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Welcome

of the year ’09

This is the only place you’ll find the top 50 bikes in the UK compared, contrasted and rated against each other. The only place you’ll find out which is number one. We started with every new bike on sale in the UK this year, all 103 of them, and a panel of expert judges, from the Bike team and our trusted contributors. The judges gave each bike they’d ridden a score out of 10 for the following: performance, handling, styling, engine, practicality and wow factor. This total, along with a rating for value for money, gave us an overall total and a ranking from 1 to 103. The top 50 are featured here, culminating in our 2009 Bike of the Year. It’s a formula that’s worked before – our 2005 winner, Suzuki’s GSX-R1000, was the best-selling bike of the year, and our 2007 choice of Honda’s sublime CBR600RR was more than justified on track and in the sales charts. So, here we go with the 2009 list, counting down from 50 down to 1. Mike Armitage, road test editor

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of the year ’09

Your top

...countdown starts here (well, over the page). But, first, a little background

Contents Aprilia RSV4 Factory Aprilia RSV-R Aprilia Tuono BMW K1300S BMW F800S BMW K1300R BMW K1300GT Ducati 848 Ducati 1198 Ducati 1198S Ducati Hypermotard Ducati Streetfighter S Ducati Monster 1100 Ducati Monster 696 Ducati Desmosedici Honda CB1300S Honda CBR600RR Honda Fireblade Honda Hornet 600 Honda CB1000R Kawasaki ZZR1400 Kawasaki ZX-10R Kawasaki ZX-6R KTM 990 SM KTM 990 SM T KTM RC8 KTM RC8R KTM 690 Duke KTM Super Duke KTM 690 SM MV Brutale 1078RR MV 1078 F4 312RR Suzuki B-King Suzuki Bandit 1250S Suzuki GSX-R1000 Suzuki GSX-R600 Suzuki GSX-R750 Suzuki Hayabusa Triumph Street Triple Triumph Street Triple R Triumph Tiger 1050 Triumph Daytona 675 Triumph Speed Triple Triumph Sprint ST Yamaha FZ1 Fazer Yamaha FZ1 Yamaha R1 Yamaha R6 Yamaha Ténéré Yamaha VMAX

How we did it...

22 12 7 15 6 10 7 17 26 21 6 7 23 6 20 13 16 28 13 9 15 19 15 9 11 14 16 9 18 9 14 16 14 6 24 18 27 25 30 30 13 24 18 10 12 10 21 17 12 8

each judge marked each bike out of ten in six key categories. These numbers were crunched, along with price, to give a seventh mark for value. The sum of the seven scores gives the total rating out of 70.

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Ducati’s 1198S has fancy Öhlins suspenders and traction control, but will it’s £16,500 price tag affect its overall ranking?

Performance: a simple assessment of straight line abilities: acceleration, roll-on, top speed. calibration: 10 = life-changing (Hayabusa); 1 = snooze (cG125). HandlinG: always subjective so we kept it basic, focusing on brakes and going round corners. calibration (we daren’t give a ten): 9 = perfect

(Honda cBr600rr); 5 = does what it needs to (Triumph Thruxton); 1 = shopping trolley. STylinG: appreciated, populist aesthetics rather than designer nonsense nobody really gets. calibration: 10 = trouser tent (mV agusta f4 750); 5 = functional (BmW f800r); 1 = only a mum could love it (Bimota mantra).

enGine: We’re looking for smoothness, power delivery, fuelling, noise, midrange, gearing, usability… calibration: 10 = goosebumps (Triumph 1050); 5 = it’ll do (Honda cBf600); 1 = might as well walk (restricted 50cc moped). PracTicaliTy: living with it, from comfort to running costs and build quality. calibration:


50...

The judges MIKE ARMITAGE, 34, road test editor + RIDING FOR 18 years + JOURNALIST FOR 8 years + TOTAL BIKES RIDDEN Every key bike since 2001 + PERSONAL PREJUDICES Bikes should be efficient, but wants character as well

on the how and the why...

New for ’09 V4-powered RSV4 was undoubtedly one of the bikes of the year. But have Aprilia done enough to bag top spot?

KHAL HARRIS, 24, staff writer + RIDING FOR 8 years + JOURNALIST FOR 3.5 years + TOTAL BIKES RIDDEN 160-ish + PERSONAL PREJUDICES Everything should have at least a half fairing and a V-twin. Anything else is just idle frippery GARY INMAN, 38, freelance journalist + RIDING FOR 22 years + JOURNALIST FOR 16 years + TOTAL BIKES RIDDEN Dunno, but everything from hand-shift choppers to Casey’s MotoGP bike + PERSONAL PREJUDICES After a good few years of fairings, now favours big nakeds and retros. Preferably European BRUCE DUNN, 18, road tester + RIDING FOR 26 years + JOURNALIST FOR 15 years + TOTAL BIKES RIDDEN Hundreds, he speed tests every new bike + PERSONAL PREJUDICES He has a natural leaning towards sportsbikes, but rates anything that functions as it should do STEVE ROSE, 44, freelance journalist + RIDING FOR 27 years + JOURNALIST FOR 10 years + TOTAL BIKES RIDDEN Most key models in the last 15 years + PERSONAL PREJUDICES Everything from Yamaha FZ1 to hardtail chopper MARTIN FITZ-GIBBONS, 27, road tester + RIDING FOR 11 years + JOURNALIST FOR 6 years + TOTAL BIKES RIDDEN A good few hundred + PERSONAL PREJUDICES Prefers useable to overwhelming, middle to heavyweight and unique over copycat

10 = effortless (Honda Deauville with free tax and speed camera immunity); 5 = bearable (Suzuki GSX-R600); 1 = ouch (hard-tail chopper). WoW factoR: Do people stop and stare? Does it make you proud? or do you park out of the way? Rating: worldstopping (Megan fox on Rossi’s GP bike); 5 = blends in

(Honda VfR); 1 = park round the corner (metalflake trike). Value: Pounds per point. total scores for the other categories, divided by price, multiplied by 1000 and rounded to the nearest whole number between one and ten. example: triumph 675 – 45.3 divided by £7589 x 1000 = 5.969, so its value is 6. that clear?

TONY HOARE, 35, deputy editor + RIDING FOR Eight years + JOURNALIST FOR 14 years, eight as a motorcycle journalist + TOTAL BIKES RIDDEN Around 180 + PERSONAL PREJUDICES Grunty and comfy, or light and flighty. Either’s fine, but he’d like flat bars, please SIMON HARGREAVES, 41, senior editor + RIDING FOR 27 years + JOURNALIST FOR 17 years + TOTAL BIKES RIDDEN Every significant model since 1992 + PERSONAL PREJUDICES Loves anything on two wheels (apart from four-stroke singles), but prefers big, fast, powerful multis, especially with lots of gadgets

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of the year ’09

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BMW K1300GT £12,375 + 1293cc four + 166bhp + 155mph The strongest engine in motorcycling, mixed with a rock-steady chassis, total comfort and more toys than a spoilt toddler’s Christmas stocking. mixing them together gives bmw probably the most effective tourer on the road. Overall Get on and ride. and don’t stop till moscow. scOre 46.4 recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

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DUCATI STREETFIGHTER S £11,495 + 1099cc twin + 142bhp + 164mph Tiny, red and completely unhinged. You can’t get your right foot on the peg because the exhaust’s in the way but it goes like buggery. S model has fancy suspension and traction control. Overall Complete and utter overkill – that’s why you want it. scOre 46.7/70 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f); 2.5 bar (r)

n > Call iT SimpliCiTY, Call iT effiCienCY, buT THe TuOnO wOrkS 7


YAMAHA VMAX £17,499 + 1679cc four + 179bhp + 136mph It’s excessive, brash, shouts whether you want to listen or not. Completely over the top. But whether this is your bag or not doesn’t really matter – the new VMAX is a phenomenal piece of engineering. The 1679cc V4 is all-new and features sportsbike goodies: the pistons are forged for strength, while the conrods use the same manufacturing technology as the R1’s. There’s fly-by-wire throttle, variable length inlets and a slipper clutch, too. Then there’s the chassis, with a cast aluminium

frame, enormous 52mm, fully adjustable upsidedown forks, an equally tweakable rear shock and radial six-piston brakes. It has functioning air scoops too and a fancy digital display with a throttle position graph, and beautiful castings, and ABS, and… And it costs £17,500, that’s what. There’s no doubting the might of the 179bhp engine and 0- 60mph in 2.9s is Hayabusa territory. But a pathetic 70 miles to the fuel light, bum-basic practicality, plus limited ground clearance and slow handling limit the usefulness of the VMAX. It’s a glorious device, and we’re extremely glad it exists… But its final position tells the story. Did we mention the price? oveRall The world’s most conspicuous (and perhaps opinion-dividing) bike. Want to be seen? Buy one. scoRe 47.0

Alternative BOTY awards RichaRd NixoN awaRd For: epic, devious cover-up. Aprilia’s RSV4 Factory, which shuts a flap in the exhaust to keep things quiet in neutral – say when you’re being statically noise-tested at a trackday – then releases the full V4 roar in gear. True cunning.

