Best Sportbikes: Class of 2007 Through 2014 Reunion

A look back at our sportbike MC Comparos over the years.

sportbikes, superbikes
Class of 2007©Motorcyclist

Our very first "Class of" sportbike test was one of our most diverse, combining two Japanese 600s, two Japanese literbikes, and one Italian V-twin. Honda's supremely versatile CBR600RR—which remains largely unchanged and available today—came out on top.

Class of 2007 (June 2007 issue of Motorcyclist)

  1. Honda CBR600RR
  2. Suzuki GSX-R1000
  3. Yamaha YZF-R1
  4. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
  5. Ducati 1098
sportbikes, superbikes
Class of 2008©Motorcyclist

For the 2008 class of sportbikes, we named another legendary late-model Honda sportbike, the CBR1000RR, “most likely to succeed.” It outcompeted one other over-achieving literbike and a serious challenge from Yamaha’s thrilling-but-committed R6.

Class of 2008 (August 2008 issue of Motorcyclist)

  1. Honda CBR1000RR
  2. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
  3. Suzuki GSX-R750
  4. Yamaha YZF-R6
  5. Suzuki GSX-R600
sportbikes, superbikes
Class of 2009©Motorcyclist

“It’s not the most powerful machine here, and it’s certainly not the lightest. What it is, undeniably, is the most fun to ride.” That’s how we described Yamaha’s first crossplane-powered YZF-R1 superbike at the end of our 2009 test, and those sentiments still hold true today.

Class of 2009 (July 2009 issue of Motorcyclist)

  1. Yamaha YZF-R1
  2. Honda CBR600RR
  3. Suzuki GSX-R1000
  4. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
  5. Ducati 1198
sportbikes, superbikes
Class of 2010©Motorcyclist

“Foreign Exchange” was the headline for the Class of 2010 story, and our all-European lineup reflected the rising performance profile of Euro sportbikes at a time when Japan was throttling back in response to a global economic recession.

Class of 2010 (July 2010 issue of Motorcyclist)

  1. Aprilia RSV4 Factory
  2. Ducati 1198S
  3. MV Agusta F4
  4. BMW S1000RR
  5. KTM RC8R
sportbikes, superbikes
Class of 2011©Motorcyclist

We finally saw some new sportbikes arrive from Japan in the form of the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, so we put that machine to the test against three of Europe’s best. Note BMW’s S1000RR sneaking up the results—a sign of what’s to come.

Class of 2011 (August 2011 issue of Motorcyclist)

  1. Aprilia RSV4 Factory
  2. BMW S1000RR
  3. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
  4. Ducati 1198SP
sportbikes, superbikes
Class of 2012, Part 1©Motorcyclist

Acknowledging the inevitable, we separated the Class of 2012 into two tests. Part I locked the Big Four’s big four in an all-Japanese “Shogun Showdown” that was won by Kawasaki. The bigger surprise was Suzuki’s all-analog GSX-R1000 beating out the traction-controlled Yamaha R1.

Class of 2012, Part 1: Japanese Bikes (July 2012 issue of Motorcyclist)

  1. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
  2. Suzuki GSX-R1000
  3. Yamaha YZF-R1
  4. Honda CBR1000RR
sportbikes, superbikes
Class of 2012, Part 2©Motorcyclist

Part 2 saw Europe’s best big-bore superbikes go head to head in all their traction-controlled, ABS-enabled, quickshifter-equipped glory. After a few years of fumbling, BMW’s most-improved S1000RR finally took top spot, ahead of the radical new Panigale.

Class of 2012, Part 2: Euro Bikes (August 2012 issue of Motorcyclist)

  1. BMW S1000RR
  2. Ducati 1199 Panigale S
  3. Aprilia RSV4 Factory
  4. MV Agusta F4R
sportbikes, superbikes
Class of 2013©Motorcyclist

We subtitled this year’s comparison “One-Percent Rides,” a nod to our cost-no-object test criteria. When the dust settled it was the $24,995 BMW HP4 over the $29,995 Ducati 1199 Panigale R; the fourth-place ZX-10R ABS was a bargain at $15,299.

Class of 2013 (September 2013 issue of Motorcyclist)

  1. BMW HP4
  2. Ducati 1199 Panigale R
  3. Aprilia RSV4 Factory
  4. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
  5. KTM RC8R
  6. MV Agusta F4RR
sportbikes, superbikes
Class of 2014©Motorcyclist

The year 2014 saw the rise of the so-called “Supermid” category: 800(ish)cc bikes claiming to mix the best traits of 600s and literbikes. We tested—and busted—this trend in a four-bike “Supermid Showdown” that saw the Triumph Daytona 675R take an easy win.

Class of 2014 (April 2014 issue of Motorcyclist)

  1. Triumph Daytona 675R
  2. Ducati 899 Panigale
  3. Aprilia RSV4 R
  4. MV Agusta F3 800