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  1. #1
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    Default 2012 Superbike Smackdown IX Track



    Sportbikes are the gateway vehicle to an adrenaline-filled life on two wheels. Born and bred for the track, these Superbikes are production racers whose true potential can only be unleashed by pinning them on a closed course circuit. For 2012 that track would be the venerable Thunderhill Raceway Park where it’s 15 turns, numerous elevation changes, wide tarmac and long straightaway proves to be the perfect playground for Motorcycle USA’s most anticipated annual shootout – the Superbike Smackdown Track comparison.

    The ninth annual Superbike Smackdown proved to be our most adventurous undertaking to date, with nine motorcycles pitted against each other in a winner-take-all style shootout. In fact, the only bike we failed to obtain was Erik Buell’s American-made, V-twin-powered EBR 1190RS (starting at $37,499). To further up the ante, we took a cue from our 2010 Modified Supersport Shootout – allowing each bike this year to be fitted with an aftermarket exhaust system, fuel-injection tuning module and quick-shifter. After all, those are the most popular upgrades track junkies do to their machines. Just because we opened the door to play by these rules, to our surprise, there were a few OEM’s who chose not to make these changes. Would it hurt their chances?

    Once again, the BMW S1000RR ($15,050) was the benchmark going into the test with the German bike having won the last two Superbike Smackdown tests (both street and track). And for 2012 it was in an even better position to defend its crown after having received a host of chassis and electronic updates (see the 2012 BMW S1000RR First Ride from Valencia, Spain). Originally eager to showcase its accessory racing exhaust, at the last minute BMW elected to leave its machine stock for this track test. BMW chose to rely on its proven high-horsepower engine, sophisticated electronics package and the momentum of back-to-back Smackdown wins as it views for a Three-Peat. It already took the win in our 2012 Superbike Smackdown IX Street and is looking to make a clean sweep.


    Honda’s CBR1000RR ($13,800) has been a perennial favorite in our Superbike Smackdown tests. Like the BMW, it also received very select chassis and aesthetic upgrades but to our surprise, nothing significant to the engine. Despite keeping the upgrades simple, it was well received during the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR First Ride at Sonoma Raceway. Honda has always had its bikes well sorted for these tests so it was no surprise when our CBR showed up fitted with every upgrade we allowed in the test. A Yoshimura R-77 Slip-On Exhaust, Power Commander V and Dynojet Quick Shifter Expansion Module combined to wake-up this passive-aggressive superbike and give it a significant performance boost on track. Every year that we have conducted the controlled Superpole parameters for our track test, the CBR1000RR has earned the fastest lap of the test and the coveted Superpole trophy. With everyone gunning for it, could Honda etch its name in the cup for a fourth consecutive year?

    Having just received a wheel-to-wheel revamp last season, Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-10R ($13,999 non-ABS version) is one of three motorcycles that entered this contest as a carry-over model. Kawasaki chose to add a Leo Vince GP Pro Evo II Slip-On Exhaust, Dynojet Power Commander V tuning module and Dynojet Quick Shifter Expansion Module to help in its efforts to dethrone the Beemer or at least steal the Superpole award.

    The ’12 season also saw Yamaha’s crossplane engine-equipped YZF-R1 ($13,990) receive a round of updates, highlighted by the fitment of traction control as we detailed in the 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 First Ride. For our showdown, the Tuning Fork company teamed with long-time racing powerhouse Graves Motorsports. If any company knows how to get the most from the R1 it’s the Graves crew. Like Honda, the boys in blue spared no effort in getting the R1set up with every available option on our list: A Graves Motorsports Titanium Exhaust System was paired with a Power Commander V and Dynojet Quick Shifter Expansion Module. The result was an even sweeter sounding superbike than the one we rode in stock trim during our street test.

    Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 ($13,799) has won more Superbike Smackdown tests than any other brand. Although it’s been a while since it last collected a win (2007), Suzuki came to the test anxious to build on that record with the introduction of a new and improved GSX-R. Earlier this year we tested it at Miami-Homestead Speedway during the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 First Ride and came away impressed with the effort. For our Smackdown, Suzuki enlisted the tuning wizards at Yoshimura who fitted its Yoshimura TRC-D Full System paired with the Bazzaz Performance Z-FI QS Quick Shift System which is a fuel module and quick shifter all in one.

    In the Orange corner we have the KTM RC8R ($16,499) which is also a carry-over model for 2012. It receives a few minor updates, so the real news for our shootout was the installation of a full Akrapovic factory racing exhaust as well as upgraded fuel and ignition mapping to accompany the sweet, hand-crafted Titanium exhaust. The staccato sound pumping out of this Big Twin was a stark contrast to the high-pitch howling from the quartet of Inline Fours it was up against.

    Without question, the Ducati 1199 Panigale S ($22,995) was the most anticipated bike of the year. Everyone was eager to see how it would stack up and after an impressive showing on our street shootout where it finished third behind the BMW and CBR, the Ducati was set to shine on the track for which it was bred. Heading into this test the new Italian Superbike had received rave reviews following the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale First Ride from the Middle East and we were all excited to see if it lives up to the hype. To sweeten the pot even further our test machine was equipped with a full race exhaust from technical partner Termignoni. The stock electronics package of the S-model would not be swapped out for any type of aftermarket system. Like the BMW, the Ducati would go at it with minimal upgrades.

