It used to be commonplace to expect to see technology seen in Grand Prix racing bikes and/or World Superbikes trickle down to road-going production models within a decade’s time. Now, with OEMs like Yamaha, Aprilia, BMW and Ducati all having some way to view or alter bike parameters from a cell phone or tablet app, we’re seeing racing tech fast-track its way onto the bikes mere mortals like us can purchase, in less than half that time. Maybe the coolest part of this technological tour-de-force is the capabilities the manufacturers place in our hands, allowing changes to be made almost instantly, all from a few button or touchscreen presses.
From the unchained environment of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where performance is the sole consideration for victory in our 2015 Six-Way Superbike Track Shootout, we move to the confines of public roadways to determine which superbike renders the best street-legal exhibition. As tight as our track test results were, the street shootout was just as close with a half-percent separating second from first place. If the MO offices were located in Florida, I’d demand a recount.
Rejoice, sportbike fans, as 2015 is bound to go down as the year of the liter-class superbike. After riding this latest crop of superbikes at their individual intros, your respective MO editors all came back gushing, proclaiming the bike they just finished riding is a viable contender for top honors in the class. Of course, with statements like that, pitting them all together and settling the score was the natural thing to do. And here for you now, we bring you the epic showdown you’ve long been waiting for, pitting five all-new or significantly revised superbikes on the racetrack against the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, winner of our 2012 Japanese Literbike Shootout. Stay tuned next week for our street impressions.
When MO’s Managing Editor and enthusiastic sparring partner, Tom Roderick, flew to Spain back in October for the intro of BMW’s heavily upgraded S1000RR, he discovered a motorcycle that’s been comprehensively honed to advance its tech cred and lower its lap times.
While some of the categories in our Reader’s Choice awards have been decided by narrow margins, when it comes to the Sportbike category, you, our readers, were pretty clear. With 28.8% of the votes, the BMW HP4 was your resounding winner, besting the second place, and the MO staff pick, Ducati 899 Panigale by more than six percentage points (22.5%). Honda’s CBR1000RR SP was a distant third place (16.4%), but the fourth place EBR 1190RX was close behind it, with 14.7% of you rooting for the home team.
If you’re like us, then you must be salivating over the 2015 literbike prospects. With no less than eight new bleeding-edge sportbikes on the table from both European and Japanese marques, the bar is being raised in the quest for track domination or, in the case of the Kawasaki H2 and H2R, simply having the rider experience intense acceleration like they’ve never felt before. However, there’s an interesting trend in the method in which each manufacturer is going about upping the literbike ante. More and more, a greater emphasis is placed on technology and electronics rather than hardware. Sure, hardware isn’t being ignored, but with today’s bikes making so much power, being able to harness it effectively is of utmost importance.
Milan, Italy, hosts the world’s largest motorcycle show, EICMA, in November each year, where the latest and greatest motorbikes are on display, most of which are receiving their first public display. The Esposizione Mondiale del Motociclismo, as it’s officially called, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014, and I was pleased to be one of the 6,945 journalists attending the November 3-8 event.
If a trifecta of Inline-Four-powered sporting motorcycles from BMW aren’t enough for you, how about bringing the total to match the number of cylinders? Today in Milan, BMW announced the BMW S1000XR, an adventure sport designed to bring a little attitude to the segment.
Hyped up on residual adrenalin from the previous day’s track outing at the Circuito Monteblanco, and feeling a little light-headed after visiting the open bar in the captain’s lounge at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (one hour flight delay), I began typing my 2015 BMW S1000RR review. Oh, S1k double-R, how I love you, let me count the ways: Gear Shift Assist Pro, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Dynamic Damping Control (DDC), Cruise Control …
The BMW S1000RR won our Bike of Year and Sportbike of the Year awards in 2010, and Sportbike Honorable Mention award in 2011. A revised S1000RR again won Sportbike of the year in 2012, and in 2013 the HP4 version of the RR, took Best Sportbike. Twenty fourteen is, in fact, the first year since the RR’s launch that it has not gone home with a MOBO award.
BMW’s new entry into the sport-adventure-touring sub-class has been caught while undergoing final testing in Europe. The S1000XR is loosely based on the thrilling and versatile S1000R, one of our favorite motorcycles of 2014, but with many changes to compete with sporty ADVs like Ducati’s Multistrada and Aprilia’s Caponord.
I’m often asked which motorcycle is my favorite, which is actually impossible to answer without a for-what-purpose addendum. But during a conversation last week, an acquaintance put a different spin on the question by asking: Which motorcycles are most memorable to you?