During our last trip abroad we asked an expert what he was thinking about the nature of the current 1000cc sportsbikes.
'It pains me to say it but Suzuki have pandered to racing and tamed down the GSX-R1000. The GSX-R1000 took away the growl and grunt of the K5 thanks to emission legislation, and now the K11 is chasing revs and peak power - or the potential to chase revs - with a shorter stroke engine. It still has the longest stroke in the liter class, which is why it has that nice lift at 4,000rpm, but I still say the Suzuki GSX-R1000 K5 was the last of the real Suzuki superbikes – a fantastic engine. Now the GSX-R is just like the others.'
'For years the Yamaha YZF-R1 has revved its tits off, which is why racers like it. But this crossplane crank raises lots of questions. On the dyno it doesn't impress: peaky, not much midrange, not very smooth. Yet everyone's raving about it, especially on track. It might be because it has a weaker midrange, so the rider can use more of it on initial corner exit. We've often seen that racers can have too much snap off the throttle. The Yamaha YZF-R1 might give an easier transition at tiny throttle openings, stealing meters at each corner exit. It might also be that the crank, with equally spaced crankpins, spins up quicker than a 180 degree crank. Or maybe exhaust back-pressure or crankcase pumping give effects we haven't found yet. There's loads of electronics inside this engine too – it's be a while before we fully understand it.
'Everyone says the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is an evil, nasty thing but the engine never comes across like that on the dyno. Over the years they've tamed it with emissions controls, especially using camshaft timing (and the 2010 model has two lambda sensors in the exhaust), and so now it's got a steady shaped curve and decent top end.
'The Honda CBR1000RR wins, but I hear you not have them in Thailand, though. It has the lot – great midrange and top end. It's a bit woolly between 4,000 and 6,000rpm, where the Suzuki GSX-R1000 is strong, but after that it just does what it should.'