So to continue where I left off after Part 1, let’s jump right in with the R1.
2009 R1: Of all of the bikes in this review, this particular machine was probably the most heavily modified with aftermarket front braking system, aftermarket suspension, exhaust, etc. No engine modifications, but everything else had probably been touched at some point. I’ve also ridden a stock 2012 R1, so will include that as well. The modified R1 with the crossplane engine was probably the most confidence inspiring machine of the group – it was a bike I wanted to bury into a corner, and it was just THERE – very responsive, agile and fun. I wasn’t a fan of the stock version at least in a street setting – the power bands aren’t set up for that, and the ergonomics weren’t comfortable for me. This isn’t a bike I’d buy for a street bike…the modified ’09 would make a nice track or twisties only machine, but other than that? Meh.
CBR1000RR: I’ve been on a 2004 and 2009 CBR. Of all of the liter bikes, this one is by far the most “user friendly” when it comes to riding. Fairly comfortable, with one of the smoothest power bands it makes it a great choice for the average street rider. With more useable power in a street friendly RPM range without the big jumps the other bikes are prone to, this bike makes it to the top of my list as a recommendation for street riders new to liter bikes and looking to move up. Aesthetically it’s appealing, ergonomics are decent, and it’s the least “temperamental” of this group. Fairings are a PITA to deal with if you need to take them off though, so if you perform your own maintenance, that’s a downside.
Overall, all of these bikes are great in their own regards. For me, my top pick of the Japanese 1000cc bikes for both street and track is the ZX10R. After that, the list separates, in order of preference:
Track: R1, GSXR1000, CBR1000RR
Street: GSXR1000, CBR1000RR, R1
The order I would recommend these bikes to someone looking at a liter bike but who had little or no track and/or bigger bike experience would be: CBR1000RR, GSXR1000, ZX10R, R1.
Ergonomics are important to me – being comfortable and feeling secure on my bikes is a huge confidence factor in my riding, and what I want on the track is different than what I may want on the street. Responsiveness of brakes (IMO all stock systems suck), how the power band hits and where, flick ability…these are all additional factors that weigh in on my personal choices. What one person likes may not work for someone else but personal experience is still very useful in making a choice of which bike to pursue!