See Honda. At 445 pounds, the Yamaha's within a pound of being the portliest bike here and sort of looks it, with the Studebaker Hawk-does-Hello-
KTM RC8R's adjustable ergonomics (bars, pegs and rear subframe all move) allow this racebike-like machine to better accommodate its rider on the street. Yamaha YZF-R1 features smooth, highlevel refinement and supple suspension.
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Kitty styling doing it no favors in most eyes. But for sheer seamless function and ease of use, it takes a back seat to no bike. The extra weight and plushness that hold it back on the track make it more cush on the street, gentle zephyrs waft smoothly over its wide snout, and the more mature you get, the more you appreciate a little peace and quiet when you're out scaring the bejeezus out of people. (Joke! Please ride responsibly.) The Honda's ergos are a smidge more upright, but the Yamaha is very close and has a more crowned, supple seat some short-legged pelvises prefer. Taller riders like the Honda ergos better.
Left-brain types like Canet point out that the Honda's midrange power smokes the Yamaha's and makes it easier and faster to launch with less clutch abuse. Right-brain types are willing to give up a little midrange (every bike here has enough midrange to power EIC Hoyer's fire engine, anyway) to feel and hear the Yamaha's distinctive syncopated V-Four-feeling beat. You can dance to it. And you can carry a partner on back. The Yamaha's just weird enough to be interesting and may even look better after you crash it a couple of times.
May We Have The Envelope Please...
Everybody gets all bent when we say it, but it's never been more true than this time: These bikes are all winners! Seriously, it's time to ship another fun-packed and exciting issue of The World's Biggest Motorcycle Magazine, and we're all wandering dazed around the compound, swapping keys and notes with pretty much zero consensus and no bike that stands out as a clear Decisive Victor.
We all love our sport-tourers and dirt-bikes and even our scooters and cruisers—but the bikes under review here are the ones that make our pants really dance, the ones the manufacturers assign their brightest minds to get right. All six of these machines are the real deal, but they put their priorities in different places. They all blend overkill horsepower, envelope-pushing style, exotic trickery and high-end componentry to mix the ultimate street-going two-wheel performance cocktail, but each bike blends them in slightly different ratios and uses different garnishes. Olive or onion? Little umbrella? Grand Marnier floater? Car bomb? Each to his own.
To come up with a winner this time, we were forced to adopt scientific methodology using advanced statistical analysis techniques, such as addition. Our own Blake Conner, a college graduate, devised a scoring system so ingenious no one but him really understands it (kidding...), but we'll all play along anyway because it's getting late. And, in the end, the point spread between the lowest-ranked bike and the winner is just 18.6 points out of a possible 400. Our favorite bike, then, is 5 percent more desirable than our least favorite. Which feels just about right.
And the overall winner is the Aprilia RSV4 R. It's not perfect but it makes such nice noises and it's so beautiful we couldn't help ourselves. Number two is the other exotic Italian, the Ducati. We couldn't ignore its shiny gas tank and its classically trained performance, even if with all the fancy stuff this Corse model gets, the price is hard to swallow. The BMW finished third (first in the Performance category), maybe because it frightens us a little? In fact it's a little harsh overall, and maybe its electronics are a little more complex than they need to be. We'll check back in a couple of years. Followed by the Honda in the gray flannel suit and the Yamaha. And we have no idea how the KTM finished last lots of us like it a lot, but there it is. The RC8R is only 95 percent as hip as the Aprilia.
Has there ever been such a bumper crop of amazing Open-class sport-bikes? No, there never has been. Pick the one you like and ride like the wind. You won't regret it. Well, not by any more than 5 percent. □
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