    After a year off, Aprilia was back in a big way with its RSV4 Factory APRC ($22,999). This V-Four-powered Italian superbike features some of the most advanced electronics on a production on a modern motorcycle including traction control a myriad of engine maps, quickshifter and a chassis that allows the engine to be moved for-aft –up-and –down, adjustable swingarm pivot point and the list goes on. Although the RSV4 didn’t enjoy any major upgrades for this season, our test unit came equipped with a full Akrapovic Racing Exhaust System from the Aprilia accessory catalog. The stock electronics are more than enough to hang with this crowd so no aftermarket gadgets were used.

    Finally, after years of unanswered invitations, San Diego, California's Moto Forza, an MV Agusta dealership, stepped up and provided us our first opportunity to toss the 2012 MV Agusta F4R ($19,498) into the mix. This exotic sportbike is half piece of art, half racebike. Its wailing Inline Four powerplant comes with the necessary credentials and reputation to shake up the finishing order. Unfortunately, since it was a last minute addition to our test, it didn’t come with official OEM support and we didn’t have the means to fit up a race pipe, so we tested just as it rolls off the showroom floor.

    Test-riding literbikes at the track isn’t all fun and games despite what our ex-wives would tell you - it’s actually one of the most challenging aspects of magazine work. That’s why we enlist a competent group of riders capable of giving accurate feedback at a challenging circuit like northern California’s Thunderhill Raceway. We chose to utilize T-Hill’s 2.86-mile, 15-turn road course, as it offers a tremendous variety of high- and low-speed corners and both heavy acceleration and hard braking zones which allow for a more authentic assessment of the performance capabilities of today’s Superbikes. As for tires, each machine was fitted with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP (high-performance street tires) on Day 1 and Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa race tires (SC2) for Day 2.

    Our assessment squad consisted of some old and new faces. Returning this year were long-time expert-level club racers Michael Earnest and Corey Neuer along with freshly
    hired AMA PRO racer Frankie Garcia as well as MotoUSA O.G. Ken Hutchison and yours truly. After a few year hiatus, our design department VP and hardened on/off-road motorcycle racer Brian Chamberlain swapped his mouse for a throttle one more time. New to the roster are trackday rider and Digital Media Producer Justin Dawes and former AMA Pro Thunder Champion Tom Montano of Cycle News. We also had the pleasure of using our Motorcycle-Superstore sponsored AMA SuperSport racer Devon McDonough.

    Some of you might be wondering what happened to last year’s celebrity guest tester Steve Rapp? Well, just days before our test, Rapp broke his wrist while racing at Sonoma Raceway so his role was filled by reigning AFM Champion and Superbike Smackdown veteran, Chris Siglin. As anyone in AFM will attest, you’ll be hard pressed to find another rider with as much raw speed and critical track knowledge at Thunderhill. Siglin and I would pull rider duty during Superpole and the added pressure of turning laps alone on the track while every single OEM, test rider and corner worker soaked in every move with stop-watches in hand.

    Now that you know the players, the riders and the rules, let’s find out what the best literclass bike is for ripping around the racetrack.
















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    2012 Yamaha YZF-R1




    Here in America, the Tuning Fork brand has had plenty of success with its 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1. Paired with the technical savvy of Graves Motorsports and riding talent of Superbike racer, Josh Hayes, it’s proven to be the machine to beat in the AMA ranks.

    Swinging a leg over it reveals a more ‘classic’ feel to it as compared to the competition. It’s one of the larger bikes in the test, however the seating position is functional, windscreen tall, and the ability to adjust the position of the foot controls is a great feature, too. Despite shedding a number of pounds courtesy the Graves titanium exhaust, it still weighs 464 pounds (second heaviest) with a full tank of gas (4.8 gallon).

    “The Yamaha felt like one of the biggest bikes when just sitting on it,” said Chamberlain “But once in motion the larger feel disappeared and was actually one of my favorites in terms of ergonomics.”

    Since it’s so hefty, it’s no secret that the R1 demands more muscle to get turned. Still the front end offers pinpoint accuracy and goes exactly where the rider desires. Once pointed, we were caught off guard by just how well it tracked mid-corner.

    “I really like the handling,” comments Siglin. “When you first jump on the bike it feels big and bulky but when you start putting in some laps it actually handles really, really well. I was surprised for sure.”

    Looking at the R1’s maximum flick rate as measured from Turns 11/12/13 (low-to-medium speed left-right-left chicane) proves that it takes more time for it to change direction from side-to-side. It posted the third-slowest number (39.6 degrees/second) behind the Ducati and Kawasaki. Though once leaned over the Yamaha instills a fair amount of trust with it recording the third-highest lean angle degree of 50.0 down The Cyclone (Turn 5).

    “The R1 was a bit of a surprise,” agrees Garcia. “Sure it feels kind of big, and doesn’t steer as fast as some of the other bikes but man, is that thing planted mid-corner. It comes off the corner really well too—I was startled by how early and hard I could accelerate when I started to stand the bike up.”

    While each one of our test riders was pleased with how the R1 felt at lean, it consistently posted some of the slowest corner speeds in Turns 2, 6 and 14. When averaged it was ranked the lowest which hurt it on the scorecard. It’s strange because Yamaha arrived at Thunderhill with a near perfect set-up with the front and rear suspension working in total unison offering excellent balance and pitch control. But since it carries around more mass and pumps out the least amount of power, it isn’t much of a surprise that it is a little off pace in the corners.

    Right off the bottom the R1 pumps out a mellow spread of power. It fourth-lowest peak torque figure of 76.07 lb-ft. But the real problem is how far down it is in terms of horsepower as it cranks out between 10 and 26 horses less than the competition. It is worth noting, however, that peak power arrives relatively early for an Inline Four (148.55 horsepower at 11,900 revs). The addition of the Graves pipe also allows power to stay on longer, as compared to stock, before the rev limiter shuts things down 1700 rpm later. This gives the rider a wee bit more flexibility in regards to whether to upshift or just hold a gear in some situations.
    “It’s down on power compared to the other bikes. It doesn’t have that ‘whoa’ factor when you get on the throttle,” recalls Neuer. “But at the same time it’s one of the easiest bikes to ride and I never have to worry about it getting away from me when I’m on the gas.”

