It happens once every decade or so. The planets-Research, Development, Sales and Marketing, in this case-align themselves, the gases and radiation swirling around them combine in an explosion of cosmic energy, all of which results in a year where numerous all-new sporty bikes with unheard-of performance seem to fall from the sky like rusty parts from the Mir space station.
OK, that's a touch overblown, even for us. But it's darn near the truth for 2000, especially in the big-bore supersport category. To wit: Kawasaki and Yamaha have thoroughly revamped their popular and highly successful ZX-9R and YZF-R1, while Honda and Suzuki have let loose with the all-new CBR929RR and GSX-R750. Not since 1984-when the Big Four all launched brand-new open-class rockets-have we been on the receiving end of such an R&D-based arms race. Good for us, good for you.
Why toss the GSX-R in with the literbikes? Easy. Suzuki doesn't make an open-class supersport/race-rep (soon, we hear, very soon...), but the new GSX-R's got the performance to stand toe-to-toe with the big boys. And how. (You might also be wondering why Honda's new RC51 wasn't included in this inline-four-based back-road bash. Let's just say it's involved in its very own comparo that's percolating as you read this.)
What follows is more than an exhaustive evaluation of the most competent production sportbikes in history; it's also the height of hair-splitting, the epitome of nitpicking. Why? Because when you're dealing with what's arguably the most closely matched foursome ever, unearthing their few faults and identifying their many small differences takes much more than bland generalities and wishy-washy conclusions. (God knows there's enough of that around.) So we went the extra mile, testing on fast roads, slow roads, traffic-choked streets and long-distance highways; on rough roads and smooth roads; on the dyno, at the track (two, actually); on the strip and at our Top-Secret, High-Desert Test Facility.
In the end we ranked them first through fourth, the winner possessing what we feel are the ideal characteristics needed in a grade-A supersport machine. It's a shame that three of the bikes didn't "win," or that one had to finish last. They're all that good. All in a month's work. All for you.