'08 Literbike Comparison Test - Turn It Up To 11

Comparison Test
Incredible. Outrageous. Insane. These are some of the words we used to describe Suzuki's then-new GSX-R1000 when it won last year's literbike comparison test ("Mind the Gap," July '07). Even with the victory and those platitudes, however, the writing was on the wall for the big GSX-R. While we raved about how it disguised its weight so well, handled brilliantly and had amazing power, it was 27 pounds heavier than its predecessor, and the margin of victory-over the unchanged, returning models from Honda and Kawasaki-had shrunk significantly from the previous year.

You can bet engineers at Big Red and Team Green have been burning the midnight oil after watching blue-and-white tailsections disappear into the distance-literally on the racetrack and figuratively in sales numbers-for several years now, and the all-new CBR1000RR and ZX-10R are the fruits of those labors. We sampled both over the winter, with Editor Kunitsugu venturing to Qatar for the Kawasaki's introduction ("Street Afterthought," Apr. '08) and Resident Geek Trevitt spending a day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca aboard the Honda ("Light Makes Right," May '08). It was obvious at those bikes' press launches that the GSX-R would have a tough time hanging onto its literbike crown. And let's not forget the Yamaha YZF-R1: All-new in 2007, the R1 was hampered by EFI issues last year that have since been addressed with a new ECU, and it could very well be the dark horse this year (fittingly, our test unit is black).

We rounded up the four contenders for some extended street riding and a day at Buttonwillow Raceway, and along with old salts Kunitsugu and Trevitt we drafted in new Associate Editor Troy Siahaan and guest tester Steve Mikolas to put the quartet through its paces and find the king of the '08 literbikes.

Yamaha YZF-R1: 87.5

While the mostly unchanged R1 definitely benefits from an updated black box for this year, it isn't enough to keep the Yamaha from the bottom of the street scores in this tough crowd. The R1's nimble chassis, nicely damped suspension and crisp brakes are well matched to the Michelin Pilot Powers that were fit to our test unit. Steering is light, and the bike is plenty nimble in the canyons, although feedback is less than ideal at full lean. While our testers praised the Yamaha's chassis-one even calling it the most nimble in the class-the bike's handling prowess is more than offset by the engine's lethargic midrange (even more noticeable this year in the company of the steamy Honda), which spoils the R1's overall performance and fun factor. The very oversquare four-valve mill has a 1000-rpm higher redline than the other bikes and a very meaty top end, but accessing that power on the street is as difficult as getting Kento to a meeting on time. Our testers were, as last year, split on the Yamaha's ergonomic package-some thought it fine for the street, others did not-with no correlation to height, weight or skill. The throttle lag of our '07 test unit is thankfully absent for this year, but throttle response is still abrupt, and the underseat exhaust-the only one in the test-still cooks your thighs and butt in traffic.

+ Sharp-turning chassis
+ Strong top-end power . . .
- . . . but no midrange
- Underseat exhaust cooks your thighs
- If you like 600s, the R1 is for you
FRONT spring preload: 3 lines showing; rebound damping: 10 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping: 12 clicks out from full stiff; ride height: 4mm fork tube showing above triple clamp
REAR spring preload: position 4 from full soft; rebound damping: 5 clicks out from full stiff; low-speed compression damping: 10 clicks out from full stiff; high-speed compression damping: 3 turns out from full stiff

