It has been a couple years since we last did a Japanese literbike shootout, because, frankly, the field has been quite stagnant for a while (save for Kawasaki's total revamp of the ZX-10R last year). It took them another year, but Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha have all tweaked their respective contenders for 2012 - the CBR1000RR, GSX-R1000 and YZF-R1, have significant changes, while Kawasaki returns for 2012 with the same traction-control-equipped machine it introduced last year, confident of its chances.
Having ridden all of the players at their respective intros, we knew it was time to once again pit them against one another for Japanese literbike supremacy. Read the respective stories for details on the upgrades, because here we're evaluating how they compare to one another. With the CBR's improved suspension, the GSX-R's re-worked engine and upgraded brakes, and the addition of traction control to the YZF-R1, the ZX-10R has some stiff competition this year.
If hype is all that's needed to win shootout comparisons, Ducati's new 1199 Panigale would have this in the bag. We're out to prove that this year's literbike field is closer than most would think. Welcome to Motorcycle.com's 2012 literbike shootout, Part One.
Instead of a mega test with every contender, we decided to split the shootouts, first with the four Japanese literbikes, followed by a separate test with the Euro brands. The winners will face off in a head-to-head battle in part three.
More: 2012 Japanese Superbike Shootout - Video on Motorcycle.com