JohN TRavolTa awaRd For: impressive heroic zero-tohero comeback. Kawasaki ZX-6R. From last place in last year’s 600s test, the 2009 model’s improvements have transformed it into a genuine rival

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to Honda’s supreme CBR600RR (see Bike, November 2009). Hugely impressive, especially given Kawasaki themselves saw the bike as an ‘evolution’ of the previous model.

TRaFFic coNe oN a sTudeNT’s head awaRd For: making safety fun. A joint winner: Honda’s C-ABS, which lets you brake like Pedrosa, and Ducati’s DTC traction control, which lets you get on the gas like Stoner. No nanny-state, just truly innovative and useful technology.

cosmoNauT’s peNcil awaRd For: a ridiculously simple solution to a complex problem. The KTM RC8R’s optional (but essential) progressive throttle tube, which uses a slight cam shape to mute the effect of the first few degrees of throttle travel. It effectively does what the GSX-R and R1’s electronic mode switches do – at a fraction of the cost. Nick saNdeRs awaRd For: maintaining a charming level of madness over huge distance. KTM 990 SM T – all the brutal,

snappy drive and jaw-cracking grins of the Austrian firm’s 990 supermoto, but now with added wind protection and some pannier mounts thrown in. cliNT easTwood awaRd For: services to prolonged ass-kicking. Suzuki’s GSX-R750 – now in its 25th year. It’s still doing the job rather well and still loved by all who meet it. Plus it’s still tasty in a fight against younger, supposedly fitter alternatives. ‘Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?’


of the year ’09

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KTM 690 DUKE £7395 + 654cc single + 63bhp + 105mph The bike to make you rethink your opinion of singles. KTM Dukes have always been a step on from supermotos and the latest model is fast, sweethandling, beautifully built and looks fantastic. And it vibrates… Overall Every home should have one, not every home can afford one. scOre 47.0 recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.0 bar (f) / 2.2 bar (r)

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HONDA CB1000R £8021 + 998cc four + 114bhp + 141mph

It’s not a big Hornet, say Honda. It just feels like one. And shares its understated performance. And practicality. Has that suits-all-comers ergonomics, too. Fast, yes, but pity it’s not really got any balls. Overall Great looks and dynamics, but hides its performance too well. scOre 46.8

recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

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KTM 990 SM £9395 +999cc twin + 115bhp + 135mph We love it: fast, exciting and engaging, with fantastic suspension, brakes and build quality. Practical too. Shame about all the new bikes and KTM’s price hike – the 990 was seventh when we did this in 2007. Overall Sensible hooligan, lacks all-round draw of SM T sibling. scOre 47.0 recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.2 bar (f), 2.5 bar (r)

KTM 690 SM £4995 + 654cc single + 63bhp + 105mph

Funky and fun, with the un-single-like pace and most of the quality components of the more expensive Duke. Decent scores backed up by appealing low price to give a high value rating. Overall Punchy, reliable, well-made entry to the world of supermotos. scOre 47.0

recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.0 bar (f) / 2.2 bar (r)

n > THE 690 SM IS FunKy AnD Fun, WITH quAlITy PArTS FrOM THE DEArEr DuKE 9


of the year ’09

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TRIUMPH SPRINT ST £8079 + 1050cc triple + 115bhp + 161mph

triumph’s 1050cc sports tourer is six years old and has gone largely unchanged, which means a) it’s due a major update soon (rumoured to be next year) and b) it was a pretty good design off the bat. Overall fast and comfy, getting on a bit, but still the longest legged triple around. scOre 47.6 recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

YAMAHA FZ1 £8299 + 998cc four + 131bhp + 159mph

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BMW K1300R £9595 + 1293cc four + 166bhp + 165mph

there’s clearly no point to a 160bhp naked. so this isn’t made to provide a solution, but simply to show the famously formal german company enjoys sheer excess as much as anyone. Overall a laughable concept with hilarious power. scOre 48.0 recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f) / 2.9 bar (r)

n > the k1300R shows the famously foRmal geRman fiRm enjoys sheeR excess as much as anyone 10

Pre-crossplane crank engine from an R1 making 130bhp, chassis from nowhere in particular (but the aluminium twin-spar frame has a strong air of yamaha sportsbike about it), brakes are old-style R1 (the ones with petal-shaped alloy piston inserts) and the suspension is fully adjustable. Riding position has you sitting low, behind the tank. however, without the half fairing of the otherwise identical fZ1 fazer (and pillion grab rails), the fZ1 drops six places in our Bike of the year table and is a less practical proposition than its partially clad sibling. first year (2006) fZ1s and fazers were plagued by snatchy fuelling when coming off a closed throttle, caused by yamaha engineers misunderstanding what we really wanted when we asked for ‘instant throttle response’. yamaha gave us that, but they made it too abrupt. By 2007 they’d figured out what we actually meant was ‘instant throttle response but with a smooth transition’. which is what we subsequently got. which meant from a slow start in the sales charts (also due, in part, to a hefty initial price tag), fZ1s and fazers rose in popularity through 2007 and 2008 to become among yamaha’s best sellers. and deservedly so – lots of bikes claim to be versatile, but few can compete with the fZ1’s extremes of competence, from trackday to touring to commuting, without seriously compromising either. even without a fairing. Overall Perfect bike for the rider who likes a bit of everything. scOre 47.6 recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)


of the year ’09

KTM 990 SM T £9595 + 999cc twin + 115bhp + 144mph

Now this is a good idea. Take KTM’s genius 990 Supermoto – with its feisty, vivacious V-twin motor and possibly the most nimble, darting chassis this side of a Bluefin tuna – and add the following: heat shielding for the exhaust cans (so we don’t melt our undercrackers), a screen, handguards, a low, road-style front hugger, a rear luggage rack and a cut-down seat. Make a pair of small but perfectly formed semi-hard panniers available as an optional extra, call it the 990 SM T, and fervently hope no one rides it far enough for it to fall apart. Job done. Austria 1, Rest Of The World, null punkte. Bike tested the SM T in two ways: 1) we rode it non-stop round the coastline of Great Britain, covering 3000 miles in three days, using a team of nine riders specially trained in the art of motorcycle destruction – nothing went wrong – and 2) we then gave it to Mike Armitage, Bike’s road test editor, as a long-term test bike. That was six months ago. Mike’s SM T will shortly be clicking over 10,000 miles and is currently somewhere in Cornwall (see p144 of the main issue), this time with Armitage and his lovely Jane (me Tarzan, etc, etc) on the back. So far, nothing has gone wrong. In fact, much has gone right. The bike’s a lighter, fresher take on Yamaha’s FZ1 Fazer and Triumph’s Tiger, but is playing roughly the same game – tall suspension for handling the bumps, spunky engine for sporty thrills (and wheelies), with a dash of practicality thrown in to make life easier for all concerned. We’re not getting any younger, you know. But bikes like KTM’s 990 SM T are doing their best to help. Overall Fun, fun and more fun, and genuinely useful with it. scOre 47.8 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.2 bar (f), 2.5 bar (r)

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Pushing the limits

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APRILIA RSV-R £8931 + 998cc twin + 120bhp + 170mph ‘The UK’s most underrated sportsbike,’ we said last month and 30 days later nothing’s changed. A booming, smooth torque-factory, with wellconsidered ergonomics and plush suspension. But if you ever want one new, you have to move now. Overall Retiring but still overflowing with character, ability and value. scOre 48.1 recommends: Diablo Supercorsa BSB Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

