What we have in these five bikes: BMW S1000R, Ducati Monster 1200S, Kawasaki Z1000 ABS, KTM Super Duke R, MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR, is an assemblage of pretenders to the throne. What throne? The literbike streetfighter throne upon which Aprilia’s Tuono V4R APRC ABS has comfortably resided since its introduction in 2012. Truth is, two of these five have a real chance of dethroning  the reigning champ on-track, so once we’ve identified the most worthy contenders in this shootout, first and second place will get a chance to meet the Tuono on the field of battle. 

2012 Literbike Streetfighter Shootout – Video

To separate the wheat from the chaff we spent a day at Chuckwalla Raceway scraping pegs and destroying tires. It was a good day that clearly distinguished the performance hierarchy of these motorcycles.

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Next, we’ll determine if these fine motorcycles can perform as well within the legal limitations set forth by society as well as fulfill mundane tasks such as commuting. But for now, it’s all about going fast. So let’s get going.

2014 Super Naked Street Brawl

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

That poor back tire is wholly incapable of coping with the KTM’s uh, whevos grande! Of course that just makes it even more fun to ride when you’re just playing around on track... think motocross bike on a beautifully-groomed golf course.

That poor back tire is wholly incapable of coping with the KTM’s uh, huevos grande! Of course that just makes it even more fun to ride when you’re just playing around on track… think motocross bike on a beautifully-groomed golf course.

There’s been quite a bit of hype surrounding KTM’s new Super Duke, including from MO’s editor of all things naked, Tom Roderick (2014 KTM Super Duke R Review – First Ride). A day at the track hasn’t done anything at all to make us conclude that any of it was overblown. Nobody was keeping lap times, but every time our happy little group got together on the track, whoever was on the KTM seemed to have an easier time easing away from the pack – a pack that contained not a single slouch.

For one thing, the KTM’s 1301cc V-Twin produces a stupid amount of corner-exiting torque that recalls the company’s dirt-bike roots, before finishing off up top with a 180-horsepower hit (at only about 9000 rpm) that leaves all the other bikes gasping to keep pace. The MV and BMW can hang on, but it requires more skill from the rider to do it. The Diavel-powered Monster seemed to squirt out of corners just as hard, before we realized that’s really mostly because the KTM is riding on Dunlop SportSmart tires (Europe only, apparently), which maybe don’t have the outright grip of the Pirelli Diablo Corsa Rossos on the Ducati, BMW and MV. Halfway down the straight, the rear Dunlop would stop spinning, pick up the front tire an inch or two, and stretch the KTM’s lead. Ridiculous. And thanks to the bike’s traction control, you really don’t have to be Valentino Rossi to pull that off. Like Editorial Director Sean Alexander says, “It’s a good thing the Super Duke R wears a harder compound rear; you’ll be going through them in a hurry. Even so, it seems like a small price to pay.”

The Super Duke R is the bike Darth Vader would ride during a Halloween parade.

The Super Duke R is the bike Darth Vader would ride during a Halloween parade.

Whoaing down at the end of those straights is no problem either. Though all the bikes here are great brakers thanks to having handlebars (as well as great brakes), the KTM’s even more upright, near-adventure-bike ergoes make it supremely confident in Chuckwalla’s heaviest downhill braking zone. And even though it feels to have a bit more suspension travel than the others or maybe just sits a bit higher off the ground, excellent damping seems to give it even greater road feel than the others – which also means beautiful, confident one-finger trail braking into Chuckwalla’s fast sweepers. The KTM’s motor has a way of making it want to overshoot the orange cones you’re aiming for, but its great brakes and excellent cornering clearance let you reel them back in and start abusing its rear tire all over again. We are not worthy of a bike this good.

Then there’s the simple fact that the thing just seems to fit everybody, from 260-pound 6-2 Sean to little ol’ 155-pound 5-8 me and everybody in between. In spite of excellent cornering clearance, the KTM’s got the most legroom. The grips are right where you want them, the tank’s a great shape for hanging onto and off of – and it even holds 4.75 gallons of fuel.

At the end of the day, I needed a bike to ride three hours back to Costa Mesa. I picked the KTM. It was a lovely ride, though I did need to switch on the heated grips for the last hour.

–John Burns

Kawasaki Z1000 ABS


The Z’s Showa BPF delivered clear feedback from the front tire and is fully adjustable to suit riders of various skills and weights.