Suzuki GSX-R1000: 88.3
Yes, you read that right: The GSX-R carded third-place scores on our street ride. The bike that was so dominant in years past definitely loses its luster when ridden in the company of the Honda and Kawasaki. The Suzuki's monster motor is still incredible and still offers the most linear power delivery with the smoothest off/on throttle response of this foursome. But jump on the GSX-R after riding the CBR or ZX, and it seems, well . . . a bit slow. Likewise, the chassis that last year disguised its weight so well still does just that and has almost impeccable handling manners thanks to light, neutral steering from the OEM Bridgestone BT-015 tires, a natural ergonomic triangle and well-sorted suspension bits. But try and throw the GSX-R from side to side as quickly as the Honda and Kawasaki are capable of transitioning and you'll soon wear yourself out. The GSX-R is only a few pounds heavier than the ZX-10R, but just as the Suzuki felt lighter than the scales showed last year, the Kawasaki goes one better. "The GSX-R doesn't really do much wrong," writes Kento in his notes. "It's just that in this company its few faults really get amplified." Add in the wooden-feeling brakes of our test unit-the only real flaw in the overall package-and you've got a third-place bike.

+ User-friendly power
+ Natural ergos for street or track
- Wooden brakes
- Now down on steam
- How the mighty have fallen
FRONT spring preload: 1 line showing; rebound damping: 4 clicks out from full stiff; low-speed compression damping: 12 clicks out from full stiff; high-speed compression damping: 2.5 turns out from full stiff; ride height: 7mm fork tube showing above triple clamp
REAR spring preload: 6mm thread showing; rebound damping: 14 clicks out from full stiff; low-speed compression damping: 15 clicks out from full stiff; high-speed compression damping: 3 turns out from full stiff

Honda CBR1000RR: 90.3
"Honda kept its promise of giving the 1000 the same makeover as the 600," notes Siahaan. "And that's a good thing." All our testers raved immediately about the CBR's impressive midrange power; you don't need a dyno chart to know the Honda is Charles Atlas-strong in the middle and lunges off corners almost as aggressively as Mikolas leaps for his ringing cell phone. Honda's trickery to reduce engine braking and improve the off/on throttle transition-a new slipper clutch, the Idle Air Control Valve and the Ignition Interrupt Control System-works on the street, and the CBR has smooth throttle response in most situations. Work below the rpm range of the IICV's operation, however, and response is very jerky and abrupt, making idling around town frustrating. It's easy to see that the CBR needs that trickery, having plenty of driveline lash. The CBR is the lightest bike here by a whopping 23 pounds, and the svelte chassis transitions from side to side quickly. Combine that with top-rated ergos and crisp brakes and the CBR is capable of making serious time down a twisty road. While one of our riders rated the CBR highest for street use, it's in the details that the Honda loses out to the Kawasaki: The OEM Dunlop Qualifiers require more effort than we'd like, and steering is not overly neutral. Suspension is a definite notch below the ZX-10R's, with harsh high-speed damping that leads to flightiness over rough patches. And the stomping midrange is offset by a soft bottom end that calls for additional shifting on a tight road, a situation not helped by a clutch and tranny that are a bit clunky compared with the Kawasaki's and Suzuki's bits.

+ Light, agile chassis
+ Outrageous midrange power
- Flighty suspension
- Soft bottom- and top-end power
- Missing the typical Honda refinement
FRONT spring preload: 8 turns out from full stiff; rebound damping: 1.25 turns out from full stiff; compression damping: 2.5 turns out from full stiff; ride height: set fork tubes flush with triple clamp
REAR spring preload: position 4 from full soft; rebound damping: 1.5 turns out from full stiff; compression damping: 1.5 turns out from full stiff

