Honda CBR1000R, Kawasaki ZX-10R, Suzuki GSX-R1000 And Yamaha YZF-R1 - Livin' Large Literbikes: Threat Or Menace

What 160-hp Superbikes really are like to live with day-in and day-out

You can't say Suzuki's '05 GSX-R1000 started it. But it does seem to be the bike that crystallized the current argument that sporting literbikes have crossed that invisible line between Just Enough and what the French would describe as Deep Merde. As one reader suggested, riding such a motorcycle on the street "as it was meant to be ridden" could lead only to one of five things: You'd be dead, hurt, arrested, frustrated or a poser. But are those really the only possible outcomes?

They certainly weren't back in The Day, because such motorcycles were self-limiting. If you kept twisting the throttle, it was only a matter of time before the bike started heaving and wallowing, trying to tie itself into a Klemheist knot. Not anymore. Now it's all too easy for the unskilled or the unwary to, as Carrithers put it, "write a check with the throttle the rear tire can't cash," and end up wearing their shiny new literbike like a big, festive party hat.

To get to the heart of the matter, four of us-Alex Hearn on Suzuki's GSX-R1000, Brian Catterson on Kawasaki's ZX-10, Angie Loy on Yamaha's YZF-R1 and ex-staffer Jeff Karr on Honda's CBR1000RR-each grabbed a literbike and went looking for thrills or a new, ill-fitting chapeau, whichever came first. To see where they came down on the sporting literbike question, turn the page.