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> some cool shit writen in here please

YAMAHA TÉNÉRÉ £5699 + 660cc single + 45bhp + 105mph Genuine off-road skills, functional round-the-world styling, comfort, poise, trusted XT660 thumper and half the price of a 1200GS. It must be right – Yamaha virtually sold out in about ten minutes flat. Overall Wondered where that green lane goes? Buy one. scOre 48.0 recommends Scorpion Trail tyres Pressure: 2.1 bar (f) / 2.3 bar (r)

YAMAHA FZ1 FAZeR £8899 + 998cc four + 132bhp + 156mph Immensely practical half-faired roadster with old R1 engine taking care of performance and capable chassis handling the, er, handling. Truly an all-rounder, the Fazer is as happy hammering round Cadwell as blasting down to St Tropez. Overall One bike to do it all? The FZ1 Fazer is it. scOre 48.1 recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

This has been a year of technological strides rather than leaps or steps. Yamaha’s crossplane crank concept (inherited from MotoGP where, along with rossi and Burgess, the idea elevated the M1 from munter to minter) bamboozled many with its engineering principles. But its effects didn’t. The r1 sounds like a v4, feels like a v4, grips like a v4 but goes like an inline four. It also weighs more and is wider than any other inline-four litre sportsbike, and is less pleasant on the road. early sales were strong, but the jury’s out on its overall effectiveness. We also got showa’s Big Piston Forks in the ZX-6r and GsX-r1000. They use radically revised internals to help transform the Kwak into the equal of the cBr600rr, delivering a plush, confident front end. In the suzuki they’re less obvious, but the point is they’re the first major fork innovation since upside downers, 20 years ago. The cBr600rr and Blade had a new trick – the first sports aBs system. Using a bewilderingly complex combination of manual braking and computer-assisted over-ride, they achieved the unthinkable – aBs that was almost undetectable in use. and, at the back, traction control appeared – last year’s rudimentary version on the Ducati 1098r was followed this year by a more refined, comprehensive set-up on the firm’s 1198s and naked streetfighter s. In a few months’ time, BMW’s new s1000rr will get a similar set-up and we expect the Japanese will be offering a system by 2010.


of the year ’09

Triumph Tiger 1050 £7999 + 1050cc triple + 105bhp + 140mph Since its 2007 re-invention as a road-based, touring-oriented giant supermoto, the Tiger has ploughed a lonely furrow. Most of its current rivals either still hint at an off-road heritage with over-sized, skinny front wheels and semi-knobbly tyres (Honda Varadero) or are fading into obscurity (Ducati Multistrada, Yamaha TDM900). So the Tiger defies classification like some strange species of Patagonian tree frog (which it resembles, come to think of it) Overall Part tourer, part adventure sport, part tree frog scOre 48.1

recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.4 bar (f) / 2.9 bar (r)

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hONDA CB1300S £8121 + 1284cc four + 114bhp + 145bhp

Retros are a dying breed. We’re all fond of a spot of nostalgia but, surrounded by the sweetest, most efficient motorcycles ever devised, there’s only so much bouncy handling and thirsty, wheezing air-cooled motor you can take. Which is why Honda’s CB1300S is so damn good: all the style and misty-eyed mushiness you could possibly desire, intertwined perfectly with a competent, civilised, rewarding dynamic. Strong echos of the CB1100R bring a warm glow of reminiscence, while modern, plush suspension, crisp fuelling, proper brakes and a fine, quality finish give an entirely current ride. Retro vibes without the, er, vibes… Overall XJR retro cool, Bandit usability, Honda loveliness. scOre 48.2

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hONDA hOrNeT 600 £5903 + 599cc four + 94bhp + 141mph

Looks are subjective, but there’s no arguing with amazing low-speed agility, comfort, refinement and lots of other typical Honda loveliness. Superb all-roundness, but perhaps lacks an edge. Overall Brilliant, if not as much fun as the cuddly old version. scOre 48.4 recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f) / 2.9 bar (r)

recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f) / 2.9 bar (r)

n > THE HORNET IS AGILE AND COMFY WITH TYPICAL HONDA LOVELINESS 13


of the year ’09

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SUZUKI B-KING £7995 + 1340cc four + 165bhp + 151mph

The B-King was originally a supercharged concept bike that proved so popular doing the rounds at shows that Suzuki decided to build it for real. Unfortunately this meant compromising the design so the factory could get the thing off the drawing board – which in turn waved bye-bye to the bit people really wanted: the supercharger. Yet Suzuki’s least-popular big bike is a versatile all-rounder if you get past the Autobot Transformer looks. Its Hayabusa-based engine makes for a whole heap of road tickle, the nicely balanced, top-spec chassis doesn’t have the slightly nervous, over-sensitive steering that so many naked bikes do and the riding position sits you so squarely in the centre of the machine the fuel tank is, effectively, a fairing. Overall Surprisingly useful all-round tool... that looks like a toy. scOre 48.6

recommends Diablo tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

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MV Brutale 1078RR £13,999 + 1078cc four + 135bhp + 156mph Beautiful, terrifying and £14,000. The vicious 1078cc motor crammed into its stunning, tiny form delivers its 135bhp with the rabid, remorseless snap of a cagefighting crocodile. Truly breathtaking. Overall Awesome (adj): respect combined with fear or wonder. scOre 48.6 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.4 bar (f), 2.6 bar (r)

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KTM RC8 £12,595 + 1148cc twin + 142bhp + 169mph

To wade into the big sportsbike market and take the fight straight to Ducati is seriously impressive, especially when it’s your first attempt at any such sports device. After parading the concept round various shows, it was several years before the real RC8 reached us, but it’s easy to see where KTM put the time: the engine’s as powerful as a Ducati 1098 but way more flexible; the chassis is track sharp yet light, forgiving and balanced; and the fully adjustable riding position is much more sports-tourer than focused race replica. Eye-shredding looks, gizmo-laden clocks and KTM’s slightly loopy image underline the RC8’s greatness. It’s not been without niggles, however – gears can crunch, abrupt fuelling isn’t to all tastes, and our ’08 long term test bike had a leaky fuel filler – and the arrival of a ball-busting 1198, Aprilia RSV4 and KTM’s own RC8R see it sit lower than predicted. Then again, there’s some class at this level… Overall Fast, functional, usable; the thinking man’s sportsbike. scOre 49.0

recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

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of the year ’09

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KAWASAKI ZZR1400 £9499 + 1352cc four + 166bhp + 184mph

Comfy, keen-handling hyper-sports-tourer combines near-200mph top speed with near-200 mile tank range. Sportier than a Hayabusa and now available in green, like any good Kawasaki should be, which actually makes it seem even more interesting. Overall Snake-faced nuclear powerplant that devours miles and rear tyres with equal aplomb. scOre 48.9 recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.9 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

KAWASAKI ZX-6R £7899 + 599cc four + 112bhp + 162mph

We expected another R6, we got a CBR. Tiny, supremely balanced and has motorcycling’s latest de rigeur component: Big Piston Forks. Utterly rewarding, beautifully sculpted and relatively sane. Didn’t topple the CBR600, but came damn close (see Bike, Nov 2009). Overall Aggressive but restrained – Kawasaki’s angry teenage Ninja has grown up. scOre 49.0 recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

n > THE ZX-6R IS AggRESSIvE BUT RESTRAINED – THE ANgRy NINjA HAS gRoWN UP

BMW K1300S £10,300 + 1293cc four + 166bhp + 174mph

Ker-pow! Bang! Shazam! This is hypersports touring BMW-style, so gadgets aplenty. Vast reserves of monster roll-on power peaking at 166bhp, rock-me-Amadeus stability, nimble steering, super-comfort, heated grips... Lacks the bottom end of the Busa and top end of the ZZR1400, but has more midrange than either. OVeRALL eat my Wiener Schnitzel, weaklings. ScORe 49.0 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

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of the year ’09

MV AgustA f4 312rr £16,799 + 1078cc four + 166bhp + 191mph The forgotten litre sportsbike, possibly because it costs five grand more than its Japanese rivals. But it’s five grand better in terms of design and exclusivity, and looks undeniably magnificent (drawn by Massimo Tamburini, creator of the 916). It gets better the closer you look – crafted like the finest hand-built specials, with a bewildering level of detailing.

