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A Guide To 1000cc Sportsbikes And Dirt Bikes

Chaparral Motorsports
November 29, 2010
Last Updated: June 1, 2020

The motorcycling community is large and diverse, with various riders asking different things of their bike. Some prefer models suited for long road trips, some want a comfortable commuting bike, while others simply want a motorcycle that looks great - but for riders who favor performance above all else, nothing tops a 1000cc sportbike.

For the uninitiated, sportbikes are a class of street bike that are specifically tuned and aimed to achieve the most power available on the market. The models in the 1000cc class represent the cream of the crop in terms of pure performance. In fact, modified versions of these bikes are the primary vehicles used in top-flight competitive motorsports events like the AMA Superbike series.

What To Look For In A 1000cc Bike

In terms of specifications that a rider should look for, the most important performance measurements are horsepower and weight.

When buying a sportbike, riders have several things to consider. First and foremost, nobody should be expecting to travel long distances on their new sportbike. The aggressive riding style means that bikers will be leaning into corners, putting pressure on their wrists up front and practically laying down on top of the bike. It's simply not a comfortable way for riders to travel outside of a small metropolitan area.

Bikers also need to be prepared to handle the power that the engine can produce. First-time riders will be better off trying a 250cc or 500cc model until they learn the basics of maneuvering a sportbike, which can be quite different from any other model. While sportbikes are typically thought of as the supercars of the motorcycle world, most anyone can competently handle a high-end Audi or Maserati right off the bat, but the same might not be true of those looking to purchase a 1000cc sportbike.

In terms of specifications that a rider should look for, the most important performance measurements are horsepower and weight. Horsepower will represent how quickly a bike can accelerate while weight will be a rough approximation of handling and agility. That being said, no rider should make a purchase based off of the numbers alone. Subtle differences like footpeg location can make a big difference in how well the bike "feels" to a rider. Always test before you buy, especially with regards to an expensive purchase like a 1000cc sportbike.

To help the process, we've compiled some of the top picks for the 1000cc class. These bikes all perform well in terms of handling, power and a variety of other factors. While drivers can't go wrong with any of these models, they each have their own pluses and minuses.

Yamaha YZF-R1

2011 Yamaha YZF-R1
2011 Yamaha YZF-R1

There are two Yamaha 1000cc motorcycles on our list. The more famous offering is the Yamaha YZF-R1, which has been in production for a number of years. The R1 produces 151 horsepower at 11,500 RPM, which translates to good mid-range power for the model. Weighing in at 474 lbs when fully fueled, it's one of the heavier bikes around, but that could be due to its large fuel tank at 4.8 gallons while getting 29.3 miles per gallon.

Where the R1 really shines is in comfort. One of the bike's key features are the adjustable footpegs, which allow riders of any height or size to fit comfortably. At $13,290, it's also one of the more affordable 1000cc options.

Yamaha FZ1

2011 Yamaha FZ1
2011 Yamaha FZ1

The Yamaha FZ1 is a similar bike in many aspects, but features an upright riding position rather than the traditional aggressive stance. It offers slightly reduced performance at 147 horsepower, but also comes at a significantly reduced price of approximately $10,490. Yamaha claims that the FZ1 is an "upright R1 ready to take on the world."

KTM 1190 RC8 R

2010 KTM 1190 RC8 R
2010 KTM 1190 RC8 R

Riders looking to maximizing their comfort might also be interested the KTM RC8R. The RC8R features a customizable seat, footpegs and handlebars, meaning that a rider will be able to tailor the bike exactly to their specifications. With 86 lb-ft of torque at just 443 lbs, the RC8R is one of the best handling bikes available. The 155 horsepower is outclassed by several other bikes, but still gets the job done for the vast majority of riders. Perhaps the only downside for the RCR8 is its nearly $20,000 price tag, but with the the highly customizable features and top performance, it may just be worth it.

Kawasaki ZX-10R

2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS
2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS

For those looking for a slightly more affordable option, the Kawasaki ZX-10R is a strong buy in terms of pure performance. This model delivers 163 horsepower and 76 lb-ft of torque with a 458 lb weight, making it one of the best-performing bikes available on the market. Riders interested in styling hopefully like bright green, as the model only comes in the traditional Kawasaki coloring. Although at just $13,199, riders can use their savings to customize their ZX-10R any way they want.

Suzuki GSX-R1000

2011 Suzuki GSX-R1000
2011 Suzuki GSX-R1000

Suzuki fans were disappointed when the Japanese manufacturer announced that there would be no new Suzuki GSX-R1000 for 2010, as the GSX-R series, also known as a "Gixxer" is a storied model with a long history. Fortunately, the Gixxer is back with a vengeance for the 2011 model year, and promises to continue the prestige carried by the model for more than 25 years.

