BMW's timing was just right. Due to the economic meltdown, the two-year cycle for sportbike updates finally came to an end. And as it were, BMW took aim to diversify and conquer the exclusive literbike wars.
The result was the S1000RR, and by now everyone knows how that quest turned out. If you don't, you can read about Kevin's first ride and our 2010 literbike shootout. BMW fans (and sportbike enthusiasts in general) came to expect big things from the German brand and the manufacturer knew it would have to bring not just any gun to the gun fight, but a cannon. Boy did it ever.
With almost 176 horsepower touching the tarmac at the flick of the wrist, the S1000RR easily trumped all of the other players in our 2010 literbike shootout. Add to that a chassis that performs on par or better than everything else out there, and an electronics package that's second to none, and you can see why we named it our 2010 Motorcycle of the Year.
But the times, they are a-changin'. By 2010 Kawasaki's flagship ZX-10R was getting a little long in the tooth and was in need of a revamp. On the global competition stage, the Zed wasn't doing too well either, with poor finishes in World Superbike despite Team Green pulling out of MotoGP to focus on its production bikes.
Which was true, except the focus wasn't on the current model, but its successor: the 2011 ZX-10R. Editor Duke covered the changes in his tech piece, and Pete was lucky enough to flog Kawi's latest literbike at Road Atlanta during the press intro for his first-ride story.
With its all-new design and standard traction control, Team Green's latest weapon has created a lot of buzz, so we decided to cut the fluff and pit the latest contender against the reigning literbike champ, the S1000RR, in a mano-a-mano matchup for outright honors. Since the other machines in this class are virtually unchanged for 2011, we felt no need to include them. The KTM RC8R is a notable exception, as it has received some key revisions for the new year, but unfortunately one wasn't available to us in time for this test.
This particular shootout centers around how this pair of literbikes function dynamically at a racing circuit. We'll soon follow it up with a street-only comparison test.
More: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R vs. 2011 BMW S1000RR Shootout