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KtM rC8r £14,995 + 1195cc twin + 156bhp + 176mph With the long-term aim of World Superbike racing, KTM made an even-sharper RC8. The bored-out 1195cc V-twin makes 156bhp at the wheel. Plus it has a slicker gearbox, with small tweaks improving an already-superb chassis. Overall An RC8, made slightly better in every way possible. scOre 49.3 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f) / 2.9 bar (r)

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It also has performance to back up its looks. Its 168bhp puts it in with the Japanese litre sportsbikes, but the MV isn’t limited to 186mph – hence the 312 (kph; 194mph) name. Its rock hard suspension set-up is too fierce for the road, and the on/off fuelling lacks Japanese refinement – but if you want a thoroughbred Italian to feel all smug and superior about forget Aprilia RSV4s and Ducati 1198Ss. The MV is what you need. Overall Uncompromising engine and suspension performance. Stunning looks, at a price. scOre 49.0 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2 .9 bar (r)

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HONDA CBr600rr £7353 + 599cc four + 106bhp + 165mph The winner of our 600s group test every year since 2007, the CBR isn’t the sharpest, hardest, most focused or fastest, but simply the most perfect. Everything feels crafted, considered and refined to a level way beyond its rivals – the brakes and steering react on an almost neural level, and the suspension is lush over bumps yet composed on track. So why’s it below the GSX-R600 and R6 in this list? Wow factor. It’s a CBR: they’re everywhere. Overall Ubiquitous, but for good reason – the most sublime supersports machine ever. scOre 49.3 recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)


20 years of progress

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YAMAHA YZF-R6 £8299 + 599cc four + 114bhp + 172mph

If you believe the best things in life are free then look away now as the R6 only rewards those who put in the required effort. Very little happens as the R6’s needle rises through single figures, except for the Moby Dick-like gulp of air the bike takes. Then it turns the air into an explosion in the motor and your head. A pain in the arse to ride, but utterly rewarding when you get it right. Overall The modern equivalent of the revvy two-stroke. Magic. scOre 49.5/70

recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2 .9 bar (r)

IT’s THe lATe ’80s and Yamaha’s FZr1000 exup is the best sportsbike in the world. Its inclined, 20-valve engine makes 110bhp at the wheel, launching the beam-framed missile over the quarter-mile from a standing start in 11.2 seconds at 126mph, before pushing on to 161mph. Fast forward 20 years and we wonder what the fuss was about: Yamaha’s own 600 makes 5bhp more and goes 11mph faster, while the FZr’s great grandson, the burbling 2009 YZF-r1, makes 156bhp, covers the quarter in 10.4s at 146mph and rattles to the Japanese factories’ agreed top speed of 186mph. It simply dwarfs the FZr. Or does it? Yes, the r1 easily goes more than 20mph faster, but 50 extra horsepower is an awful lot more power to shave off just 0.8s a quarter mile time. especially when the new bike is also about 30kg lighter.

It’s this lightness that is one of the reasons why a wellridden FZr can still rule from the lights. The r1 is designed to go round corners very fast indeed, so has a 45mm shorter wheelbase, low weight and steep steering geometry. With modern tyres, there’s more than enough grip to lift the front wheel during a fast launch – getting the best drive requires practice, measured throttle use and short-shifting to second to avoid accidental wheelies and instability. That we can buy such potential for the price of a budget small car is glorious, but using it is another thing. On the FZr, get the clutch out and nail the gas. Of course, with more space between the wheels and a weight pinning down the front, the truly incredible is possible, as shown by suzuki’s Hayabusa: 180mph from a standing start in 18 seconds. That’s progress.

n > THE MV’S 168BHp puTS IT In wITH THE JApAnESE lITRE SpoRTSBIkES, BuT IT ISn’T lIMITED To 186MpH – HEncE THE 312 nAME (312kpH = 194MpH)

18

DUCATI 848 £10,495 + 849cc twin + 122bhp + 165mph

Ducati’s attempt to claw back some of the design cred they lost with the avant-garde 999 is a little derivative, using tried-and-trusted ingredients. But when it looks this good, especially in white, who cares? And it’s faster than the 999 was. Overall Feel Ferrari emotions for £10,500. You cannot argue with that for value for money. scOre 49.5

recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB tyres Pressure: 2.2 bar (f) / 2 .4 bar (r)

17


17

SUZUKI GSX-R600 £7600 + 599cc four + 110bhp + 165mph Easily overlooked in the 600s class but, as an all-round road bike, it’s the most competent of the 600 fours. Its roomy riding position, well-hidden weight and easy power delivery go against the GSX-R’s badboy image of the past. It’s just a thoroughly decent supersports 600. Overall The easy option in the 600cc class. scOre 49.7

recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

16

KTM 990 SUPER DUKE £9895 + 999cc twin + 112bhp + 149mph

It feels like an SP-1 motor shoehorned into a BMX. And it’s possibly the greatest achievement since the Renaissance. Flat bars, stocky body and (optional but essential) rootin’, tootin’ Akrapovic pipes make this an experience that’s hard to top. Think of it as a giant puppy: eager, flighty and possessed of boundless energy. Less likely to wee on your carpet, though. Cocking your leg over will lead to dangerous amounts of out-loud laughter and a penchant for the colour orange. Overall This is what supermotos want to be when they grow up. scOre 49.7

recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.4 bar (f), 2.6 bar (r)

18

15

TRIUMPH SPEED TRIPLE £7999 + 1050cc triple + 119bhp + 155mph

A big bug-eyed barrel full to the brim with smooth, syrupy torque so rich and creamy Nestlé would kill for the recipe. There really aren’t many other bikes out there that have such an enormous, polished, constantly keen power source – the Hayabusa and Fireblade perhaps and probably its own Street Triple junior doppelganger. With close-ratio gears it sort of doesn’t really matter whether you’re in second or sixth, there’s always more acceleration than you’d ever wish for. Overall A sweet, succulent motor in a neutral, if portly, streetbike. scOre 50.0 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)


DUCATI DESMOSEDICI RR £42,000 + 990cc four + 177bhp + 192mph Fancy the closest thing to a MotoGP bike on the road? We speak of none other, of course, than Ducati’s Desmosedici RR – possibly the most desirable motorcycle ever built, even if you like neither race replicas, Ducatis, bikes painted red or, indeed, motorcycles in general. The Desmosedici is the only road-legal production four-stroke MotoGP replica thus built; a 989cc 90° V4 four-stroke making 177bhp at the back wheel and revving to nearly 14,000rpm, created by the Italian factory to commemorate the highly entertaining five-year era of 990cc MotoGP bikes between 2002 and 2006. The bike is based on the 2006 GP6 Desmosedici raced by Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau. Its engine features the same basic internal architecture as the race bike – bore and stroke are the same crazy oversquare 86mm x 42.5mm (ultra-short stroke = lower mean pistons speeds = more revs), same ‘Twin Pulse’ firing order (which fires two cylinders in one half of the V close together, then fires the other two close together, then leaves a long gap), same Desmodromic valve actuation (physically closing valves as well as opening them, allows higher revs), same gear-driven cams, cassette-type close-ratio gearbox, hydraulic slipper clutch and so on. No-expense-spared materials abound on the outside – sand-cast aluminium crankcase and cylinder heads, sand-cast magnesium cam-drive cover and alternator casing, and pressure-cast magnesium alloy oil sump, cam covers and clutch cover – and on the inside, with titanium conrods and valves. The chassis is also similar to the race bike’s – steel tube trellis frame uses the engine as a stressed member, with an ally swingarm and