The Kawasaki Z1000 ABS gets two awards in this shootout. The first, The Biggest Surprise Award, is for having such a massively entertaining engine. All of the gang (except for that curmudgeon, Burns) rated the engine highly. Sean said the engine “feels like a giant electric motor that pulls smoothly – and hard – everywhere,” while chief female helmet tester, Kevin Duke opined, ”Overall, it feels like a cut-rate S1000R, which isn’t faint praise.” The inline-Four, although wide and, ultimately, contributing to the Z1000’s lack of ground clearance, pulled hard at the corner exits, making the other, more powerful inline-Fours work for their dominance. Ironically, the lower powered Kawasaki mill may have hurt its chances at nipping at the other bikes’ heels a little more by being the only bike tested without TC (which is probably the primary source of Burns’ dissatisfaction).

In other critiques of the engine, testers noted that the gearbox wasn’t as polished as the other bikes’. Additionally, when off-throttle, rolling the grip to bring the power back sometimes took a lot more twisting than one would expect when trying to return to either neutral throttle or acceleration. While this was not abrupt, the delay made it difficult to be precise as to when power could be applied mid-corner.

We pulled the exhaust cover off the other side but that resulted in us grinding the sidestand down to a nub.

We pulled the exhaust cover off the other side but that resulted in us grinding the sidestand down to a nub.

The Shooting Yourself in the Foot Award goes to the Z1000 by a narrow margin over the Ducati thanks to its limited ground clearance. Said Duke, “Its pegs drag relatively early, followed a little further by the exhaust shields.” Although we discussed cranking up the preload to gain some ride height, we decided against it because we figured it would only undo all the time we’d put in to dialing in the suspension’s myriad of adjustments. While the riders don’t suffer from a lack of foot placement options, as with the Monster, the lack of ground clearance brings an early ending to race track fun. That’s too bad, too, because the Kawasaki clearly has the front end feel and the power chops to hang with the other bikes. In its current form, the Z1000 drags peg feelers early and then follows with the exhaust shields. Sums up Sean, “The Z1000’s appearance at the end of a day on-track could best be described as beveled.”

While the angrier-looking Z certainly appears to have the hooligan attitude, it’s more bark than bite at the race track.

While the angrier-looking Z certainly appears to have the hooligan attitude, it’s more bark than bite at the race track.

The instrumentation received mixed reviews with Brasfield making positive comments about the white LED lights that act as the tach on the top of the cluster. The location helps the tach double as a shift light when the rider is tucked in and hard on the gas. Just in front of the instrument cluster, the headlight nacelle’s style was widely criticized but did have one or two defenders.

After much discussion about how much better the Z1000 would be with a suspension upgrade in the rear and a new exhaust, we decided that we may be in danger of designing the bike out of its desired market. In the end, we couldn’t help think that the Kawasaki would do better in the street test that will follow.

–Evans Brasfield

Ducati Monster 1200S


The Monster 1200’s mid-range torque is intoxicating, but the power seems to peter out in the top end.

The Monster is the outlier in this group, as it was designed to be a sporty streetbike rather than a bare knuckle streetfighter. But since the demise of the 1098cc Ducati Streetfighter (leaving only the 848 SF), the new liquid-cooled Monster 1200S is the Italian marque’s highest-performance naked sportbike.

Street miles before our track session demonstrated the broadband appeal of the liquid-cooled Monster: a comfortable seat and riding position and an engine with stonkin’ midrange power. But when placed on a racetrack, the Duc’s street intent was put sharply in focus. It’s limited in racetrack pace only by ground clearance.

“Everyone was clearly frustrated by the lack of foot positioning options on the Ducati, thanks to a set of passenger peg brackets (and the right-side exhaust) that encroach into the heel room behind the rider’s pegs,” notes Alexander. “That lack of foot movement made it very difficult to rotate your leg out for a corner, let-alone hang-off the bike, and because of that, the Ducati quickly runs out of ground clearance. On the track it’s a glaring error, which is a real shame due to the Duc’s otherwise stellar performance.” Bumping up the compression damping improved the Duc’s issues with dragging, but not enough to come close to matching the corner speeds of the BMW, KTM or MV.

Ducati should direct some Italian design and taste towards the left side of the engine where the ugly hoses and the water outlet resides.

Right there behind the engine is the shapely cause of our foot placement woes in righthand corners.

Yes, there are plenty of positive elements to the latest Monster. The S model’s Ohlins suspension held up well on the track, feeling nicely controlled in its motions, and its Brembo monoblock brakes are as good as anything else in this class. And its motor, although down on top-end power, was a delight to squirt hard out of every corner.

“Its midrange power is intoxicating!” Brasfield raves. “Following Burns while he was leaving big darkies exiting the corners made me laugh out loud.”

“The engine’s midrange lunge is particularly impressive on a medium-speed track like Chuckwalla,” Alexander remarks. “Even the mighty KTM would briefly lose ground on the Monster at corner-exit.”

