Spring is approaching fast. Time for some used bike speed
BMW S1000RR (2012-14)
Although most recognise how revolutionary the original BMW S1000RR was, many forget how big an advance the second generation was in 2012. Familiar, asymmetrical bodywork hid a smoother power delivery, extra low-down torque, an improved chassis and suspension and much more refined electronics. This all makes the German contender much more refined and usable but still as potent as ever. It was updated again in 2015, but this is still a benchmark bike.
What you’ll pay today £8800-£13,000.
But should you? Only just starting to date. Astonishingly able, potent, classy and with great dealer back-up.
Suzuki GSX-R1000 K5/6 (2005-06)
With an all-new, MotoGP-inspired GSX-R1000 due later this year, now’s a perfect time to remember the last time Suzuki were at the top of the superbike tree – over a decade ago, with the awesome K5. Now regarded as something of a modern classic, the K5 (and 2006’s largely unchanged K6), boasted an all-new chassis giving the GSX-R class-leading flickability allied to an engine increased from 989 to 999cc, helping boost power to a then class-leading 176bhp. Not only that but it had great ergonomics and styling.
What you’ll pay today £4200-£4800
But should you? Now regarded as the definitive GSX-R and cherished as such.
Kawasaki ZX-10R (2011-15)
The dominant Japanese superbike of the last five years until Yamaha’s all-new M1-alike R1 arrived last year. All-new in 2011 it blended rakish, aggressive styling, a screaming, all-new engine putting out a BMW-rivalling 197bhp, top-spec chassis with clever Big Piston Fork and horizontally-mounted rear shock and the best traction control system of any Japanese offering. It was enough to make it far and away the best from Japan both on road and, especially, on track where it became a race and trackday favourite.
What you’ll pay today £6500-£10,500
But should you? Superseded, mostly by the electronics, on the new, 2016 version but still a cracker.
Ducati 1198S (2008-11)
Has all the ingredients for a classic Ducati superbike: great looks (a lesson learned from the oddball 999); booming V-twin performance (the 1198’s 168bhp was 8bhp up on the 1098) and, in S spec with Öhlins suspension etc, virtually all the handling of the R at a fraction of the price.
What you’ll pay today £9800-£14,000
But should you? The thinking man’s Italian superbike: beautiful, fast, great handling and exquisite spec.
MV Agusta F4 1078 RR (2008-13)
Ultimate incarnation (to date) of the ultimate poster bike may not be a match on the stopwatch for its key rivals but is still exquisite and almost immeasurably desirable. This, with 1078cc, 190bhp, a 193mph max speed, top-spec Brembos, Marzocchis and more, is the best.
What you’ll pay today £8500-£13,000
But should you? A two-wheeled Lamborghini, with all that implies (both good and bad).
Yamaha YZF-R1 (2009-11)
Inspired by Rossi’s M1, its irregular crossplane crank firing intervals meant it could grunt out of turns like a V-twin and yet spin to high revs astonishingly quickly as well, all the while sounding like nothing else. Ben Spies lifting the World Superbike title guaranteed its success.
What you’ll pay today £6500-£9000
But should you? Until last year, this was the most significant R1 of recent times – and it's still a cracker.
Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade (2006-07)
A class act. Superbikes may have dramatically evolved since, first with the crossplane-crank R1, then BMW’s powerhouse S1000RR, then with the sophisticated electronics of bikes like Aprilia’s RSV4, but the ‘RR-6’ was the pinnacle of the superbike breed and remains a classy performer.
What you’ll pay today £4200-£5400
But should you? Find a pampered low-miler and you'll be on to a winner.
Words: Phil West