Kawasaki ZX-10R: 92.3
Just one romp down your favorite canyon road will leave you breathless at how well the ZX-10R works in its element. The incredible mill has acres of torque over a wide spread and impeccable throttle response, leading Mikolas to score engine power as 10+ and write, "Holy crap! I couldn't fault it, even if I tried." While the steamy engine doesn't have the midrange of the Honda, its stronger bottom end propels it off tight corners harder. And while the Suzuki may have a more linear powerband-the ZX-10R goes a bit soft in the 7500-rpm area-the Kawasaki has better driveability and puts its power to the ground better. That silly-strong engine is matched perfectly to a lithe, well-sorted chassis. The Kawasaki's low-effort brakes offer great feel and feedback, and the suspension is firm without being harsh, soaking up both rolling bumps and sharp hits with ease. It's the closest thing to race suspension on a stock bike we've experienced yet. And underneath it all is a superlative OEM variant of the Bridgestone BT-016 that offers loads of grip and feedback with neutral, if a bit heavy, steering. It all adds up to a package that gives the Kawi's pilot loads of confidence and makes the GSX-R1000 feel overweight and underpowered by comparison. Take the ZX-10R out of the canyon environment in which it shines, however, and it does have some faults: Around town the engine is buzzy enough to put your hands to sleep. Ergos are the raciest of this bunch with a hard seat to match-the Kawasaki topped every category for street use but was ranked last in the ergo column. And the stiff suspension can make for an uncomfortable ride on a bumpy freeway.

+ Fantastic engine
+ Well-sorted chassis
- Low-rpm vibration
- Uncomfortable on the street
- We found the Honda's refinement right here
FRONT spring preload: 4 lines showing; rebound damping: 6 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping: 8 clicks out from full stiff; ride height: 4mm fork tube showing above triple clamp
REAR spring preload: 25mm thread showing; rebound damping: 0.75 turn out from full stiff; low-speed compression damping: 2.5 turns out from full stiff; high-speed compression damping: 2.75 turns out from full stiff

Yamaha YZF-R1: 88.3

With the most top-end-heavy powerband of this group you'd expect the R1 to tear up the track, but the Yamaha had the most difficulty dealing with Buttonwillow's mixed layout of fast and slow turns. With bottom scores in half the categories and the slowest lap time, the R1 carded the lowest overall track ranking. Our riders all raved about the bike's light-steering chassis, great front-end feedback, supple suspension and brakes that offer strong initial bite with brick-wall power. Just as on the street, however, the Yamaha's high-revving engine lets the agile chassis down when push comes to shove. Part of the blame can be placed on the track we chose: Several of Buttonwillow's turns on the west loop leave the engine languishing in its midrange in second gear or screaming near redline in first, where the other bikes power through with little fuss. The R1's powerband is simply so narrow that gearing plays a huge part in its performance, and our test track played to that weakness. "You can get around the track just as quick with the R1," writes Kent; "it just requires precision, intense concentration . . . and no slow corners that are too fast for first gear." Once again our testers were divided about the bike's ergos, with one calling the riding position too tight and another dragging the pegs and claiming they could be higher without sacrificing comfort.

Honda CBR1000RR: 90.2
We were as surprised as anyone when we added up the scores, but despite carding the quickest lap time by a comfortable margin and being one tester's pick for a track bike, the Honda ranked third in the continued on page 70 track ratings. On the plus side, the CBR's light weight definitely plays to its favor, as does its ultrastrong midrange. "The weight advantage the Honda has over the rest is amazing," notes Siahaan. "It feels like you're tossing a scooter from side to side. And once the engine is in its sweet spot, it just rips." On the minus side are a number of detail items that are individually minor but sum to make the big Honda a lot of work to ride quickly. The suspension is stiff and harsh over Buttonwillow's many rough sections. Top end is noticeably lacking on longer straights, especially stacked up against the Suzuki and Kawasaki. And while our Geek cited good throttle response at the bike's introduction and swears the off/on transition is smooth in most corners, our other testers argue it's too abrupt, especially in long sweepers. Literbike Hondas are typically polished and refined, but the '08 CBR displays some very un-Honda-like tendencies, further hurting its scores. Our test unit hung up in gear several times, requiring an opposite push on the shift lever. On acceleration and deceleration puffs of smoke can clearly be seen behind. And the starter sounds like it won't run for more than a few seconds before draining the new, smaller battery.