carbon fibre rear subframe. Head angle and swingarm pivot height are both adjustable. Suspension is mega-adjustable Öhlins, brakes are Brembo Monobloc calipers with four pistons biting 330mm discs, wheels are Marchesini magnesium, tyres are 16in Bridgestone BT-01s – the softest road compound the company has ever produced. Ducati made 1500 Desmosedicis between 2006 and 2008, and 167 have been sold in the UK thus far. There are still some left, at £42,000 – although then there’s insurance to consider (try phoning for a quote), or new tyres (the BT01s cost £345 a pop, every 600 miles). At least servicing will be cheap for a while though – the RR comes with a three-year warranty that includes free servicing for that period (but parts won’t be cheap; we recently discovered a new front wheel will set you back £5000 and an owner recently spent £8000 repairing a topple-over on a garage forecourt). The bike comes with a sponsor decal set, a somewhat fruity-sounding racing exhaust system and race ECU, a trickle charger for keeping the battery topped up (what do you mean, you’ll only use it in summer?), a Ducati Corse bike cover (what do you mean, there’s no room in the garage?), a paddock stand and a certificate of authenticity (what, so you can tell you’ve bought the real thing and not a Chinese copy?). And then there’s riding the thing... Not that it really matters because, lets face it, with the spec listed above it would be hard to make the Desmosedici handle badly enough for anyone outside a GP paddock to notice – or care – about (for what it’s worth, the thing is bastard hard and surprisingly substantial, especially compared to the diminutive Aprilia RSV4). And its performance is... Well, it’s fast. And loud. Whether it’s quicker than a litre sportsbike, or Aprilia’s RSV4, or Ducati’s own 1198 series, is irrelevant. It’s as fast as you are. Is that fast enough? Overall You want one. No, really, you do. scOre 50.0


of the year ’09

n > THe R1 engIne SpInS up In A nAnOSecOnd – ITS delIVeRY dOeS A RuddY gOOd jOB OF HIdIng 156BHp

12

YAMAHA YZF-R1 £10,999 + 998cc four + 156bhp + 184mph

Heard the way one of these things grumbles at tickover? The new R1’s crossplane crank gives it a whole new feel and not just with its aural output – the new engine spins up in a nanosecond, its deceptive power delivery allowing it to do a ruddy good job of hiding 156bhp and speed that could easily allow an introduction to the local magistrate. And it looks like nothing else (though this isn’t necessarily a good thing). There’s no doubt the design works – just look at its dominance in British Superbikes or the antics of World Superbike rookie Ben Spies. Some riders rave about the track prowess of the Yamaha, once, that is, they’ve played with the suspension adjusters. (See our ‘Sportsbike Showdown’ feature on p68 in the main magazine to see how the R1 faired against a Fireblade at Snetterton.) But not everyone is convinced about it as a pure road tool. Steering is heavier than on the previous model and it’s less inclined to hold a line. It lacks the plush feel of a Blade. Overall Hi-tech, whiz-bang and desirable … but it’s hard work scOre 50.3

recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

Those we’ve lost In MeMoRY oF THoSe DeAR DepARTeD bIkeS

11

DUCATI 1198S £16,495 + 1198cc twin + 154bhp + 177mph

The 916 fried our weak minds with 100bhp in 1994. And here we are now with 154bhp from a booming, snarling, crisply fuelled and oh-soresponsive V-twin. It’s not just the motor in the S that wows, however – Öhlins suspension is taut yet compliant (a big improvement over the base model and previous 1098), the brakes perhaps the strongest of any road bike, and the technical wizardry, styling and detail touches send you gooey. Overwhelming on the road, sublime on track, but also £16,500. The stock 1198 is better value. Overall Incredibly sharp V-twin experience … at a price. scOre 50.7

recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB tyres Pressure: 2.2 bar (f), 2.4 bar (r)

bMW R1200S: The nearest the venerable boxer came to being a proper sportsbike. With 110bhp, 77 lb.ft of stomp and 150mph potential, the 1200 was the thinking man’s sporty road bike thanks to a purposeful but comfortable riding position, floating ride quality from the Telelever front end and bMW practicality. It won our group test in August 2006, being sportier than Honda’s VFR, a better road tool than a Triumph Daytona 955i and superior day-to-day than Ducati’s also-departed 1000DS. Unfortunately for the handful of fans, bMW introduced the far sportier, exotic Hp2 Sport shortly after, and those tempted by the R1200S stumped up the extra for the full-beans version. It’s not been imported since 2007. Did you notice?

ApRIlIA RSV-R: Stylish, well equipped, punted by 120bhp and blessed with a fantastic chassis, Aprilia’s V-twin was perfect for those who craved a Ducati built like a Yamaha. 2004’s revisions didn’t give the success of the earlier Mille, but the RSV-R (and swankier Factory) was still a force – it won the 2006 Masterbike competition, an international multi-bike shoot-out, against the best Japanese 600s and 1000s, almost won our 2008 big Twins group test against a Ducati 1098 and kTM RC8, and is still racing in the AMA Daytona Sportbike series. but been superseded by the RSV4, Aprilia stopped production in the middle of this year. SUZUkI V-STRoM 1000: perky, reliable V-twin shunt. All-day comfort and natural ergonomics. Simple handling, cheap to buy and run, and in later GT guise a luggage-laden steal. Unfortunately the 1000 was also ugly, overshadowed by bMW’s celebrity-enhanced R1200GS, and lumbered with a better-feeling, better-selling little brother in the 650. Having become invisible, the big V-Strom has loped off discreetly to retirement.

21


ApriliA rsv4 fActory £14,999 + 999cc four + 153bhp + 186mph you could buy a yamaha r1, with its wannabe v4 firing order, or you could buy the real thing. Aprilia’s re-entry into World superbike racing at the start of 2009 heralded the introduction of a road-legal v4 sportsbike at the same time. though pricey, the Aprilia’s £15,000 price tag makes the Desmosedici’s 40 grand look a touch over the top. it goes like buggery, of course, and is guaranteed to make all ageing recidivists go steamy-eyed over long-lost Honda v4s. the Aprilia isn’t as user-friendly as something like a fireblade, but the rsv4 does provide truly, madly, deeply, soul-shattering performance. overAll Amazing speed and handling, but a short-lived love affair. score 50.7 recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

22


of the year ’09

DUCATI MONSTER 1100 £8350 + 1078cc twin + 89bhp + 134mph Updating a stone-cold classic is a bloody nightmare for a company. As much as people think they want to surf the vanguard of fashion, in reality most want to paddle in familiarity. Hence the fact all current Porsches look like the 1960s 911, most Harleys are styled like a 1950s DuoGlide and the 1098 has more than a passing resemblance to the 916 (and it’s why the 999 was dropped like a stone). Bologna couldn’t make the same mistake with the Monster and Ducati product director Claudio Domenicali took it upon himself to oversee the first major revamp since the 1993 launch (see, told you it was hard to redesign a classic). Ducati launched the new Monster with the 696, when the original Monster came out first as a 900. It seemed a mistake, softening the image of the bike. ‘But,’ said Ducati, countering that view, ‘the fuel injected 696 is more powerful than the original 900.’ Oh… And the 1100 is something else again. It’s doesn’t have the same air of exotica as Ducati’s superbikes, but it’s easy to ride fast on the road, it’s pretty easy to live with (7000-mile service intervals, but 21 fasteners to remove the tank) and, crucially, easy to fall in love with. OvERAll Expensive, for a naked, but good enough to be regarded as the naked. SCORE 50.8 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.2 bar (f), 2.4 bar (r)

23


SUZUKI GSX-R1000 £9800 + 999cc four + 160bhp + 180mph For the first six years and three models – from the 2001/2 K1 and K2, the 2003/4 K3 and K4, and the 2005/6 K5 and K6 – each successive GSX-R1000 made significantly more power, and delivered it with greater control into a chassis with significantly better handling. And for six years the GSX-R came top in every litre sportsbike test. But with the K7/8, Suzuki stepped backwards by conforming to Euro III emissions legislation, adding enough exhaust weight, combined with Suzuki’s own subtle chassis changes, to give ground for the first time to its rivals. Bloody good bike, but not as sharp as it was. So with the start of 2009 – and the K9 – the big question was could Suzuki’s GSX-R recover its position? The answer is nearly... but not quite. Lighter, and with more power again, the K9 delivers an all-round supersports performance that makes it by far the easiest litre sportsbike to live with, and the one most likely to convey its owner the farthest – it’s a physically large (but not heavy) machine, with a roomy riding position giving it legs over Kawasaki, Yamaha and even Honda competitors. And, of course, it’s still a phenomenally fast road and track tool, capable of stirring the more primitive brain functions of your average biker in much the same way chasing down a herd of bison would’ve several thousand years ago. It’s not the best litre sportsbike – the Blade is – but the GSX-R comes a close second. Overall Brilliant all-round litre sportsbike. scOre 51.2 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

