Best Sportbike Of 2016

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

Best Sportbike of the Year Winner: Aprilia RSV4 RR/RF

Twenty fifteen was a big year for sportbikes, with the new Yamaha R1 and a heavily revised BMW S1000RR and Aprilia RSV4 RF making their debuts – the two European weapons motoring their way to the Best Sportbike and runner-up awards, respectively, in last year’s Sportbike MOBOs. With the proverbial load being blown that year, there wasn’t much excitement in store for 2016, save for the new, heavily revised Kawasaki ZX-10R. The Green Machine is a good literbike, no doubt, but it still wasn’t a match for the year-old Aprilia RR (the “base” model RSV4) when we put the two $17,000 machines against each other.

Based on the strength of the BMW and the relative ease with which the Aprilia dispatched the Kawasaki, it was an easy choice for us to retain the German and Italian as the top bikes in the Sportbike category again for 2016. However, those who are paying close attention to our awards over the years might have noticed that this year we have the two switching positions as bride and bridesmaid.

The reason is simple: both the BMW and Aprilia are beasts – we contemplated giving them both top honors this year – but Aprilia won the tiebreaker because it is able to offer two versions of the RSV4, the RR and the RF, with the RR model providing 95% of the performance of the RF for $4,500 less. And quite honestly, the RR has all the performance 95% of us will ever need. It’s still got the same intoxicating V-4 engine we love, advanced electronics, and sublime handling of its more expensive sibling, but if you don’t think you’ll ever exploit the virtues of forged aluminum wheels and Ohlins suspension, then it makes sense to grab the RR. Of course, for those who want the absolute best of the best, then they can reach into their pocketbooks and fork over for the RF.

Sure, the S1000RR starts at $15,695, which is less than the RR Aprilia, but good luck actually finding a bare-bones base model S1000RR – BMW’s online configurator won’t even allow you to uncheck all the options to get the $15,695 bike. It’s the proverbial unicorn. However, assuming you do end up finding a base S1000RR, you’ll be missing out on things like a quickshifter, dynamic traction control, and ride modes, and you’ll kick yourself for not spending the extra $800 for the Aprilia that’s already so equipped.

Honorable Mention: BMW S1000RR

Let’s be real for a minute: if you’re in the market for a BMW S1000RR, then who’s actually thinking about buying the base version? Not many. Throwing price aside for a moment, the BMW S1000RR is simply one of the best literbikes on the market today, and the reason why it’s been demoted to the runner-up position this year has nothing to do with its performance. In fact, the BMW’s performance is nothing but praiseworthy. When we tested it against its rivals in our 2015 Six-Way Superbike Shootout ( track, street, overall), it demolished the field in the horsepower department with 182.9 – seven horses better than the next closest bike, the RSV4 RF, and a whopping 32.5 horses above the weakest bike in the field, Honda’s CBR1000RR SP. In the torque game, it was the best of the four-bangers at 79.9 lb-ft, topped only by the booming 1285cc V-Twin inside the Ducati 1299 Panigale.

What’s more, the BMW’s chassis is equally as capable as its engine, harnessing all that power and allowing it to be put to the ground effectively, while also carving apexes with scalpel-like precision. Combined with its advanced traction-control system, launch control, Race ABS, quickshifter, and Dynamic Damping Control, the S1000RR is simply a powerhouse on track. That said, the BMW is also remarkably user-friendly on the street as well. Its seat is well padded, the ergos aren’t extreme on the street (for a sportbike), and it’s still the only superbike with cruise control!

Like the Aprilia Tuono and KTM 1290 Superduke R in our Best Streetfighter/Hooligan category, you really can’t go wrong with either the RSV4 or S1000RR. Best of 2016 Categories
Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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2 of 12 comments
  • John phyyt John phyyt on Aug 13, 2016

    "And quite honestly, the RR has all the performance 95% of us will ever need. " And this sums up the Tuono et al. And why it is very hard to put up with the day to day discomfort which a dedicated sportsbike has in its DNA.
    I think super car makers may need to look at this phenomenon. Can you imagine a ferrari street fighter. ?

  • Ian Parkes Ian Parkes on Aug 14, 2016

    That's better - putting the Aprilia ahead of the BMW. I think we motorcyclists appreciate that all bikes are more than the sum of their parts, and some more than others. Why would we put up with transport (unless you can lane-split) that is innately unstable and likely to pitch you off unless you exercise considerable skill in maintaining right-way-upness; that subjects you to wind, rain, mud and insect spatter, which makes you buy a whole lot of expensive and usually ugly protective gear and so on... unless it provided a huge grin factor too. I know the sound my V4 makes at low, moderate and high levels of urgency has a lot to do with how I feel about my bike. How it sounds, how it responds, how it feels and especially how it makes you feel should count for more than a scoresheet counting widgets - even ones that work exceptionally well. Long live bikes that stir the soul.