Suzuki GSX-R1000: 90.5
Big Poppa fought back at the track with the third-quickest lap time and a mixed bag of scores that added up to a second-place ranking. As always, the GSX-R's mill is easy to use on the track with loads of easily accessed power-even if it is a bit sluggish compared with the red and green bikes. The ergonomic package is very good for track work, steering is neutral and the bike's suspension-although not as refined as the Kawasaki's-still does an excellent job of soaking up both large and small hits. As the heaviest bike in the class, however, you feel every pound of the GSX-R's heft after riding the much lighter Honda or the more agile Yamaha, and Buttonwillow's high-speed transitions call for some bullish steering inputs. While the GSX-R carded high scores in three categories, it scored lowest in braking as well as-unbelievably-the chassis and handling category. Our test unit's binders worked better on the track than on the street, but in this company that doesn't get you a hall pass-they need to be almost perfect. The GSX-R is still incredible on the track, and perhaps Mikolas sums it up best in his notes by adding the caveat, "as long as you don't ride the Honda or Kawasaki."

Kawasaki ZX-10R: 94.2
With top scores in all but one category the Kawasaki topped the track ratings despite posting the second-quickest lap time. "The engine is a beast!" raves new-guy Siahaan in between text-messaging sessions. "My first lap or two I had to wrap my head around how strong it is, but once I did that the bike was an absolute freight train." Despite the midrange flat spot that manifests itself more on the track than on the street, the ZX-10R feels more powerful than the other bikes and utilizes the best chassis to translate that power into speed.

As for the Kawasaki's Ignition Management System said to offer a form of traction control, we did notice that when the ZX-10R spun its rear tire the resulting slide was shorter than we encountered with the other bikes. We can't say for certain that this is a function of the KIMS, but we're looking into some tests that will show the system working and will report back in a later issue on our findings.

The suspension is stiff without being harsh and a clear step above the other bikes' boingers for track work. The ergos that were the worst on the street tied for top honors at Buttonwillow. And the brakes are one-finger strong and offer just the right combination of initial bite and progression. The 24-pound-lighter Honda clearly transitions from side to side more easily and quickly, and the ZX's massive power can have the rear end squatting on corner exits to force the bike wide, but the Kawasaki's overall package gave our testers more confidence and is less work to ride fast than any of the others.

The Final Tally
With the highest ranking for both street and track, the ZX-10R is the overall victor here. The same characteristics that make it our pick for track work also make it the best bike for a canyon romp, but there are sacrifices for that performance when it comes to bombing around town or taking a longer trip. The Kawasaki's overall performance overshadows the new CBR1000RR's, although there's no denying the second-place Honda was quickest around the racetrack, and that is a significant achievement in its own right. For those who will opine the Honda should have won the test for its lap times, by all means go ahead and base your decision on one lap time by one rider on one day at one track. We'll base ours on hours of street and track riding by the whole staff and the resultant stack of evaluation forms and reams of data.

The problem now, of course, is justifying how the GSX-R1000-such an awesome motorcycle last year-is third-place this year. You could be like Nigel Tufnel in This Is Spinal Tap and rate the Kawasaki and Honda as 11s on a scale of 1-10. Or take a page from Mikolas' book and score them as 10+. In reality we have to re-evaluate the Suzuki's performance and score it appropriately lower than last year. The GSX-R1000 is unchanged from last year and still a fantastic machine; it's just that now there's something more fantasticker. This is the price of progress. And we'll gladly pay it.

The Honda's midrange helped it to post top-gear roll-on numbers in a different league from the other bikes at speeds above 80 mph, but the GSX-R held its own in the 60-80 mph range and also logged the quickest quarter-mile time by a hair. The Kawasaki treads a fine line between bogging and wheelying off the line, and our man lunched the ZX-10R's clutch before he figured it out-the quarter-mile run listed here is the ZX-10R's first (and only decent) pass.

