Each new naked demands of us another shootout. The catalyst this time around is Yamaha’s R1-powered FZ-10. Introduced in July as a 2017 model, the new FZ-10 stands as the only liter-size Japanese streetfighter offering enough performance and attitude to bring the fight to the currently dominant nakeds. Add to that a rare appearance by an EBR 1190SX, and two stalwarts of the class, Aprilia Tuono V4 1100RR and Triumph Speed Triple R, and we’ve the ingredients for a spicy streetfighter omelette.
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The EBR 1190SX has also been a part of a previous shootout, narrowly losing to the mighty Super Duke R in our Brutish V-Twin Streetfighter Comparo from 2014. Back then, however, the SX was a $17,000 bike, now it’s a $13,000 bike ($13.5 for yellow or red).
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the 1190SX didn’t make for a very good $17,000 motorcycle, but it is a pretty sweet $13,000 motorcycle!” exclaims EBR enthusiast Troy Siahaan.
In fact, the EBR’s $13k price tag puts it on equal footing with the other most inexpensive bike in this group, the FZ-10. From there it was clean sweep of the Objective section of the Scorecard with the EBR winning the Weight, Pounds per Horsepower and Pounds per Pound-feet categories, claiming a perfect Objective score, and affecting the overall outcome of this shootout.
Also affecting the shootout’s outcome are my fellow editors (God bless them), none of whom agreed with me about scoring of the Triumph’s engine second; John Burns and Siahaan ranked it third, and Kevin Duke put it in last.
“That big lump of torque in the middle serves it well on twisty roads where monster top-end horsepower is really no advantage,” says JB. “Also the best fueling of the bunch lets you get back on the gas really early.”
Exactly, Burnsie, so how could you rank it third, I want to ask, but he’s away on vacation. Duke and Siahaan also had nice things to say about the Triumph’s mill, but each editor also noted a certain amount of anti-enthusiasm for the Triumph using such words as “mature,” “refined,” and “Cadillac” in their descriptions. In other words, the Speed Triple has ceased being the hooligan bike it was once considered when in the company of more edgy entrants, i.e., EBR, Tuono, FZ.
“The Speed Trip no longer feels like the nasty hooligan in this company, especially next to the Tuono,” Duke comments. “It feels almost debonair in comparison.”
The Triumph’s combination of third-longest wheelbase, second steepest rake, and least amount of trail makes up for some of its heft by gifting the Speed Triple with light, quick steering manners. “I didn’t think it would have a chance on Glendora Mountain Road, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it having not much trouble keeping up with the pack in those really tight conditions. Shorter trail than I suspected lets it turn super-quick,” says Burns.
The R version of the Speed Triple comes equipped with a fully adjustable Öhlins NIX fork, and Öhlins TTX36 twin-tube shock, both of which help the Triumph maintain superior comfort and control, but are also crucial to elevating the R’s price tag. At $14,900 it’s the most expensive bike here, if only $100 more than the Tuono. The Speed Triple was also lauded for the stopping performance of its Brembo brakes, its handsome good looks (only bike here with a single-side swingarm), and its ability to wheelie in track mode, “Yay!” says Duke.
Alas, while the Speed Triple R finished third in Subjective scoring, its poor showing in Objective scoring relegated the Triumph to last place. Let’s not despair, though, because there appears to be a new Street Triple 800 coming soon, which, while not a liter bike, could upset the pecking order nonetheless (MV Agusta’s Brutale 800 is a wonderful balance between 600 and 1000cc).
“Holy crap! Based solely on objective scores, the EBR is the clear winner! Bam!” says Siahaan, who ranked the EBR last subjectively, as did all the other testers except Burns whose scored the EBR second.
“The SX is all simple, uncluttered, brutal wedges and triangles,” says Burns. “I love the way this thing looks, and when the performance is all this close, looks matter a lot. It’s a bit raw for sure, but that’s what I like about it. It’s an analog bike in a digital world, a nasty snarly thing that makes great sounds.”
No one’s going to argue with him because it’s all true. The EBR is also the lightest bike here with the best power-to-weight ratios of the bunch. It’s also the raciest of the four with high-set footpegs reducing legroom, a thin, hard seat providing minimal comfort, and an aggressive seating position with you up over the bars. On the plus side, the 1190SX feels smaller than a big V-Twin with 156 horsepower should feel.
“The EBR changes direction so much faster than the other bikes here, you have to retrain your brain to adjust your turning points,” says Siahaan. “The EBR likes going fast and it feels more at home the quicker the pace is.”
The EBR could be guilty of some nervousness, as I never realized complete confidence in the bike, although Burns contends that it may have been suffering from an overtightened drive chain, restricting the rear from freely compressing during corner exits “keeping the trail short and making it feel a little skittish.” (Former Buell models wore belt final drives, and utilized a tensioner. EBRs, now chain-driven, retain the tensioner.)