However, the Monster’s upper-end power isn’t quite monstrous, so the bikes that the Duc left behind at the corner exit could catch it at the end of the straight.

On a medium-speed track like Chuckwalla, even the mighty KTM would briefly lose ground on the Monster on corner exits.

On a medium-speed track like Chuckwalla, even the mighty KTM would briefly lose ground on the Monster on corner exits.

The other issue our testers had with the Ducati is its new style. The air-cooled Monsters always looked wonderful, with simple and airy elements that spoke to the engine-with-wheels design ethos. This liquid-cooled one, with the addition of a radiator and its attendant cooling hoses, isn’t nearly as clean.

“The Monster’s fat python exhaust headers and stout red trellis frame are very appealing,” Alexander opines. “All those cooling and vent hoses… not so much.”

So, in a racetrack setting, the Monster falls short next to its sportier rivals. It would’ve ranked much higher if not for its major ground clearance and footroom issues from the low-mounted pegs and gargantuan space-stealing passenger-peg mounts. Look for it to claw back significant ground when we test this group on the street – where the Monster was actually intended to be used.

–Kevin Duke

MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR

The Brutale performs better the faster you go. At the end of the day, the MV was ready for more as we got tired. You could feel it taunting us with "Is that all ya got, buddy?"

The Brutale performs better the faster you go. At the end of the day, the MV was ready for more as we got tired. We could feel it taunting us with “Is that all ya got, buddy?”

Like any supermodel, the gorgeous MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR can be a little intimidating. Evans summed it up by saying: “Get it angry, and it’ll rip your head off.” He’s actually got a point there, in a couple of ways. For one thing, the MV might easily be dismissed as a lifestyle accessory for the wealthy poseur, but in reality, it possesses an engine which is more than happy to deliver on those sexy promises made by its exotic curb-appeal… it’ll launch you into next month.

In another way, this motorcycle appears to be fairly sensitive to suspension tuning, its stout chassis bucking and stealing confidence until you get the forks and shock adjusted into their sweet spots. But adjust its dampers and pair the MV with an experienced pilot and – POOF! – it transforms into an extremely rewarding and highly effective racetrack weapon. It is so good, in fact, that a couple of our testers even rated it ahead of the BMW on-track.

I was particularly impressed by the MV’s on-track pace and composure. Much like the BMW, the harder I rode the MV Brutale the happier it was; it exceeded my expectations in just about every way. However, unlike the BMW, it did it all with an added dose of sexy excitement and delicious noises. However, at 45 years old, 6’2” and 260-pounds, I’d gladly trade a little of the MV’s excellent cornering clearance for a little more legroom, and while we’re at it, let’s make the shifting a little easier.

In addition to always winning the sex appeal award, the Brutale also takes first place in the tight tolerances department.

In addition to always winning the sex appeal award, the Brutale also takes first place in the tight tolerances department.

Duke noted that the MV’s pegs were the slipperiest of the bunch, and although nowhere near as compromised as the Ducati’s pegs, he did struggle a bit with limited heel room behind the right peg, which soured his impression of the bike in right-hand corners. However, that particular issue wasn’t echoed by the rest of the testing staff, probably due to us not having recently re-broken our own right ankles.

MV Agusta’s fuel injection tuning has been no stranger to criticism from Motorcycle.com’s editors in the past, although their latest software updates seem to have solved the vast majority of our earlier gripes. However, the Brutale 1090RR does seem to still struggle with an overly abrupt response to off/on throttle transitions. This issue was especially apparent around the apexes of low speed corners where it could upset the chassis slightly. That abruptness was somewhat exacerbated by a slight low-speed surging which we really only noticed while re-entering the pits after a session. Hopefully, the next download will remedy those minor remaining annoyances.

The MV Brutale 1090 RR’s upmarket exotica – those gorgeous wheels, its steering damper, etc. – pays dividends. Duke notes: “Its narrow and swept-back bars don’t offer tons of leverage, but the Brutale’s steering quickness is aided by lightweight forged aluminum wheels on this RR version.” Like the other editors, Duke also noted: “What feels like a stiff chassis responds better the harder it’s pushed.”

Yeah, Sean really needs to get a new set of leathers.

Yeah, Sean really needs to get a new set of leathers.

Of course, all that exotica comes at a price, an $18,998 MSRP to be exact. Considering that price, Duke lamented: “the Brutale’s motor feels a little underwhelming. It’s got the most displacement of the four-cylinders in this group, but it doesn’t feel like it’s got a significant power advantage.”

