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The World’s Best Superbikes Face Off On Paper!


Can the bonkers new Fireblade take the fight to established favourites like the Panigale and S 1000 RR?

For far too long now, the Indian market has been given the cold shoulder by international manufacturers, with only the bottom rungs of their lineups resigned to our showrooms. Times are changing though, and Honda has recently opened bookings for its paradigm-shifting CBR1000RR-R Fireblade in India. It joins the Ducati Panigale V4 S and the BMW S 1000 RR on our shores, meaning that the creme de la creme of the current superbike crop are now all on sale in India. So how do they stack up against each other?

Powertrain

Specifications

Honda CBR1000RR-R SP

Ducati Panigale V4 S

BMW S 1000 RR Sport

Engine

999.9cc, inline-four cylinder, liquid-cooled engine

1,103cc, 90-degree V4, liquid-cooled engine

999cc, inline-four cylinder, liquid-cooled engine

Power

217.5PS @ 14,500rpm

214.14PS @ 13,000rpm

206.66PS @ 13,500rpm

Torque

113Nm @ 12,500rpm

124Nm @ 10,000rpm

113Nm @ 11,000rpm

Compression Ratio

13:1

14:1

13.3:1

Bore x Stroke

81mm x 48.5mm

81mm x 53.5mm

80mm x 49.7mm

Gearbox

6-speed

6-speed

6-speed

Once the laughing stock of the litre-class superbike segment when it came to engine output, the Fireblade now stands proud as the most powerful motorcycle in its class, and indeed the most powerful naturally-aspirated motorcycle in the world. It has managed this feat by stretching its motor to the very edge of the 1000cc displacement limit, and using a more direct intake channel through the headstock rather than around it. But the flipside of the coin is that the CBR produces its figures extremely high up in the rev range, indicating that this engine will need to be worked hard to get the most out of it.

The BMW S 1000 RR was once the horsepower king but it is now the least powerful of this trio, indicating just how much the game has moved forwards. Nevertheless, it still matches the Honda's torque figure, and delivers it a whole 1500rpm earlier. It also packs in ShiftCam variable valve timing technology (the only one of these three to offer it), ensuring very even torque delivery across the rev range. Speaking of torque, the Panigale V4 S is in a class of its own, but that's no surprise considering its V4 engine layout and 103cc displacement advantage. It's also the earliest of this trio to deliver its peak output, which should render it one of if not the most usable bikes here.

Underpinnings

Specifications

Honda CBR1000RR-R SP

Ducati Panigale V4 S

BMW S 1000 RR Sport

Frame

Aluminium twin spar

Aluminium alloy front frame

Bridge-type cast aluminium frame

Suspension

F: 43mm Ohlins NPX USD fork
R: Linked Ohlins TTX shock absorber

F: 43mm Ohlins NIX USD fork
R: Ohlins TTX shock absorber

F: 45mm USD fork

R: Linked monoshock

Tyres

F: 120/70-ZR17

R: 200/55-ZR17

F: 120/70-ZR17

R: 200/60-ZR17

F: 120/70-ZR17
R: 190/55-ZR17

Brakes

F: 330mm twin discs, Brembo 4-piston calipers

R:  220mm disc, Brembo 2-piston caliper

F: 330mm twin discs, Brembo 4-piston calipers

R:  245mm disc, 2-piston caliper

F: 320mm twin discs, 4-piston calipers

R:  220mm disc, 2-piston caliper

It fought long and it fought hard but the Panigale's finicky monocoque construction has finally made way for a more conventional "front frame" design on the V4. This brings it more in-line with the Beemer and the 'Blade, both of which use aluminium twin-spar frames. While the Honda and the Ducati are largely neck-and-neck, the S 1000 RR has to make do with smaller front brake discs and a narrower rear tyre. All three variants in this comparison get electronically adjustable semi-active suspension and IMU-assisted rider aids like cornering ABS.

Dimensions

Specifications

Honda CBR1000RR-R SP

Ducati Panigale V4 S

BMW S 1000 RR Sport

Wheelbase

1455mm

1464mm

1441mm

Ground clearance

118.6mm

N/A

N/A

Fuel tank capacity

16.1-litres

16-litres

16.5-litres

Seat height

831mm

830mm

824mm

Kerb weight

201.3kg

195kg

197kg

It may be the most powerful bike here, but the Fireblade is also the heaviest of the trio. The differences aren't very large, but when things are this close, every little edge over your opponents counts. In standard trim, it's the Panigale that's the lightest, despite packing in the biggest motor, but if you spend a little more and get the M Package on the Beemer, that will drop its weight down to 193.5kg.

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