Well, it’s that time of year again. The newest crop of superbikes have hit the streets meaning its time for all of us to start bar stool racing. Which do you think will be best? I know I have my picks, but the king of the class may surprise you this year.
The obvious thing to address here is that fact that you really can’t go wrong with today’s superbikes. The least powerful on the list is still wayyyy more power than anyone could possibly need on the street. And the heaviest is still on an absurd level of lightweight. So it’s a win-win no matter which way you slice it. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to crown a winner, quite the contrary. So let’s jump in and examine our competitors.
2017 Honda CBR1000RR
Honda’s newest Fireblade is finally here. While it hasn’t been experiencing the best year when it comes to racing, it has however come to be one of the most popular new street bikes. With the class leading weight of just 433lbs soaking wet it’s a shockingly light package for a 1000cc bike. While some have been disappointed to hear that its only making 153hp I assure you that you are missing the point. Honda has never played the big horsepower game. It has always been about precision with their Fireblade and once again they have turned it into a real weapon. Not only is it the lightest in the group, but now it offers a full electronics package that will rival the best in the group. But for me, its styling is a major pitfall. I just can’t get to a point where I like it. The CBR1000RR also demands that Honda premium price tag which can make it a hard pill to swallow.
Moto Networks Pick: 4th
2017 Aprilia RSV4
Aprilia made incredible waves when they introduced the RSV4 back in 2009. The V4 engine was an absolute monster straight out of the shoots and they have spent their time since honing every aspect of the motorcycle. They have done some great work because the 2017 RSV4 is by far the best version to date, featuring an impressive electronics package to compliment that 999cc lump of V4 fury. The only real drawback is that they are working with an 8-year-old design. While normally that would set the RSV4 back a lot further it surprisingly only manifests itself in the weight of the machine. But at 470lbs wet, the RSV is the heaviest of the group by a country mile. Normally that would be more of an issue but the Italians have managed to make that sweet sound V4 churn out 180hp. Absurd. The RSV4’s styling also happens to be on point, making it an option that is surely hard to resist.
Moto Networks Pick: 3rd
2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000
All new doesn’t begin to describe the 2017 GSX-R1000. Suzuki has a way of reimagining their flagship machine like no one else. I mean, they did design the original superbike after all. This year the GSX-R got the rebirth it desperately needed, getting an all new chassis and engine. While this is probably the first Gixxer that I haven’t 100% loved on aesthetics alone, its capabilities are what matters most. The Suzuki comes in as the cheapest bike from a manufacturer that isn’t going out of business, but more on that in a minute. When you factor in its new lightweight chassis with a punchy engine that features tech straight from MotoGP it starts to paint a picture of the best bang for the buck ride. For me the love for Gixxers comes from one simple fact, the riding position. Known for the way you sit ‘in’ the bike vs just on top gives the Suzuki a handling dynamic that can’t be matched. Thankfully Suzuki has taken deep note of this, keeping the 2017 in the same vain. I feel like the Gixxer fought with one arm tied behind its back in this test, thanks to the exclusion of the new GSX-R1000R model that adds some go fast goodies. The standard 1000 is a great bike, but the R may be almost perfect.
Moto Networks Pick: 2nd (possibly biased)
2017 Yamaha R1
Here we go. The Yamaha R1. What could have been? Yamaha did a great job of building up the new R1 as the next big thing in Superbike racing, and yet we are still waiting. Sure they are doing okay in MotoAmerica now, but they are still behind Suzuki which is in its first year on the new GSX-R. The Yamaha has issues in racing and a cockpit that isn’t cohesive to running comfortable on the street. Luckily for them, it does look good. It’s actually one of my favorite sportbikes when it comes to styling, particularly that open tail section. Oh and that exhaust note is just sublime. An inline 4 with a crossplane crank is what dreams are made of. It’s a shame really, the R1 could sit a lot higher with a decent amount of tweaking.
Moto Networks Pick: 5th
2017 Kawasaki ZX-10R
Team green has been absolutely mopping the floor with the competition on board its ZX-10R World Superbike. Yet their street machine leaves much to be desired. For me this is easily the worst looking of the bunch, possibly one of the ugliest superbikes I have ever seen. Seriously, ask anyone that watches WorldSBk with me. And that’s a sad thing, because it’s one hell of a machine. It’s not the most powerful or the lightest, hell it’s not even the cheapest. But what it lacks in all categories it gains by wrapping them together. It’s the bike that is the jack of all trades, making it a real threat anywhere it goes. If I were picking a track bike the ZX-10R would easily be on the short list, I would just have to find some other plastics to throw on it first.
Moto Networks Pick: 6th
2017ish EBR 1190RX
Erik Buell, at it again. Or at least he was. Unfortunately, EBR is closing its doors once again, making the inclusion of this bike on the list just about pointless. It also allows the EBR to have the lowest price point on the list because it’s currently in liquidation. That being said the EBR 1190RX is actually a pretty decent motorcycle, particularly because Erik knows how to make a chassis work at its absolute best. On top of that, the engine is supposedly a real treat, but I still have my reservations about those claims. It does, however, boast the most torque of the group at 86.7ft-lbs which for street riding sounds like an absolute blast. Too bad you won’t feel comfortable getting it over 30mph without having a fear that the single rim mounted disc won’t be able to adequately slow you down before that next hairpin. Seriously Erik, on your next bike join the modern world and use some quality radial brakes for crying out loud.
Moto Networks Pick: 7th
2017 BMW S1000RR
CHEATER ALERT. BMW didn’t play by the rules, sending a much higher spec’d S1000RR than was requested. This put the Bimmer miles out of range when it comes to price, but it also gave the S1000RR features that make it a real competitor. BMW likely did this on purpose. Likely saying, ‘You can get the base model, but this is the one you really want.’ And they would be absolutely 100% right, who wants the base model anything BMW. It’s all about that M performance in the cars so why not be the same way in Superbikes. The S1000RR also suffers like the RSV4 from a dated design. Yet with all that being said the BMW is an absolutely stunning machine. When running the S1000RR sounds more like a timepiece than a motorcycle, reverberating refinement. With its lofty redline, the BMW sings like no other, and it comes in second to only the RSV4 in power all while being slightly lighter. And on top of it all its absolutely drop dead gorgeous. What’s not to like about the German heavyweight?
Moto Networks Pick: 1st
Without adequate seat time it’s hard to pick a winner when you are dealing with so many impressive machines. I find myself splitting hairs just for argument’s sake. What it really comes down too is what you find looks the best, sounds the best, and is comfortable to ride. The performance on each is well above all our levels at this point. But thankfully the folks over at Motorcycle.com have decided they want to really dive deep and pick an overall winner, how do you think your picks will fair?