I wasn’t so put-off by the MV’s engine, though, believing it sounded much more exotic and musical than the other bikes to my ears and found the engine’s nature at high-rpm suited my riding style when trying to carry momentum through the longer corners without shifting. Despite its high price, even Duke conceded: “A bike’s appearance is always a major factor in a purchasing decision, and, to my eyes, the Brutale is easily the prettiest bike of this bunch.” And to that, every one of us agreed.

–Sean Alexander

BMW S1000R

If you desired to actually go club racing on a naked streetbike, this would be the one to pick seeing as its motor’s displacement would be legal for any “open” class.

One of Tom’s only complaints about the BMW is a relative lack of peg clearance in the corners compared to the MV and KTM.

So torn was I, personally, between the BMW and the KTM I couldn’t write a single word of this shootout before consulting the MO ScoreCard. After having input my numbers, the ScoreCard told me that I chose the BMW over the KTM by 1.15% or by a score of 124 to 122.5. However, if I had a wad of cash in my hand and both bikes before me, I still can’t say I’d purchase the BMW.

As good as the S1000R is, it just doesn’t push our moto-buttons the way the Super Duke R does. But, me being a Gemini, it’s always a battle between the left and right sides of my brain, and my right side is telling me this.

For $15k what you get with the S1000R is a bike with more technology than the KTM, an insanely fast engine and ergonomics that make riding to and from a trackday a reasonable proposition. Like its full-faired counterpart, the S1000RR, the naked version does everything with Germanic clockwork precision that’s hard to fault.

The S1000R’s styling is somewhat polarizing but undeniably recognizable.

The S1000R’s styling is somewhat polarizing but undeniably recognizable.

I’m a lackadaisical twit when it comes to suspension adjustment. So, I’m predisposed to love the dynamic damping control of the S1000R’s semi-active suspension; Soft, Normal, Hard is only a button push away and changes the suspension personality enough for me to go fast at the track or ride comfortably away from it.

What we were surprised to find with the BMW was a lack of cornering clearance, as the pegs began touching down long before those of the MV’s or KTM’s. With all its technologies BMW engineers forgot to give the S1000R something as simple as adjustable footpegs.

All is almost forgiven, though, when you twist the throttle to its stop and the rush of power throws your ass to the back of the rider’s seat, your arms straining to hold on against the sudden increase in windflow. BMW says its massaging of the streetfighter’s engine lowered max engine revolutions by 2,000 rpm, from 14k on the RR to 12k on the R, and increased low- and mid-range power, culminating in 82.6 lb-ft of torque at 9,250 rpm and 160 hp at 11,000 rpm.


If you desired to actually go club racing on a naked streetbike, this would be the one to pick seeing as its motor’s displacement would be legal for any “open” class.

“Those who decry the S1000R’s reduction in output from the 1000RR prolly haven’t ridden the R,” says Duke. “It’s incredibly quick and likely able to post similar lap times as its sportier brother around a tightish track like CVR. And I’d guess it would be quicker when piloted by a non-expert rider.”

The KTM does match the BMW with TC, ABS and heated grips, but let’s not forget that the S1000R was the only bike here with cruise control and a quick-shifter. Cruise control is a superfluous technology at the track, but I’m unwilling to dismiss the fact the S1000R has it. The quick-shifter, on the other hand, is a technology made for cutting quick lap times and this technology comes at a lower price threshold than the Premium Package demands.

The Base Model S1000R is only $1,150 more than Kawaski’s Z1000 ABS, and with the Standard Package the BMW is $3k less than the Super Duke R. You can’t afford not to buy this bike!

The Base Model S1000R is only $1,150 more than Kawaski’s Z1000 ABS, and with the Standard Package the BMW is $3k less than the Super Duke R. You can’t afford not to buy this bike!

Which to choose? Do I want to marry the supermodel-esque physical manifestations of female sexuality, who’ll for a short time fulfill all my dirty little fantasies, but could eventually make me a cuckold, followed by divorce and loneliness? Or do I choose the cute, faithful (Honda-esque) girl-next-door BMW with whom I’d have a long and loving relationship?

Why, God, do you bestow upon me the freedom to choose then present me with such options? Why?

–Tom Roderick


Keeping in mind this was a track-only shootout and the fact that majority rules, the winner of the Smackdown is the KTM Super Duke R. With a score of 92.9% or 622.25 points the Super Duke R narrowly but undisputedly defeated the BMW S1000R’s score of 91.3% and 612 points.