7

TRIUMPH DAYTONA 675 £7589 + 675cc triple + 112bhp +159mph

Triumph have no need to rely on the patriotic pride of the Made in Britain brigade to sell the 675, as it goes toe-to-toe with the competition without ever demanding an exact comparison that might leave it lacking. The 675 treads its own path and does it brilliantly. Fourth gear on a 675 is one of the greatest all-round experiences on a motorcycle. It’ll pull harder than any of its four-cylinder competitors if you drop slightly below optimum revs, rewarding with plenty of torque and a sound that could, on its own, sell bikes. The harsh suspension and nose-down riding position are pure racetrack and owners need to keep an eye on oil levels and corrosion, but the engine is easily the most useable of the 600cc sports category. Even the most pro-Japan motorcyclist will struggle to ride a 675 and be unable to admit a certain pride that this was made in the British midlands. Overall The most extreme riding position, with the most usable engine. Brilliantly insane. scOre 51.3 recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB Pressure: 2.4 bar (f), 2.5 bar (r)

24


of the year ’09

SUZUKI GSX1300R HAYABUSA £9400 + 1340cc four + 182.4bhp + 184mph Shortly after Yamaha’s FZR1000 Exup was launched some 20 years ago, reader letters appeared in bike mags from people asking what was the point of such a device. How could normal mortals cope with 110bhp and 62 lb.ft of torque? A standing quarter-mile in 11.1 seconds, for crying out loud. And 161mph. In this context, Suzuki’s Hayabusa is even more phenomenal than when measured against its contemporaries. 183bhp. 108 lb.ft. Acceleration is almost beyond comprehension: 60mph in 2.74s, 100mph in 4.92s and the only bike we’ve ever datalogged at under ten seconds for a standing-start quarter mile, one bike scorching to 148mph in just 9.98s (admittedly after a few attempts…). From standstill to its governed 186mph top speed takes just 18

brief seconds and less than a mile, yet for all this brain-mashing potential, 2008’s revisions gave us a big Busa that’s fantastically composed and friendly. The enveloping bodywork cocoons you in still air, plush suspension defending you from poor resurfacing and spacious ergonomics leaving limbs unstressed, while the nuclear motor purrs away somewhere deep beneath, barely awake and silky smooth. The GSX is no GSX-R – it’s long, weighty and will overpower tyres, suspension and brakes given the opportunity, fast B-road riding needing muscle and restraint in equal measure – but for the world’s quickest, most powerful bike to be so genuinely usable and accessible is truly bewildering. Overall The Busa still stands for everything it did when it burst through boundaries a decade ago. But it’s matured, perhaps into the finest, fastest sports-tourer you can buy. scOre 51.5 recommends Angel ST tyres Pressure: 2.9 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

25


DUCATI 1198 £12,995 + 1198cc twin + 154bhp + 177mph Forget the 916. The 1198 is not only a phenomenal sportsbike in its contemporary environment, it’s possibly the greatest Ducati sportsbike of all time. Strong words? Sweeping infatuation? Consider the following. The engine has a 38% larger displacement than the 916, but produces 56% more power. Fuelling is smooth, accurate and precise, the engine’s tweaks and amendments making it noticeably more usable and friendly than the 1098 predecessor, as well as having bigger, hairier balls. It’s reliable – stories of Ducati’s mechanical and electrical gremlins from the ’80s and early-’90s have been left back in those decades. And the technology and advancements are a step ahead of Japanese rivals: you don’t get oval throttle bodies, Brembo Monoblocs or MotoGP-standard clocks on a Fireblade, nor the option of datalogging software and traction control. Let’s not forget that it looks astounding. Yes, there’s more than an echo of the 916 – not to mention the MV Agusta F4 (seat unit) and Yamaha R7 (bellypan and fairing profile) – but the crisp lines and simple colours give the 848 an understated elegance. Buy a GSX-R and people need to be within spitting distance to know if it’s a 600, 750 or 1000. And, of course, it’s a revelation to ride. Long, narrow, low, it handles with more than a hint of classic Ducati, preferring sweeping lines and corner speed to toss and flick muscling, but the feedback, accuracy and road holding are spellbinding. Stronger brakes aren’t available. Predictably it’s a bit too brash for road use, lacks anything resembling practicality, and has the potential to remind you that you’re not really good enough. Doesn’t really dampen the desire though, does it? Overall Beautiful, bold, loud and demanding. Exactly how it should be. scOre 51.5 recommends Diablo Supercorsa BSB tyres Pressure: 2.2 bar (f), 2.4 bar (r)

26

Do it now

BIKes THeY sHOUlD BUIlD IMMeDIaTelY, IF NOT BeFOre Triumph Tiger Cub: street Triple tall-rounder with half fairing, heated grips and luggage. Aprilia RSV4 600: Just like a 250GP bike but with a sweet 120bhp v4. KTM GT8R: Tamed rc8 with hugely adjustable bars, footpegs and seat, as well as integrated luggage and an electric screen. Honda RCV400: Hrc-quality beam frame, lush suspension, 75bhp diddy v4. a modern-day Nc30. Harley XR750: Proper, strippedback flat tracker, based on the all-american race bike. Triumph 925 Daytona: all-new 160bhp triple in slightly bigger version of the 675’s chassis. Yamaha Super Ténéré: Grunty, nimble, quirk-less r1200Gs beater.


of the year ’09

SUZUKI GSX-R750 £8700 + 749cc four + 129bhp + 172mph The 2009 GSX-R750 makes a mockery of the word compromise. This bike is within a whiff of a top three place because we are, above all else, road riders and this here machine is designed as a road bike. This GSX-R wasn’t built to compete in either Supersport or Superbike classes. And it’s all the better for it. Those two classes, whether at World or domestic level, are important to manufacturers, so bikes mutate. Now most 600s are so highly strung, with 16,000rpm redlines, they’re mass-produced homologation specials. Yes, that’s an oxymoron, but over the years our tastes have become so extreme that many riders lap up bikes the factories wouldn’t have dreamt of releasing a few years ago. But they don’t make ideal road bikes. They’re ten-tenths missiles. That’s not to say they’re bad tempered, but they’re not what the average road rider needs. So, from all that you’d get the impression the GSX-R750 is a bit lacking in some areas. Wrong. It has the weight and vital statistics of a 600, with significantly more power and torque. It’s doesn’t have the same spinechilling kick of a 1000, but who really needs that? So, with no race series to compete in, Suzuki’s engine developers created a 600-sized superbike with usable midrange (remember that, 600 riders?). Perhaps the most well behaved, easy to ride superbike on the market. Overall The best GSX-R750 yet. scOre 52.3 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f) / 2 .9 bar (r)

n > The 750 hAS The WeIGhT ANd vITAl STATISTIcS of A 600, WITh SIGNIfIcANTlY moRe PoWeR ANd ToRque 27


of the year ’09

Runner-up HONDA FIREBLADE

£9221 + 1000cc four + 164bhp + 180mph Over the last two years plenty has been written about the 166bhp 2008/2009’s Fireblade’s class-leading bottom end and midrange, perfectly linear torque delivery and bewitching smoothness allied to the most rapturous performance this side of a MotoGP bike... And loads of words have described how preternatural handling caresses the rider’s ego and guides them in absolute serenity at anything from walking pace in Tesco’s car park to 180mph down the bumpiest back lane... This year, more praise has been thrown at the world’s first sports anti-lock braking system, which so successfully blends human and mechanical input you can barely feel it operating. We on Bike even pointed out it’s the lightest litre sportsbike, somehow managing to compress whatever mass it contains into a tiny sphere of control between your knees. And after all that look not upon its red/blue/white HRC paint scheme – complete with gold wheels – lest ye break down and weep at the very sight of its radiant loveliness. The current Blade is, to all intents and purposes, the perfect road-going sportsbike. No other sporting two-wheeler gets near its staggering blend of plush suspension, ease of use, handling precision, outlandish performance and engineering cunning, let alone anything that rivals the Honda on price. The only thing that could improve it would be traction control, a 200-mile tank range and a set of clip-on panniers for touring. Overall A sentence to sum up a Blade? We’ll do it in one word: perfection. scOre 52.8 recommends Diablo Corsa III tyres Pressure: 2.5 bar (f), 2.9 bar (r)

