ROAD TEST

ROAD TEST
MARCH 3, 2004 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS 27
ROAD TEST
1
A R28
H
MA age
YA P
A
ND
O
H
DE
LA 30
B
E e
FIR Pag
AND
THE
BEST
1000
IS...
BY MICHAEL NEEVES PICTURES HOWARD BOYLAN
It’s the test we’ve all been waiting
for – MCN reveals which
superbike is top dog for 2004
0
00
R1 e 32
X g
GS Pa
I
K
ZU
SU
R
-1034
X
I Z ge
AK Pa
S
WA
KA
C
OMPETITION in the1000cc
superbike class has never been so
intense. The GSX-R1000 has
comprehensively wiped the floor with its
rivals over the last three years. It’s back
again to defend its crown against the
new RCV-inspired Honda FireBlade,
insane new ZX-10 and MotoGPinfluenced Yamaha R1.
We took all four bikes to the sunshine
of northern Spain and the south of
France for a punishing workout, with
testers who range from ex-racers to
medium-paced road riders, to the editor
of MCN.
Each of the bikes was fitted with supersticky Pirelli Diablo Corsa tyres (the
outright winner of our 2003 tyre test) to
create a level playing field. Then the
contest began…
Over the next 11 pages we tell you how
each of these white-hot 2004
road-going superbikes performed on:
● Tight, twisty, sun-drenched coast
roads around Tossa de Mar in Spain
● Technically demanding Ledenon race
track in the south of France
● Dynamometer, to find out how much
power and torque these 1000cc missiles
really make
● Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in
Leicestershire to find out top speeds,
acceleration and braking performance.
Read on to discover our verdict…
28 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS MARCH 3, 2004
ROAD TEST
1st
‘
Yamaha
YZF-R1
DID W?
O
YOU KN
amaha
e first Y eat
isn’t th
rs
e unde 0
The R1
av
h
to
R25
bike
990 TZ ingers
sport s
1
e
h
T
s.
st
exhaust der had twin
Cylin
ilpiece.
Reverse g from the ta
in
pok
The R1 is fast,
safe, and it’s not
too shabby on the
track either...
’
PRICE: £9399otr POWER: 147.9bhp TORQUE: 70.47ftlb WEIGHT: 172kg SPEED 177.72mph
On the road
I
F you were to take all the best bits
from each of the bikes here and
bolted them all together, you’d
probably end up with something that
looks strikingly similar to the new R1.
Yamaha has not only injected the
R1 with loads more power than last
year’s model (up from 130bhp to a
whopping 148bhp), it has wrapped
the motor in a package that makes it
just as usable as the new Blade.
But, unlike the Honda, the Yamaha
is as electrifying to ride as the
Kawasaki and Suzuki. That’s job done.
Previous R1 models have been
designed more with the circuit than
the road in mind.
Just sitting on an old R1 will have
your feet wrapped up behind your
ears and your hands down by the
front wheel spindle, ready for track
action – not so good if you want to go
any distance in comfort.
But this new third-generation R1 is
different. It’s been designed first and
foremost as a road bike.
You sit lower in the bike rather than
perched on top of it as was the case
in previous models, the pegs are set
lower and the handlebars slightly
higher.
On the track
I
T took a while to get the best
from the R1 around Ledenon. Its
soft suspension set-up, which is
perfect for soaking up potholes on
the road, hampered the Yamaha’s
progress around the track. With the
rear end set so soft, response from
the steering is vague, the footpegs
grind out easily and after only a
handful of laps, the surface on the
rear Pirelli looks like it’s gone
twelve rounds with a mangle.
A few deft twiddles with a
screwdriver firm up the damping
both ends and a C-spanner to
increase the rear pre-load (see setup guide), and the R1 is
transformed into an agile and sharp
handling track demon. So good in
fact that it manages to lap almost a
second faster then the ZX-10R –
and is quickest of the bunch!
On track settings, the R1’s
steering response is sublime, just
like its younger R6 brother. Minimal
effort is required to get the Yamaha
rolling into turns with just a mild
HANDLES rough
roads without
wobble or weave
All this means that it’s quite possible
to ride the R1 all day long with no
aches or pains.
You don’t get any vibes from the
engine working their way through to
your hands and feet, like you do when
you’re riding the GSX-R1000 or the
ZX-10R.
Suspension set up on the new R1 is
nudge of the clip-ons. The
transition from upright to full lean
happens in one gentle, sweeping
motion. Even trail braking into a
corner won’t disturb the balance of
the steering, as it will on the Blade
and ZX-10R. The Honda and
Kawasaki both want to sit up and
run straight on if you graze the
front brake lever while cornering.
Ground clearance is still an issue
with the firmer suspension set-up
since you’re able to corner even
faster. Even with the hero-blobs
removed from pegs, they still touch
down. For serious track day goer’s
rearsets will be a very good idea.
Thanks to a narrower frame and
tank (made possible by hanging the
engine beneath the frame rails) the
R1 feels nimble, and it’s very easy
to clamber all over as you shift
your weight every which way
during a hot lap around the track.
With the most power on tap out
of all the 1000s, it goes without
saying that keeping the motor
very soft and designed to suit the
lumps and bumps that we find on our
British roads.
It handles even the roughest of road
surfaces with neither a wobble or a
weave.
And if it does ever threaten to get
out of shape, accelerating hard over
poorly surfaced roads, the steering
‘
The quickest
around the track and
the best on the road
makes the R1 a
clear winner
’
spinning in the upper reaches of
the tacho rewards with
monumental, neck straining thrust,
especially coming out of Ledenon’s
second and third gear turns.
Careful throttle control is
required so as not to spin the rear
tyre too much, and you’ll need to
hunker over the front to keep
wheelies to a minimum.
At the fastest point of the track
(at the end of the start/finish
straight) the R1 recorded the
fastest speed at 146mph, a full
3mph quicker than the
damper (fitted as standard for the first
time on an R1) gets things back in
shape in double-quick time.
It’s quite possible to do a day’s riding
without ever needing to sample the
explosive power that lives at the top
end of the tacho.
The R1 has a potent enough
midrange to let you hook sixth gear
along your favourite set of twisties,
and keep it there – and you’ll still be
rewarded with a decent amount of
pull every time you wind back the
throttle, not to mention a satisfying
deep growl from those twin titanium
underseat exhausts, too.
But spin the motor hard and from
8000rpm power builds ferociously all
the way until the shift light signals its
time to hook another cog at
13,750rpm.
Acceleration is brutal - it not only
matches the GSX-R1000, it’s even
quicker. Don’t believe me? Just take
a look at the standing quarter mile
times on page 36.
The R1 is the clear winner on the
road. It’s fast, safe and supplies you
with major-league kicks whether
you’re going 80mph or 180mph. It’s
not too shabby on the track either…
GSX-R1000. That would have been
impossible to believe when the
GSX-R rocked the superbike world
last year!