2014 Super Streetfighter Scorecard
Category BMW S1000R Ducati Monster 1200S Kawasaki Z1000 ABS KTM 1290 Super Duke R MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR
Price 5.0 3.8 10.0 1.8 0.0
Weight 10 10 8 9.25 10
Engine 18.5 17.5 16.9 19.7 18.0
Transmission/Clutch 9.5 8.2 8.0 8.9 7.9
Handling 9.2 7.8 7.8 9.6 9.1
Brakes 9.1 8.7 8.8 9.3 9.1
Suspension 9.7 8.8 8.0 9.5 9.1
Technologies 9.7 8.7 6.8 9.0 8.7
Instruments 9.1 9.0 8.2 8.6 8.5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.1 6.2 8.0 9.8 8.6
Luggage/Storage 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0
Appearance 8.5 8.2 8.5 8.7 9.7
Cool Factor 8.4 8.1 7.6 9.2 9.3
Grin Factor 8.9 7.2 7.4 10.0 8.6
Overall Score 91.3 82.8 81.6 92.9 88.3
All scores have a maximum of 10 except Engine which is scored out of 20.

“What can I say, this bike is WELL endowed!” says Alexander. “It feels like a V-Max motor that went on a diet without losing an ounce of muscle. Uncanny for its size and imposing presence, the KTM is actually a sweetheart to ride on-track. It is also extremely capable of actually lapping faster than just about any sportbike you care to mention. The irony here is that it is also a supremely comfortable motorcycle to ride, anywhere.”


And for the bridesmaid.

“What I liked was the BMW’s massive acceleration,” says returning to former racing glory editor, Evans Brasfield. “The shorter gearing and the quick-shifter – uh, excuse me – Gear Shift Assist or Girl Friday or whatever BMW thought would sound more original than quick-shifter. Anyway, the quick-shifter multiplies the fun factor quite a bit, particularly when it gave a pop out of the exhaust just like a real race bike.”


Coming in third was MV Agusta’s Brutale 1090RR with a score of 88.3%. Out of the gate the Brutale was working against a handicap of zero points due to its exorbitant price tag. At $19k for a 2014 model with ABS, it’s $2k more than the KTM, and while the bike is gorgeous and performs admirably, it simply doesn’t outperform the KTM or BMW by two-thousand greenbacks.


“Oh my, is this bike good looking. Nice legs, too,” says Brasfield. “Once the preload was adjusted to eliminate the excessive sag and move the travel out of the last (and most progressive) part of the stroke, the Brutale’s cornering manners improved immensely. Though coming up short on the list of electronic controls when compared to some of the other bikes, the MV had the vital TC and for 2014 gets ABS.”

Fourth place with 82.8% is Ducati’s Monster 1200S – a bike we knew from its initial launch a couple months ago (2014 Ducati Monster 1200 S – First Ride Review) will make for a great street naked, but has built-in limitations on the track.


“While a minimal nuisance on the street, the passenger footpeg bracketry had me bending my ankles into abnormal positions to keep from grinding through the toe slider, boot leather and eventually my toes (which Brasfield did just that),” says your author, Roderick. “I’m certain it’ll fare better in the street portion of our test, but as for a naked bike you can ride fast on the track the BMW, KTM and MV are far better choices.”

Rounding out the bottom fifth of this track competition is Kawasaki’s Z1000 ABS with a score of 81.6%. The saddest thing is that the Kawi could easily have scored and performed better had it not been for its self-imposed cornering restrictions.


“The Z’s highlight is its motor, which amazingly doesn’t feel outclassed by the other inline-Four engines here, offering thrilling upper-midrange thrust,” says Duke. “Its pace around the track was limited only by ground-clearance problems. Its pegs drag relatively early, followed a little further by the exhaust shields.”

Next: Street Testing

So, we had a glorious day wringing the necks of these hooligan machines at a racetrack, exploring their ultimate performance limits. Now we saddle-up to unwind twisty roads and slide past commuter traffic to see how they perform in public-road duties. Read the results here!

Want more pictures? Check our full Streetfighter Smackdown gallery

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  • drivit

    you guy’s ain’t makin it easy, but thanks very much, can’t wait for the rest of it.

  • Y.A.

    So many great real world bikes. Looking forward to the street review.

  • Capo

    Fantastic review of today’s most desirable motorbikes, and what a fun day it must have been. Can’t wait for the street review. And, boy is it time for Triumph to update the Speed Triple!

  • MalOcchio

    I would take anyone of those horses for an addition to my stable. I am sure picking a favorite is not easy.

  • Old MOron

    Nicely done! This is like the MO I enjoyed in the early to mid naughties.

    Very much looking forward to the street section of the comparo.

    Just don’t brake any more ankles – or any more bikes. Ahem.

    “We in the MO family are nothing if not unconventional. We’re buccaneers, matey! The flag of piracy flies from our mast. Our sails are set wing-to-wing. We take no prisoners, yield no slack and expect no quarter from you, the MO faithful.”

