-4 soundtrack that Honda probably wishes it could match like it could back in the glorious RC30/45 days.”

And from MO’s Editorial Director, Sean Alexander comes these wise words of wisdom. “At these prices, my opinion is that you’d be crazy not to buy the Aprilia or EBR, why be normal?” he says. “Seriously, you can get another inline-four, even one with a ton of bells and whistles, but it’ll just be a fast tool like all the rest. At least with the Aprilia and Buell, you’re getting something a bit less common.”

For those who may have missed them the first time around, below are the videos from our Street and our Track episodes.

Street:

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Track:

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  • DickRuble

    And I thought Honda was second at the track in the Subjective Scores.. Bloody @$%$% Excel spreadsheets!!

    • Evans Brasfield

      It was/is!

      • DickRuble

        In the subjective scores at the Track (the table before last) it’s in third place… In the track shootout, it was second, no ifs, no buts. Now all of a sudden there’s an “objective” track category? .. Did BMW give you a call?

  • DickRuble

    Speaking of objective: MPG? Does it count?

    • Born to Ride

      If not MPG, fuel range should absolutely be in the objective category

      • DickRuble

        Comes to mind.. based on their criteria, a crated Vespa engine would win the objective comparison hands down; weight to power, weight to torque, price, etc..

      • Jon Jones

        Great point. Nothing worse than being hobbled by poor fuel range. Really no easy way to remedy this.

        • Born to Ride

          It’s one of the primary reasons I’m leaning toward the street Triple instead of the Tuono for my next bike. 28-32mpg vs 40-45mpg results in a very substantial difference in range. I do 2-300 mile Saturday rides all the time. I don’t want to have to stop for fuel 3 times in one day. That’s just stupid.

          • Jon Jones

            This is one of the biggest reasons I love my aging ST1100: 300 mile-plus fuel range. Gas stations can be few and far between in many areas. Highway 50 through Nevada comes to mind.

          • Born to Ride

            I almost bought an ST1300 as my commuter when I started engineering school. I thought it was the perfect bike for that duty. Unfortunately I couldn’t find one in my budget and ended up with a lightly used Triumph Sprint 1050. That bike got 40.0 mpg like clockwork and had a 5.5gallon tank. Zero range anxiety at all. 300 miles to a tank is impressive though.

          • Jon Jones

            Actually got my eye out for a clean, used ST1300. Also need a Triumph in my stable. Lovely motorbikes.

            So you’re a smarty-pants engineer, huh? Really wish I had a better mind for math. I’m stuck fixing things as opposed to designing them.

            Must be nice…

          • Born to Ride

            I spent my entirety of my formative years in an auto repair shop. Worked as a lube monkey, then a technician and service writer. It’s good work. You never question at the end of the day if you have actually accomplished anything. Academics have always come naturally to me, so mechanical engineering seemed like the natural choice of study given my background. Anyone can learn math, it’s more of a discipline than anything else. I’m sure if you wanted it bad enough you’d get there. Plenty of mechanics turned engineer mid career at my school.

          • Jon Jones

            Alas, now I’m too old and addled to change course. But I do enjoy my job as a motorbike mechanic when I don’t hate it and wished I was dead.

            Yeah, I do believe I should’ve embraced math back in my misspent youth. But as you state, it’s a discipline. And I had a real problem with discipline as a lad. I became a mechanic the hard, stupid way: Vocational training in an institution.

            Worked out OK, I guess. Now I’m past my prime and sluggish of thought, but I’m still The Guy Who Gets The Job Done.

            My very best to you and yours this fine weekend.

          • Born to Ride

            Likewise, happy fourth to ya.

  • Arch Koven

    It’s hard to believe that the objective ranking is almost completely the opposite of the subjective and final rankings. With that high power, advanced electronics and all that for such a reasonable price, how could the Aprilia be so down on the objective points? It makes no sense to me.

    • Steve Benjamin

      Aprilla’s are shit quality (in the past anyways) and limited dealers

      • Steve Cole

        Shit quality? I’ve had better luck with mine (4 to date) than my Suzukis. At least know what you’re talking about before shooting off your yap.

        • Steve Benjamin

          They may be ok now but I had a buddy with one and the battery would go dead once a month…nobody could figure it out and he finally dumped it.

          • Born to Ride

            There might be some sort of electrical issue with some bikes because I helped a guy recently whose battery died while riding. The curious thing was that the bike ran just fine on the charging system after we got him jumped. Maybe they have an issue with overcharging and killing the batteries.

          • Steve Benjamin

            He took it to several shops and nobody could figure it out….that was one of several problems he had with the bike.

      • ColoradoS14

        They are just fine. I am taking mine on a 950mi 2 day Colorado backcountry ride in a couple weeks with no concerns!

    • Born to Ride

      The benefit of electronics is a subjective matter. As is the functionality of each system as perceived by the rider. It’s as objective as tire preference.

  • mackja

    This really shows just how close all these bikes are. The variety of bikes for the sportbike rider is fantastic, I am only sad about the demise of the V-Twin sportbike, maybe Ducati will keep one in their line up, or who knows Erik might make another come back, crazier things have happened!

