The guys at the UK’s SuperBike magazine recently took Suzuki’s new GSX-R 1000, Honda’s CBR 929 Fireblade, Yamaha’s R1 and Kawasaki’s ZX-9R to the Almeria circuit in Spain followed by some road miles around Europe to see how they perform in the real world.

SuperBike magazine have kindly allowed us to reproduce some of the test, which featured in their March issue. Go buy the magazine for the full story and lots of silly photos.

They scored each area of the bikes by percentage.

Suzuki GSX-R 1000 Honda Fireblade Yamaha R1 Kawasaki ZX-9R
Engine 99%
Chassis 97%
Styling 96%
Overall 97%
Engine 92%
Chassis 96%
Styling 89%
Overall 93%
Engine 94%
Chassis 90%
Styling 97%
Overall 93%
Engine 90%
Chassis 87%
Styling 86%
Overall 88%

One of the testers (Jim) gave his opinion and summed each bike up as follows.

ZX-9R, 4th – “There is no doubt the ZX-9R is out of its depth in these waters. It is a big, heavy, comfortable sportsbike that is more at home being a high speed cruiser rather than a cutting-edge weapon. It does everything well but does not blow the skirt up like the others can. Kawasaki have been well and truly left behind in the hyper-sports stakes; they no longer have anything to bring to the party, which is a great shame. If race development is anything to go by, one could be forgiven for thinking they have simply given up.”

R1, 3rd – “I feel guilty awarding the oh-so-sexy R1 the bronze medal. It’s still stunning to look at and can boast the smoothest, creamiest motor in the business. But it bothers me that no two R1s ever feel the same. Some feel faster than others, some have suspect gearboxes, and some handle dreadfully. The R1 loses out on high speed stability, particularly on bumpy B-roads where the front end wriggles and twitches while the Honda or Suzuki would digest lumps and bumps with ease. Time has come for Yamaha to up their game.”

Fireblade, 2nd – “I feel that the Blade is as good a package as the Suzuki, but clearly with a 60cc and major performance deficit. The handling is sharp, it will easily out-brake its rivals and has by far the best riding position. Does the Blade really need a one-litre motor to be a better bike? I think not. It is a finely balanced machine in every respect, certainly the easiest to get on and ride hard straight away. In fact, I’d wager that 90% of trackday riders would put their fastest laps on the Honda rather than the R1 or GSX-R. Let down by dull styling – should look more special.”

GSX-R 1000, 1st – “I don’t think any of us were fully prepared for the Grade-A kicking that the Suzuki was about to administer to its rivals. But Suzuki have gone and given us a devastating package of weight, power and handling that slaughters the opposition. It doesn’t just beat the R1 in every department, it utterly murders it. This bike is closer to perfection than any four-cylinder bike yet made, with improvements only (arguably) necessary in the braking department. The GSX-R is the new boss by a mile. And that is bloody impressive.”

The overall conclusion was called the ‘Final Analysis’ – We have summarized that here

“Let’s try to sit quietly back and put things into perspective. “The new GSX-R 1000 is quite clearly the absolute winner of this 1000cc Mega test. 

“It is the fastest, it is the best-handling, it looks stunning and has simply moved the whole game on another 20%, which is all good and natural. “But it doesn’t just win.

“The GSX-R is as civil as it is stupidly fast, and it doesn’t intimidate or make you feel stupid as a rider. Just makes you feel bloody fast. Never thought that I would ride a Japanese production bike that made an R1 feel crude and underpowered, but that’s what the GSX-R 1000 does. Second place is a tough one to call. The R1 has the engine, and the Fireblade has the chassis. The R1 has styling and sex appeal, the Fireblade has incredible brakes and fuel injection. The R1 will tankslap if provoked, the Fireblade will not.

“The Fireblade was faster in a straight line and over the quarter mile than the R1, it was quicker at the track and on the road.

“The Blade is a big-mileage expert, however. It won our Sportsbike of the Year 2000 test for that very reason – the R1 is only good for Sunday blasts by comparison.

“How good a bike looks is every bit as important as how good it goes, and the R1 looks the part. It also has another 60cc and considerable midrange power advantage over the Honda, but the suspension is second-rate after the Fireblade’s excellent Showa set-up, and the way the Honda turns and deals with bumps makes the Yamaha look bloody stupid.

“Which leaves us with the ZX-9R languishing in last place. Something very serious is going on at Kawasaki – we haven’t seen a stoating model from them for years now.

“The GSX-R 1000 has arrived. Welcome to the next level.”

Thanks to Superbike magazine for letting use these excerpts from their March 2001 issue