This Season’s Most Exotic Superbikes | Class of 2013

One-Percent Rides

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Kevin Wing

You’d hardly guess the KTM and Ducati are both V-twins: KTM’s trace is traditionally smooth and linear, while the Ducati resembles a peaky 600cc four with revs rising precipitously at 7000 rpm. That’s part of what makes the Panigale feel so ferocious on-track. Kawasaki’s curve is clean save for a soggy spot at 8000 rpm; MV Agusta’s has more spikes than an iguana’s back, especially when the variable-length intake stacks snap open at 10,000 rpm. Aprilia shows the V-four advantage, with stout midrange and stable top-end power to carry a gear without killing drive. But nothing compares to the 177.5-bhp BMW, its glass-smooth curve evidence of exceptional electronic tuning.

KTM’s old-school, long-stroke V-twin owns the torque chart under 8000 rpm, at which point Ducati’s Superquadro engine finally builds a decent head of steam on its way to its 81.5 lb.-ft. peak—the most here. Aprilia’s V-four again appears to be the perfect compromise between a V-twin and inline four, impressively strong as low as 4000 rpm with peak output barely diminishing between 10,000 rpm and redline. The Kawasaki and MV Agusta both post solid torque figures around 11,000 rpm, but output declines quickly after that. The BMW is the only inline that escapes this torque fade—electronic smoothing lets it carry a healthier bump all the way to redline.


Bridgestone R10 & R10 Evo Tires


Traction & Control

Words: Ari Henning
Photo: Kevin Wing

All but one of the six bikes we tested in “Class of” have multi-level traction control and most of them have race-grade ABS, but that doesn’t mean tire choice is any less important. For the track portion of our comparison, we put all of our testbikes on Bridgestone’s R10 front and R10 Evo rear DOT-approved race tires.

We rode on the R10s during last year’s Japanese “Class of” test, but the rear tire has undergone some changes since then, hence the Evo moniker. The updated rear tire offers better grip and handling by way of a new rubber compound that is more durable and provides more consistency over a wider range of temperatures, while a revised carcass construction yields better handling and a larger contact patch at full lean.

“Bridgestone is always tweaking their products, and these tires have a lot of trickle-down from MotoGP,” says Bridgestone America’s Brian Davenport, who, along with Performance Tire Service’s Rory O’Neill, braved the desert with their 18-wheeler (packed to the ceiling with MotoGP rubber bound for Laguna Seca!) to break beads and make sure tire pressures were spot-on throughout our test.

R10 Evo rears are offered in Type 2 (hard) and Type 3 (medium), while fronts are offered in Type 3. We went with Type 2 rears and Type 3 fronts, just like last year, but got quite a bit more life out of them than previously while also turning consistently faster laps. The R10s are available in a 120/70ZR-17 front size, and the R10 Evo rears are available in 180/55ZR-17 and 190/55ZR-17. Prices range from $350 to $450 a set and are only available from authorized Bridgestone distributors, so visit www.bridgestonemotorcycletires.com to find the closest vendor.

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