    Rock on, boys. Long may you run.

  • allworld

    Well after reading this the only thing I can be sure of is both Arai and Bell each score 2 points and Shoei gets 1 point. As far what bike, maybe the Tuono.

  • Ser Samsquamsh

    The fact you can effortlessly grind footpegs and exhausts to powder on these bikes seems like an real testament to great chassis and tire design.

    • Kevin Duke

      And also testament to our god-like riding abilities! 😉

  • Warren Steven Snider

    Fantastic! Well done! I wish you could have included the Triumph Speed Triple R though.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Perhaps this type of motorcycle will supplant sport bikes in the end. You can’t argue with the excitement and performance of these, and they are far more real world friendly than full on sport bikes. They are also can be less expensive than cruisers. I don’t know why everybody does not buy one! Super standards are the shiznits.

    You guys are sick puppies by the way. The caption for the KTM which included dirt bikes on a golf course had me laughing. Always been a fantasy of mine to rip up Agusta on my 450cc dirt bike 🙂

  • JonB

    Brilliantly written article, can’t remember enjoying reading any bike review as much as this one. Looking forward to the street review because they all sound like great bikes.

  • dtrides

    Just wanted to say BMW offers lovely rear-sets (ala BMW s1000HP4) in their accessory catalog if you need more ground clearance or just need more coolness.:)

  • Reid

    If I suddenly come into a boatload of cash I’m going to buy a Z1000 and have somebody make it look kind of like a KZ1000R or a ZRX1200R. I love me some muscle UJM. That being said, the Super Duke is my pick of any motorcycle currently built right now. If only I was man enough (and had the scratch) to ride one.

    On a somewhat related note, I wonder if KTM might have that upcoming parallel twin engine they’re developing with Bajaj find a home in a sportier, rortier Duke than the 690 but not as all-conquering as the 1290.

  • CrashFroelich

    I have a 2010 Z1000 and I would never replace it with the newer, porkier, uglier model. All I’ve ever done to The Morrigan is put on a higher profile rear tire to improve her turn-in. I ride sidewall-to-sidewall with nothing but confidence and the launch/roll-on grunt is amazing. Paying more than $10K for a motorcycle causes me genuine agony, so I get as much as I can for my money. She’s the best ride I’ve owned in my fifty years of hooliganism.

  • tristan50

    Super review! Every one of those bikes is fantastic. I truly love my Ninja 1000 which I believe has the same engine as a Z1000, but with more wind protection. Any more power would be a waste for me as I rarely can use what I have now. Keep these GREAT reviews coming!

  • Nihal Kanbargi

    Loved the comparo! its strange to see the Japanese, inspite of making great motors, lag behind here as well. They really need to come up with a decent electronics package to take on the Europeans! Meanwhile, the mighty KTM looks poised to take down the Tuono! cant wait for the final showdown

  • David Johnston

    With such a close contest decided by only 2.1 points it seems weird that
    the KTM scores 10 points for the lowest weight — while the BMW which
    actually weighs 15 pounds Less than the KTM – finishes with 7 points.
    Is this an objective test ? or one where you “feel” that it weighs less
    ? Do you measure things ? Or maybe, the KTM gets more points for
    weighing more – the old “ground hugging thing” ?

    • The KTM is 189kg the BMW is 194kg.

      • David Johnston

        I don’t own either bike nor have I weighed either one. KTM “claims” an “approximate dry weight” of 189kg. BMW “claims” a “fully fueled ready to ride weight of 207 kg” – no claimed “dry weight”.
        After reading “claimed weights” in company brochures and websites for over 40 years it’s clear that many, if not most, motorcycle manufacturers either have very bad scales or tend to fudge to suit their own purposes. The numbers I quoted are taken directly from testing done by Motorrad magazine in Germany. They weigh the bikes fully fuelled – they use calibrated scales and I know they are anal about their accuracy. (The fuel capacities are only 1 liter apart.)
        I asked a simple question – do you measure things ? Are you saying that you indeed weighed the KTM and it weighed exactly “the approximate dry weight ” of 189 kg ?
        If I was a betting man, I would be willing to bet you are relying on KTM to be accurate. Any day of the week, I would bet that Motorrad magazines scales are the real weights.

        • David, we did not measure the individual weights of these motorcycles and did indeed rely on the manufacturer’s official weights. For the BMW to KTM comparison listed above we subtracted the weight of 4.5 gallons of gasoline from BMW’s claimed figure. The KTM figure was not a “dry” weight, it was a ready-to-ride weight without gas.