    “The power is so mellow it took away from the handling a little bit,” adds Earnest. “It almost feels like a 750. The Graves pipes definitely helped the bike out on over-rev but I was still expecting more.”

    Based on the results at the dyno, it isn’t much of a surprise that the R1 posted the second-lowest acceleration force numbers off Turn 6 and Turn 15 (0.75g and 0.63g). It also registered the lowest top speed down the front straightaway (155.9 mph) and third-lowest mph down the back straight (142.9).

    “It isn’t super fast… but the engine is one of the smoothest out there and it’s fun to ride,” explains Montano. “It was really easy to ride and the engine is good but it’s not like the Beemer where it’s hauling balls everywhere.”
    Of all the bikes in this contest, the R1 arguably had the most to gain out of the fitment of a quickshifter. With it added the R1’s drivetrain performed flawlessly with the transmission exuding a precise feel. Another plus is the short shift lever throw as well as the near perfect slipper clutch calibration.

    “The R1 didn’t feel like one of the fastest bikes out there but the power delivery was very linear and did seem to build very quickly,” remembers Dawes. “The transmission worked really well too—especially with the addition of the Dynojet quickshifter.”

    Although the R1’s brakes don’t offer the greatest feel, they do offer tremendous stopping power plus they are about as consistent-feeling as sportbike brakes come. The anchors were rated third-best on our rider’s notepads and also indicated the most amount of g force on the computer screen at the entry of Turns 10 and 14 (-1.42g and -1.41g).

    “The R1’s brakes worked awesome,” notes Hutchison. “For sure some of the credit goes to the fork as it was set-up superbly so you could really grab a handful and the front end wouldn’t pitch so hard on its nose like it did in past years.”

    The numbers don’t lie and in Superpole the Yamaha was the second-slowest bike for Siglin and the slowest for the author. Although the R1 didn’t blow us away with its speed there wasn’t one rider who didn’t enjoy riding the Yamaha. All of our testers couldn’t stop talking about how much of a blast it was to ride and how cool it sounded with the Graves pipes. Problem is that this test is all about performance, and more outright performance is what this machine needs if it is going to run up front.



    Yamaha YZF-R1 Highs & Lows
    Highs
    Smooth, friendly powerband
    Good mid-corner stability
    Strong brakes
    Lows
    Too heavy
    Needs more power—everywhere
    Could be smaller dimensionally



    video
    http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/1444/M...out-Video.aspx
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    2012 KTM RC8R






    Eager to prove that it’s capable of building more than just championship-winning off-road motorcycles, Austrian brand KTM is taking Superbike racing seriously. After having success in the German Championship it is pushing more aggressively in America with its 2012 KTM RC8R.

    Of all the motorcycles in this test the RC8R is the most unique. Slip into the seat and the ergonomics are more casual and relaxed then the other Japanese and Euro machines. The bars are taller than average, the seat low and the fuel tank is carved perfectly—locking the rider’s lower body to the motorcycle. Another nice touch is that the clip-ons, foot controls and even the seat height can be adjusted according to rider preference.

    “It’s obvious engineers spent some time thinking about where and how the controls should be positioned,” shares Hutchison. “And it shows, as the KTM offers a reasonable degree of comfort without compromising rider stance. This is the bike I can ride all-day with no discomfort.”

    “It took me some time to get comfortable with the KTM,” reveals Chamberlain. “But once I did, I loved riding it. The ergonomics were pretty relaxed with the rider sitting down in the bike a little more so than the others. The handlebars were taller too.”


    When rolled on the scales, the orange entry proves one of the lighter bikes in this test. With its 4.35-gallon fuel tank filled to the brim it weighs 440 pounds. While it’s one of the lighter bikes in the class, it’s still 17 pounds heavier than its nemesis and class-leading Ducati. Out on track the difference doesn’t feel as substantial since it carries its weight so well in motion.

    Navigating Thunderhill’s left-right-left (Turns 11/12/13) proved rather easy at the controls of the RC8R. Here it displayed the third-highest flick rate of 43.9 degree/second, slotting it just behind the class-leading Suzuki and Aprilia. Numbers aside it also ranked up there in the Turn-In category achieving the third highest score in that category as well.

    “The bike turns on a dime—the way the center of gravity is on the thing you can just flick it from left-to-right-to-left and it gets it done,” describes Neuer of the KTM’s handling prowess. “Chassis-wise it’s a great motorcycle with a lot of potential.”

    Once leaned over the KTM exhibits rock solid stability on the side of the tire. Some of the credit goes to a fabulous suspension set-up with both the fork and shock functioning harmoniously, allowing testers to more accurately flirt with the adhesion limits of the Pirelli tires.

    “The KTM had some of the best stock suspension out there,” says Garcia. “The bike felt like it was glued to the ground. I was also surprised by just how well the rear end hooked up, it was almost like a 600 Supersport—that is how early you could get on the throttle without upsetting the chassis.”

    Although corner speed at the apex of Turn 2 was the lowest of the group (66.7 mph), it was quickest where it really counted at Turn 8—a fast left hander taken in third or fourth gear. In the final measuring point (Turn 15) it was only 0.9 mph off the speedy green machine. When averaged it was credited with the second-highest score in that category. It also registered the second-highest lean angle through The Cyclone (Turn 5) which demonstrates how much confidence our riders had in its chassis.