When it comes to stopping, the
new radially-mounted front brakes
work superbly, offering loads of
power and not a hint of fade, but
they don’t offer the outstanding
feel at the lever of the FireBlade.
Despite being the fastest on the
track, the R1 didn’t actually feel as
fast as the ZX-10R or GSX-R1000
to ride. It feels almost Blade-like in
the way in deals with the business
of going quickly – with ease and
with minimal fuss. The consensus
among our testers was that the R1
was the third best around the
circuit in the fun stakes – behind
the Kawasaki and Suzuki.
But you can’t argue with lap
times. It’s the quickest around the
track and is the best on the road,
making the R1 a clear winner.
Wonder how long it’ll take before
we see a Rossi replica paint job?
THE R1 was a clear winner for all our test riders
MARCH 3, 2004 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS 29
The detail
DIE-CAST sculpted
aluminium swingarm is a
thing of beauty. Deep
bracing adds to rigidity
THE Yamaha’s front end
is one of the best and
the steering on road and
track is awesome
OVERALL LENGTH: 2065mm
YAMAHA YZF R1
£9399 otr
SPECIFICATION:
FUEL: 18 litres
850mm
TRAIL: 97mm
450mm
WEIGHT: 172kg (379lb)
OVER SEAT: 1810mm
750mm
HEIGHT: 1105mm
WIDTH: 720mm
Available: Now. Two year
unlimited mileage warranty.
One year RAC cover.
Colours: Red, blue or silver
New for 2004: New model
Insurance group: 17 (of 17)
Info: Yamaha UK; 01932358000
RAKE: 24°
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 998cc (77 x
53.6mm), 20v dohc, in-line fourcylinder four stroke. Fuel injection. Six
gears
Chassis: Deltabox V cast aluminium
Front suspension: 43mm forks,
adjustable for pre-load, compression
and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Single shock,
adjustable for pre-load, compression
and rebound damping
Tyres: Dunlop D218; 120/70 x 17
front, 190/50 x 17 rear
Brakes: 2 x 320mm front discs with
radial four-piston calipers, 220mm
rear disc with single piston caliper
WHEELBASE: 1395mm
PROS ● Most powerful engine of the bunch but very usable too ● Superb steering ● Growling exhaust note ● Improved brakes
CONS ● Standard suspension is set-up too soft for track ● Understated paint scheme ● Lacks excitement of ZX-10R
SET UP GUIDE
94%
Technical
STANDARD suspension settings are
too soft for the track, especially at
the rear. After a handful of laps the
rear tyre looked worse for wear.
Pre-load does not alter damping
but we increased rear pre-load to
sharpen up the steering and
increased damping to firm up the
rear shock. Tweaks to the front
forks completed the change from
sorted road bike to a track demon.
MCN’S TRACK SETTINGS:
Front pre-load:
Left on standard settings
Front compression:
Added two clicks over standard
Front rebound:
Added four clicks over standard
Rear pre-load:
Two notches up from standard
Rear compression:
Added nine clicks over standard
Rear rebound:
Added four clicks over standard
PIPES are titanium and
emit a delicious growl at
low revs and a spinetingling scream flat out
On a budget?
LAST year’s R1 was the most track-focused of all 1000s. The
underseat can, the raked tailpiece and funky, thin LED
rearlight gives it a stripped down, extreme look. It is one of
the best back ends in the business.
2003 YAMAHA YZF-R1
Existing stock: £6999
Private: £6650
DEPRECIATION
FROM NEW
2001 £8899 NOW £5475
2002 £8899 NOW £6125
2003 £8399 NOW £6650
If you want to buy or sell an R1 or any other bike then
check out MCN every week, or log on to
www.motorcyclenews.com
FRAME design owes much to Yamaha’s MotoGP effort with the manic M1– the R1’s brand new
engine being hung beneath instead of within the frame spars, keeping the width of the bike to
a minimum. The R1 now comes with the latest radially-mounted brakes and underseat
exhaust to complete the Grand Prix look.
TURN OVER FOR
HONDA
FIREBLADE
30 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS MARCH 3, 2004
ROAD TEST
2nd
Honda
FireBlade
DID W?
O
YOU KN
in 1992
eBlade
ginal Fir 50 with a view
The Ori
7
a
s
a
. It has
signed
in WSB lade to
was de
peting
to com 004 for the B
ntil 2
al.
taken u chieve this go
a
PRICE: £8799otr POWER: 146.6bhp TORQUE: 73.9ftlb WEIGHT: 179kg SPEED 178.15mph
On the road
H
ONDA’S new FireBlade comes
from the same gene pool that
has spawned the CBR600RR
(our 600cc group test winner for the
last two years running) and the
RC211V MotoGP bike (winner of
almost everything in Grand Prix racing
for the past two years).
You know the Blade is going to be
one hell of a bike before you even
swing a leg over its RCV look-a-like
tail unit. It doesn’t disappoint.
The Blade is a class act. Build
quality is impeccable; the handling is
rock-solid stable inspiring loads of
confidence even on the most poorly
surfaced roads.
And the new 998cc engine makes
the necessary power to stay with the
big boys and delivers it with
smoothness. It’s hard to believe it
really does tear up the dyno with 146
real-life pedigree horses.
There’s even the latest technology in
the shape of an electronic variable
steering damper, developed by
Honda’s MotoGP programme and a
keyfob activated ignition immobiliser.
But despite the abundance of power
on tap, tootling around town on the
Blade is as easy as on any one of
On the track
O
UT on the track the FireBlade
has the same kind of cool and
calm character that it
displays on the road – always
composed and in control. If proof
were ever needed for this, it’s the
bike I immediately jumped on when
facing the task of learning the
technically challenging formula 3
standard Ledenon racetrack.
While you get on with stuff like
learning braking points, finding
apexes and trying not to run off the
edge of the track through many of
the track’s blind corners, the Blade
will quite happily get on to take
care of the business of going,
turning and stopping without the
rider having to think.
So composed is the Blade, that
without the benefit of a lap timer,
it’s hard to convince yourself that
you are actually going fast.
The MotoGP-inspired chassis
never feels troubled at any point
out on the track.
It always feels stable and
MID-CORNER
stability is
astonishing
Honda’s small capacity commuter
bikes, thanks to the motor’s
smoothness. The controls are all light
and easy to use, too; from the oiled
precision of the span-adjustable brake
and clutch levers to the smooth
action of the six-speed gearbox.
On fast and flowing A-roads the
Honda becomes your best friend. The
finely balanced chassis lets you use
every last ounce of its power with
unflustered whether flat-out in a
straight line or heeled hard over
through a buttock-clenching fast
turn.