          • john burns

            INTERESTINGLY, I have noted in the last few years that for whatever reason, manufacturer weights have gotten way more accurate. Cycle World actually does weigh bikes (on a scale last calibrated in the 1960s I think). When I worked there, we got 517 lbs for a Honda CB100F without gas. Honda’s site claims 540 with 3.9 gallons of fuel, which at 6 pounds per gallon, is spot on.
            KTM Duke 690 CW scales said 330 lbs: KTM says 329.591 (both with fuel).
            BMW S1000RR CW scales said 435 dry; BMW site says 451 with 4.6 gallons of fuel – so that one’s 11 pounds off. The exception that proves the rule…

            In general, manufacturer claims tend to be really pretty accurate lately.

            And 10 pounds give or take to me is no big deal anyway. Maybe we could “weight” weights a bit less when it comes to keeping score?

          • David Johnston

            Sean, motorcycle.com comparison tests are full of relevant observations, humor and “real world” observations – I always read and value them highly.
            I know the KTM “feels” like it weighs less – I’ve ridden an RC8 and an RC8R and marvel at that light, flickable feeling while astride what looks like an orange elephant. (I’m 5’7″ 160 pound ex road-racer.)
            Relying on manufacturers claims in their sales brochures is not good journalism – it’s a pain in the ass to weigh bikes, but it should be done. In the end I don’t rely on your tests to buy the bike with the most points – I rely on the measurable information you provide to be accurate. How the bike “feels” to you is extremely valuable information for me as well. If a bike feels like it steers “like a tank” – that’s useful – it gives me useful input.
            Lastly, on KTM’s website 189kg is listed as the “approximate weight without fuel” – not ‘dry weight’ as I mistakenly said – I must apologize for mis-quoting KTM.

          • Kevin Duke

            After trying to bamboozle everyone with laughable dry weights, Japanese OEMs switched about 5 years ago to “curb” weights, fully fueled and ready to ride. We’ve weighed dozens of bikes over the past several years, and we’ve found a very strong correlation between curb weights and actual weights. KTM and MV Agusta are two of the last OEMs who don’t provide them. In advance of the street portion of this shootout, we weighed the KTM at 460 lbs with a full tank of fuel.

  • sospeedy

    Speed Triple???

  • Daniel

    Tell me if I’m wrong but…naked bikes with this kind of power becomes pointless above 100 mph if you can barely hang on or cant go any distance without being annoyed by wind blast trying to take your helmet off…crouching down into sport bike position trying to escape the neck pain on one one these just looks silly no?The bike culture in the USA isn’t quite what it is in Europe where riding is more than just a weekend getaway and more used as alternate transportation.I just can’t see naked alternatives to full sport bikes with this kind of performance really catching on in this part of the world.

    • Mark Thompson

      The 100mph cruising speed argument is largely irrelevant in North America. This is more an 85 or 90 mph cruising speed place, outside of empty two lanes in the west and Great Plains. My Tuono is comfy up to about 95 or so. Above that, it’s a bit of a struggle for long periods, but maybe due to wind noise more than simply hanging on. And there’s nothing stopping me from enjoying the odd blast up to the 150 range every now and then.

      In a track day setting, a naked is just as fast and fun as a fully faired sportbike around most racetracks, aside from real high speed places like Road America. In 2011 I rode one of KTM’s Ride Orange track days at Mid-Ohio. I went faster on the RC8R, but had a lot more fun on an SMR990 supermoto. Fun is where it’s at, and nakeds are more fun for me.

      • Daniel

        Which proves my point…a bike with 110 HP achieves that fun factor!

  • Mark Thompson

    I’m a huge fan of naked sportbikes and I currently own a 2007 Aprilia Tuono with about 16k miles. My Tuono is still a terrific ride on the street and has been quite reliable and low drama to own. Unfortunately, I am starting to feel a bit outgunned when riding trackdays. That new bike itch is getting worse.

    I’m still about a year away from pulling the trigger on a replacement, but I’m taking notes. Early leader in my calculus: Super Duke. I really like the Tuono V4, and it’s a relative bargain, but I’m a tall guy and it sounds like the KTM will fit me better. Other major strikes against the Aprilia are its horrendous fuel consumption, lack of a dealer within 200 miles, and what other reports describe as a less real world-friendly demeanor. The BMW is intriguing and priced reasonably well, but I don’t think I’m all that interested in a flat crank inline-4. I’ve seen the Monster in person, but the look just doesn’t click with me…and that footpeg situation is just ridiculous.

    I definitely need to get some demo rides in this year.

    Can’t wait to read the street portion of this test. When will it be posted?

