Faster and faster
It’s time to take a quick look at the machines we want in our garage in the next few months
The Kawasaki H2 is powered by a supercharged 998cc inline-four that pumps out as much power as a MotoGP bike — 230 bhp. That’s enough to knock the living daylights out of any other production motorcycle on the planet. Open the taps on this one and the H2’s supercharger will spin up to an almighty 130,000 rpm, producing more than 20psi of boost. The bike can accelerate from zero to 100 kph in less than 2.5 seconds, and top speed is more than 320 kph. That’s so fast, the bike’s bodywork had to be designed by Kawasaki Aerospace (a Kawasaki subsidiary that produces aircraft, jet engines and missiles), just to make sure both wheels stay on the ground when you hit hyperdrive. For now, only five units of this bike have been allotted to the Indian market, and even at Rs 33 lakh apiece, they’ve all been sold already. Damn.
Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR SP
Honda’s streetbikes don’t get their much-vaunted ‘SP’ tag very often. For 2015, there is the new CBR1000RR Fireblade SP, with uprated engine internals, race-spec Öhlins suspension, Brembo monobloc callipers for the front brakes, a tinted windscreen optimised for high-speed aerodynamics and Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tyres. With the new Fireblade SP, Honda are providing the most sorted chassis-suspension combo ever, combined with an adequately powerful, very refined engine and Isle of Man TT-winning heritage. Unlike some of its litre-class competitors, the Fireblade SP is less about willy waving and more about just getting out on the road and going very, very fast. The bike is expected to cost Rs 22-25 lakh in India.
Five years ago, this is the one that started the European bike manufacturers’ all-out war against the Japanese brigade. The BMW S1000RR was already on top last year and didn’t really need a massive upgrade. So, of course, the Bavarians have given it one anyway. The new S1000RR’s inline-four has been tweaked to produce 199 horsepower, and weight has been pared down to 204 kg. There’s also updated styling, a new exhaust system, a revised instrument panel, a new chassis with sharper steering geometry, electronically controlled active suspension and the full bag of gizmos — traction control, stability control, ABS etc. The new BMW S1000RR remains a technology-packed tour de force that shows just how far BMW have come in recent years from their fuddy-duddy past. Indeed, this Bavarian monster can go from zero to 100 kph in less than 3 seconds and hit a top speed of about 290 kph, which should be sufficient for anyone. Once it comes to India later this year, expect to pay about Rs 28-30 lakh for the privilege of owning one.
Yamaha YZF-R1 / R1M
Yamaha has built a completely new R1 for this year, and right off the bat, they’ve hit one out of the park. The new R1’s 998cc inline-four produces 200 horsepower, has an all-new twin-spar aluminium beam frame, a shorter wheelbase and a complete update for the electronics. Fully fuelled and ready to go, the new R1 weighs 199 kg, while the racier, higher-spec R1M (which gets carbonfibre bodywork) weighs just 180 kg. With either bike, performance is intense, with sub-3-second acceleration times for the zero to 100 kph run, and top speeds in the region of 300 kph. With the R1’s Öhlins fully adjustable race-spec suspension, magnesium wheels, aluminium fuel tank, TFT LCD instrument panel and lightweight engine internal, Yamaha really have pulled out all the stops in developing their new flagship superbike. For those who want to live their “I’m-Valentino-Rossi” fantasies and live suitably close to a racetrack, the R1 and the R1M are the bikes to have. Of course, if you want to buy one of these, expect a big dent in your bank account — when it comes to India later this year, the R1 is likely to be priced at around Rs 20-22 lakh, while the R1M will certainly be priced at above Rs 30-32 lakh.
Aprilia RSV4 RF / RSV4 RR
With most superbike enthusiasts in India, when we think of Italian superbikes, we only think Ducati. But there is also, of course, Aprilia, who’ve won the world superbikes championship twice (2010 and 2012) in recent years. Aprilia rider Max Biaggi accomplished this feat with the V4-engined RSV4, which gets a big update for 2015. There are now two models — the RSV4 RR, which is the ‘base’ model, and the racier, more expensive RSV4 RF, which gets bits like forged aluminium wheels, race-spec Öhlins suspension and a special paintjob that’s exclusive to the RF. With either bike, you still get the same 201 bhp V4 engine and a dry weight of 180 kilos. Along with the RSV4’s beautifully machined aluminium beam chassis, you get Aprilia’s APRC suite of electronics, which includes an updated traction control system, ride-by-wire engine management system and updated settings for the wheelie control, launch control and quick-shifter systems. There’s also race ABS, with rear lift-up mitigation for extreme riding. As is evident, the new Aprilia RSV4 is a top-of-the-line Italian superbike and offers the highest levels of performance. We’re not sure if the RSV4 RF will come to India, but the RSV4 RR will definitely be here and you can expect to pay about Rs 28-30 lakh for the machine.
Ducati Panigale 1299
What do you do if you already produce one of the fastest, most powerful, most demanding-to-ride superbikes in the world? Why, if you’re an Italian company, you make the engine bigger and even more powerful, and make the bike go faster than ever before. Until last year, even the world’s best riders said they found the Ducati Panigale 1199 more than a handful. So for this year, there’s the new Panigale 1299, powered by a 205 bhp ‘superquadro’ V-twin and an astonishingly light 167 kg kerb weight. Those figures mean stratospheric performance, which is barely reined in by the 1299’s suite of electronics — multi-mode traction control, anti-wheelie, anti-lock brakes and even an electronically controlled active suspension system. While other manufacturers are still sticking with aluminium beam or steel tube trellis frames, the Panigale uses an advanced and suitably exotic aluminium monocoque chassis that uses the engine as a stressed member. With Ducati officially entering the Indian market this month, with a promise of bringing its entire lineup to our country this year, the Panigale 1299 should be in India within the next 3-4 months. The price? If you have to ask…