The Triumph Daytona 675 has put Hinckley firm back on the shortlist of many UK sports motorcycle riders, who previously rated the 600 and 650 Daytona models as being OK, but no real alternative to a Japanese four cylinder 600cc sportbikes. Silky, compact handling, allied to kick-ass engine power and a howling exhaust note, make the Triumph Daytona 675 a real winner on the road, or track.
Compared to the SRAD this example is Slimmed down, firmed up and with power and torque figures to raise front wheels as well as eyebrows, for a bike with a lineage as race-bred and focused as the Suzuki GSX-R750, it’s no small irony that the original superbike is something of a compromise. It has all the handling of the 600 and most of the usable power of the 1000. The result is a motorcycle that’s near perfect on road or track. The Suzuki GSX-R750’s handling is superb, the chassis flatters the novice and rewards the expert and shock, horror – it’s actually comfy.
Before the Street 750, the Harley-Davidson 883 Iron was Harley’s smallest-capacity entry-level bike, with its 883cc engine and compact dimensions making it ideal for shorter riders and those not completely confident handling larger bikes. The Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 Iron does look and feel like a genuine Harley and that shouldn’t be underestimated. Compared to the Street, the 883 has cleaner lines with its purer, simpler design and the lack of a radiator. Then there’s the iconic ‘peanut’ tank, twin, side-mounted exhausts, classic cut-down rear ‘fender’ and ‘drag’ style bars. If you removed the H-D badge from the Iron you’d still be in no doubt who made it. Riding the 883 feels good – and that’s what matters most. It doesn’t feel like riding an imitation of a Harley – it feels like the real deal. If all that clunk and heaviness puts some off, fine, Harley has the new Streets for them. If not, the original is still the best.
The 2007 Kawasaki Z1000 was revised enough from the previous model to be called ‘new’ but is still instantly recognisable. The much talked about styling changes don’t look like much by today’s standards, but in 2007 nothing else produced by a Japanese firm had so many styling details and naked bikes still generally had a bit less on. The ZX-9R derived motor is tweaked for a less frantic upper rpm delivery and now, in the Kawasaki Z1000, exudes cream-like torque from zero revs. This is the last version of the bike to use this engine before the bigger 1043cc lump started to be used in 2010. The Z1000’s roots stretch back to the Kawasaki Z1 900 from the early 1970s which was released to take on the incredibly popular Honda CB750. Despite being the most powerful road bike of its day, the Z1 was pliable, forgiving and comfortable (especially compared to the two-stroke triples Kawasaki made before it), traits that have clearly been passed down to the Z1000.
Suddenly you’ll be smitten – especially if riding in the twisties, where it’s racing pedigree shines through in its chassis. Couple this with a far more user-friendly engine than the 1098 version and you get a modern, sporty, naked Ducati that works.
Compared to the previous incarnation, the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R is lighter, smoother, more refined and has the handling and brakes a superbike would be proud of. Best of all, it’s 6kg lighter - it’ll be a ‘nicer’ bike to live with. It manages to be more of everything: better for newbies, more capable for fast riders, more fun for adrenalin junkies and has one of the best engines and exhaust notes in biking. It’s a great all-rounder, no matter what your ability. The Rx differs from the Street Triple R with the addition of the tail unit from the firm’s Daytona 675. The seat cowl, bellypan and fly screen are all standard on the RX as well as ABS and Triumph quick shifter.
Yamaha’s MT-09 middleweight roadster should be spectacular – a worthy rival to Triumph’s mighty Street Triple. Experienced riders will love the power from its 115bhp, 850cc three-cylinder engine, its ability to do easy stunts and the huge reserves of ground clearance available. Newer riders will enjoy the motor’s flexibility, light weight and low seat. It’s as happy doing the daily grind as it is whisking you off on holiday and best of is great value for money. The MT-09 could be the king of the class.
Compared to the SRAD this example is Slimmed down, firmed up and with power and torque figures to raise front wheels as well as eyebrows, the Suzuki GSX-R600 is an absolute storm for the money.
The 2008 E8F Kawasaki ZX-10R scores an easy five out of five; it is surely the fastest production 1000cc bike of its generation. But this ZX-10R was not all about Kawasaki’s blistering engine and head-banging attitude, it’s controllable and handled much better than its predecessor. And despite the blistering pace it is actually easier to ride, too. Not for the faint hearted, the 2008 ZX-10R is a true superbike for the road.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX10R D7F with over 165 BHP as standard and speeds in excess of 170 MPH possible, what more do you need? Slightly more user friendly than the psycho C-model Kawasaki ZX-10R of 2004/05 this generation Kawasaki ZX-10R was still pretty extreme, track focused missile.
The ‘R’ version comes with fully-adjustable suspension and fiercer radial four-pot Nissin front brakes, making it the perfect bike to tempt UK riders away from their sportsbikes. If you’re looking for a high-spec middleweight that blows the competition away, the Triumph Street Triple R is in a class of one.
The Yamaha MT-07 is proof you don’t need big power, expensive suspension or fussy electronics to have fun. This is a simple motorcycle. It’s an inspired machine, designed cleverly and built impeccably. It’s one of a rare breed of machine in any class that mixes lightness with an easy to manage engine, making it smooth, fun and easy to ride. t’s light, friendly, punchy, fast, frugal and more fun than it has a right to be. For everyday use and shorter-distance riding it’s actually better than the bigger, more expensive, Yamaha MT-09.