It’s so stable that it’s difficult to
tell if the Honda actually needs
that fancy new electronic steering
damper.
But that chassis isn’t just
super-stiff; it gives you just enough
feel to let you know exactly what’s
going on via the high quality
suspension. So when all that power
on tap finally overwhelms rear tyre
grip, you can feel it slide through
the seat of your pants, almost
before it happens, and deal with it
accordingly.
The chassis is so good that it feels
like you could slot in a real, firebreathing 990cc RC211V engine
and it would still comfortably
handle the power.
The Blade has the stomp to stay
glued to the back of all the 1000s
in a high-speed drag race out of
turns.
minimal fuss. Even powering hard out
of slow turns in the lower gears sees
the Blade dig in and accelerate hard,
keeping both wheels on the floor. The
ZX-10R and GSX-R1000 will be
manically lofting the front at this point.
Steering isn’t as sharp as the more
track-focused Suzuki and Kawasaki,
and takes more effort to hustle
through very tight and twisty corners,
but once on its ear mid-corner
‘
The FireBlade is
cool, calm, composed
and always in control
on the track
’
Of course this brutal acceleration
is again masked by the Honda’s
unrelenting composure – refusing
to wheelie, wheelspin or threatens
to get out of any kind of shape.
It’s no accident that the Blade
works in this way. Honda has
worked hard to ensure that even
with all that power available at
your right wrist it can be
transferred effectively to the rear
wheel with minimal fuss. Clever
chassis design is responsible for
this.
Centralising most of the bike’s
weight in the chassis keeps the
Blade well balanced, and its very
stability is stunning. It really does feel
like you can keep on leaning – just
look at the pictures.
The motor’s flexibility means
gearchanges can be kept to a
minimum (unlike the ZX-10R), while
maintaining serious speed – although
the throttle response is slightly
snatchy at on/off throttle openings.
But if you really want to buzz
through the box and use peak power,
the Blade’s engine – packed with
lighter internal components than ever
before – spins up with ferocity,
delivering the kind of violent, sledgehammer-to-the-stomach acceleration
only ever experienced before on the
GSX-R1000.
Brakes are up there with the best,
too, giving loads of feel and more
stopping power than you’ll ever need.
But in making the Blade into such a
refined and user-friendly package,
Honda has sucked out some of the
character of the old model. It never
gets the blood coursing through your
veins like the other bikes here –
which is why most of us want to own
one of these mad sports bikes.
And that’s a shame because the
Blade is a brilliant, brilliant bike.
long swingarm (the longest in the
class) helps isolate bumps before
they even get to the rear shock, as
well as helping overall stability.
The Blade’s new radially-mounted
brakes deal impeccably with the
job of scrubbing off the big speed
figures it’s able to amass along
each straight. Combined with the
superb feel you get through the
lever, this makes the Blade’s brakes
the best.
As on the road the Blade feels
almost too capable on the track.
It lacks the kind of involvement
which a rider experiences on the
other bikes, especially the ZX-10R
and GSX-R1000, and ultimately
that takes away some of the
excitement it should deliver.
For racers and hard-core track
addicts the Blade’s user-friendly
nature will be a bonus for searing
lap times.
But if you just want to go and
have some fun, the other bikes
here all have the edge.
THE Blade really needs to be caned hard to raise the front
MARCH 3, 2004 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS 31
‘
The Blade does not
disappoint – it’s a
class act and a
brilliant, brilliant bike
The detail
’
ELECTRONIC steering
damper gives variable
damping depending on
the bike’s speed.
UNDERSEAT pipe looks
the part but has a very
muted exhaust note next
to competition
BEEFY aluminium
swingarm looks like it’s
been lifted straight out
of Rossi’s RC211V
OVERALL LENGTH: 2025mm
RAKE: 23.5°
FUEL: 18 litre capacity
HONDA
CBR1000RR
FIREBLADE
£8799 otr
TRAIL: 102mm
815mm
440mm
WEIGHT: 179kg (395lb)
OVER SEAT: 1840mm
WIDTH: 720mm
750mm
HEIGHT: 1120mm
Available: March 2004, 24
months warranty, 24 months
AA recovery
Colours: Red/white/blue,
black/silver, red/black
New for 2004: New model
Insurance group: 17 (of 17)
Info: Honda UK,
01753-590500.
SPECIFICATION:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 998cc (75 x
56.5mm) 16v dohc four-stroke, inline four. Fuel injection. Six gears
Chassis: Alloy twin spar
Front suspension: 43mm inverted
forks, adjustable for pre-load,
rebound and compression damping
Rear suspension: Single shock,
adjustable for pre-load, rebound and
compression damping
Tyres: Bridgestone BT014; 120/70 x
17 front, 190/50 x 17 rear
Brakes: 2 x 310mm front discs with
four-piston radial calipers, 220mm
rear disc with single piston caliper
WHEELBASE: 1410mm
PROS ● Linear delivery ● Rock-solid stable at all speeds ● Neutral handling ● User-friendly ● Best brakes of the bunch
CONS ● It’s so refined that it lacks character ● Muted exhaust note ● Hard to steer on the brakes ● Un-inspiring colour scheme
SET UP GUIDE
93%
Technical
THE Honda is remarkably stable
both on the road and the track.
Mid-corner stability is particularly
good and inspires confidence to
create huge angles of lean. The
suspension is almost spot-on out of
the crate for most kinds of riding.
On track, all we needed to do was
increase rebound damping to the
front forks to aid overall stability,
especially coming off the brakes.
MCN’S TRACK SETTINGS:
Front pre-load:
Left on standard settings
Front compression:
Left on standard settings
Front rebound:
One full turn in from standard
Rear pre-load:
Left on standard settings
Rear compression:
Left on standard settings
Rear rebound:
Left on standard settings
On a budget?
The 2003 Blade can still cut it. It might lack the MotoGPinspired bling factor of the newer machines but is still one of
the most user-friendly superbikes about. Pundits say that it
is more involving than the new bike too…
2003 HONDA CBR900RR FIREBLADE
Existing stock: £6995
Private: £6525
DEPRECIATION
FROM NEW
2001 £8699 NOW £4995,
2002 £8699 NOW £5950
2003 £7999 NOW £6525
If you want to buy or sell a FireBlade or any other bike
then check out MCN every week, or log on to
www.motorcyclenews.com
THE rigid nine-piece cast alloy frame was developed by Honda Racing Corporation (HRC). The
fuel tank looks small but leads down behind the airbox to keep overall weight centred around
the engine – the result of Honda’s mass-centralisation programme.
TURN OVER FOR
SUZUKI
GSX-R1000
32 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS MARCH 3, 2004
ROAD TEST
3rd
Suzuki
GSX-R1000
DID W?
