Kawasaki’s much anticipated, and heavily revised, ZX-10R has finally been announced, and it’s bringing along its race-bred sibling in the ZX-10RR, too. Rumors about an updated ZX-10R had been swirling about for some time, and armchair warriors really went crazy once early pictures were released from Australia. Buzz really started swirling last week, when the Kawasaki World Superbike team took part in the championship’s winter test, revealing the 2021 ZX-10RR in full race trim.
As far as mass-produced, 1000cc Honda sportbikes go, the new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP is up there among the best the company has ever built (depending on how you want to classify the RC213V-S). With the increasing trend of the liter-class competition going towards track-focused weapons with little regard for streetability, Honda has finally followed suit with the new Triple-R Fireblade SP.
Let’s be real for a second here: Honda’s always taken the über conservative route with what we now know as the CBR1000RR, and this dates all the way back to the CBR’s origins with the CBR900RR. When compared against its peers, the consensus usually goes “The Honda is a really good bike, but it’s not great.” The reason is because Honda’s tried to toe the line between racetrack performance and streetable useability because these are road-legal motorcycles after all. And as much as any investor will tell you how important it is to diversify, in the sportbike world, this simply isn’t the case anymore.
Once in a blue moon, Honda likes to flex its muscle and remind everyone that it’s Honda, and when its team of engineers and designers want to, they can produce cool motorcycles capable of completely blowing your socks off. Bikes like the RC35, RC45, RC51 (arguably), the oval-piston NR750, and who can forget the road going MotoGP bike, the RC213V-S? And though we haven’t ridden it yet, the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP promises to carry on that tradition, at which point those same designers and engineers can go back to their usual business of coming up with things like the DN-01 and NM4.
The 2020 BMW S1000RR is what happens when government regulations ruin what is otherwise a good motorcycle. If you’ve been paying attention to the S 1000 RR (Yes, that’s its technical name, with spaces between letters and numbers. I’m scrunching them all together from here on out.), you’re already aware it’s been available in Europe for some time as a 2019 model year – and the reviews are raving. But now it’s slowly trickling into US dealers as a 2020 model, and this review won’t be quite as amazing – and it’s not entirely BMW’s fault. I wasn’t sure why there was a discrepancy, but after talking with some other journos who have ridden the European version, I think I know why. More on that later.
In just a few days I’ll be the lucky bas—- who gets to unwind the new Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory around the legendary Mugello circuit as part of the bike’s international press launch. Stay tuned next week for my thoughts on it. However, in anticipation for that event, I thought I’d look back to see what makes the RSV4 such a darling in the eyes of the moto press. So rewind your minds back ten or so years to 2008/2009 and think about the literbike landscape back then. With the benefit of hindsight, we can say with confidence the space looked pretty bland, with the Big Four Japanese, Ducati, and KTM’s RC8 the only real players (sorry MV Agusta fanboys). The field then got a jolt in 2009 with the announcement of both the BMW S1000RR and Aprilia RSV4 – both models promising to shake up the status quo. If you’ve read any motorcycle magazine since then, you undoubtedly know each bike lives up to the claim. Personally, the Aprilia is one of my favorite liter-class bikes out there. Here are seven ways the RSV4 shook up the game.
To say Ducati has a lot riding on the Panigale V4 series is quite an understatement. For Ducati to finally admit its beloved V-Twin had reached the limit of development and abandon it for its flagship model is a huge deal. It meant whatever replaced it would have a lot to live up to. Ladies and gentlemen, the 1103cc V4 more than lives up to the hype. It’s fast, it’s ferocious, and yet, it’s surprisingly easy to ride at the limits of your talent – assuming your skills are enough to warrant you riding a bike of this caliber, anyway. Maybe best of all for Ducati fanboys (and girls) out there – it still sounds like a Ducati but better. The Twin Pulse firing order ignites the front cylinders together before doing the same at the rear, essentially making the Panigale V4 a glorified V-Twin, at least as far as exhaust note is concerned.
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.
The big news in the sportbike world for 2017 was the introduction of not one, but two heavily revised iconic literbikes – the Honda CBR1000RR (and CBR1000RR SP) and Suzuki GSX-R1000R (and GSX-R1000). The previous versions of both models had languished for a number of years without any major updates, most notably in the electronics department, but also in the engine bay. Meanwhile, their competitors, both in Japan and abroad, had made significant gains with their flagship liter-class sportbikes, producing some of the fastest, most powerful, and advanced motorcycles we’ve ever piloted.
In a few day’s time you’ll get to read all about the brand new 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000, Suzuki’s most advanced GSX-R to date. Penning the story will be none other than MO‘s E-i-C Kevin Duke, who did his best to tame the beast around one of the most loved racetracks in the world: Phillip Island in Australia. But before we talk about the new bike, let’s go back to the GSX-R1000’s roots; 2000 in this case. For this week’s Church feature we’re bringing you the First Ride review of the 2001 Suzuki GSX-R1000 – Suzuki’s answer to the liter-class sportbike wars started by Yamaha’s YZF-R1 a couple years prior.
Cresting the top of the steep incline leading onto Portimao’s main straight, I’m committed to keeping the throttle on the new 2017 Honda CBR1000RR to the stop. With fifth gear clicked, the front wheel starts to reach for the sky. Unfazed, the throttle stays pinned, ready for the wheel to eventually come back to earth. The wait feels like forever, and my view is increasingly filled with sky instead of tarmac. I can’t wait for the Honda’s wheelie control any longer, so a click to sixth gently brings the front Bridgestone back to the ground. The Fireblade flexes its muscles, tickling 180 mph down the straight. Then it’s time to scrub speed down the hill before hitting the dip signaling the apex of turn 1. The short chute to reach turn 2 is quickly gobbled up before a moderate amount of brakes are applied to navigate through the hairpin. From there, it’s another flick to the left, and we’re driving uphill towards the crest of turn 3, knee on the ground, rear tire spinning ever so slightly.
With the announcement of the new Honda CBR1000RR SP and SP2 at Intermot, as well as the standard CBR1000RR at EICMA 2016, we haven’t been this excited about Honda’s flagship literbike since, well, 2008, when the now outgoing model was first introduced to the world. So, for this Church of MO installment, we’re going back in time to October 2007, when we got our first look at the then all-new 2008 Honda CBR1000RR; a sportbike we’d grow very fond of over the years. For more pictures, be sure to check out the photo gallery.
Just as we suspected, Honda today unveiled its much anticipated 2017 CBR1000RR at Intermot in Germany. We first reported on the new CBR last month as spy photos started to come out, but Honda still had a few surprises in store with this announcement. Two, actually. First, Honda decided to release its up-spec model, the CBR1000RR SP, ahead of the standard edition (Honda says to expect an announcement on that one come November). And second, there would be a second, limited-edition model, the CBR1000RR SP2, homologated strictly for racing purposes (more on that later).