I guess you mean visual aesthetics. This article is all about tactile aesthetics. Since one of the testers is a graphic artist, I'm really surprised he didn't talk about looks. I wouldn't consider the other riders qualified critics.
I love the looks of the parts; see Aprilia Blue Marlin.
These bikes are dominated by graphics, manufacturers billboards. That's an inheritance from their racing cousins; it IS the aesthetic for this type of bike.
Those weren't the exact words used, but when the TT600 came out from Triumph, the only good thing they said about it was the stability. It was Ugly, slow, sputtered down low, and a few other things were said.
Those guys scare me anyway. There are only three bike I have ridden up Palomar Mountain. A 996 (but very carefully) an R6, and a yzf600r. Maybe it's because I am scared as hell of accelerating towards a mountain on one turn and off a cliff on the next, but I don't see how you could use all the power up there anyway. Straights are like-non-existant. I can remember maybe two straights worth calling that. Scary.
Yeah, I meant visual and I understand that everybody differs, making it irrelevant what any one person says.
I was just saying that, at this point, picking the bike that makes you heart beat faster in the showroom is a perfectly valid way of choosing, because they all kick a$$.
I didn't mean to imply that I don't like the look of parts (there is a 1990 Hawk in my garage and I'm thinking about buying a ZRX). I also don't mind plastic and graphics (love the Busa). It just seems that the CBR's looks are like the name, 954. All jumbled. The R1 has one very clear, clean theme. The old 900RR had a very distinct look, but the new one looks (to me) to be just cluttered.
Frankly, if Kawasaki can't get a test bike to MO it just reaffirms in my mind that Kawasaki doesn't really know what they're doing. Based on the average comment here at MO and the reader letters to magazines like Cycleworld and Sport Rider, Kawasaki should be catering the the demographic over here, not the "power-is-everything" crowd those mags have.
Of course, Kawaski does seem to think that they can just keep warming over the same liter and 750 bikes and keep us happy so why should we surprised when they don't pay attention to where their buyers are?
Can you tell I've had a few bad experiences with Kawasaki? Well never again. I just hope they don't infect Suzuki and kill the brain cells over there too.
The final splat - Re: Year 2002 Open Sportbike Shootout
Yeah, go in way to hot and you'll have more than enough time to recall your life before "the final splat". In Bandera county in Texas, there are several roads with steep descents into 10MPH corners (337 being one) where one could likewise experience "the final splat". Scary roads to think about but strangely exhilarating when actually ridden...
OK, I know that this message board is usually a love fest towards MO, and I too have posted favorable comments but this to me reads as quite an anti-climax. Anyone could have guessed for the street portion 954, R1, GSXR. The content reads just like the content of the previous liter bike comparo when the 954 was the 929. I guess I like to learn something new when I read something, otherwise why bother...
As for street handling, the GSXR has the slowest steering, yet was the only one not to have head shake. So how is that a negative? Almost every serious street rider I know will immediately put on a steering damper if they notice head shake, thus compromising steering feel. So maybe yank the damper off of the GSXR and see how the steering feel changes (and handling), or slap on some dampers like the public will on the R1 and 954. I don't think this is asking much, it'll cost maybe $800 tops (for Scotts) and maybe half an hour of shop time. Or to really even the field if you are interested in fairness, buy three Scotts dampers, so noone can complain about these being better than the stock GSXR's unit, and have all bikes equiped the same.
Also, voting the 954 number 1 "officially" but then voting the R1 number one as the bike you'd own makes no sense. It's akin to saying this is what the public should hear, but this is how we really feel. Oh I see, that then would have made Honda tie for last spot with the Suzuki. Hmm, maybe you should have included Kawasaki after all.....
The final splat - Re: Year 2002 Open Sportbike Shootout
Yeah, there is one road that you can catch in Ocitillo (sp) after El Centro in S. Cal (going west) that is a short cut toPalomar instead of getting of Interstate 8 going to Julian. It's called S22 or S24 or something like that. Haven't been there in almost two years. Anyway, there are two blind decreasing radius turns that have barriers with slick pavement in the decreasing radius part. It's actually a big ugly sharp S turn that will put fear in anyone if you ask me. Too many people go in there (30mph is hot) hot. I have seen more than three bikes go down there. First time on any road, I always go scooter slow.
