Faster and Faster Best of 2006 Awards
Here we go...
Best open-class sportsbike
Kawasaki have had a tradition of building some of the fastest, most powerful motorcycles in the world. Remember the H1, Z1, GPZ750 Turbo, GPZ900, ZXR750, ZZR1100 and the ZX-12R? The ZX-12R, which packs 165 horsepower, can easily hit 280km/h. Kawasaki decided that was not enough, so they launched the ZZR1400, which packs 197 horsepower and does top speeds of 320km/h. It also looks awesome and handles well for its size and weight. In our book, it’s the best open class sportsbike of 2006. Suzuki, now are you going to build that six-cylinder, 1100cc, 210bhp Hayabusa in 2008…?
Best litre-class sportsbike
It’s got to be the Suzuki GSX-R1000. Small, light, nimble, and hugely powerful, the mega Gixxer continued to redefine the modern-day 1000cc superbike. The 2007 model will have more power, various chassis and suspension tweaks and even traction control, but the 2006 GSX-R1000 actually looks better. Yeah, it’s the best litre-class superbike of 2006, though the all-new Yamaha R1 is waiting to snatch away its glory in 2007!
Best middleweight sportsbike
It was tough deciding between the Triumph Daytona 675 and the Suzuki GSX-R750, but the 675 won out in the end. The bike, with its sharp and distinctive looks, powerful three cylinder engine, and superb handling, offers a package that few can ignore. It’s got enough of everything – power, performance, handling, style, attitude – but doesn’t overwhelm you with extreme ergonomics or scary acceleration/top speeds. Right then, the Triumph 675, which also won the 2006 International Bike of the Year award, was the best middleweight sportsbike in 2006. But Triumph definitely need to watch out for the new Honda CBR600RR and Kawasaki ZX-6R in 2007.
Best styled sportsbike
The MV Agusta F41000R, of course. Massimo Tamburini has created a motorcycle just refuses to be bested in terms of styling and sheer, gorgeous street presence. There are bikes that are lighter, more powerful and faster, but when it comes to a motorcycle making you stop and just stare at it in complete silence, the MV is still at the top. And 300km/h should be enough for anyone anyway. No discussion, no debate and no arguments – the MV Agusta F41000R was the best styled sportsbike in 2006.
Again, no surprises here – it’s the Aprilia Tuono R, though the Triumph Speed Triple is a very close second. With its mix of aggressive and beautifully proportionate styling, stonking V-twin engine, and high-spec chassis and suspension bits, the Tuono R is one hell of a machine for those who want the ultimate in sportsbike performance, but can’t be bothered with racebike-style fairings and extreme ergonomics. The Tuono R was indeed the best streetfighter in 2006, though it will have some stiff competition from the KTM 990 Superduke R and the BMW HP2 Megamoto in 2007.
It’s our old favourite – the Honda VFR800, which just about edged out the BMW K1200S by a narrow margin. Yes, the BMW is more powerful, quicker and faster, but the VFR, with its 800cc VTEC V-four, still does it right for us. Superb ergonomics, manageable heft, deft handling and adequate power mean that the smooth, refined VFR still ticks all the boxes. And now that the earlier glitches in the VTEC system have been ironed out, it’s better than ever before. The VFR800 was the best sportstourer in 2006, but with the imminent arrival of the Kawasaki 1400GTR, its position may be threatened in 2007-08.
Funkiest, coolest off-beat bike
It’s a scooter! Yeah, we quite love the Gilera Fuoco 500 (and the Piaggio MP3 on which it’s based). With its three wheels, super-funky styling and sporty handling and performance, the Fuoco 500 has the style, panache and cool of a proper Italian machine. And we absolutely love it for that.
The most desirable bike
The most desirable motorcycle in 2006 was also from Italy. What could possibly be more desirable than parking a proper MotoGP replica in your garage, and the Ducati Desmosedici RR is just that. The Desmosedici’s MotoGP-spec 989cc L4 makes 205 horsepower and can propel the 165-kilo bike to speeds in excess of 320km/h. And the bike’s styling is so utterly, madly, beautifully gorgeous, it’s beyond us to say anything about it. The Desmo RR may cost US$65,000 but we’d do anything to get our hands on one.