XtraPix: MasterBike 2008-Then There Were Three

Final round: The best Twin, Supersport and Superbike battle it out.

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After long days of hot-lapping, it was time for the Final Three, MasterBike 2008's quickest Supersport, Supertwin and Superbike pitted against each other. The six fastest riders tugged on leathers and cinched chinstraps one more time.

I was first up on the YZF-R6. I had so much fun with the Yamaha's precise steering and knife-edge handling that I cut a second off my previous best Supersport qualifying time. Tucked into the racy riding position, I could dive straight to massive lean angles—no tapering in—thanks to its superb slipper clutch. The incredible feel for rear traction the bike transmitted helped propel the R6 to competitive lap times, even against the liter-bikes.

My second ride was on the Aprilia RSV1000R Factory. Still in the zone, I bettered my previous time from earlier that day by nearly .8 of second. The bike's precise throttle response and super tractability made the limit of the Dunlops grip easy to read and control. Plus, the harder the RSV is ridden, the more balanced its chassis becomes. It was edged out of second overall by the new R6, but Aprilia took its third-place finish in stride: "That's fine," said the media rep, "we'll be back next year with our new V-Four." Can't wait!

The Honda CBR1000RR, this year's MasterBike, took as definitive a victory as a manufacturer could hope for. All six riders in the final round set their best times, including my 1:37.7 that made me fourth-fastest. The Honda received praise for its incredibly nimble-handling yet stable chassis, a very hard engineering combination to achieve. Its light weight also made it easy to stop and transition through Albacete's complex corners, critical to a good lap time on that technical circuit. Add in the fact that its killer engine had the power to match the nimble cornering, with excellent throttle response and drive exiting corners, followed by blistering acceleration on the straightaways. The result was Honda's first-ever MasterBike victory and proof that this set of red wings really knows how to fly!

2008 Master Bike Finals: Not often do bikes get to kickstand on the podium.

2008 Master Bike Finals

2008 Master Bike Finals: Best for last: Honda's CBR1000RR was a blast to ride around Albacete. The new sportbike just did everything right.

2008 Master Bike Finals: Buyer's Guide:2008 Honda CBR1000RR

2008 Master Bike Finals: The Yamaha YZF-R6 held its own in MasterBike, despite a huge horsepower deficit.

2008 Master Bike Finals: 2006's top MasterBike, the Aprilia RSV Mille, now in its fifth year of production, made the Final Three; think of all the amazing motorcycles that finished behind it!

2008 Master Bike Finals: Wheelies? Why not! Riders Alex Gramigni, Randy Mamola and CW's Cernicky get it up for the camera.

2008 Master Bike Finals: Yamaha?s YZF-R6 felt like a racebike with lights - light, nimble and so much fun to ride.

2008 Master Bike Finals: Aprilia's RSV1000R Factory is still a competitive sportbike, despite its relatively old age.