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…
A few days riding seven of the most powerful sportbikes available on public roadways without incurring a single speeding ticket is next to miraculous. Johnny Law, wildlife, tourists, and sharing hotel rooms with one another are only a few of the occupational hazards we navigated when conducting our 2017 Superbike Street Shootout. The street-centric comparison may be representative of the actual lives most of these motorcycles will lead in the real world, but for us it’s a necessary precursor to where we prefer to be and where these bikes should actually be ridden: the racetrack.
As Bob Dylan wrote, the times, they are a’changing. All you need to do is take a look at our latest superbike shootout to see that technology is playing an ever-increasing role in how we ride motorcycles. What about simpler things, like instruments? Well, superbike instrumentation has been changing, too. Of our seven superbike contestants, only one has an old-school, swept needle tachometer. The remaining six count on some kind of bar graph. Three of the bikes have LCD screens delivering at least some of their information while the remaining four utilize color on TFT screens. So, we thought we’d ask our loyal *MO*rons what they thought about the instruments. Vote for all the instruments you like, and we’ll figure out which is the best.
It’s been two years since we summoned together the superpowers of the sportbike world. In that time the Aprilia RSV4 RR, Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki ZX-10R, and Suzuki GSX-R1000 have either been heavily revised or completely overhauled. These changes beg a reinspection into the pecking order of world’s premier street-legal superbikes. Can Japan wrest away the literbike crown from the European OEMs, Aprilia and BMW, that have dominated the class since 2010?
We’re getting a little giddy around here as we begin to gather the gamut of new superbikes for our most intensive shootout of the year! We’ve got a fabulous two-day street ride to begin our testing, stringing together some of our favorite twisty roads on an overnight trip to begin our superbike shootout. And then the hardcore performance testing will take place over two days at Auto Club Speedway with our friends at Fastrack Riders. If you can be near Fontana, California, May 26-27, you should sign yourself up for a fun day at the track with us!
As far as 2017 is concerned, this might be the year we remember as the one that saw the entire liter-class field go electric. No, I don’t mean like that. I mean electronic rider aids – every major player in the field has them now. Honda and Suzuki, with their CBR1000RR and GSX-R1000, respectively, had held out on introducing riding aids (beyond differing power modes in the Suzuki’s case) until this year. Meanwhile, the rest of the competition has leap-frogged ahead, introducing highly advanced traction control, wheelie control, launch control, slide control, and all kinds of other controls previously only seen on MotoGP machines.
In today’s Ask MO Anything, Seamus O’Connor from San Jose, CA inquired about purchasing an EBR bike. John Burns, MO’s in-house sage, responded with an affirmative purchasing decision. No one’s questioning Burnsie’s advice, but we’d like to know what our readership thinks about EBR, and if purchasing one is an iffy proposition or a sound investment. The EBR 1190SX gave our 2014 MOTY, KTM’s Super Duke R, a run for its money ( Brutish V-Twin Streetfighter Comparo), and now the MSRP of the SX has been reduced $4k ($12,995). Sounds like a bargain, or does it?
Today is the day many EBR fans, including ourselves, have been waiting for: EBR motorcycles are back in production. After a lengthy (and complicated) period that saw EBR assets sold at auction to Bruce Belfer of Atlantic Metals Group LLC, then wrenched away and sold again to Liquid Asset Partners, it appears that stability has finally arrived.
The heavyweight Streetfighter category of motorcycles has exploded in popularity lately, with seemingly every manufacturer jumping on the bandwagon for a piece of the pie. Japan’s represented with the Kawasaki Z1000, Honda CB1000R, and even Suzuki is entering the ring in 2015 with the GSX-S1000. Italy’s three representatives include the MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR, Ducati Monster 1200 and Aprilia Tuono V4R. Germany, of course, gives us the BMW S1000R, and we can’t forget BMW’s Austrian neighbors and their contribution to the party: the all-conquering KTM 1290 Super Duke R, Motorcycle.com’s 2014 Motorcycle of the Year.
The hallmark of a good sporting motorcycle is one that instills supreme confidence in its rider to comfortably push their abilities. And if the motorcycle also is able to turn heads in the process, then all the better. Of all the new sportbikes we’ve ridden in the past year, none have felt as sure-footed and confidence-inspiring as the Ducati 899 Panigale, Motorcycle.com’s Sportbike of the Year. It doesn’t hurt that the 899 is a sexy object of desire, to boot.
From rags to riches and back to rags again, the formation of Erik Buell Racing, or EBR, is testament to Erik Buell’s unwavering belief in himself and his quest back toward the path of riches. Although he has experienced the full range of emotions during his career, if there’s one thing Buell is not, it’s a quitter, and the closure of Buell Motorcycle Company wasn’t going to stop him. In the spirit of the American dream, Buell uses setbacks as fuel for the immense fire burning inside him – one with a very clear and singular focus: to create the ultimate sportbike, and to create it in the U.S. of A.
America’s newest motorcycle show, AIMExpo, has opened its doors at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Offering more than 300 vendors and manufacturers such as Erik Buell Racing, Suzuki, and Yamaha, the American International Motorcycle Expo is striving to become the industry’s largest show in North America, taking on established events such as the touring International Motorcycle Shows and the struggling Dealer Expo. Motorcycle.com has a booth at the show while Editor-in-Chief Kevin Duke and our video crew are reporting on location with the hottest new products being introduced at AIMExpo. Keep checking this space through the week for the latest updates. And if you’re in Orlando, attending the show, stop by the booth for a visit at display 1724 near the Kymco display.