_The Honda has the beefiest midrange by far but is a bit soft on the bottom and signs off early up top. The GSX-R has the most potent bottom end, and from there the Suzuki and Kawasaki crisscross up to peak rpm, where the ZX-10R pulls out a tiny advantage. The Yamaha is an also-ran in this competition with the lowest peak reading and a sagging midrange._

SR RATINGS {{{Honda}}} CBR1000RR Kawasaki ZX-10R {{{Suzuki}}} GSX-R1000 Yamaha YZF-R1
Fun to ride 9.1 9.6 8.9 8.7
Quality 8.6 9.0 9.1 9.0
Instruments and controls 8.9 9.4 9.1 8.7
Ergonomics 9.1 8.4 9.1 8.4
Chassis and handling 9.2 9.5 8.9 8.9
Suspension 8.6 9.6 9.1 9.1
Brakes 9.2 9.4 8.2 9.1
Transmission 8.6 9.0 8.9 8.8
Engine power 9.7 9.8 9.0 8.8
Engine power delivery 9.2 9.5 9.2 8.5
Total {{{90}}}.2 93.2 89.5 88.0
Honda CBR1000RR Kawasaki ZX-10R Suzuki GSX-R1000 Yamaha YZF-R1
MSRP $11,599-$11,799 $$11,549 $11,499 $11,699
Type Liquid-cooled, transverse, 4-stroke four Liquid-cooled, transverse, 4-stroke four Liquid-cooled, transverse, 4-stroke four Liquid-cooled, transverse, 4-stroke four
Displacement 999cc 998cc 999cc 998cc
Bore x stroke 76.0 x 55.1mm 76.0 x 55.0mm 73.4 x 59.0mm 77.0 x 53.6mm
Induction DSFI, single-valve, 46mm throttle bodies, 2 injectors/cyl. Keihin DFI, dual-valve, 43mm throttle bodies, 2 injectors/cyl. EFI, SDTV dual-valve 44mm throttle bodies, 2 injectors/cyl. EFI, YCC-T, YCC-I, single-valve 45mm throttle bodies, one injector/cyl.
Front suspension 43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel 43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel 43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.9 in. travel 43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel
Rear suspension Single shock absorber, 5.4 in. travel Single shock absorber, 4.9 in. travel Single shock absorber, 5.3 in. travel Single shock absorber, 5.1 in. travel
Front tire 120/70ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier PT K 120/70ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-016F J 120/70ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-015F N 120/70ZR-17 Michelin {{{Pilot}}} Power P
Rear tire 190/50ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier NK 190/55ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-016R J 190/50ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-015R G 190/50ZR-17 Michelin Pilot Power
Rake/trail 23.3 deg./3.8 in. (96mm) 24.5 deg./4.0 in. (102mm) 25.5 deg./3.9 in. (98mm) 24.0 deg./4.0 in. (102mm)
Wheelbase 55.4 in. (1407mm) 54.7 in. (1390mm) 55.7 in. (1415mm) 55.7 in. (1415mm)
Weight 440 lb. (200kg) wet; 412 lb. (187kg) dry 463 lb. (210kg) wet; 436 lb. (198kg) dry 469 lb. (213kg) wet; 441 lb. (200kg) dry 464 lb. (210kg) wet; 436 lb. (198kg) dry
Fuel consumption 34 low/37 high/36 mpg avg. 30 low/37 high/34 mpg avg. 33 low/35 high/34 mpg avg. 30 low/31 high/30 mpg avg.

Steve "Hollywood" Mikolas

A changing of the guard has turned the literbike class upside down in 2008, and here begins a new era in the world of inline big-bore technology. The reign of mighty Suzuki has finally been toppled! After the first day of testing we were all wondering where the ever-dominant GSX-R was. We knew how good the Gixxer was, but the bike that has killed the competition for the last three years was MIA.

