The Best Of Motorcycling 2000

Photography by Tom Hnatiw, Kevin Wing

Every generation believes that it lives in the best of times. (Unless you're a teenager, in which case everything sucks.) And while you might judge your epoch by economic prosperity, world peace, popular culture or some other highly specious yardstick, we, not surprisingly, look at the motorcycles. Right now, friends and fellow enthusiasts, you live in a grand, expansive time. In real terms, motorcycles are getting better and better, with almost outlandish performance coupled with reasonable prices.

As this model year comes to a close and we get a taste of what's coming for 2001, we'll take a moment to reflect on the class of 2000. Not a bad turnout, actually, particularly if you recall that we entered the year worrying about massive computer shutdowns and whether the end-of-the-world predictions could possibly come true. Instead, we were treated to a host of wonderful motorcycles. By our count, in 2000 there were just shy of 20 new or significantly reworked motorcycles (or model families, like the Harley-Davidson Softail).

This bumper crop of two-wheeled greatness made this year's Motorcycle of the Year competition maybe the toughest ever. From a list comprising the year's all-new machines, we've culled the finest fruit down to just six motorcycles-bikes that significantly advanced motorcycling's state of the art and ones that set new standards. We've also resurrected our Motorcyclist of the Year award, and named the trophy-which we'll present annually-after our staffer Greg McQuide, who was tragically killed in June of this year. The effect Greg had on both our staff and the entire industry was upbeat, dedicated and positive...the exact attributes we used to pick this year's winner.

And there's more, too, including various category winners for bikes we think are worthy of praise-even if they're not new for 2000. Enjoy.

2000 Motorcycle Of The Year
Suzuki GSX-R750

From the early pips of information penetrating the editorial cranium to Burns's excited press-intro ride in Misano, Italy, word was that Suzuki's new-generation GSX-R750 was going to be a world-beater. And in the year we've had with this motorcycle, pitting it against bikes one-third larger in displacement-to say nothing of the daily grind and assorted track days-the Suzuki never failed to amaze.

Let's look at a couple of basic statistics, like 123 rear-wheel horsepower propelling just 426 pounds of fully fueled mass. Plug tack-sharp steering, unreal high-speed stability, wicked brakes and sumptuously smooth suspension into the equation and you've got a sporting tool that pushes street-going technology to a new level.

Performance is there in spades. At the racetrack for our Superbikes 2000! comparo [July 2000], for instance, the GSX-R was the only bike into the 12s on the Streets of Willow circuit. It also spanked the literbikes by three miles per hour during top-speed testing.

Suzuki has done a masterful job of making this bike light in weight but fully functional and beautifully finished. If you haven't seen one in the flesh, you owe it to yourself to head over to the local Suzuki shop and take a look. From the quality of the paint to the precision of the aluminum frame's welds, the GSX-R750 rates as one of the best turned-out motorcycles we've seen, continuing a trend at Suzuki of challenging Honda on the fit-and-finish front.

The Suzuki is an engineering tour de force in other ways also. The chassis' responses are immediate yet predictable. Thanks to the bike's low mass, Suzuki didn't have to resort to extreme geometry to make the bike nimble, or use racebike-stiff suspension rates to maintain maximum-velocity composure. Most of the bike's strengths stem from low weight and compact dimensions, and in this regard Suzuki has dramatically reset the standards of not only the 750 class, but also for sportbikes as a whole. Superbly done.

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