The race to be at the top of the sportsbike and superbike class has long been the aim of the big four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, but nowadays they have more competition than ever before as competition from Europe becomes ever more fierce. Since the 1980’s superbikes have evolved to such a degree that many are now only slightly removed from those seen on the racetrack, offering massive power output, incredible handling and sophisticated rider aids such as traction control, power mapping and ABS brakes. Despite their sharp focus, the sports and superbike market is still very big with many riders prepared to forego practicality for ultimate performance. That said, modern superbikes tend be both reliable and perfectly useable on a day-to-day basis.
Buying a used Sports or Superbike
There is now a huge choice in the used sportsbike market. From Japan you can choose Honda’s venerable CBR900RR Fireblade which set the class alight on its introduction in 1992 and is still great fun to ride with performance that belies its age, to the Suzuki GSX-R750 and 1000, Kawasaki’s ZXR750 and later the ultra quick ZX10-R. Yamaha offered the YZF750 and EXUP models, followed by the hugely successful YZF1000 R1. Glamour from Europe included the Ducati Superbike range, from the original and exquisite 916, to later incarnations of the famous L-Twin in bikes such as the 999, 1098, 1198 and now the gorgeous Panigale in 899 or 1199cc versions. From Germany the KTM range includes the breathtaking RC8-R, or choose some bargain priced exotica with a used Benelli Tornado.
Whichever used sports or superbike you choose, bear in mind that it may had a hard life so check carefully for signs of damage or track day use. A big 4-cylinder or twin isn’t going to be cheap to rebuild so where possible look for evidence of service work, preferably from a main dealer if you are looking at a later bike. Fairings and trim items are expensive to replace so again they are worth checking carefully as are signs of modifications such as aftermarket exhausts, clip-ons and crash protection such as mushrooms and bobbins.