O
YOU KN
s
good a
0 is so
X-R100 on the Isle of
The GS
2
s
0
0
2
e
Jeff rie
at in
stock th te, great David mph of
f
la
o
e
le
th
p
u
n
Ma
a co
on his
within
1 bike
lapped
tuned F
-R.
his fully- ion-spec GSX
product
PRICE: £8549otr POWER: 144.4bhp TORQUE: 74.8ftlb WEIGHT: 168kg SPEED 175.57mph
On the road
T
HE Suzuki’s motor is still
unquestionably one of the best
in the business. It’s the reason it
trounced the old R1 and FireBlade
last year when the K3 GSX-R1000
was launched (this year’s K4 is the
same bar the new colour schemes)
It is also the reason it still impresses
– even against the new breed of
road-going superbikes.
Power delivery from the 998cc
four-cylinder motor (the longest
stroke engine of the four bikes) is
stunning throughout the entire rev
range. It’s beautifully smooth, the fuel
injection is devoid of any glitches
(unlike the Blade and Kawasaki) and
the throttle action is light. The
GSX-R1000 makes consistently more
power than any of the bikes here,
from tickover to the higher reaches of
the rev range – it’s only at peak revs
where the others overtake and make
slightly more outright power.
All this makes the Suzuki
ridiculously easy to ride on the road,
much more so than the Kawasaki. It
doesn’t matter if you’re trickling down
the high street, cruising down the
motorway or scratching through your
favourite lanes, the Suzuki makes
On the track
J
UDGING by the scorching lap
times we managed on the GSXR1000, it’s clear Suzuki isn’t
quite ready to lie down and have
the fancy new competition walk all
over it.
In fact, it’s only the R1 that went
around Ledenon faster – but only
by a measly hundredth of a second.
It’s not that difficult to see why
the GSX-R1000 still has the ability
to rock around a circuit with the
best of them.
Because not only does it look like
a race bike with lights, it also feels
like a thoroughbred superbike to
ride too.
With its wide tank and fairing, the
GSX-R1000 gives the impression of
being bulky on the road.
But somehow it manages to shed
its skin and feel lithe and nimble
the second you head out on to the
track – exactly as it should since it’s
the lightest bike here.
This lack of weight not only
makes for more exciting
THE GSX-R
always has
rider comfort
in mind
smooth, instant and accessible power
– made even more potent by the fact
it’s lugging the least weight around –
it’s 11kg lighter than the Blade.
It’s comfy too. The softy-padded
seat gives you enough room to move
around and fidget on long journeys,
and the riding position isn’t as
extreme as the ZX-10R, although
nowhere near as comfortable as the
acceleration, it makes it easier to
hustle the bike through some of
Ledenon’s technically demanding,
and downright scary turns, too.
Of the bikes on test the
GSX-R1000, alongside the ZX-10R,
was our favourite to ride around
the track, simply because it is so
exciting.
If this were a track-only test,
the Suzuki and Kawasaki would be
top two.
With all that instant grunt on tap
from that growling engine,
you can punch out of each and
every turn with tyre-shedding,
mono-wheeling ease, while the
acceleration slams your bum hard
back, pinning you into the rear
seat hump.
The engine has so much grunt
that you could even ride the circuit
in a gear higher than normal, and
you would still get around almost
as fast.
Handling is sublime too. You feel
‘wired in’ to the bike, just like the
new, more road-focused R1.
Thrill-seekers will be pleased to
know it’s still got a darker more
vicious side to its personality, just like
the ZX-10R. The hollow, metallic rasp
that barks out at you when you blip
the throttle at a standstill sends
shivers down your spine, and the
Suzuki will do its best to throw you off
the back when you accelerate hard
‘
Of all the bikes
the GSX-R1000 was
our favourite to ride
around the track
because it’s so
exciting...
’
equally lightweight ZX-10R, the
chassis letting you know exactly
what’s going on at all times – more
than the more refined and roadbiased Blade and R1.
Just a nudge of the clip-ons is
enough to get the GSX-R1000
rolling neutrally into the corners,
and once there mid-bend stability
is amazing.
It’s rock-solid when it’s leant over
hard on its side, and has bags of
ground-clearance – nothing
through the first two gears.
If wheelies are your bag, then the
GSX-R100 is by far the easiest here
to practice your mono-wheeling skills.
With so much low down power and
little weight, it can be tickled up on to
one wheel at slow speeds and it’s so
well balanced that it can be kept
there with the digital speedo reading
very naughty three-figure speeds.
The GSX-R could have won our test,
were it not for the competition
improving in a few important areas.
The first is the brakes. While the
GSX-R’s radially-mounted four-piston
Tokico front stoppers do the job of
slowing you from the silliest of speeds,
they lack feel and are prone to fade.
The rest of the class has moved
things on style-wise too, leaving the
GSX-R1000 looking dated. The
quality and design of the cycle parts
aren’t even in the same league either.
Just look at the Kawasaki’s aggressive
nose, the R1’s beautifully sculpted
swingarm and the Honda’s overall
build quality, and compare it with the
more utilitarian-made Suzuki and
you’ll see what we mean.
But never mind that. What an
engine…
scrapes as it does on the R1 and
FireBlade.
In fact the handling around
Ledenon was so good we barely
needed to touch the suspension,
just a few tweaks to the
forks to keep the bike stable as lap
times dropped.
But even then the tyres looked
unmarked and unshredded after an
entire day on the track – a good
sign that the suspension was
working exactly as it should.
The only upset on the track was
the brakes, which didn’t give the
power or feel of the newer tackle.
However, we know that replacing
the standard brake hoses and
fitting braided steel items and
adding better quality fluid helps
sort this situation.
The Suzuki was the only bike here
that all our testers liked in equal
measures – both on the road and
on the track – which is a sure sign
that Suzuki has got the mix for the
GSX-R just right.
AND it’s none too difficult to pull the front end up either...