Honda puts a shot across the bow with its current-generation flagship. The major issue here is that the CBR feels like it was rushed into battle lacking the proper weaponry. The monstrous torque of the ultralight CBR puts a stamp on liter-class midrange, but the fact is the Honda was weighed down by its obvious flaws. A bike that smokes on downshifts is not a good thing, and suspension that isn't compliant over the harsher challenges is a real deal-breaker. Kawasaki has done its homework and brings the best overall package to a heated conflict. The usually strong motor is still there, and a surprisingly good suspension sets the green bike apart. The all-new ZX-10R does everything well and leaves the rest in its wake.

Troy "Boy Toy" Siahaan
To me this test really came down to the Honda and Kawasaki. Don't get me wrong, the Yamaha is a very good motorcycle, but if this same bike couldn't take top honors in the past, how would this year be any different? As for the mighty Suzuki, it surprised me. It was destined not to win this year, but it refused to go down without a fight, especially at the track. But for the street portion of our test I found myself gravitating toward the Honda. On the street where midrange is king, the new CBR1000RR clearly takes the cake. The bike is so incredibly light and agile it's easy to mistake it for a 600-until you twist the throttle. On the downside, the suspension damping is a little rough for my taste, and the IICS isn't as seamless as Honda would like to think. Still, it would be my choice on the street because I love the engine, it handles well enough and my back aches the least after a long ride. If only we could do something about that ugly front end

The track is a different story. Some of Buttonwillow's faster turns have bumps that exacerbated the Honda's unsorted suspension and jolted me out of the saddle. That, and the engine would run out of steam where the others seemed to be just coming alive. It was here that the ZX-10 stood out. The engine is an absolute beast, the suspension damping is spot on, the brakes are awesome and the ergos are perfect for the track. Now I have no idea what lap times I was running, but I felt the fastest on the ZX-10. And as this test has shown, winning is about more than just objective scores like lap times-the bike needs to win over our subjective ratings as well. Team Green has done just that.

Andrew "The Geek" Trevitt
We can record as much data as we want and tally as many subjective opinions as we can, but nothing can explain-or put a number on-the feeling you get when you ride down your favorite twisty road and realize the bike you're on is something special. I had that feeling when I was on the Kawasaki, and it's a step above the others here for canyon riding. At the track, though, the Honda is my pick. I didn't have as much trouble with the throttle response as my cohorts, and just as on the street the midrange power and tiny chassis were clear advantages to the point that I didn't need a stopwatch to tell me I was going faster on it.

That leaves me in a bit of a quandary for an overall choice. The R1, unfortunately, is the odd bike out here and the only one that left me a bit disappointed after the test. The Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki all have a lot to offer: The CBR's amazing midrange and light weight are easily noticeable anywhere. The ZX-10R does everything well and fills me with confidence whenever I ride it. And the GSX-R still has the best overall powerband and response of them all. Each of the three bikes has minor faults and annoyances, but I'd be perfectly happy with any of them in my imaginary garage. Well, maybe just a little bit happier on the Kawasaki.

Kent "El Jefe" Kunitsugu
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I still find it hard to believe that just two years ago we were amazed at the Suzuki's sporting prowess and how it was able to withstand a withering assault from several newer machines despite not having any updates for a year. And now it not only gets forced off the top, it literally gets shoved aside by both the Kawasaki and Honda. The pace of development is now so fast that there is absolutely no room for slacking-not even for a year, it seems.

The Honda had the potential to come out on top, but its charge to the front was blunted by too many rough edges. Sure, it turned the quickest lap time, but that time was hard work with the suspension not really soaking up the big bumps very well, overly sensitive response at very small throttle settings causing some unintended movement in the corners, and the engine's very thrashy feel in the higher rpm. And I can see why the ignition interrupt system was necessary; for a modern bike the CBR has a lot of driveline lash that really makes it feel unfinished in my opinion.

Kudos to Kawasaki for constructing a really complete package that feels supremely composed and polished (in addition to the monster motor) no matter what speed you're traveling at.

