Year Of The Superbike

Can you believe it’s legal to own these liter-size motorcycles?

We were recently rummaging through the list of the superbikes that are available these days and began to get excited about the state of the literbike market. Despite the fact that superbike sales are down, the industry is still locked in a battle for supremacy on the racetrack and, as usual, we are the beneficiaries of that fight. We've always been fans of big-bore sportbikes and these past few years seem to have produced a bumper crop, many of which are even available on the used market now that they've been out for a while. If you are the type of rider who prefers pure, unadulterated speed and ridiculous amounts of power, then we think you'll enjoy taking a look at our superbikes in review.

Let us know which of these bikes would be your choice. If you have one, let us know what your experience is. If you plan to buy a new one soon, let us know what criteria you are using to make your buying decision. It’s all in the name of fun, and we are here to help if you give us the chance. So without further ado, here’s a quick look in alphabetical order.

2019 Aprilia RSV4 RR And RSV4 Factory

The popularity of the V-4 engine is growing rapidly and Aprilia is leading the way. Caption:
Believe it or not, the RSV4 RR pumps out 200 hp at 13,000 rpm and 85 pound-feet of torque at 10,500 rpm. Not too shabby for the “base model”…Aprilia

After Max Biaggi won the 2010 and 2012 World Superbike titles and then relative unknown Sylvain Guintoli claimed the crown in 2014 aboard the Aprilia RSV4, the V-4 engine was officially back as a force to be reckoned with in the superbike class. In the years that followed, the Italian company has fine-tuned and revised its 65-degree V-4-powered superbike into something quite special. Its awesome chassis and more powerful engine were combined with Aprilia's proprietary APRC electronics package that subsequently set the bar even higher for all manufacturers' rider-assist technology.

During the 2017 model year, Aprilia released the new RSV4 RR and RSV4 Factory models and after riding them at Circuit of The Americas we have been haunted by them in our dreams ever since. Then Aprilia upped the ante further with the 2019 RSV4 Factory and RR in an effort to help keep the RSV4 Factory platform relative in WSBK and the more affordable RR on the minds of track riders around the world. Despite the lack of success on the racetrack in the past five years, the RSV4 has been one of the brand's most important models as it represents both a commitment to racing and a determination to create some of the most technologically advanced street-legal motorcycles money can buy.

2019 Aprilia RSV4 RR price: $17,499
2019 Aprilia RSV4 Factory price: $24,499

2020 BMW S 1000 RR

The S 1000 RR gets a complete revamp for 2020 and it is awesome.
High-tech gadgets galore and a sleek new style prove the 2020 BMW S 1000 RR is ready for another decade of hauling ass on your favorite track.BMW Motorrad

Ever since the BMW S 1000 RR was first introduced back in 2009, we have had a lot of good things to say about it in the pages of Motorcyclist magazine. Not only did it usher in a new era of rider-assist technology, as it was one of the first superbikes to be equipped with dynamic traction control, but it proved that BMW could offer M-series performance in a motorcycle.

While the RR has consistently placed well in motorcycle comparison tests it had limited success on the racetrack, so for the 2020 model year, BMW released a clean-sheet redesign. The objective is to make the bike relevant on the track and reestablish it as a premium street-legal machine now that the competition has closed the gap on the technological front. The Germans set out to create a lighter, more powerful, and better-handling S 1000 RR and after riding it, we agree they are heading in the right direction.

The new engine cranked out 183 hp on our dyno and the bike tipped the scales at 412 pounds (without fuel), which is well over 30 pounds less than the model it replaces. That weight reduction helped the team achieve its goal of making the new bike run at least one second faster around every racetrack. While that's difficult to confirm, we can say that the bike is badass. In the recent Cycle World Superbike Comparison the BMW S 1000 RR proved it can run with the high-class V-4-powered Italians and now we can't wait to see how it stacks up against the inline-fours from Japan.