28


What can you say about the latest incarnation of Honda’s legendary Fireblade? Suffice to say, it is very, very good

n > honda’s current fireBlade is the perfect road-going sportsBike 29


of the year ’09

Joint winners

we coulDn’T SplIT The STReeT TRIple anD STReeT TRIple R So TheY ShaRe Top SpoT In ouR BIke of The YeaR counTDown

TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE R £6649 + 675cc triple + 98bhp + 141mph

TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE £5949 + 675cc triple + 98bhp + 141mph

Two years ago, on the basis of a single, brief, highly secretive first ride, we confidently placed Triumph’s Street Triple second in our ‘Bike of the Year’ rankings. To some it may have seemed like nationalistic hyperbole, but its subsequent success – and the arrival of an even sharper R model – only serves to suggest that, if anything, we may have been too conservative. This year, the Street Triple R pips its base-model brother to first place with slightly higher scores in two areas: handling, thanks to its more sophisticated suspension; and wow factor. But we’re talking about one point (out of 70). The Street’s concept itself is nothing revolutionary – start with a successful supersports bike, detune it, fit lower-spec brakes and suspension and tweak what’s left into a welcoming sportyish-naked for the masses. But this simple transformation gave an underlying side of the Daytona 675’s character the chance to shine: a single-minded focus on fun. The Triple’s one of those charming, intuitive bikes you click with. It’s compact and impossibly light, changing direction >>>

30


The base-model retains the jump on and laugh-out-loud character that made it such an immediate hit in the first place

31


accurately and instantly at the slightest suggestion. The motor runs virtually the perfect ratio of torque to revs, screaming hard when you’re in the mood and pulling easily from tickover when you’re not. Crucially, the 98bhp top end is just useable enough to feel like an accessible equal and not a vicious sadist you’re competing to win a competition in suicidal stupidity. It’s a cheeky wee imp, not a howling, snarling messenger of Satan. But though it happily acts the hooligan, it does it with a deceptively grown-up image. Its classy, unfussy styling is a straight copy of Triumph’s iconic, influential Speed Triple, chosen primarily for how incredibly popular it is in Italy, just about the biggest market in the world for nakeds and therefore the self-proclaimed arbiters of taste and style. The R version, launched in late 2008 as a very early ’09 model, expanded on the Street’s popularity by going back to the Triumph test rider’s original concept of a true, naked 675. Though the engine and frame were the same as the Street, fully adjustable suspension and radially mounted brakes endowed it with more ability – and street-cred – in the hands of more able riders, making it look and feel slightly less built to a price. The Nissin four-piston brakes were swiped straight from the Daytona’s production line, giving it genuine sportsbike stopping power, while the forks and shock were 675-based but given slightly softer springs and damping to better suit the unfaired machine. Shorter forks and a longer shock also changed the R’s

fundamental geometry, tipping weight forwards, lifting the seat up and sharpening the rake angle to make steering even more responsive. The difference is felt more on track than on the road, but it’s certainly there. There are no drawbacks to the R’s improvements – it just makes an already world-class, unfathomably brilliant bike even better. Overall The pinnacle of two-wheeled laugh-out-loud fun and value for money. scOre 53.8 (street Triple r), 52.9 (street Triple) recommends Dragon Supercorsa Pro (Street Triple R) and Diablo Corsa III (Street Triple) tyres Pressure: 2.4 bar (f), 2.5 bar (r)

The Triple R’s uprated front end and superior brakes were worth just one extra point – not enough to split the top dogs of 2009

32


Bikes

of the

year

now we’ve revealed the bike of the year, here’s all the complex arithmetic behind the final placings. There’s a total for each bike (out of a possible maximum of 70), which decides its top 50 ranking, but we’ve also broken them down into scores for the seven separate categories. Stat addicts enjoy...

TO Ta l

Va lU e

fa cT OR WO W

pR ac Tic al iTY

en Gin e

ST Yl inG

pe Rf OR Ma nc e Ha nD lin G

top

fin al pl ac e BiK e

of the year ’09

1

Triumph Street Triple R

7.3

7.9

7.8

8.6

6.9

7.3

8

53.8

1

Triumph Street Triple

7.3

7.5

7.8

8.6

6.9

6.8

8

52.9

3

Honda Fireblade

9.3

8.9

7.3

8.8

5.6

6.9

6

52.8

4

Suzuki GSX-R750

8.3

8.7

7.5

8.7

6.4

6.7

6

52.3

5

Ducati 1198

9.0

8.1

8.5

9.0

4.0

8.9

4

51.5

6

Suzuki Hayabusa

9.8

7.0

6.6

9.3

6.5

7.3

5

51.5

7

Triumph Daytona 675

8.1

8.6

7.6

8.4

5.3

7.3

6

51.3

8

Suzuki GSX-R1000

9.2

8.2

7.3

9.0

5.7

6.8

5

51.2

9

Ducati Monster 100

7.6

7.4

8.2

7.8

6.4

7.4

6

50.8

10

Aprilia RSV4 Factory

9.0

8.3

8.2

8.5

3.9

8.8

4

50.7

11

Ducati 1198S

9.0

8.5

8.5

8.8

4.0

8.9

3

50.7

12

Yamaha R1

9.0

7.7

6.2

8.5

5.2

8.7

5

50.3

13

Ducati Desmosedici

9.3

8.3

9.3

8.8

2.3

10.

