One man's floor is another man's ceiling. The words'sports bike' can mean very different things, so we compare two contrasting takes takes on a common theme.
It's a lot more fun than expected too, as it doesn't get overly excited when you turn up the wick - it just needs a little more physical effort. Corner entry preparation is necessary as the Street Rod doesn't have the geometry to start making sudden alterations mid-turn, but the weight keeps it steady and you can punch hard out of bends in the middle three gears, with a steady supply of horsepower up to 8000rpm, and a peak of 116bhp at 8200rpm. Thankfully, to match the relentless surge, it has plenty of braking ability courtesy of Brembo. And with three 300mm discs, the rear contributes significantly to proceedings. Four fingers are required on the lever but feel and feedback is pretty good, and an hour of hard charging failed to produce a hint of fade from the four-piston calipers.
After a few hours on the Street Rod, hopping aboard the R1 was a revelation. The extreme riding position seems exaggerated after being upright for so long. Your body assumes a racing crouch with your backside at the same level as your hands (the seat is 7cm higher than the Harley's) and you mould into the sculptured bodywork of what is a truly beautiful machine. Of course it's purposeful and minimalist, but the sheer lack of bulk makes the Yamaha seem tiny and slightly intimidating by comparison.
Press the starter button and you instantly know what you're in for. The 20-valve motor is 130cc down on the Harley's, but has double the cylinders and produces an extra 40-plus bhp and at 4000rpm higher. It's about as hardcore as they come.
I rode nothing but sports bikes for 10 years but it still takes a few miles to adjust. Surging forward in first gear is enough to get the adrenalin levels up, and this is where they'll stay. Working through the gearbox at 7000rpm into sixth provides rapid forward motion, and it hasn't even started to get going. Three figure speeds are reached in seconds (like the Harley) but you always feel like you're flying whereas the Street Rod disguises its performance.
Even for a 1000cc Japanese bike everything seems to happen high up in the rev range. Break through the 7000rpm barrier and there's another 5000rpm of sheer power as the world becomes a blur. It's addictive and exhilarating, which is why I'm constantly glancing at the mirrors. The handling is razor sharp and the suspension a little firm, but it can easily handle anything I throw at it. Being 30cm shorter than the Street Rod, it's considerably more agile and quick steering, but far less relaxing too. I think I'm getting a little old for this.
While these two machines couldn't be more different to ride, in some respects they have more in common than you might imagine. Both are good fun, both look cool and both turn heads wherever they go. Running costs will be similar as they share the same insurance groups, return 40mpg and have similar service intervals. The Harley costs a couple of grand more but will have a stronger residual value as it doesn't compete in a high-tech war.
You could cruise comfortably at high speed on the Harley for a whole day; you could cruise much faster on the Yam, but where and for how long? The R1 comes alive on the racetrack, its natural habitat. The Street Rod will gladly give it a go but is obviously more at home on the road. They both like being revved but the Yamaha begs for more, and indeed requires more to get the best out of it. And, if it's of any importance, the Street Rod will be the winner with the ladies. Hands down.
And in answer to the all-important question: yes, the Street Rod is a realistic alternative to the hyper sports bike. But whether or not this is the future remains to be seen.
SPECS - YAMAHATYPE - SUPERSPORTSPRODUCTION DATE - 2007PRICE NEW - £8799ENGINE CAPACITY - 998ccPOWER - 158bhp@12,300rpmTORQUE - 76lb.ft@9700rpm WEIGHT - 172kg SEAT HEIGHT - 835mm FUEL CAPACITY - 18L TOP SPEED - 186mph 0-60 - n/aTANK RANGE - N/A
Posted: 17/01/2011 at 19:03
Posted: 17/01/2011 at 20:08
Posted: 18/01/2011 at 18:34
OK, so let's expand this a bit.
If you couldn't have a sports bike because you've been banned and are paranoid, or are getting old and your knees are knackered, or for whatever other reason listed in the article above, then which way would you go ?
Harley / other cruiser ?
Supermoto or trailie ( big trailie such as Transalp, Africa Twin, F800GS or 690 or bigger KTM, or small light trailie ) ?
Street - street triple or maybe something different such as a TDM ?
I'm deliberately excliding the 1 litre super-nakeds, as that seems a bit too obvious an alternative, although I guess would be first choice alternative for many.
Posted: 20/01/2011 at 10:37
Posted: 23/01/2011 at 19:57
Posted: 02/07/2011 at 12:36
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