2020 BMW S 1000 RR price: $16,995–$25,000

2019 Ducati Panigale V4 S

From MotoGP straight to your garage, the V4 is here to stay.
The awesome desmodromic twins will always have a place in superbike history but the Panigale V4 represents a new era in superbike technology as far as Ducati is concerned.Aidan O’Dowd

It's interesting that both Italian brands have embraced the V-4 on such a massive scale and we are the beneficiaries of their mano a mano arms race. For Ducati, the move to the V4 was a risky one that made a lot of sense when we look back on it. Like Ferrari versus Lamborghini these two companies are producing true MotoGP-inspired motorcycles for the street. Bikes like the Panigale V4 come with steep cost of entry, but they ooze the essence of the sport and the public is embracing it all around the world.

Even as a new model the 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 S was Cycle World's Best Superbike of 2018 and it has continued to draw rave reviews from everyone who rides or tests it. Part of the reason is that awesome power. We recorded 188 hp on our dyno, and while that is impressive, it does not quite capture just how exciting the $28,000 motorcycle feels on the road or track.

As a daily rider the V4 Panigale is a lot like driving a Ferrari as your commuter though. It doesn't make much sense but it's a hell of a lot of fun getting wherever you're going.

2019 Ducati Panigale V4 S price: $27,895

2019 Honda CBR1000RR

2017 was the 25th anniversary of the RR-series. The CBR1000RR is a worthy successor to the original CBR900RR.
Few other companies build a higher-quality superbike than Honda and its CBR1000RR.Honda

Can there be a class for the best entry-level superbike? If so, then the 2017–2019 era CBR1000RR gets our vote. While not as technologically advanced as the previous literbikes on this list, the 1000RR is designed, at its core, to be easy to ride fast by taking advantage of the basic tenets of Tadao Baba's original CBR900RR: lightweight and usable power make a great motorcycle. That 25-year-old theory is alive and well with the latest CBR1000RR despite the fact that it can be described as low-tech by comparison to the high-techno marvels of the other bikes in this class.

It is still fast, easier to ride, and even claimed top honors in Cycle World's 2017 Japanese Literbike Comparison test which proves that even in an era of excess, sometimes less is more. The 150-hp CBR engine offers up a broad spread of power that makes it easy to ride fast while the light 435-pound weight range makes it easy to flick into corners. Add into the mix more than capable brakes and an effective yet simple traction control system, and it's easy to forget it doesn't have a laundry list of high-tech gizmos to assist in its riding experience. Pure, good old-fashioned riding fun is what the CBR1000RR is all about.

2019 Honda CBR1000RR price: $16,499

2020 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

The most dominant world superbike of the past half decade continues to get better.
This latest version of the ZX-10R has given Kawasaki fans something to be proud of. It has won five of the last six World Superbike championships.Kawasaki

The latest version of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is all about winning World Superbike championships. Apparently it is very rewarding for the companies involved, and it makes for the on-track development of some awesome motorcycles. This generation is built to challenge the V-4-powered competition with an inline-four. Part of the equation was to feature a full suite of electronics that Kawasaki believes is more sophisticated than any other brand, that helps harness the 165-plus horsepower found at almost 12 grand. The 2020 Kawasaki ZX-10R just keeps refining the program, making the bike lighter, more powerful, and more sophisticated with a price tag that remains at $15,399 without ABS is reasonable in the grand scheme of things.

2020 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R price: $15,399 w/o ABS

2019 MV Agusta F4 RR

Looking for true superbike excess? Meet the MV F4 RR.
You are looking at the final generation of the MV Agusta F4 RR and we cannot wait to see what MV comes up with next.MV Agusta

The late Italian motorcycle designer Claudio Castiglione had few peers when it came to designing motorcycles with equal parts elegance and hard-core performance. The MV Agusta F4 RR represents the most famous MV motorcycle penned by the legend before he passed away nearly eight years ago, and still it continues to be one of the most exotic superbikes ever built.

Besides being sexy in its own way, the F4 RR cranks out 201 hp from its short-stroke 998cc four-cylinder engine with a 14,000-rpm redline. In addition to the insane engine, it tips the scales at 418 pounds without fluids, which makes it one of the lightest bikes on the list. The F4RR also features an impressive electronics package that rivals any configuration from the other manufacturers thanks to its Motor & Vehicle Integrated Control System (MVICS).