    While the KTM exceled in the handling department, it came up a little short under the hood even with the stimulated powerband generated by the kit Akrapovic pipe. Bottom-end performance is impressive for sure, and between 5000 and 8000 rpm the orange bike rules—pumping out in excess of 75 lb-ft of rear wheel twisting force. Peak torque arrives at 7100 revs with 88.1 lb-ft giving it title in that category. This helps the KTM accelerate off corners hard with more voracity then some of the other bikes, at first. Problem is, with a rev range of only 10,200 rpm, paired with a relatively slow shifting transmission (the KTM didn’t benefit from the simplicity of a lighting quick electronic quickshifter—it’s also missing a true mechanical slipper clutch, hence the low score in the Drivetrain category), and the second-least top-end horsepower (158.04 horsepower at 10,200 rpm) made it lag behind in straight-line acceleration.

    “The engine signs off early and doesn’t have a whole lot of top-end power,” says Earnest. “It’s got a lot of grunt off corners and it hooks up great but the powerband is a little too narrow and you’re always shifting the thing. It vibrates quite a bit too—not as much as the MV though.”

    “It lacks horsepower big time,” Siglin concurs. “If the motor could spin another 1500 rpm and had a fast, Dynojet-style quickshifter it would help the KTM tremendously.”

    Looking at the acceleration data shows the Austrian V-Twin machine holds its own off corners. Out of Turn 6 we measured 0.81g and another pleasing g number (0.74g) out of the final corner (Turn 15) which ranked it mid-pack. Yet, top speeds at the end of the two straightaways were at, or, near the back of the field – 158.4 mph down the front straight (1.1 mph down on the Ducati) and 140.2 mph on the back straight (4.2 mph down on the Duc).

    Similar to the other Euro bikes the KTM is equipped with stout Brembo monobloc braking components. No doubt the brakes have plenty of power, they are also 100% fade-free, but they just didn’t deliver as much feel at the lever as some of the other set-ups which attributed to the low score in the subjective Brakes category. We were also a bit surprised to find that the RC8R brakes registered the lowest braking g forces into Turn 10 (-1.07g) and third-lowest at the entry point for Turn 14. Perhaps this could be attributed to the KTM carrying a slightly lower top speed so the brakes didn’t need to be hammered quite as hard.

    Even with its well-sorted chassis the KTM didn’t set the world on fire in Superpole with both riders setting times that were toward the back of the field. Upon averaging both riders’ times Austria’s entry was the third-slowest machine, just ahead of the Yamaha and MV. High scores in a number of the handling scoring categories boosted the orange machine on the scorecard. However its engine performance held it back which played the biggest factor in its sixth-place result.




    KTM RC8R Highs & Lows
    Highs
    Impressive bottom-end and mid-range power
    Highly maneuverable
    Excellent, fully-adjustable ergonomics
    Lows
    Short powerband
    Needs more revs and/or top-end power
    No quickshifter



    video
    http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/1446/M...out-Video.aspx
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    2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000





    Suzuki GSX-R sportbikes dominate the road racing scene here in America. Whether it’s the AMA Pro ranks, or at the club-level, it’s clear the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is one of, if not, the most popular platform to compete on due in part to its simplicity and how easy it is to modify for racing.

    Compared to the other bikes the Gixxer has one of the most standardized riding positions… and that’s a good thing. Sure it’s not the most compact, or even the lightest machine, but from the position of the seat, to the clip-ons and footpegs (which are adjustable like the Kawasaki, KTM and Yamaha) —everything is proportioned well and was universally loved by our testers.

    “The Suzuki just plain fits,” confides Hutch. “Suzuki has been building these GSX-Rs for over 20 years now and it shows in just how polished each aspect of the bike is. Aside from the Honda and KTM, this is my favorite bike to ride.”

    “No doubt about it the Suzuki has some of the best ergos,” agrees Garcia. “It’s still a little large—maybe not quite as big as the R1 or MV—but I got along with it well and it wasn’t a deal breaker for me.”

    When measured on the scale the GSX-R1000 weighed in at 444 pounds with its 4.6-gallon filled. Although that’s four pound less than stock it is still 21 pounds more than the class-leading Ducati and 13 pounds heavier than the lightest Inline Four (Kawasaki). Still, when rolling down the racetrack the center of gravity feels low and it can’t be deemed a ‘heavy’ motorcycle.

    Lean the Suzuki into a turn and it wasn’t one of the quicker steering bikes. But at the same time, it wasn’t slow either. It’s this kind of predictability that make it so friendly to ride. Once pitched over on its side the chassis delivers a more elastic feel than the racier feeling Aprilia, Kawasaki and KTM, but it still rated positive on our tester’s note pads as evident by the mid-pack scores in many of the subjective handling categories.

    “I like the way Suzuki handled,” says Chamberlain. “It was kind of middle of the road for me but it worked. It doesn’t steer as fast as the KTM but it wasn’t bad either. It does everything pretty good and is real easy to ride.”

    Through Turn 2 the Suzuki was right behind the Ducati in terms of corner speed at 68.7 mph. It moved back a couple positions through the fast left-hand Turn 8 (94.2 mph), which perhaps could be attributed to its less rigid suspension set-up. It tied with the MV for fourth-fastest through the final turn. After averaging all three points it ranked third-best behind the Honda and KTM.

    Even though our testers didn’t think it offers the quickest turning, navigating Turns 11/12/13 demonstrated the Suzuki’s willingness to change directions. Here it posted the fastest side-to-side flick rate of 54.4 degrees per second. It also recorded a respectable lean angle measurement of 49.1 degrees through the Turn 5 Cyclone.

