While the market might have shifted its focus (and buying power) to Adventure bikes, manufacturers are still working hard to produce even lighter, faster and more tech-packed superbikes than ever before.
For me, there’s no better thrill than thrashing a motorbike around a race circuit. There’s something so basic and yet so addictive about threading a bike point to point and exploring the limits of grip not to mention your own mental limits. It’s hard to do it anywhere other than a circuit and there’s no better bike to do it on than a Superbike.
I spent two days on track recently on the new BMW S1000RR and the main thing that stood out wasn’t how quick it was or how capable it was but how comfortable it was. On the RSV4 RF I had to work for every apex but on the S1000RR, it was easy.
Superbikes are so good these days, they’re almost their own worst enemy when it comes to new bike sales because not all road riders want to be able to do 90mph in first gear or cruise along at license-losing speeds with the engine barely breaking into a sweat.
They’re so capable, you could argue they’re becoming less involving to ride, even though they’re technically advancing all the time.
But we don’t want to think about that too much right now. A superbike is still an awesome bit of kit. It’s the pinnacle of what brainy-boffins and talented factory test riders can produce. They come with different engine layouts and strengths but they all have a single common goal; to lap a race circuit as fast as possible.
In this risk-averse world of health and safety, nothing quite reminds you of what it’s like to feel alive than a quick blast on a superbike.
Here’s a full run-down of each of these great bikes:
Ducati Panigale V4R Key Specs
OK so it loses out on 105cc to the V4S as the R is a homologation bike designed to meet racing regulations and is therefore 998cc. But despite the similarities, the R and S are different bikes. The R is a more focused more hardcore bike. With a variant of the Stradale engine, the V4R has improved power, increased rev range but less torque due to the smaller engine size.
With less weight, there is more significant acceleration which track-dwellers crave. The beautiful aerodynamic bodywork and aero package not only looks great but provides the R with more stability and handling performance.
Yamaha YZF-R1M Key Specs
Yamaha haven’t messed with the cross-plane formula for years now. A four-cylinder bike that blends a high-revving inline four with a torquey V4.
With an improved aerodynamic package and a touch more power, the R1M performs better than before. The Öhlins Electronic Racing Suspension (ERS) has been adjusted for better damping control, and the two-way quickshifter performs seamlessly.
The only negative is that it’s not quite as exotic-looking as its Italian rivals.
Aprilia RSV4 RF Key Specs
Part of the RSV4 range from Aprilia, the RSV4 RF is the pinnacle. The RF sees a total refinement in performance and technology from previous models such as the RSV4 APRC ABS. Developed alongside their MotoGP program, the resulting bike is fantastic bike both on and off the track. The RF was limited to 500 units. Featuring forged aluminium wheels, Brembo M50 calipers, Öhlins ERS and steering damper, it is dripping with exotic parts, handles great and performs with the best of them.
Kawasaki ZX-10R Key Specs
Slightly out-blinged in this company but nevertheless the 10R hard earned it places among the superbike gods With 3 versions, the new ZX-10R by Kawasaki sports finger-follower valve actuation which reduces the mass of the system by 20% and allows for more valve movement and more aggressive cam profiles. With a bidirectional quickshifter fitted as standard, gear changes are a lot smoother and faster. It’s an absolute missile and so easy to ride quickly.
BMW S1000RR Key Specs
The latest incarnation of the massively popular RR range. The S1000RR has a new symmetrical face design and the all-important new engine which produces 205bhp at 13,500rpm, and 83.3ftlbs torque at 11,000rpm. Featuring BMW’s new ShiftCam technology for better overall performance, the S1000RR also has a brand new flex frame chassis and dynamic damping control. There’s a simple to use TFT display and let’s not forget: heated grips!
Do you know the engine configuration that best suits your riding style? Torquey V-twin, high revving inline-four, a curdling V4 or a howling cross-plane four? Each engine layout comes with its own strengths and weaknesses.
For me, nothing gives you feel like a V-twin, but for predictable throttle response, an inline-four is where it’s at.
Once you’ve decided on the engine characteristics you prefer, it comes down to what you’re planning on doing with the bike and how much you want to spend.
If you want the latest gadgets from auto-blippers, to cornering ABS, to lean angle sensors and traction control, then you’re going to have to opt for the very latest tackle but if you just want a ‘digital superbike’ you can look at models from 2010 onwards. Five grand buys you a lot of superbike these days but twenty-grand gets you the cream of the current crop.
Do you know roughly what you’ll need to budget to insure your superbike
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