  • JMDGT

    The top three are my top three. I’d take any one of them.

  • JSinclair39

    I’ve been thinking about a 2nd bike for some time now to sit next to my custom NineT. I test rode the S1000RR and loved it but I don’t really want to be that guy with 2 BMW bikes. It would just be a way too narrow minded experience.

    I’ll be hitting up my local Aprilia dealer soon enough, fortunately it’s no futher than my BMW store.

    • Kevin Duke

      Unless you plan on doing a lot of trackdays, I strongly recommend a Tuono 1100 over the RSV4. It has a much better street engine and is still a riot at the track. Take it for a spin and let us know what you think!

      • JSinclair39

        It would definitely be a track duty bike. If I can get to the track 3-6 times in the year, I’d be happy. I’d prefer a more focused ride. I already have a good “all-arounder.” Thanks for the info though. I’ll let you know.

      • ColoradoS14

        I really think a Tuono may be the best sporty street bike of all time, really think that is my next bike. If Ducati improved on the DVT in the Multi that could have my money too…

  • Bladeknight

    I’m waiting for 2017 Super street fighter (Super Naked bike) shootout

    • Sayyed Bashir

      You don’t have to wait for it. Just get a 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R. No question about it. Three riders won first, second and fourth place at Pikes Peak International Hillclimb a week ago. Also set a new Pikes Peak record of 9:49.265 minutes.

      • Tennisfreak

        I disagree.

        I’ve been shopping this category heavily and it came down to a very close call between the Aprilia Tuono 1100 and the Yamaha FZ-10.
        Yamaha just edged out the Aprilia.
        The Aprilia is sexy with a few more gadgets but it is also a little more aggressive and has less utility.
        The FZ-10 may not have cornering ABS but its also $2k cheaper, has a more comfortable seating position, and has the ability to be a real sports touring bike with spots to mount bags.
        Both bikes make good power and sound amazing.

        Super Duke is too expensive and did not have that “I want it” feeling when I sat on it or looked at it in person.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          The KTM 1290 Super Duke R is not a sport touring bike. The commenter was asking about a Super street fighter (Super Naked bike) shootout. The KTM has won this category for several years now.

          • Tennisfreak

            I know it’s a super naked, so is the Aprilia and Yamaha. It’s an added bonus the Fz-10 can be fitted to tour.

            And in the shootout I saw for 2016 the Aprilia beat out the KTM.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            In the April 22, 2016 MO Ultimate Streetfighter Shootout between Aprilia and KTM, KTM was the winner.

          • ColoradoS14

            Yea but now the Tuono has a new TFT dash, refined electronics, cruise control, auto-blip downshifts, etc. You get some of that with the SDR but KTM is dumb and charges you extra for a “Performance Pack” or “Track Pack” to get some of the features like the shifter. It really is anyone’s game for 2017. I have ridden the SDR and it is a great bike but the Tuono is incredibly special and to say that the SDR is the flat out best is just not accurate. I think the Tuono Factory vs the SDR is a close battle with both of them in the $17k-$18k price range but when you can get a Tuono RR for under $15k and it is largely the same bike….

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Well bike selection also has to do with dealership support: The KTM dealership is on my way to work only 15 miles away on the freeway and has been in business 40 years selling only KTM and Husqvarna. Aprilia is sold by a multi-brand dealership 50 miles away in another town which also sells Triumph, Piaggio, Seadoo, Ski-Doo, Can-Am, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, MV Agusta and Zero. Which dealership do you think knows my bike better and is also more convenient? With KTM I can buy all kinds of bikes such as an Adventure bike (1190 R), a Hooligan bike (1290 SDR) and a dirt bike (350 EXC-F) and have them all serviced at the same place. Not so with Aprilia.

  • W Donald

    These bikes are all magic , and I am certain that any buyer would be happy with their choice , but to be 100% sure I would test each bike and then make a decision , after all the biggest variable on a bike is the rider and we all have different preferences .

  • Carl Zaldivar

    Anyone notice how civil we riders are with each other when leaving comments after an article ? It’s amazing ! Go to your car mag comments section and you’ll find lots of mud slinging… you know, the sophomoric “Ford sucks” with the immediate retort “no Chevy sucks”, and on it goes. Could it be that we’re an elite class ? Hmm.

  • kenneth_moore

    Do you have any info on the number of each bike model sold in the US? I’ve noticed on a couple of British bike websites I read that they frequently include that statistic in their articles. My guess is that the Japanese bikes sell something like ten to one over EU bikes. The implications are that the higher selling bikes will likely have a better aftermarket selection and increased dealer maintenance /repair support options.

    I’m theorizing here…what does MO think? Does Honda/Kawi/Suzuki crush BMW/Aprillia/KTM in volume sold? If they do, is it a factor in the overall value of a bike?

    • Kevin Duke

      The OEMs in America don’t publicly release sales data of each model. But, yeah, the Japanese bikes outsell the Euros by a big margin. Dealer availability/proximity is a factor in anyone’s decision to buy a bike, but modern bikes seldom require constant care, so having a rare bike can also be looked at as an asset. So much depends on what the consumer is looking for, and that can vary a lot!