THE UPPER MIDDLE CLASS | MC COMPARO

Is There Magic Between 600 and 1,000cc?

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Kevin Wing

Zack Courts | Associate Editor
AGE: 30 | HEIGHT: 6'2" | WEIGHT: 185 lb. | INSEAM: 34 in.

This whole "supermid" thing reeked of marketing to me, but I will confess that both the Ducati and the MV impressed me by feeling small and punching hard. The MV especially, which delivers a wonderful rush of power (and has stellar brakes, incidentally). However, typical MV gremlins abound; the seat and mirrors suck, the gear position indicator gets confused, and traction control doesn't work, to name a few. Ducati's 899 suffered from numb brakes on the track, but as a streetbike it's surprisingly agreeable. Better than an 1199, that's for sure. The baby Superquadro mill sounds great, but I still don't like it; I want torque from a V-twin, not revs.

What this test really taught me is that I don't want a supermid; I want a super or a mid. Triumph's Daytona 675R is sublime, but I wouldn't be able to resist splurging a little for Aprilia's RSV4. No, I don't mind the tall saddle; I'd sit on a seat of rusty nails if Aprilia's V-4 was bolted underneath.

Ari Henning | Road Test Editor
AGE: 29 | HEIGHT: 5'10" | WEIGHT: 171 lb. | INSEAM: 33 in. 

As far as the "supermid" concept goes, the F3 800 does it best. Its motor is more powerful and easier to manage than the F3 675's, and the handling is just as good—the 800 only weighs 5 pounds more, after all. Too bad, then, that the package suffers from the same awful traction control and asinine interface that afflicts all of MV's sportbikes.

Having endured sore wrists and a heat-rashed backside on the Panigale 1199, I was wary of the 899. But Ducati did a tremendous job of improving the bike's streetability. With its lower price, better manners, and overall impressive performance, I expect Ducati will sell a lot of 899s, but I'm not buying. Compared to ultra-refined and capable bikes like Aprilia's fire-breathing RSV4 and the Triumph 675R, the Duc doesn't stand a chance.

In the end, though, I'm a sucker for the sweet song of a Triumph triple, and the R-spec Daytona is simply one of the best sportbikes money can buy, regardless of displacement.

Marc Cook | Editor in Chief
AGE: 50 | HEIGHT: 5'9" | WEIGHT: 195 lb. | INSEAM: 32 in.

This comparison reminds me of the whole turbo thing in the 1980s. They were supposed to provide the brutish power of big bikes while retaining the lithe handling of true middleweight machines. Didn't happen. Instead, we got bikes as heavy as literbikes with hard-to-manage power just above a good-running 850.

Today's supermids promise the same thing: big power, small package. But here's the problem: In the form of the Ducati 899 and the MV F3 800, supermids are indeed stronger than traditional middleweights but nowhere near the forearm-straining, ass-clenching brutality of Aprilia's magnificent full-liter V-4. Yes, I love that engine, irrationally so; and, yes, I adore the RSV. The RSV is close enough in weight and agility that I'd gladly accept a compromise for that glorious V-4 soundtrack.

I would be sorely tempted to drop coin on the Triumph, largely because it has the best balance of thrust and precise handling and finds the true sweet spot of light-bike agility and ability to inspire confidence. Plus that triple sounds great and makes enough thrust to keep me happy on any street ride. The supermid promise? Not yet fulfilled.

Aaron Frank | Editor at Large
AGE: 39 | HEIGHT: 5'7" | WEIGHT: 155 lb. | INSEAM: 31 in.

As a longtime lover—and two-time owner—of Suzuki's GSX-R750, I especially appreciate the appeal of this "supermid" concept. But the truth is, none of these bikes match the perfect balance of power, handling, and all-day rideability that either of my lightly tuned Gixxers delivered. Triumph's Daytona 675R—plus another 15 hp—would come close. So might Aprilia's RSV4 R, minus 50-odd pounds.

Until then, I'm going to do something I usually loathe doing—I'm going to select a hypothetical hybrid to win my own private comparison. Despite its many shortcomings, I still fell hard for MV Agusta's F3 800. That wicked triple is so soulful and strong, the handling is on-point, and it's a pleasure to eyeball, too. Give me that bike, only with the 675R's magic-carpet Öhlins suspension and the RSV4 R's unflappable electronics package. Oh, what the heck, throw on Ducati's comfy seat, and paint it red, too. That would be a supermid worth talking about.

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Svobatron
Hold on, the 2013 On Two Wheels Middleweight Shootout crowned the GSX-R600 king of the class BEATING the new 675R.  The GSX-R750 is the 600 with 20 more hp.  Why on earth would you leave the 750 out of this comparison?  It's the benchmark, plain and simple.  And the "no electronics"  excuse is BS.  The 675R only has ABS and the F3 doesn't even work until everything is turned off!.....poor Suzuki, the only ones that keep the "super-mid" alive and now that others are doing it, they are left out.
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