While to the untrained eye (and ear) there’s not much difference between one bike and another, in reality, they are worlds apart. The amount of engineering and technology that goes into crafting a superbike is unrivalled by their distant motorbike cousins.
It was nearly 50 years ago that the first bike that can be classed as a ‘super’ bike roared into being. That was the Honda CB750. Since 1969 the world of superbikes has only become more advanced, smarter, and, of course, faster. Optimised for road racing, superbikes are some of the fastest machines you’ll ever see. As well as being super-fast, superbikes must also be road-legal and available for the public to buy – at least in theory. In practice, the cost of a new, high powered superbike is well beyond most bike enthusiasts.
Superbikes today are wonders of modern engineering. In 1999 the rules of world superbike racing had to be changed as it was agreed manufacturers were creating bikes that were too fast. One-upmanship between manufacturers needed to be reigned in, so an agreement was reached that bikes would be limited to a top speed of just 186 mph.
Below we’ve chosen our top 5 road-legal superbikes that often feature in countdowns of the top 10 superbikes in the world today. Each one is unique, but they all give a thrilling ride based on clever engineering and raw power.
1. Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja
One of the world’s fastest superbikes, the ZX-10R Ninja handles much better than its predecessors. While still packing a punch with its 1000cc engine, it’s easier to ride so handles better on the road, as well as the track.
Billed by Suzuki as their lightest, most aerodynamic, hardest accelerating bike ever, the GSX-R1000 packs a powerful punch. A top speed of 173 mph and 0 to 100km/h in three seconds means this bike is a thrill to ride. Improvements in the design of the chassis help push this bike easily into corners. Its 1000-cc engine and an engine management system, based on MotoGP technology, make this bike great to ride on both track and street; though to fully appreciate the raw power of this machine, get yourself out to the track and see what it can really do.
3. Yamaha YZF-R1M
A brand-new road-legal Yamaha YZF-R1M comes with an invitation to an exclusive Yamaha Racing Experience, two of which are held every year. Even though this superbike is road legal, releasing its full power on public roads is very far from legal. But the racing experience isn’t only about releasing the raw power of the 998-cc engine, it’s a chance to learn about the sophisticated electronics package that goes into making this impressive superbike.
4. Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition
This is more than a superbike, it’s a collector’s item. Developed using elements from the 1299 Superlegga, 1299 Panigale, and the Panigale R, the Final Edition is a celebration of all that came before it. Using their competition experience Ducati have created advanced electronic control systems to enhance the engine and chassis response no matter what the situation. The Panigale R Final Edition will be a numbered series, but there will not be a limit so everyone who wants to honour the passing of the Panigale series by purchasing one of these special bikes should have the opportunity. https://vimeo.com/225030732
5. Spirit GP Street R
After a brief hiatus, Spirit roared back onto the scene with the naked GP-Street roadster. This new model is packed full of technology with a fully adjustable chassis that’s GP inspired. When the GP-Street R was revealed, customisation was available in the form of carbon wheels, bespoke paintwork, and custom exhausts. The price tag for this impressive machine? At the higher end, the GP-Street R will set you back around £70k.