2

50.0

14

Kawasaki ZX-10R

9.2

7.8

7.4

8.4

5.6

6.6

5

50.0

15

Triumph Speed Triple

7.9

7.4

7.5

8.0

6.5

6.7

6

50.0

16

KTM Super Duke

7.7

8.2

7.8

7.8

6.3

6.9

5

49.7

17

Suzuki GSX-R600

7.7

8.5

7.5

7.7

5.7

6.6

6

49.7

18

Ducati 848

8.1

8.0

8.3

8.3

4.0

7.8

5

49.5

19

Yamaha R6

7.8

8.3

7.8

7.8

5.0

6.8

6

49.5

20

Honda CBR600RR

7.8

8.8

7.2

8.0

5.5

6.0

6

49.3

21

KTM RC8R

8.5

8.5

7.3

7.7

5.3

8.0

4

49.3

22

MV 1078 F4 312RR

9.3

8.0

8.0

8.7

3.0

9.0

3

49.0

23

BMW K1300S

8.6

7.4

6.0

8.2

8.0

5.8

5

49.0

24

Kawasaki ZX-6R

7.9

8.2

7.5

7.7

5.2

6.5

6

49.0

25

KTM RC8

8.2

8.0

8.0

7.3

5.3

8.2

4

49.0

26

Kawasaki ZZR1400

9.5

6.8

5.7

8.7

6.5

6.7

5

48.9

27

MV Brutale 1078RR

8.0

7.3

8.0

7.3

5.3

8.7

4

48.6

28

Suzuki B-King

8.0

7.0

5.8

8.3

6.0

7.5

6

48.6

29

Honda Hornet 600

6.5

7.3

7.0

7.8

7.0

5.8

7

48.4

30

Honda CB1300

7.2

6.6

7.6

6.8

7.4

6.6

6

48.2

31

Triumph Tiger 1050

7.3

6.9

6.1

7.4

8.3

6.1

6

48.1

32

Yamaha FZ1 Fazer

8.0

7.1

6.6

7.4

7.7

6.3

5

48.1

33

Aprilia RSV-R

7.8

8.3

7.3

7.8

5.5

6.4

5

48.1

34

Yamaha Tenere

6.0

7.0

7.0

6.0

7.0

7.0

8

48.0

35

BMW K1300R

8.0

7.3

6.3

7.7

7.0

6.7

5

48.0

36

KTM 990 SM T

7.4

7.2

6.2

7.2

7.8

7.0

5

47.8

37

Triumph Sprint ST

7.6

7.0

6.2

7.8

7.6

5.4

6

47.6

38

Yamaha FZ1

7.8

7.0

6.8

7.5

6.3

6.2

2

47.6

39

KTM 990SM

7.4

7.3

7.3

7.7

6.0

6.3

5

47.0

40

KTM 690 Duke

6.7

7.3

7.7

7.3

4.7

7.3

6

47.0

41

KTM 690 SM

6.3

7.4

7.0

7.0

5.0

63

8

47.0

42

Yamaha VMAX

8.7

6.0

7.3

8.0

4.7

9.3

3

47.0

43

Honda CB1000R

6.8

7.0

7.0

6.8

6.6

6.6

6

46.8

44

Ducati Streetfighter S

8.2

7.6

7.8

8.0

3.5

8.6

3

46.7

45

Aprilia Tuono

7.6

7.1

6.1

7.4

5.9

6.4

6

46.5

46

BMW K1300GT

7.5

6.8

6.0

8.3

7.5

6.3

4

46.4 46.4

47

Ducati Monster 696

5.7

6.8

7.8

6.3

6.3

6.5

7

48

BMW F800S

6.0

6.8

6.0

6.7

7.8

5.8

7

46.1

49

Ducati Hypermotard

6.8

7.2

7.5

7.2

5.0

7.2

5

45.9

50

Suzuki Bandit 1250

7.2

6.3

5.3

7.3

7.7

5.0

7

45.8

33


of the year ’09

ScoreS by category Bike of the year Want to know the best for handling, performance, or practicality? Here’s the top 25 in each of our seven judging criteria

PERFORMANCE

Honda Fireblade

8.9

Ducati Desmosedici

9.3

Kawasaki ZZR1400

9.5

Honda CBR600RR

8.8

Ducati 1198S

8.5

Honda Fireblade

9.3

Suzuki GSX-R750

8.7

Ducati 1198

8.5

MV 1078 F4 312RR

9.3

Triumph Daytona 675

8.6

Ducati 848

8.3

Ducati Desmosedici

9.3

Ducati 1198S

8.5

Ducati Monster 1100

8.2

Suzuki GSX-R1000

9.2

KTM RC8R

8.5

Aprilia RSV4 Factory

8.2

Kawasaki ZX-10R

9.2

Suzuki GSX-R600

8.5

MV 1078 F4 312RR

8.0

Ducati 1198S

9.0

Ducati Desmosedici

8.3

KTM RC8

8.0

Ducati 1198

9.0

Yamaha R6

8.3

MV Brutale 1078RR

8.0

Yamaha R1

9.0

Aprilia RSV4 Factory

8.3

Triumph Street Triple R

7.8

Aprilia RSV4 Factory

9.0

Aprilia RSV-R

8.3

Triumph Street Triple

7.8

8.7

Suzuki GSX-R1000

8.2

Yamaha R6

7.8

BMW K1300S

8.6

Kawasaki ZX-6R

8.2

KTM Super Duke

7.8

KTM RC8R

8.5

KTM Super Duke

8.2

Ducati Streetfighter

7.8

Suzuki GSX-R750

8.3

Ducati 1198

8.1

Ducati Monster 696

7.8

Ducati Streetfighter S

8.2

MV 1078 F4 312RR

8.0

KTM 690

7.7

KTM RC8

8.2

KTM RC8

8.0

Sportclassic Sport 1000

7.7

Triumph Daytona 675

8.1

Ducati 848

8.0

Honda CB1300

7.6

Ducati 848

8.1

Triumph Street Triple R

7.9

Yamaha MT-01

7.6

MV Brutale 1078RR

8.0

Kawasaki ZX-10R

7.8

Triumph Daytona 675

7.6

Suzuki B-King

8.0

Yamaha R1

7.7

Suzuki GSX-R750

7.5

Yamaha FZ1 Fazer

8.0

Ducati Streetfighter

7.6

Suzuki GSX-R600

7.5

BMW K1300R

8.0

Triumph Street Triple

7.5

Kawasaki ZX-6R

7.5

8.0

BMW HP2 Sport

7.5

Triumph Speed Triple

7.5

7.9

BMW K1300S

7.4

Ducati Hypermotard

7.5

Yamaha VMAX

Kawasaki ZX-6R

34

STYLING

9.8

Triumph Rocket III

ENGINE

HANDLING

Suzuki Hayabusa

WOW FACTOR

PRACTICALITY

VALUE

Suzuki Hayabusa

9.3

Honda NT700V Deauville

8.5

Ducati Desmosedici

10

Kawasaki Ninja 250R

8

Suzuki GSX-R1000

9.0

Triumph Tiger 1050

8.3

Honda DN-01

9.5

Yamaha Tenere

8

Ducati 1198

9.0

Honda CBF600S

8.2

Yamaha VMAX

9.3

Triumph Street Triple

8

Ducati 1198S

8.8

BMW R1200GS

8.1

MV 1078 F4 312RR

9.0

KTM 690 SM

8

Honda Fireblade

8.8

BMW K1300S

8.0

Ducati 1198

8.9

Yamaha XJ6

8

Ducati Desmosedici

8.8

BMW F800ST

8.0

Ducati 1198S

8.9

Suzuki Gladius

8

MV 1078 F4 312RR

8.7

Kawasaki ER-6f

80

Aprilia RSV4 Factory

8.8

Kawasaki ER-6f

8

Suzuki GSX-R750

8.7

Honda CBF1000

8.0

MV Brutale 1078RR

8.7

Suzuki SV650 Sport

8

Kawasaki ZZR1400

8.7

Suzuki V-Strom 650

8.0

Yamaha R1

8.7

Kawasaki ER-6n

8

Triumph Street Triple R

8.6

Honda XT700V Transalp

8.0

Ducati Streetfighter S

8.6

Triumph Street Triple R

8

Triumph Street Triple

8.6

BMW F800S

7.8

BMW HP2 Sport

8.3

Ducati Monster 696

7

Aprilia RSV4 Factory

8.5

Suzuki GSX650F

7.8

KTM RC8

8.2

Yamaha MT-03

7

Yamaha R1

8.5

KTM 990 SM T

7.8

KTM RC8R

8.0

Aprilia Shiver

7

Triumph Daytona 675

8.4

BMW F650GS

7.8

Ducati 848

7.8

Yamaha Diversion

7

Kawasaki ZX-10R

8.4

Yamaha FZ1 Fazer 1000

7.7

Triumph Rocket III

7.8

Honda Hornet 600

7

Ducati 848

8.3

KTM 990 Adventure

7.7

Yamaha MT-01

7.6

Triumph Bonneville

7

BMW K1300GT

8.3

Suzuki Bandit 1250

7.7

Suzuki B-King

7.5

BMW F800R

7

Suzuki B-King

8.3

Suzuki Bandit 650

7.7

Moto Guzzi V7

7.5

Suzuki GSX650F

7

BMW K1300S

8.2

Kawasaki Versys

7.7

Buell 1125CR

7.5

Suzuki Bandit 1250

7

Ducati Streetfighter

8.0

Triumph Sprint ST

7.6

Ducati Monster 1100

7.4

Suzuki Bandit 650

7

Triumph Speed Triple

8.0

BMW R1200RT

7.6

KTM 690 Duke

7.3

Kawasaki Versys

7

Yamaha VMAX

8.0

Honda VFR

7.6

Triumph Street Triple R

7.3

Honda CBF600S

7

Honda CBR600RR

8.0

BMW K1300GT

7.5

Triumph Daytona 675

7.3

BMW K1300S

7

Yamaha R6

7.8

BMW F800GS

7.5

Suzuki Hayabusa

7.3

Honda CBF600N

7

KTM Super Duke

7.8

Honda CB1300

7.4

Ducati Hypermotard

7.2

Suzuki B-King

6


pirellimoto.co.uk

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THE FIRST TYRE WITH A DOUBLE SOUL. Finally a tyre that allows you to have everything. To be everything. Because inside each tourer a sporty rider is hidden. As on the tread of the new ANGEL ST, the drawing of an angel is hiding a demon to guarantee you celestial mileage and comfort with demonic line holding. Pirelli ANGEL ST. Drawn on your souls. CMYK GRADIENTE LETTERE: COLORE A: C 70% M 60% Y 56% K 40% COLORE B: C 18% M 13% Y 12% K 0%

POWER IS NOTHING WITHOUT CONTROL


Bike Magazine's Bike of the Year supplement