I've long been a fan of the ZX-9R. I haven't ridden the 2002 model, but have put quite a few miles on the 2001 version. As much as I like the old 9R, I think I'd have to go with the 954. The thing I liked best about the 9 was its comfort, but the new 954 fits me even better. This makes the new Honda not only a better sportbike than the Kawi, but a more practical all-around motorcycle. Forget the FJR1300--I vote for the 954 as sport-tourer of the year.
JohnnyB, how much do you think your love of the Yamaha stems from the fact that you've been riding an R6 so much of late? With the bigger bikes, it often seems that much of one's liking comes because Bike A feels more psychologically comfortable (i.e. scares one less) than Bike B. I wonder how close the R6 is to the R1 in terms of ergonomics and general feel. If it's close, maybe the R1 power doesn't make as much impact on you as it might otherwise. I haven't ridden any of them, so I can't even offer my opinion of their respective merits. I liked the article though. Once more I'm forced to live vicariously through motojournalists.
A point regarding stability, head shake and video.
Though they touched on it briefly in the story regarding the GSX-R's superior stability, here's a bit more realistic delineation.
A co worker of mine is an AMA racer, who won the Pro Thunder race at Daytona in '99, and this year's Donner Hill Climb. He also carded a 15th in World Superbike at Laguna and 8th in 750 SS, both on his nearly stock daily rider street bike 750.
In this year's Daytona 200 he did 57s on a two year old 750 streetbike making 125 dyno certified rwhp, before chunking a tire and still ultimately finishing the race, albeit in a somewhat disappointing 32nd. (He was doing his own tire changes!!!)
Bottom line, he's very qualified, moreso than any of us.
At least equally importantly, he's the biggest freak show street rider you'll ever see, considering most genuinely fast racers avoid street racing like The Plague.
His favorite thing to do is to hook up a video to his tank and film his daily bombing runs with his like minded racer buddy friends.
It's here where you can truly see the difference in stability between bikes, as real world roads actually have massive bumps, seams, potholes and all sorts of imperfections in them whereas in relative terms, tracks don't. Also, this freak rides quite a bit harder on the street than any of these magazine testers ever will.
Believe me or not, but it's true. Hell, along with Curtis Adams he's also faster on the track than any magazine tester.
Anyway, here's what you see on film during his rides: All years of R1s, RRs and GSX-Rs, including the 2002s, riders swapping bikes back and forth, flat out pinned at redline in top gear and leaned over through sweepers on roads I personally find to be so bumpy that I barely even enjoy riding them at all, much less at top speed.
On the R1 and 954 (with and without Scott's dampers) you see the tachs dropping quite frequently, whenever you see the brake fluid reservoir shaking like a mofo.
On the GSX-R, the throttle stays on and the brake fluid reservoir stays still.
In the simplest of terms, the GSX-R is staying on the gas, planted and stable over bumps that have the other two bikes always having to back off because of slap. The GSX-R simply checks out on the other two whenever high speeds and bumps are factored into the equation.
The Scott's dampers help with the R1 and 954, but even thusly equipped they don't give the level of rider confidence over bumps on the gas that the stock GSX-R gives its rider.
Magazine shootouts can never test this way, because there's simply too much risk and too few testers willing or even able to ride that way. So, what we get are tests that base rideability and stability on smooth tracks and at a moderate street pace. We don't see what these bikes really do in our hands once we're pissed and going for it, in their natural habitat, mountain roads.
(Not that I'm condoning my buddy's way of street riding. I'm not. He's freakishly talented, but he's still a moron, and we've had enough funerals recently to remove any doubt as to his lack of mental acuity.)
When the truth is told, as it is on video in my example and as it was described in M.O.'s story here detailing how the GSX-R was simply leaving the other two without much effort, it's obvious that the GSX-R is ultimately still the strongest entry here.
It won't win the comparo, because suddenly it has a vague front end whereas three months ago it was the best chassis among any inline four every created.
It won't win the comparo because even though it remains the lightest of the three it's now too big and its looks are "dated".
It won't win the comparo...........because the other two are new entries and this industry is driven by "The Latest Greatest!" ethos.
Just keep in mind the obvious. If it should turn out that the GSX-R wins the track test (in terms of lap times, not subjective evaluations) then the GSX-R will be the fastest in a straight line, on the track and especially on real world bumpy roads. If that's the case, there's your winner in an Open Superbike comparo, unless we're TRYING to find reasons other than performance to determine the winner....