    Accelerating off corners was one of the Suzuki’s strong points. The dyno results indicate that the GSX-R’s Inline Four engine pumps out considerable mid-range torque. Despite not producing anywhere near as much twisting force as the torque-rich V-Twins, or Honda, it sure did feel strong. Maximum torque arrives at 10,400 revs with 79.18 lb-ft of twisting force. This aided in its acceleration numbers with it achieving 0.84g off of Turn 6 (tied Honda for fourth) and 0.79g away from Turn 15 (fifth-highest). Some credit goes to the Bazzaz quickshifter, as it was every bit as effective as its Dynojet counterpart and quicker in actuation than the set-ups employed on the Aprilia and Ducati. The rest of the Suzuki’s drivetrain performed without flaw though the final drive gearing was a little too high.

    “It gets with the program,” notes Montano. “Mid-range, top-end and over-rev were all excellent. It pulls hard but the power still comes on smooth and doesn’t feel all out of control like the BMW.”

    In terms of horsepower the Suzuki impressed with 167.96 ponies arriving at a relatively low rpm (11,800, 1500 rpm short of redline). This was an increase of 16.4 horses over stock which demonstrates how effective the Suzuki’s engine is in race trim. It was also the largest outright gain in the test. Its enhanced top-end punch was the reason it attained the second-fastest trap speed of 161.7 mph down the main straightway (2.5 mph down on the BMW) and the highest speed on the back straight (148.2 mph—1.7 higher than the German machine and a full eight mph up on the KTM).

    “With the Yosh pipe the Gixxer came alive,” says Neuer. “It really pulled off corners hard. In fact it was the only bike that would actually wheelie in fourth gear full tuck down the back straightaway. The bike is good. It’s no wonder why so many people race ‘em.”

    Suzuki is the first Japanese brand to fit top shelf Brembo monobloc calipers on its literbike. And based on our experience during the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 First Ride we assumed they were going to work great at Thunderhill. However the Suzuki’s anchors were rated the lowest in the test due to excessive levels of brake fade after just a handful of fast laps.

    “The brakes were the weakest link,” reveals Siglin. “I know that’s been a problem with Suzukis for the last few years. At a fast track like Thunderhill where there is a lot of hard braking from fast-to-slow I experienced a lot of fade. And that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.”

    In spite of the inconsistent brake lever feel the brakes still logged respectable g forces in Turns 10 and 14 (-1.31 and -1.36), which tied the Honda for fourth place in the Braking Force score.

    Superpole results demonstrate that the Suzuki is an effective racetrack weapon with it logging Waheed’s third-fastest lap time (1’57.42) and Siglin’s fifth-fastest time of (1’55.10). The primary factor that held the Suzuki back from a better result was the brake fade issue and its predicable, but average, handling. If Suzuki could dial in those two aspects the Gixxer would have won this year—no question. Until then, the GSX-R ranks in fourth-place.



    Suzuki GSX-R1000 Highs & Lows
    Highs
    Predictable handling
    Good mid-range and top-end engine performance
    Great ergonomics
    Lows
    Mediocre handling
    Inconsistent front brakes
    Could have sharper steering




    video

    http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/1449/M...out-Video.aspx
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    2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R





    Kawasaki is an omnipresent force at racetracks worldwide, but still hasn’t achieved the results some expected from the 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. With no true factory racing team Kawasaki’s Superbike racing effort has been left to privateer squads like the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Attack Performance team in AMA Pro Racing. But is it the ideal platform to compete on?

    Hop aboard the Ninja and it feels noticeably wider than the rest of the bikes. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but something that makes it stand out compared to the competition. The seating position is functional and fit each one our testers ranging from Earnest, who stands 6’1”, to Siglin’s 5’7” frame. Like the Yamaha, KTM and Suzuki, the position of the foot controls can be moved to suit the rider and the windscreen is plenty big to tuck behind. All fueled up (4.5-gallon fuel capacity) the 431 pound Kawi is the second-lightest bike in this contest. In motion however it felt comparable to the other Japanese machines with exception to the porky Yamaha.

    “I like the way you sit on the Ninja,” reveals our tallest tester. “The seating position felt close to the Suzuki and felt very natural on track. Honestly, I never gave it much thought when I was riding and that’s usually a good sign.”

    If there was one word to surmise the Kawasaki’s handling it would be ‘fluid’. Even though it didn’t steer as sharply as, say, the Honda or KTM, everything it did, from turn-in to mid-corner, and even on exit, it did in a smooth manner. One reason for the Ninja’s sublime handling was its suspension, which once set-up offers great chassis compliance. This allowed fast laps to come with relative ease.

    “Everything flows,” says Neuer. “The bike turns great—mid-corner it feels super light—the flickability of the bike is super fast. When you make an input into the bars you get a result like that [snaps finger].”

    At the apex of Turn 2, Team Green’s weapon achieved the third-highest corner speed of 68.4 mph. Conversely, six corners later, it posted the lowest mph (93.3). In the final corner (Turn 15) we measured it at 47.3 mph which proved to be the highest speed in that sector. When the speeds were averaged, the Kawi was awarded points for fourth place.

    Through The Cyclone (Turn 5) the Ninja’s chassis instilled trust—achieving a lean angle of 50.1 degrees—fourth-best again, behind the Aprilia, KTM, and Yamaha. Although it ranked toward the back of the group in slide-to-side flick rate (37.3 degrees/second), none of our testers complained about its maneuverability aside from it having the propensity to run wide on corner exit.

