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.
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?
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.
As we expected after uncovering trademark filings earlier this month, Erik Buell Racing will debut a new model called the Black Lightning at the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show. Based on the EBR 1190SX, the Black Lightning offers more upright ergonomics and higher torque delivery for urban riding.
Liquid Asset Partners LLC, owners of Erik Buell Racing, have filed a trademark application for the name “Black Lightning” for use on “motorcycles and structural parts therefor.” The application was filed Oct. 27, just over a month EBR sent out a press release promising something “quick, dark and low” this fall. The name “Black Lightning” would certainly fit the descriptors “quick” and “low.”
Soon we’ll be assembling the combatants for our third naked bike shootout this year. Why another one? Because Yamaha’s new FZ-10 is forcing our hand. Our First Ride Review of the FZ-10 was published at the end of July, a mere week before our Naked Sports Six-Way Shootout hit the digital newsstand in early August. Prior to that, our 2016 Ultimate Streetfighter Shootout between the two reigning kings of the naked bike world – Aprilia and KTM – was published all the way back in April. Leaving the FZ-10 as ridden but not juxtaposed.
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?
Liquid Asset Partners, MV Agusta and Trump Industries LLC today announced plans to form an international motorcycle manufacturing consortium “that will be huge,” according to Donald Trump, who is also in the running for a starring role in another network reality show in addition to being the leading Republican candidate for President of the United States. “No more bad deals,” says Trump, “no more being played for fools by the Indians, the Chinese or the Milwaukeeans.”
It’s always amusing when we have news to report about Erik Buell and his star-crossed motorcycle company. Most people are like me, pulling hard for EB to triumph over evil once again and build more great motorcycles. But every time his company dies, there are also plenty of voices who pipe up to say he deserves it! His motorcycles are junk, the rake and trail are all wrong! He’s a terrible businessman, he doesn’t know how to market…
We were shocked and saddened and bummed-out to hear about Erik Buell Racing’s latest financial setback last week, but maybe not completely surprised. When you’re out there on the edge of traction, sometimes you fall off, especially when you get bumped by corporate nabobs. This isn’t the first time our favorite motorcycle iconoclast has had an unplanned dismount. (I, for one, know the feeling…) But a big reason we love the man is because he never fails to get right back in the saddle. Another reason is because he doesn’t choose the path of least resistance and maximum profit and personal safety, preferring to build outrageous American motorcycles nobody else has had the courage to do since Al Crocker. Here’s to Erik and to hoping all the good people at EBR doing God’s work will, ahh, bounce back once again and keep doing it ASAP.
On display among the high-dollar, high-performance bikes in the Erik Buell Racing booth at the AIMExpo was this 250cc bike from Hero, the HX250R. Hero Motorcorp is a minority stakeholder in EBR, and the HX boasts design and development work from Erik Buell’s engineering group. The HX is built for the global market, and we expect it will eventually be imported to America after production commences in India.
In case you haven’t heard, we here at Motorcycle.com really like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. I mean, we really like it. Its 1301cc V-Twin is beyond brutish, with a chassis more than capable of supporting that engine both in the canyons and the track. What’s more, its relatively upright ergos are plenty comfy for the daily commute to/from work, school, or a leisurely weekend cruise. So far, it has proved itself as king of the hill in the stacked Super Streetfighter category, as it beat out the BMW S1000R, Ducati Monster 1200S, Kawasaki Z1000 ABS and MV Agusta Brutale in part one of our Streetfighter Shootout. It backed its victory with another win, this time topping the S1000R (again) and nudging the Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC ABS off the top of the Streetfighter hill in part two of our Streetfighter Shootout. The bike’s so good, we named it our 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.