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.

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!”

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.

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.




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