    “It turns-in fairly quickly and the front end has a ton of feel mid-corner,” Chamberlain describes. “The bike really hooks up coming out of the corner and has good mid-range and top-end which really helps it drive off turns.”

    Kawasaki has a reputation for rip-snorting, balls-to-the-wall engine performance and the motor in the ZX continues to carry the torch especially with the fitment of the LeoVince slip-on and removal of the stock catalytic convertor. Funny thing is, the engine makes such a smooth, steady spread of power that it doesn’t feel the fastest from behind the windscreen (similar to the Honda).

    Looking at the dyno chart shows that the Ninja cranks out similar power to the other Inline Fours before jumping up slightly at around 7000 revs. It continues to steadily build power and offers one of the smoothest torque curves aside from the BMW. Peak torque arrives at a relatively high 11,000 rpm with 79.69 lb-ft available (fourth-best).

    (Due to its tall gearing the Kawasaki was one of the only bikes that necessitated the use of first gear in that turn—hence the higher reading.) Despite the tall final drive gearing, the gearbox was butter smooth and slipper clutch performed without flaw

    Let the motor rev and it proved second strongest in this test, delivering 172.65 horsepower. That’s nearly 10 ponies more than stock. Still even in modified form it was down 2.57 horses on the bone stock BMW. Another important factor is that the Ninja arrives at maximum power 1600 earlier than the German bike (11,600 rpm vs. 13,200 rpm).

    “The Kawasaki certainly moves,” says Siglin. “It doesn’t drive off corners as hard as say the Honda or Suzuki but once you stand it up and get some clear track it gets with the program in a hurry. Of all the bikes in this test the Kawi probably has the most deceiving powerband because it doesn’t feel fast but it is.”

    Down the front straightaway the ZX was one of only three bikes (BMW and Suzuki) to exceed 160 mph. It proved to be almost as potent on the shorter back straight between Turns 13 and 14 registering 145.8 mph (fourth-fastest). Upon averaging it was right behind the BMW.

    “Power is pretty impressive,” says Dawes. “Especially with the LeoVince pipe. It’s crazy because it doesn’t feel like it pulls as hard as some of the other bikes but then all of a sudden you’re like ‘oh my God’ I’m already at the next corner… Good thing it’s got strong brakes.”

    The Kawasaki is only one of three bikes that don’t employ Brembo brake calipers, and while the Tokico binders have unreal stopping power, feel from the lever isn’t as high as some of the others. And it showed in terms of braking force with an average reading of -1.30g which was second from last.

    “The brakes were strong and consistent from Lap 1 to Lap 10,” notes Garcia. “But I just preferred the Brembo set-ups on some of the other bikes because they had just a hair more feel so I could go into corners deeper. Though, if I swapped the pads I think I’d be totally satisfied with the Kawis set-up.”

    A solid chassis and great overall engine performance is the recipe for fast laps and that’s exactly what the green machine did. With Siglin at the controls the Kawi recorded the fastest outright lap time of the test (1’53.98). For the author it was his second-fastest machine at 1’57.31. While the Kawasaki was awarded the Superpole trophy for the speediest lap time, when the times were averaged it was scored behind the Honda which averaged a 0.425 second better figure.

    All said and done the Ninja ranked in third place. The green machine has a well-rounded package, but the problem is some of the other bikes do certain things just a hair better than the Kawasaki and that’s what ultimately held it from a better result.



    Kawasaki ZX-10R Highs & Lows
    Highs
    Strong top-end engine performance
    Smooth, reliable drivetrain
    Lightweight
    Lows
    Very wide feeling
    Could have stronger mid-range
    Tall final drive gearing




    video

    http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/1450/M...out-Video.aspx
    08 Honda CBR 1000RR
    05 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
    99 Honda Civic SI (stolen)

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    2012 BMW S1000RR





    Now in its fourth year of World Superbike racing competition, German motorsports powerhouse BMW is beginning to collect race wins. Is it because of its fresh rider line-up? Or the brute force of its 2012 BMW S1000RR sportbike?

    When seated at the controls, the Beemer shares more in common with the Japanese machines than its European counterparts. The seat and position of each control seem like a hybrid balance between the Honda and Suzuki.

    However, no foot control adjustment is offered. It terms of outward size, it splits the difference between each delivering a slightly larger-feeling but still pleasing motorcycle that fit all of our riders. In spite of its more conventional ergos our testers preferred the cockpit of the KTM, Honda and Suzuki hence the relatively low score in the Rider Interface category.
    “The BMW felt pretty good to me,” says Garcia. “It’s pretty slim for an Inline Four but it does feel kind of long. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t take you much time to get a feel for it. You just hop on and go for it.”

    Although the S1000RR doesn’t necessarily feel overweight, the weight chart shows it one of the heftier bikes in this contest with a fully-fueled curb weight of 451 pounds (4.5-gallon fuel tank). That’s 28 pounds more than the V-Twin Ducati and 20 pounds more than the Kawi (lightest Inline Four). It is important to note that the BMW didn’t benefit from the weight savings of a racing exhaust, as it opted to compete in stock form.

    Lean the BMW into a turn and the similarities between it and the Suzuki and Honda continue. It didn’t offer the quickest initial turn-in, but it was trustworthy and never did anything out of the ordinary. Running through the Turns 11/12/13 chicane wasn’t the easiest at the controls of the German machine, as evident by its moderate 41.7 degree/second side-to-side flick rate—third-lowest behind the Ninja and Ducati.

    Mid-corner the BMW was planted and the chassis responsive to steering corrections at lean. The calibration of the suspension was in sync but didn’t deliver that same racebike-type feel of say the Aprilia or KTM. Still it was tight and not as loose feeling as the Suzuki.