    • Kevin Duke


  • itchface

    I don’t know, it might have been interesting to see how the relatively low-tech Triumph Speed III R might have fared in this comparison.

    I guess I’ll just have to imagine…

    • Mark Thompson

      Knife at a gunfight probably sums it up.

      • sospeedy

        If naked bikes are now all about the numbers then what is the point of true sport bikes? Isn’t that what they are for? And I don’t think the Kawi has any more electronics than that S3R (not hard to do!). BUT the Triumph does have better components… That said, nakeds are about more than just numbers….character is important. Aside from ugly green plastic what real character does the Kawi have….??? It is too bad the S3R was omitted.

        • The Kawasaki is brand-new and has not participated in a streetfighter shootout yet. The S3 has already been defeated in this class.

  • Jas Derry

    Where is the Speed Triple? If anyone started this category, that has to be it. To see it here would have been to round everything out. To not have it…..well, guys……. Go get one and I accept your oversight apology…


  • Buzz

    Sean? Burns? Duke? Break out Bumpy and you’ve got a MO reunion.

  • nobody24

    Recognizing the capability on a track, to push the limits of a bike, does ANYONE on the street actually need 180hp if they are not suicidal? Given that 99% of the time, these bike will be used on the street, should they not be designed for USE (i.e. the Ducati is too comfortable, huh?), and not the track?
    I get insanely bored by all the bike reviews of STREET bikes on a Track? Why not test them on a lake (not a frozen one) it would have the same relevance, which is none. I just wasted 10 minutes reading an article with no RELEVANT information, and another 5 commenting?

    • Kevin Duke

      These are bikes with huge performance envelopes. Would you advise us to test their performance thresholds on public roads? If you read this article from the top, you would notice this says it’s a track shootout, which will be followed by a street shootout. If you don’t care how the bike work on a track, then just wait for the street portion.

  • Walter

    When will Ducati realize & fix the exhaust routing problem that compromises foot position with anything other than rearsets?.

    And we know you only do track segments for personal enjoyment, since so few people actually do track days it’s a mostly irrelevant “test”. And comments like “we were passing full on sport bikes” are also pretty meaningless because you know it’s hardly ever about the bike.

    And, yes, I’m jealous lol

  • Dorian

    Great article. The result can be disputed as cool, grin and appearance are a matter of personal taste…the rest is an experts opinion…..It appears that if we exclude those three factors, the BMW is the best bike isn’t it?
    Since they are street bikes, is there a need for that wild factor that the KTM engine has? There is no way to use all that power in the streets without doing serious jail time.

    BMW vs Aprilia.

    • We could have guessed you bought the BMW Dorian. The KTM’s engine is in no-way unpredictable, nor is it uncontrollable. It is a more comfortable and flexible motorcycle than the BMW, and every bit as fast. The BMW is absolutely fantastic and you should be overjoyed with your purchase.

      • Mark Thompson

        I own a SD 1290 and demo’d the S1000R. The S is a fine bike and the engine is a peach. Two things tip the balance in favor of the KTM for me: I’m tall and the KTM just fits better. Second, I’m just kind of over flat crank inline 4s, at least for a naked. A crossplane 4 would be very tempting…why Yamaha won’t make a crossplane new FZ1 is beyond me. The SD’s exhaust sounds great to me, even in stock form. The BMW is probably a little more refined and has better gearing, no doubt about it. The SD gearing is probably 10% too tall and the 10% speedo error is a joke.

        I liked the S enough to consider an S1000XR as a possible replacement for my FJR. Looking forward to a demo, mostly to try out the ergos.

  • MotoChive

    Excellent review!
    ,,just bought a Duc 1200S.. AMAZING!! Coming from an R1 with plenty of Mulholand/Latigo experience, and after 30 years owning street bikes, my bucket list check box of owing a v-twin is ticked. Did I sacrifice canyon surfing abilities? Hell no! Out of the box, the Ohlins are a bit squishy, but after tightening things up, she’s much more planted. On street tires and on less than race perfect tarmac, I can hang with anyone on anything. (BTW-Those stock Perelli’s tires are not good.. too squirmy in transition from up to full lean. They won’t be replaced with the same).
    And that motor!! As mentioned in the review, it is perfect for the street with a sound unmatched by anything. No in-line 4 can touch it in the aural department (except a cross-plane from the tuning fork Co.) And after the Termi’s arrive, it will be right up there with the KTM on horsepower.

  • Master Josh Smith

    Please insert maintenance into your equation! Thank you!

  • grb

    Nowhere in this publication can a link be found to the street portion of this shootout, not very smart is it…

    • Kevin Duke

      You’re right. Thanks for the notification. Link now added!