Something for the weekend? Which would you pick?
A selection of the top-spec models from ducati, bmw, aprilia and honda
The rather flashy photos in this article were taken by the genius that is Steinhardt Photography. Go and check out his Tribe/Facebook and Instagram.
It's every motorcyclist's wet dream isn't it? Four of the most pukka race-reps out there worth £80,000 between them. The million-dollar question is which one do you pick for the weekend?
All images - Steinhardt Photography
Living the dream...
Whilst working for SuperBike Magazine on a group test I was faced with this rather pleasant quandary. Four brand-new pieces of exotica lined up at SuperBike HQ and I had first pick of the keys (everyone else must have been busy that day)
The Honda Fireblade SP had just hit the shops and was the must-have flavour of the month for all the magazines. In reality though it was just another slightly boring, underpowered 'blade with some fancy suspenders fitted. When you're in this sort of company, a tarted up Fireblade just doesn't cut the mustard. Pass.
Honda Fireblade SP. An impressive spec but dead last in this group of exotics
When in rome...or some other italian pun - i give you the aprilia rsv4-r
The Aprilia RSV4-R was a machine I'd ridden before, and I already knew the fuel bill on that thing would be crippling - if it made it through a tank of fuel that is. We'd experienced some quite serious reliability issues with Aprilias loaned to us. Not forgetting these were brand-new and well prepared press bikes that were unexpectedly breaking down. I witnessed a gearbox die in dramatic fashion during a previous test and this was enough to put me off taking another one home with me. I'd be in for a real bollocking if another one broke.
On the plus side the RSV4-R came with a really cool Italian number plate fitted to it! I don't think South Wales Police were able to accurately track those things you know...
To be fair to the Aprilia, when the RSV4-R did work it was sublime. The closest thing to a World Superbike machine on the road. The noise, the minuscule size and the handling that bordered on telepathic in its responses. What a fantastic, if flawed bike.
Aprilia RSV4-R - it would have been in the running if it wasn't for reliability issues
The HP4 carbon was the blingy offering from BMW and if I wasn't completely bored of inline-four engines at that time, I'd have put it right at the top of the pile. Who doesn't love to play with launch control after all? Have a listen to the clip below of me giving the launch control a blast.
The HP4 carbon came a very, very close second. That's me, hamming it up for the snapper.
And the winner is...
Who am I kidding though? I only ever had eyes for the big, loud, brash and reassuringly expensive Ducati from the beginning. The 'R' model was the top of the tree in their lineup at the time, just before the Superleggera was launched. The 1199cc V-Twin made 200bhp and the top speed was also very near 200 if you tucked in enough with the wind behind you. With the SuperBike Magazine fuel card in my pocket, blistering summer weather and 1000 miles of Welsh roads to play on, it was set to be a memorable weekend...
A real looker. And the Ducati isn't bad either...
You'll be surprised to hear then that in actual fact, the £28,000 Ducati Panigale R is a pretty shit road bike. Yes it's so fast it'll turn your brain to mush and make you dribble like a simpleton. On the road though it's simply too expensive to push hard, and if you do try and push hard, the chassis is so stiff you'll experience next to zero feedback whilst the bike laughs off your attempts to ride quickly. Traffic? Forget about it. And forget about ever having children after riding it thanks to the searing heat and buzzing vibration through the granite-hard seat.
It's the real deal.
The 'R' was so frustrating and crippling on the road, surging around on anything less than full throttle - that I decided to do what every other Ducati owner does. I took it to the pub to pose for a bit. Then rode to the local bike meet to pose for a bit longer. The big red beast certainly attracted its fair share of attention. Which is the main reason people buy them in the first place. As anything more than an occasional toy? Forget about it
Would I choose it for the weekend again? In a heartbeat.