    Having never ridden a BMW sportbike, Chamberlain was impressed with the German Superbike effort: “The BMW is pretty agile. I was surprised how ease it was to ride. At full lean the bike felt rock solid and inspired a lot of confidence. The harder I rode it the better it worked.”

    Through Turn 2 the BMW logged the third-lowest corner speed of 67.7 mph in front of the Yamaha and KTM. However, in the faster, more crucial to a fast lap time Turn 8, it was third-fastest at 95.2 mph—0.6 mph behind the Honda and 1.9 mph off the KTM. In the final measuring point, Turn 15, it ranked third from the back again at 45.8 mph, trailing the Honda by 0.8 mph. The average of the three speeds resulted in a fifth-place ranking on the scorecard.

    “The BMW‘s got a pretty good chassis—especially when you consider how much power the engine makes,” thinks Montano. “But it stayed very composed. I think with a little fine-tuning it can blow the doors off just about anything out there at the track.”

    Accelerating off corners is where things got really interesting. Any motorcycle that can put 175 horsepower to the pavement without looping over backwards or generating excessive wheelspin is impressive, and that’s exactly the area the BMW excels. Very high acceleration force was recorded out of Turn 6 (0.88g) and Turn 15 (0.84g).

    “The feel you get out of the corner is amazing; it’s like no other,” states Neuer. “It leaves you scratching your head like ‘oh my gosh’. It’s a really exhilarating motorcycle to ride.”

    “All I can say is wow!” exclaims Hutch. “This bike has an insane motor. It revs quick and has a good amount of power at all rpms. But the top-end is where it really shines. When you hit 12,000 rpm it’s like God punched you from behind.”

    Some credit for the Beemer’s crazy straight-line acceleration performance goes to the final drive gearing and gear ratios inside the transmission, which are a little closer together than the Kawasaki and Suzuki. Another plus is the optional Gearshift Assist (electronic quickshifter) that proved superior to the Aprilia and Ducati’s set-up and equal to the aftermarket Bazzaz and Dynojet equivalents.

    At lower rpm the BMW’s engine proves friendly, cranking out one of the more mellow torque curves. Aside from the MV, it offered the lowest amount of torque, peaking at 73.79 lb-ft at 10,900 rpm. But get the engine revving and it delivers the highest peak horsepower of 175.22 at an astronomical 13,200 rpm, with another 800 rpm of power in reserve… and that’s bone stock; no fancy race pipe like the other machines (with exception of the MV).

    Considering its forceful top-end, it wasn’t a surprise that the BMW had the highest top speed (164.2 mph) down the long, fifth-gear pinned front straightaway. That’s 2.5 mph up on the Suzuki and 3.3 more than the Kawasaki. Although it was a little slower on the shorter back straight its speed of 146.5 mph was good for third-fastest and only 1.7 mph behind the Suzuki.

    In spite of its use of second-tier Brembo braking components, our testers preferred the BMW’s set-up over everything including the new-spec Brembos on the Ducati. Every bike in this test has no shortage of outright stopping power but the aspect that really made the BMW stand out is how much feel is available at the lever. This makes it easy to apply the brakes aggressively. Upon review of the Maximum Braking Force category it’s clear that it offers superior stopping capabilities, netting the highest reading of -1.46g into Turn 10 and -1.37g during entry to the final corner—barely edging out the Yamaha and Aprilia for the top score in that class.

    When everything was on the line in Superpole the BMW faired positively setting Siglin’s third-fastest time of the test at 1’54.51. For the author it was his fourth-fastest machine at 1’58.11. Upon averaging the two rider’s lap times the BMW was awarded with the fourth-fastest overall time.

    While the BMW impressed with its hard accelerating engine and crazy strong yet easy to use brakes, make no mistake about it, it’s a more difficult motorcycle to ride at pace. Top-end power is so strong and the bike is so sharp that despite how balanced and refined of a motorcycle it remains one of the more aggressive bikes in the test. And that’s why it moved back one position this year, finishing our Track comparison in the runner-up spot.




    BMW S1000RR Highs & Lows
    Highs
    Crazy fast acceleration
    Predictable handling
    Powerful, easy to use brakes
    Lows
    Hard hitting top-end
    Could be lighter
    Challenging to ride at pace (with electronics off)



    video

    http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/1451/M...out-Video.aspx
    08 Honda CBR 1000RR
    05 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
    99 Honda Civic SI (stolen)

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    2012 Honda CBR1000RR





    Make no mistake: Honda is an engineering company first and foremost. Its existence revolves around creating solutions to transportation problems. And for road racers seeking the quickest way to get around racetracks worldwide it offers the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR.

    Even though it isn’t the lightest machine on the road, the CBR is one of the more compact-feeling aside from Aprilia’s ultra-compact RSV4 and the slender Ducati 1199. Loaded up with fuel (4.7-gallon capacity) the modified Honda weighs in at 435 pounds. For reference that’s 13 pounds less than stock and ranks third-lightest ahead of all but the Ducati and Kawasaki.

    Seated at the controls proves the Honda to have a rider-friendly cockpit. It’s comparable to the Suzuki and BMW in regards to control position and riding posture, however it is just a hair less demanding to command compared to the German rocket. Despite the absence of adjustable foot controls none of our testers complained about it.
    “There’s really not anything to complain about with the Honda,” explains Neuer. “The ergonomics are more relaxed and natural feeling than pretty much anything else out there. It’s pretty small too. Not quite as tiny as the Aprilia but it is close.”

