In preparation of our upcoming 2015 Superbike Shootout we came across this similar gem posted a decade ago. From then to now we find similarities in the entrants as well as the editors, such as Yamaha’s R1 and Sean Alexander. In terms of performance, things have, of course, progressed far beyond what these four machines possessed – mostly in the realm of electronics. “You don’t have a 6-axis gyro, TC, slide, lift and launch control,” asks the 2015 of its predecessor.
First Ride: 2005 Open Supersport Shootout
Honda CBR 1000RR : Kawasaki ZX 10R : Suzuki GSX-R1000 : Yamaha YZF R1
May 8, 2005
Thunderhill Park Raceway, CA — Your fingers ache from the strain of holding yourself forward against the vicious acceleration even though it’s only been four seconds since you rocketed off the last corner. The digital speedometer says 154, then 161, then… just a second, as you grab a fistful of brakes and bend the bike into Turn One. The asphalt is smoother near the apex and it takes some extra effort to force your head down to the inside, as your neck muscles fight the 110 mph windblast. You gently roll the throttle on and the bike is happy to stay at the current 45 degree lean angle, but it’s acceleration you’re after and this tire isn’t going to put any more power down unless it’s a bit more upright. That expert club racer with the single-digit number plate is making good time on his four-year-old R1, but you’re catching him fast as you set-up for the long 180 degree Turn Two.
You bare your teeth inside your Arai as you anticipate the pass you’re going to put on him at the exit. He rolls out of Turn Two hard on the throttle, but you’re already deeper and harder into the gas, so you pass him and pull an extra 20 feet diving into the next bend. He doesn’t know what hit him as he bobs in your wake, watching as a brand new machine with turn signals, stock exhaust and mirrors blasts past him into Turn Three.
Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It certainly is, when you consider that you’re riding the slowest bike in this shootout.
We all know that it isn’t what you ride; it’s how you ride. At least we knew that up until last week, when testing for this year’s Open Supersports test began. But now, we’re not so sure. You’re probably sick of hearing just how outstanding modern sportbikes have become, as each year sees further refinement of the previous year’s groundbreaking designs. The pace of development has been increasing lately and our 2005 Open Class Shootout makes it clear that the days of resting on your Bold New Graphics are long gone.
To help us determine which bike is the best, we gathered together Suzuki’s all-new GSX-R1000, the reigning MO Champion of the World Honda CBR1000RR, the lightly-updated ZX-10R from Kawasaki, and Yamaha’s venerable R1. We loaded these bikes into our luxurious five-ton crew cab box truck along with leathers, helmets, gloves, boots, tools, cameras, 70’s music, enough tires to choke a horse and departed Torrance for points north.
The track portion of this year’s shootout was conducted at Thunderhill Park Raceway near Willows, CA, where we were graciously hosted by http://www.keigwin.com/schools.htm. Lance Keigwin and his crew are absolutely some of the nicest folks we’ve worked with on a shootout and MO enthusiastically recommends their program as one of the track, we took advantage of the beautiful rolling terrain surrounding most competent and professionally run we’ve encountered. The road course at Thunderhill is a 3 mile, 15 turn roller coaster with several corners that are off-camber and/or blind. It’s a smooth, 36-foot wide racetrack with copious run-off room, fast straights, technical tight turns and an ideal place to thoroughly wring out liter-sized bikes.
On our first evening in Northern California, prior to riding at the Willows to get street impressions of each bike. As it turned out, we got a slightly more adventurous evening ride than we’d planned with rain, darkness, a very large tumbleweed and numerous errant four-legged denizens of the night along for the ride.
After our nighttime blitz in the foothills west of I-5, we were prepared to declare MO as perhaps the most highly qualified publication on the planet to judge the spectral characteristics and brightness of the headlights on this year’s crop of bikes and, along the same lines, the emergency stopping power and agility on wet roads for all four of the contenders.
Our first afternoon (Monday) at Thunderhill was used as a combination sighting session and as an opportunity to circulate the track on OEM tires. Thanks to the folks at Bridgestone, we had ten sets of the brand new BT 002 DOT race tires stashed for when the action heated up. We chose the T3 “medium” compound fronts and T2 “hard” compound rears and eagerly levered them onto our spare rims for two days of racetrack testing. It should be noted that the T2 compound BT 002 is an extremely hard compound that is meant to last under extreme conditions. Since we were going to be swapping these bikes between four riders and lapping them almost continuously throughout the test, we felt it was a good idea to sacrifice outright grip for durability and consistency.
During our two days at Thunderhill, we drew quite a crowd to the north end of the paddock where MO was ensconced for the duration of the track portion of the test. This year we were supported by a veritable army of OEM technicians including Scott “The Stud” Buckley of Kawasaki, Chuck Welch of Suzuki and Jon Siedel, Bob Oman and Doug Toland of Honda. We were joined by Van (aka bmw4vww) Washburn who showed up to lend a hand during the test and several interesting luminaries who stopped by to say howdy.
All good things must come to an end and after an all-too-brief stay in the lush hills of the Northern San Joaquin Valley we had to make tracks back to SoCal to MO’s Torrance headquarters and a rendezvous with our laptop computers. Along the way back, we headed over to Palmdale for a final street impression in the foothills near Lake Elizabeth, then onto LACR for a cold evening of wheelies and three-gear wheel spins down the quarter-mile-long drag strip.
It was a long week, with lots of work (as usual), several friends new and old, almost more excitement that even we can handle, and more fun than any reasonable human being has a right to expect. And at the end of it all, we had a pretty clear consensus as to the winner. So, without any further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the featured event on this card, the 2005 MO Open class shootout. Let the games begin!Share: