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It's Not What You Ride-It's Who You Know

Reading this article made something perfectly clear to me- who gives a rat's a$$ what kind of bike you're on, so long as you can ride on a race track? I'll take a day at the track on a clapped-out '82 Honda Ascot to a day of street riding on whatever overpriced exotica you can offer. And that's the truth!

These big standards offer a lot of value for not much money. I've seen new '02 FZ-1's for $8500 out the door in California, and the other bikes are even cheaper. Pretty nice deal when you consider a new R6 will set back the baggy-jeans and sideways-ballcap guys close to $10,500 out the door- and the 600 isn't as versitile or fun as a streetbike.

So consider a big standard if you must have but one bike. But if you want to do a lot of track riding...these bikes I think would be demanding and difficult to hone racetrack skills on. Wes Cooley-style sliding doesn't belong in a beginner's bag of tricks, and so much weight can be difficult to manage at the razor's edge.

Kind of ironic that the big-horsepower bike is better on the street and a slower, lighter bike is better at the track? But there you go.

Do some track days soon!
 

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Why, oh why, didn't Honda stick a 954RR (or hell, even a 929RR) engine in the 919? Were they too afraid that it would sell so well that they'd run out of them and then have to endure their dealer's whining about not getting a big enough allocation?



And why couldn't their brilliant engineers figure out a way to give this bike fully adjustable suspension while keeping the price at $8000?



I really, REALLY wanted to like this bike!



Please, American Honda, don't assume that when the 919 bombs in the U.S. that it's because Americans don't want sporty "standards." The real reason for it's anticipated failure to sell in sufficiently copious quantities is that the price-to-feature ratio is seriously off kilter.



Please work on getting this bike right (it wouldn't take much!) instead of leaving it unchanged year after year ensuring its slow, painful demise, as you are doing with the poor, undeserving VTR1000.
 

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Nice job, guys!

It's late, I just got home, haven't fully read the article completely, just skimmed it... But this is great! You've restored my faith in MO and the world in general.

Only problem with this is that now we're gonna expect superb content like this more often! We know what you're capable of, MO, and we won't accept anything less!

(For those of you that are humor-impared, that last paragraph was not a threat nor disparaging words. It's good, old-fashioned humor. Or at least my attempt at such.)
 

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Well it sure looks like y'all had a lot of fun doing this comparison. Thought ya' would.



John B is becoming more of my hero as time goes on. He is not afraid to say what is on his mind. Understands how to 'go out of the box' and still knows how to ride.



Kept reading all the comments on just how much power the ZRX has. I sure do believe it, I own one and think it's a great bike.



Thanks for a great job.
 

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That was great. So when do you guys take this year's finest cruisers to Fontana? Hey, and after that you can tell us how all the new motocrossers work on the banking! Just leave the knobbies on; we want to keep this "real world" . . .
 

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I think a lot of people missed the point with this bike. Of course you could say that Honda missed its market since nobody gets what they were trying to do. Look at the torque curve of this bike, especially in the low RPM's. It actually has MORE torque down low where most people can use it than the 954. It's only a tenth of a second but a well known print magazine was able to get 0-60 times a hair faster on the 919 than the 954. Granted from there on the 954 smoked it.



This bike is about urban warfare. It is not a track warrior. What really ticks me off about this bike is not the power output but the suspension. Honda was so close to making a twisty monster with light weight, great low end torque, and ergos that make you feel like you're sitting on a 600. But then they cheaped out with crap suspension.



I'll still probably buy the 919 after they announce the 2003 models because suspension is fixable.



Too many riders fixate on peak horsepower, look at the shape of the torque curve too. I'd rather have lots of torque at all RPM's for a streetbike rather than have to row the gearbox to keep a peaky motor in the power band.



David

 

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Cut them some slack

Jeez, I agree these aren't track machines but sometimes the best way to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a machine is to push it further than it was intended. These guys don't have the time to spend months racking up miles on these machines so an intense track session is a valid tool even for these bikes. They said in the article the street section is coming.

Besides if you were in these guys shoes with free bikes, free track access, and people begging them to do it, could you resist flogging these machines at the track?

David
 

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Two thumbs up!

Great content! Regardless of what the complainers say I think I'm getting my money's worth and then some from MO.

I am confused about the scoring system... I assume more points is better?

I'll bet another year's subscription that the street results are radically different except maybe the FZ will probably do well in both. I'm betting the 919 goes up a couple of notches. If only Honda hadn't cheaped out on the suspension :( it could have been so much more.

David
 

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On March 14 you wrote: "When it came time to do the "Naked Bike" story at Motorcyclist last year, the new 1150R got left out because, er, I don't know why, really, but it was in good company as those guys didn't want to include the Triumph Speed Triple either. (Yours truly lobbied that both bikes should be in the mix, which is probably, come to think of it, precisely why they were left out.)"



Er, I see that the Speed Triple made it this time, but where, pray tell, is the R1150R?

 

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The most interesting thing I get out of this comparo is that buying a fully faired bike is a waste of money, unless you actually ride competitively. Why on earth ride around risking thousands of dollars worth of damage to the body work? These naked bikes perform as well or better than sportbikes for street/highway riding where most riders spend 99.9% of their time. Goose the throttle on the ZRX and wave bye-bye to the kid on the R6 who is frantically trying to find the right gear and get his tach over 10 grand.



A naked bike won't ruin your whole day if you accidently let it fall over in the parking lot. Pick it up, dust it off and ride away with a grin.
 

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I am sure the Beemer was left out because it would fair last in a track comparison. On the street, the 1150R is a sweet ride. Big on torque, low CG, and all day comfort. But on the track...it'd get eaten alive by the likes of the bikes in this compro. It's not what the 1150R was designed to do.



Of course...if this were a real-world compro (I've never been on a track, or dreamed of racing a motorcycle), the 1150R would fair pretty well. Great suspension, ease of maintenance, ABS brakes, solidly built, not to mention its striking good looks.
 

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The Toad
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The Bandit1200 will get you adjustable suspension for $7399.



I can't figure what Honda was thinking when they offered the 919 in the face of the stiff competition from Suzuki and Kawasaki. Maybe it's the same corporate mindset that has them offering the "new improved" Vtec Interceptor that in reality has the same HP as the older engine and weighs over 20 pounds more. Honda's always done things their own way, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.



But then my local supermarket also likes to raise the prices of items and call them "Bonus Buys".
 

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In a street environment, the R would easily hold its own of this I am quite certain. At Fontana, on the big track especially, its lack of horsepower would see it totally demoralized, and we didn't have the heart since we love that bike...



Bandit 1200 got left out because Suzuki's love for MO was on the wane at the time apparently. Or something. Would've been close to the FZ-1, hobbled by even less cornering clearance... but might've made up for it with killer motor? Sorry we had to leave it out.



In fact, there are a bunch of other bikes we'd have liked to include, but just lack the manpower and time--so based upon our experience, we pick and choose the ones we think are most appropriate.
 
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