Racepak G2X Data Analysis

Buttonwillow Raceway Park
We strapped our Racepak system to the passenger seat of each bike while Kento was aboard and logged GPS speed for his fastest laps, shown here plotted against distance for the full lap. Buttonwillow's west loop is the same track we used for last year's literbike comparison test, and the segment times and speeds listed below are comparable to those recorded last year. While the data allows us to compare the bikes with each other objectively, it also permits comparisons between the new models and their predecessors for some interesting results.

Lap Times
{{{Honda}}} 1:06.45
Kawasaki 1:06.81
{{{Suzuki}}} 1:07.04
Yamaha 1:07.45

The field is spread across exactly one second this year, while last year the difference between the fastest (Suzuki GSX-R1000) and slowest (Honda CBR1000RR, not including the Ducati 1098) was half that-the Honda's 0.36 second advantage this year is significant and a big improvement over its performance last year. For reference, the Suzuki is within 0.1 seconds of the time it posted last year (although we used different control tires); the almost-unchanged Yamaha is approximately 0.5 seconds slower; the Kawasaki has improved by half a second and the Honda by almost a full second.

Turn 2-3 segment time
Honda 13.71 sec.
Kawasaki 13.66 sec.
Suzuki 13.85 sec.
Yamaha 13.88 sec.

The Honda and Kawasaki are a notch quicker than the Suzuki and Yamaha through this combination of fast bumpy turns, the Kawasaki thanks to its superior suspension and the Honda due to its quick transition into Kento's Corner. It helps the CBR that it has the highest peak speed along most of the straights; its weak top-end is more than offset by its steamy midrange and light weight, and the Honda in many cases pulls from the lowest apex speeds and past the other bikes to those peak straightaway speeds.

Turn 4 segment time and minimum speed
Honda 6.25 sec., 61.1 mph
Kawasaki 6.31 sec., 66.4 mph
Suzuki 6.32 sec., {{{62}}}.4 mph
Yamaha 6.34 sec., 62.5 mph

Even though the Honda has the slowest apex speed over Andrew's Leap it stops quicker going up the hill and accelerates stronger down the other side for the quickest segment time. It's a wash for time between the others, although Kento carries a bit too much speed over the hill on the Kawasaki and loses time through the next segment. A missed shift or too much speed down the hills also cost the ZX-10R time on the next straight. The CBR is more than a quarter-second quicker than the old model through here, a huge gain for a single corner. While the Yamaha had a clear advantage here last year, the Honda and Kawasaki have made that up-and then some-with their updates.

Turn 6 entrance speed, segment time and exit speed
Honda 77.2 mph, 9.87 sec., 79.3 mph
Kawasaki 76.0 mph, 9.68 sec., 79.0 mph
Suzuki 77.75 mph, 10.01 sec., {{{80}}}.7 mph
Yamaha 77.3 mph, 10.00 sec., 78.1 mph

In this long, looping right-hander, each bike trades segment time for exit speed based on its chassis and engine characteristics-generally entry and exit speeds vary wildly here while segment times are quite consistent. The Kawasaki gains a big chunk of time (and more than a quarter-second on its predecessor) but exits down on speed to the Suzuki and Honda, while the GSX-R has the slowest time along with the highest exit speed. Turn 6 dumps directly into the chicane section, another corner where the Honda is significantly faster than the '07 model with a further 0.3 seconds in hand.

Chicane segment time and exit speed
Honda 7.22 sec., 111.0 mph
Kawasaki 7.38 sec., 107.9 mph
Suzuki 7.21 sec., 109.4 mph
Yamaha 7.24 sec., 110.3 mph

In another section that plays time against exit speed, the Honda shows its superiority here with almost the quickest time and the fastest exit speed-a testament to its light weight and strong midrange. Surprisingly, the GSX-R makes it through quickest, while the Kawasaki is hampered by its midrange flat spot. The quick-steering Yamaha shows some spunk with a good time and fast exit speed, but it's not enough to offset the R1's losses elsewhere. The Honda carries its advantage down the long straight to the final corner.