Feb 26, 2010

6 What is a "Superbike"? What is a "Super Sports" bike?

An attempt to demystify a couple of international motorcycle categories..

Show an average Indian a photo of the Suzuki Hayabusa and ask him, what kind of bike is it? The answer in most cases would be, SUPERBIKE..!!

Superbikes for a Common Indian
[The Common Man sketch: RK Laxman]

Proceed to show him the photo of a KTM 990 Super Duke, a 1000cc Yamaha FZ1 or even the Ninja 250R. The answer would still be SUPERBIKE. For most Indians the term Superbike is actually a generic name for a imported motorcycle with a big (in the Indian context) engine with a FAT rear tyre..!!

For someone who has been fed on a regular diet of 100 cc motorcycles, it is hardly surprising. To tell the truth, till not very long ago, even I used to loosely use the term "Superbike" to describe the exotic crotch rockets.

So what is a Superbike?

A quick browse through the websites of the 4 mighty Japs (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha) reveals that each manufacturer currently has at least two full faired, top of the line sports motorcycles (crotch rockets) from its lineup, a 1000 cc and another 600 cc.

Honda: CBR 1000RR and CBR600RR

Kawasaki: Ninja ZX-10R and Ninja ZX-6R

Suzuki: GSX-R1000 and GSX-R600 (Suzuki also has a GSX-R 750)

Yamaha: YZF-R1 and YZF-R6

To cut the long story short, the above mentioned 1000 cc bikes (also called as the liter class) are sometimes referred as "Superbikes" and the 600 cc models as "Super Sport" bikes.

The four Japanese manufacturers though have listed (in its websites) their 1000 cc and 600 cc models together under the "Super Sports" category and have not created a separate "Superbike" category for their 1000 cc models. At the same time, Ducati does categorize its 848 and 1198 as a "Superbike" on its website.

Why are they called so?

"Superbike" racing is actually a category of motorcycle racing and the "Super Sport" category of racing is a support class to the "World Superbike Championship". The motorcycles used for racing in these championships are basically derived from standard production models with tightly regulated modifications.

According to rules laid down, the "Superbike" racing motorcycles must have four-stroke engines between 750 cc and 1000 cc for four cylinder engines and between 850 cc and 1200 cc for twin cylinder motorcycles. The "Super Sport" racing motorcycles must have four-stroke engine with engines up to 600 cc for four cylinder and 750 cc for twin-cylinder bikes.

Therefore the production models, from which the racing bikes for the "Superbike" Championship and the "Super Sports" Championship are derived, are also sometimes referred to as "Superbikes" and "Super Sports" bikes respectively. These models are developed to perform on race tracks.

2009 WSB Yamaha R1

2009 WSB Yamaha R1

[For more on Superbike racing, click here]

[For more on Supersport racing, click here]

[Visit the World Superbike Championship website, click here..]

What is MotoGP?

MotoGP is the two wheeler equivalent of what Formula 1 racing is for cars. Motorcycles are specifically developed to participate in MotoGP.

125-150 cc motorcycles categorized as Super Sports?

Yamaha and Honda currently have two 125 cc models which they categorize as Super Sports. It’s the Yamaha YZF-R125 and CBR125R respectively.

Yamaha YZF R125Unlike the 1000 cc and 600 cc models, these two particular 125 cc models do not have a racing category to cater to and are basically beginners’ bikes. But due to the styling inspiration from the bigger 600-1000 cc bikes, the manufacturers have decided to brand these two 125 cc bikes under Super Sports category.

Even at the time of launch of the Yamaha R15 in India, it was marketed as India’s first Super Sports bike. Now it’s left to you to decide whether to accept whether the sub 600 cc models qualify as a Super Sports bike. Kawasaki though calls its Ninja 250R just as a Sport Bike and not as a Super Sports bike.

What about the Suzuki Hayabusa then?

Thanks to the Bollywood flick Dhoom and the Bollywood star John Abraham (once owner of the Hayabusa), the average Indian Joe at least recognizes the Hayabusa as a Japanese Superbike. But the 1300 cc Hayabusa is a bit heavy and big to be used as a motorcycle for racing and therefore is not a Superbike or a Super Sports bike. The Hayabusa is basically meant for attaining straight line speeds. For its Hyper performance the Hayabusa is often referred as a "Hyper Sports bike".

What about bikes like the KTM 990 Super Duke and Yamaha FZ1?

These motorcycles are designed more for street use rather than for the race track and can be categorized as "Street Bikes".

So there we have it, not every imported motorcycle with a big engine and a Fat rear tyre is a SUPERBIKE.

Related Posts


This is to remind that the Views or Opinions in the blog are entirely mine unless explicitly stated. The Views and Opinions published in this blog should in no way be related to any other person or organization associated -- directly or indirectly -- with me.


Deepak R said...

Thanks for the wonderful article. It clears a lot of things. this is probably the BEST Motorcycle Blog of India. Kudos

Anonymous said...

Yes. This is the best bike blog of India. Most other blogs are just copy, paste jobs from other sites

Sajal said...

In my opinion and what I've seen all these years-

Super Bike - 1000cc ~ 1200cc engine capacity
Super Sports Bike - 600cc ~ anything less than 1000cc engine capacity
Hyper Bike - anything > 1200cc engine capacity.

Again, all these above categorization come picture when we are talking about the sports class bikes and not choppers, not tourers, not street naked.... hardcore sports class...

bikes like the YZF125, YZF150, CBR125 can be best be called sports bred because of the gene sharing with the Super bikes and the Super Sports, but they are definitely neither of the two and if any company calls these < 600cc engine capacity bikes as sports bike or a super sports bike.... well then what more to say as this is the world of capitalists.

Subhankar said...

Great information bro.

Anonymous said...

yamaha motors rocks in india

Somnath Ghosh said...

You are that very few people know that what is super bike or super sport bike? Article is awesome now someone will get knowledge from this about the bikes

Post a Comment

Your Comments are valuable as they keep the conversation alive..

But Please Comment Responsibly (for them to be published)