MARCH 3, 2004 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS 33
‘
Thrill-seekers will
be pleased to know
it’s still got a darker
more vicious side
The detail
’
THIS was the only view
the competition ever saw
of the GSX-R1000. The
R1 changed all that
RIGHT down to the
welds on the frame the
GSX-R1000 is a very tidy
package
OVERALL LENGTH: 2070mm
HEIGHT: 1145mm
WIDTH: 715mm
Available: Now. 24 months
warranty, 12 months AA
recovery and Alpha-Dot
security marking
Colours: Blue/white,
grey/black, yellow/black/silver
New for 2004: Colours, new
range of accessories
Insurance group: 17 (of 17)
Info: Suzuki GB,
01892-707001
RAKE: 23.5°
SPECIFICATION:
FUEL: 34mpg, 18 litres , 135 miles
830mm
870mm
410mm
WEIGHT: 168kg (370lb)
TRAIL: 91mm
OVER SEAT: 1840mm
SUZUKI
GSX-R1000
£8549 otr
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 998cc (73 x
59mm) 16v dohc four-stroke
in-line four. Fuel injection. Six gears
Chassis: Alloy twin spar
Front suspension: 43mm inverted
forks, adjustable for pre-load,
rebound and compression damping
Rear suspension: Single shock
adjustable for pre-load, rebound and
compression damping
Tyres: Bridgestone BT010; 120/70 x
17 front, 190/50 x 17 rear
Brakes: 2 x 300mm front discs with
four piston radial calipers, 220mm
rear disc with two piston caliper
WHEELBASE: 1410mm
PROS ● Stonking bottom-end and smooth power right through rev range ● Light, flickable handling ● User-friendly
CONS ● Feels unrefined compared to new tackle ● Radial brake set-up lacks feel and fades after hard use ● Styling now dated
SET UP GUIDE
92%
Technical
THE Suzuki’s suspension is almost
perfect straight out of the box. We
didn’t need to touch it on the road
and only need to make subtle
changes to the front forks to keep
the bike more stable when riding
hard at the track. We left the rear
shock alone - it felt good on
standard settings. The rear tyre was
unmarked even after a day’s riding,
a good sign the set up was spot on.
MCN’S TRACK SETTINGS:
Front pre-load:
Left as standard
Front compression:
Added three clicks over standard
Front rebound:
Added two clicks over standard
Rear pre-load:
Left as standard
Rear compression:
Left as standard
Rear rebound:
Left as standard
THE oldest engine of this
test may be hidden by a
acres of ABS, but it is
still one potent motor
On a budget?
THE 2003 GSX-R is the same spec as this year’s, meaning
that an ’03 bike is excellent value. The second best-selling
bike of last year, there are lots of 2003 models going very
cheap in Bike Mart. How does 180mph for £6999 sound?
2003 SUZUKI GSX-R1000
Existing stock: £6999
Private: £6480
DEPRECIATION
FROM NEW
2001 £8999 NOW £5475
2002 £8999 NOW £6095
2003 £8199 NOW £6480
If you want to buy or sell a GSX-R1000 or any other
bike then check out MCN every week, or log on to
www.motorcyclenews.com
STRIPPED of all its bodywork, the GSX-R1000 looks the most conventional of all the bikes
here. Its beefy extruded aluminium frame is so strong that the Suzuki BSB squad sees no
need to add extra bracing for their race bikes. It’s also the lightest of all the 1000s, weighing
in at a svelte 168kg – one kilo lighter than a CBR600RR!
TURN OVER FOR
KAWASAKI
ZX-10R
34 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS MARCH 3, 2004
ROAD TEST
4th
Kawasaki
ZX-10R
DID W?
O
YOU KN
e
ssor, th
redece running
-10R’s p
The ZX of the longest ced in
is one
introdu
ZX-9R
ginally
Only
rs old.
ikes. Ori
superb is now 10 yea -R750
X
1994, it Blade and GS er.
g
the Fire en going lon
have be
PRICE: £9045otr POWER: 147.7bhp TORQUE: 74.6ftlb WEIGHT: 170kg SPEED: 176.3mph
On the road
T
HE ZX-10R is Jekyll and Hyde, a
completely split personality
depending on whether it’s on
the road or track.
While the Kawasaki rocked our
world on the track (see below), there
are a few niggles that mattered
enough for us to put it in last place in
this test. But it still dishes out plenty
of thrills on the road too, thanks to
that screaming 147bhp motor, sharp
steering and even sharper styling.
As you’d expect from such a sportsfocused machine, the riding position
is extreme. Rearset footpegs are high
enough never to touch down when
riding hard on the track, but aren’t
designed for comfort.
Low set clip-ons mean your wrists
get a hard time, especially around
town. That raucous engine buzzes
through the bars, footpegs and frame
rails, too. In fact, the ZX-10R feels
pretty much like a race bike – brilliant
for short blasts and track foolery, but
tiresome on long journeys.
The front brakes are disappointing
on the road, especially since as well
as following the current trend for
radially-mounted calipers, the ZX-10R
also boasts petal-shaped discs like
On the track
T
HE slack-jawed ramblings
from every one of our testers
as they pull in after a session
around Ledenon on the ZX-10R is a
sure sign that Kawasaki has got it
right – on the track at least.
Massive grins, mad, staring eyes
and incomprehensible babbling
about arm-wrenching power,
retina-detaching brakes and superquick steering are still going on
long after the ZX-10R’s rasping
in-line four-cylinder 998cc motor
has cooled down.
In standard trim, the Kawasaki is
the most exciting of our superbike
quartet around the track – no
contest. It might not be the most
polished on the road, but all that’s
forgotten as you take the ZX-10R
by the scruff of its neck and hurl it
around this circuit in the south of
France as fast as you can.
The brakes, which felt wooden on
the road, are now in their element.
Just one finger’s worth of pressure
ZX-10R’s stiff
rear end spoiled
things on the
road
those used on many race bikes.
They feel slightly wooden and they
need a good squeeze to bring the
ZX-10R to a halt. It’s as if the bike is
fitted with racing compound pads,
which work brilliantly at track speeds
but lack feel at a more sedate pace.
The gearbox has a stiff action, too. It
won’t give you blisters, but cog
swopping isn’t in the same league as
the honey-filled box of the GSX-R.
But it’s the ZX-10R’s rocket-powered
on the lever is all it takes to haul
the ZX-10R up from three-figure
speeds to single digits with
astonishing speed.
You don’t give a damn about the
engine’s less-than-smooth
midrange power delivery either. All
you care about is lapping up more
of that addictive and brutal power
the ZX-10R is so keen to dish out at
the top end of the rev-range.
Power that’s so strong that you
need to give a prudent dab of the
rear brake pedal to stop the
Kawasaki from flipping when
cresting the fourth gear rise over
Ledenon’s start/finish straight.
The ZX-10R’s firm rear end is
much more of a blessing on the
track than the road. It keeps the
back of the bike high, even with a
rider on board, helping to retain its
steep steering angle and
willingness to turn into corners
unbelievably quickly.
It’s also able to deal better with
engine that causes the most
frustration on the road.
At town speeds the motor is
smooth. There’s a healthy serving of
low-end grunt and the throttle action
is beautifully light, making it twistand-go easy to ride through city
streets. But the ZX-10R’s midrange
fuelling isn’t as crisp as the
competition. Keep the needle
hovering between the 6000rpm and
8000rpm mark – the place it tends
‘
Massive grins and
babbling are still
going on long after
the ZX-10R’s motor
has cooled down
’
the greater cornering forces
generated on the track, keeping
the bike super stable mid-corner
and inspiring the confidence to
push really hard. That said, we still
had to soften it to give more feel
through the rear and search out
every bit of available grip.
