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.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2017. Since then, a number of other good beginner motorcycles have hit the market, so we’ve decided to update this post with some of the newer options available for new riders. The list of is available below.
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?
Yours truly was a big fan of the bigger ’Strom upon its redesign for 2014, and so was our man T. Roderick when he rode the new bike, but maybe to a lesser extent. It was hard to argue with Suzuki’s punched-out-to 1037cc tuned-for-torque L-Twin allied with the V-Strom 1000’s low-mass approach, and it still is.
The way our Suzuki rep ’splained it, is that it’s a 2018 model if it’s being produced in 2017. Go figure… anyway, the V-Strom 1000 was new in 2015. For 2018, it’s received a few significant upgrades to make it even more likeable, not to mention safer, including the addition of the new 1000XT version in the lead image.
Suzuki summoned the usual suspects to Lake Arrowhead, California, to show off the latest updates to its excellent ADV bikes. That’s the new V-Strom 650XT in the lead photo, distinguishable from the base model 650 by its wire-spoke tubeless wheels, yellow paint, hand guards and lower engine cowl/modesty panel. An aesthetic overhaul now makes it barely distinguishable from the big V-Strom 1000; know the 650 by its silver engine cases and lack of SUZUKI on the sides of its plush seat.
Last time out in France, the racing gods smiled upon Maverick Viñales and Dani Pedrosa while flipping off Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi. The enjoyable jam-packed top four took a beating, with Viñales now enjoying a 17-point lead over series #2 Pedrosa. Rossi is hurt. The Hondas are a pain to ride. There’s lots on the line heading to Mugello and Round 6 of the 2017 MotoGP season.
This is an odd post, as it features MO’s former editor Troy Siahaan, who has since moved on to other pursuits within the moto industry. That leaves me, the only other MOron who has ridden the newest Gixxer, as the author of this lead-in to Troy’s final video bike review on these pages.
Today at the 30th running of the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, youth triumphed over experience. Yamaha Top Gun Maverick Viñales withstood a classic last lap challenge brought by teammate and legend Valentino Rossi to capture Yamaha’s 500th grand prix win. The youngster ended his day on the top step of the podium, the grizzled veteran his prostrate in the gravel. Ten years ago, Rossi would have won this race. In 2017, the tide may be beginning to turn.
Ripping a 175 horsepower street bike down the street or around the track is one thing. Setting one up with metal spikes and knobbie dirt tires so it can be ridden off-road is quite another but that’s exactly what these guys did. Would you have the guts to take this crazy Suzuki GSX-R1000 for a ride down the trail?
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!