In the Kawasaki ZX-6R, Kawasaki has built a race ready 600 which is road legal, just. Everything about the ZX-6R is track focused, the more you thrash it the more fun you’ll have. The Kawasaki ZX-6R is easily the most fun 600 on track.
Suzuki’s big-bore GSF1250 Bandit gets an all-new engine for 2007 designed to meet the legislation for that period. In doing so, Suzuki have created a 98cc bigger, 1255cc water-cooled, fuel-injected, tourque-laden peach of an engine. The GSF1250 Bandit’s frame and suspension where also upgraded to give a sumptuous, well-mannered mileage machine that can also run in the twisties.
Take Triumph’s superb Sprint ST and make it more adept at touring and also pillion friendly and what do you end up with? A Triumph Sprint GT. Sounds easy enough but in practice Triumph had to revise the Sprint’s chassis in a major way. So with a longer swingarm and steel subframe the GT becomes uber-stable when decked out with 117 litres of luggage, a pillion and 20 litres of juice. It goes further than that, though. Lower seat height, a wider, more comfortable pillion seat, built in grab rails on the topbox mounts and revised footpeg positions… and more. It is comfy for pillion and rider – good enough for Triumph’s claimed 200 miles between fuel stops – the engine is flexible and grunty, steering is agile but stable and it can carry a week’s worth of clothing with ease.
For 2011 the Speed Triple got an all-new chassis package, frame and swingarm to turn the popular big-bore naked bike into a thoroughly modern big-bore naked bike. Triumph got the new version spot on. The new chassis allowed Triumph to shift the engine further forward and angled downward to shift the bike’s front weight bias in order to speed up the steering and make the Speed Triple as agile as the glorious 675 street Triple. Triumph also shifted the battery to behind the headstock, moved the rider closer to the steering head and changed the steering geometry. The upshot is a bike that is so easy to ride in any situation. Fast road riding, town work and track days are now all within the Speed Triple’s remit. The seat is narrower and ride height lower, making the bike accessible to short-legged riders – the slightly smaller turning circle makes life a lot easier too.
For 2011 the Speed Triple got an all-new chassis package, frame and swingarm to turn the popular big-bore naked bike into a thoroughly modern big-bore naked bike. Triumph got the new version spot on. The new chassis allowed Triumph to shift the engine further forward and angled downward to shift the bike’s front weight bias in order to speed up the steering and make the Speed Triple as agile as the glorious 675 street Triple. Triumph also shifted the battery to behind the headstock, moved the rider closer to the steering head and changed the steering geometry. The upshot is a bike that is so easy to ride in any situation. Fast road riding, town work and track days are now all within the Speed Triple’s remit. The seat is narrower and ride height lower, making the bike accessible to short-legged riders – the slightly smaller turning circle makes life a lot easier,too. The SE featured above has a blue frame and swingarm, carbon fibre front mudguard side pods, tank cover panel and inner radiator panels. The colour-matched fly screen, belly pan and seat cowl all come as standard. It also features small details like a clear brake light cover and a tank pad.
Powerful and track focused the R model has 15bhp more than the S model and is 2kg lighter. It has improved handling due to uprated Ohlins suspension and improved ground clearance with a revised foot-peg position. For a large naked bike it’s hugely impressive. The Ducati Monster 1200 R also gets new bigger brakes, a new sub-frame which holds the slimmer tail unit, new colour dash and the Öhlins steering damper. Power is up 10% over the S model Ducati quote 160bhp with 97ftlb of torque. Power and drive is impressive. The 1198 engine has proven reliable over the years, and depsite the increased performance, reliability shouldn’t be a problem. The Monster R comes with the same rider modes and safety pack as the S model. The stunning TFT display completes the bike. Ducati have included their unique safety pack, which is a bucket full of riders aids which includes eight-way traction control, three riding modes and the Bosch 9MP cornering ABS braking system. It also gets 1299 Panigale-style wheels with the same huge 200 section Pirelli Supercorsa SP tyre on the rear; the new Monster R can certainly head straight to the race track.
It was never the most powerful in the supersports class of ‘04 and ‘05, but the Suzuki GSX-R600 was easily the most fun, especially on the track. Boasting the lightest weight of all its contenders, the most track-focused chassis and the most evil sounding engine note, the Suzuki GSX-R600 is the 600 for dedicated hardcore riders. <br>
The 2008 FireBlade comes with attitude from its rev-happy engine, race-like steering (quick, responsive), stability and supremely balance chassis. This Blade will cut it, power delivery is flawlessly smooth, and the ride quality from the fully adjustable suspension is ideal for road riding.
The Kawasaki ZZR1400 is not only the fastest, most powerful motorcycle you could buy in 2006, but happens to be an extremely capable all-round machine too. Limited to 186mph (300kmh) the Kawasaki ZZR1400 will do it with a gear to spare. Capable of commuting, two up sporty touring, track days, drag racing, posing – almost anything is possible on the big Kawasaki ZZR1400 - just don’t try taking it dirt riding.
Kawasaki ZX6R RAF In terms of chassis and handling this generation Kawasaki ZX-6R is a big step forward over the old ZX-6R (P7F/P8F). The new big piston forks use MotoGP technology and make a huge difference. They take a little getting use to at first but enable you to brake devilishly late yet the bike remains stable. Engine wise 115bhp at the back wheel makes it the most powerful standard 600 for that era, say no more.
Kawasaki raised the bar again when releasing the 2013 ZX6R with KTRC (traction control) as standard the set up created really makes for a sharp super sports that has to be ridden to appreciat the agility this bike has.
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