Brilliant front ends have become
a Kawasaki trademark and the
ZX-10R does nothing to dispel this.
It lets you know exactly what the
front tyre is doing at all times,
whether it’s skimming the Tarmac
to live riding through sweeping Aroads, or when you start accelerating
out of slower corners – and the
power delivery is a bit fluffy.
Throttle response is snatchy when
you’re rolling on and off the twistgrip.
It clears when the revs build and you
enter the ZX-10R’s hyperspace zone
at 9000rpm, but riding the ZX-10R at
more licence-friendly speeds isn’t as
easy the FireBlade.
Just like the ZX-6R, the ZX-10R’s
rear suspension is set up very firm as
standard. Plonking your bum in the
saddle does little to compress the
suspension – adding to that race bike
feeling. But it’s all too easy to spin up
the rear wheel by accident even with
moderate throttle openings – and
that’s with the sticky Pirelli Diablo
Corsas we fitted to all four bikes.
Softening the rear shock (see
below) helps the rear find grip, but it
never felt as good as the others.
For many, the ZX-10R’s untamed
road manners will add to the appeal
of this lightning-quick and aggressive
Kawasaki. If you like your superbikes
with attitude, making your heart skip a
beat just looking at it in your garage,
look no further than the Green One.
coming out of turns or buried deep
into the road surface on the brakes,
even at extreme lean angles.
But if we were astonished by the
ZX-10R’s track manners, especially
after its unruly behaviour on the
road, we were equally astounded
to find that it was the slowest of
the 1000s at Ledenon – albeit by
fractions of a second.
After much head scratching we
put this down to the gearbox,
which wasn’t as slick or positive as
the other four bikes. This simply
meant we weren’t able to swop
cogs as quickly as on the ZX-10R’s
rivals. The fluffy midrange may also
have affected the Kawasaki’s
acceleration coming out of some of
the trickier and tighter turns, too.
Kawasaki has built a stonkingly
capable track tool, which is also
fantastically exciting to ride. Four
grown men fighting in the pitlane
for the ZX-10R’s keys wasn’t a
pretty sight.
TEST rider gathers his thoughts before tackling the ZX-10R
MARCH 3, 2004 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS 35
‘
The ZX-10R dishes
out plenty of thrills
on the road, thanks
to that screaming
147bhp motor
The detail
PETAL-SHAPED discs
look the part to run
cooler on the track
’
COMPACT LCD display is
ripped off the ZX-6R,
and still difficult to read
in direct sunlight
HUGE frame rails look
like they’ve been lifted
off the MotoGP bike
OVERALL LENGTH: 2045mm
RAKE: 24°
FUEL: 17 litre capacity
KAWASAKI
ZX-10R
£9045 otr
775mm
460mm
WEIGHT: 170kg (375lb)
TRAIL: 102mm
OVER SEAT: 1840mm
WIDTH: 705mm
760mm
HEIGHT: 1120mm
Available: Now
24 months unlimited mileage
warranty, 12 months RAC
recovery
Colours: Green, blue, black
New for 2004: New model
Insurance group: 17 (of 17)
Info: Kawasaki UK;
01628-851000
SPECIFICATION:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 998cc
(76mm x 55mm) 16v dohc fourstroke in-line four. Fuel injection.
Six gears
Chassis: Alloy twin-spar
Front suspension: 43mm inverted
forks, adjustable for pre-load,
rebound and compression damping
Rear suspension: Single shock,
adjustable for pre-load, rebound and
compression damping
Tyres: Dunlop D218; 120/70 x 17
front, 190/50 x 17 rear
Brakes: 2 x 300mm front discs with
four-piston radial calipers. 220mm
rear disc with single piston caliper
WHEELBASE: 1385mm
PROS ● Stunning front end feel and sharp steering ● Screaming exhaust note ● Most exciting on track ● Incredibly agile
CONS ● Stiff, notchy gearbox ● Brakes feel wooden at sane speeds ● Snatchy throttle response ● Engine vibes through bars
SET-UP GUIDE
91%
Technical
THE main criticism of the ZX-10R’s
suspension is the rock-hard rear
end. Just pushing down on the seat
fails to make the rear shock
compress by any significant
amount. This translates to a feel
overload and the rear tyre spins up
very easily, even at relatively slow
speeds. We softened the rear
compression damping for the track,
which improved feel and grip.
MCN’S TRACK SETTINGS:
Front pre-load:
As standard
Front compression:
Added two extra clicks
Front rebound:
Added one extra click
Rear pre-load:
As standard
Rear compression:
Softened off by one full turn
Rear rebound:
Left as standard
On a budget?
The ZX-9R might seem like a soft-sprung sports-tourer
compared to the ZX-10R, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t
capable. The less intimidating power delivery and stable ride
make it a top road bike and handy on the track, too.
2003 KAWASAKI ZX-9R
Existing stock: £5849
Private: £5195
DEPRECIATION
FROM NEW
2001 £7995 NOW £4250
2002 £7995 NOW £4675
2003 £7995 NOW £5195
If you want to buy or sell a ZX-9R or any other bike
then check out MCN every week, or log on to
www.motorcyclenews.com
THE MotoGP-inspired lightweight aluminium chassis runs over the top of that snarling 998cc
in-line four-cylinder engine. This means the frame can be narrower, cutting down on the bike’s
overall width. This slimline figure assists with aerodynamics and makes it easier for the rider
to move around on the bike.
TURN OVER FOR
PERFORMANCE
ANALYSIS
36 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS MARCH3, 2004
ROAD TEST
Performance DATA
POWER AND TORQUE CURVES
ACCELERATION
THE GSX-R’s huge low and midrange torque hampers initial progress as the bike tries
to lift the front. The Blade has the longest wheelbase and most front end weight bias
to give a civilised launch every time, and is never topped all the way to 170mph.
160
PEAK POWER
- YAMAHA R1 147.91bhp @ 12,600rpm
- HONDA FIREBLADE 146.6bhp @ 11,000rpm
- SUZUKI GSX-R1000 144.4bhp @ 10,600rpm
- KAWASAKI ZX-10R 147.7bhp @ 11,600rpm
140
The R1 just squeezes ahead in
the power race. It’s got the
shortest stroke motor here,
and it shows, making all of its
power at higher revs than the
others. The big dip in the R1’s
curve at about 7000rpm is
caused by the EXUP valve
flipping over to the fully open
position.