Don’t forget that every hard part on the bike is a top-shelf item including the 43mm Öhlins EC NIX fork, Öhlins TTX shock, Brembo brakes bolted to a chromoly steel trellis frame, and single-sided swingarm that is the envy of everyone who gazes upon it. Despite its sporting pedigree it always comes back around to the style. Apparently the Italian manufacturers are the ones who give form and function equal billing? If the base model doesn’t rev up your soul, perhaps you’d prefer the $82,000 2019 MV Agusta F4 RR Claudio—a true homage to the visionary designer.

2019 MV Agusta F4 RR price: $27,998

2020 Suzuki GSX-R1000 And GSX-R1000R

Suzuki knows a thing or two about winning races so it’s no surprise the latest GSX-R1000R is still a wild ride.
Suzuki deploys mechanical Variable Valve Timing (VVT) on its GSX-R1000 ever since 2017. It helps maintain midrange power without sacrificing top-end.Suzuki

Every manufacturer has its niche and with Suzuki, its proprietary Variable Valve Timing (VVT) is what keeps the new GSX-R1000R in the game. The big Gixxer has always been known for its meaty midrange but the company needed to win superbike races while staying true to its core value so it figured out a way to keep the grunt without losing much of its peak 155 hp. This non-hydraulic VVT falls within the rule of MotoGP so once again this trickle-down technology developed for use on the GSX-RR has made its way to our streetbikes.

The base-model GSX-R1000 (no second R) provides almost all of the fun without all of the go-fast gadgets you get for another $1,500 with the 2020 GSX-R1000R. Suzuki has stayed with the status quo this year but it looks like the Hamamatsu company will be moving toward a more traditional VVT in the near future, so stay tuned to see how this big change plays out.

2020 Suzuki GSX-R1000 price: $15,599
2020 Suzuki GSX-R1000R price: $17,699

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 And YZF-R1M

Yamaha’s crossplane crank powers the R1 to success on both the racetrack and showroom floor.
The 2020 Yamaha R1 looks like a MotoGP bike with lights because that was the plan from the beginning. Yet the R1M showcases the best superbike Yamaha has to offer.Yamaha

Although changes to the current design are looming on the horizon, the 2020 Yamaha R1 and R1M are like nothing Japan has produced before. Yamaha has delivered an inline four-cylinder-powered superbike that features its unique crossplane crankshaft configuration that has all cylinders firing at different intervals (270 degrees, 180 degrees, 90 degrees, 180 degrees). The result is a powerband that is smooth and predictable which emits a unique exhaust note that closely mimics the sound you hear from the Yamaha MotoGP racebikes. Add into the mix the bodywork which looks like that same prototype motorcycle and what you have is yet another racebike with lights.

New for the 2020 model year, Yamaha has employed an all-new cable-free throttle system that uses magnets within the right grip to send cable-free input to the throttle bodies which gives the IMU and ECU every opportunity to help the R1 accelerate as efficiently as possible. The resulting throttle response is like nothing we've felt before and the electronics package is the best Yamaha has ever produced. Looking for something to challenge the other top-shelf machines on this list? The 2020 R1M with its semi-active Öhlins suspension, aluminum fuel tank, GPS data acquisition system, and carbon fiber bodywork set it apart from the base-model R1.

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 price: $17,399
2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M price: $26,099

Obviously there are similarities to go along with the obvious visual differences between all of these open-class motorcycles on this list. When this topic first came up it was an opportunity to remind our readers about the amazing superbikes on the market these days, both new and used so if you felt sticker shock after reading the price on any of these bikes, remember that someone else has likely already absorbed the loss that comes with buying the bike brand new. As long as you take the time to do a little research and decide which bike fits your budget and suits your needs as a rider, then go for it. You only live once and, remember, we can always make more money so spend it while you got it!

Let us know if you’ve had any experience with any of these bikes, we would love to hear from you guys. Did anyone buy a bike after reading about them online? Did anyone avoid a bike because of it? Let us know how we’re doing because, in the end, we just love riding and want to help you make a solid, educated buying decision so please leave us some feedback.