Braking performance was up to the task of aggressive street riding as Duke noted. “For the sport riding we did on the street, the oddball front brake setup lacks nothing. It has plenty of power, is easy to modulate, and doesn’t stand up when braking in corners..”
Although the EBR 1190SX finished at the bottom of the Subjective section of our Scorecard, it bumped the Speed Triple R from third to fourth when factoring in its perfect Objective scores, giving the EBR a top-three finish. I’ll let Burnsie surmise the group’s attitude regarding the EBR.
“I could ride it everyday, but it’s a better thing to own if you already have something practical. It’s the good bourbon you hide when your friends come around, that you save for just you and your dog and the fireplace. Rare, heady, conducive to deep thinking… speaking of thinking, $12,999 is the bargain of the year. If I was a rich guy who did lots of track days, this is the one.”
No one at MO is ever disappointed about having a Tuono in the garage. It’s one of those bikes you occasionally go out to the garage, fire up, and rap the throttle a few times just because. Winner of multiple MO shootouts and the only bike to give KTM’s Super Duke R a run for its money, the Tuono was somewhat hampered in this shootout because track time was not a part of the testing itinerary. Had it been, it’s highly unlikely the FZ-10 would be in first place, and probably would have come down to a dogfight between the Tuono and EBR.
“The magic combination here is the V-4 engine, excellent chassis, and stable suspension,” says Siahaan. “That V-4 is monstrous yet controllable, the chassis is lithe and assuring, and the suspension helps communicate to the rider exactly what the bike is doing underneath you. The RR model gets slightly downgraded brakes and suspension, but does it dampen the experience any? Not one bit. The lower price tag compared to the Factory version makes it very attractive, too.”
Because this test is street-biased, the Tuono was hurt by its more aggressive seating position, lack of legroom and omission of streetable niceties such as cruise control (coming in 2017). “You can’t not like that engine, but for everyday use for me, it verges on overkill especially if it gets what? 35 mpg? I’d like it better if I was 20 years younger,” says Burns.
At $14,799, the Tuono is the second-most expensive bike here, and an $1,800 hurdle its sound and performance just couldn’t overcome when measured against the new FZ-10. Although, after reading Duke’s comment below, the extra price may well seem easily justifiable.
“The 1077cc version of Aprilia’s V-4 is simply one of the most intoxicating engines ever bolted into a motor vehicle. It’s always chomping at the bit, and it dishes out an indignant musical symphony seemingly composed in hell,” says Duke.
Who here is surprised the Yamaha FZ-10 won this comparison? I was. For reasons we’ll get to shortly, the FZ makes for a better all-around street bike than the Tuono, but its lack of low- and mid-range grunt left me unimpressed, especially considering that rev range is so important on the street.
Again, my fellow editors disagreed, with Burns and Siahaan ranking the FZ first, and Duke placing it second. But it was about as close as close can get. Like the reversal of fortune the Triumph suffered, the Tuono won the Subjective scoring over the FZ by 0.06% (90.63% vs. 90.57%), and overtook the Tuono when Objective scores were factored in. Still, it was only a 0.19% margin of victory (91.47% vs 91.28%).
“I had high hopes for the FZ-10 after riding it at its launch in North Carolina,” says Siahaan. “I even said it would give the almighty Tuono and KTM Super Duke a run for their money. Well, we have yet to ride it next to the KTM, but I will say that I was right about the Tuono. The FZ is every bit the Aprilia’s equal, in my opinion.”
Burns joins I-told-you-so-editor Siahaan by echoing his fanboy chorus. “Almost as comfy as the Triumph, perfect ergos, excellent, polished rider interface… and cruise control is the coup de grace. It makes the FZ not just a great naked bike but also a great sport-touring bike. The best bike Yamaha has produced in a decade. Maybe longer, but that’s as far back as I can remember.”
The FZ-10’s very standard seating position with lots of legroom and handlebars that come back to greet the rider certainly helped win it admirers on this street-only test. Cruise control was also a contributor, but the bike does suffer an idiocracy of Ride Mode naming conventions (B: most powerful, A: least powerful, Standard: somewhere in the middle), and A mode was overly sensitive to throttle inputs.
Handling is definitely an attribute for which the FZ has reason to crow. Fast, light steering has the FZ making quick work of any paved switchback, and delivers solid stability and rider confidence in the fast stuff.
“Not only did it handle better than I expected, it’s also eminently capable not only on tight backroads but everywhere else. Turns quick and light with great feedback,” says Burns.