120
YZF-R1
SPEED
(MPH)
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
110
120
130
140
150
160
170
FIREBLADE
GSX-R1000
ZX-10R
TIME DISTANCE TIME DISTANCE TIME DISTANCE TIME DISTANCE
(SEC)
(M)
(SEC)
(M)
(SEC)
(M)
(SEC)
(M)
0.60
1.19
0.50
1.08
0.55
1.10
0.61
1.17
1.06
4.24
0.97
4.16
1.08
4.70
1.08
4.37
1.53
9.50
1.44
9.53
1.54
9.78
1.58
9.88
1.97
16.40
1.87
16.20
2.01
17.23
2.08
17.72
2.44
25.89
2.33
25.49
2.50
27.09
2.56
27.38
2.96
38.77
2.82
37.62
2.99
39.01
3.03
38.91
3.48
53.63
3.30
51.40
3.48
53.42
3.56
54.61
4.35
83.23
3.84
69.75
4.17
76.80
4.11
72.77
4.86
102.40
4.53
95.49
4.77
99.36
4.81
99.23
5.46
128.05
5.14
121.42
5.41
126.56
5.45
126.62
6.31
167.96
5.97
160.38
6.25
166.28
6.62
181.35
7.18
212.44
6.77
201.49
7.14
211.92
7.41
222.38
8.21
269.81
7.88
264.16
8.40
281.90
8.51
283.58
9.27
334.22
8.93
327.54
9.54
350.43
9.60
349.23
10.77
431.30
10.44
425.41
11.20
457.93
11.14
448.87
12.34 540.811
12.14
543.39
14.05
656.43
12.79
563.49
14.96
734.90
14.43
711.82
16.81
860.89 15.45
759.48
TOP GEAR ROLL ON 40-120MPH
THE ZX-10R’s gearing lets it clear off in top on a fist full of throttle. But if you were
cruising at a motorway-friendly 70mph and needed to overtake without shifting
down, the R1 whips up quickest to 80mph in 1.07sec
100
YZF-R1
SPEED
(MPH)
50
60
70
80
90
100
110
120
80
FIREBLADE
GSX-R1000
ZX-10R
TIME DISTANCE TIME DISTANCE TIME DISTANCE TIME DISTANCE
(SEC)
(M)
(SEC)
(M)
(SEC)
(M)
(SEC)
(M)
1.58
31.77
1.31
26.30
1.58
31.60
1.32
26.41
3.06
68.07
2.72
60.95
2.93
64.86
2.70
60.25
4.24
102.19
3.98
97.48
4.04
96.96
3.88
94.50
5.31
138.10
5.29
141.45
5.13
133.56
5.03
133.35
6.39
179.06
6.48
186.64
6.30
178.13
6.16
176.20
7.56
229.05
7.61
234.66
7.43
226.08
7.22
221.32
8.72
283.33
8.79
289.83
8.65
283.27
8.26
269.63
9.85
341.54
10.00
352.13
9.85
344.96
9.38
327.44
STANDING QUARTER-MILE ACCELERATION
IF first gear acrobatics and excitement are your bag then look no further than the
GSX-R and ZX-10R. Again, the Blade’s long wheelbase lets it get the power down. In
perfect wind-free conditions, all four bikes could break into sub-10 second quarters.
60
YZF-R1
146.89mph
10.35sec
FIREBLADE
146.92mph
10.10sec
GSX-R1000
143.20mph
10.40sec
ZX-10R
144.38mph
10.45sec
Time to cover 1/4-mile
Terminal speed
TOP SPEED
40
THE FireBlade just eclipses the others with its clean aerodynamics. But a 25mph
headwind dented the top speed figures, but who’s complaining when all these bikes
manage a true – GPS measured, not an over optimistic speedo figure – 175mph?
Snetterton’s back straight is surely going to feel shorter this year.
PEAK TORQUE
- YAMAHA YZF-R1 70.47ftlb @ 9900rpm
- HONDA FIREBLADE 73.9ftlb @ 8600rpm
- SUZUKI GSX-R1000 74.8ftlb @ 9600rpm
- KAWASAKI ZX-10R 74.6ftlb @ 9500rpm
bhp/Ł
ftlb
YOU could just about get away
with leaving the GSX-R in sixth
gear all day and never swap
cogs, it’s so tractable. That’s
demonstrated here with its
meaty torque curve. The
shorter-stroke R1 motor looks
positively weak in comparison.
20
4000
6000
8000
Ledenon circuit
T
HE circuit is about a
30-minute ride from
13 SERVIE
Nimes in the south of France.
We’d have preferred to test
the bikes in the UK, but the
7 CARRIERRASSE
weather was against us.
8
And UK track day
12
COURMELLE
specialists Byrne-Up Tours
14
3
6
were already at Ledenon, so
we gatecrashed.
CAMION
The circuit is a 1.96-mile
11
TRIPLE
9
2
roller-coaster ride. The Triple
GAUCHE
4
5
Gauche turn is a triple apex
CAVALET
10
15
PONT
with a 150mph entry speed.
The rest is just as bananas,
CUVETTE
as the apex speeds show.
1
17.45sec
178.15mph
17.05sec
GSX-R1000
175.57mph
17.60sec
ZX-10R
176.25mph
17.75sec
Time taken
BRAKING 70-0MPH
ZX-10R’S brakes seem to work best when they’re up to temperature. The Kawasaki
gives the best feedback under hard braking, hence the shortest braking distance. The
GSX-R’s radial calipers are good, but are a year behind the rest of the pack.
YZF-R1
12,000
10,000
177.72mph
FIREBLADE
Speed
0
RPM
YZF-R1
14,000
51.26m
FIREBLADE
51.73m
GSX-R1000
52.69mph
ZX-10R
49.44m
Distance (metres)
SECTOR TIMES
SECTOR
(MPH)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
YZF-R1
SPEED
(MPH)
145.99
81.03
48.35
92.44
40.72
106.44
36.03
95.24
67.08
85.96
45.23
94.44
38.22
98.56
38.03
FIREBLADE GSX-R1000
SPEED
(MPH)
143.85
81.49
47.44
95.19
40.47
101.62
35.39
98.91
66.92
82.25
44.87
94.49
38.16
97.90
39.35
SPEED
(MPH)
143.05
81.86
47.40
95.22
38.17
103.59
35.90
94.14
64.32
84.03
45.86
97.65
37.60
96.30
39.43
ZX-10R
SPEED
(MPH)
142.96
84.22
48.70
92.37
37.68
100.57
34.74
94.86
67.33
85.38
42.95
93.74
36.01
98.04
40.56
FASTEST LAP TIME
TIMES round Ledenon are incredibly close, with bikes
lapping well within one second of each other. The R1 bags
it – but only by one hundredth of a second. It manages to
pull ahead of the other bikes whenever there is a decent
bit of straight, for example, at sector 6, 14 and over the
start/finish line. Despite setting the best time, the R1
doesn’t actually feel the fastest, that honour goes to the
quick steering, hard cornering ZX-10R – but it’s slowest.
R1
1:36.24sec
GSX-R1000
1:36.25sec
FIREBLADE
1:36.60sec
ZX-10R
1:36.90sec
MARCH3, 2004 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS 37
Second OPINION
TESTERS’
OPINIONS
OUR road test team
ranged from fastish
amateurs to ex-racers.