    “The Honda doesn’t really stand out,” mentions Garcia. “But that’s okay because when I’m riding I never have to think about it—all I’m focused on when I’m riding the Honda is riding. And that makes it easier for me to focus on hitting all my marks.”

    For the last few years the Honda has been near or at the top of our rider’s notepads in the handling department and this year was no different. Words like ‘effortless’ and ‘easy’ were used to convey the Honda’s fluid handling dynamic. The CBR demands little input for direction changes and rated ahead of even the sharp steering Aprilia during corner entry. In spite of how easy it was to maneuver it only registered the fourth-best side-to-side flick rate (43.0 degrees/second) through the low-to-medium speed left-right-left chicane of Turns 11/12/13.

    Pitched over on its side the Honda continued to amaze by offering rock solid stability. While it didn’t acquire the highest velocity in any of the three measuring points, when each of the segments was totaled then averaged it did collected a top score. At the apex of Turn 2 it carried 68.0 mph good for fifth-best—1.3 mph down on the Ducati and 0.7 mph behind the Suzuki, but ahead of its archrival the BMW by 0.3 mph. Through Turn 8 and 14 it had the second-fastest speed of 95.8 and 46.6 mph, respectively.

    “The one area the Honda really shines is its cornering ability,” describes Montano. “From turn-in to full lean and even on exit… It was so planted that it begged for more corner speed.”

    “The bike turned into corners easy and came out like a bat out of hell,” recalls Dawes. “And it didn’t feel like you were working hard while you were doing it. It’s crazy to me how easy it is to ride.”

    Some of the credit goes to Honda’s well-sorted suspension. The shock was rated as the best of the group and the fork scored well too but didn’t seem to deliver quite as much feel as Aprilia’s Ohlins unit. Despite our testers falling in love with the Honda’s chassis it achieved the second-lowest lean angle (48.0 degrees) through The Cyclone which was a surprise.

    The CBR’s engine is known for its effective mid-range power, which translates into a good amount of grunt off corners. And it gets even better with the fitment of a Yoshimura slip-on muffler. Analyzing the dyno numbers reveal that
    the Honda’s engine pumps out the fattest torque curve of the four-cylinder bikes with it peaking early at 9600 revs 84.02

    lb-ft. This helped it achieve respectable acceleration force number off of Turn 6 (0.85g—tied the Suzuki for third) and Turn 15 (0.82g—tied the Kawasaki for third). Upon averaging it was awarded third place in that classification behind the Aprilia and BMW.

    “The Honda is definitely the sleeper bike in this class,” says Chamberlain. “The engine is so smooth and docile that it doesn’t feel like you’re going that fast. Yet I was able to consistently put down my fastest laps of the test on the Honda.”

    Even with the addition of the Yosh slip-on the Honda didn’t blow us away with its horsepower or top-end engine performance. In fact, aside from the Yamaha the CBR delivered the lowest peak power output of the four cylinders with 160.17 horsepower at 11,900 rpm. Still, it is important to note that it gained nearly nine ponies over stock and over-rev didn’t feel quite as flat as we remember.

    Weak high rpm pull hurt down the two straightaways with the CBR logging some of the lowest top speeds. On the main front straight the Honda hit the fourth-slowest maximum speed of 159.3 mph. On the back straight it was fourth-slowest again at 144.6 mph. One feature that aided the Honda’s acceleration was the fitment of the Dynojet quickshifter, which helped keep the engine revving in the meat of the powerband. Due in part to its shorter final drive gearing and near perfect slipper clutch calibration it received the top score in the Drivetrain class.

    Next to the Beemer, the Honda’s braking package was rated highest in the subjective rankings. Both power and feel were at a very high-level and test riders were unanimous in their praise of easy the brakes are to manipulate. Into Turn 10 it tied the Aprilia with the third-highest g force of -1.38g. But into the slower final corner it only managed the lowest force of -1.30g. This may be attributed to its slightly lower velocity as well as how adept the fork was at pitch control during braking.

    “Besides the BMW, I thought the Honda had the best brakes,” comments Hutch. “I think the Kawasaki’s might have had a little more power but they were more vague-feeling which made it harder to use.”

    Despite being down on top-end power the Honda exceled in Superpole. Waheed set his fastest time of the test at 1’56.24, while Siglin recorded his second-fastest lap of 1’54.20. Afterwards both riders were surprised at their lap times considering how little effort it took to ride. Although the Kawasaki was awarded the Superpole trophy for the fastest outright time of the test, upon averaging both rider’s times the CBR came out ahead by 0.425 second and was given full points in that category.

    From the engine to chassis the Honda presents the best overall package. Despite being down on top-end power, its cornering superiority along with top scores in six categories allowed it to steal the crown away from the mighty BMW proving that the CBR1000RR is indeed the best Superbike 2012.


    Honda CBR1000RR Highs & Lows
    Highs
    Almost too easy to ride!
    Excellent handling
    Strong mid-range engine performance
    Lows
    Needs more top-end power
    Front end could have more feel at lean
    08 Honda CBR 1000RR
    05 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
    99 Honda Civic SI (stolen)

  8. #8
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    08 Honda CBR 1000RR
    05 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
    99 Honda Civic SI (stolen)

  9. #9
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    Im gonna play the devil's advocate and say 'Its not fair they did not include the EBR 1190RS', oh and I think I like the Bemer over the Honda-'just my opinion'..... Thanks alex for keeping us in the loop. TRR
    Officer, I wasn't speeding!!??!! I was productively maintaining an expedited action....

    I would rather ride a fast bike....than a fast woman....

  10. #10
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    Go Honda!
    Sweat u can wipe off, road rash u can't.

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