Before we depart the last streetfighter shootout of 2016, I’m gonna let myself and the other editors put our choices into perspective. I chose the Speed Triple R as my second choice because it is the most refined motorcycle here with the type engine performance I desire in a street-going sportbike. However, as the most expensive bike, and being the budget-conscious person I am, I’d probably spend my money on the FZ rather than the Aprilia or Triumph, but if money were no object, one of the other two would be in my garage.
Burns: “For me it would come down to: Do you already have a practical bike in the garage to ride most of the time, or will you only be having one? If it’s A, I want the Buell. If it’s B, the FZ-10 is the one.”
Duke: “As much as I’d like the FZ to challenge the Tuono for streetfighter bad-assery, it doesn’t. But what it is is a better-rounded sport motorcycle that is equally adept at commuting to work as it is unraveling a twisty canyon road.”
Siahaan: “As much as I love the Aprilia Tuono, the FZ-10 provides equal amounts of enjoyment, in my eyes, and ties the EBR as the least expensive here. With that in mind the decision is a no-brainer. FZ-10 all the way.”
And there you have it. Until next year and yet another streetfighter shootout.
|Yet Another Streetfighter Shootout! ScoreCard|
|Aprilia Tuono V4 1100RR||EBR 1190SX||Triumph Speed Triple R||Yamaha FZ-10|
|Total Objective Scores||93.9%||100%||90.1%||95.1%|
|Quality, Fit & Finish||88.1%||88.1%||91.3%||87.5%|
|Kevin’s Subjective Scores||91.5%||87.1%||87.3%||90.4%|
|Tom’s Subjective Scores||91.0%||84.2%||89.8%||88.8%|
|Troy’s Subjective Scores||91.9%||88.1%||89.2%||92.7%|
|John’s Subjective Scores||88.1%||88.3%||87.5%||90.4%|
|Yet Another Streetfighter Shootout! Specifications|
|Aprilia Tuono V4 1100RR||EBR 1190SX||Triumph Speed Triple S/R||Yamaha FZ-10|
|Engine Type||1077cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 65° V4, 4-stroke, 16 valves||1190cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 72° V-Twin, 4-stroke, 8 valves||1050cc, liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder||998cc, liquid-cooled DOHC inline 4-cylinder; 16 valves|
|Bore and Stroke||81.0mm x 52.3mm||106mm x 67.5mm||79mm x 71.4mm||79.0mm x 50.9mm|
|HP||160.6 hp @ 11,400 rpm||156.0 @ 10,700 rpm||140 hp @ 9,500 rpm||138.5 hp @ 9900 rpm|
|Torque||82.8 lb.-ft. @ 9,300||83.0 lb.-ft @ 8100 rpm||82.6 lb.-ft. @ 7,850||77.1 lb.-ft @ 9300 rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed, wet multi-plate, assist-and-slipper||6-speed, hydraulic actuation, vacuum operated slipper||6-speed, wet multi-plate, assist-and-slipper||6-speed, wet multi-plate, assist-and-slipper|
|Front Suspension||Inverted 43mm Sachs fork, fully adjustable, 4.72 in. of travel||Showa, inverted big piston front fork||Showa 43 mm upside down forks with adjustable rebound and compression damping, 120 mm travel/Öhlins 43mm NIX30 upside down forks with adjustable rebound and compression damping, 120mm travel||43mm KYB inverted fork, fully adjustable; 4.7-in travel|
|Rear Suspension||Gas-charged Sachs shock absorber, three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.11 in. travel||Showa, single linkageless shock||Showa Monoshock with rebound and compression damping, 130 mm rear wheel travel/Öhlins TTX36 twin tube Monoshock with rebound and compression damping, 130mm rear wheel travel||KYB single shock w/piggyback reservoir, fully adjustable; 4.7-in travel|
|Front Brake||Dual 320mm disc with aluminum flange. Brembo M432 mono-block radial calipers and metal braid line.||386mm single perimeter rotor, 8-piston inside-out caliper||Twin 320mm floating discs, Brembo 4-piston 2-pad radial mono-block calipers. Switchable ABS.||Dual hydraulic disc, 320mm; ABS|
|Rear Brake||220mm disc, Brembo caliper. Pump with integrated tank and metal braid brake pipe||220mm disc, 2-piston Hayes Performance Brakes Caliper||Single 255 mm disc, Nissin single 2-piston sliding caliper. Switchable ABS.||Hydraulic disc, 220mm; ABS|
|Rake/Trail||24.7 deg/3.9 in||22.4 º/3.8 in||22.9º/3.6 in||24.0º/4.0 in.|
|Wheelbase||57.1 in.||55.5 in.||56.5 in.||55.1 in.|
|Seat Height||32.5 in.||32.5 in.||32.5 in.||32.5 in.|
|Curb Weight||469 lbs.||448.6 lbs.||478 lbs.||466 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity||4.9 gal.||4.5 gal.||4.1 gal.||4.5 gal.|
|Gear Position Indicator|