The first Gixxer essentially defined the superbike class, and the modern version of the Gixxer continues to be a top buy for riders looking for a Suzuki 1000cc motorcycle. With 160 horsepower and 75 lb-ft of torque powering a 460 lb frame, the Suzuki is a strong all-around bike. It also posts a strong 33 miles per gallon, making it a good commuter bike. The low seat height will also make the Gixxer a preferable choice for shorter riders. Suzuki has priced the new model at $13,599 and offers it in either metallic blue or black.

Honda CBR1000RR

2011 Honda CBR1000RR ABS
2011 Honda CBR1000RR ABS

The Honda CBR1000RR is a classic case of a bike that doesn't do anything spectacular but does everything well, making it a strong choice for bikers. The 153 horsepower and 77 lb-ft of torque put it on par with most of the other bikes mentioned, this Honda 1000cc motorcycle is able to do more with the power because of its slim 451 lb frame, which also makes it easier for less-experienced sportbike riders to handle. The bike's excellent suspension also means that riders looking to handle some corners on either the track or the city will find the CBR to be a great partner.

The orange/silver/black paint scheme attracts attention and gives the CBR slightly more flash than many of the other bikes mentioned. The bike starts at $13,399, but riders looking for safety may want to spring for an optional anti-lock brake system, which retails for an extra $1,000.

With so many options, fans of high-end sportbikes will be able to pick out a model that exactly matches their riding style.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
2022 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX

Two up riding on a 1000cc sport bike is typically done in short jaunts due to passenger seating and comfort relegated to a minimum. The new 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX flips two up sport bike riding on its head as the bike was designed to be more enjoyable for both rider and passenger to encourage longer trips. As a sport tourer, the new Ninja 1000SX has features to make for a more comfortable and more fun ride. The passenger seat is now thicker with a new profile to provide more cushion and support for long trips. The end of the passenger seat also has a slightly raised tail to ensure the passenger's derriere doesn't slide off on hard accelerations. Both the rider and passenger seat material has been designed to resist cold temperatures. An adaptable, relaxed upright riding position is comfortable and optimized to accommodate a full range of riding situations. The exhaust has been redesigned to a single muffler slung just below the passenger peg on the right side of the bike. The new design makes for a weight savings of several pounds. Up front the adjustable windscreen provides even more adjustability for better wind protection.

Powered by a 1,043cc, four-stroke, in-line four cylinder engine that puts out 140hp and 82-ft-lbs of peak torque, throw the accessory hard bags on the Ninja 1000SX and you'll be ready for long weekend excursions with speed and style. You can track your trips via GPS, monitor fuel, mileage, and maintenance schedules all on your smart phone with the Kawasaki Rideology App. The new 4.3" TFT display at the center of the handlebars can is your rider central allowing you keep track of the various modes and electronic aids the bike is outfitted with such as Power mode, Traction Control, Riding modes, IMU indicator, and Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS) indicator. With an MSRP of $12,199 the 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX is hard to pass up and hard to pass.

Suzuki GSX-S1000FZ

Suzuki GSX-S1000FZ
Suzuki GSX-S1000FZ

While the Suzuki GSX-R1000 might be a track master, the Suzuki GSX-1000FZ is a road warrior. Designed for street riding and all-day comfort and tuned for sport touring, the 147 horsepower and nearly 80-ft-lbs or torque put out by the GSX-R based 999cc four cylinder engine puts the machine on par with the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX. Featuring a more sport oriented riding position as opposed to the more upright position of the Ninja, the Suzuki will appeal to those that like that in-the bike feeling and hunkering down behind the wind screen while ripping the throttle.

Riders can optimize the riding experience to suit their preference or the conditions thanks to the Suzuki's Advanced Traction Control System. You can choose between three different modes to control throttle sensitivity or turn the traction control system off completely. The smooth shifting close ration six speed transmission is optimized to deliver power as needed while providing reduced RPMs when highway cruising. When things get a bit aggressive the CAS clutch increases plate pressure under acceleration, and provides predictable handling and smooth transitions during engine braking and corner entry by acting as as a slipper clutch. Suspension on the Suzuki GSX-S1000FZ is handled by 43mm inverted KYB forks that offer compression and rebound damping adjustment, a well as spring preload adjustment. At the rear is a link-type rear suspension, with arched aluminum swingarm and a single shock absorber that provides seven-way adjustable spring preload as well as rebound damping force adjustment. The Suzuki GSX-S1000FZ has a MSPR of $11,599 which puts it at $600 less than the Ninja 1000SX.

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