Here are their verdicts...
YZF-R1
ANDY DOWNES
MCN NEWS EDITOR
AGE: 30
HEIGHT: 5ft 9in
WEIGHT: 12st
EXPERIENCE:
MEDIUM-FAST ROAD
RIDER, INTERMEDIATE
TRACK RIDER
DAVE HILL
MCN ROAD TESTER
AGE: 43
HEIGHT: 6ft 3in
WEIGHT: 16st
EXPERIENCE: EX-WSB
AND WORLD
ENDURANCE RIDER.
INSTRUCTOR AT RON
HASLAM’S RACE
SCHOOL
MARC POTTER
EDITOR MCN
AGE: 28
HEIGHT: 6ft 4in
WEIGHT: 14st
EXPERIENCE:
EXTREMELY FAST
ROAD RIDER, FAST
TRACK DAY RIDER
The verdict
Y
FIREBLADE
GSX-R1000
ZX-10R
H
HIS was the bike I was
desperate to like the most.
I’ve always had a thing for the
Blade and I own a 2001
CBR600FS track bike. But
the blue, white and red
paintjob on our test bike
instantly makes it look three
years older than it is. The
Honda does everything so
well, which shouldn’t be a
criticism, but it lacks passion
– and that’s not what bigbore bikes should be about.
T
’VE always loved the
GSX-R1000 – that raucous
bark of the exhaust. It is just
so good at being all things to
all people without ever being
boring. There are loads about
but that doesn’t take
anything away from it being a
great motorcycle. And if you
want a bike that can be
ridden for fun, every day, on
the track or across Europe
the GSX-R1000 is still a
damn fine choice.
I
I
F my opinion were based
purely on looks, the savage
ZX-10R would be my clear
favourite. The attention to
detail, with the petal discs,
the beautiful wheels and that
gaping ram-air scoop, is
visually awesome. On the
road though, the bike’s a bit
of a nightmare. The whole
thing buzzes and vibrates
with engine revs, it puts a lot
of weight on your wrists and
the brakes lack feel.
F
or me the R1 is the best
of all the road bikes. It’s
got the most comfortable
riding position and the best
seat. And the engine is
beautifully smooth. I wasn’t
so keen on it at the track.
We’d set up the bike for one
of the lighter riders, which
made the front feel nervous
with me on it. But I loved the
bike as a whole, it steers so
easily. Not keen on the plain
colour scheme, though.
T
he Blade is just so easy to
ride on the road. It’s
comfortable and the engine
produces a really nice spread
of power. It’s remarkably
stable too and it gave me
loads of confidence to ride
the Blade hard, especially on
the track. Everything feels
smooth, but I didn’t find it
very exciting to ride. It feels
almost docile and its
relatively long wheelbase
hampers wheelie action.
L
AST year it was the daddy
but now it seems dated in
this company. That said, it’s
great around the track, where
it feels best when you’re
really on it. It has loads of
low-down stomp, which helps
it drive out of corners. It’s got
a comfortable riding position
for the road – you feel like
you could ride down to the
south of France on it then do
a track day once you’re there.
It’s still a very good package.
T
HE ZX-10R feels so
exciting to ride fast. It’s got
stunning power in the upper
rev-range, pin-sharp steering,
a raucous exhaust note and
stunning brakes. It’s a bit too
harsh on the road, though.
The rear suspension is too
hard and there’s too much
weight on your wrists. But
you can forgive it all that for
its track manners – it’s the
most exhilarating bike here
and my firm favourite.
I
P
O
T
AVING seen the Yamaha
at the Milan Show in
September last year for the
first time I wasn’t keen on the
bike’s looks. But my first ride
on the sweeping Spanish
mountain roads changed
that. The engine noise, the
way the motor pulls at almost
any revs and the fun it was to
hustle around the roads
made it my favourite overall.
It has got character – and
the looks grow on you.
WANTED to hate this bike.
It looks like an Italian got
caught up in a Japanese bar,
drank too much Saki and got
all confused with what he
was trying to design. But it’s
an absolute beauty to ride. It
has the most perfect road
manners, fantastic noise that
makes you feel you’d never
want to fit race pipes. It has
beautiful steering, clean
power delivery and is brilliant
on the track once it’s set-up.
AMAHA has made unbelievable leaps with the
new R1. It’s not only head and shoulders
better than the old model, it’s overtaken the
strong competition that had stolen a march on it,
namely the GSX-R1000.
But you can’t call the Kawasaki, Honda or
Suzuki losers in this test. On sticky Pirelli Diablo
Corsa control tyres they all lapped our test track
well within a second of each other, they’ll all
wheelie past twice the national speed limit, and
with favourable weather conditions should all
blast their way past the magical 180mph mark.
The GSX-R1000 and ZX-10R are the hooligan’s
choice. Their light-weight, pin-sharp handling and
mad screaming motors will dish out major-league
thrills on every lap of a track day. And the Suzuki
is a whopping £850 cheaper than the R1.
The Honda was designed by the team behind
the title-winning RCV MotoGP machine. It has an
insane amount of power and is blisteringly quick,
but is wrapped up in a much calmer, more userfriendly package than the Kawasaki or Suzuki.
But the Yamaha manages to combine the
character of all the bikes here. It feels stable,
exciting and easy to use, and it is also the fastest
and most powerful out of the four. While the
Kawasaki feels faster than it is and the
uninvolving Honda is faster than it feels, the R1 is
stable, exciting and fast.
ULLING up after my first
proper road thrash on the
Blade, I realised I couldn’t
remember anything about it.
It does everything so well you
just don’t have to think about
it. A great riding position,
600-like chassis, easy-touse in town, even easier to
thrash along a B-road. You
barely break into a sweat on
track, then you see your lap
times and get blown away. It
lacks character, though.
N the road the GSX-R
felt big and comfy and it
doesn’t steer or handle as
well as the others. But then
you realise that the
suspension is first class and
copes with bumpy roads as
standard or race tracks with a
few tweaks. The chassis feels
fluid on the track and the
motor is arguably the best
road bike engine here –
exciting at the top-end, yet
gutsy at the bottom.
HE ZX-10R was the one I
really wanted to like. But I
wouldn’t care if I ever rode
one again, on the road. It
hurt my wrists, vibrated, the
brakes were wooden and
grabby, and the fuel-injection
at medium speeds was
messy. But on the track I
absolutely fell in love with it. I
reckon it’s the best standard
road bike I’ve ever ridden on
track. Shame we ride on
roads most of the time.
THANKS TO
BYRNE-UP TRACK TOURS
(0871-717-4141) AND PIRELLI
THE new king of the
class impresses on
the road and track
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF

advertisement