Arguments will be made in favor of other sports bike categories, but nothing offers the exotic personality that evokes thrills and sheer performance like a modern superbike.
Each one is a brutally fast industrial artwork optimized with everything you need to fight for the fastest lap time and nothing you don’t have. Superbikes are both raw but refined. These machines are built solely to push the boundaries of pure performance, but addictive personalities must beware: Superbikes can and will induce obsessive power increases.
So while there are a number of sports bikes on the market that combine more practicality and comfort at a more affordable price, the open class superbikes here, Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory, BMW S 1000 RR and Ducati Panigale V4 S, represent the pinnacle of motorcycle performance.
With these machines, a combination of massive power and razor-sharp handling makes previously unthinkable lap times easily achievable, while a rock-solid chassis calls for pushing the limit a little further. Of course, going further means increasing the consequences, but sophisticated rider aids have made this level of superbike performance more accessible than ever.
Accessibility of raw capacity is one thing, cost of entry is something else entirely. Each motorcycle priced at approximately $ 25,000 makes for an exclusive owners club. But what you get with any of these bikes is racing DNA drawn from the cutting edge of MotoGP, and they also form the basis for global Superbike competition, right down to the winglets. Buying a modern superbike has gone beyond buying the bike with the most horsepower; it has become owning the exotic and getting the best a manufacturer has to offer.
And in the case of Ducati, this refers to the Panigale V4 S, which was awarded the title of Best Superbike in SALES in our vote for the Ten Best Bikes of 2018. Sure, there is the special FIM homologated Panigale V4 R with its superbike legal 998cc, but compare the rest of the current crop of liter bikes to Ducati’s class leading street offering with its more robust 1,103cc engine. it’s sensible.
Is Aprilia the best? The heavy-gauge RSV4 1100 Factory. Updated with an additional 79cc, top-notch braking components and MotoGP-derived aerodynamic winglets, this is a refined take on an already powerful platform and tough competition for Ducati.
BMW has something to say to its rivals, redesigning the 2020 model year S 1000 RR from the ground up with a revised inline four-cylinder engine, a slimmer, lighter chassis and more sophisticated electronics. Oh, and the upgraded-spec M and Select packages (an additional $ 3,700 and $ 1,400) come equipped with carbon fiber wheels and semi-active electronic suspension.
Fortunately, we were able to get in touch with one, many thanks to the San Jose BMW employee and local broker Cory Call who lent to SALES his privately owned Model M for track testing.
We also requested the YZF-R1M, winner of the top ten bikes, for fun, but Yamaha refused. With the updates made to the upcoming 2020 model, the company decided to wait for next year’s shooting, which is already shaping up to be a higher-speed showdown.
Taking advantage of absolute open-class performance requires worthy testing grounds, and for the SALES Superbike Shootout 2020, meant the 3-mile course at Thunderhill Raceway Park for two full days of private testing.
Thunderhill’s variety of fast sweepers, hard braking zones, dramatic elevation changes, and fifth-speed straights subject each bike to the close scrutiny of our test staff, which included licensed professional road racers, …